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

Tis the season to be sewing

After a few years living in Utah, I have learned to embrace the arrival of winter. I used to resist the dark and cold days, and the beginning of the season used to be announced by an emotional contraction… Until I decided to flow with it, embrace the energy of the season, and indulge on becoming a bear and hibernate cozy at home.

Last summer I enjoyed gardening so much, that when the weather got frosty I forgot about the flow and tried to extend the growing season by building a hoop house in the backyard. The project was successful until I installed the covering and a million bugs moved in. It was then that I remembered: I don’t really want to be gardening out here in the middle of the snow; my fingers freeze every time I go outside during winter… The beauty of short dark days and the end of gardening is… Sewing and music time!

It was a fruitful long stretch of sewing and projects. My overall intention was to repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. I broke into the three bins holding all of Joaquin’s outgrown clothes and sorted it all out for selling, donation, compost, and a project to create a memory quilt for him (a project not yet finished).

Kiki jumping among mountains of outgrown boy clothesSelected pieces arranged in final layout for the memory quilt

As I rediscovered the cute prints once worn by my baby, I couldn’t help to use some to upcycle a plain t-shirt for myself.

Kiki's 'Bedtime Stinks' green PJs at three, four, and then turned into sleeves for a woman's ranglan

And then I went on a compulsive rampage to make a bunch of goodies for our upcoming trip to visit my parents in Colombia. I made a dressy top repurposing a mini dress I hadn’t worn since my wedding rehearsal dinner, red earrings to go with it, a travel jewelry bag to fit my needs, wet bags for Kiki and I to carry our bathing suits after swimming, a new pair of sweatpants, and I altered a pair of bootcut jeans to add the variation of slim jeans to my wardrobe.

Feeling pretty wearing my red top on New Year's Evehandmade red earringshandmade travel jewelry bag

So much sewing was going on, it was inevitable that little Kiki would feel inspired to join the craze. He made a patchwork-style messenger bag for which he cut the fabric, sewed it entirely by hand, and then seeing that his stitches weren’t very strong and the bag didn’t hold much, he sewed it again enlarging it, creating pockets, and using the sewing machine for the first time. He was thrilled with the power and pride of having made a functional product for himself. Yay for the freedom and rich learning opportunities of unschooling!

Joaquin cutting a square from old PJ fabricJoaquin using a sewing machineModeling his finished messenger bagTwirling while wearing his handmade bag

Twas a season of much sewing…