Hannah Hamill

Sewist / maker

I am a California native living in Paris, where we recently relocated for my husband’s job. I am an extroverted sewist, maker and mom with two kids and a cat. I’m currently a stay at home mom embracing/surviving having young kids at home, and the constant threat of isolation in that role (and my husband’s typical Monday-Thursday travel schedule) is what led me to re-discover my love for sewing, the sewing community, and the creative process.

I learned to sew when I was 11 years old but really got into sewing for myself when my oldest was two years old. I have always loved clothes and fashion, which can feel sad when you’re a stay at home mom and your community wears lots of athleisure (note: this is not at all the case in Paris, where I am usually quite underdressed among the mom set). Sewing my own clothes scratches a creative itch and motivates me to continue to experiment with my wardrobe even when it’s totally impractical.

I’m driven by curiosity, community, and ideas that I can’t get out of my head till I make them. I mainly sew for myself and sometimes for my kids and the occasional baby gift. During confinement I’ve also started to pick up knitting, which has been a fun way to challenge myself and work toward a goal of rounding out my handmade wardrobe with knitwear.

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

Most of my vivid childhood memories are tied to specific songs and musicians—tiptoe-chasing my siblings through the house with Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” blasting on the stereo, hearing “Zombie” by the Cranberries for the first time on the radio and learning that popular music could be very serious, my sister playing well-worn copies of Enya sheet music on the piano, dancing with my dad in the living room to Leonard Cohen’s “Take This Waltz.”Music is inextricably tied to my creative process, whether I’m using it as background noise while I’m in the zone, or if I’m using it as a mode of creative expression that isn’t making something with my hands.

My mom is not at all musical but was determined that her six kids would at least make it through a few years of piano lessons. My curiosity and knack for sight-reading helped me stay interested beyond my parents’ minimum requirement and I have been playing piano now for 27 years, and the organ for 21 years. This leg of my musical journey most closely resembles my creative process—I would not consider myself a natural when it comes to the piano or the organ, and the necessary practice and inevitable frustration involved in learning these instruments and mastering pieces prepared me very well for the highs and lows that come with making both simple and complex garments.

Tell us about your playlist:

Nighttime, when I typically sew, is my time to listen to literally anything that isn’t Caspar Babypants or Raffi. My daytime music is usually a lot more upbeat and kid-friendly (even if it isn’t actually by a children’s artist; I’m doing my best to show my kids that mom’s music is fun too), but at night I get into deep focus mode, where my musical tastes get moodier as the sun goes down. This playlist is less energetic than my usual disposition, but it’s full of old and new musical friends to hang out with when I’m settling in for a long night of concentration.

The playlist title references a lyric from Philip Glass’s “Knee Play 5” from the super bizarre opera “Einstein on the Beach.” My dad had a Philip Glass album with this song on it and it has basically been stuck in my head for the past 30ish years.

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  1. You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen
  2. Einstein on the Beach: Knee 5 – Philip Glass, Philip Glass Ensemble, Michael Riesman
  3. Like Spinning Plates – Radiohead
  4. Dance – Rebecca & Fiona
  5. Satyagraha: Protest – Philip Glass, Douglas Perry, Christopher Keene, New York City Opera Orchestra
  6. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
  7. Gold Dust Woman – 2004 Remaster – Fleetwood Mac
  8. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) – Arcade Fire
  9. ’39 – 2011 Mix – Queen
  10. Hold You Now (feat. Danielle Haim) – Vampire Weekend, Danielle Haim
  11. Streets of Philadelphia – Single Edit – Bruce Springsteen
  12. Belong – R.E.M.
  13. Woman In Chains – Tears For Fears, Oleta Adams
  14. I Need My Girl – The National
  15. You Never Knew My Mind (Johnny Cash: Forever Words) – Chris Cornell
  16. Either Way – Wilco
  17. All Night – Beyoncé
  18. The Dark End of the Street – James Carr
  19. All I Need – Radiohead
  20. Drive – The Cars
  21. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
  22. I Am Easy To Find – The National
  23. Sleep Tonight – Stars
  24. I Have Never Loved Someone – My Brightest Diamond
  25. Zebra – Beach House
  26. Love Like A Sunset Part II – Phoenix
  27. New York – Blind Pilot
  28. Afterglow – CHVRCHES