Friday, March 30, 2012

Conquering the Dynasty Dress

At the Hollywood Drive-In Golf at Universal Studios. I loved their putt putt courses which were based on 1950's B-movies. This one was called The Haunting of Ghostly Green.
While in Memphis last weekend, I was taken to a gem of a place called Park Avenue Thrift. And while it was far from being even remotely Park Avenue-esque, we did make a new friend (one whom attempted to try on her size 20 bathing suit over her clothes, asked us what we thought and paid the cashier with a wad of wet cash brandished from her bra). I also found this lovely floral dress.
Before hacking into the dress, I thought I'd give it one last hurrah in all of it's shoulder-pad, big-hair-with-bow, blue-eye-shadow, and-pointy-shoe glory.
As soon as I slipped the dress on, I immediately had images of Dynasty pop into my head. The shoulder pads were mammoth. It's no wonder we did our hair up so big in the eighties. If we didn't, we'd look like a shrunken head between those pillow-sized pads.
As a kid, my cousin, my aunt and I used to watch Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Dallas curled up with my grandma in her bed. The plot was over our heads so we usually had our noses stuck in some Sweet Valley High book.


More pictures from the putt putt. I've not putt putted in ages and we had so much fun. If you've not been lately, I say go.
So, here's a breakdown of how I conquered the Dynasty Dress:
  • Removal of shoulder pads. But I didn't trash them. They'll come back in style someday, right?
  • Removal of 8" from the hemline. I mean really. It was like a floral parachute.
  • Addition of yellow scalloped collar. Seen best in the final photo.
  • Removal of belt. I love it, but you can't see it. So I am wearing my bow belt instead.
  • Addition of matching sandals. I used the excess fabric to create the straps for my Sseko sandals. If you are not familiar with Sseko, you might want to check them out.
Another show we watched with grandma as kids. I always thought of my grandma as being like Dixie Carter's Julie Sugarbaker. Doesn't Charlene look like she's wearing my floral dress?
It's not the biggest dress overhaul but this one didn't really need it. I was sold on the full skirt, the floral and the pockets. It just needed some de-eighties-izing.

Dynasty Dress, consider yourself conquered, bwahaha.
When I asked hubs what he thought of the end result, he said, "It's nice. It looks like an Easter dress. That's the look you were going for, right?"

Erm, yeah. And that's the last time I let him win at putt putt. Enjoy your weekend!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mammoth Monet-Inspired Mural

Mammoth Monet-Inspired Mural measuring in at 12' X 9' and well over 10 lbs. This is one mural not to be contented with.
 Hey, guys! I interrupt this blog post to say that my third graders just finished some clay frogs after creating this mural...you can see them here.

Well, I learned my lesson. After creating a winter mural with the kids after break (that you can see here: http://cassiestephens.blogspot.com/2012/02/wishful-winter-wonderland.html ) and only having a short time to display it before it became passe, I started early on this here spring/summer mural. The kids and I had most of the mural put together before spring break, but I was so excited to see the end result that I sneaked in, glued down the last of the frogs and flowers and, with the help of our awesome custodians, got it hung up. I can't wait for the kids to see it when they return. Here's how we went about our creation.
Our inspiration: Monet's garden and pond at Giverny.
I introduced Monet to the kids with this book. I love this series of books and find that all of my students, kindergarten through fourth, enjoy them too. I know that there are video versions of the books but I don't enjoy showing movies in my room. And, honestly, I love to read aloud.

One of my favorite tricks to get the kids to remember an artists name is this: whenever I say the artist's first name, the kids are to respond with his last name. So, as I read, I'll say, "Claude..." and the kids all respond, "Monet!" It really helps with recall...most of the time. Recently, when we were playing The Smartest Artist (http://cassiestephens.blogspot.com/2012/01/smartest-artist.html), the question was, "who painted the Mona Lisa?" and I got "Vincent da Vinci!" Oh well.

After reading about Claude Monet, the kids spent a week creating clay projects that were pond-themed. So we had clay frogs, fish, waterlilies, butterflies and snails. I'll share these in an upcoming post as the kids have yet to glaze them. With our knowledge on ponds, the kids began creating the pieces of our mural.
A great rhyming book about a frog that ends up in Monet's garden.
 Here's a run down of who created what:
  • Kindergarten created the textured papers for the grass, flowers, cat tails and bridge. We learned all about mixing the secondary colors. They went on to create the three dimensional flowers too.
  • First grade created the tissue paper meets sparkle Modge Podge pond papers. They also drew the fish and the frogs. 
  • Some of the second grade classes printed the land with sponges, cardboard and empty spools for flowers. These are the background papers behind the kindergarten flowers. One class created the sky sponge paintings with the printed dragon flies. These kids also created the waterlilies on color diffusing paper.
  • The third and fourth graders are up to their eyeballs in weavings. Their task will be add insects once finished with their woven masterpieces.
A sweet little frog has found his home on a tissue paper waterlily.

First grade koi fish with a second grade waterlily.

Three-dimensional flowers with kindergarten. Yes, it's as crazy as it sounds. They got it...but it took us a while. Next time, maybe first grade.

For a full flower tutorial, go here: http://kristineldridge.com/blog/?p=5615

I had a sweet former student shadow me last week. I asked her to come up with an idea for printing dragon flies as my pre-spring break brain was spent. She used a toilet paper tube she pinched in the middle to create a horizontal 8 and q-tips for the body. The kids loved it.

I borrowed the sun from the winter mural. I'm thinking he'll make an appearance in all of our seasonal murals, what do you think?

I was told that this is a Mrs. Stephens Frog. I do love bows in my hair. Now I just need to get my nails done!

Mammoth Mural in all it's glory. Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

How to Dress like a Masterpiece

Spring Green Monday: Guess who's overcompensating for not wearing even a stitch of green on St. Patrick's Day? sweater: Ann Taylor, thrifted; dress: vintage, thrifted; belt: made by me; brooch: vintage, thrifted; shoes: thrifted; fishnets: Target
Okay, please don't hate me. But I don't have to work for the next two weeks. I know! Can you believe it? We have a grand total of 14 days off for spring break. I am beyond excited. I've already had a blast, spending my weekend with a great friend and fellow art teachers at a conference in Memphis. Now I've got the next couple of days to catch up with friends and DIY's before hubs and I head to Orlando.

On with the outfit post. A couple weeks ago, when introducing Claude Monet to the kids, Lauren and I dressed as Monet's garden. This week I thought I'd try to match my look with a painting just for kicks. Sometimes I based my look on a painting, like Monday's dress; other days, I searched for a painting with a similar color palette after the fact. It was a lot of fun...and I'm hoping it helps me out of those fashion slumps I sometimes get into. Of course, the kids loved it. And that's why I do it, right? (Not really, but it makes me sound less crazy if I say so, doncha think?) Enjoy!

Portrait of Joseph Roulin by Vincent Van Gogh ... I opted not to match the beard but the wallpaper.



Since the shoes just weren't tacky enough, I hot glued some flowers onto shoe clips.

Blarf, It's Tuesday: Wearing the Blouse-from-a-Scarf made by me; skirt and fishnets: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina

Still Life with Peppermint Bottle by Paul Cezanne

One of my headbands from Jen at Peachy Tuesday...you must check out her shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/peachytuesday

One-Day-Closer-to-Break Wednesday: dress: anthropologie; tights: Target; shoes: Clarks

Spanish Dancer by John Singer Sargent

Put a Bird on It Thursday: Not seen the Portandia "Put a Bird on It" skit yet? What are you, nuts? Youtube it immediately. dress: anthropologie; sweater and tights: Target; belt: Pinkyotto; crayon shoes: thrifted and then painted by me

Photo of a Stuart Davis painting by me on my visit to the Met. Sorry, I failed to get the title.

More Peachy Tuesday goodness in my hair, love these headbands!

It's Friday, Let's do the Ed Grimely! shirt and tights: Target; skirt: anthropologie; shoes: Indigo by Clarks; belt: made by me

Dogs Playing Poker, artist unknown

I mean, really. What other painting was I going to pick?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hankie Pankie

Photo from last summer. Notice the slight tan and the relaxed I've-been-sleeping-in-for-the-past-month look about me. Hoping to get a little of that back with my upcoming Spring Break.
Okay, call me crazy, but I don't think this warm weather is going anywhere. It's been in the 80's for a week or more in these parts and I don't see any signs of stopping. Which is totally cool with me. In fact, I've gotten so excited about the warm weather I've begun the long process of pulling out my tub(ssss) of summer clothes. And, in doing so, I found this skirt I had created last summer. I thought it was kinda funny how similar in concept this Hankie Skirt (Skankie?) was to my Scarf Blouse (I've settled on Blarf).
Inspiration: anthropologie. Funny story, I was once scolded at an anthro store for taking pictures of a display. Now I'm much more stealthy.
I just about died when I saw this skirt at anthro last summer. And then I died some more when I saw the price tag. So I began thinking of creating my own Skankie using vintage hankies, not some knock-off printed-in-China ones as seen on the anthro skirt.
The hankies that didn't make the cut. To be honest, I just couldn't bear the thought of cutting into the 1952 calendar hankie...it's just too sweet.
And while I do have some vintage hankies, I knew I'd need quite a few to make this skirt. So a friend and I went on an antiquing adventure and stumbled upon a treasure trove of hankies. I only allowed myself to buy those that were under $3 which helped limit the huge selection. The best part about creating this skirt was hunting for those perfect little hankies.
This is one of the first sewing books I bought when I got my sewing machine several years ago. The directions are simple and the skirts are adorable.
 I decided to use the Swing Your Partner prairie skirt pattern from Sew What! Skirts. I sewed the hankies together, sometimes right sides together, sometimes overlapping the hankies if the edge was pretty. Once I had a strip of hankies sewn, I added muslin behind the hankies so they weren't so translucent.
Front and back of the skirt. The embroidery you see is on the belt...which is for sale in my shop.
 Then began the task of gathering. For the top piece, a strip of elastic was added for the waist. I do love me some elastic waistlines. Then I gathered the top edge of the fabric of the second piece with a basting stitch. After gathering, I pinned the right sides of the layers together and sewed. This step was repeated again for the bottom tier of the skirt. To get yourself some thorough, easy-to-comprehend directions, I strongly recommend this book. Or a youtube tutorial.
So there you have it, The Skakie. Perfect for these summery hot spring days.
Well, kids, that's all for now. I'm heading out of town to Memphis this weekend for an art teacher gathering and some hangout time with one of my favorite friends. This friend of mine is the talented one who helped me sew my first dress from a vintage pattern: http://cassiestephens.blogspot.com/2010/02/blog-post.html. I'll be back soonish with my What-I-Wore-This-Week post...which I'm really excited about as I've got something new in store! Enjoy the rest of your week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Scarf Blouse

In my newly completed Scarf Blouse. Or slouse. Maybe blarf. Whichever you prefer.
So I have this new habit. Whenever I experience a craft failure/disappointment/disaster-of-epic-proportions, my new thing is to step away, calmly, and leave the scene of the crime. From there I usually wallow around with a bar of dark chocolate, a cup of tea and maybe a cookie or three and find another craft to attempt. I find this really helps me get over the frustration of time lost and effort spent. And, sometimes, helps me come back to the mess with fresh eyes and new ideas. Even if that idea is, "craft project, meet trash can." 
I snagged this sweet little scarf-to-blouse pamphlet during a recent thrifting adventure. I quickly learned that the 20-30 minute bit was just false advertisement.
Which is how this Slouse was born. This little pamphlet had been sitting on my sewing table for ages. So, after a recent craftastrophe, I decided to give it a shot. One of the first things I began collecting in high school were vintage scarves. I loved the patterns, the texture of the silk and the fact that they were cheap. In college I went through a period where I wore them 1950's style around my neck. These days my collection just sits on my sewing room shelf.
Just a few of my favorites. I don't think I'll be able to cut into some of my scarves, I love them too much. I mean, look at that puppy pattern, swoon!
So I chose a scarf from my stash that I didn't think I'd miss if I messed up. It had a small tear and some discoloration but I loved the color and pattern. After deciding on my scarf, the first thing I had to do was add more fabric to make it large enough.
If you decide to create your own Blarf, and I believe you should, keep in mind that these measurements are from the 1940's. People were so much smaller back then. I used the measurements as suggestions.
I happened to have some green striped taffeta (er, I think that's what this fabric is) in my collection that once was a curtain. Adding that fabric to the scarf turned out to be the biggest chore as I had to hem it, attach it to the scarf and then figure out a way to miter the corners. Super fun times. But once complete, I was finally ready to follow the pattern.
While I love this shirt, it's not my usual style. I was hoping for a 1940's look...but I'm afraid I may be a little closer to Mrs. Roper.
I began with creating an opening for the neck. I did have to expand the measurement for the opening by an inch or two as my head is kind of large. Especially when you take into consideration that there is usually a bumpit making it even larger.
When following this pattern, I pinned, tried it on, repinned and tried again. I made many alterations to the pattern but this gave me a great starting point.
Really, creating the opening was not the hard part. It's this sewing silk business that drove me mad. It's so stinking slippery that it's like maneuvering a snake through your machine. And I found it difficult to measure accurately. But my sewing skills are extremely limited, so I'm winging it most of the time. For you sewing smarties, it would be a snap.
The back. Duh. I was concerned about how the backside looked, but if you look at the illustration, the bottom of the shirt is a little more tight fitting.
After the opening was complete, I was tempted to just leave the thing as a poncho. But, after taking one of those aforementioned breaks, I came back and set to work on the side seams.
Follow these measurements with caution and lots of fittings.
 What I found helpful was getting one side seam sized correctly and making a tissue pattern. That way I could use the same measurement on the other side. After creating that tissue pattern, the rest was just a zip through the sewing machine, ironing and done!
While snapping these pictures, I found it kind of funny that I have the very same pallet of colors in my house. Must be what I'm drawn to. The skirt, by the way, came from Target.
I do hope you'll give a Scarf Blouse Shirt Top a try. And if so, please send me a photo. I'd love to see what you create. I'm thinking of making a couple more myself. Enjoy your week!

Friday, March 16, 2012

With a Little Help from my Friends

Swing Your Partner Monday: I love my Mondays. Seriously. It is a slightly lighter day as far as my schedule goes and it just makes coming back to work at the end of the the weekend very pleasant. It also helps that I love my job! shirt: Paris Market Vintage in Orlando; skirt: vintage, thrifted; tights: Target; boots: Seychelle's
Well, hello there! It's just...me. Sorry, this week you only get to see what ridiculous ensembles I threw together as Lauren has kinda sorta moved on. And I've missed her so! Thankfully the room hasn't been too terribly quiet as I've had an army of amazing parents in my room all week. You see, my school was awarded a grant to participate in a fundraiser that will help feed the hungry. The deal is that my students are to create a clay masterpiece that, on the night of the art show, will be exchanged for canned goods. All canned goods will then be distributed to those in need throughout our community. 

The difficult task is helping twenty children successfully complete a clay sculpture in under half an hour. That's where these amazing moms and dads step in. They've helped clean, prep and assist any little artist in need. I honestly couldn't do it without them. So, if you're out there, thank you, parents! And any parent that helps in anyway at your child's school, know that you are truly appreciated.
I Don't Always Shop at Anthropologie, But When I Do, It's from the Sales Rack: cardigan and dress: anthropologie; shoes: vintage, thrifted; belt: Pinkyotto
Thrifty Wednesday: Everything I'm wearing was a thrift-store-score: sweater: Free People, thrifted; dress: Ann Taylor, thrifted; shoes: Dolls by Nina; tights: fishnets and gold tights from Target
Springy Thursday: I almost bought a knock-off vintage dress in this style at Anthropologie. So glad I didn't when I found this one at a vintage shop in San Francisco. dress: vintage; tights: Target: shoes: vintage, thrifted
Finally Feelin' It Friday: I admit, I'm officially tired! Notice the random artworks strewn across my floor and it's not even 8am! sweater: thrifted; dress: BCBG