Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Getting Serious

For all of those who may be sore (or wondering if I’m still alive) because I have not returned their emails or have replied with one–liners, because I have not checked their Facebook updates, and I’ve kept ignoring requests to chat… I have a very good excuse: I’m working.

Well… not working–working. But at least pretending I am. As if I could. As I would do if my professional career depended on it.

See, I have this friend who’s going to open a maternity and kids boutique very soon, and she wants to carry my kids clothing line on consignment. And we’ve talked so much about it, and I am so excited about the opportunity (and experiment) to place my products in a brick and mortar outlet… and we’ve talked so much about it (did I already say that?), that I have no choice but to actually create products and ship them to her hopefully before the shop opens.

And although nobody is forcing me to meet that deadline, I’m pretending that it is a hard one, and I’ve drawn a project plan with milestones and checklists, and I’m working on it as if this was an actual wholesale order with an upfront deposit and a deadline. And I feel that LIFE runs through my veins!… So much, that I’m not even checking visits and hearts to my Etsy shops (my new addiction replacing the pre–motherhood addiction to check web site logs), which is a lot to say.

Although the volume of shirts I intend to produce is not impressive, the project is huge given my full–time–mommy schedule. And of course, I’ve managed to complicate it even more by taking this opportunity as a chance to standardize my shirt sizes, and create them all from scratch, and add a few new designs to the mix (including some girlie ones), and because the boutique outlet is completely different than an online shop and customers won’t be reading a web page before deciding to take home one of my shirts, I’m also forcing myself to come up with some good and scalable solution for my clothing size and care tags.

And I brought home a serger. See how serious I am?

So things are a little crazy right now and I’m still light years away from seeing the first actual product, of course because the challenge of defining my standard shirt sizes from 3 months to 5 years has taken a significant chunk of time. But I’ve finally done it, and hoping that my home–baked size chart is right, I’m now in the process of creating my own patterns for each size.

work in progress

I’ve been lucky that all this has coincided with one of my honeymoons with Joaquin, and baby has been very accepting of mommy’s interest and attention to her project (to a point, of course), and has naturally moved many of his activities to the current location of Project Central. Sure, every once in a while I have to interrupt my concentration to read the Sponge Bob musical book and identify the color and shape of each of his blocks, but he’s actually letting me do some work and accomplish progress every d… —OH SHIT!… Have I jinxed myself by writing this?

Kiki playing under my work table

So before I can show and share more exciting news about this new development of my budding (hopefully some day real) business, I thought of sharing a few photos of the two shirts I was able to make for Joaquin before I submerged myself in these deep waters. Both of these I made with my new serger, which is awesome porosome and makes me wonder how I managed to live this long without her.

Lil' P photos

This first one, you may recognize from my previous post. I stenciled the design on a blank orange t-shirt that I altered to include navy raglan sleeves. I love how it came out as a print, but because I don’t want to run any legal risks regarding the safety of textile ink on commercial children’s products, I plan to try this design as an appliqué shirt for my kids collection.

Lil' P closeup

Check out my flatlock hems!

My serger doesn’t have the coveted coverstitch option, so I thought I was being super creative by using a flatlock stitch as a hemming and decorative solution, but guess what: It’s all over the mass–produced t-shirts I saw on my most recent trip to the baby store. I guess it probably was there all along, and I just had never noticed it. Or maybe I’m brilliant and came up with the idea at the same time that other brilliant minds with deeper pockets did.

The second raglan came out really cute too. The width and length are close to what my 3-4 yr size will be. So it’s a little large right now on Kiki, but not ridiculous, and I don’t have to see his diaper line flashing at me all the time :)

Angry Flower by mafemaria

As I planned earlier, the decorative linear design is based on Joaquin’s “Angry Flower” drawing. I transferred it to the shirt by stitch–drawing it with the free motion presser foot of my sewing machine. I confess that the idea to offer this as a custom product for parents wanting to preserve their children’s best art crossed my mind. Since I’m making the shirts from scratch, it wouldn’t be hard to execute; I’m just worried about how anal parents may be expecting a perfect replica of their babies’ passionate strokes.

Angry Flower by mafemaria Angry Flower by mafemaria

And with this, I go to bed now. Tomorrow I need to make decisions about where I get my knit fabric. My local fabric store doesn’t carry much variety of them, so I’ll have to go online and hope that I can find a good supplier for a more scalable operation than what I’ve run until now.


  1. On , Pete Stultz wrote:

    Good luck on your venture.

    Joaquin is getting so big.

  2. On , Vivienne wrote:

    Best of luck!! You are so darned creative! :)

    (also, nice to see you are making good use of that calculator from b-school! ;0P)

  3. On , Devra wrote:

    That’s utterly brilliant putting his artwork on the shirt. You’ll make a mint.

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    Apologies to all three of you for taking so long to reply (you may not even read this comment now, but just in case)…

    Thank you for your comments. My project has been horribly derailed by the discovery of U.S. standard measurements for children’s bodies, that made me feel I needed to look at in order to make sure my patterns fit the average kid out there and not just Joaquin. ARRRRGGH!!!! I’m so sick of staring at these numbers and running spreadsheets. I want to make… MAKE!…

  5. On , Jennifer W wrote:

    Maria – I think you’ve got one hell of an idea there with the custom artwork tees. What a simply wonderful and precious thing to be able to provide. One of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” situations for sure. I wish you the best of luck with these new opportunities. :) I wish I had some spare cash to invest in you.


  6. On , Maria wrote:

    HA! Well thank you!
    I’m still too green to invest on. Seriously, this is ridiculous, but I’m still spinning in circles around these size charts and patterns I’m trying to develop. It’s T-SHIRTS for God’s sake!

    But I wanted my own patterns because I wanted them to fit on children like I like them fitting on my kid (I hate it when a shirt labeled X stops fitting 3 months before age X is reached), and I wanted to be able to modify them a little bit for little girls. But this is a much harder exercise than I expected. I’m about to throw the towel and just draft patterns for each size from existing shirts and forget about the whole idea of making them cohesive as a line. Just for now. Just so I can get these shirts I want to make out the door, and then really dedicate myself to this task without the urge to move on to the fun stuff.