In honor of a fallen soldier and fellow classmate <3

A true hero ❤

I couldn’t let today go by without paying my respects to a fellow high school classmate who was laid to rest this morning after giving the ultimate sacrifice of his life for our country. Sgt. Carlo Eugenio, assigned to the 756th Transportation Company, 224th Sustainment Brigade, California Army National Guard, Van Nuys, Cal., was the first California National Guardsman killed while serving in Afghanistan. He was one of 17 fatalities of which only 4 were Americans (if I read the correct reports) while his convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber, in Kabul.

While reading the reports on such a tragedy, yet a reality we hear about too often, his death is not just a number to add to the list of fallen soldiers. He was a life…he was a brother….he was a son….he was an uncle….he was a friend….to me, a fellow high school classmate. Although we were not the closest of friends, we had many mutual friends and a class together here and there. The occasional “hello” while passing in the hallways, I recall his bright smile well.

Seeing his most recent photo out there brought to life the reality that this was a man we should all be grateful to have had any experience in knowing. Many of us who had the privilege of going to school with him, could not have had the foresight to realize the sacrifice he would go on to make for us, while we knew him back then. As the world beckoned all of our graduating class of 2000, had any of us any inclination of the honor he would serve us? It is a question I ponder as I solemnly reflect on this young life that is no longer, and the painful yet proud emotion that his family must be experiencing now. I find it hard not to get enveloped into questioning the bigger picture of what we are here on this earth to do, as something like this inevitably hits me hard regardless of how well I knew him. The fact is he was a true hero. He served his country, and he had to have been so brave. When he set out on that fateful day on October 29th, he may not have questioned if it would be his last, but there is no doubt that he was honorable in doing what he needed to do regardless of the risk it took.

As I came upon a lull earlier today, that I sometimes do amidst the endless amount of things I find myself needing to get done, I reminded myself that there are things bigger than me and my mundane self rants. Besides the fact there is a war going on, that I will admit I forget about in my day-to-day life, there are real men and women out there risking their lives each and everyday for us. I will not get into my opinions about any of the politics of what is going on… not my style…but I will say I feel so grateful to the soldiers who do put their lives on the line for us. The bottom line is most of  us would not trade where we are at in our comfy lives today to go be in the shoes of a soldier out there in combat. It is just a fact. I shouldn’t speak for all, but honestly if we would, then we would be there now. That is why I need to lay my greatest  gratitude, respect and regards down for Carlo and all the other fallen soldiers who have gone as well, because they truly are deserving of it. It takes something else to be out there doing what they do, something I will probably never truly understand. A bravery, a courage, a sacrifice that not many will ever know. I was honored to have known him in my youth, and forever owe him thanks for the tremendous service he gave us.

❤ May you rest in peace Carlo, and may the memory of your life and sacrifice never be forgotten ❤

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~Nelson Mandela

It was bound to happen…my first ever tutorial

I’ll admit it, I AM a tutorial junkie….there I said it…..

It’s true though, and it makes total sense in my case. I LOVE to create and to make, and obviously these days, with a search engine at our finger tips, it’s amazingly easy to find out how to do ANYTHING with simply the click of a mouse. There are so many creative ideas and fascinating inspiration floating around the web and blog land. I couldn’t help my excitement when I came across the first tutorial I actually ever tried out. It was on this awesome blog that I found so many neat things to make. This woman is amazing with her creative talents!! I also found myself taking a liking to this “re-fashioning” business. The concept is basically all about recreating and bringing new life to the underused or old clothing. As long it’s salvageable of course. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I feel that it’s a small way to make my contribution in reducing the waste in this world by re-inventing something that would otherwise be discarded. Eventually I also found some re-fashioning ideas on men’s shirts like this one here as well. That was when my first ‘men’s shirt to skirt’ refashion came about. That also began the blossoming of a relationship with my Nana’s (My Dad’s mom’s) sewing machine which I was thankfully given to use. It is a very vintage piece of machinery from the 70’s, but it held up very well over the years….they just don’t make sewing machines the way they used to. LITERALLY!!!

Oldie but goodie!!

Nowadays these machines are very high-tech and digitally made, which sounds amazing to me, but as a Newby to sewing it was good to learn on something pretty old school and basic. Let me just emphasis that I have never taken a sewing class in my life and by no means do I truly know what it is that I am doing (technically). Besides the basics that my mom taught me of sewing, it really was by trial and error that I am still learning the skill. I once again found myself doing a lot of research on the internet and of course, busted out the ol’ instruction manual that my ever prepared Nana left with it. So needless to say, my sewing skills have come along here and a lot of my work thus far has not been without flaw. I’m sure some of it could be considered a down right disgrace to some savvy seamstress out there, but hey it’s working for me so that’s all I really care about at this point. Someday I will find time to take a basic sewing class, but for now I will get by I’m sure 🙂

Anyway that’s enough of a disclaimer to my by no means expert sewing skills, and yeah about this tutorial….so my first men’s shirt refashion was this one:

A men's shirt to banded skirt refashion

It’s not the best picture or work but it turned out rather nice overall. I added an elastic waistband to it, as well as tried my hand at some applique detail at the bottom there, by cutting pieces from the upper chest of the original shirt and creating a leafy design. It works with a lot of outfits and obviously who can go wrong with a custom, one of a kind Diesel skirt right? So I have waited to get started on another shirt project, but now that time has come!!

I truly found this project quite easy, especially because it requires no pattern or crazy sewing skills. There are some out there, that get more involved but I chose to keep it simple for myself. I also decided to do this one without that elastic waistband as I did in the first one.

Materials:

  • Any men’s button up shirt
  • sewing machine
  • elastic between 3/4″ to 1  inch
  • buttons if you choose
  • lace embellishment
  • safety-pin
  • coordinating thread

So I found this lovely and simple white button-up of my husband’s that he didn’t want

Men's button-up

  • cut it pretty much across the from the lowest point of where the sleeves begin like so. The bottom part of the shirt is what will become the skirt, so you can set aside the upper piece after you cut it off. You can get very technical about this if you have a sewing guide with measurements, but I really eyeballed it and that wasn’t horribly wrong. My conclusion is that this project is easy enough that you can get away with that!
  • So you now should have a long enough piece to use as a skirt. Slipping it on at this point might be a good idea, just to make sure it falls where you want it. I personally wanted this skirt as a high-waisted skirt to use with a waist belt, so the length worked perfect!

Simple cut across

  • Next I sewed down the outer edge from where it buttons down so there will be no lifting or embarrassing “peek-a-boo” between the buttons. This should be a vertical line using a straight stitch all the way along the opening of where you would normally button it up. I start from the bottom and work my way up towards where the waist of the skirt will end up. You can follow along the already finished edge so that it still looks like a shirt just all the way closed if that makes sense.

Sewing the edge of shirt opening

  • The next step is when I found myself getting creative. I was feeling the “vintage” theme the night of this project and decided to bust out some old lace trim and buttons of my Grandmother’s (My mom’s mom) that had been given to me. She was an incredible seamstress herself and left a treasure of a collection of sewing trimmings and buttons, among other things when she passed. I was luckily able to get my hands on some from my mom, and have saved them for that “special” project. Well this was it!! I took off the original buttons from the shirt and played around with ideas for how I wanted to add the lace and which buttons to add…

A variety of old buttons!!

Lace trim

So I ultimately decided to add 3 rows of lace. One straight down over where the buttonholes are and a row on either side, with a bit of extra overhang off the bottom for some added character. Pin into place so it stays.

Lace pinned down

  • The next step would be to sew vertically down the lace and in my case I sewed along both sides so it would lay flat along the shirt…

All sewn down!!

  • The next thing I did was make a casing for the elastic to go inside the waist part of the skirt. Turning the skirt inside out for this step, you then want to fold over about an inch from the top down to the inside. This casing should be wide enough to slip your elastic through easily. It is wrong side facing…which means that the case and raw edge will be facing you and should be on the inside of the skirt. Pin it into place. I then flipped my skirt back to right side out and sewed it on a straight stitch again all the way around, being sure to stop and leave about an inch gap open to feed my elastic through. I didn’t get the best photo’s again, but it’s something!

Sewing up the casing from the right side out

  • Now you want to get your elastic ready by measuring around your waist and deducting an inch from the measurement. Or I just hold the elastic around as tight as I will want the finished product and trim it straight from there. Once you have your piece of elastic cut and measured, you need to attach a safety-pin which is easiest to feed it through the waist of the skirt.

Safety pin to feed elastic through the casing

  • Now feed the elastic all the way through and then zig-zag stitch the 2 ends of elastic together so it is nice and secure. Going back and forth several times between normal and reverse stitch is super fast!

Zig-zag stitch the ends of elastic

  • Then you just need to sew closed the gap that was left along the waist to insert the elastic. Change back to straight stitch again for that! I didn’t get a picture after doing that step.
  • I next attached my buttons.

Attach buttons!!

That was my last step!! Easy as pie… if you can at least use a sewing machine. You could bust out a new wardrobe of skirts in no time!

Finished product!!!

I also couldn’t let scraps go to waste, so I made a couple of rolled rosettes with some extra lace and shirt fabric and I pieced together a coordinating necklace for my outfit.

The coordinating necklace

The best part was I made use of a miniature key that came in a key collection that was passed down to us by my husband’s grandma. I just find great pleasure in reusing things from the past and giving them relevance in my life today, rather than it sitting somewhere collecting dust until who knows when!

My version of a bib necklace

So I know this is my first tutorial and definitely not my last but I apologize if it was horribly confusing or boring for that matter haha!! I’m just putting it out there…hopefully to inspire any other creative minds! 🙂