I have been reading Suzannah Hamlin Stanley’s blog (currently called Create / Enjoy, but I remember it as Adventures in Dressmaking) for a really long time. In fact she may be one of the first sewing related blogs that I started reading and am still reading to this day. She has an amazing abilty to repurpose just about anything and make it stunning. And now she totally upped her game and wrote a book. The title of her brand new book is DIY Wardrobe Makeovers : Alter, Refresh & Refashion Your Clothes Step-by-Step Sewing Tutorials and as the name implies, it is all about taking things from your closet or the thrift store and changing them in a way to bring new life to them. I have seen the book and it is really well done, helpful, and of coarse beauitifully photographed just like her blog is. I am super excited for Suzannah and all that she has achieved and so happy to be sharing it with you guys today.
I always love getting a chance to pick other bloggers brains and so I jumped on the opportunity to do an interview Suzannah in conjunction with her book release. I hope you enjoy getting to know Suzannah a bit better.
Me – Please tell us a little about how you started sewing and blogging.
Suzannah – Two very different journeys! My mom taught me to sew when I was a kid, and I made my first garments for myself at 10 or 12, but I really started it as a habit on one of my summers home from college. I made myself a couple cute sundresses and was hooked!
I started blogging in fall 2009, shortly after I finished grad school and moved in with my then-boyfriend to our first real apartment. I was underemployed and looking for jobs in my field but had time on my hands and started reading blogs, making and remaking things for the apartment from the craft store and thrift stores, and sewing in my first very own sewing room!
Me – Can you tell us a little about how your book became a reality – was it your idea and you pitched it, or were you approached with the opportunity?
Suzannah – Writing a book has been a goal of mine since not long after I started blogging. I keep a working list of book ideas, but this one was the most fleshed-out. I had contacted some publishers on my own with no luck, but I was able to get an agent (referred from another craft blogger I know), and she helped me write my proposal. She sent it off to quite a few publishers for me.
Me – Who do you think that your target audience is for your book?
Suzannah – I think it’s a very wide audience! Similar to my blog readership, mostly women, ranging in age from teenagers to retired folks sewing for their grandkids. I’ve helped and advised several of my friends (and even my professional seamstress mom!) on repairing or remaking their clothes, and of course I’ve done it for countless garments in my mending/makeover pile, so I know some store-bought garment issues are universal. The book is divided into fit fixes (such as hemming, taking in various types of garments, etc.) and DIY style projects. Even the style projects are pretty classic for the most part, though–I can see a lot of women wanting to trim, remake, or restyle their versions of the garments!
Me – I know from reading your blog that you have gone through a lot of health / diet changes over the last couple of years. I know that writing a book is super demanding. How has your health played a role in the process and being able to balance it all?
Suzannah – Thanks for reading for so long! It’s a good question–I started the book proposal and writing process when I was raw vegan, not working out much, and working a day job that bored me. I was pretty stressed out most of the time when I was getting the proposal done and starting the projects, and my hormones, energy, and sleep were not great. I remember a lot of frustration on evenings and weekends for a solid few months there. Now I eat cooked food, locally sourced meat, and lots of healthy fats, and my brain and body function so much better. I’m calmer in general, which really helped with final book edits, packing for and doing an intensive 2-day photo shoot around Portland, and doing book promotion. Working a day job I love and fitting in regular strength training workouts 3 days/week, plus regular hikes with my husband, has also made me a happier person. I’m so happy with how the book turned out and excited to continue promoting it!
Me – I am always curious about those who make all or part of their living doing creative pursuits and blogging. Can you tell us a bit about how you you have made it work?
Suzannah – I’ve been blogging for almost 6 years now, so I’ve got a good routine down and am usually able to balance my projects, computer time, and local blogger events with my full-time day job in another field. I’ve scaled back my blog and related paid projects from what I used to have time for. I find I enjoy it more when it’s a hobby than my all-day, everyday pursuit with the pressure of making an income–although I admire people who can do both!
Me – When you have no demands on your creative time, what is your favorite thing to sew and create?
Suzannah – It’s funny, I started this whole hobby because I liked sewing dresses. (The blog was originally called Adventures in Dressmaking.) I’ve broadened my skills and interests to home decor, DIY body products, cooking high quality food, and other things that make me feel creatively refreshed… but really, I still love sewing dresses! I have one waiting to be cut out a few feet from me as I write this, actually! I don’t have a ton of places to wear them anymore since my style has simplified a lot, but occasionally I do and then I feel so much better wearing something I made than something store-bought!
A big thank you to Suzannah for indulging my questions and a huge congrats to her on releasing her first book. Suzannah has offered to give away one copy of her new book, DIY Wardrobe Makeovers, to one of you. To enter just leave a comment below (US residents only, sorry).