Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fashion According to Six Year Olds

 Budding fashion designers hard at work.

My day job is working as an elementary art teacher.  I teach everyone at my school once a week, from the four year old kindergarten to the fifth graders.  Even though it is a hectic and fast paced day that requires a lot of patience, I love it.  I'm constantly inspired by the kids I teach.  It really is a rewarding job.  

When I first started this blog, I thought I'd write about kid's art projects all the time.  I planned on having a sewing/art education/art blog.  I imagined I'd write all sorts of fabulous posts on my own creative endeavors as well as activities and tutorials that readers could do with their own children.   Then, the reality set in that I just did not want to blog about work.  Even though I do love what I do, I like thinking about other things when I get home (like sewing).  Blogging about art projects would make this blog an extension of of my work.   I say pffffttt to that.

But, I had to make an exception after I taught my Clothing As Art lesson the other week.  It's just too appropriate.  I've taught this art lesson before, but this is the first time I've taught it since I began sewing so I approached it in a whole new light.  I teach it to first graders.  We answer the question, Is clothing art?  

Right on target with the 70's wide brim hats.  

Well of course, you fellow sewists say!  That's what they say, too.  This time around I spent more time discussing clothing design as an art career.  Students learn that someone has to have the original idea when it comes to a piece of clothing.  Someone out there envisions the initial concept and plans it out by drawing.  Isn't that person an artist?   Definitely, they say.  Most definitely.

Now when I taught this lesson before, we delved right in to the wallpaper books.  I get the old wallpaper sample books from a local paint store.  They are great for various art lessons.  First graders become clothing designers.  We cut out shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, accessories, etc. from wallpaper scraps and glue them down to a large sheet of paper underneath an oval.  Later on when they are all finished, I cut out the oval and they stick their faces up to the oval to "try on" their clothing.  Great fun and silliness happens when we "try on" all of our creations.

 Works in progress

 You'll be seeing zebra/giraffe combos on the runways soon.

This year, I had students spend more time sketching out their ideas like a true clothing designer.  They loved it.  We spent an entire class period drawing out ideas for different garments.  Even the boys got in to it.  I thought you would enjoy seeing what they came up with.  I'm totally inspired.  I am going to make something from one of their drawings.  I'm thinking the green top below with scallops at the bottom.  What do you think?  Or maybe that pink and orange button down number with a green belt.  Something will come of one of these drawings for me. Indubitably.  Of course I will credit the designer.

 Maybe I should make the bicycle tee?

Kind of steam punk, don't you think?

I think that's supposed to be underwear.  But hey, someone has to design those, too.

 Inter-changeable heads: The next big thing in fashion accessories.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.  ~Pablo Picasso

Happy sewing, everyone.  Wishing you a wonderful and inspiring week!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fancy Pants

I love that, to you British folks and Aussies* out there, pants are actually underpants.  That makes me giggle when I write the word pants now.  But "fancy trousers" just doesn't sound the same as fancy pants.  So, fancy pants it is. 
I thought these pseudo riding pants/leggings would be a good introduction to making real pants.  My main sewing goal this year is to make pants that fit.  I've made one pair before, Vogue 8604, but with the wide leg and long crotch I didn't have any fitting issues.   I don't know why I've been so scared to try making other pants thus far.  Maybe because they are the most difficult thing for me to find (that fit) off the rack.  I've been reading Pants for Real People which has given me some insight in to why that is.  It's embarrassing, but I'll write more about that another time.

Anyway, I used McCalls 6173 as my starting point.  I used version A with the mock fly and waistband.  I thought it would be good practice for later on in my pants sewing adventure.  I looked at a lot of different styles of riding pants and the various seaming details.  I've always liked the way riding pants looked.  I think actual equestrian pants have patches on the inner leg for reinforcement.  I chopped my pattern up in to pieces and then sewed them back together again to fake the same look.  I did it all using the highly technical method of holding up a measuring tape to my own leg and guessing.  It worked!  I love it when that happens.  Here's a photo of how I divided up the front and back sections.  The seam above the knee was made after I sewed everything together.  I added some length to compensate for this seam on the original pattern pieces.

Initially I wanted to use flat felled seams.  I sewed one front section together and it looked horrible.  It was almost impossible to sew a perfectly straight seam on the fabric I used.  I took it apart and sewed the seams together normally.  Then I pressed the seam allowances to one side and top stitched.  Not as beautiful on the inside as I would have liked.  The blue pieces are corduroy.  The body of the leggings are made of something called a ponteroma knit from Hancock.   Just a double knit, I believe.  It has a subtle pebbly looking print on it.  In hindsight, I should have used a knit with more recovery than a double knit.  Something with spandex or lycra.  The double knit gets a little wrinkly and baggy at the knees after some wear. 

The mock fly was a little confusing.  I think the dreaded fly front is what scares me the most about making pants.  Things are put together backwards from the way I think they should be.  It doesn't quite make sense to me.  I know it will take some practice to get it right.  I actually have another pair of pants, a UFO from almost a year ago, hanging in a closet because I couldn't figure out the instructions for the fly front.  How similar is a mock fly to a regular fly front?  Just curious.  I do like having the mock fly on these because it makes me feel like I'm wearing actual pants, though they are just glorified leggings.

I'm pleased with how they turned out.  They look good under several different tunics and dresses that I already have.  I may even make another pair in a more appropriate knit.   Fancy pants, indeed! 

* You will also think it's hilarious that in South Carolina our state dance is called The Shag :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shoe Redo

 I have a new favorite pair of shoes

When I saw Alison Dahl's tutorial for covering shoes with fabric on Burdastyle, I knew I had to try it.  I've thought about it before, how some fabrics I had in my stash would make a really rad pair of shoes, but I always pictured covering flats.  When I saw the fabric covered wedge,  I was sold.   I recently got rid of a large portion of my shoe collection that I didn't wear very often in an effort to simplify (read: no more room in closet).  So, I went out in search of a pair to try it out.   

I went to about five different thrift stores and found nothing.  Not a single pair of wedges in my size.   On my way home I passed a Shoe Carnival and thought hmmmmm...... maybe I should check the clearance rack.   I was determined to find a pair.  I found these beauties on clearance for eleven bucks.    I feel a little guilty that I didn't actually give an old pair of shoes new life but since this was my trial run and they were so cheap....  From now, I'll be on the lookout for shoes to recover secondhand.

It was an interesting and fun process.  I used some spray adhesive and spritzed some scrap fabric lightly so it would stick to the shoe while I traced the pattern pieces.  Initially my pattern had about seven different pieces.  I covered one shoe with the multiple pieces, folding under and pressing the seams, but it ended up looking pretty sloppy.  The fabric I used is a home decor weight cotton from Anna Maria Horner that I had in my stash for a some time.  It was a bit heavy for having so many seams to fold under.  I put my pattern pieces together for the second shoe and cut the upper pieces in two pieces and the bottom piece as one piece.  So much better.  I ended up ripping off the fabric from the first shoe and redoing it.  I recommend using as few pieces as you can for a neater finish.

I covered the upper first.  I spread around some fabric glue, laid the fabric on top and used my fingers to smooth out any bubbles.  Then, I applied glue around the edges of the uppers while I folded the fabric over.  I snipped curves to keep the fabric laying flat.  I used a pair of jewelry pliers to poke through the lacing holes while the fabric glue was still wet.  Before I applied the wedge piece, I folded the top edge of the fabric under and glued it.  I was unsure of what to do about the bottom edge of the shoe.  When I did the first shoe, I used a sharp pair of scissors to cut right at the bottom edge but I couldn't keep the edge straight.  It was uneven and the fabric frayed in places.  The second time around I wrapped the fabric under the shoe and glued it well.  The next day when it was dry, I used a razor blade to cut the fabric right at the edge of the shoe.  I cut in to the shoe a little, but since it was on the sole it didn't matter.  It's not beautiful underneath because of the glue residue.  I also avoided covering the stretchy elastic parts of the shoe on the side and back strap.

I found the perfect color leather cord at Hobby Lobby for the lacing.  I am super pleased with how they turned out.  I have quite a bit more of this funky fabric.  What do you think?  Is a skirt in order to match the shoes?  I kind of like Alison Dahl's idea of being matchy-matchy with something so outrageous.  I haven't sealed them yet but I think I'm just going to use some Scotchguard.  And avoid walking in puddles.

 Pretty wild, huh?

Thursday, February 3, 2011



Oh my goodness, that's my chair and bench.  "Seating duo" sounds so much more elegant.   Remember how I said I was writing my own before and after post?  Well, afterward I decided to take a chance and submit it to Design*Sponge And they posted it!  I'm just tickled to death.

Big thanks to D*S!  This has absolutely, positively made my day.