Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DIY: Let's Make Beautiful Aprons Together!

All fabric is from my fave online fabric retailer They ship fast and have a huge variety. There are plenty of other sellers out there though so shop around, kids! You can find this one here
So last week I got the crazy idea that it might be fun if we, you and me, stitched up beautiful aprons together. Before better judgement set in, I threw this question out to the interwebs:

Have you guys ever heard of a Sew-Along? It's where a blogger presents a sewing project and, over the course of a coupla weeks, walks the reader through the sewing steps of a project. In the end, the sewers show off their creations on the blog. SoooOOOOoooo, I thought I'd see if anyone might be interested in sewing an apron with me. There's tons of fun fabric out there (this example was found after a quick search) and, being that it's an apron, little sewing experience would be required. I only wanna venture down this road if I've got some folks who'd be interested...whatcha think?

I was excited to hear from so many of you that are interested! So in this here post, I've put together some super fab fabric (y'all I spent entirely too much time trolling for fabric. I honestly think I could do it all day. Anyone need a Personal Fabric Shopper cuz I'm totes yer gal!) along with some apron pattern ideas. I hope you'll have as much fun shopping and dreaming up apron designs as I have. 

Now, let's talk details:

* During the week of August 18th, we'll kick off our Sew-Along! In that initial post, I'll post short video clips on preparing and cutting your fabric as well as taking our first couple of sewing steps. I'm going to approach this apron as if you are a beginner sewer so that everyone can feel included. However, you are not limited to what I sew. Advanced kids, take it and run!

* You'll Need Some Fabric! I'm still gazing at apron patterns for us but my personal plan is to use two contrasting fabrics. So, if I were you, I'd purchase about a yard of your main fabric (meaning the fabric that will cover the majority of your body) and about 1/2 yard of a contrasting or complimentary fabric. That 1/2 yardage could be used for a pocket, ties or a ruffly bottom (and who doesn't like a ruffly bottom, hmmmm?). In this post, you'll find a ton of fabric ideas. 

*And, the best part, Let's Share Our Creations! So I actually have big dreams for this idea. First, I'd love for us to share our works-in-progress as well as our finished aprons and what better place than Facebook? So I've created a page just for us! You can join here even if you don't plan to sew, it's fun to be inspired. I also WOULD LOVE for us to gather at the NAEA conference in New Orleans this year wearing our apron-tastic creations! Wouldn't that be fun? Like I said, big dreams. More on that later. For now, let's chat apron patterns!
Okay, lemme tell you my apron criteria as I do plan to wear this in the art room:

1. It must be super cute. Always a priority.
2. It must cover the majority of my bod. Which means ruffly half aprons are out. 
3. There must be big -n- deep pockets. They don't necessarily have to have a wiener dog on 'em or a pig grillin' up his family members (like, weird) but they do have to be functional. That's a must.
4. Speaking of wieners, there won't be a stabbed one in the middle of my apron. Geesh, is someone frustrated or what?!
After much thought, I've decided that we won't be using a purchased pattern. I don't want y'all to break the bank for this AND I want you to have plenty of money to spend on the fun part: The Fabric! So, I'll be working on a pattern template that will be easy for you to replicate at home. However, you are not limited to what I come up with! For some apron-spirtation, you might want to visit these links and come up with your own pattern!

Hostess Apron with Ruffles (this one is more cute than art room functional)
Simple Ruffled Apron (perfect, just needs pockets!)
Another Ruffled Number (again, pockets, people)
Retro Inspired Apron (ahh, so cute! But those ties...are they in a funny spot or is it just me?)

Now, let's chat fabrics!
Artsy! Here's some artsy fabrics to wear in your art room, art studio or just to lounge around and look super cute. Because it's what you do. Retro camera fabric here, pencils here
I MIGHT be madly in love with this fabric. 

That pencil fabric is actually the same design used in a pencil skirt that was sold at Anthropologie last year. I have some sitting in my sewing room waiting to be stitched into a dress. I love that scissor fabric, I think it would be cute as that 1/2 yard contrasting fabric I mentioned earlier. Check those rulers at the bottom so you understand the scale of the fabric.
Art Teacher Geek Chic: Marker fabric and art supplies
What's Cookin', Good Lookin?! I know not all y'all are art teachers out there but I'd still love it if you'd join the fun. So I thought I'd throw some other fabric options out for you. I personally LOVE this fabric as it reminds me of the food in Pee-wee's fridge on Pee-wee's Playhouse!
I actually have that fabric on the right...I had plans to make it into some sort of Labor Day/Grillin Out Dress...we'll see if I can get around to it!
If you type in words like "retro" or "vintage", you'll love what you find on this website! While on this site, check out Cloud9 Fabrics as they are all organically dyed and printed. 
Love these retro prints!
Garden Apron: I mean, I don't garden but I might with this fabric. You might recognize this, I used it to stitch up my Gnome-y Dress!
Something for the Boys: I love this comic book and Pop! fabric
Muscles with Cars, anyone? Okay, you caught me, here's the REAL reason I can't stop looking at fabric. It's just so...hawt. 
Alrightie, kids! If you're in, remember to "like" the Facebook page. Order your fab fabric when you can as we'll be starting the week of August 18th! I'd LOVE to see the fabric you pick so please share it on the Facebook page for apron-spiration. Chat soon!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In the Art Room: That Dreaded Art Supply Order

For those of you interested in the Artsy Apron Sew-Along, I'll have a post up shortly. In the meantime, this fab fabric can be found here
I'd like to take you on a trip back in my Art Teacher-in' History, if I might. It all began some 15 plus years ago when I'd just returned from attempting to teach art to some seriously cheeky Irish kids ("Miss, have you ever been in a drive-by?"; "Miss, do you think your president really messed around with that Monica lady?"; "Miss, Americans think we are all leprechauns, don't they?!"). Upon my return from student teaching in Ireland, I found that my pops, in great fear that I'd never actually land an art teacherin' gig, had sent out some 50 odd job applications to all over the country (Alaska, dad? Really? {not that there's anything wrong with that, Alaskan friends, it's just that temps below 30 are my kryptonite}). One of those places just so happened to be Nashville, Tennessee. On a whim, my Grandma Rosie (who passed this spring) and I decided to drive the 6 hours from Indiana, go on a coupla interviews (sans grannie, of course) and take in the sites. Little did I know, I'd end up loving the town, meeting my husband and callin' this lil place home. 

OH! Funny side story about that road trip with Grandma Rosie: the night before one job interview we treated ourselves to the delectable delight that is Cracker Barrel. If you aren't familiar with these restaurants (which are based outta Tennessee, yahoo!), they pride themselves on some seriously high- fat/heart-attack all-American fare. At the entrance of these restaurants, they sell a ton of Americana chachkies (all made in China, of course) in hopes that you'll spend even more dough whilst paying your dinner bill. After exploring the shop a bit, G-ma was ready to roll. And just as we were pulling onto the highway, G-ma gave a frightened gasp, held up the dinner tab that she'd had in her hand and said:

"Cassandra Lane [you know it's bad when your first and middle name are used]! We forgot to pay the bill!"
This is fabric too! I know, right?! Go here. 
Despite my dining-n-dashing ways, I managed to land my first art teaching gig. With only a coupla days before school began, I found myself living in an unfurnished apartment just a mile from my school. I didn't know a soul, the other teachers weren't especially friendly and my art room was a portable beside the school that had been left in shambles by the previous occupant. In the tiny closet of the room I found a bucket of crayons, some paper and lots of trash. I started to Freak The Funk Out. Where are my art supplies? What am I going to teach with?!

I approached my principal with my bucket of broken crayons. He was chatting with one of those not-especially-friendly teachers. They turned to look at me and, in my school-starts-tomorrow panic, all I could manage was:

"The only thing I have to teach art with is this bucket of crayons!"

To which the N.E.F. teacher said: 

"Well, some teachers have nothing."

Which is true. And I mightah actually taken her more seriously had her arms not been loaded down with brand new boxes of Crayola makers and bottles of Elmer's Glue. All of which I gawked at shamelessly. My principal took pity on me and gave me a meager budget to get me through that first year.

Several years later, I got a gig at a new school with an improved budget (it's not glamorous at 3-ish bucks a kid but I'm never without). At first I was thrilled to spend the money as this is a girl that loves to shop. However, with the high cost of supplies and the endless choices, it's actually one of my least fave things to do. I'm guessing it might be yours as well. For that reason, I thought I'd share a little of what my annual supply order entails. 

In this post, I'll be sharing with you what my 2-D order looks like. I'd LOVE it if you'd share what you order instead or perhaps some things that I've left off my list. If I get enough feedback, I'll create a follow-up post about 2-D supplies. AND I'll also be sharing some of my fave 3-D supplies in an upcoming post. In the meantime, let's go shopping!
FABRIC! If you didn't wanna join the Sew-Along before, I betcha do now! I'll keep you posted, promise.
Let's first chat about art supply catalogs, shall we? I mean, if you're an art teacher, you prolly have a million. I've ordered from just about all of them and I've yet to have a bad experience with any. Please check your catalog for rates and sales (oftentimes, shipping is free if you enter a code!). Here are some that I've shopped in the past:

Blick Art Supplies (Gah, so glad they dropped the "Dick")
United Art & Education (outta Indiana!)
Paint: I teach elementary aged kids but that doesn't mean I want that crap watery paint that doesn't mix. I've tried my share of the budget-friendly stuff and, lemme tell you, it's not so friendly when it won't mix or the paint dries and flakes off the kids' artwork. After trying many, I've settled on Crayola's Washable Paint. They are close to $20 a gallon so I don't buy every color. Here's what I usually order for a year of art with about 400 plus kids:

* 2 Gallons of Black, White and Yellow (not in love with the yellow as it's not the most opaque of paints...still looking for an alternative brand of yellow)

* 1 Gallon of Blue, Red, Brown, Magenta and Turquoise (not pictured but they do sell them)

Watercolor Paint: Okay, I used to HATE teaching watercolor until I was introduced to these Crayola Color Mixing Sets (I promise that Crayola is not endorsing this post, their stuff is just pretty stinking good). Now, IF YOU ALREADY HAVE WATERCOLOR SETS, don't buy these, buy the refills. The earth doesn't need more plastic waste and you don't need the white watercolor paint that comes in this set. So! When I am ordering paint pan refills, I order the following colors (the "mixing colors" have an * next to them): Red, Red-Orange*, Orange, Yellow, Green, Turquoise*, Blue, Blue-Violet*, Red-Violet*
Tempera Cakes: I don't think tempera cakes are necessary and I went years without them. However, now that I've got 'em I do love using them with my kindergarten friends. I like the Alpha color Biggie Cakes but the plastic holder the cakes come in pretty much blows. It's the cheapest plastic around and the bottom of the holder will break and leak water paint everywhere within a year. Despite that, I'll keep ordering the individual cakes and you can see my solution to leaky paint pans here

Paint Brushes: Royal Langnickel, y'all. This is the set I buy every couple of years and I love them. They work great for glaze, watercolor, those tempera cakes, you name it. 
Bristle Brushes: For these, I admit, I'm not too picky. We don't use them as often as the Royal Langnickel rounds so they last longer. I usually order the generic version of these...however, if you go too cheap, you'll get the ones where the bristles are constantly falling out. And if it's one thing the kids don't like, it's hairy artwork. 
Construction Paper: For construction paper, the only way to go is Tru-Ray, I think. I hate that fade-y thin stuff. I usually order the 12" X 18" and cut it down to whatever size I need. I usually order about 5 packs of black (they come in packs of 50 sheets) for framing and for the rest, I usually get a rainbow of variety.

Paper: For multi-purpose paper, I order about 4 reams of 80 lbs drawing paper, 12" X 18". I like the heavier paper because I can then use it for drawing, painting, collage, etc. I don't order watercolor paper or thin drawing paper. 
Tissue Paper: Fun but not necessary. I do like to order the kind that bleeds so we can do projects like this.
Pencils: When I first started teaching, I thought they were all alike. Not so, these are the best as they don't break so easily. I like to use the Biggie ones but I try to have both sizes for the kids.

Erasers: Gah, what a headache. Why do we have to stab them? I mean, what's that poor eraser ever done to you? I usually invest in the white erasers as they work the very best. I try to encourage the kids to leave the clothes on the eraser (eraser condom?) to help keep it clean. For my 4th graders, I like to let them use kneaded erasers and charcoal sticks. They think these are the very best things ever but you have to be careful, they might walk outta your room. Oh, this reminds me! In Ireland, the kids called 'em rubbers which always threw me, having a kid shout, "Hey, Miss, pass me a rubber!"
Colored Pencils: Ticondergoa used to make colored pencils and they were the jam, y'all! Since they've stopped I've been on the hunt for the very best. I needed some new ones this year so I decided to give these a go. I'll have to share a review with you when I get them. My biggest issue with colored pencils is that they 1. Are Crap and 2. Break So Easily! I'm hoping this at least solve #2.

Art Sticks: Now I've ordered these guys in the past and while the color is great the kids' biggest complaint is that they never have a sharp edge. Meaning that if a kid wants to color in a detailed area, these aren't the best tool. That's why I'm hoping those woodless colored pencils fill the gap.

 Oil Pastels: An art room staple, y'all. I usually order that box of Cray-pas on the left. This year I was really only in need of yellow, white and black so I simply ordered refills. If you wanna get fancy, I love those Crayola Portfolio oil pastels. They're so great because they are water soluble and fun to work with. I also love the variety of colors that the Cray-pas seem to lack.
Sharpies: Okay, I've never ordered these "Brush" Sharpies and I don't plan to with my little ones. However, I've used them and they are fantastic! If you have older kids, I'd recommend them. I do order a ton of the standard Sharpies in a wide variety of colors as they are great. 

Sharpie Ultra Fine: There are two kind of fine tipped Sharpie makers and the one above is my fave. The other fine tip seems to run out ink faster. While the tip of these sometimes splits, I do find that they last a bit longer. I also invest in the larger tipped black Sharpies. 

Oh, Markers: I really don't have a strong love for using markers in the art room. For me, they are like crayons: the kids can use them any time. I get it, I should teach "proper crayon/marker use" but whatever, they're boring. I do like to use them for other things like coloring on coffee filters and painting them with water or for printmaking. For that reason, I invest in one of these every other year. Crayola is okay when it comes to makers (they do seem to run out fast, if you ask me) but they are better than Mr. Sketch. Don't get me wrong, I love the vibrancy of Mr. Sketch but the constant marker huffing wears me out. Not to mention when the principal walks in and the kids say, "You should SMELL these!" it never sounds good.

By the way, if I were to order crayons (which I don't, I get those donated from classroom teachers constantly), I'd go with Crayola. 
Scissors and Glue: I used to be a Fiskars Girl, all the way. But, sadly, their quality has gone downhill fast. My last couple of orders the scissor handle would overlap causing me to pinch my hand. This year I'm going to give Westcott a go. I'll let you know how that goes. With glue, I use Elmer's School Glue. I hate glue bottles so I don't use them at all. Instead I keep the glue in small lidded cups and the kids apply it with an old paint brush. This has worked for me for years and has prevented that new-scissors-jammed-into-the-glue-tip phenomenon that we all know so well.

And there you have it! Okay, what'd I forget?! And what would YOU recommend?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #107 and Back to Schoolin'

Vintage Monday: Some of my fave vintage duds rarely see the light of day so this week I made a point to bust 'em out. This dress was one of my first vintage purchases that I dyed hot pink a coupla years back to hide some stains. Now that I think about it, Tuesday's dress is a dye-job too! dress: vintage; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing; sandals: gift from a friend
Hello, kids! I hope that this sunshiny week has treated you swimmingly. Mine entailed feeble attempts at working in my art room (I can only manage about 3 hours a day before I start to whine "but it's summerrrrrr, I'm not supposed to be at schoooooooll!") and weak pursuits of stitching up some Back-to-School duds (I keep starting one dress and then another and then another. I really need meds for my self-diagonsed ADHD because self-medicating with coffee and chocolate only lead to a worse case of "look, SQUIRREL!"-itis). On top of that, I've been reading up on our Artsy Book Club choices and dreaming up ideas for an Apron Sew-a-Long (deets below, y'all). And to think that this week was supposed to be the calm before the Back-to-Schoolin' storm, pshaw!

I still cannot believe I start back to school in a matter of days. In fact, I know it's not sunk in as the Back-to-School nightmares have yet to begin (anyone else have these? Over-crowded art class, rowdy kids, paint everywhere, ticked off classroom teacher waiting outside the door with her kids in tow, me screaming for some semblance of control...oh, what am I talking about, that's no nightmare, that's my daily life!). To top it off, hubs and I headed out of town on Friday to spend our last vacation in California. When we return, I'll be hittin' the teachin' ground running. It's gonna be an interesting Back-to-Schoolin', I can already tell.

With returning to school in mind, I thought I'd share with you some of my Back-to-School projects and purchases. This is the kinda stuff that really gets me excited about returning to see my lil artist friends. Whuh about you, non-teachers and teacher-buds? What is/was your fave part about returning to school? Aside from huffing that brand new pack of Sharpies, as that's just a given. Whatever it may be, I hope it helps make the transition from easy-summer-days to kid-filled-artsy-craze a good one. Until next time, y'all!
Y'all recall that SmART! Craft Supply place I mentioned a coupla blog posts back? Well, they have a crazy assortment of sewing patterns (most being from the late 70's an 80's which is not my fave fashion era) and I scored this gem. I usually begin my sewing projects with a quick and crappy sketch just to wrap my head around where I'm going. I've decided to use a different pattern for the skirt portion (I didn't love the maxi vs. mini options. In fact, I hate maxis in the art room because every time I squat down, I ALWAYS step on my hem, attempt to stand up, get caught on stepped-on-hem and fall over. It's quite classy to see in action, I gotta tell ya). Here's hoping those angel-wing-sleeve-thingies don't look too angel-wing-y. Though pretty sure I'll be fine as I've never been confused for anything close to angelic. I'll keep ya's posted.
True Detective Tuesday: Since hubs has been home this week, we've spent some time hiking, reading and catching up on shows we've heard so much about. We decided to give True Detective a go this week. Have y'all watched this show? It's good...but unsettling. I find that I'm totally absorbed when watching it but feeling pretty funky afterwards. How bout y'all? dress: vintage, dyed purple by moi; shoes: Crocs, thrifted
What does Back-to-School Shopping mean to you? For me, it means FABRIC! And it's a wee bit outta control, as you can see. By the way, I recently threw the idea out there on Facebook (you can follow me here if you wanna) of hosting an Apron-Sew-Along on this here blog and got a great response. If you aren't familiar with a sew-along, it's where a blogger presents and teaches a sewing project over the course of several weeks and those that are interested, well, sew along. In the end, all projects are presented in a blog post and shared with the interwebbin' world. If you are interested...please let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page. I plan to share the details sometime next week. 
In the meantime, I've go some sewing to do! I've currently got three dresses in varying stages of completion and I need to get my behind in gear. I'm really hoping to have that one on the right ready by the first day of school. It's the one I'm using the angel-wing-sleeve-thingie dress pattern on. Wish me luck.
Butt Ugly But I Like It Wednesday: Seriously. When I found this get up at the thrift store a while back, I was so stoked. The hubs, well, not so much. two-piece crop top and cropped pants: vintage; bakelite bangles: gifts; shoes: Crocs
Back-to-School Shopping also entails scouring the interwebs for vintage clothing that reflects the culture I plan to teach. I found this super amazing skirt from this super amazing etsy seller Sassy Señorita Vintage. Y'all, this here awesome seller is why I love shopping on etsy. Not only is her shop fab but the shipping was fast. And when I sent her an email telling her I was an art teacher she threw in an extra goodie and packed it all in the most colorful of tissue paper that you know I'll be reusing in the art room. Thank you, Sassy Señorita!
The amount of work that went into the skirt is amazing. I've been studying the embroidery and the appliqué technique...thinking of trying my hand at this happy and colorful process.

Thursday Goodness: I ran errands like a crazy person Thursday in preparation to head outta town.  Isn't it funny how crazy things are before vacay? And then, when you get home, you need a vacay from the vacay! Which I totally won't get as we return home at midnight on Wednesday and start back to school bright and early Thursday, yikes! We'll see what state I'm in come next week. dress, bangles, brooch: vintage; rope sandals: Nomadic State of Mind
What else does Back-to-School Shopping mean? Bargains, 'course. Fact: I do have a shopping problemo. Howevers: I counter that buy only shopping used or cheap. For zample, I found these bad boys at Michael's Craft Joint for half off of $8 with the letters being a coupla bucks each. Add that 25% off coupon from my phone and BAM! I've got some happiness for the art room. Now, what to do with em...I'll keep you posted. 
Flyin Out Friday: My apologies for not only the goofball pose but the grainy photo. One of these days I'll quit this outfit photo biznatch and put you all out of your misery, ha! sweater: vintage; bike dress: Anthropologie; necklaces: made by me, DIY here
Don't let the sign fool you, we're actually in Anaheim, California at Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth. Hubs and I spent Saturday night at both California Adventure and Disneyland with plans to head back this evening. I'll share that adventure with you in an upcoming post if I recover from this vacay, heading back to school and getting all those dresses stitched up!
Until then, y'all enjoy your summer days! May they be slllooooooow and super happy!