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@DiaryofaSewingFanatic | Sewing Influencer

Carolyn made this dress to wear to her niece's cotillion. Scroll down to see the dresses she made for her precious granddaughters.

Meet Carolyn Norman, author of the blog,  DiaryofaSewingFanatic, for the past 16 years and an Instagram account sharing the same name, @DiaryofaSewingFanatic.

“I’ve been sewing for 53 years and have made every kind of garment for women and kids in that time,” she says. “My favorite item of clothing to sew is dresses. When I worked at a financial firm, it was well-fitted sheath and A-line dresses with matching cardigans, occasionally a suit. Now, I love a good maxi dress.”

How did you learn your craft?

I started sewing at 11, so I’ve been sewing 53 years. My grandmother taught me the basics and encouraged me. I loved Barbie (doll) and one summer when I was spending it with my grandparents, we went to Woolworth’s, where I promptly headed to the toy department to find more clothes for my Barbie. My grandmother, seeing how I was spending my allowance, took me to the pattern counter and helped me pick out a Simplicity Barbie clothes pattern. Once home, she took one of her old dresses she was turning into rags and gave it to my cousin and me. She showed us a few simple hand stitches, and I was off and running.

I still remember the dress she gave us. It was a dark royal blue taffeta dress with a sparkly overskirt. I made everything from that dress—jumpsuit in royal blue, with a sparkly duster; a dress with the taffeta and sparkly fabric; shorts set—every garment in the Simplicity pattern, except the wedding dress. The dress she gave me to use as fabric was so enticing. I spent days hand-sewing Barbie a new wardrobe. But the icing on the cake came when I got home and took my Barbies out to play with my friends. Everyone oohed and aahed over her wardrobe. And that was when I was really hooked.

I took every sewing class that my elementary school offered in and after school. I begged my mother to let me go to the Singer sewing classes at the Singer store. Once in junior high and high school, I always included sewing classes in my schedule. I just immersed myself in sewing.

What is your favorite project you’ve made?

I have three. My wedding suit—I didn’t wear a traditional wedding gown. I wore a dress-and- jacket combination with a very large hat. My granddaughter’s christening outfit, and the first designer knock-off I ever made from my tried-and-true dress pattern.


How do you handle mistakes or setbacks when working on a project?

Is that before or after I curse, scream, and maybe even cry?! *LOL* Usually I set it aside and pout. Then the answer comes to me how to fix it, either when going to sleep or when I wake up. I solve a lot of sewing problems in my dreams.

What are you currently making?

I’m in love with the creative challenge of panel and border print fabrics now. So, I’m working on a MimiG Katie shirt/tunic from a panel print. The fabric is from Julia Allisson Cost, who designs the most beautiful Hawaiian floral prints based upon her artwork.

Carolyn made this gown with silk shantung and a floral embroidered mesh overlay for her granddaughter to wear to a cotillion.
Then Carolyn made a second cotillion dress, also of silk shantung and embroidered mesh overlay, for her other granddaughter.

If you could have anything in the world to support your craft, what would it be?

Unlimited sewing time in a well-stocked sewing room. I mean wouldn’t you want all the time to take wonderful journeys and flights of fancy with your sewing with a well-stocked cupboard? It would be like winning the lottery.

For more of the most followed and admired sewers on Instagram, check out the Threads  Sewing Influencers collection.


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  1. user-7928369 | | #1

    You are amazing, Rebecca! I hope you get all the time you need and want to sew!

  2. MaryJeanC | | #2

    I've been reading your blog for a while, Carolyn - everything you make is just so beautiful and so beautifully made! I also went to the Singer sewing store for lessons one summer "back in the day" and made Barbie clothes from scraps and old clothing - fun to read about you having similar experiences. Many summer days were spent taking apart old clothes to refashion into something wearable for myself or to make into craft items and I learned to embroider on a piece of a worn-out sheet that my mom drew designs on in pencil for me to follow. Anyway, I love everything you make and thank you for sharing what you do with the rest of us - your granddaughter is one lucky girl to have such gorgeous outfits custom-made for her!

  3. user-7145584 | | #3

    Carolyn is one of my sewing heroes. She's the border print Queen! Everything she makes is stunningly unique, and there's a sense of joy in all her makes. It's also reassuring to know that sewing dilemmas keep her up at night!

  4. user-7722789 | | #4

    I too think of solving sewing problems in my sleep or daydreaming. Gives the brain time to rest& refocus. Thanks for your blog

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