Denim Month: The Two Hour Sewing Mom

Hi Sewcialists!

How exciting this is, the first time I write for the Sewcialists blog! When I read the theme was denim I immediately thought about my bucket full of torn-apart-jeans. I got this bucket from a local lady who was giving away her fabric stash and it has been sitting under my cutting table ever since I got it, waiting for the perfect moment for me to dig in it.

Plastic tub full of jeans cut into large pieces

Before we get on to the projects I made, let me give you some background information: I’m originally from Puerto Rico and moved to Texas around 5 years ago. I am a preschool teacher and I have a 22 month old son. I barely have time for anything, especially sewing but I was really feeling the anxiety of not having that moment to myself where it’s just me and the sewing machine. That moment that helps me unwind and calm down the nerves of everything that goes on back at home in Puerto Rico and everything in between so I made it a point to sew on the weekends during my son’s nap time. That gives me about two hours. That’s all I have, but I’ll take it! Sometimes, if I don’t have homework to do, or have too many dishes piled up and I have some energy left in my body,  I  will also do some late night sewing. Disadvantage? I’m always sewing in a hurry and things happen you know? Like hemming a pair of jeans and wearing them to work and realizing you have one leg shorter than the other one.  #momlife

Photo of the author's lower legs and feet.  The author is wearing jeans with legs that are hemmed at different lengths with perhaps a 2" (5cm) difference.

The first denim project I ever made was transforming this beautiful denim tunic I bought at a thrift store that was 2 sizes bigger than my size. It sat in my closet for about a year before I actually transformed it and I remember I did it in one night where my baby was really sick. I could not sleep making sure he was breathing properly so to keep myself awake, I took on this project and pulled an all nighter but I finished it! I loved working with denim and thought I should start hunting down more denim garments at the thrift stores “whenever I had time” (yeah… that never happened).

Dark denim nee-length tunic on a mannequin that has a hat instead of a head.
Author wearing the tunic above, with hands in pockets and arms out to show the excess ease.
The tunic from above on a mannequin, altered to take in the bodice side seams, add a waist seam and pleat the skirt.

Since I wasn’t able to hunt down denim garments like I wanted to, when I saw this kind lady post on a Facebook group that she was giving away her stash, and I saw a bucket full of jeans I was all for it! I went to her house almost immediately, picked up the bucket with all of these ideas in mind of everything that I was going to do that have yet to be done. For example, for this month’s theme, I wanted to turn my botched jeans into some bell bottoms but everyone got sick at my house so it never happened. However, life has its ways and my mom came to visit me from Puerto Rico and brought me some patterns I had left at her house years ago. Among those patterns was the Simplicity 5151 pattern. I thought it was the perfect project for this blog post! (Thanks mom!) It was fun to finally dig in my bucket of jeans to find the perfect color and weight variations for this cute and sturdy bag. I used muslin for the lining and a couple of broken needles later, I ended up hand stitching the lining and it looked even better that way. I went to bed close to midnight feeling very accomplished with my small sewing project.

Front of a square, color-blocked denim bag with round wooden handles.
Back of a square, color-blocked denim bag with round wooden handles.

I have learned to feel accomplished with small projects but it used to bother me, not being able to constantly make garments. I used to sew A LOT back in Puerto Rico but all of that changed once I moved to Texas and it was a complete change of lifestyle. After my son was born, I had a very hard time adjusting to not being able to sew as much as I used to and it was like losing a very important part of my identity. It took some time, and I’m still adjusting and learning to be content and appreciative of the little things I am able to tackle.  The community of sewcialists has helped me a lot in this process because I have been able to relate to many of your stories especially those “who we are” series. I conclude this contribution by thanking you all for being so inclusive and sharing your stories. Let’s keep each other grounded and inspired. Happy sewing!

The author in her denim tunic, a hat and the denim bag featured in this post.

My name is Karla Menéndez. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I love the tropical weather, I miss the beach, I try to sew for the seasons but somehow I never make it. I plan to start my own blog this year but in the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram as @karla_menendez01.