June 8, 2015

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).

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  • Reply georgine June 8, 2015 at 9:31 AM

    What a wonderful giveaway. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  • Reply Chelsea June 8, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    Looking forward to reading the book!

  • Reply Nadine in NC June 8, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    I would love to be entered in this giveaway. I could use some help/inspiration in developing my refashioning skills. I’d like to be better at thinking outside the box when it comes to sewing. I’m not sure if that is about being properly inspired, lots of hands on practice, or a combination of the two, but I definitely want to work on it.

  • Reply Stirling June 8, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    This book sounds so cool! And well timed too, I just went through my closet yesterday and now have a big pile of clothes ready for the fabric bin.

  • Reply Susan June 8, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    congrats on your new book!

  • Reply Angela June 8, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    I have always enjoyed the Adventures in Dressmaking site since it started. Especially the Sewing Circle tips and advice. I wish Suzannah continued success. Keep the inspiration coming! Please toss my name into the hat for this giveaway.

  • Reply Connie June 8, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    Would love a chance to win the book! I just got into sewing after a long time knitting. I love how. More instant gratification sewing is. But mistakes are also harder to hide. Thanks!

  • Reply Carolanne Donovan June 8, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    Adventures in Dressmaking was one of the first sewing blogs I read too! I’d love to win a copy of Suzannah’s book.

  • Reply Tatiana June 8, 2015 at 11:29 AM

    Thank you for a chance to win this wonderful book! It would be so helpful for refashioning my thrift store finds!

  • Reply Sam P June 8, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    I would LOVE to see a copy of this book at my house! It sounds so fun and I have lots of clothes stashed away for dream project ideas!

  • Reply Lavinia June 8, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    sounds like a very nice book! Thank you for the giveaway:)

  • Reply Shannon Snyder June 8, 2015 at 1:03 PM

    Sometimes I buy things at thrift stores with the intention of re-making them, but I haven’t actually done it yet! This book might help me do better with my aspirations 😉 Thanks for the chance to win.

  • Reply Rachael K. June 8, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    Sounds like a fun & useful book.

  • Reply Emily June 8, 2015 at 1:45 PM

    Great interview! I’d love to win!

  • Reply Lisa June 8, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    Sounds like a great book to add to my library 🙂

  • Reply Natasha June 8, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    Thanks for the opportunity to win! I would love to read more about altering clothing to fit me better. The book sounds amazing and I am excited that you pointed me toward a new blog to read.

  • Reply Katherine Rane June 8, 2015 at 2:21 PM

    I’d love to win this book

  • Reply Sueann Walter June 8, 2015 at 3:01 PM

    i would love a chance to read the book, it sounds very interesting.

  • Reply Show and Tell Meg June 8, 2015 at 4:03 PM

    I’ve been watching her blog as she wrote the book, and I am so excited to see it in person. I would love to win a copy 🙂 Refashioning is one of my favorite things to do.

  • Reply tracey June 8, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    this book looks perfect for me! And when I’m done (if I ever get done?) I know a few friends who would love to borrow it as well. I’ve not visited Suzannah’s blog in a while (though it also sounds perfect for me), so I’m about to add it to my feeds. Thanks much!

  • Reply Britt June 8, 2015 at 4:14 PM

    This book sounds awesome. I love the idea of updating what you already have.

  • Reply Lisa Raymond June 8, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    i love up cycling projects like these.

  • Reply Lindsay June 8, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    What a great giveaway! I’ve been reading her blog for years and love her ideas. I’ll be picking this one up if I don’t win!

  • Reply Tabitha June 8, 2015 at 4:56 PM

    Looks like a fun book!

  • Reply Rachel June 8, 2015 at 5:10 PM

    Congratulations on your book Suzannah! I’m looking forward to it.

  • Reply Debby June 8, 2015 at 5:29 PM

    This book sounds amazing. I have been doing a lot of researching on updating some thrift store finds for me and the kids to keep us on budget and I think this book would help a ton. What a great idea for a book. And thank you for the giveaway!!

  • Reply Kathy June 8, 2015 at 5:47 PM

    I love the cover of the book. It makes me want to look inside at the other transformations.

  • Reply Elizabeth C. June 8, 2015 at 6:12 PM

    I would love to remake some of my clothing. An outdated top can have a new life!

  • Reply Kaitlyn June 8, 2015 at 6:25 PM

    How cool! I would love to be able to do this! Thanks.

  • Reply Misty S. June 8, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    What a great giveaway! I just began making my own clothing, so this book would be such a big help in that. Thank you.

  • Reply Maddy H June 8, 2015 at 6:47 PM

    I’ve got a pile intended for refashioning or altering in some way. What a great idea for a book. I’ve always been afraid to cut into something and give it a whirl- maybe this could be the jump start I need to just try it.

  • Reply heather feather June 8, 2015 at 6:58 PM

    She was one of the first blogs I started following too! I’d love to win!

  • Reply Nicole Adamitis June 8, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    First off, she’s adorable! Secondly, her alterations are to die for!

  • Reply kaydee June 8, 2015 at 9:50 PM

    How cool! I’ve never heard of her blog before, but I’m looking forward to browsing through her 6 years of projects now!

  • Reply Kathy June 8, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    Hi! I would love to win this book! I just found your blog, and I love refashioning thrift store clothes, curtains, etc. This sounds like exactly what I need! Thanks

  • Reply Ruth June 8, 2015 at 11:11 PM

    Loos like a great book!

  • Reply Kristie June 9, 2015 at 12:04 AM

    thanks for recommending a new blog to check out. and this sounds like just what I need. I am going thru all my clothes and either getting rid of it if I won’t wear it, or figuring out how to make it work if I might wear it.

  • Reply Diane June 9, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    This sounds like a great book and blog to follow. Thanks for the chance to win.

  • Reply Jessica P June 9, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Sounds like a good book!

  • Reply Jeri Savoie June 9, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    very timely for me, as I am looking at my cool weather wardrobe and thinking it could use a little revamping. I’m interested to see Suzannah’s ideas before I tackle those alterations!

  • Reply janna June 9, 2015 at 1:26 PM

    I absolutely love the idea of updating current items into new ones! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply auschick in va June 9, 2015 at 2:13 PM

    I have so many clothes that I need to refashion. This book would provide great inspiration!

  • Reply denise June 9, 2015 at 7:03 PM

    Oh my this is just up my alley!! Thank you for the book giveaway!

  • Reply Catherine June 9, 2015 at 7:38 PM

    What a cool way to expand my newly acquired sewing skills! I look forward to checking this book out!

  • Reply MaryLou June 9, 2015 at 9:49 PM

    This looks like a great book with lots of information. I would love to win. 🙂

  • Reply Monica June 11, 2015 at 1:52 PM

    Looks like a fantastic book!

  • Reply Heather June 12, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    What a great interview! Thanks for sharing – it’s always cool to get a bit of a behind the scenes.

  • Reply Kristine R. June 23, 2015 at 11:09 AM

    I would love to win this wonderful book; thanks for the chance.

  • Reply robyn jones June 28, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    Awesome interview with Suzannah.

  • Reply Lisa June 29, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Who is the lucky winner

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