Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Miss Honey

One of my favorite movies growing up was Matilda. Danny DeVito was a perfectly and irrationally irate father, the Trunchbull could not have been more menacing, and there was no hero in the world that I wanted to be more than this talented little girl. I wish sometimes that I were more like Matilda (and for that matter Will Hunting without all the... issues) who received her education completely for free at the local library. She consumed books at a rate that I wish I could read, and I'm assuming that's where she got her psychokinesis... am I just a few overdue late fees away from being able to move things with my mind?

Another character I really appreciated from this adaptation of Road Dahl's book (a favorite author of my childhood) was Matilda's first grade teacher, Miss Honey. After watching this movie again as an adult, I find that I no longer gravitate towards Matilda's character--I can't relate to her now that I'm no longer a child--but I do feel a strong tug towards Miss Honey.

After all, Miss Honey is a teacher. She an adorably feminine, soft-spoken, sweet little teacher, who notices a student that is remarkably gifted and praises them continuously. You feel that she really truly loves each of her students as much as this very special one. She never says a harsh word to any of them in the entire film. Also: she is a grownup who still has tea parties. 

Of course, Miss Honey is meant to be the foil to your Ms. Trunchbull. The Trunchbull is everything teachers shouldn't be: the kind of teacher that tells you to do something, just because she says so. She's the kind of teacher who gets an ego boost from belittling children. She's the kind of teacher that would give you homework on the weekends... (ok I am guilty of that sometimes.)

When I put on this dress this morning to wear it to school, my husband told me that I looked like Miss Honey. Hooray! What a compliment!

There's only one thing about Miss Honey that doesn't quite work for me, though. She's too sweet! (Hence the name, clever Mr. Dahl...) She has less backbone than a six-year-old. Granted, we'll give that Matilda is a pretty bold six-year-old, and the Trunchbull is a pretty intimidating creature to stand up against, but she could have been a little tougher.

I want to be a kind, encouraging teacher. I want my students to remember my good words. I don't want harsh ones to slip out. I want to lift them up and constantly praise them. But I'm also going to have a backbone. I'm going to enforce my rules, and on another note, no one will take my house from me.

The dress is made from the Scout Tee pattern. I traced the pattern and divided it up to do a color blocking effect. The top is from a vintage sheet a la Savers, and the grey is a soft linen from Hancock fabrics. It is like wearing a pillow case on top of a blanket. I lengthened the pattern to shift-dress status and added a drawstring for some shape. I'm a fan of the drawstring right now. I'm happy to see old lady style is in for us young ones: big glasses, comfy shoes, drawstrings, and coming soon... fun times with elastic waists.

Kitty was obviously ecstatic to be a part of the apartment balcony photo shoot. She has about as much sense for posing as I do.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Quick Visit North

Last weekend, my husband and I did a quick three hour car ride north to my parents' house to celebrate my Papa's birthday. (Just to be clear, Papa means "grandpa" around these parts.)

I brought along the fancy camera and snuck in some shots of my mom's craft room. We have different styles and processes, but I guess you can see where I get it from.

She has this really fantastic old type drawer that she keeps all her "small things" in neat and tidy order. Some of these objects were unfamiliar to me, and some I remember seeing in childhood. In our old house, my mom's crafting space existed in nearly every room--laundry and play room, kitchen, garage, where ever it could fit! Nowadays, she keeps it limited to her home office, and the knick-knacks are tucked away in things like old type drawers.

It's not that there's less crafting to do, just more teaching to cover. She teaches AP US History and AP World, so she has her hands full in that department. I guess you can see where I got that from too.

Every history teacher needs a student who will gift her some presidential pez dispensers!

When things got quiet in the house, we went off in search of the men. Here's my dad and my husband in matching manly uniform, painting trim for the outside of the house.

Close-up of the manly man beard

For the birthday celebration, we ate my Nana's fried chicken, then sat around and watched some good old college football.

Family photos ended up being either wildly spontaneous (read: strange expressions and unfocused) or quickly posed, like when I tried to take this shot of everyone talking!

Guys talked politics.

Dad tried to give the team all his best advice, but they wouldn't listen. We lost.

We all stood around as my Aunt sneakily washed Nana's dishes before Nana found out and shooed her away.

And I got to show my embroidery and teacher top to my family. It's a wonderful thing when strangers are impressed by something that you made, but it means so much more when you can impress those crafty people whose work you admire so much. 

All in all, a great visit, and we're ready for the next one! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kicking up my Keds

This weekend was a pretty weird one, dealing with surprise migraines, illness, and bearing witness to my husband's dance moves as he partied with our nieces to Muse songs. At some point, they (8 and 5) wanted to ride on his back like he was a horse and there was a lot of head bobbing and moving in one continuous circle. Between grading papers (for three hours at the local Starbucks) and those events, my crafting schedule was pretty short. I did get a chance to cut a second knot top, which I'm excited to show off when I'm finished. This is from a really soft jersey knit, and I predict that wearing it will be like teaching in fancy pajamas.

I always have to have a small project in the works, however, for the moments when I can't focus on the big things. If I can just snatch in a few minutes of creativity in an afternoon, I will take it. I have to work with my hands. I am compelled to make something.

My mission on this afternoon was not to make something, but to enhance it: enter my $5 keds from Walmart. Classic white teacher shoes, now popular with hipsters and high schoolers alike. But of course, we have to stand out, don't we?

If you want to kick up your keds, here's what you need.

Pictured: mass of embroidery thread, scissors, washable fabric marker, keds, too much flash.
The embroidery needle is a smallish needle. Nothing huge. I would recommend, depending on the intensity of your canvas (ie, the quality of your ked) that you utilize the thimble in this project to avoid some raw fingertips. I wondered for a moment if this was what beginning guitar players felt like...

The marker is found in any craft/fabric store, and its lines wash away with water. You won't want to leave it on there too long, or it will be more and more difficult to wash away. I don't remember what brand this is, but I've never had a problem getting the blue out of any fabric I've used it on. 

The ever-popular Chevron pattern: because if you're going to be trendy, you had better trend hard
I'm find it's really difficult for me not to put colors in rainbow order

Tip! Remove the laces before you start. This will help you get to those harder to reach places closer to the toe.

And here I go! I was pretty pumped to wear them, incomplete as they were, and I'm hoping to get them finished up this weekend. I'm traveling to a conference for some professional development and will have ample stitching opportunity in the event that they allow needles on planes. Surely I look innocent enough...?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Scout Tee

Thanks for all the awesome feedback on my new teacher top, from facebook and blog world alike! I am pretty excited about the pattern and am actually going to cut another one tonight in a less intensely stretchy knit to see how it does. I'd love to share my efforts in that arena so I will get back to you on pattern things, but the (possibly biased) word is that it would be kosher in the copyright world of copyrighted trademarked it's-mine-not-yours things. In other news, I'm enjoying another top today that I made earlier this summer.

I wear this to practically everything. Sorry, world, if you think my wardrobe consists only of teacher tops, tshirts, and this one eyelet lace thing. Well, I'm actually not sorry because it's mostly true.

I have no concept of posing

The pattern for this comes from Grainline Studios, and it's called the Scout Woven Tee. Grainline is Jen Beeman, and besides selling contemporary and adorable patterns, she also gives some great sewing advice and pattern tutorials.

I had also seen a few other lovely ladies create tops from this pattern that was the last convincing step to adding this pattern to my growing collection. Miranda of One Little Minute displayed hers here and Kelly of True Bias also made one here. Both looked fantastic and their fabric choices were wonderfully whimsical. I had tried to make patterns from old tshirts before but those resulting tops had turned out pretty sub-par. The directions and the pattern for the Scout Tee were fantastic, however, and I was pretty excited for how this turned out. 

I love the scalloped edges and the soft peachy color, though this time of year it's starting to match my skintone pretty well...

And just for fun, here's a couple photos of me and my two sisters at a family get-together this weekend. We're a rowdy bunch.

Here's to more cutting, sewing, and creating... in the middle of grading papers in a crazy work week. Happy crafting, all!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Class Days

Mr. Kopf and I are all about some higher education--or maybe just some education in general. I think we are that really strange couple who just loves school. We were both pretty good at it, and stayed organized (for the most part) and enjoyed reading and writing and generally getting good grades. It makes sense that we are both teaching now and where my power point addiction comes from.

(I'm really obsessed with making power point presentations, you guys. Maybe I just like the power of the projector or the organized lecture or the ability to put in pictures or videos. In any case, it might be a problem.)

I knew what I wanted to do for most of my life: teach English. Spoiler alert, I'm still not teaching English, but I suspect that I got into English in the first place for my love of story and philosophy... and you can probably find more jobs in English than Philosophy (maybe? that one is debateable.) Mr. Kopf wasn't quite sure, so we did my masters program first. Now that mine is done, and he is settling in to being the Middle School's Mr. Turner, it's his turn. This means online and night classes for him, and evenings alone in my apartment for me.

Aw yeah

It's camp days all over again! Craft time! Cleaning uninterrupted time! Eating cereal for dinner time! Pretending to live the bachelorette lifestyle for a few hours, while still having a husband to cuddle with at the end of it time. It's a pretty good time.

Last night I finally got around to a project I'd been thinking about doing for a long time. I have gotten into the habit of buying clothing items from garage sales and picking them apart to see how they're constructed. I don't do this with anything more than 50 cents, usually, but it's proven to be an excellent learning experience in the realm of apparel! About a year ago, I bought a top with a center knot in the middle for a quarter, took it apart, traced the pattern on craft paper, and never touched it again... until now.

I made a teacher top--that's right, and I wore it to school today and then made my husband take pictures of me in my classroom. What's great about this top is that I would not even be afraid to show you what it looks like inside out. It's all serged and nicely finished with some fancy rolled hems.

It paired nicely with my tan cardigan and black fancy work pants. (Kids got points today if they talked. Brownie points that get uploaded into Mrs. Kopf's heart...)

The back turned out nicely as well!

Read books, you guys.

Here's a couple shots of the "knot" part. I didn't even plan for the pattern to match up and for the petals to sort of come out of the knot, but it's amazing how well that worked out! Because of the placement of the knot, a cami was definitely essential, but it was a fun and comfortable top to work in and I got a lot of compliments. I always get a thrill when people ask where I got an item of clothing and I'm able to say "I made it!" The look on their faces is always complete shock and amazement. What? Clothes are something we buy... not that we make and then wear out where people can see them!

Is it illegal to give people a pattern that I "harvested" from a manufactured top? Someone tell me... otherwise I'd love to show you guys how to do this on your own! The knot seems complicated but it's so simple, and isn't that the best kind of project? 

I love my husband, but it's nice to be able to spend quality time with my sewing machine in the middle of the week. Hooray for class days!