Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Camp, week 2

The second camp session there were 4 campers.

This was a mistake.  With the space I have, and the attention they require, 3 most the most I can handle.  Possibly the most they can handle, as well.  There was more squabbling this time - for space, for machines, for attention.  Just for the fun of it?

But we still got a lot done.

The girl who started doll making last time finished a total of 15 dolls. She's going to sell them at the local farmer's market during Labor Day weekend, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.  (It is West Philly, after all).  The second girl made a tote bag/birthday gift and helped with clothing for the dolls, and her little sister (the quilter), made accessories and a very large bag to carry them.

The fourth girl, who only did the second week, wanted to make a dress.  She showed up with 2 different fabrics, one for a dress for her little sister and one for herself.  Since we didn't have patterns to fit, we just took her tank top and drafted a pattern from that.

The pink gingham is for her sister (they're 3 years apart but nearly the same size because my student is a gymnast), and the zebra stripe was her own.  Because the zebra dress was more fitted, we added a zipper and did a front and back facing to make the neck and armholes neater.  The smaller dress was just pull-over and had hemmed neck and armholes, mostly so she would get frustrated and agree to learn about facings.  (It worked).

I think we all learned a lot.  They learned about sewing and the best ways to drive me crazy.  I learned a lot about patience and how loudly I can bellow without scaring the neighbors and yet still be able to freeze 4 girls in their tracks.

Not sure if I'll be doing this again next year - we've been talking about moving, and it might put us out of range, but it's still a possibility.

I learned enough to know that I'd do it again, just a bit differently next time.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Camp Projects

Another camp session will start on Monday (I'm not ready, I'm not ready) and I wanted to share some projects from the first week.

Two of my campers are sisters, 9 and 11.  The 9 year old wanted to make a quilt.  She'd made a few small patchwork pieces in the after school class, but she wanted something big enough to sleep under.  I said sure, thinking, "She's 9, she'll realize how much work it is and find something else to do."

Nope, not this kid.  It may be a little wonky-shaped, and some of her fabric choices weren't the best -- but at 9, I would have mixed fabrics with abandon, too -- but it's a quilt, it's big enough to sleep under, and she did it in a week.  I'm really proud of her!

Some of the squares got decorated with patterns from my embroidery machine, which was in use as a reward for good work.  Others have pockets, or drawings, or drawstrings from a pair of PJ pants so she can practice braiding.

We yarn-tied it, because machine quilting may be a little much yet, and with 2 (soon to be 3) other campers, there really wasn't enough space to properly lay it out to stitch.  After being shown, she did most of the yarn work herself, except when the layers were really thick and she was having trouble pulling the needle.  Then I showed her how to pin the binding, and she stitched it herself.

Her older sister, who for a year has fought the idea of hand sewing, decided she wanted to make these hand-sewn felt dolls she'd found in a book.  Because she learns best by repetition, she's now made 8 of them, and she intends to sell them at the farmer's market in a few weeks.  The third student didn't have a specific project in mind, and decided to join in on the entrepreneurial project by making clothes for the dolls.

And because they're kids, in addition to the sewing and inevitable eating, there was some goofing around.  It's not sewing until someone falls into the box of stuffing and can't get out.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy campers

After four semesters of once-a-week after school sewing class, I decided this summer to take on a week-long sewing camp at my house.  Actually, two sessions, separated by a week so that teacher has a chance to recover.

It's been interesting.  In a mostly good way.

I don't have kids.  I've never particularly wanted them, and this week has reinforced why that was the right choice for me.  It's also made me realize that kids -- particularly smart, creative ones -- are pretty cool, so long as you can give them back at the end of the day.

There are 3 campers this session, 4 next time.  They're all from my after school class, my favorites, the ones who worked hard and actually wanted to be there.  Which doesn't make them any less than what they are, which is 9-to-11 year old girls, stewing in their own pre-adolescent hormones and with more energy than they (or I) know what to do with.

My cats took one look at them and moved upstairs for the duration.  Katie is the only one who comes downstairs, and she generally likes to supervise from the middle of the dining room table, where all the action is.

Tonight she's paying the price.  She's been out cold like this on the bookcase for over an hour, with no sign that she's moving anytime soon.

Actually, I feel pretty much the same way.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

African dolls

I drafted this post a few weeks ago, scheduled it, and didn't notice when it didn't appear.  So it's a little belated, but here it is.

I'm not sure if I've posted about these particular dolls before, but if I have, now there are more.

I made the first African doll for a co-worker at a former temp job.  Her granddaughter was looked after by a neighbor from Liberia who wore traditional clothing.  She wanted her granddaughter to have a doll that looked like her caregiver, and to grow up knowing that friends -- and dolls -- come in all colors and costumes.

I posted a photo of the doll when I made it, and it sold before I turned it over to my co-worker customer.  Thankfully there was more fabric, so I made her another.

After that, I made more and listed them on Etsy, and when the original fabric sold out, I found some authentic wax print fabric at the thrift store, and reached out to my sewing friends for any scraps they might have on hand.  (Being sewers, they had scraps and were happy for them to find a home that wasn't theirs).

The doll on the left isn't actually authentic fabric, but I loved the pink/gold/brown combination.  The green/white and pink/lime/black are real African textiles.

I don't always take these to craft shows because they list a little higher than the standard dolls, but when I did my a recent show in Swarthmore I took the 3 pictured here, and the green-and-white one in the center came home alone.