Friday, September 6, 2013

Hard Hat Gala

A few weeks ago, my husband informed me that he'd bought tickets for us to attend the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital's Hard Hat Gala.  (They will be building new medical offices to attract the slim 3% of folks who say they want to practice rural medicine... and BRRH aims to be competitive.  We've got some of them most beautiful country in the country & now they'll have a beautiful new facility too.)

My husband knew what he was going to wear to the event:  his Steeler's hard hat.  I suspect the main impetus for his attendance was to further remind as many people as possible the uber-status of his fandom for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  (OK.  So, he's on the hospital board and that's probably the real reason we were there.)  My point in all this is that his "outfit" was a piece of cake.

"What am I supposed to wear?"  I asked him.

"Google hard hat gala and figure something out.  Buy a roll of caution tape or something,"  he said.  I think he temporarily forgot who he was talking to.

I bought caution tape.

Fortunately, I watch entirely too much Project Runway for my own good and figured I could handle an "Unconventional Challenge."  (And, mind you, I did it on a Project Runway time-table too:  I began sewing Wednesday morning and the gala was Thursday evening.)  So, I took inspiration from two of my favorite designers: Michelle (her quilting techniques -- and the way she did extravagant vests) and Melissa (who always has fabulous necklines/collars).

So, I dug up an old pattern for a suit-coat that I'd picked up at the Humane Society's Annual Flea Market for 10 cents and used it as the base pattern.

I will have to say, the "model fitting" was pretty frustrating.  I don't own a form, so I had to pin the vest and adjust the seams on myself.

Once I had the pieces the way I thought I wanted them (the collar was a complete guess and I just crossed my fingers on the back), I began quilting the caution tape onto the compact batting.  I channeled Tim Gunn's make it work and commit to it as I tried to figure out how to place the words and angle the tape.
 Fortunately I keep random scraps of quilt batting and black satin sitting around the house for such occasions.  As I sewed, I was struck by the diaper-like quality and sound of my fabric choices... so opted to make two of the back vest panels out of the satin to help the piece move better.  The same went for the inside of the high collar, since it would touch my face.  However, that left me with some ragged edges to conceal, so I actually cut and made my own bias edging for the first time in my life.  (woo hoo)

Somehow I managed not to burn my fingers while ironing the bias and finished the piece properly without cutting corners.  I even lined up my chevrons in the back with Nina Garcia's voice in my head.  The end result was remarkably close to what I'd imagined--which doesn't happen very often.  And off to the gala we went.  (Not sure what in-laws thought when they came to watch the kids...)
I wanted to wear this with a fabulous pair of heels, but as I have turned both of my ankles in the last month on the exact same patch of perfectly smooth driveway, I opted for a flat pair of leather boots.  I swear I wasn't even chewing bubble gum at the time.

Everyone at the gala told me "Oh!  You win the prize!" which had me totally giddy because I hadn't known they were giving out prizes, but looking around, I was pretty sure I would indeed win the prize--if there had been prizes, which there weren't.  It was just a phrase people were using to be nice.  Duh.  If there is a prize, it's that I have a crazy-fabulous vest made of caution tape that I can only wear once a year for Halloween.  Unless... I become a Hard Hat Gala crasher.  Hmmmm.... google search....

photo courtesy of hospital CEO Oscar Weinmeister

Thanks to the fashion consult provided by Erin MT who recommended a big bun.  This was the best I could do.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Walking the Walk

I have gotten some great responses to the previous blog post (thanks to everyone who linked to it or shared it), and I'd like to invite you to share both examples of what you've done to help teachers OR other ideas you may have.  I know one woman who, though she doesn't have children of her own, donated a ream of colored copy paper and some other goodies to a local school.  Her email and her actions brought tears to my eyes. (I'm doing my best not to read the note she included!)

Here's what I've done so far:

1.  I made a giant pot of soup and froze the extra... I haven't given it to a teacher yet, but it's earmarked.

2.  I made thank-you bouquets for several of my kids' teachers and delivered them to the school.
Granted, this was primarily an excuse to buy the roses.  But who could blame me?  Look how beautiful they are!  The red ones are even slightly variegated.  I walked into GoGocery and there they were, beaming at me, for only $7 a dozen!  I had to buy them... so then it was just a matter of coming up with a reasonable excuse.  Teachers!  (The hosta and mini-sunflowers were from my own place.)

3.  I wrote two thank-you notes.

I don't share this to be all braggy-miss-braggy-pants.  I guess I just want to show that I'm not just coming up with ideas for other people to do.  In the words of any two-year-old:  I do it myself.

But what about you?  What ideas have you had?  Teachers?  What have you done?