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.


Sarah said...

I can't even tell you how happy this post makes me! Love the humor, the sarcasm, every single Project Runway connection, and the final product. You definitely win the prize - for the sewing skills and the blog post. Might be time to make an audition video for the show. :)

Britt Kaufmann said...

Thanks, Sarah. I think I'd better try putting a zipper in a piece of clothing before I audition... or maybe learn how to thread one of the fancypants machines they use on the show. (Bless her heart. I did think of trying one of Sue's Alien-exoskeleton-spider-web-harness thingies with the caution tape, but didn't think anyone would get the reference. That, and I'd probably trip over it and tear an ACL.)

Victoria Solomon said...

Love it!

Considering that last week I made Anara a headband but couldn't sew the curved edges because sewing anything other than a straight line is too hard, I'm totally impressed.

Britt Kaufmann said...

I saw that cute headband! The tightness of that curve would've been a beat-head-against-brick-wall kind of moment. I'd've avoided it too. (I should also probably avoid double contractions.)

Anonymous said...

Britt, this is so fun- good for you you word and dress designer!anne