After the birth of her first child, Stephanie Miller struggled with postpartum depression. In addition to adjusting to life with a newborn, the Utah mom wasn’t able to devote time to her artistic passions.

In an interview with Babble, the 27-year-old mother of four explained that not being able to express herself through her oil painting left her feeling lost:

“I felt a loss of identity,” Miller says. “I couldn’t paint anymore and didn’t feel fulfilled like I use to.”

She and her husband, Jon, lived in a one-bedroom apartment. So the fumes from her painting weren’t healthy for the new baby.

Understanding that his wife needed a new creative outlet, Miller’s husband purchased a $50 sewing machine from Walmart. Although she hadn’t sewn anything since she was an adolescent, the new mom tried her hand stitching a stuffed animal for her baby.

The effect of making something by hand for her child was more than she expected:

“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.”

Having felt at one point unable to express her creativity, her ideas were now flowing.

View this post on Instagram

This was the first dress I ever made…four years ago. I had just finished my art education degree from BYU, where my specialty was oil painting, to staying home all day with a baby. I had an identity crisis! I couldn't paint anymore because the time to set up and the fumes were not good for a baby in a one bedroom apartment and I felt unfulfilled with no project to be working on. Becoming a mother is hard! My husband, seeing that I was struggling, went to Walmart and bought me a $50 sewing machine. I had no idea how to read a pattern but I was excited for the challenge, thank goodness for pictures. It was therapy! It healed me from my postpartum depression. This dress has so many perfect flaws and I'm thankful for it. I realized how important it is for me to be creative, make, and problem solve to be happy. I'm a better mother when I take time everyday to be creative…and I have to be creative to find the time to do so. I don't sew to save money, or to make money, I sew to fulfill my NEED to create. #sewing #mothermakes #motherhood #therapy #create #learn #become

A post shared by Stephanie Miller (@mothermake) on

Sewing clicked instantly for Miller, who began teaching herself how to make dresses through YouTube videos, including breastfeeding-friendly designs (although admittedly not all of them were first-time hits).

However, it wasn’t always easy for Miller to balance her creative pursuits with the demands of motherhood.

View this post on Instagram

I've been getting so discouraged with sewing lately 😕. I've made three dresses designed for breastfeeding and I hate them, so I don't even post pictures. Inventing as I sew is usually really rewarding but I put these dresses on and I hate them. I think I'm picking the wrong material, (Or the fact that I just had a baby might have something to do with me hating them on my body🙈.) I like the design on the dress form but feel so discouraged after putting them on. I mess up a lot as I sew and usually I don't let it get me down, but last night I gave up on this dress and just cried to Jon, who told me we should just move to Scotland and I'd feel better 😂🤦‍♀️. I feel frustrated because I have very little time to be creative and now I feel like what I'm making isn't successful. Sewing has always been therapeutic but now I just feel sad. There is always so much to balance as a mom and sometimes I just want to be selfish. I try hard not to let my hobbies take away from my family, usually I'm so uplifted by creating it makes me a happier mom, but not for the past few weeks. 😕 I don't know what I'm getting at other than being a mom and giving all of my time, energy, body, sleep, and self is hard and I wish sewing was more of a "pick-me-up" than a "kick-me-down".

A post shared by Stephanie Miller (@mothermake) on

But, as Miller can attest, inspiration can come from unlikely places as she saw life restored in her passion project while looking at her husband’s old button down shirts one day.

As Babble writes, Miller’s husband was cleaning out his closet when she saw a golden opportunity in an old shirt she had given him for Christmas.

Miller saw a dress pattern — for her daughters.

Since then, Miller has been taking men’s shirts and making clothing for her two little girls:

From dresses:

To rompers:

And adorable matching separates:

Miller has even used nail polish stains to her advantage after making a dress with frills:

Miller explained on Instagram that men’s shirts are easy to work with because the buttons and hems are already complete.

At first, a shirt of her husband’s that shrank in the wash upset Miller until she saw it was the basis for a darling gingham dress. No doubt the results left her very happy:

In fact, her husband’s shrinking shirts have become the perfect silhouette for little dresses:

View this post on Instagram

My baby woke up early this morning so I sewed in the early morning hours. She was a good sport letting me try on the dress (only 2 time😂) to cut and fit the sleeves. Once I made her a dress two years ago and kept fitting it on her to adjust the dress, by the time I was done she wouldn't wear it. I decided to not make my kids clothes at that point. Now they ask me to make them dresses and never want to take them off. It is much more rewarding. This shirt was her daddy's shirt that shrunk, @letsbuyutah. #sew #refashion #refashioned #refashionista #sewing #sewingproject #diy #beforeandafter #mothermakes #oldshirt #newdress #dresses #littlegirl #littlegirldress #onehour #onehourprojets #quickneasy #sewforfun #sewfun

A post shared by Stephanie Miller (@mothermake) on

Miller has said her creations don’t take a huge amount of time, and more importantly, her daughters always want to wear them:

The girls love their dresses and didn’t want to take them off to sleep which made my tired mama heart swell.

While she has no plans to sell her designs at the moment in order to focus on raising her kids, Miller told Babble that she would like to start her own business one day.

And Miller’s designs don’t stop at children’s clothes. She makes clothes for friends (and herself) for all occasions. From everyday wear such as peplum tops:

And comfy fitted skirts:

To chic dresses elegant enough for a certain first lady:

Miller’s shirts-turned-dresses are even sweet enough for a flower girl:

Although sewing might not be everyone’s forte, Miller told Babble that everyone has the potential to create joy if they allow themselves the time:

“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.”

Luckily, Miller’s daughters see their mom’s creativity come to life every day.

For Miller, it’s important that her kids see her do what she loves. As she told Huffington Post UK in part: “I believe it is important for kids to see their parents be passionate and follow their dreams.”

Leave a comment

In response to:

This Mom Couldn’t Be Happier When Her Husband’s Shirts Shrink in the Dryer— She’s Got Big Plans for Them

Your email address will not be published.