Handmade for Kids Month: Interview with Dana of Made

I'm pleased to share this interview with another one of my favorite creative mamas, Dana, of Made as part of my Handmade for Kids month at Smile and Wave. Just try to walk away uninspired!

* Why do you make things?

Hmmm. Well, I can't really imagine not making things. I think that creating is just part of how I think; how my brain and hands work...as I'm sure most creative people feel. I truly find joy in taking fabric and turning it into something useful or recreating an old shirt into something new and (hopefully) cute! It may be an addiction. But I think it's a healthy one?

As women especially, I think we all have a longing to create. And creativity comes in a variety of forms. My athletic friend once told me "I'm not creative; I run marathons." But creating doesn't have to mean "art". Some women create organization within their families, some are fabulous cooks, some create math equations and solutions to problems.

My favorite quote by Dieter Uchtdorf sums it up perfectly, ""The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty."
Sorry to get serious on you in the very first question! I'll try to lighten up a bit...

* Have you always been a crafter/maker/manipulator of surroundings?
I think so, in various forms. I remember as a kid cutting up photos to create funny picture collages with people's heads on different bodies. And I've always loved coloring with crayons (and still do--good thing my daughter Lucy asks me to help her). Pumpkin carving, gingerbread house decorating, valentine's making...these were all my favorite creative nights at our house.

But as far as sewing goes....my Grandma taught me to sew when I was 10. We just sewed straight lines on a brown paper bag, no thread. We made simple little bags and gaudy 80's hair bows. And by 12, my mom showed me how to read and use patterns. I made all sorts of elastic waistband pants, simple skirts, and dresses for church.

It wasn't till I was an adult that I realized I could sew and create from the ideas in my head--that I didn't need a store-bought pattern. So I started deconstructing clothing and learning how garments went together. And that's how most of my sewing is done these days. I either draft my own pattern or use existing clothing as a size guideline. It's liberating and exciting!

* Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere--watching kids play at the park, the weather, trends, walking through stores, requests from my kids. But most of my inspiration comes from the photography aspect of my projects. It sounds a bit backward, but I often come up with a clothing design after I've thought about a photo shoot location or concept.

Blogging is the best of many worlds for me. I get to share creative projects but I also get to showcase photography. And this might be my favorite part. Whenever I'm out driving, my eyes are always looking for interesting photo locations, cool houses, colorful walls, beautiful fields, ratty old fences. I actually came up with the Market skirt after spotting a bright orange wall near a Mexican market. Clothing creation is art but the photographic presentation is the bigger art, to me.

* What does your crafting space look like and how do you keep it organized?
I've got a sewing nook in our office room. You can see a little tour here (along with other FAQs). And in true creative form...I'm already itching to redo it. When we first moved in last year my husband thought I'd be in heaven (and I was compared to my old sewing space which was our kitchen table). But I knew I would outgrow the space quickly. I told him that one day I would need a whole room for my stuff, with various painted walls for photography. He laughed. And now he understands. Mostly, I need more cabinets to house fabric and trims, so there won't be any boxes sitting around. On a good day I can get it pretty organized in there because I do love sewing in a clean space. But that's not realistic.

I will say this though....If you really want to devote more time to sewing, designate a space in the house for your sewing machine to sit and NEVER put it away! This can be a computer desk in the corner of a room, your kitchen table, a folding table in your bedroom--whatever! If you leave your sewing machine out, you'll be far more inspired to sit down and sew for a 1/2 hour here or there, instead of yawning at the idea of pulling it out of the closet and messing with the set-up. Try it for a few months and see what happens!

* Do you finish your projects in one sitting or over time?
Um, both. I love fast projects that come together quickly, that I can photograph, and have ready for the blog in a day or two. But there are plenty of projects that start and then sit for months. In fact we started working on a project for our backyard that is 95% finished but won't happen till Spring time (because of the weather).

I like that though; part of how my brain works again. I need to have my hands in a few projects at once. And when the timing is right, they come together. This also helps with projects that have reached a point of frustration--mostly due to my own mistakes. The instinct is to throw it away and move on to the next thing. But usually I put the project aside for a month and when I come back to it I'm excited about the original concept again and have the energy to "make it work".

* What happens to projects that don't make the cut?
Well....in all honestly, I hardly ever leave a project unfinished or un-fixed. It just eats away at me. 99% of the time, there's a way to fiddle with something and make it work. And often, these are the times that I come up with a design idea that I never would have done originally.

The Christmas In July dress was supposed to be sleeveless. I had finished off the armholes and then hated it. So I added sleeves to the finished edge, which is odd looking but I love it. The aqua velvet dress was similar (a skirt that wasn't working turned into a double-banded bodice). I've found ways to fix holes on blankets and if I burn a hole in a swimsuit....well.....I just have to start over.

* What are some of your favorite online resources for tutorials, fabric, inspiration?
Oh wow, this could become a laundry list. Here are some of my favorites--and many of them are not sewing blogs but rather sites that inspire me visually:

Cool French blogs:
Mimi Mouse
Sous le Parasol
13 & 3

Roundup blogs of design and craft (both Spanish but great photos)
Hola Mama

Good Life Eats
Joy the Baker
Smitten Kitchen

Pretty photos, pretty sewing, eye candy:
Adore Vintage
No Big Dill
Katie did--though she no longer blogs but has fabulous ideas like this
Birch and Bird - vintage home interiors
Famille Sumberbelle
Elizabeth Dye
Garden by the Sea

Thanks so much for putting this incredibly inspiring and resourceful post together, Dana! I appreciate the love and thoughtfulness you put into all of your work and the way you share it online. Your blog is such a happy, colorful space! If you're looking for some new projects Dana has many tutorials available for non-commercial use here. Go take a long look!


p.s. All photos courtesy of Dana.


Anonymous said...

oh my goodness! all these photos are so inspiring!

virginia said...

i love MADE. excited to see her featured here!

Unknown said...

that red and black dress is too cute!! and the photo with all the little girls, so adorable! she makes some lovely creations!

Unknown said...

that red and black dress is too cute!! and the photo with all the little girls, so adorable! she makes some lovely creations!

jen geigley said...

oooooooh, dana is my fave. she's pretty amazing!

Valentina Harper said...

This is a really inspiring post! Just what I need today ;) Thanks for sharing

Rubyellen said...

her blog is pretty amazing! that girl has got talent!!! and i am so honored to be one of her blog reads.

Anna said...

love dana, she is one of two bloggers I've gotten to meet in real life, I can call her a true friend. :) great interview series as well!

Ashley said...

I Heart Dana. Even if I go weeks without blogging, I always play catch up with Made.

Unknown said...

Oh I'm just loving these interviews - super inspiring and I'm getting so many new blog reads!! (in fact, I checked out Birch and Bird and hey, there was your clipboard/inspiration wall! It's a small(ish) blog world!!!

Silke said...

Psst Rachel, you have a typo in the Vermiljoen shop (Dutch is a hard language !). The shop is great, I have purchased there before, and so have a lot of ladies in my sewing class!

No Big Dill said...

Everyone loves Dana. You just can't help yourself with all her cheery pictures and personable voice. Thanks for giving us a better peak into her life.

Admin said...

Thank you for your kind words Dana!! It´s funnny but we also find a lot of inspiration in your blog!!

Paula BlogHolamamá