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Maker Moment: An interview with Marisa Lynch of New Dress a Day

Posted by Melissa Massello  November 7, 2012 03:34 PM

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Staring her 30th birthday in the face, pink slip from her Los Angeles-based online magazine in hand, Marisa Lynch went to drown her sorrows in a showing of the end-all, be-all of 365-day-adventure journeys: Julie & Julia.

By the time she walked out of the theater, Marisa was inspired to use the sewing skills she inherited from her mom, a home economics teacher, to turn secondhand fashion rejects into stunning runway knock-offs. Plus, because it was the height of the Recession and she was newly "funemployed," Marisa decided she was going to do it all for less than $1 a day, and her blog New Dress a Day was born.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marisa for Shoestring back in 2010 (when she was only at day 255 of her 365-day DIY challenge), and was immediately in "lurve," to borrow a Marisa-ism. Since then, a beautiful DIY friendship was born and Marisa has catapulted to DIY stardom through on-screen appearances with Nate Berkus, Ricki Lake, Anderson Cooper, and Martha Stewart, just to name a few. Like this before & after segment she did last year with the E! Red Carpet team at the Oscars, where she transformed dresses from Goodwill into paparazzi-worthy gowns for the actresses who played the sisters in The Fighter -- Lowell, represent!

Marisa's passion is sharing her love for "crafternoons" and creative "zhuzhing" of thrift store finds with fashion-hungry (yet broke) ladies everywhere with the publication of her new book, New Dress a Day: The Ultimate DIY Guide to Creating Fashion Dos from Thrift-Store Don'ts (Ballantine, 2012).

As promised in our inaugural DIY Boston post, we're kicking off the first of our DIY Boston Nights workshops this weekend with a book signing and crafter reception for Marisa!

So, while we have this effervescent, Amy Adams-esque fashion expert captive, we asked her our Maker Moment questions. Below, Marisa shares more about her obsession with muumuus, what she loves to do when she's not sewing, and, even though she's never lived here (cough, cough, yet), why she's a big fan of Boston.

What's the first project you remember making/crafting?
First project was a sweatshirt in 7th grade home ec. I chose teal, obviously, because it was 1992. That was the first project with a sewing machine!

Most successful project? Biggest fail?
Most successful project ? hmm, I'd say any of the pieces that I've done for other people. I just did a wedding veil for a girlfriend who got hitched and she was beyond moved. Things like that are the most successful to me ? she was happy, so I was happy! Biggest fail ? I think that some projects I love more than others, but none I'd say was a total fail!

What do you DIY the most?
I love muumuus. I think I was Homer Simpson in a former life.

Favorite/least favorite tools/materials?
Obsessed with Fray Check and glue guns!! Is it weird that I love the smell of hot glue?

Has a project outcome ever surprised you?
YES! I just finished a piece that I wore to a wedding that I dyed. I wasn't sure how the color was going to turn out and it ended up being a subtle shade of blue and absolutely stunning!

What's the best advice you've ever received?
As long as you feel good in what you're wearing, that's all that matters!

What's your top tip for first-timers?
I know it might be scary to cut a garment that is in perfectly fine condition, but start with baby steps and go crazy Edward Scissorhands-ing an old t shirt or rag before you begin on a piece you're super excited about.

Anything you DIY now that you never thought you would?
I've been starting to do a ton of home pieces! Not that I didn't think I would, but starting to carve out time outside of garments has been awesome!

What won't you ever DIY/when do you call in the experts?
Ooh, that would have to be anything that cost a fortune or something like a pair of excellent pants or a blazer that needs perfection tailoring. For those pieces, I will drop them off to a real, pattern-experted, professional tailor.

"When I'm not making stuff, I'm..."
Watching copious amounts of television. Obsessed with Breaking Bad, Homeland, and Revenge! And cooking ? I have a monthly cooking club with girlfriends, so I love to go hog wild with epicurious recipes!

Have you ever lived in Boston?
I've never lived in Boston, however I applied to Boston College (and got in!!) and some of my best friends are Emerson, BC, and Northeastern grads. Straight up love for the Pats, even though I'm a Jets fan tried and true. What...Tom Brady is a babe?!?!

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Get to meet, have your book signed by, and DIY with Marisa in Boston this Saturday from 6 to 9 pm at 40Berkeley (40 Berkeley Street, Boston 02116). Bring your potential fashion upcycling projects for expert evaluation and enter your piece into a raffle: one lucky lady (or gent) will have their raw secondhand score remade onsite by Marisa herself!

Space is limited, RSVP at Eventbrite.com (free).

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the Authors

Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out More »
Tara Bellucci is a Boston-based writer that lives for fonts, food, and flea market finds. Whether decorating jars of her homemade jam for The Boston More »

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