Thursday, November 6, 2014

In the Art Room: Jane Shores, Skirt-Stitcher Extaordinaire!

Hey, y'all! After how well-received my lil interview with Rebecca Tenpenny, first year art teacher (and my former super-amazing student teacher), I decided to add a monthly Art Teacher Interview to this here blog. So this month, I'd like to introduce you to Jane Shores, elementary art teacher outta Texas! I "met" Jane via the Art Teachers group on Facebook. What caught my eye was that Jane had recently started stitching up funky-fabric'ed skirts to wear in her art room. I thought it would be fun to see Jane's collection of skirts and learn the story behind how she got started on her stitching adventure. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Jane Shores!

Just who are you, where do you teach and why do you dress so crazy?!

First of all-thanks so much for the opportunity to share and talk about what I love! Somehow my sons aren't as interested in looking at my new fabrics, admire my new stitchings, ogle over the new trim I found, weird, huh?!  Maybe my next sewing adventure will be artsy boxer shorts-ha!
I'm Jane Shores. I have two super cool sons (20 and 17), two kitties and one doggie. I'm a K-8 art teacher at a private school in Dallas.  I've taught about 18 years, starting in public elementary in VA.  Now I teach private K-8 in TX. I also taught 2nd grade for 5 years! i LOVE teaching at my current school and all the different grade levels but especially the littles who are so sweet, give hugs and think everything I draw on the board is a masterpiece!  I've always had a kind of plain school wardrobe since I get messy in the art room and comfort is an absolute must.  In the past, my typical school wear would be different colored Jean Capri pants and solid color tees or polos -not much to think about in the morning! Since I discovered the fun of making art skirts, I realized I could make cute, fun skirts that I can pair with  a solid tee or polo-super comfortable, way less hot than pants(Texas you know!) and I've gotten tons of compliments on my new skirts from colleagues, but especially the kids!!!  So fun to see their amazement when I say I made it! (But sometimes I think the little kids think I actually wove the fabric too!!!)

I LOVE teaching at my current school and all the different grade levels. But I especially love the littles who are so sweet, giving hugs and thinking everything I draw on the board is a masterpiece! 
I've always had a kind of plain school wardrobe since I get messy in the art room and comfort is an absolute must. In the past, my typical school wear would be different colored Jean Capri pants and solid color tees or polos -not much to think about in the morning! Since I discovered the fun of making art skirts, I realized I could make cute, fun skirts that I can pair with  a solid tee or polo. It's super comfortable and way less hot than pants (Texas, you know!). I've gotten tons of compliments on my new skirts from colleagues, but especially the kids! It's so fun to see their amazement when I say I made it (but sometimes I think the little kids think I actually wove the fabric too)!
Tell us a little bit about what got you started on stitching these amazing skirts. 

I started following the AMAZING Cassie Stephens' blog just a few months ago and was completely inspired by your creations. Once I started checking out fabrics I fell in love with all the cool art related prints I found: tangrams, Dia de los Muertos and Mondrian-like print. I love retro stuff (as a child of the 70's I particularly like things reminiscent of that era) and found some cool fabrics printed with old style phones, cameras and cassette tapes. I thought: what a fun way to liven-up (and artsy-up!) my art teacher attire! I've always loved to sew. My mom taught me when I was little and I loved to hand stitch clothes for my Barbies (my favorite was a denim "Levi's" mini skirt!). I took home-ec in middle school and learned a bit more and sewed a snazzy apron! I've taken quilting classes in the past and hand stitched a few sweet quilts-but wearable sewing is so much more fun!  Oh yeah, I almost forgot, most of my skirts cost only about $10 to make and take less than an hour to sew. Can't beat that!

Lastly, I'm a big fan of "Project Runway" and like to fantasize about being discovered as a fashion designer. Never too old to dream, right?
How have your students reacted to your funky flair? 

I actually started making artsy jewelry first which is a fun way to show my style and things I like. Both boy and girl students would comment, "I like your earrings!" and were amazed when I'd say, "Thanks! I made em!"  Now I try to wear at least one thing I made each day since my students expect it!

They LOVE my style!  It has made dressing for school so much more fun too. I must say, some students seem a little disappointed when I wear a "plain" outfit, ha! The first skirts I stitched were my Dia de Los Muertos skirts since I found this way cool fabric and I do related projects with my 2-8th graders.  I've always loved skull art (as a die-hard Grateful Dead fan!) so naturally am attracted to Dia de Los Muertos art.  I was also inspired to make some jewelry to complete the ensemble!  My fave thing is to walk into the cafeteria and have kids I don't see that day in class comment on what I'm wearing. Great to feel like a celebrity when I get my iced tea!

A few funny reactions: when I first wore my "watercolors" skirt, an especially intrigued and artsy 4th grade girl came up and bent down to read all the different color names (in the middle of my instruction time!). During a 2nd grade class, I overheard heard a sweet little girl say, after I walked by in my Dia de Los Muertos skirt: "I wonder if she can make them in OUR sizes!" Hmmmm...interesting idea...!
Can you share with us what pattern you are using for your skirt? Do you have any advice for new stitchers who would like to do the same?

The jig is up...I must admit I'm a hack sewer! In other words...no patterns, just guess sizing, cut, sew and adjust! I don't even pin, partly cuz I'm lazy and partly cuz I'm so excited to see how it turns out! Once I got the right size/length, I measure my new fabric against that skirt. I guess one of these days I'll get around to using some bulletin board paper to create a pattern so I don't have to guess every time, but that may take some of the fun out of it! 
I consider my art skirts to be cute and fun, but not seamstress professional! 

So, basically, I start with a big rectangle (extra wide to have gathers) make a casing at the waist for elastic I use (1-inch wide, no-roll. Maybe one day I'll get fancy and do zippers!), adjust the width as necessary then stitch it up! I use "Heat and Bond" to make an iron on/no sew hem (I do need to invest in an ironing board since now I iron on a towel on my granite countertop!). But my fave part other than choosing cute artsy fabrics is adding fun trim at the bottom. So far I've used bias tape (not fun but makes nice finish at hem), Pom Pom ball trim (my fav 70's trim!), rick rack (2nd fav 70'strim!) and fringe. I have seen some way cool trims like hanging beads, coins, feathers, sequins, that I'll soon venture out to try. Biggest bit of advice: my first skirt I made with some cute floral fabric I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby. So, buy some cheap fabric and don't be afraid to make up your own pattern and experiment with fabrics and trims!
 
What are your favorite places to shop for fabric? What sewing machine do you have?

The coolest artsy fabrics I've found are from fabric.com. It's fun to scroll on my iPad the zillions of fabrics and add to my "design wall", a tool on fabric.com.  I am lucky to live near a great JoAnns Fabric as they always have 50% off fabrics and other stuff (got a great Ott Lite floor lamp recently way discounted!). I had a Kenmore (Sears brand) sewing machine for ages but it started acting up so I got a Brother (by Cassie's wonderful suggestion) from Walmart. A $400 machine for $150, I love a bargain.

Here's a question I get a lot...When do you find the time to create?! Between family, lesson planning, teaching, how are you also able to squeeze in skirt-sewing?

I'm a great creative/ADD multi-tasker! Some of my best plans start as I peruse Pinterest, fold laundry, watch HGTV, and of course, create jewelry and art skirts all at the same time! Don't you always come up with great lesson plans and ideas as you're just livin your life? I do!  As far as time, it does help that my boys are (pretty much) grown and do their own thing.  I feel like my brain is constantly looking for lesson ideas, but I've got the art teacher thing down well enough now that I can get most of my work commitments done during the school day, so my evenings and weekends are available for creative fun!
What sewing plans do you have for the future? What would you like to stitch up next?  

I just ordered some cool retro Christmas fabrics from fabric.com to make some skirts for December! I would love to create my own fabric patterns through printmaking (just got my first gelliarts printing plate, love!) that I could then sew into wearable art. I love knitting and weaving too, so maybe I can incorporate yarn arts into wearable art.  Too many cool ideas out there to try, too little time to git em done! And of course, who  knows...maybe you'll see me some day on Project Runway!

Thank you SO MUCH, Jane for taking the time to chat with us and share your super cute skirt-tasticness! Isn't she fab? Please be sure to tell her so in the comments! What I like the most is that she makes it so easy. So none of y'all can use that excuse that you "don't know how to sew" as Jane just shared that you can break those conventional sewing rules and just start creating. Thanks, Jane!


Are you an art teacher with something unique that you create/do/wear/whatever that you'd like to share? Then shoot me an email and send me a photo (because I'm visual, after all) at cassieart75@gmail.com. Thanks, y'all!
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2 comments:

  1. Love the Skirts!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rebekah! Easy to make and soooooo fun to wear!
      :-)
      Jane

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