Chances are the outfit Susan is wearing is an original. A Susan Kienitz original. Susan sews. She makes almost all of her clothes—products of hours in the sewing room inside her Murfreesboro, North Carolina, home that contains three sewing/embroidery machines. She still owns the treadle sewing machine she inherited from her grandmother.
She started with a workhorse Bernina but has since upgraded and added a Brother Serger and a Bernina sewing and embroidery machine.
Her daughter, Michelle, is grown, but Susan’s most cherished keepsake remains a red, white and black dress with a sash and lace collar.
“I made it for my daughter when she was 8,” Susan said. “It was beautiful. We had her pictures taken in it. She loved it, and that’s all that matters.”
When Michelle was growing up, it wasn’t unusual for her to fall asleep to the hum of the machine in her mother’s room.
“You don’t know how many meals I’ve burnt,” said Susan, who often loses herself in her various projects.
These days, she doesn’t have as much time. Susan’s weekday commute means up to two hours in the car, so retreating to her sewing room during evenings and weekends provides a welcome respite.
“I love to work with my hands,” she said. “When I make something, it’s an original. It’s mine. And you won’t find another one.”
She used to sell her couture clothes via an online boutique, but now focuses on crafting her own clothes and making gifts for others, including lap quilts.
Susan looks forward to next summer when she will attend her first sewing convention in Newport Beach, California. Self-taught, she learned with books and rented videos and looks forward to enhancing her skills in July.
“I like challenging myself to do something I’ve never done,” she said. “I like going from the design phase to sewing it to the end product. Then I feel like I’ve accomplished something. It’s the only thing I do where I feel I’m in control and the only person I have to please is myself (unfortunately also my own worst critic).”