Designer of the Week - Olive's Pearls

Name: Jen Sullivan

Where do you live: Milwaukee, WI

How old are you? 39

Do you have any children, if so what ages? 6 children, ages 3-10

Current auctions: Olive's Pearls

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1. When did you get started sewing and creating? Who taught you?

My mother taught me to knit when I was 8 years old. My first project was a scarf for my brother Abel, made with one size #11 needle, and one #2 pencil. I have knit on and off since then, making the obligatory scarves and sweaters for boyfriends, but didn't get serious about knitting until my first child was born.

The sewing didn't come until much later-about 3 years ago. I had bought a few yards of a fabric printed with peaches to use for covering pillows, when I decided it would make a pretty dress for my daughter Agatha. I bought a very simple jumper pattern and sewed the entire thing by hand. My mom asked me if I wanted to get a sewing machine for my birthday. At first I was hesitant because I wasn't sure I'd stick with the hobby, but she went ahead and bought me one (a White 55). I haven't looked up since.

2. When did you start selling your designs on eBay? Do you sell anywhere else besides eBay, if so where? (example, web site, local boutique) What did you do before eBay?

I began selling under the name Olive's Pearls on ebay in May of 2002. I've had a few items in boutiques, but the profit margin is so much lower that I no longer do this. Before ebay-was there life before ebay? I believe I wandered aimlessly, ringing my hands and spending far too much time reading misc.kids (usenet newsgroup).

2a. Do you remember the first outfit you sold on eBay. Do you have a picture? What was it and what did it sell for?

My first outfit for ebay was a simple dress with a Peter Pan collar made from a vintage repro print with cherries on it. It sold for ten dollars!

3. How did you decide upon your name?

The name is simply after my youngest child, Olive Pearl.

4. Do you belong to any boutique group and if so which one? How did you get started in that group? What do you like most about your particular group?

I joined the Not So Plain Jaynes last April. I'm not sure what made me decide to join a group after going it alone for so long, but I enjoy it for the camaraderie and support. Also, most of what I know about html and layout came from this generous group of women.

5. What is your favorite thing to create? (example: vintage style dresses, totes, overalls, etc) Why?

I like to sew and knit children's clothing with an old-fashioned feel that looks like it was designed for children-- not for very short adults. I don't tend to follow trends, mostly because I'm hopelessly square and don't know what they are (I don't get out much). You're unlikely to see an Olive's Pearls ensemble that could be described as "hot" or "funky".

6. What are your favorite types of fabrics or fabric designers?

I learned how to sew on cotton knits, and still prefer using them. I also enjoy using home dec prints because the pattern scale is so much larger and more visible. For knitting, my favorite designer is Elizabeth Zimmermann. Most of what I know about garment construction,in sewing as well as knitting, comes from her.

7. Where and when do you do most of your sewing? Are you neat about it or do you have fabric covering the floor!

All of my sewing is done in my sewing room, which takes up most of the third floor of our house. I used to sew exclusively in the wee hours with Olive as my trusty late-night companion, but now that she's older and thus, better at destroying heavy machinery, I have to sew when my husband (aka Our Man in Shipping) is home to amuse her. Now I sew mostly in the early evening and on weekends. My sewing room is surprisingly neat'I can't work in a mess.

The knitting happens everywhere and all the time, but mostly in front of reruns of Law & Order. I cannot watch television without knitting.

8. What other things do you enjoy besides sewing?

I consider myself a knitter who also sews.

Anything else you would like to add?

My background is in creative writing, and I'd be remiss if I didn't say that writing the auction text is my favorite part of the entire sewing, knitting and listing process. I'm happy when someone likes my outfits, but I'm over the moon when someone writes me about the text.

Some past Olive's Pearls Designs

To view past Designers of the Week Click Here

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