Susanne Grabowski

sewist + writer

I’m a writer, working alternately on a novel and a collection of personal essays, and I live in Austin, TX with my husband and two children. I find that sewing is the perfect complement, or perhaps antidote, to writing. It’s a creative act that comes with instructions: what a revelation! It’s soothing and meditative, tactile and concrete, and I love the way that each project presents a series of eminently solvable problems. I’ve always loved clothes–I have to restrain myself from describing in way too much detail what every character in every scene I write is wearing–and I haven’t encountered anything else that brings me as much pure and uncomplicated joy as sewing clothes to fit my body in whatever colors and fabrics I choose.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

I have a pretty much lifelong habit of listening to music while working with my hands. As a child, I drew and painted, sewed countless doll pillows, and fashioned all kinds of weird stuff out of modeling clay, paper clips, tape, and whatever else I could find to the soundtrack of my parents’ music–which was good! Lots of early Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, Stones… Later, I spent the happiest hours of my otherwise supremely angsty 90s adolescence alone in my bedroom discovering the wonders of indie rock while I beaded chokers and collaged mixtape covers. Now I sew to music probably 60% of the time; I do audiobooks and podcasts the other 40%. The combination of meditative handiwork and music makes me feel more like myself than anything else. Absorption in a physical task has a way of turning off the neurotic parts of my brain, and music evokes feelings and memories so intensely; the combination makes me feel creative and free.

Tell us about your playlist:

I sew primarily at night after my children go to bed, so I wanted to make a playlist to go with the rhythm of a nighttime sewing sesh: starting off with a burst of energy to get myself going, then settling into a quieter, more introspective flow state. I began with the Oogum Boogum Song because every garment sewist should know it. It’s a love song… about outfits! It’s the best. “When you wear your bell bottom pants/ I just stand there in a trance…” Right??

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sublimation hour

  1. Oogum Boogum Song – Brenton Wood
  2. Babies – Pulp
  3. Death of a Clown – The Kinks
  4. Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
  5. The Sublimation Hour – Destroyer
  6. Thinning – Snail Mail
  7. Michigan Girls – Califone
  8. Naomi – Neutral Milk Hotel
  9. royal screw up – Soccer Mommy
  10. I Felt My Size – The Microphones
  11. Imagining My Man – Aldous Harding
  12. I Walked with a Zombie – Roky Erickson
  13. I Went Dust – J Mascis
  14. We Are Real – Silver Jews
  15. Amberjack – Stephen Malkmus
  16. Hold Me Anyway – Wilco
  17. Try Again – Big Star
  18. St. Cloud – Waxahatchee