Today is Memorial Day. If you don’t live in the United States, this probably doesn’t mean that much to you. For Americans, it’s a time to honor our soldiers who have served our country.
Both my Dad and my Grandfather served in the military. My dad was in the Air Force and my Grandfather was in the Army. My Dad is not especially fond of his military service. It was torture for his rebellious soul to be ordered around and told what to do. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only salute he’s given to the Air Force since his release was the kind that doesn’t involve the use of every finger.
My Grandpa never really talked about his time in the service, except for after his dementia set in. Then he told me this amazing story of this “battle” he fought in. I didn’t realize the story wasn’t true for about 4 years. Turns out, it was all the dementia talking. He never went to Europe, let alone stormed any hills to free captured prisoners. My Grandpa had a great imagination.
True story: When my Grandpa died, he received a military funeral. I was so impressed with solemnity of the soldiers as they folded the flag with such precision and care. When they handed it to my Dad and thanked him for Grandpa’s service, I was deeply moved.
I was less impressed when they crossed the road to do the 21 gun salute. They raised their guns, pointed them right at us mourners and pulled the triggers. I grabbed my brother and nearly pulled him to the ground, trying to find cover. Scared the living daylights out of me.
If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know that my nephew, Kale, was killed this past year in a drunk driving accident. Kale was a Specialist in the Army and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.
My sister, Nancy, sent me Kale’s jacket, probably the one he’s wearing in this picture, and asked if I’d make a purse for her out of his jacket. She’d seen the idea on the Website, Hero On My Arm, but felt it would have more meaning to her if I made the purse for her.
She sent me Kale’s coat and I got to work. I removed all the pockets and insignia from the jacket.
Then I cut the jacket apart at the seams to get the most use out of each piece.
I used a purse I had as a very rough template. Using an old sheet, I created a pattern and then did a pin test to see how I’d like it. It was a very rough idea of what I was going to do.
I would show you the steps to create this bag, but I didn’t really take pictures. I made this up as I went along. It involved a lot of seam ripping. I made the piping by cutting bias strips and sewing them over a heavy cotton yarn I had on hand.
Kale was fun and happy and just always quick to make you laugh. I wanted a bag that was fun and playful to match his personality.
Here’s the basic bag before I put on the handle.
I’d bought this silver purse at the Goodwill store for about $3. I was going to use it in another project but ended up not needing it. I loved the chains and rings so I harvested them for Kale’s purse.
I must like to do things the hard way. It would have been so much easier to do this bag without all the piping. I really love the punch of color, though, and the way it ties in the red from the American flag that’s on the side.
I wanted to put a tribute on the bag to show who it was honoring. I used some heat transfer material and my Silhouette and put this on the side of the bag.
I used the pen holder pocket from his sleeve, and another sleeve pocket on the inside. I sewed a third of the way over on the sleeve pocket, so she’ll have room to put her sunglasses.
I love the bag and would totally use this on a regular basis. I hope Nancy loves it, too. She hasn’t seen it yet, but when I told her she could send it back to me if she doesn’t like it, she assured me I’d have to pry it out of her cold, dead fingers first! Sheesh. She’s so dramatic, that one.
(I love you, Sister)!
My sister’s birthday is tomorrow (Happy Birthday, Nancy!), so I’m hoping it arrives in time for her day. Before I sent it out, I asked my cute, pregnant neighbor, Kristy, to model the bag for me.
I refuse to put a cost breakdown on this project. While it cost very little money, the sad reality is a cost that is more than any family ever wants to pay.
I’m so proud of Kale and his service to our country. His life was far too short, but he is lovingly remembered by family, friends and fellow soldiers.
The men and women who serve our country deserve our deepest respect and praise for the sacrifices they make, and their families make for our freedoms.
Have a safe, and happy Memorial Day and please take a moment to remember and honor our service men and women.
Above all, please, PLEASE, do not EVER drink and drive.