Cheer them up with a “FEEL BETTER FRIEND” – tutorial

Turning little frowns 😦 upside-down 🙂 and it ended up as a tutorial…

Well we certainly started 2012 off on one sick note…literally! The kids ALL came down with the flu for what felt like an eternity almost!! It was the most awful sickness that they (and this worry-wort mama) have ever been through to date. I have never been one for flu shots, and honestly it didn’t matter because they never came down with anything besides the common cold usually during this season. This year was a different story and a bad one at that!

The hard part is not so much the fact of taking care of 3 sick kids at one time. For me the hardest part is stressing and worrying about them getting better (I couldn’t bribe them to eat to save my life!). I prayed that their little systems could fight off whatever they were dealing with. I may sound extreme with it only being the flu but I’m not kidding when I say I’m a big worry-wort and this bug had me going crazy! Every parent hates to see their child go through anything that we don’t have the power to make ‘all better.’ It is such a helpless position to be in. Chicken broth, Tylenol and Pedialyte only go so far with the flu and it ultimately comes down to their bodies doing the hard work, plus as much TLC as ever!

As we were on flu house arrest that week I went a little stir crazy too. I decided to pull out some old Martha Stewart KIDS mags that I had saved for a “rainy day.” This was definitely the day, and I happened upon a super cute idea in one of the issues. I tried searching the web to see if maybe the same article had appeared on her site to link up for this post, but couldn’t find it. My issues were pretty old though, to be honest lol. So forgive me now for this not-so-great photo I snapped to show part of the article… It was entitled Imaginary Friends!

Now this is not your AVERAGE plush toy by any means. This is a custom recreation of your kids’ artwork! I thought it was genius and such a fab way to bring life into their little creations. Mostly I felt inspired to do something WAY different and personalized for them, to cheer them up during those sick days. That’s when I dubbed it the “Feel Better Friend.” 🙂 I explained to them that it would be their little cheer up buddy from here on out when they are sick or get hurt.

They managed to brighten up at this idea and both Ella and Gavin were excited to come up with what their little buddy would look like. Grant on the other hand hasn’t mastered much more than scribbles, circles or a random abstract face so I’m waiting to make one for him at the moment.

Ella and Gav found some ideas in the article as well for the creations and this was what they came up with…

Octopus and Fancy pink lady

Hip-hop snake!

And here is what Mama came up with….

Project Supplies:

Various fabrics/scraps


Ribbon/buttons/beads for embellishment

needle & threads or machine

Polyester fiberfill

kids character artwork

So after you get your hands on the masterpiece character that your child dreams up, you hunt down any scrap fabric or old shirts and things you might have around. The article even had examples using muslin and fabric markers so they can draw directly on that, then cut, sew and stuff! Play around with fabric and textures to try to match up to the colors they chose or make suggestions. Don’t forget buttons, ribbons, beads, etc. for accessories! The kids can help to pick out the embellishments they might prefer. Ella enjoyed picking through buttons. It really is a fun project and delightful for them to have a tangible piece of their imagination to keep forever!

It is a little time-consuming, mostly depending on how much detail is added. I used my sewing machine to make the pink one of Ell’s and then hand sewed the other 2. Hand sewing is better for the patchy look and buttons. The more hand done it looks, the better it is for this type of thing. After all it is child art, so you don’t want it to lose that imaginative edge!

Make sure to create the character details (eyes, mouth, or hair) before sewing edges together

Sew the seam with right sides together and leave a gap to stuff the filling!


Gavin totally wanted his guy equipped with head phones to make it look “hip-hop” as he says, and a mohawk haha…

You can’t forget to add a lil’ love from MOM for them to cherish forever…

So this was definitely a rewarding project to take on and most especially that it brought smiles out to drown the sad tummies and noses for a bit. I was glad to have something lift all of our spirits and not let the draggy week have its way entirely!

Here are Ella and Gavin now sick free thankfully, and happy as could be since they have their new little ‘Feel Better Friends’ to cheer them up on any occasion!!

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.


  • 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! 🙂