Friday, October 10, 2014

Project Rainway

So many episodes to catch up on!  I got to check out another Project Runway today.  This was an avant-garde challenge all about innovation.  Instead of a traditional runway for the models to walk, they went off-site to a runway covered in rain!  They had set up a sprinkler-like system over the runway so the models had to actually walk in the rain.  The designers were supposed to use waterproof materials since the looks would be getting wet.

I had to use two different pages in my notebook since I have layers that I want to show.

She's wearing a neoprene jumpsuit with thigh-high galoshes.  I want to have some movement in the balloon sleeves, so I don't really know what to use as a material for those.  The boots will probably be vinyl.  I hadn't decided yet if they would be black, white, or another shade of green.

This is her raincoat!  I would use clear vinyl and paint it pink.  This would give the streaky look and let you see in to the green jumpsuit.  There is an oversized hood that is actually detachable.  The scallops around the collarbone area conceal snaps.  By undoing the snaps, the long part of the coat comes off, leaving her with the hood and shoulder cover.  Note:  there are no arm holes in the coat!

I was inspired by the idea of the rain and this girl who loves to be out in it.  That led me to flowers and how they may not bloom in the rain, but they still love it.  So this look is loosely based on a closed up flower enjoying the rain, but waiting to open up when the sun comes out again.

Jeweled Runway

I'm finally catching up on my DVR-ed Project Runway episodes!  I'm still pretty far behind, but I'm having fun sketching with them again!

Episode 7 was a jewelry challenge.  Designers were able to chose a set of Chopard jewelry to inspire the design of their gala gown (and for their models to wear with the gown).  I was immediately drawn to a large-scale necklace with diamonds and sapphires.  This also happened to be the first set chosen.  Here is my design:

Here is a better picture of the jewelry itself.

So the dress is pretty simple, but the twist -- did you catch it?  That's right!  She's wearing the necklace backwards!  I thought it would showcase better and give a little innovation while staying classy that way.  It's hard to see, but there are silver sparkles on the skirt that get more dense towards the bottom for a shimmer-ombre effect.  

I'm not sure what I would use for the silver accents.  I would just find whatever inspires me at Mood!  I would even consider appliquéing some silvery lace.  It wouldn't have to be beads or sequins.  

Once I watched the rest of the episode, I saw the back of the necklace.  There is actually another sapphire dangle hanging from the clasp, so I would switch up the neckline to let that be seen.

So there you have it!  I think the dress is too simple to make a big impact on the Project Runway judges, but I could see someone actually wearing this to a fancy State dinner or something.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Runway Wedding

This week's Project Runway challenge is to create an unconventional wedding dress and a corresponding reception look for the bride.  There were no crazy restrictions, just that it needed to be unconventional, yet still appropriate for a bride and not costume-y.  Here is what I came up with:

What we have here is a pretty cliche "unconventional" color scheme for a wedding, but I love it and that's why I went with it.  If I were actually on the show, I would pick different colors, because I can just see Nina and Zac telling me all about how they both went to weddings where the bride was wearing this dress.  I think in more surprising colors it would be harder to say that.  This is for me though, and if I ever make any of these looks, I would want it to be black and red (or "bred" as the sneakerheads say).

The wedding dress itself is a black strapless minidress with a see-through overlay with lots of volume.  I would probably need some kind of framing support around the hips to create the birdcage shape but still keep the peek-a-boo effect.  I like the idea of having a satin headband/wrap to kind of flip the traditional wedding garb upside down.  Traditionally, the bride wears a see-through veil over her head/face, and a satin dress.  I've flipped it here so that the satin is over the head/face, and the dress is the see-through part.

My corresponding reception look has a bodice very similar to the dress, but I added a halter neckline so she can dance without worrying about "wardrobe malfunctions!"  It's a pretty basic circle skirt design with lots of tulle volume underneath.  We're not talking cupcake dress here, just enough so that if she twirls, there's great movement in the skirt without showing anything that a newly married woman shouldn't show!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Red Carpet Runway

New episode of Project Runway = New fashion sketch from my favorite designer, me!

This week's challenge is to create a red carpet look for Heidi Klum.  Like the designers on the show, I took inspiration from her prior red carpet looks as well as my own aesthetic and current trends.  Here is my preliminary sketch (mirroring the 30 minutes the competitors have before they go fabric shopping):

Basically what I want to do is a form-fitting bodice down to a slim-look skirt that actually uses a bustle effect to still give fullness to the skirt as she walks. I found a black lace on Mood's website that I liked for the overlay.  It would be solid across the bodice, sleeves and back.  Then I would cut the lace and appliqué it down the back to create an ombre black to blue dress.

I like the idea of leaving the bottom half of the front of the dress blue with no appliqué… that was not a "time"-based decision.  I believe that is the best way to aid the slim-fit illusion while the rest of the dress does have that fullness.

I don't know if I could actually pull it off in one day, and I don't know if Heidi would like it, but I would totally wear it to the Emmy's!  What would I say when E! asks who I'm wearing? "Myself"? That seems a little awkward...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Project Runway time!

About halfway through season 12 of Project Runway I decided to start sketching out what I think I would do if I were a competitor on the show for each challenge.  When season 13 started, I was pretty excited to start at the beginning.  Eventually, the plan is to actually make the pieces I design during the week between episodes.  I don't think I'll be able to do that with this season, but maybe the next one!

Episode 1 involved each designer receiving a box of random fabric.  The challenge: make anything that  represents your aesthetic from this box.  I didn't feel like I could really do anything with that one unless I had someone go buy 12 yards of fabric for me.

Episode 2 was an unconventional materials challenge.  I tried sketching one of those last season, but sketches don't really show well for that challenge.   You really have to have materials to manipulate to try things.

Finally, episode 3 has a challenge I can sketch with!  Here's my process:  I watch the beginning of the episode until the designers get their challenge and are sent away to sketch.  I pause the show and do my own sketch.  Then I finish watching and reflect on my design.

The challenge this week was to take inspiration from the past, especially the first few issues of Marie Claire (1994) and create a look that might be featured in the pages of Marie Claire magazine in the year 2034 (20 years from now).

I took inspiration from the looks that keep coming back even though everyone was glad when they were gone.  Voila!  The sweatshirt and stirrup pants of the 2030's!

I went the next step from the long shirt and leggings that are in fashion now up to a form fitting one-sleeved shirt with an asymmetrical hemline and draped fabric strips.  My initial idea was strips and braids in at least 3 colors (green, black, and grey) to give some variety and texture.  As I took some time to reflect before finishing the episode, I decided that I would like some chain in different weights in the draping also.

I didn't sketch them in, but I would have given my model black pumps with an ankle cuff to match the black from the leggings.  I think I would use a soft leather for the leggings, but that would all depend on what I could find at Mood!

After finishing the episode, I think that I would have been safe, but not in the top.  That could all have come down to how well I translated my ideas into the finished product.  Maybe this will be my next project after my geometric-print circle skirt!

Note about this season of Project Runway so far: **Spoiler Alert** I don't really understand the judges.  I think I remember this happening at the beginning of last season too.  I haven't liked anything Sandhya has made, but she's won 2 out of 3 challenges!  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Laundry-Avoiders Anonymous

Hi, my name's Kim and I'm a laundry-avoider.

I avoid doing laundry often enough that my family asks me what's clean before they decide what to wear.  (We've had too many planned outfits ruined by one piece or another still lingering in the dirty clothes hamper.)  I also avoid putting laundry away--so much so that we have thought shirts and shorts to be lost forever, only to realize months later that they were under a stack of folded clothes the whole time.

About 3 weeks ago, after another episode of the needed clothes being lost, I had an intervention for myself.  I decided that enough was enough.  I needed to get my attitude and my laundry room under control.  I embarked on a Spring Cleaning-esque mission to make my laundry room a nice place to be.  I quickly found that unless we also cleaned out the closet, there just wasn't enough room to put away all the clothes that were cluttering up the laundry room.

What started out as a one-room tidy up project became a small home-improvement endeavor complete with furniture demolition, shelf installation, and total re-organization.

Step one was to clean out and organize the closet.  Behold, the before and after:

 We got rid of 4 large garbage bags worth of clothes, and a medium box full of shoes.  We can actually walk in the walk-in closet now!  The dilapidated dresser is gone--the drawers went into the trash, but the outer cabinet seemed pretty sturdy so we kept it and are now using it in the garage.  The hanging "shelves" now house everything that had been in the dresser plus undershirts and sweaters.

The next hurdle on the path to a clean laundry room was the linen closet in the master bathroom.  Step two was to organize that closet to make room for all the towels and socks that we found!

I didn't really get an accurate "before" picture, so this is essentially a "during and after" picture instead.  I don't think HGTV is going to give me my own home organization show based on this project, but it's at least better!

Finally, we have actually made it to the laundry room.  I decided very early in this process that in order to keep any kind of system working I needed a table and another hanging rack.  I had been using Oakley's doggie bed/tent as a holding area, which was just a bad idea all around.  Here is the before/after of that area:

 I have to admit, I chose that angle for effect. You really get the out-of-control feeling that had taken over the room. Oakley's den is still there, it's just under the table now instead of under a mess of clothes.  I just used our old card table and a tablecloth that's been sitting in a drawer for years.  The card table actually fit the space better than any of the tables I was considering purchasing.

Another angle:

Now you can also see the new shelf I put up!  Rex at Lowe's was very helpful in cutting the shelf to my  strange length and in getting me set up with all the right hardware so that this shelf matches the other one in the room.  I wanted them to look like they had all been installed together, not like one was an afterthought.

A better shot of the shelf.  (What can I say?  I'm proud of my work!)

The final piece to the puzzle was the top of the washer and dryer.  They had become pseudo-folding tables and catch-all's to the point of things falling off and getting lost in the abyss.  I didn't really do much here other than put everything away, but the organizing that happened before this made it possible!


This view is the first thing I see when I walk into the laundry room.  It is now a much nicer place to be, and doing a load of laundry doesn't seem as daunting.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the steps I've taken.  I finished everything about a week ago, but the after pictures were taken this morning.  The organizational system has held up that long, at least!  I'm hoping that I've got everything set up now so that the place can stay tidy like it is now for the long-term.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mother's Day in July!

I work in a restaurant where Mother's Day brunch is the busiest meal of the year.  In other words, NO ONE gets the day off.  After being close to tears the whole shift last year seeing mothers with their babies and feeling like I was missing out on an important part of motherhood, my amazing husband had a genius idea for this year: celebrate on your own day!

Why should we celebrate the bond between mother and child on the second Sunday in May?  Why not the second Monday in July?  Because that's when Hallmark tells us we should?  I recently learned from the Kansas City Star (though the sources through the whole article are not well-cited) that the woman who founded Mother's Day and lobbied for it to be a national holiday, Anna Jarvis, actually hated what Hallmark did to it.

Anna, I stand with you in your disdain for Hallmark and greeting card companies in general.  So in the spirit of celebrating your life the way you see fit, I got my Mother's Day today!

My daughter and me.  She turns 2 next month.

Today was all about me.  We took a leisurely morning around the house and then went out shopping!  My husband sponsored a wardrobe refresh that happened mostly at the Gap, but some at the Nike outlet store.  I got some new shoes (see pic below), jeans that actually fit, a bunch of cute tops to mix and match, and some chunky necklaces to start accessorizing!

Overall, I got to spend an great day with my amazing family!  Mother's Day doesn't get any better than that!  

For the record, I have nothing against the people who decide to celebrate their maternal relationships on the second Sunday in May.  I actually make a good amount of money from those people during the traditional Mother's Day brunch.  This year, because of my awesome husband, I got to enjoy watching family celebrations in May with no animosity towards my job because I knew that I wasn't actually missing out on anything.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Work-Wear Woes

*This marks the first of my personal blog posts.  School's out for summer, but I'm continuing to blog for myself and anyone who decides to read it.*

Well, the higher-ups in the restaurant where I work decided that it was time for a uniform change.  We've been wearing blue shirts with awful boxy vests for 3 years.  The servers are now to wear white button-down shirts with black ties and an official-issue black apron.  The bartender's uniform is similar: white button-down shirts and black ties, but no apron, and the option to wear a black vest (employee provided--no standard issue).

I work some shifts as a server and some as a bartender, so I get to use both versions of the uniform.  The button down shirts and black ties were easy enough to find. (Thank you and Mens Wearhouse!)  The vest, however, was impossible.  I found denim vests.  I found suede vests.  I even found crocheted vests.  The only black business-like vests to be found were for men, which would take me back to the ill-fitting, boxy cut that we had before.

I considered not wearing a vest when I bartend.  It seemed like the easiest thing to do--I already had the rest of the uniform pieces.  Then I found out that all of the male bartenders had decided to wear vests.  I pictured the scene on a Saturday night, with me and two of the guys working.  They would be wearing vests and I would not.  From the guest's point of view, either (a) I forgot my vest, or (b) I was a server that had jumped behind the bar to help out.  I didn't particularly care for either of those impressions, so I had to make the vest happen somehow.

Enter Rosey, my trusty dressform.  (She's blue and has no legs, so she reminds me of the robot maid from The Jetsons.)  After doing some Google Image browsing of celebrities wearing vests and deciding what I wanted mine to look like, I broke out the style tape and "drew" a vest on Rosey.

I wanted to accentuate my womanly curves rather than hide them, so I went with a scoop in the front, and a three-piece back.  The back was more because I don't have much tailoring experience.  If I needed to change the flare in the side seams, I wanted to not have to re-cut the whole back piece!

My next step was to create my pattern.  I use a cotton muslin because it's cheap and I can write on it with any pen.  I use different colors to mean different things so when I go to cut it out I know how to put the pieces back together!

As you can see, I experimented with different ways to do the side-back panels.  Ultimately I decided that the peplum just looked weird and went with the flat piece.

I used polyester suiting from JoAnn Fabrics for the finished product and lined it with a polyester lining. I had grand ideas of putting in pockets for pens, a notepad and my phone, but quickly decided that was a little too complicated for my first piece of business-wear.  I'm glad I nixed those ideas, because I had enough trouble with the basics!

I've never lined a garment before, and I didn't do much reading on how it should be done.  I ended up re-doing the back lining twice because it was too big and hung below the actual vest!  When I was sewing the side seams to put it all together, I had the outside on top so I could make sure the stitching was exactly where I wanted it, but then the lining got pulled through the machine faster than the suiting (I guess I should have used more pins), so it started bubbling and puckering all over the place!  Thank goodness for seam rippers!

I took the buttons from my old work vest instead of buying new ones, and that was simple enough.  The buttonholes, on the other hand, were a nightmare!  I have an automatic buttonhole presser foot, so they're supposed to be easy: line it up, press the pedal, and let the machine do all the work.  I had perfect buttonholes all over my practice piece--two layers of suiting, just like where the buttonholes were going--so I thought I would be fine.  Apparently though, my buttonhole foot is crappy and cheap. It would get stuck on a spot, or reverse before it was time, making the buttonhole way too small for the button.  I only needed to make 3 buttonholes, but it took me two hours of careful planning, frustrated arm-flailing, and trying to rip out thousands of tiny zig-zag stitches to finally get them done.

After a bit of hand-stitching to secure the wonky buttonholes and hide the lining debacle, I'm pretty happy with the result.  I would never let anyone see the inside of the vest because of the lining, but I'm proud to have completely "finished" a garment--no exposed seams--which is not something that I had done before.

I did wear it to work last night, and got some interesting comments.  One of the girl servers said she loved it and wished that our old vest had been like this.  "Maybe corporate will let us all wear them.  It's really cute."  I didn't tell her that I had made it myself and it took much, much longer than it should have.  I just accepted the compliment and swore to myself that I would not agree to make one for anyone else!

One of the guy servers said that it looked like a Beerfest girl's outfit in the front (I took that as a compliment) and a SWAT bullet-proof vest in the back.  I wasn't really sure how to take that.  I guess it means that I look tough.  If I were to make a new one, I would probably not scoop the front quite as wide, and I would do a halter neck with the bottom coming back into a simple strap instead of the racer back that I used.

New uniform, complete with tie and nametag!
Overall, it was well-received, I felt good in it, and management didn't try to tell me that it wasn't "spec," so I think it was a success!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Web 2.what?

I never did see the notification about the update for the internet, so when I heard the term "web 2.0," I had no idea what it meant.  I had to use the original web 1.0 to figure it out.

The best way I can describe the concept of "web 2.0" is not in the way that the internet itself has changed, but how we as a society use it.  When the internet first became accessible to American households, we posted information on websites, sent letters electronically, and used chat rooms to talk to people we had never seen.  Today people focus their whole lives on the internet through programs like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.  I got an invitation to a baby shower on Facebook last week for a girl I haven't seen face-to-face for 2 years.  Since the last time I saw her, she got a new boyfriend, got engaged, got married, and is now about to have a baby.  All of this I learned through Facebook and Twitter.  There were no phone calls, no invitations brought to me by the US post office, and no congratulatory hugs.  Web 2.0 encompasses the social aspect of the internet more than the utility.  Some people's whole social world is based online.  That is how I understand "web 2.0." Specifically, it seems that the web 2.0 tools are the ones that involve social networking online.

The trick, now that we understand that we are living in a web 2.0 world, is determining how to use it to our advantage.  As a future teacher, I can see many advantages to incorporating web 2.0 into my classroom.  Web 2.0 gives me the opportunity to join online groups with other educators.  We can network among our team, between school districts, across the country, even internationally.  We can share lesson plans, documents, or even data on new teaching methods for professional development.  My administrators will be able to check in and see what my class is doing without being intrusive and potentially disturbing an activity or lecture.

The biggest advantage to using web 2.0 in a classroom is the way that it can benefit student involvement.  If my friends and I spent all day writing term papers to each other, then I probably wouldn't have minded writing a term paper for class.  That would just be what we did--the normal thing.  Unfortunately, students don't write term papers for fun, so when they are assigned a research paper students moan and complain and find any reason at all to not do it.  What if we consider the way that students communicate today.  What if we let them communicate their research to us as teachers the way that they would communicate to each other?  Many of the software programs available to schools and teachers mimic the social networking sites students use all the time.  Teachers can set up assignments involving discussions just like the ones students have every day on Facebook.  Students will be much more excited to do their homework if it seems easy, and what could be easier than that?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You may say I'm a dreamer...

Not actually me,
but I like to think this is how I look when I daydream.
I like to spend most of my free time daydreaming about the day when I finally have a teaching job.  The children are all angels that love to learn, assignments are graded automatically, I never have to attend staff meetings, and my only interactions with parents are to brag about how well their children are doing.  Then I wake up and realize that I will never find a real-life situation as nice as that so I start to mentally prepare myself for the reality of teaching math to secondary students.  One of the issues I will need to deal with is keeping the students interested in what they should be learning.  I need to either avoid or be able to answer the age-old question:     
“When are we ever going to use this?”

 I plan on using a few different technologies in my future classroom to keep students interested: a digital camera, a document camera, scientific and/or graphing calculators, and hopefully a Smartboard along with iPads loaded with math-oriented apps like WolframAlpha.

The digital camera is for me to use in my lesson planning.  Having visual aids of some kind is always helpful for keeping people interested—adults as well as children.  These can get stale after a while if they are clip art, from the same teacher-supply book, or randomly sourced Internet pictures.  The visual aids can start to seem hokey or cheesy and lose their attention-retaining properties.  With a digital camera, you can get the same basic content to help with visual aids, but with people, things, or places that the students know.  The pictures themselves, of course, would depend on the lesson.  If we were talking about angles, for example, I could use a picture of the doorway to the classroom to show a right angle, a propped open book for an acute angle, and a top-down view of an open locker for an obtuse angle.  This would give students some real things that they see every day, so they can start to relate what they’re learning to life.

Document cameras have been extremely useful in the math classes I have taken, so I would like to continue using them when I teach.  I still like the chalkboard for a lot of writing, but it is so nice to be able to show smaller things using the document camera.  I could use it to show congruent and similar shapes without having to worry about my drawing on the board being exactly right.  I could even use it to show the key to a pop-quiz if I wanted the students to self-evaluate their papers.

At the middle school level, I would keep a classroom set of scientific calculators.  We would use them to talk about square roots, order of operations, and all sorts of things.  At the high school level, it would probably be graphing calculators, but depending on the class content, I may require the students to have their own at home as well.  In the beginning the calculators on their own serve as a way to keep students interested.  They are new and fun to play on, so they get excited when you start handing them out. 

A Smartboard would be an excellent technology for a math class.  It can connect to the document camera, and allow me to show graphs, modeling simulations, and anything from the computer.  I can use PowerPoint as a classroom routine, having a welcome message up at the beginning of each class, and even use it for review games before tests.

iPads would be nice for my classroom in theory, but if they are not for only my math class, they could get a little unwieldy.  Ideally, I would hand out the iPads when there was a use for them in my lesson, just like the calculators.  There are so many wonderful math visualization, modeling, and equation-solving apps out there that they could be an extremely valuable resource in keeping students engaged.  If the students use their iPads for multiple classes, whether they are rented or student-owned, there will inevitably be distractions.  These could be games the student has downloaded on their personal iPad, or even just homework for another class on a school-issued one.  We must tread carefully when giving the students power like this!

I do hope that I can find a job with a technology-rich school.  There is so much you can do to supplement a lesson and keep the students interested when you have new, exciting technology at your fingertips!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Yes, I am a tourist.

I am a frequent tourist on the Digital Generation Island--I don't live there, but I know all the locals.  I didn't grow up with today's technology at my fingertips, but I was growing up as it was emerging and have adapted with it.

When I was in elementary school we had Storybook Weaver, Math Blaster and MS Paint.  When I got to middle school, there were video announcements and a computer class where we learned to word process and create PowerPoint-type presentations.  In high school there were classes for video news, website design, and our assignments frequently required internet research.  I graduated before the social media boom when bloggers were mostly conspiracy theorists and tabloid reporters.

Kids are learning technology earlier and earlier!
Today I use technology for everything I do.  I use the entire Adobe Creative Suite for photos, movies, and pattern-making projects.  I use Excel to track our household budget, grocery list, and anticipate my net paycheck.  (I'm a waitress, so the amount of money I make can vary wildly from week to week.)  Powerpoint has become my go-to when I'm making invitations or notecards.  I use my iCloud devices synced together to organize my life from morning alarms to when to pay the bills to a reminder to pick up milk on the way home.  While I enjoy social media and the opportunities that can come from it, I don't live my life in it.  I don't even have a Facebook or Pinterest account, and this is the first blog post I have ever made.

I have used most of the technology the students featured in their portraits at one time or another.  I have never used it to the extent these students are, though.  They are really going above and beyond because they love creating!  I love seeing the passion these kids display when they talk about their projects, and they are really doing some impressive things.

I had visions of using technology in my lessons to keep the students focused and interested, but I hadn't really considered letting them be the ones creating with technology.  There are a lot of educational apps out there for computers and mobile devices, but why not let them design apps and websites?  Why not let them record a song inspired by a book in Garage Band rather than write a book report?  There are so many ways to let the students express themselves through creative technology that I hadn't thought of.

21st century learning tools seem to span a very broad spectrum.  I think the traditional books, paper, pencils, and chalkboard still have an important place in learning, especially alongside the new technology.  I love that a lot of schools are providing students with laptops and tablets so everyone can enjoy the benefits of using technology in education even if they don't have access to that equipment at home.

I am excited to see that the widespread use of these technologies has led to cross-platform compatibility that we didn't have before.  When I was in high school, I used a computer program to compose/record a song for a project.  I had a floppy disk with the recording and printed out the sheet music to turn in.  When my teacher went to listen to the song, she couldn't open the file because the school didn't have the same software that I used at home.  Now there is a lot more standardization of file types so that media players can read all types of files, and media creating programs can save in multiple formats.  Now when a student decides to use technology, they can just bring their flash drive to school and use the smart board to present their project to the whole class!

References (in order of appearance): Dive into the Future of Learning
Baby photo courtesy of John Robertson Youth Portraits
School supplies photo from