Made With Love By Mom

Ten years ago. July 10, 2006. Just after midnight. We said our final good-byes to my mother. She was just 57 years old. That is only 15 years older than I am as I write this post. She was diagnosed with colon cancer only 18 months previous to this day. And just 5 weeks earlier, her doctors told us she probably had at least 5 more years before the cancer would progress to where it took her life. And a very short 5 weeks later, we were standing beside her bed in a nursing home telling her good-bye.


It was intense. It was sad. There were so many mixed emotions. I had been in this same spot 11 years earlier as I said my final farewells to my father. He was just 54 years old when the cancer took him. I was familiar with the feelings, but I was 11 years older this time and had become a mature adult since losing my father. But I think that made the feelings even more intense.

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We had already made plans with the funeral home that was located right next door to the nursing home. Just before midnight, a terrible thunderstorm began, making the events of the night that much more surreal. And just around the moment that my mother took her last breath (I can’t remember if it was just before or just after), we watched lightning strike the roof of the funeral home right outside of mom’s window. The roof went up in flames right before our eyes and the firetruck sirens were heard within minutes. I remember it like it was yesterday yet it feels like a million years ago. Sometimes, it feels so unreal, like things you read in books, things that don’t really happen to real people. But I can assure you that this is how it all happened.

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And now ten years have passed. My mother never met my husband. She never met my children. And they never met her. They can only know her from the stories that I tell. I know in my heart she would be driving me crazy if she were alive today. But that doesn’t take away the feeling of loss. So all I can do is to keep telling my stories. And that’s my intention with this post. To tell one story. A story that relates very specifically to my blog.


When we were children, we could not afford the latest trending fashions. So my mother made many of our clothes. She was a pretty good seamstress which I could not appreciate as a child. All I knew was that my friends were wearing Gap and Benetton clothing and I was wearing hand-me-downs from my sisters that were “Made with Love by Mom” and they even had the tags to prove it! I wrote a little bit about our handmade clothing on my page More on Fashion & Style. There is even a photo of a “Made with Love by Mom” original on that page.


As I got older and started discovering my own unique taste in clothes, I began to appreciate this skill of my mother’s. I also began to appreciate the value of one-of-a-kind clothing. I would beg my mother to help me make original pieces. I only learned very little about sewing myself and can barely sew a straight seam, so I relied on my mom to be my own personal seamstress. I would come up with the idea and she would make it happen. In fact, we did this with my prom dress. I had a picture in my head. She took me to buy the fabric. And together we created an adorable emerald green sequined dress that fit like a glove.

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Jump ahead a decade or so and I knew my mom’s time on earth was coming to an end. We began creating unique and one-of-a-kind pieces for my wardrobe again. This is when we created this ivory asymmetrical hem tunic. We also made a pair of mustard colored cropped pants to go with it, but they are much too big on me now. Of course, I still have them tucked away in box of keepsakes. I also still have a box of fabric and patterns for pieces that we were planning to create, but then she became too ill to sew and I had not learned enough to complete the pieces myself. But I cannot bring myself to do anything with all the stuff in that box. So it sits in my basement untouched.

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About once or twice a year, I pull out this tunic to wear. I have no idea why I don’t wear it more often. I love it every time I put it on. It is so comfortable and I think it is super flattering as well. What do you all think? Should I bring it into a more consistent rotation? It is definitely very versatile as I have styled it a different way every time I have worn it.


This time I decided to wear a pair of boyfriend jeans, my new espadrilles that I got for next to nothing with my Old Navy rewards, my favorite tassel necklace, and my butterfly kimono (which I bought last year in memory of my husband’s grandmother who absolutely adored butterflies and any butterfly print. I know she would love this kimono and I think of her every time I wear it!) So two pieces of this outfit have significant sentimental value to me and deserved a post all their own! I miss both of these amazing ladies and wish they were here to read my little ole blog!


Outfit details:
Tunic: Made with Love by My Mom
Kimono: Ross Dress For Less (from last year)
Jeans: White House Black Market (No longer available, but you can shop their jeans here).
Sandals: Old Navy Espadrille Ankle-Strap Sandals
Necklace: Cato Fashions (from last year, but you can shop their necklaces here).

And since the beginning of this post was so serious, I want to end with a little bit of silliness.

Here are some goofy outtakes during this super fun photo shoot with my dear friend, Amy!

I like to dance when I start feeling super uncomfortable in front of the camera. No matter who is taking the photos, Amy or my husband, they both think it’s hilarious to keep snapping away!

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We saw this adorable flamingo. And whenever you see a flamingo, you must have a picture with it. Straddling it…


Then we went inside to use the restroom and there was an entire glass case filled with ducks!


I had to take a picture of all the stuffed ducks especially for Debbie of Fashion Fairy Dust. She and I share a mutual hatred/fear of living birds. But dead birds, I think we can both appreciate!** And that’s a story for another day!

**Please do not confuse that statement thinking we are cruel to animals. We are not. I am a lover of all living things. I would never purposely harm any animal. I just really do not like birds. They freak me out! But ironically, I really do love bird prints.

The gorgeous lady behind the camera/phone…


Thank you, Amy, for being such a good sport!

Keeping it on the edge,


Linking Up with: These Fabulous Link Ups Where I Link Up



I am a 40 something Army wife and stay-at-home mother of 2 boys and 2 cats named Dave and Frankie. I have a passion for helping other women feel fabulous in the midst of this crazy, beautiful life.

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54 Responses

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your mom. And yes, wear that tunic more often — it’s perfect for upstate NY’s humid summers.
    Maybe the scraps of potential garments can be made into a quilt? I have a crazy quilt that I started in high school chock full of memories ( It could be one for the bed OR one to hang as an art quilt.
    Thanks for linking. It’s a different sort of linkup and I think delves below the surface.

    • It is a great link up, Anne, for sure! I am so glad you like my tunic! I really wish I had more like it! I may have to enlist some of my friends who are decent seamstresses for my future projects. Or maybe just hire one! And I love the idea of a quilt. Maybe some day I will get around to doing something with all this fabric.


  2. Alicia motta

    I so remember dead birds on Christmas presents. Lol

    • Hahahaha, Alicia! I totally had in that mind when I wrote this! I may have to write a follow up post now about dead birds! (*Not real dead birds, people, not real dead birds….except for the frozen turkey!) But that is definitely another story for another day!

      Thanks for commenting, Alicia! I totally just got so excited to see that you read my silly little blog!

  3. Shelbee,

    What a powerful tribute to your mom! Not just the post — though the post was incredibly touching and real and, as you said, like something out of a novel — but the fact that you cherish the gifts she gave you and the gift she had as a seamstress. I feel this way about things my grandmother made for me. And DANGIT, why didn’t I ever learn how to sew???

    The tunic ROCKS, along with everything else in your outfit! I love how you speak to the personal value of each item, how the tunic and kimono in particular remind you of people you love. The tunic definitely needs to be in your ongoing rotation. It looks fabulous on you!

    – Sherry

    • Sherry, thank you so much for this wonderful comment! I was fearful when I started drafting this post that I would get too emotional, so I kept it short and sweet and to the point! I really wish I had more tunics like this one. I may have to pay someone to make more for me. Have a wonderful week.


  4. What a very touching story. Your parents sounded like amazing individuals. It’s nice that you are still able to wear a piece of her and have sentimental items that you helped make together. I love that tunic, by the way!

  5. Wow, so glad to have been a small part of this post. You wearing the tunic brings it to life, and I think your mom was the breeze and the shnshine that made the backdrop of the pics so so fabulous behind fabulous and gorgeous you! Write down funny memories of your prents to be able to retell your kids and grandkids 🙂

    • Aw, Aimee, you are the best! This is the best comment, too. What a beautiful image of my mom being the breeze and sunshine. I think the ducks are all the others who have gone before us! Thank you so much for helping with all of my blogging stuff. Words cannot express my appreciation! Now come home so I have a photographer again!


  6. I’m so sorry about your mom, Shelbee! No matter how many years it’s been since a loved ones passing, they’ll always be in our hearts and thoughts. I’m sure your mom is looking down and is so proud of the woman you are today.


  7. Shelbee, I absolutely loved this post and I think it’s awesome that you were not only able to wear one sentimental item, but two in one outfit! I hate the word cancer and I hate that you have had to lose two very special people to you because of it! It blows my mind about the lightning striking the roof at that moment too, so crazy! I do think you should wear the tunic more often, since it is gorgeous and like you said, so versatile! Those mustard yellow pants sound super cute as well, I’d love to see those even though you said they were too big! Maybe a post on some of the items made by your mom? 🙂 Hope you have a great week!


    • Kayla, thank you so much for this beautiful comment! Maybe I will have the pants altered so they fit. I don’t have too much else made by mom because we never finished the other projects, but I do have a bunch of things that she bought for me near the end of her life. I was planning on keeping those things for next July and the year after. Sort of make it a repeating theme for my July 10th posts! But I love your idea. Thank you for sharing it!


  8. The story about your mom was really touching, thanks for sharing. That tunic is really nice, and I love the way you paired it with a kimono and cuffed jeans. You look great!

  9. what a beautiful story to go along with your fabulous tunic. thank you for sharing it on my Fine-Whatever link up.


  10. It is so sad that you have to lose whilyour parentse they were so young! You wrote very beautiful ! It is so nice to have good memories and items with memories attached. And it is a gorgious tunic. I also cant sew a things. Even when I have to put on a button it looks like a butcher has been at work! Have a great week!

    • Hahaha, Nancy! I love that “butcher button” analogy. So funny! Thank you so much for your kind comment. The memories are the only thing we have to keep a loved one with us, so I feel like I need to always share the stories!


  11. Like your style, dear 😉
    Mónica Sors

  12. I can so relate to the feelings of being a child and all of your clothes are “homemade”. Our mother, grandmother and all of the aunts on our mother’s side sewed. The only thing my sisters and I wore that wasn’t made by one of them was our bras and panties, and sometimes our coats. At Christmas when I was 15 the number one thing on my list was a dress from a store. lol I got it, but it wasn’t quite what I had expected.
    Thank you for the precious memories of your mother.

    • That is such a lovely comment! Thank you so much for sharing your story of homemade clothes. It’s nice to know that I am not alone on this one. And it’s funny how much appreciate now what I despised back then!


  13. What a beautiful and special story, I just got the chills reading it. Thank you for sharing these memories with us of your Mother.


  14. What a lovely post Shelbee! I am so sorry for you loss. The tunic that your mom made is wonderful, I definitely think you should put it into regular rotation 🙂

  15. What a beautiful story, and such a special piece of clothing! You keep the memory of your mother alive with stories such as this one, and by continuing the tradition you started with her.
    I also lost my mother to (ovarian) cancer: it was Christmas Day, and she would have turned 55 a week later (on New Year’s Day). That was a long time ago, but now that I’m just a few years younger than she was, it really makes me think that our time on this earth is limited, and if there is anything we want to do, we’d better get on with it…

    • Tiina, thank you so much for such beautiful words and for sharing your personal story. Losing loved ones is always difficult, but around the holidays just makes it that much harder. It is so true…we better get on with it because you never know how long you have here!


  16. parents are irreplaceable and needed no matter what the edge! glad t know ur mom was such a great inspiration to u!

  17. So sad about both of your parents, I’m so sorry you had to endeavor such emotional pain. It’s really so neat that you have this tunic that you and her made together as an amazing keepsake!


  18. Very comfy and stylish look!

  19. Thank you for sharing your story. So amazing that you have the tunic to cherish.

  20. This tunic has such a great story behind it- and it makes you HAPPY, lady! I say work it into the rotation!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  21. So sweet, and it really is so pretty! Thanks for stopping by the Trend Spin Linkup each week. = )

  22. 🙂 That’s a beautiful and yet very sad story.
    So much nicer that you still have the tunic you made with your mom and can appreciate it even more these days.
    Have a very HAPPY week 🙂

  23. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. I also remember the dresses and pieces my mom made for me.

  24. I lost my mom in January. It definitely sucks to loose our parents when they are so young … she was only 61. Thats awesome though that you wear that tunic to remember her. I have some necklaces and other things that my mom gave me that I do the same with.


    • I am so sorry for your loss, Nina. It is never easy losing a parent. But we keep them alive by sharing their stories, their memories, the gifts they shard with us. So do make sure that when you wear those necklaces form your mom that you also wear that extra little smile that comes from your wonderful memories. I would love to see one of these special pieces featured on your blog!

      Thanks so much for stopping by.


  25. What a sweet tribute post to your mom. I lost my dad about 2 years ago and I still miss him so much. I love the tunic and the kimono paired with it.

    Thank you for hosting and hope you are having a fab week!


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

    • Thank you so much, Alice. It is never easy losing a parent. So I think we just do our best to keep them alive by sharing our memories of them.


  26. Shelbee, I lost my mother when I was 41 an my sister was 34 and we thought that was way to early so I feel for you. I think you definitely need to wear your tunic more. It is such a classic shape and you can do so much with it.

    • Thanks so much, Terri! I really do love this tunic and I feel closer to my mom when I wear it. I think it is always too early to lose our parents…because we never stop needing them.


  27. What a great tribute to your mom, Shelbee! Sorry, I am a little slow to visit all you linkers from the July My Refined Style Linkup. Thanks for bringing your fabulous flair to our party.