I love Jana’s use of upcycled upholstery fabrics. She takes something that is tossed aside and creates a whole new life for it with her
mad sewing skills. Meet Jana and check out all her lovelies!
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Jana and I became a maker relatively late in life. After moving back to the East Bay
in 2010, I took a few sewing classes and became immediately obsessed! My husband calls the
spare room in our Oakland apartment Santa’s workshop because I’m so productive in there.
What do you make or do?
I make coin purses, zippered travel/cosmetic pouches and tote bags out of upcycled upholstery
quilting cottons with colorful geometric designs, retro prints and cute creatures (like cats!). I use
them to make my very popular patchwork hot pads and unique Christmas stockings.
Where can we find your creations?
I have been a vendor at every Patchwork Modern Maker Festival in Oakland since they started
up here in 2012, and sell at various other craft shows around the Bay Area. I have an Etsy shop
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
I came up with Just Sew Jana because everyone was always saying “OMG this is just SO you, Jana” whenever I’d show them
something I’d sewed. It’s a little cheesy and I used to threaten to change it all the time, but now I go back and forth between hating it
and accepting it.
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I consider myself the embodiment to the old adage “don’t quit your day job.” Sewing is truly a hobby for me. I do it at night and on
weekends and that’s it. While I have been moderately successful at selling the things I make, I am glad that I don’t depend on my
craft to pay the rent. I really admire those who can take that leap but it’s just not for me. Once I start worrying about things like how
to sell myself better or how much money I’m making, it becomes not fun and sewing is all about fun for me.
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
I have a full-time corporate gig in the marketing department of an environmental engineering firm, where I produce and edit
newsletters and write articles about the water industry. In my former life, I was a newspaper editor and reporter.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
It’s a luxury in that I have the time and means to spend on my sewing, but sometimes I think it’s a necessity because I feel like I
might go batty without a creative outlet. I have a sign on my wall that says “don’t quit your day dream” and I have lots of those,
mostly about being able to sew all day. And maybe someday I will, but for now I’m happy with the way things are.
Who are the makers that inspire you?
Lucky for me I am always early for everything so at every craft fair I do I always have extra time before it starts to go around and see
all the amazing people and things! Just being around all that creativity always inspires me. I have met so many amazing people
through my sewing. One that stands out is Diane Austen, who sews reincarnated clothing under the name Multiple
Threads . I used to sell some of my upcycled bags at her shop in Berkeley so she let me “intern” with her for a few days and what she
does with old clothing is so amazing. She has since relocated to Sonoma County but I ran into her at Urban Air Market in San
Francisco over the holidays (we were both vendors) and she’s still going strong, selling at farmers markets and various fairs.