One time a button fell off a dress I was planning on wearing. I shrugged it off to my husband, explaining that I would just quickly sew it back on before church. We both turned to each other and laughed, both knowing the complete domestic failure I am, that would never happen.
Sewing a measly button on is a skill beyond me, but for Stephanie Miller, 27, a homemaker from Utah, sewing is more than a skill — it’s a part of life.
Miller, who has four children aged 3 months to 5 years old with her husband, Jon, runs the Instagram account @mothermakesx4, where she showcases the adorable dresses she makes her daughters. And the most surprising part? Each adorable dress is completely created from her husband’s old dress shirts.
Somehow, despite having so many young kids at home (a 3-month-old!), Miller finds the time to create works of art through fabric. She explains that she’s always had a love for anything creative. After a childhood spent drawing and painting, she majored in education with a degree in fine arts.
After having her first child, however, she found it difficult to continue her practice of oil painting. Postpartum depression, the shock of adjusting to life with a newborn, and not being able to paint turned out to be a huge struggle for the new mother.
“I felt a loss of identity,” Miller says. “I couldn’t paint anymore and didn’t feel fulfilled like I use to.”
Recognizing his wife’s struggle, Miller’s husband surprised her with a $50 sewing machine from Walmart. Despite the fact that she hadn’t sewed anything than seventh-grade home economics, she was immediately hooked. What started as a simple stuffed animal bird project quickly took on a lot of meaning for the young mom.
“That little stuffed bird was a sewing mess, but when I was done, I felt so satisfied,” she adds. “Sewing helped break my postpartum and honestly made me happy.”
Eventually, Miller moved on from stuffed animals and challenged herself to learn how to sew dresses through You Tube videos because she couldn’t read patterns. And when her husband cleaned out his closet three months ago and just so happened to include a shirt that she had gifted him with for Christmas, she decided to try to breathe new life into the discarded dress shirt.
That first shirt started her on a journey for sewing for her daughters, especially her 3-year-old, who calls them her “Elsa dresses.”
As a busy mom, Miller says she doesn’t have any immediate plans to sell her creations, although she dreams about starting a business someday when her kids are all in school. Right now though, she is going to continue sewing while soaking up every minute she can with her kids.
“My kids are only going to be little for a little time and I don’t want to miss their childhood or have any regrets as a mother,” she explains. “However, I still have an intense desire to make things and want to feel fulfilled in more ways than just being a mom. I also believe it is important for kids to see their parents be passionate and follow their dreams.”
Part of Miller’s plan to show her children how their mother followed her dreams through her Instagram account, where she documents her creations. Keeping a record of her creations, Miller says, helps her focus on the projects she enjoys, track her own growth, and show her children how hard she has worked. She hopes her Instagram account will help inspire others to do what moves them through art as well.
“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 says. “When we take unorganized material into our hands and mold it into something that did not exist before, it invigorates the soul. The more we take time to be creative, the more beautiful the world around us becomes.”