New Column: Watching + Crafting with Danielle Henderson

by Danielle Henderson

Tanya wearing a broderie anglaise dress with insertion lace details
[Editor’s Note: I’m so thrilled to welcome one of my favorite writers and crafters to the DS family today: Danielle Henderson! Danielle will be joining us twice a month with a new column that combines craft and pop culture. She’ll be interviewing talented crafters about what they’re working on and what they’re watching while they do, which is basically our idea of an ideal weekend. Welcome, Danielle! xo, grace]

Tanya Hughes is the fun, fearless creator behind the popular sewing blog Mrs. Hughes. She’s also an editor at the Curvy Sewing Collective, which is where I first found out about her penchant for churning out beautiful, handmade dresses in her home near Yosemite National Park. I wanted to know more about what she watched while she was creating her lovely and detailed projects.

Danielle: What are you watching right now, and on which platform?

Tanya: I watch mostly DVDs in my sewing room and really enjoy watching movies and TV series that give me a lot of inspiration while I’m sewing. Last week, I was immersed in the Greta Garbo collection, with my favorites being Ninotchka and Queen Christina. Right now, I’m watching my Harry Potter DVDs, which I go back to every few months or so. There’s not a whole lot of fashion inspiration in the HP world, but I also love watching fantasy and sci-fi alongside classic films and period dramas.

Image above: Tanya wearing a broderie anglaise dress that she made herself, with insertion lace details.

Image above: Greta Garbo in Ninotchka

What’s the draw for making stuff based on different eras and historical periods?

My background is in archaeology, anthropology and history, and I’ve spent many years doing historical dress and textile research. I’ve studied museum garments in person and learned techniques to create historically inspired costumes and accoutrements in the past. I’ve always been in awe of sewists from the past and the time and work that they put into clothing. It’s my dream to recreate some historical gowns in the future, but in the meantime I’m working on incorporating heirloom techniques into my everyday wardrobe.

Image above: Freehand embroidery on a 1950s cotton peasant dress

What makes these movies a good choice for the type of crafting you’re doing?

The Harry Potter collection isn’t that inspirational when it comes to fashion, but it’s fun and I’m a HP nerd. It makes me happy, and sewing makes me happy, so the two combined make me ecstatic. Aunt Petunia does wear some 1950s outfits and it’s fun to see what she’s wearing. She can really pull off a 50s playsuit!

What are your favorite ways to craft?

I mostly sew, and you can find me in my sewing room most days creating garments. I also do embroidery and beadwork and am a beginning knitter.

How long have you been making stuff?

I’ve been crafting stuff pretty much my entire life. I started sewing and doing cross-stitch and latch hook when I was a little kid and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making things.

What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own?

When I was about four or five, I remember hand sewing a little doll pillow. My grandma helped me sew my first one and I went from there using fabric scraps from my grandma’s and my mom’s fabric stashes. I made so MANY pillows back then and even crudely embroidered my name on one of them. From pillows, I went to sewing dresses for my Barbie dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids, and it wasn’t long until I was sewing stuff for myself.

Image above: 1950s cotton sateen shirtwaist dress

What are you making right now?

I just finished a Kelly-green rayon twill dress with a ruffled neckline, which took me a little longer to finish as I did a lot of hand sewing and used couture techniques to make it, and I’m just loving how it looks on me. Next up is an avocado-green cotton double-knit wrap dress, which I’ll be starting on a little bit later today.

Do you craft for fun or for work?  

I sew for fun and mostly to make things for myself. When I’m working on a retro or historical garment, I often watch films/series from the era I’m working in, as seeing vintage fashions on the screen really motivates and inspires me.

tanya no 1
Image above: 1940s silk dress

How long does it usually take for you to finish a project?

A simple dress design usually takes me 1-3 days to finish. I’ve been implementing more couture and heirloom techniques in my dresses lately, so those can take me 1-2 weeks to complete. I’m planning on sewing a few blazers this fall/winter, and it will be interesting to see how long those will take me to finish as I’ve never made one before.

What helps you finish your projects faster?

Honestly, watching TV series on Netflix or Hulu really speeds up my work as I don’t have to get up to change the DVD!

Follow Tanya on Instagram

Suggested For You


  • Fun to imagine sewing one-of-a-kinds while watching vintage movies with Half Dome as a neighbor! Promises to be a most enjoyable column.

  • Looking forward to this column!! My work is usually too noisy for movies, but I always save the Harry Potter series for the holiday season when I know I’ll have to sit down and make about 9 million earwires. (This post also makes me want a D*S overview of couture techniques, now I’m really curious about it.)

  • I am confused. The link takes you to Danielle Henderson who looks totally different and the link to Mrs Hughes says this womans name is Tanya Maile

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