Monday, August 18, 2014

DIY: Apron Sew-Along, Part 1

Okay, that man who lives in my house and eats my burnt banana bread makes fun of me because every one of my lil vid clips starts with a "hey, guys." I honestly tried to spice it up with something else ("hey, my b%tches" just didn't feel right) but I'm from the Midwest, what can I say? So "hey, guys" it is.

Welcome of the Apron Sew-Along! 

I'm so glad you are here, kids, I cannot wait to see the apron you create! Now, just to make it clear, you can sew any kind of apron you want (that's right, I bolded and italicized that bit. That's when you know I'm for serious). Whether it be bedazzled or ruffled, I say go crazy and make it your own. I've decided to show you how to stitch a simple reversible apron with nice deep pockets (because an apron without pockets is, like, absurd in my book. Which is titled Aprons Without Pockets is Absurd. It's a working title.) I thought by keeping it simple and giving you lots of options, we'd all come up with something a lil different. So, without further jibber-jabber, let's chat about what we'll be working on this week...
Apron Sew-Along, Week 1:

* Washing and drying out fabric to remove that weird sizing.
*  Creating pattern pieces outta wrapping paper or whatever else you've got large sheets of.
*  Stitching a two-ply double pocket that can either be solid or patchworked (I lost you didn't I? Just keep reading, you'll get it).
*  Cutting out our apron shape.
*  Stitching our pocket to our apron!
So by week's end, you should have something like this! More than likely, you'll have something even better.
Let's chat about fabric before we go any further. I had so much fun throwing fabric all over the floor of my sewing room to see what would work together. Here's what I've come up with for the front of my apron. That orange chevron is going to be used for the ties and the neck I had to be certain I liked it with both aprons fabrics.
Because I wanted to mix things up a bit, I decided to have a solid pattern pocket on this side with a strip of polka dot at the bottom. I'll tell ya how I did that here shortly. First, let's talk pockets.
I opted to make one large rectangular pocket with a stitch down the center. I thought this kind of pocket would be more useful than a single one. To create this, I simply cut out a piece of super cute kitten wrapping paper to 10" X 16". If you listen to the video clip, I'll walk you through pocket making. I've also written out the steps for you to follow that way as well. I do hope it makes a smidge of sense. Cuz that's really all I got. Just a smidge.
Told ya.
Okay, so I totes know my pocket's a lil crooked. But I'm not fixing it. This thing is about to be covered in all things art room so a slightly off-kilter pocket ain't nuthin. Now let's chat about the making of this pocket.
To make your pocket two-ply, take your pocket fabric and fold in half. Pin your pattern piece to the fabric along the fold. Cut out everything except that folded edge. Remove your pins. Now put the pins back on the fabric but just along the sides. When you stitch, you will only sew the sides. The top should be folded and the bottom should be open.
Stitch along the sides. Trim that seam close to your stitches and angle cut those corners there the folded edge and your stitched edge meet. Flip inside out and iron.
Flip the bottom raw edge inside an inch so that the pocket is now 9" in height. Iron.
Now let's chat about that patchwork pocket. I love it on this wild and crazy fabric!
Make two pattern pieces one that is 7" X 16" (which you'll cut one) and one that is 8" X 16" (that you'll cut two).
Pin the pattern pieces to your fabric and cut out. Remember, for the top band, you'll only need to cut out one piece; bottom band, two pieces.
To create, remove your pattern pieces. pin the long edges with right sides together and stitch.
Iron open your seam. Now repeat these same steps on the other side so that you have, basically, a fabric sandwich with your smaller band of fabric in the middle.
Again, press open those seams. To turn this into a pocket, you are going to follow those same steps as above. this time your "folded edge" will be that middle band of fabric. Stitch the sides, remove pins, trim seam and flip inside out. Fold in the open bottom portion and iron.
In this clip, I'll walk you through creating your apron pattern piece. 
For your apron, cut out a piece of fabric that is a 31" X 18" rectangle.
You are creating half of an apron pattern, not the whole thing. Because your apron will be symmetrical, you are going to simply fold your fabric in half, place that pattern piece along the folded edge and cut as you see below. But first, we need to create that curved side so you won't be walking around wearing a rectangle. To create that curved edge, I measured 7" from the lefthand side and made a small mark. Then I measured 16" from the top of the right hand side and made another mark. I connected the two dots with a large curved line. If you are not sure about your curved-line drawing skills, no worries. Maybe you have a large round lid you can trace for the curve. 
Again, pin the long edge along your folded edge of fabric and cut.
Now, I did make my apron pretty long because I'm on the tall side. If you cut your apron out and hold it up to you and it touches your toes than you might wanna shorten it. Or grow a coupla inches. For a shorter apron, you might wanna start with a rectangle that is 28" X 18".

Because I wanted a little band of accent fabric at the bottom of my superhero side, I decided to cut the apron to that short size. Then I cut out a rectangle of my contrasting fabric in the remaining about which I think was 3" X 18". Don't forget that this fabric will also need to be folded in half to give you  the correct width.
If you are adding that band of fabric to the bottom, pin the right side of your contrasting fabric to the right side of your apron and stitch. Iron you seam out flat.
Now, let's add that pocket to your apron! To do this, I folded my apron in half along that long line. I measured 17" down from the top of the apron. With my pocket also folded in half (so to center my pocket along the middle), I pinned it down. Then I flipped my apron over and pinned down the other side of the pocket. Using a piece of chalk and a ruler, I drew that middle vertical line. That's the line I stitched first. Don't forget to back stitch. For added strength, I also went back and did a zig zag stitch. I don't want my apron pocket to pull off my apron. After stitching the middle line, I stitched along the bottom edge. 

Now, to make sure that your hands can fit in your pockets, remove your pins and slide your hand inside your pocket. Now pin that pocket down with that little added space and stitch along those side seams. Again, backstitch and add that zigzag for reinforcement. 

If you look below, you'll see that my pockets look a little baggy. That's because of that little bit of space I accounted for. I have big mannish hands, they need all the space they can get. 
And there you have it! Pattern pieces created (I've labeled and saved mine for future apron reference), pockets created, aprons cut out and pockets attached! Whew! That outta keep you busy for a week, amirite?!

Pretty please leave any questions you might have (because I did a lousy job of 'splainin') in the comments and I'll be certain to get back attcha. Also! I'd love to see your progress on the Apron Sew-Along Facebook page! Thanks for joinin' in, y'all. Happy stitchin'!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #110 and First Full Week of Skool!

 Maniac Monday: Some crazy man (aka Ginger Jesus) decided to photobomb my outfit posts this week. During my first photo attempt, I was outside snapping pics. When I scrolled through the photos, I noticed that SOMEBODY was in the background pressing his large white belly against the glass window. So I decided to snap some pics inside and he found his way into this picture. I'd say he should do a daily What Ginger Jesus Wore but it would just be a repeat of the previous days as this dude is always in head-to-toe brown. If ever I have to file a Missing Persons it will be "Sasquatch Man Last Seen in Brown". on me, top: garage sale; skirt: etsy; shoes: Target, last season; bangles: gifts; palette hair clip: made by me. On hubs: t-shirt: army surplus; shorts: thrifted

Well, hello friends! I'm proud to say that I made it through my first full week back in Art Teacherin' Land! It was a super fun week and I can't wait to share with y'all what we've been up to. Howeves,  if I learned one thang this week it's that I have to let go of my late nightin' ways. No more hitting the hay at 11pm only to rise and shine at 5am. Cuz ain't nobody shinin' when they crawl outta bed looking like a drunken zombie. So! Lesson learned. This week my new bedtime is 10:59pm.

Speakin' of this week, I'm super excited to announce that the Apron Sew-Along starts this coming week! Yippie! So many of you all have shared your fab fabric choices and I cannot wait the finished results. In this first week's Apron Sew-Along post, I'll share with you how to create your own pattern, cut your fabric, stitch a pocket and attach that bad boy to your apron! You can follow along with me if you wanna or create an apron design all your own. I'd love it if you'd join the Apron Sew-Along page and share your progress with the rest of us.

In this here post, along with my Back-to-School attire, I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of our first couple of days in art class and just what we've been working on. Teacher buds, did any of y'all head back this week? What are your lil artists creating? More deets on this projects soon. In the meantime, have a great week and I'll see you at the Apron Sew-Along!
Have y'all heard of International Dot Day? It's a celebration based around the Peter H. Reynolds' book The Dot. This book is a fantastic beginning-of-the-school-year book as it celebrates a young artist who once thought she was not. International Dot Day is September 15th and kids all across the globe are creating dots in celebration. We celebrated last year and got a great response from both the kids and adults. So we're back at it again this year. I'd love to hear if you and your student are celebrating and what they are creating in honor of Dot Day.
My first grade kids started painting during their first week of art. No sense wasting any time, right? These guys painted many a masterpiece in kindergarten so we didn't have to use too much time chatting about painting dos and don'ts. That totes had this. Instead we painted about our artist inspiration: Wassily Kandinsky and made concentric circles, aka circles that hug each other! More on what is to become of these paintings soon.
Cat's Butt Tuesday: If it's not the hubs doin' the photobombin', it's the cat. Here she is showing you her better side. top, shoes and skirt: vintage, thrifted; belt: Pin Up Girl Clothing
In second grade land, we are making reversible paintings on pizza rounds. I know, right?! I decided that we'd also use Kandinsky as our inspiration and remembered there being a REVERSIBLE KANDINSKY painting featured in the movie Six Degrees of Separation. And I was all I'M A GENIUS! Check out this clip:
Guess what I learned after doin' a wee bit of homework? Kandinsky never painted a reversible painting. GAH, what?! A movie LIED to me?! What'll I find out next, that there is no Wizard of Oz?! Aw, well. We're still making reversible paintings. Humph.
Kindergarten Wednesday: We had an invasion of the littles on Wednesday. I had two 45 minute classes of the just-turned-five-10-minutes-ago set and they were amazing! Seriously! We took a tour of the art room, learned the Word of the Day (deets to come), found that we are artists and that we were gonna create a sculpture! What I love about these little guys is their enthusiasm. It's like pure joy. I wish I could bottle it. Like, seriously, sometimes, I wish I COULD bottle it and put a cork in it but on this day, it was precious. sweater: thrifted; heart top: Target, last season; skirt and shoes: Anthropologie
Every the kids heard the word of the day, which was artist, we all gave a "whoop-whoop!". We took a ride on the art train, chugged around the room admiring everyone's sculptures and proclaimed each kid to be an artist...after which they received a "whoop-whoop!". Trust me, after 45 minutes of "whoop-whoop!" was I just about whooped out. Er, wiped out. Whatever.
The base for our sculptures were, you guessed it, a dot!
Thursday!: Did I tell y'all that I now have my 3rd and 4th for an hour after YEARS of 30 minutes?! You guys, it was amazing! In one fourth grade class we learned our word of the week, chatted about Kandinsky, played instruments, danced, painted, SPLATTER painted, cleaned up, read a book, played a game. Seriously. Every time I looked at the clock I was like, wait, we have more time! skirt, shoes and top: thrifted
Y'all aren't gonna believe this but I got all sorts of techie this week. Suriously. I showed a couple of Prezis (so fast, fun and easy to create! I use the art gallery template), played music via Pandora (after I complained that my CD player was broken, a 3rd grader said, "um, use your computer!" Duh.) and I made these super fun signs on Y'all gotta check that out, it's the jam.
Fried-Day: Totes. I ain't used to this 5 days a week biznatch! Time to up the b-vitamin/caffeine/sugary-cereal intake. art supplies blouse: DIY here; pencil-y skirt: DIY here
Oh, well, lookie here. Don't worry, this didn't happen in the art room but in our kitchen on Saturday morning. I had this grand idea that I'd bake banana bread even though 1. I don't bake, I start fires (obviously) and 2. I don't even like banana bread all that much. Especially when it looks like chewed-up-spit-out meatloaf (which meatloaf already looks chewed up and spit out but I digress). When I opened the oven the flames were actually huge. I quickly closed the door and ran for my camera. As I ran by hubs who had this "what's that smell?! why are you running?!" look on his face I told him, "I know you smell smoke but don't worry. It's just breakfast. And the fire is self-contained". 

Looks like you'll never have to worry about finding any cooking posts on this hear blog, eh? I'll just stick with the stitchin' and teachin', thank ya vury much. Until next time, get that apron fabric ready, kids! And we'll chat soon. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Art Room: Gettin' Outta the Art Room!

Hiya, kids! I thought I'd share with y'all today some excitingness that has me busting outta the art room and hittin' the road. The CliffsNotes version is this:

* On Saturday, September 6th, I'll be leading a workshop at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville. The workshop will coincide with Cheekwood's current exhibit of Andy Warhol's Flowers. We'll start the morning with a docent-lead walk through the exhibit and then jump right into printmaking, leaf relief sculpturing and some textile work that will involve my personal favorite: needle felting! The workshop fee is a mere $25 ($20 if you are a member of the Gardens). Spots are limited so if you are interested, go here, click the link and get yourself signed up. I can't hardly wait!

* On Monday, October 6th, I'll be speaking to the art ed students (and any folks who'd like to attend) at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio! Yeah, you heard me right. Here's how the talk is being described: 

A Bloggers Guide to Bringing Art to Life

Cassie Stephens graduated from Indiana University with a BFA in painting and an art education certification.  After student teaching in Ireland, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she has been teaching art to kindergarten through fourth grade students for the past 15 years. She is a blogger sharing her passion for bringing art to life.  This might be by dressing like Andy Warhol's Soup Cans or Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night.  She enjoys connecting with art teachers from across the world with her blog and will share examples of art projects that reflect this global outlook.

Wow. Totally freaking the funk out about this one! I'm so excited to chat with art ed students as well as anyone else that would like to attend. The talk will start at 5pm, is open to all and it's free (I'll share the exact location with you soon). Hope to see you there! 
But first, let's chat about this Cheekwood Adventure, shall we? I love Cheekwood, y'all. When I first moved to Nashville, I used to go, hang out in the gardens and attempt to paint. It's always gorgeous, peaceful and inspiring. A fellow art teacher buddy and I visited this summer to check out their current Big Bugs outdoor exhibit (although the million degree summer temps prevented us from lasting too long) the Andy Warhol's Flowers show.
I like Big Bugs and I cannot lie. Actually I freakin hate bugs of any size. This summer, a buncha buddies and I were waiting to eat at a restaurant (which I will not name but I also will not be eating at ever again) when a FREAKIN HUGE cockroach landed on my friend's shoulder. I was the only one that noticed the monster crawling on him and started screaming "Oh my gawd, OH MY GAWD," at the top of my lungs. Meanwhile, everyone else was trying to figure out what I was spazzing over because I was unable to say anything other than, well, oh by gawd. When the others finally noticed La Cucaracha, EVERYONE started screaming and jumping up and down until the poor beast was finally crushed. It was at that point that we noticed the ENTIRE restaurant had stopped and was staring in our direction. Awk. Ward.
See? I done tole you the gardens were beautiful! We'll be using both Andy Warhol's printed flowers as well as Cheekwood's real ones as our printing/sculpturing/felting inspiration.
Now, if y'all can't make it, you can always read all about the process of printing that we'll be doing here. This is actually one of my most visited blog posts and I think it's because the results look so stunning. I did this project with my lil 2nd grade friends and they rocked it. You can check out all the deets here. 

One printing process results in two amazing prints. I'm hoping we can print some flowers while we are at Cheekwood. Although, in the past, I've just used leaves as their flat surface doesn't puncture the gelatin printing plate. But it will be fun to experiment, so we shall see!
For our relief sculpture, we'll be creating these super groovy leaf and flower pieces. I have done this project with my 3rd grade friends and they always look rad. You can read about that project here if you wanna.
 In the afternoon, we'll be needle felting! I'm still toying with the idea of just what we'll be creating...but I'm excited about the possibilities! Of course, we just might have to felt some flowers. You might recognize these from my Felted Fiesta Frock with Ballz.
So! I hope to see y'all there! And my Ohio friends, I hope you'll join us at BGSU. Until next time, I hope you have a super fab week, y'all!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DIY: An Optical Illusion of Embroidery

Dontcha think it's pretty safe to say that the interests you had as a kid kinda-sorta shape your interests as an adult? Now, granted, not all the things you were fascinated with translate into adulthood (my super mad collection of Hot Wheels cars never resulted in my becoming a mechanic even if the grimy paint/clay combo under my nails kinda makes me look that way) but you gotta admit, some things leave their mark. For example, if you know me even a lil bit, would it surprise you that I loved my Fashion Plates growing up?
Gah, anyone else out there have these? My fave thing to do was to put together the most ridiculous outfits possible. Not at all like what I do on a daily basis. Not. At. All. 

There were some toys that I wanted with every ounce of my lil kid fiber which my parental units just flat out refused me. Take this Make Me Pretty Barbie, for instance. Just because I had this habit of hacking the hair off my dolls didn't mean I'd do the same to ole Babs. If Ida had this bad boy growin' up, I wonder how that woulda translated to adulthood. Would I have frosted my tips? Become tanorexic? The funny thing is, as I'm typing this post, I'm currently wearing a hot pink necklace, a side pony and a bow. So I guess some things stick with ya no matter whut. 
 What toy creator thought, "hey! Let's create a decapitated life-size Babs to make lil girls feel totes inadequate about their looks!" Sadly most of my buddy's Make Me Pretty Barbies ended up with Sharpie'ed faces and half burnt scalps. Which, with her edgy and punk-ish looks, always made her the Angsty Artsy Babs in my book. 

Naw, my parents couldn't be bothered with fun stuff like Decap Babs. Instead I was given educational and crafty stuff like my beloved calligraphy set and a never-ending latch hook kit. If you grew up in the 1980s, I wanna know what toys you had, yo. Take the wee quiz on the right and click on the toys you grew up with. Do you think stuff had anything to do with who you are now?
I spent weeks latch hookin' the crap outta that mushroom on my babysitters couch. I never did finish the thing...but I have always loved creating with fibers. So there's that.
Oh, my bad. They DID get me a Barbie (or twenty) along with an office chair (whuh?) and a 500 piece puzzle. To this very day I freaking hate puzzles. Why would anyone wanna put together 500 pieces of anything let alone a crappy 1980s landscape. These are the questions that haunt my sleepless nights. 

Often times, when I'm dreaming up lesson plans for the kids, I think to myself, "what did I love to do as a kid?" It's then that I think back to my Fashion Plates and my latch hookin' ways and retro fun-ness comes to mind. Like working with my spirograph for instance.
I'd totes forgotten about Spirograph until I discovered one in my art room a couple years back. Granted, it's missing some key pieces but I still had fun toying around with it. Over the summer, I found this very vintage version of a Spirograph called a Magic Designer. Did y'all have either of those growin' up?
When I first found that Spirograph in my room years ago, I spent a couple hours playing with the designs. I love the look of 'em -- they are so 1950s space-age-y. It was then that I decided to make several photos copies of them, trace them onto a piece of fabric and embroider a design. Hence the pillow. 
If only I'd had a Magic Designer in my life. Have y'all ever seen this bad boy? Check out what it can do.
Yeah. Magic. I don't think I'll be stitching up that anytime soon but I do love the look of the designs, don't you?
I really want like a half dozen of these in my art room for the kids to tinker around with. That's not too much ask, right? What I really like about the Magic Designer is that it's like a little self operating machine. You seriously just adjust the settings, insert your drawing tool and turn the crank. It's fascinating to watch. 
The only problemo? That little holder for your drawing tool is so narrow that I can't seem to get anything to fit. I tried to place the inside of an ink pen into the holder but it didn't work. The lovely artwork I showed above was left behind in the box from the previous owner. So now I'm in search of a wee pen. Along with the meaning of life. Wish me luck. 
But back to teaching. So you know I scored all those lovely embroidery hoops for my fourth grade kids. Now my brain is just in "embroidery project"mode. I dunno about having the kids stitch up this kind of optical illusion-ness as it took me forever but I do like the thought. So I'm working on it. Any and all advice/comments/here's-what-you-should-do's would be greatly appreciated. Purty puhlease and tank ew.
When I stitched this up a couple years ago, I really wanted to play around with a variety of stitches. My grandma taught me how to embroider one summer as a kid (see, back to my what-you-do-as-a-child theory). At the time, I really only learned the running stitch. It was fun creating this pillow because it forced me to learn add new stitches to my life.
So, whuh about y'all? Where there interests/toys/things-you-learned-and-loved as a kid that hang with you to this day? Still going to therapy because you're freaked out at My Buddy going "anywhere I go, he goooooes" (gah, stalker much?) or at Jem and the Holograms [my bad, spelled her name wrong in my poll!] being so "truly truly truly outrageous" that you'll never measure up (really? I wanna know what crap songwriter came up with those lyrics, y'all!). Take the lil quiz and fill me in! Oh and if I've forgotten any of your fave 1980s toys, please do fill me in. 

Until then, hope your week is Truly Truly Truly Outrageous!