Tuesday, January 22, 2013

T-Shirt Reconstruction from the Vault

I love this t-shirt reconstruction I made this past summer. I created a sweetheart neckline and added black stretchy fabric to fill in the shoulder area.

I thought it could be a mini-dress but it was way too short for me so I cut it and made it a top. I really love it.  

What do you think?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Personal Musings about The New York City School Bus Strike

I had to admit that when I heard about the possibility of the school bus strike, I went into panic mode. Don't get me wrong, I am totally on the side of the bus drivers and matrons. This happens to be one of the rare instances where something that I support,  negatively affects me as I have two kids that take the school bus. The bus drivers and matrons on these buses work hard, are trained, and are compassionate. The city wants to save money by bidding out contracts that will not provide job security, paying lower wages to untrained workers at the expense of our children. I already wrote to my Councilman and Congressman about it, I just hope it gets resolved soon.

Nevertheless, I had heart palpatations thinking about how I would get the kids to and from school. I don't drive, and even if I did, my hubby takes the car to work. When I spoke to my hubby, he reassured me and gave me different scenarios. Okay, I calmed down for a bit. 

Then I thought, okay, fine, I'll get the kids to school but by the time I get back I'll have like 2 hours before I have to get them again! How was I going to find the time to do my re-fahions, sew new clothes, screenprint, prepare my tutorials, do my photoshoots ,add more items to my Etsy shop, update my Facebook, etc. In my head, there was a whirlwind of worry.

When you are a mother of two special needs kids and also a creative person, a maker of things, if you will, guarding your time is of utmost importance. From the time I put the boys on the bus, until they come home, I become fashion/crafty/DIY Nellie! The fabric comes out; ink, t-shirts and screens appear from nowhere, snaps, buttons, zippers, sweatshirts, and thread make their way into every inch of my apartment. It's my process. I need to see all my materials before I figure out what I will make that day.  I screen calls, do little housework (much to the dismay of my hubby), and limit my lunches with friends, all in the service of summoning the crafting muse. 

I can't do this when the kids are around, especially my little one who eats fabric and buttons, unravels thread, and runs with scissors every chance he gets. This is my very sacred time.
And now the bus strike is three days in and cutting into my precious hours. Hours that I so desperately need to be a better mom. Because, let me tell you, if I don't have my creative time, cranky mom is what's coming down the line!

Deep breathe. After my bout of desperation, I close my eyes and decide to take it day by day. I knew the strike was supposed to be starting this past Wednesday so on Monday and Tuesday, I screened as many of my orders as possible and cut as much fabric as I could so those tedious tasks would be done by the time Wednesday rolled around, and rolled around  it did, with no school buses honking away. However, I have to say, that I have been met with some unexpected realizations and happenings that I would have not taken notice of if it weren't for this strike: 

1. I saw my hubby, once again, step up to the plate and rearrange his schedule so he could be available. I was reminded of how wonderful he is, why I chose him as my life partner, why I fell in love with him. If there is anyone I was going to partner with in this crazy journey of parenting special needs kids, it would be him. 

2. Along those lines, the ride to and from each of the boys' schools, has given us time to joke, chat, enjoy adult conversation without having to referee fights between the boys in the backseat and my 10 year old asking us what we are talking about.

3. I have extra time to talk with my oldest in the morning, when he is his most chatty, instead of having to hurry him along so we don't miss the bus.

4. I again have to deal with my issue of not wanting to ask for help. Hubby has a high pressure job and can't always get off from work to get the kids. The hardest part for me is to walk in this sense of dependence and be turned down. In the coming weeks, if the strike continues, I am going to have to make some phone calls and ask if anyone can pitch in and be okay if anyone says no. So far I asked our aunt today and she said yes!

5. In an effort to save time, I have been limiting my time on the internet, and I am surprised at how much sewing I am accomplishing.

6. After I drop off my youngest, I take the bus back. It gives me an hour to read, to structure my day, and yes, to write this very blog post. 

Sometimes a disruption in routine can cause you to take notice of things, people, issues, you might have not paid attention to otherwise. Time is what you make of it. I was moaning because I felt I would be losing time but I did find time for the important things, things that add value to my life.  

That's not to say I don't want this bus strike to be over as soon as possible!  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tutorial: Make a Belt from Boots!

I am so excited about this new tutorial! It's been in the works for a while. It's a belt from boots!

I have had these boots for about three years and they finally broke on me. 3 years is not bad for $10 boots, right? I should be sad but it actually made me happy because there were so many possibilities. These boots had cute buckles so I had options; should I make a cuff? A belt? A hat? I chose to make a belt out of it.

To start, position your scissor ½ inch away from zipper and cut around it.

Then cut around the ankle of the boot. What you want to do is free the whole top part of the boot from the bottom.

Do this for the other boot so you can have two similar pieces like these. 

I straightened the edges of the pieces I am going to sew together to make it easier to sew in a straight line.

I measured to make sure I cut the same amount on each side. With this detail, I had to make sure it looked symmetrical.

Now they look about the same size on each side.

There was a lot of padding in this boot so I cut the edge off so it would be easier to sew.

Here it is with the two pieces sewn together (sorry, forgot to include a pic of me doing that).

I also decided to top stitch the middle seam so it looks a little cleaner.

All this time I was seing the belt detail this way
Then I turned it around and it made sense! This is the natural shape of the waist!

I then thought it was too thick and would look even better without the extra bulk on top. I also thought the buckle detail would show off better.

This is what you have left.

I also cut away more of the padding in the back for easy sewing. 

Now for the elastic! I found an elastic from a dress that I didn’t wear anymore and I cut it off the dress. However, since the belt was thick, I had to use another elastic. You can  buy this kind of thick elastic at most fabric stores. 

If you recycled an elastic from a dress, like me, cut the elastic so you have one strip. Don't worry about measuring now

Place both strips of elastic on top of one side of of belt (belt, right side facing out).

Sew slowly, making sure elastic doesn’t slide while you sew. This was too thick to pin so I just held it tight. 

Turn it around and topstitch. 

I then put it on my waist and measured to see how much elastic I had to cut off to fit me nicely.

 I cut and then sewed on the other side and top stitched.

The end result, front and back.

I have to admit, I took the lazy yet difficult way out. I wanted to finish it so bad that I didn’t want to take the time to put in snaps, that is definitely another option.  The difficult part is then putting it on over your head. Oh well, at least you have the elastic to help you. 

I love the way it came out though!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Also, if you have any questions. Let me know.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year! My Four Favorite Posts of 2012

Happy New Year! I am very excited about this coming year, but as I  look back, I will definitely miss 2012. Last year was full of much growth for me both personally and professionally.

Personally, I feel like I publicly, in this blog and on my facebook page, came out as an autism mom. This post from July is my very favorite from last year because it really set the tone for my writings every since and it brought me into a sense of wholeness that I felt was missing in my life before that point. My life has always been filled with dichotomies: Puerto Rican/American, spanish/english, Christian/Secular, curly hair, straight hair (okay, maybe that's pushing it!, lol.). I didn't want to continue with yet another dichotomy; designer mom/autism mom. God had been prompting me to share my unique perspective in raising my boys and thus I am coming to you from a more authentic place. A place which allows you a peek into my autism world as I run this blog and my shop. 

Which leads me to my business growth. I had been struggling with posting more consistently here,  finding the time to design more, and sharing my sewing and wardrobe refashioning knowledge with you while screenprinting and running my etsy shop. As I prayed and God gave me wisdom, I realized that the answer was staring at me in the face all along. If I wanted to post more consistently, then I had to write about things that I am passionate about; sewing, recycling,  and re-fashioning. Thus my foray into the tutorial world! I am having such a ball sharing my creations and my step by step instructions. This is my favorite tutorial from last year; make a cuff from a sandal. I definitely will do more of these in the coming year and eventually offer some of my patterns for sale in my Etsy shop.  

Last but not least, I unveiled a very personal icon in my shop this past year; the Pelo Bueno (good hair) girl. I had always had issues surrounding my curly hair, especially growng up in a Latino community where issues of race and color are still very much alive but not talked about enough. Much like in the African American community curly/kinky hair is seen as bad hair. It's getting better today especially with all the natural hair products and inspiring natural hair t-shirts out there.  My Pelo Bueno t-shirt is a particularly Latino contribution to the natural hair conversation and conversation and stories is exacly what the shirt has been inspring! When I unveiled it for sale at the 7th annual Puerto Rican craft fair, I  got so much positive feedback,  stories, and anecdotes. It was so much fun to talk about this issue with others who felt the same way. This is my small way to continue to inspire others to be proud of who they are no matter what type of hair you have. It doesn't mean that only curly hair is good hair or that if you wear your hair straight once in a while (like me) that you're selling out. It just means that not ONLY straight hair is good.  

So there you have it,  my four favorite posts of 2012. DeVon Franklin, in his book, Produced by Faith says, "if you are true to who you are, it will open doors, not close them". I truly hope you have enjoyed this new blogging direction as it  has already opened doors to new friendships and projects which I will unveil soon. Curly hair, re-fashioning, autism; it's all bueno and it's all me.    

Happy new year and thank you so very much for continuing with me on this journey! I appreciate you.