September 18, 2014
The twins are wearing dresses custom made by Texas Tech students.
When doctors eventually separate conjoined twins Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith Mata, the sisters likely will have no recollection of having spent the first year of their lives connected by their chests.
But thanks to a couple of Texas Tech University students, the twins’ parents, John and Elysse, have plenty of mementos to share with their daughters.
Nicole Peacock and Emily Charlton, students from the apparel design and manufacturing program, volunteered months of their personal time creating custom outfits for the 5-month-old twins.
Elysse received the garments last week, and it didn’t take long for her — and nurses — to play dress-up with the babies.
“We just want to say thank you to the students for devoting their time and talent,” Elysse said. “They have been such a blessing for us, and I can’t wait to show our daughters the outfits when they grow older. They will provide great memories.”
The idea for the project came when Sharran Parkinson, chairwoman of Texas Tech’s Department of Design in the College of Human Sciences, said she saw a news story about the sisters. While Knatalye and Adeline were born at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the family is actually from Lubbock.
“I thought it would be an amazing challenge for our students and a great opportunity to help out these twins and their parents,” Parkinson said. “We are very excited because this is the first time the babies have had something to wear.”
The Texas Tech dress is autographed by head football coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Once the parents agreed to Parkinson’s idea, she asked for student volunteers. Peacock quickly said yes and flew to Houston to measure the babies. Peacock said she was a little nervous because she didn’t know what to expect.
“It ended up being such a great experience,” she said. “We were there for almost three hours, just hanging out with them and the family. Measuring was challenging just because of how they are conjoined. One had chunkier legs, so we saw how they are the same but different.”
With measurements in hand, Peacock and Charlton got to work. They said the first outfit was the toughest, but once they had the pattern, the others came along a little easier. Altogether they shipped more than 10 outfits, including a christening gown Charlton created.
Since John and Elysse are big Texas Tech sports fans, Peacock created a Texas Tech dress autographed by football coach Kliff Kingsbury.
“We loved that one, especially my husband,” Elysse said. “As soon as I saw it, I went online and ordered matching headbands. They will wear it every Saturday.”
Elysse kept in contact with the students throughout the entire process and last week sent them photos of her daughters modeling their new outfits.
She said receiving the outfits also has helped remind her family — the sisters have a 5-year-old brother named Azariah — of home. The twins were born April 11, but the family has been in Houston since March.
The students volunteered months of their personal time creating custom outfits for the twins.
“I love being able to bless this family with something I’ve been blessed with: being able to sew,” Peacock said.
The Mata family still has a long journey ahead of them, and next month the sisters will be fitted with tissue expanders that, according to Elysse, gradually will help stretch the skin around their chest to help prepare for separation. After two months, if the expanders work and there are no setbacks, the sisters will be scheduled for their separation surgery.
“It’s hard but this type of support keeps us strong,” Elysse said.
The Apparel Design & Manufacturing Program in the Department of Design at Texas Tech University provides the key to entering the glamorous world of fashion. Students learn to create and produce their own designs, research, and apply the latest trends, manage product development, apparel design, or design and construct costumes or stage. A variety opportunities and jobs are possible with a degree in Apparel Design and Manufacturing.Facebook