As a kid, Karlene Ball was constantly being dragged to the fabric store by her mom. On the weekend’s, they would hop over to Joan’s in Saugus to pick up materials for sewing, with Ball often sighing and rolling her eyes, trying to get out of the store as fast as possible.
There are many “grown up” things that young kids find uninteresting, or “lame,” and sewing was definitely one of those for Ball. Despite that, being around it all the time, she learned how to sew pillows, clothes, and gifts for friends and family.
And as she got older, she stuck with it. She continued to improve. She made more crafts. And then got to a point where she was fully enjoying it, which led to the creation of her own sewing business 12 years ago that she runs from the comfort of her own home.
Ball is now following in the footsteps of her mother, who passed away a few years ago. She often thinks about her and everything she taught Ball when putting together her crafts.
“If she could see that I’m doing these fairs and I’m teaching a class, she would be just so proud,” Ball said.
She also joked that she is “pretty much turning into her.”
Ball labeled her operation Sew Envious, where she makes everything from makeup bags, to quilted key fobs, and even Baby Gifts. Sewing for her started out as a simple hobby, crafting gifts to give away to friends and family. Interest started to rapidly grow in her work and she began attending craft fairs in schools and churches in town.
“I kind of started really getting into it and learning how to make bigger and better things,” Ball said.
Though she works out of her home, her work is now featured in two shops: Coastal Creations in Swampscott, and The Perfectly Imperfect Gift Shop located in Topsfield. This year, Ball will be a coordinator for Swampscott’s fifth annual Hand Made by 01907 Artisan Craft Fair, which will feature 19 different vendors at the ReachArts building on Nov. 11.
Ball has participated as a vendor in the craft fair since its first year and has helped organize the event for the last four.
As an artisan herself, Ball has enjoyed the opportunity of getting together with other vendors to help push the shop local movement.
“The events really show that there’s a lot of artisans and creative people in the town of Swampscott,” she said. “I think it’s really cool to be able to say all of the vendors in this event are your neighbors.”