When art teacher Stephanie Miller became a mother, she lost touch with her creative side.
“We were living in a one-bedroom apartment with little space for me to set up my paintings, the oil paints have unhealthy fumes, and it took me too long to set up my paints with a baby to care for,” she told HuffPost. “I was suffering with postpartum depression, and with the lifestyle shock of motherhood, I felt a loss of identity.”
However, she rediscovered her passion for art with the help of a sewing machine ― and found internet fame after turning her husband’s shirts into adorable dresses for her daughters.
Miller has two daughters, ages 3 and 4, as well as 5-year-old and 5-month-old sons. She graduated from BYU with a degree and teaching certificate in fine arts and taught drawing and painting classes, but after giving birth to her first child, she no longer felt fulfilled by her art.
Her husband, Jon, bought her a sewing machine from Walmart to help her find a new creative outlet, and she soon started making stuffed animals. “I was hooked! Sewing helped break my postpartum and honestly made me happy,” said Miller. With the help of YouTube tutorials, she learned to make dresses.
Recently, she started focusing her sewing work on refashioning. “Three months ago, my husband was getting rid of clothes and on top of the pile was a shirt I had just given him for Christmas,” she explained. “I was frustrated at him for wanting to get rid of something so new, but it had shrunk. I kept it and a few of his other shirts in hopes of making something out of them. I follow some other seamstresses on Instagram and saw some of their refashions and thought, ‘I could try that.’”
Miller’s first attempt was a success, and she has since made adorable clothes for herself and her daughters. The mom said her girls love the dresses she makes out of their dad’s shirts. “My 3-year-old calls the dresses I make her ‘Elsa dresses’ and wears hers every week,” she said. “When I’m doing laundry my little girls will pick up their daddy’s shirts and make requests for dresses.”
Miller, who grew up in a family with little money to spare, said her childhood helped inspire her repurposing. “My mom is very creative and taught me to work with what I had,” she said. “The last few years, as I started to get better at sewing, I wanted to make some of the expensive styles I couldn’t afford. And now I love making clothes that are one of a kind; I know I’ll never see someone else in one of my outfits.”
Miller likes refashioning because it’s more affordable and sustainable, and says it goes faster since the buttons and some of the hemming is already done.
With help from her husband, Miller works on sewing projects late at night and during free time throughout the day. Friends and neighbors often donate fabric, secondhand clothes, ribbon and more to the sewing enthusiast. Miller posts her creations on her Instagram account.
The mom said she believes it’s important for kids to see their parents being passionate about something and following their dreams. “I want to improve the world around me through my art and hope to inspire others to do the same,” she said. “Making and creating is such an important process to me, and I believe everyone can create something beautiful in their life that brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment.”
She added. “The more we take time to be creative, the more beautiful the world around us becomes.”
Keep scrolling and visit Miller’s Instagram for more adorable shirt-turned-dress creations.