Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dresses for Libby

I often wear my homemade clothes to school, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes I just get a compliment, to which I can proudly respond, "yeah I made it." Sometimes, in the instance of my Miss Honey Dress, I got a lot of questions during the school day "oh my gosh did you make that?" "Cute dress, I bet you made it!" to which I asked my fellow teachers "should I be sad that so many people recognize this as homemade?" to which I answered myself "maybe."

Now I have been there long enough (and taught that sewing class...) that I have a reputation for making my own clothes. It's really nice to have a student ask if I made my skirt and get to respond "No, Loft handled this one," while thinking "Oh my goodness you think I have the patience for this many pleats?! Bless you child!" I sometimes wish I could hand out house points like in Harry Potter when students do things like this, but that might just inspire a lot of sucking up... grades are enough.

Libby is a former student (all grown up and graduated!) and a sewing enthusiast herself. When she asked if I could make her clothes this summer, we both giggled about how fun that would be, but can you believe it--it actually happened! Libby wanted a couple of 60's inspired shift dresses and picked out some pretty 60's inspired fabric to match.

The flower print is a boat neck featuring some cute white piping. The pink shift dress has a three quarter sleeve and a scoop neck. Excellent choices by Libby.

Is she not the cutest thing you ever did see?! She's like a tiny Audrey Hepburn, so I think the dresses are a nice fit to her sense of style. 

We had a couple fittings just to make sure it was all going well--it felt very Project Runway--and had a lot of fun designing the outfits together. In fact, I watched a lot (and I mean a lot) of Project Runway while I was sewing.

I've been looking forward to this blog post but at the same time, I'm so sad it's over! Libby will have to model for me again sometime. My cats really like her, after all.

Friday, July 26, 2013

College T-Shirt Quilt

You all know how it is: If you didn't get a shirt, it didn't happen.

I've been saving all my old college shirts for a t-shirt quilt for a while now... not that it has really been that long since I graduated but as many times as I've hauled this t-shirt box around it feels like forever. This sad little box has moved with us not once, not twice, but four times! At one point, I was so convinced I wasn't going to ever get it done myself I almost sent it off, but ironically, never got around to it. 

I was considering isolating my Greek shirts apart from my other college activities, but then found that I was making a throw instead of a more substantial quilt. As I started to cut more shirts and play with more arrangements, it was interesting how symbolic the arrangements were becoming, and how each shirt is tied to such a distinctive memory. I could isolate the sorority shirts, but really, that was a small part of who I was in college. I was also an advocate for safe drinking practices, a member of the orientation team that moved in hundreds of Freshman each year, a leader in Greek life in promoting unity in our campus, and a member of our distinguished Honors College. It's really too bad I don't have a t-shirt for the English department... but I guess a diploma will work for proof on that one.

This quilt is an image of who I was for four years--an image of who I was becoming. I can see who I am now emerging from all the different activities I participated in, as I discovered what really mattered to me, and what I could stand to let go.

Now four years later, the quilt top is complete. The box is empty, and there are new projects to ponder. I'm sending this one off to a local quilter since I can't quilt big projects very well on my machine and I want this one done professionally. I can't wait to see what it looks like completely finished!

There's still a lot of growing up to do, and I love these craft-room milestones along the way. A four year work in progress: CHECK!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Progress, Progress, Progress

Is there a word that sounds prettier than progress? Pioneering maybe, or completion. Those are also good words. Espionage has always been one of my favorites... I'm checking in today to update you on the progress of my Great Summer To-Do List (v. 2). I have successfully completed an entire section at this point, and finally wrapped up a book!

After picking blueberries with a good friend, I have officially followed all my traditional summer traditions. A pint of blueberries always feels like more than you think it's going to be, and I've been munching on these goodies all week. I am thinking about attempting to make something neat out of them... I have been wanting to try my hand at jam, but I'm pretty sure I don't have enough for that. Maybe one of those tiny pies I see on pinterest? Hmmm....

I have finished my annual Agatha Christie read, which was an anthology of Hercule Poirot mysteries. Some of these mysteries were incredibly intriguing to me, and others fell pretty flat. I found that I couldn't read too many in a row or my head would swim with the vanity and pretention of that happy little Belgian. Though he may be incredibly polite, I don't think we'd hang out. Too many random French phrases thrown in there that I had to look up.

I was running errands today and wanted to finally drop a couple books off (I had an audiobook overdue--to fund our public library systems, of course), but I was just one short story shy of finishing. I couldn't drop it in the box and check it off my list without legitimately finishing it! So I parked in the library lot and wrapped it up.

I'm so glad I did--the last story was by far my favorite, and I think the most interesting. It featured M. Poirot's younger, more naive days as a humble police detective in Belgium. Maybe I just preferred that version of him better than the seasoned vet who knows how valuable his "little gray cells" are. It's called "The Chocolate Box." Seeing as how it dealt with murder, it left me craving more Christie than chocolate... but now I'm back to the Roald Dahl biography and very nearly finished with his younger years. Now onto the good stuff about writing everyone's favorite books! Also, war!

It's been a beautiful summer so far.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Scout Tee Sew-a-long at Kollabora

I follow designer Jen from Grainline studios on twitter, and saw her post about a Scout Tee sew-a-long on Kollabora a couple weeks ago. I have blogged about the Scout Tee before, and made a really fun eyelet lace version of it last summer. I think it was the first thing I made that consistently received compliments and "you made that?!" level of astonishment.

Jen's been posting about her knit versions of the Scout lately, and that got me all excited. (This was one of the projects I specifically mentioned I wanted to accomplish in my Great Summer To-Do List (v.2)so I've been dreaming about it for a while) Determined, I drove to my nearest Joann's and found a really soft periwinkle knit that I thought would be perfect... I have a lot of blue in my closet already, but I can't help myself. When you find a color you like, why not wear it a million times over?

Then everything went wrong. My machine decided to take a mental mechanical vacation, I cut things wrong and had to adjust, I messed up my sizing and couldn't recover. Well, really I could recover and I probably will at some later date, but I got emotionally defeated. Sewing, for me, is often a tiny emotional roller coaster. It takes some effort to return to messed up projects, because they have rejected me and I didn't want to wear them anyway so there.

So I started over.

This time, though, I decided to branch out... with black on white polka dots! I couldn't help but sneak in some of the blue scraps, in the form of a frocket (that's front pocket for those that don't teach high school) and the facing on the collar. I love the way it turned out!

I am ready to make a million more of these in pajama soft knits that I can teach comfortably in. I can just see something like this gussied up with a nice pencil skirt (if I made it a little more fitted, of course!)

Frocket love

Isn't Mr. Kopf an excellent photographer? I really like how I lean in every photo so the frocket looks a little lopsided...

Just when you think I'm getting better with my posing...