Friday, March 29, 2013

Special Needs Super Mom Spotlight: Michelle R. Howard-Smith

Here is my second post in a series I will call Special Needs Super Mom Spotlight. I am so happy to present to you the beautiful Michelle R. Howard-Smith of Special Mom Space, Radiant Brown Beauty, and mother to CJ.

I was actually led to Michelle through a google search. I typed in "special needs mom and self care"  (two subjects close to my heart) and up popped Michelle's blog, Special Mom Space.  I was intrigued and knew I had to spotlight her on my blog. 

Describe your creative journey pre-kids to post kids. How have you been transformed?
Prior to having children, there wasn't a creative bone in my body that I knew of. I was busy being cute, shopping and stuff. It was all about me and in no way did I express that creatively, other than how to assemble a wardrobe. Now, that I have my CJ I express myself through writing, specifically sharing my life as a special needs mom.
Specifically, what kind of crafting do you do and why? 
My crafting is more in the form of written word. I have so much knowledge on the subject of beauty - caring for natural hair, skin healthy and more. I have written for several blogs sharing my knowledge but I am now focusing on sharing what I know on my own blog, Radiant Brown Beauty.
I also share creative ways for special needs moms to relieve stress. I create videos for both of my blogs demonstrating a variety of things like hairstyles and thoughts on staying sane as a special needs mom.
What is your schedule like? How and when do you find the time to work? What is your process? Do you craft full time or do you have another job?
I have a jam packed schedule. I work full time Monday through Friday outside of the home. I also attend blogger events during the week after work from time to time. I do my recording and writing on the weekends. I concentrate most of my writing late at night when my son is asleep. I'd much rather stay up really late (think 3am), get it all done and be able to spend the daytime free hours with my boy.
I keep an editorial calendar so that I am never in need of topics to write about. I focus on writing around specific subjects on specific days for each of my blogs.
For Special Mom Space I share my weight loss and healthy living related posts on Mondays. On Wed/Thurs I share a specific life experience with my son or a product review/giveaway. On Saturdays I write a Scripture and Spirit post sharing thoughts based on the Word of God, scriptures in the Bible and my life as a Christian.
For Radiant Brown Beauty, I share a hair care/style related post on Mondays. On Wednesday I share a skin care related post, and on Fridays I share beauty product reviews.
From time to time I will write additional posts on other days depending on what's happening in the media or in my life.
Tell us about your child. What is his/her diagnosis and how does it affect him/her? How does it affect you?
My CJ is one of the happiest little boys I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. He loves watching TV and playing with cars. I sometimes think he has an old soul because he enjoys shows like The Golden Girls, Maude, Martin, Everybody Loves Raymond and George Lopez. He gets a real kick out of watching these shows!
My son is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, intractible epilepsy and severe developmental delays. He is 12 years old but functions like a 1 or 2 year old. Physically, he has limitations. He's in a wheelchair.
CJ does not have very many word but he manages to let us know what he wants. His favorite word as of late is Charlie. Charlie is our cat and he and CJ play so nicely together.

Besides crafting, what else do you do to relax, unwind, cope? 
I am a Christian so when stressed I pray and read The Bible. I also enjoy watching Netflix movies with my husband and son. I have an 18 year old daughter at home but, as you can imagine, she's never here! She works two jobs and goes to school.
Can you mention a particular stressful incident with your child that gave you the opportunity to employ said coping strategies?
CJ has had several epileptic attacks where he has wound up, either in the ER, or admitted to the hospital. All I know to do is pray and ask God for help. I speak the Word over CJ when a seizure comes. My favorite scriptures form my confessions, "No weapon formed against him will prosper. Healing is the children's bread and Jesus Himself took this infirmity and bore this sickness and by His stripes, you are healed." We don't have many severe seizure attacks.
What tip(s) would you give moms caring for special needs children? What have you learned?
I realize that everyone doesn't share my beliefs but all I can share is what I know and have experience with. Every mother - no every parent of a special needs child needs to develop a close relationship with God. He is our own only help and He is The Source of all strength and comfort.
In the natural, I'd say it's important to make time for yourself. Your children are important and you are their mother but you are also a woman and women have other needs. I share more tips on my blog.
Where can we find you in cyberspace? 
My social networks are as follows:
Facebook (for special needs moms):
Facebook (for beauty lovers):
Youtube: needs)
Youtube: (beauty)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sew and Tell: Draped Sweatshirt

My kids are home for spring break so I didn't have time to post my biweekly Tuesday Tutorial. Sorry about that, hopefully, I'll have it up by next week. In it's place, here you have what will be last sweatshirt post until the fall.

Here's a draped sweatshirt I made from a 3X mens sweatshirt. I know, I know, sweatshirts don't drape well but hey, I had to try it out. I like it and it does look good with leggings. 
I also like the sleeves which are half off. A little Star Warsy, no? I need every bit of warrior fashion to face spring break with the kids! Lol.

Here it is without the belt. 

I then decided to add a snap to it and now I love it even more. 
"Wait a second children, one last pic"

I feel like a warrior mom ready to tackle spring break with the kids!!!


Friday, March 22, 2013

"My Mom LIkes to Sew"

My oldest (M) wrote this little composition last year. I was happy for many reasons; his writing is getting better, he chose me to write about (you had to choose a family member) and he focused on my sewing. The last part, warmed my heart. 

One of the most difficult decisions I had to make when my kids got diagnosed with autism was to quit my job and stay home with them. Working from home can be quite isolating and it is still something I struggle with. This is part of the reason I started this blog, an attempt at community and a desire to want to be seen.  

When my oldest came home with this essay it felt like he was saying "I see you, I see you sewing, and I know you like it, and I know it's your job, and you are contributing to our family."  One of the issues some kids on the autism spectrum have is their inability to see outside their world. M would spend long stretches of time, by himself, lining up cars and playing with strings. He still will talk to you, hours on end, about sports, not caring whether you are interested or not. The fact that he now comes home, asks me about my day, what I sewed, who I printed on what t-shirt, well, it's just so amazing for me to see. He has come such a long way. 

Peek a boo, I see you. I played this with M all the time when he was younger. Well, guess what. He now sees me too. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

International Working Women's Day this Saturday

This is where I'll be this coming Saturday! This is the second year I was invited to attend this event and I am so honored. I met some lovely, cool, intelligent, ladies last year and am looking forward to the same this year. I will also be selling my shirts, so if you are in Spanish Harlem in NYC, drop by!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sew and Tell: Sweatshirt Jumpsuit #2

I know that spring is coming soon and I will have to hang up my sweatshirts but it is still cold here in New York and I am still sporting these so I might as well show you this second sweatshirt jumpsuit while I still can! Remember the first? I also made this one from 2 1/12 sweatshirts. 

I thought it would be too bulky if I made the pockets from sweatshirts so these were made from t-shirt. Unlike the first jumpsuit, these pockets are also deeper so they appear less drapey.  Like the first one, though, the bottom part of the legs are made from left over sleeves. I really do have to post a tutorial. 

Like my striped socks! The overlapping v-neck contains less fabric than the first as to, again, do away with the bulk.  

What do you think? Would you wear one of these? Attempt to make one?  Which do you like better? The first or the second?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tutorial Tuesday: Turning Fashion on its Head; Upside Down Jacket Tutorial

A while back I accidentally put one of my jackets on upside down and voila! A new idea was born. 

I noticed that by putting the bottom part at the top, a very wide collar on a cropped jacket was created. I liked the collar idea but not the cropped part so I decided I was going to reinvent this whole upside down jacket concept. 

I started out with this jacket
that I bought at a thrift store. I knew that I wanted lettering on it because I wanted people to tell that I had turned it upside down. I also wanted it to be green as I knew St. Patricks Day was approaching.

This Audubon Soccer jacket was perfect.  It was green, had lettering, and it also had snaps which could add some interest. I don't know how Coach Accardi (coach's name is in the front) would feel about my refashioning his team's jacket. Oh well. 

I started by cutting it apart; arms are cut and the bottom was cut shorter in the front than in the back.

This is still right side up. I sewed up the lining on the bottom of the top portion and did the same for the bottom.

Then I turned the top and bottom upside down where you get a wider collar on top and on the bottom, you get a triangle hemline. 

I stitched the two halves together this way. I had to create pleats on the middle lower back so the two halves could line up evenly. Can you tell that the collar is the lower back now?

This is what it looks like from the front.

This is how it looks on me

 Front and back.

For the most part, I used the snaps from the original design but I did add 2 snaps at the top and one snap on the bottom of the top part. 
I also did away with the sleeves and simply sewed the green part of the sleeves over the lining turning it into a vest. The upside down pockets are useless now!  

I really liked the way it came out. It's a great vest for transitioning into Spring. Happy early St. Patricks Day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Update on Frida Kahlo Color Block Custom Order

Hello! Last Saturday I told you about this custom order I was working on.

Well, here it is! My client wanted it in blue and red. I really like the way it came out, very super heroish with this color combination.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Refashioning Something I Made Myself: Ruched Green/Blue Dress

Lately, I have been overwhelmed with lack of sleep, my Dan's fussiness, and my older son's constant complaining. I also have not been feeling well. That said, I have not completed many sewing projects. 

However, I wanted to show you some pics of a dress I made from a self-drafted pattern. I have been working on this project,  on and off, for quite a while but am not super happy with it. The ruching got away from me, it's too long, and I don't like the color anymore. Not what I had in mind.  

I do think there is hope for it somewhere. I am into refashioning, so this time, it will be from something I made myself! I am thinking of either cutting it and making it a tunic or making a high waisted skirt from the bottom half. I might cut the sleeves off too.  

You can tell from my expression that I don't love it, lol. 

Do you have any ideas for refashioning this?