Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DIY: Viva Italia Dress

Hey, friends! I am wearing this here dress today in...Italy! I managed to snap some photos before leaving but I'll be sure to share my Italian adventures with you when I return home. Until then, let's talk dress-makin', shall we?
After (a handful of) years stitching and countless homemade dresses, I think I have finally found the mashup of dress patterns that I like the very best. I am loving the fit and look of this halter-style top with this circle skirt, it's my new fave!
It's taken me this long to realize that simply because a pattern looks good on the envelope does not mean it will look good on you. And that's okay! You gotta go with what is the most flattering for your body type and your taste. Personally, I love a good fit and flair. And I like my fit very fitted (ahem) and my flair super, um, flair-y (double crinoline, anyone?). But I also know that I cannot do a v-neck, scoop neckline or anything else that is meant to show off cleavage. Because, well, I ain't got none. So it just looks awkward trying to show it off unless I'm wearing my big ole "Insert Cleavage Here" necklace which I seem to have lost. 
And I'm cool with this. Not the loss of my necklace, that thing was expensive, but the fact that I can't wear a good ole cleavage bearing frock. Because I have bodice patterns that work...and I think this one works the best for me. 
Now, here's a little something else I've learned: size down on the bust. Do you see that bust measurement of 34"? That is my correct size but when using this dress pattern in the past, I always found the bodice to be a pinch roomie (remember, I like a good fit). You can see other dresses I've made with this pattern here and here. For a more fitted dress, size down on the bust measurement. I'll be using a 32" bust for the bodice in the future. Now, this works for me for the entire dress because I do an open skirt...meaning I can have hips for days and the skirt hides 'em (another reason I love me a circle skirt!). However, if you are using a hip-hugging pattern, you may need to size up for the rest of the dress.
Y'all would be so proud: the last couple of dresses I've created have been from fabric straight outta the stash. I purchased this fabric years ago with the intent to make a dress...but, Ima be honest, I didn't love the colors in the print. So in the stash it sat. Until 36 hours before leaving for Italy, that is! Another reason to love this pattern: it's a quick stitch!
You might notice I decided not to add the bow/belt insert. On the dresses I have with built-in belts, I feel limited. I love to add different belts to my clothing to change up the look. So I skipped that step in the pattern. I also made the straps thinner...the thicker ones just screamed "homemade!" to me. 
 Just a side and back view. Did I mention that this dress has pockets?! I've decided that no dress is complete without them. Forever and ever, amen. 
Despite my initial meh-ness toward the print on this dress, I now really love it. I know that the pattern has a whole lot to do with it. 
And now I'm off to explore the sites on my dress. Viva Italia, y'all! photo signature_zpsd10b3273.png

Sunday, June 18, 2017

In the Art Room: Fiber Arts for Kids

When I first started teaching, weaving was in our curriculum and I was scared outta my mind. The only knowledge I had of weaving came in the form of the fiber arts class I took in college...where I got a C due to my crappy weaving project. I remember warping one of those giant floor looms for what felt like hours (prob only took 15 minutes but it was dreadfully dull) and skipping a warp strand. "Eh," I thought, "what's one warp strand, the professor will never know." Well, that one strand created a huge runner throughout my weaving and dropped my GPA down...along with the C I also acquired in Karate. Turns out Indiana University takes weaving and martial arts super seriously.

Fast forward to the present and weaving, sewing and all things fiber-artsy is one of my favorite things to teach...and the kid's fave thing to learn! Since I'll be joining in on Trixi Symond's Sew a Softie in July, I thought I'd share this video I created for the Art of Education's online conference. This video is from several conferences ago...but I still use the ideas and methods in my art room. 
Are y'all signed up for this summer's conference? I'll be leading a hands-on clay and printmaking session and I'm so excited! 
My students love fiber arts...and it's a skill that just isn't taught as much any more. All the more reason it is so fascinating to them. You can find a list of my very favorite fiber art projects here. I mentioned a ton of lessons and videos in that clip...you can find them all in that link! You are ALWAYS welcome to use my videos in your art room. I just appreciate a shout out when projects are shared via social media. 

And don't forget to join the fun of Trixi's Sew a Softie in the month of July! 
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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Art Scouts, Final Countdown!

Well, this is it: the final countdown to Art Scouts! The months, weeks and days of pondering, planning and preparing is finally here. And, I have to tell you, we really could not be more excited. Art teachers are our favorite friends...especially ones who believe in making big messes with little people, like we do! We have so many returning Scouts that we are excited to see and newbies we are thrilled to meet. So, someone light the campfire, bust out the marshmallows, pop the tent and get ready to create (have no fear, there will be no tent popping with these 90 degree Tennessee summer days...we'll be in the luxury of air conditioning, a direct gift from heaven). 
We still have spots available at both sessions. OUR FIRST SESSION IS SOLD OUT! If you are on the fence, you best hop off and join the fun, y'all! We are down to only openings at the second session. Here's a look at how your 12 PD hours will be earned:
The cost for our full two day camp is $275. That includes all of your supplies, two lunches, a Campfire Craft Night with a sweet treat and a swag bag so big you just might need a U-Haul to get it home. To register, simply hop over here. Be sure to click on the link that says Art Scouts 2017 Important Information as that will lead you to how to book your room at the convention center hotel.
Got questions about Scouts? I might have the answer! I tried to pile them all here. But if I failed to address your thoughts, feel free to join the Art Scouts Facebook page where you can drop us a line. 
And if you'd like to learn more about our beautiful location, check this clip out. We are so excited to spend time with you all...our cheesy grins say it all. See you real soon! 

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

In the Art Room: Sew a Softie!

I was recently contacted by the author of Sew Together, Grow Together, Trixi Symonds. She's the founder of Sew a Softie (check out the #sewasoftie on Instagram for some fun inspiration!) and has a fun sewing opportunity coming up in the month of July. I'm definitely joining the fun...and I thought you might want to as well. 
Trixi lives in Sydney, Australia where she has been teaching hand sewing to children for over 20 years. She coordinates workshops and leads sessions at galleries, bookstores, schools, you name it. Her goal is to encourage adults to share the love of stitching with children by providing cute, creative and fun sewing tutorials. Are you sold yet? I love her already! 
Trixi came to me with her idea of making July Sew-a-Softie month and asked if I'd be interested in joining the fun. Of course I agreed...and thought y'all might want to as well. Here are the details from Trixi:

The aim of Sew a Softie is to show both adults and kids that hand sewing is fun, creative, fulfilling, and that absolutely everyone can do it. Throughout the month of July simple to sew softie tutorials will be posted daily online. You can find them on the Sew a Softie Facebook page, the Coloured Buttons blog and the Sew a Softie website. Also, check out colouredbuttons on Instagram

You could take part by posting a softie tutorial and join the blog hop or by sewing softies with a group of friends or students anytime in July and posting on Instagam with the tag #sewasoftie.

Thanks, Trixi! I know I'm excited to get started.
I mentioned that Trixi is a book author, you can find her book here!
To clarify, if you want to join the Sew a Softie fun, be sure to follow Trixi's Facebook page. There you can find daily softie sewing inspiration as well as share your own ideas and creations. If you share on Instagram, don't forget to use #sewasoftie. I know I'm looking forward to lots of new tips, tricks and sewing project ideas for my students. 
Doesn't this sound like fun? For more inspiration, be sure to check out Trixi's blog and Instagram. It's sure to get your wheels turning. These cute images are from there. 
I know my students absolutely love sewing and had a blast with our Stitched Monster project. I think this will be a fun way to gain new ideas and collaborate with hand sewing enthusiasts all over the world. I hope you'll join the fun!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DIY: Viva Italia Dress

Hey, friends! I am wearing this here dress today in...Italy! I managed to snap some photos before leaving but I'll be sure to share my Italian adventures with you when I return home. Until then, let's talk dress-makin', shall we?
After (a handful of) years stitching and countless homemade dresses, I think I have finally found the mashup of dress patterns that I like the very best. I am loving the fit and look of this halter-style top with this circle skirt, it's my new fave!
It's taken me this long to realize that simply because a pattern looks good on the envelope does not mean it will look good on you. And that's okay! You gotta go with what is the most flattering for your body type and your taste. Personally, I love a good fit and flair. And I like my fit very fitted (ahem) and my flair super, um, flair-y (double crinoline, anyone?). But I also know that I cannot do a v-neck, scoop neckline or anything else that is meant to show off cleavage. Because, well, I ain't got none. So it just looks awkward trying to show it off unless I'm wearing my big ole "Insert Cleavage Here" necklace which I seem to have lost. 
And I'm cool with this. Not the loss of my necklace, that thing was expensive, but the fact that I can't wear a good ole cleavage bearing frock. Because I have bodice patterns that work...and I think this one works the best for me. 
Now, here's a little something else I've learned: size down on the bust. Do you see that bust measurement of 34"? That is my correct size but when using this dress pattern in the past, I always found the bodice to be a pinch roomie (remember, I like a good fit). You can see other dresses I've made with this pattern here and here. For a more fitted dress, size down on the bust measurement. I'll be using a 32" bust for the bodice in the future. Now, this works for me for the entire dress because I do an open skirt...meaning I can have hips for days and the skirt hides 'em (another reason I love me a circle skirt!). However, if you are using a hip-hugging pattern, you may need to size up for the rest of the dress. 
Y'all would be so proud: the last couple of dresses I've created have been from fabric straight outta the stash. I purchased this fabric years ago with the intent to make a dress...but, Ima be honest, I didn't love the colors in the print. So in the stash it sat. Until 36 hours before leaving for Italy, that is! Another reason to love this pattern: it's a quick stitch!
You might notice I decided not to add the bow/belt insert. On the dresses I have with built-in belts, I feel limited. I love to add different belts to my clothing to change up the look. So I skipped that step in the pattern. I also made the straps thinner...the thicker ones just screamed "homemade!" to me. 
Just a side and back view. Did I mention that this dress has pockets?! I've decided that no dress is complete without them. Forever and ever, amen. 
Despite my initial meh-ness toward the print on this dress, I now really love it. I know that the pattern has a whole lot to do with it. 
 And now I'm off to explore the sites on my dress. Viva Italia, y'all! 
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Monday, June 12, 2017

DIY: A World Map Dress And Traveling Tips!

Ciao, bellas! I'm so thrilled that today my mama and I am heading out to Italy. This trip has been in the works for months and yet I still cannot believe that the big day is here. My mom has never traveled out of the country so I am thrilled to experience her very first European vacation...to none other than Italy! 
Now y'all know I had to sew a dress for the occasion. I've had three yards of this world map fabric in my stash for some time and I thought that this trip would be the perfect occasion to frock it up. So I present to you my World Map Dress!
I used a combination of a circle skirt pattern (currently my fave) and a 1950's boat neck design. To be perfectly honest, I think that high neck might be a little hot on those 90 degree days they are projecting. But that's okay. I'll be in Italy! Bring on the endless scoops of gelato! That should be enough to cool a girl down. 
Despite the fact that it's my mama's first time aboard, I've actually been out of the good ole USA many times. I did my student teaching in Ireland where I caught the travel bug. While there, I meandered to Amsterdam, Belgium and Florence. Several years into my teaching career, I traveled to Japan via the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund (which I highly recommend to my all teacher friends!). When my husband started working for a German company, we began traveling to Germany quite a bit. Those trips often included visits to Amsterdam and Paris which you can see here and here. 

Through my travels, I've learned a couple things along the way. So I thought I'd share them here in what I've dubbed Tips for the Traveling Art Teacher! 
Tip #1: Use a Carry On Only. 

When I travel overseas, I like to travel super light, believe it or not. This means I don't check luggage. Instead, I use a pull-behind carryon and a travel bag as my two carryon pieces. Why? A couple of reasons, the first one being that I've had my checked bags lost before. Trust me, when you are in a foreign country, there's nothing worse than losing a suitcase full of essentials (a tip I learned from my husband: if you are going to check a bag, be sure and include your essentials and a day's worth of clothing in your carryon in case your luggage is lost). Another advantage to only using two carryon's: you won't have as much luggage to lug around. Mom and I are going to travel to a couple of cities. Limiting our luggage will make our lives a whole lot easier. So carryon's only it is!
Tip #2: Take Care of Bidness

When you are traveling out of the country, you really outta let your credit card company know. This will make it so they don't flag your card for fraudulent activity when they see you buying cappuccinos out the wa-freakin'-zoo. 

You also should check in with your cell service carrier. Let them know that you'll be traveling aboard and inquire how to set up your phone. Also, check your rates. It turns out the rates for using my phone are bananas while my mom's service has a much better deal. It's good to know before your go. If the rates for using your phone are cray like mine, consider installing the app WhatsApp on your phone. This app works via wifi and lets you call, text or video chat for free with the use of wifi. 
Tip #3: Safety First

On my first trip overseas, I stayed in youth hostels and I loved it. The rates where cheap, I met all sorts of folks and it really was a great way to immerse myself into the culture. However, with the good, there's always the not-so-good which, on a trip to Amsterdam, came in the form of bed bugs. I remember waking up and seeing my skin covered in what looked like hot pink highlighter pen markings. The "concierge" at the hostel recommended I walk myself down to the local convenience store, buy some Raid and spray my mattress...which I promptly, and in retrospect, foolishly, did. It indeed killed the bugs (and probably many braincells) and inspired me to put more focus on safety first. 

So, let's talk safety: when it comes to travel, your passport is the Golden Ticket that you just don't want to lose. Anything else that gets lost: your clothing, your souvenirs, your "priceless" Bump-Its, they can all be replaced. But that passport, among other things like la cashola and your phone, are pretty stinkin' important. So keep them on you at all times. And be smart when you do. I plan to take an entirely unattractive, grandma-esque, cross-body purse with enough zippers to confuse Houdini. Not what you expected? Remember: safety first. 
Tip #5: Don't Overbook Yourself

So, I'm an over-booker. I do it on a daily basis. In fact, you should see my To Do list. It's all "paint the Mona Lisa, climb Mount Everest, clean the fridge (what?! no.), mow the lawn, trim shrugs into the shape of a pack of llamas", you get the idea. It's pretty ridiculous. The same can easily happen when planning a trip. When digging into my travel books to Italy, I became determined that mom and I would see and do it all. I hopped onto TripAdvisor (dangerous territory) and started looking into food tours, wine adventures, bike trips, museum escorts (wait, what?!), you name it, I started booking it. 

Then I stopped. And I thought. For a second. 

If el mommo and I do all of the things, will we ever truly enjoy even a little of the things?
Probably not, y'all. And when I realized that, I stepped away from my travel books, websites and apps and just thought: we'll explore. And see where our adventure takes us. Where it does, I'll be sure and share with you!

Now, I'll be gone for several days but...y'all make sure to pop by here and visit. I've got many blog posts with fun announcements lined up just for you. Ciao, y'all! 
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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 37 GLAZE!

If you have a kiln, then you probably have glaze...and you are more than likely well aware of how freakishly expensive glaze is. I swear, it eats about a quarter of my budget. But I just can't give the stuff up: glaze really does give my students the ultimate ceramic experience. So today, I thought I'd share my very favorite glaze brand as well as how I distribute glaze and conserve it...so that I don't waste a single precious (read: pricey!) drop. Here you go:
My dog dishes, ice cube trays and just about everything else were purchased at the Dollar Tree. I love the Dollar Tree, y'all. If I could marry it, I totally would. Cassie Lane Dollar Tree. Has a nice ring to it, no?
Once our glazing days were done, I tossed the press and seal I was using to keep the glaze fresh and let them dry out. Just a crack of the tray works to pop them out. Then put them in the glaze bottles, add water and shake. Clean trays + conserved glaze = happy art teacher!
This is a messy task...and one that you will only want to do once. So get all your glaze bottles and trays out and knock it out in one fell swoop. 
You'll be happy you did. Clean (ish) glaze/ice cube trays and fresh glaze for the win, kids! 

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