Karen Bodin has been sewing since she was about five, just old enough to sit on a chair and reach over the quilts that her grandmother taught her to stitch. That began a fascination with fabrics, which she has collected for 44 years, and a passion for sewing.
Her finesse at the sewing machine was a past-time that came in handy when she lost her job at the onset of the pandemic, just before the uniform company where she had been long employed shut down. So, she turned her part-time sewing into a full-time venture, for the time being, and the Stitchin Magician began selling baby blankets, travel pillows and throws.
Then one day a woman suggested, “Make something so I don’t burn my hands when I take things out of the microwave,” and Karen began sewing her popular microwave bowl cozy,
a 9 ½” square of padded fabric that’s bowl-shaped to cuddle your hot gumbo or soup. Now six years in the making, the cozies have turned out to be one of Stitchin Magician’s best sellers. “I had a customer come to the Delcambre Market in June for more of my bowl cozies,” recalls Karen. “While the woman’s husband was standing there, he bought six for his hunting camp. That gave me the idea to make patterns other than camouflage for men, like the American flag, deer and fish prints.”
What distinguishes Stitchin Magician’s microwave bowl cozies from others is that they are made of 100 percent cotton, right down to the threading and the batting inside. So, they can actually be put in the microwave with the bowl without burning, making it easier to take the bowl out. Many other types cannot be put in the microwave.
The bowl cozies come in a variety of patterns that can be mixed and matched or customized. “During COVID, I made some cozies – along with COVID masks – for the nurses who were taking care of my mom, using fabric they provided,” she points out.
Other best sellers are her soft children’s books, constructed by cutting and sewing together fabric story panels which she’s bought. The washable books have become a popular gift item for infants to 10-year-olds.
Her kitchen boa is a fashionable replacement to throwing a towel over your shoulder as you cook or unload the dishwasher. Instead, a band of decorative fabric with small dish towels on each end hangs around the neck. Oven boas provide two small mitts to use in handling hot items.
Attractive adult bibs (think beyond nursing home) are being snatched up by women who find themselves eating on the go in their cars.
Karen’s throws, baby blankets and bibs continue to make great gifts, along with her newest item: a full-sized cooking apron.
And because Stitchin Magician provides monogramming, all items can be personalized.
Still in the uniform business (a total of 33 years), Karen now works at ABFORM, so her sewing is done at night. “That’s my quiet time. I start around 8:30 and sometimes go until 11:30,” she admits.
She’ll soon be finishing Halloween and fall-themed items, and then it’s on to Christmas oven towels, holiday placemats and so much more.
After four years at The Delcambre Seafood & Farmers Market, Karen says Stitchin Magician has gained a lot of repeat business. She returns for the customers whom she says “are friendly and willing to talk to you; they’re down-home people.”