Interview with Natalie Purschwitz from MakeShift

on June 7 | in Interviews + Profiles | by | with 86 Comments

Natalie is on Day 276 of her amazing MakeShift art and research project. She’s working to complete one full year of designing and creating all of the clothing she wears. Natalie writes, “I will only wear things that I have made myself. Initially this may seem like a reasonable task, but it will include all of my clothes, socks, shoes, underwear, coats, jackets, hats, bathing suits, accessories and anything else I might need to protect my body from the elements while trying to lead a fulfilling life.” As we enter a full month of inspiration, tips, projects and more all centered on sewing clothing we thought it would be fun to talk with Natalie a little about her efforts!

SMS: First off I just want to say how utterly impressed we are with your project now nearing 300 days into the venture, and what you’ve been able to accomplish! What gave you the initial idea for MakeShift? Did you sew a lot before the project?
Natalie: I had/have a small and random clothing line called Hunt & Gather. I noticed that I was often wearing at least one thing that I’d made myself and was curious to see if I could make everything. I really enjoy figuring out how to make things and I’d always wanted to try my hand at making shoes. The shoes, naturally, have been my biggest challenge.

SMS: Tell us more about those amazing shoes!
Natalie: All of the shoes look better than they feel. Having said that though, I think I have learned a lot and now that I have discovered foam soles I’m laughing! And actually the sneakers that I made in September and then wore for many months were pretty comfortable. And held up surprisingly well. They are pretty much “done” now.

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April 17, 2010

SMS: How do you approach design for a new piece of clothing? Are you more inspired by need through this project, or do you find you “need” less and thus have more freedom and time for process?
Natalie: I have been definitely the most inspired by need throughout most of the year. When spring arrived I was suddenly more inspired to make things that are pretty and a bit more frivolous. Finding the time is another issue altogether though.

SMS: How is your wardrobe different this year with the project, as opposed to past years?
Natalie: It’s a little rougher around the edges. I don’t clean up very nicely and don’t even think about inviting me to a formal event.

SMS: How have people reacted to MakeShift? I know you had a showroom schedule posted for May… Has there been a lot of interest in the project as you move through the year?
Natalie: There has been a surprising amount of interest. It still shocks me. I’ve been in magazines and newspapers and on TV shows and blogs all over the world.

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May 13, 2010

SMS: Has anything been especially challenging or rewarding in the process for you this past year?
Natalie: It has all been challenging and rewarding! I think because I’m still immersed in it, it’s hard for me to pinpoint the things I’ve learned so far. Those things hopefully will become evident later when I can put things into perspective a bit more. Right now I’m too involved in the doing aspect of it.

Thank you, Natalie! If you would like a little touch of the MakeShift project you can sign up for Natalie’s Super! Surprise! Program. Round 5 is now open and will close on June 30. It’s a way to purchase your very own MakeShift accessory and support the project at the same time. You can also check out the MakeShift blog for daily views of Natalie’s outfits.


We’re giving away fabulous prizes this month from SINGER, Ottobre Design and Sew,Mama,Sew!

1–Comment Here

Comment in any post this month to be entered into a weekly drawing for great prizes from SINGER and Sew,Mama,Sew!

2–Enter the Make It, Wear It! Challenge

Submit a photo of clothing you make this June in our Make It, Wear It! Challenge photo pool or in this thread in the Forum. You might win a SINGER sewing machine or a subscription to Ottobre.

See this post for details about all the prizes this month!

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86 Responses to Interview with Natalie Purschwitz from MakeShift

  1. Rosa in the Antipodes says:

    I’ve been following her blog for several weeks and I’m always amazed how beautiful are all her outfits! I do love her shoes, but her skirts are just EXQUISITE, especially a denin one! I spent a LOT of time thinking about how she made them! Wish she could share the “secret” with us, humble mortals!

  2. sang says:

    Wow, I don’t think I could make every single item of my daily wear! kudos to you!

  3. Laurel says:

    For the umpteenth repeat… Wow!

  4. Tammy says:

    Wow, that is so amazing!

  5. Claire says:

    Wow!That is really amazing!

  6. Heather says:

    I could make flip flops but my piggies would be really cold in winter. IMPRESSIVE

  7. Kathryn says:

    I am amazed – I thought the petal dress was awesome until I read the bit about making shoes. Beyond awesome!

  8. ~Helena~ says:

    Awesome, great job.

  9. Marci Girl says:

    When I was in high school, I went the entire school year without repeating an outfit…that is the same right? Just kidding, I can not imagine having to figure out making my own shoes! Really neat concept, and if more people would stop and think about what it takes to outfit us everyday and the “manpower” it takes to create even the simple things we don’t think about!

  10. Trish B. says:

    wow, that’s interesting… the shoes would flip me out though.

  11. Katie says:

    Wow, Although Vancouver has a fairly mild climate, it sure would be hard to make everything you wear. Good for you! I’d rather be living somewhere warm all year for this project!

  12. susan hwang says:

    love the makeshift blog 🙂

  13. Paige says:


  14. BreannaS says:

    What an awsome idea!

  15. Corvus says:

    How very inspiring! I’d love to try something like that at some point, though I suspect I’d require more exceptions.

  16. Vida says:

    So amazing, I’m so impressed she’s making her own shoes

  17. Kelli says:

    WOW! I’d never be organized enough to think of what I needed in time to get it made. I’d be barefoot and half-dressed all the time. Good for you, Natalie!

  18. Desiree says:

    how inspiring…. if I ever did that I would only have about two dresses to rotate & I would be barefoot all the time.

  19. Kristin says:

    wow, that is amazing! I think I would end up barefoot, though! 🙂

  20. Julia in WDM says:

    going to visit the makeshift blog right now!!!

  21. WOW WOW WOW!

  22. Jennifer says:

    Such a cool project! I’m so inspired!

  23. Rebecca says:

    Your clothes are so gorgeous! you are such an inspiration!

  24. Sofie says:

    What an inspiration. Some days I cant be bothered walking into the sewing room. For Natalie it is a necessity. I wonder what she’ll do with all her time when she finishes. Im surprised there hasn’t been more coverage about this project.

  25. beth says:

    Wow! What an ambitious project!

  26. rosie says:

    i totally love that orange skirt. what a cool idea!

  27. Maggie says:

    Making shoes would be a daunting task in and of itself. I am impressed

  28. Sylvie says:

    This is truly amazing!
    I did not think one could make his own shoes!
    And the clothes are great too!

  29. Elizabeth B says:

    Oh my word. That’s highly impressive.

  30. Joke says:

    Ooooh those yellow shoes are so cool! You are impressive 🙂

  31. cecilia says:

    i love everything she does! specially skirts and jackets!

  32. corinnea says:

    Holy cow! I cannot even contemplate trying this. Very inspiring!

  33. viquena says:

    the shoes are what amaze me the most. eek!

  34. She is so inspiring! I would love to do this, I just don’t think that I would have the time to make enough clothes! But maybe..

  35. Rachel says:

    Amazing. I’m super impressed that she made shoes!

  36. Mama Lusco says:

    Wow! What an undertaking! Congrats on making it this far – impressive stuff!

  37. Sigrid says:

    I’ve been following this blog for awhile now and find her project and style so inspiring.

  38. Ginger says:

    Wow! I’m impressed.

  39. Wow! She made her own shoes!!!! That’s really amazing!

  40. Elaine Barnett says:

    How amazing is Natalie’s journey!
    I’ve bookmarked it and will be avidly reading!

    God bless!


  41. Casey says:

    I can’t even imagine how she finds the time to make everything herself, especially shoes! I am so impressed!

  42. Munaiba says:

    Wow that is amazing. What a project!

  43. amber says:

    I LOVE this dress! The colors and the architectural design are simply fantastic.

  44. Valerie says:

    Really interesting! It would take a lot of time to be able to do this, but would be worth it!

  45. sy says:

    great project 😀 making shoes sound hard, love the ones you’ve made.

  46. wendy says:

    This I definitely could not do! I just finished my second garment for myself, ever, which I plan to upload a photo of soon. It turned out pretty well!

  47. april says:

    what an inspiring idea

  48. Ramona says:

    Wow. That is pretty impressive. It is one thing to make clothes but socks, and shoe. That is way more of a challenge.

  49. Sara says:

    Wow, I can’t imagine making EVERYTHING, including shoes and bathing suits and bras! What skill!

  50. Lynne in NC says:

    Wow! what an inspiration. Thanks for sharing. Peace.

  51. little grubs says:

    What an inspiring story!!!! It really has motivated me to make *something* for me this year! x

  52. marla says:

    singer? yes, please!

  53. Andi says:

    Amazing – right down to the shoes! Great interview and an inspiring project.

  54. 4vs1 says:

    Wow! This is the first I have heard of Natalie and her amazing adventure! What a year! I bet it has been and will continue to be an amazing and rewarding experience.

  55. Cat says:

    such fun clothes. I love it

  56. Clare says:

    Great interview. She makes her own shoes! Very dedicated.

  57. Latrilla says:

    I am thoroughly impressed with the idea of making one’s own shoes let alone the entire project. That is amazing! I am sure there is a greater appreciation for your creative outlet with the ability to create, design and wear ALL that you make. Truly impressive!

  58. Kerry says:

    Natalie’s dedication is inspiring. Making socks underwea and even shoes is seriously daunting.

  59. Brigette says:

    What an interesting project. Especially in our culture where we have so many more clothes than we actually need. Being pregnant right now I’m experiencing a limited wardrobe. It is amazing how it makes it even more exciting when I have something new to add to my rotation.

  60. Michele says:

    Inspiring! I’m looking forward to following her blog.

  61. Michelle says:

    So this is totally impressive! And by the way, I’d kill for those yellow clogs 🙂

  62. Miss Prickly says:

    Wow Natalie, You are one brave woman!

  63. qsogirl says:

    I am super impressed by this project… My goodness, even shoes?! wow.

  64. Kate says:

    I think shoes and underwear would be the hardest parts of this. But she is doing wonderfully!

  65. nicole says:

    I’ve been following Natalies Blog for a few months now and love her clothes. I’m still scared of cutting fabric, let alone making my own clothes without a commercial pattern. But WOW do I want to get there!

  66. faith says:

    Wow. That is really neat. I will have to check out her blog when I get home from work. I love this idea.

  67. kate C. says:

    This is really inspiring! Cool project!
    thanks for the interview!

  68. Beth says:

    I have recently seen a number of similar projects (the Uniform Project comes to mind) and find it fascinating!

  69. says:

    Wow, that’s amazing. I never would have tried shoes, you go girl.

  70. Sonya M says:

    I am amazed that she makes her own shoes as well! I think I’d be limited to sandals or thongs, since anything else seems so difficult. Good for her!

  71. Teresa says:

    What an amazing project and the outfits look great. Not so sure about the shoes but then they are the most difficult, as Natalie says.

  72. Jennifer S. says:

    Very cool project – quite an undertaking. This year I am doing a mini project of my own which includes not buying any clothing this year, and as I recover from having a baby last year this is starting to include alot of self altered pieces, but certainly not mostly self made 🙂

  73. Caroline says:

    Very neat! I love the colors in the second outfit.

  74. kerri says:

    Hey, she may not impress herself the way she impresses us. I’d kill for those yellow clogs! Well done, lady!

  75. Rebecca says:

    Great interview.

  76. ValH says:

    This is so amazing … I love Natalie’s style!

  77. Marcia W. says:

    This is an interesting research challenge Natalie has set for herself.

  78. Andi says:

    What an amazing thing to do! It would be such a challenge to make everything you wear, even shoes! Thanks for the little slice of inspiration.

  79. Krystina says:

    Great idea, really nice clothes!

  80. Tong says:

    Very cool, thanks for sharing with us!

  81. Bonnie says:

    Very cool!! I’m definitely going to be checking out her blog and following her project.

  82. EstherH says:

    really inspiring! wow…

  83. Jen says:

    wow. … that’s incredible. I can see trying to do this with just your basic clothes, but including shoes, coats, hats, etc is amazing.

  84. Megan L says:

    Oh man, this is amazing!

  85. Amy says:

    I can’t even imagine trying to do this. Especially the shoes!

  86. Wow! That’s amazing…right down to the shoes.

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