Sunday, July 29, 2007
Labor of Love
As some of you know, I have had a big project in the works for Blake's (formerly Chloe's) Preschool teacher Miss Olivia. My days have been spent either thinking this design through or actually working on it. It all started after seeing this quilt that Soule Mama made for her Meme. The parents of the school and I wanted to give Olivia something special this year as a group, instead of giving individual gifts, and after many emails, and in person conversations we decided we would collect money for Olivia to purchase a new video camera, and I would make a keepsake gift to present to her on the last day of school. So, a few weeks back we surprised her with an impromptu party after school one Friday, and gave her an origami money necklace. Then, we got together with the kids on another day to get their little hand prints. I spent the remaining weeks designing and constructing the apron, and then presented it to her on the last day of school this past Friday, during her annual graduation party for the children. She was thrilled ! These pictures are of her, in front of my favorite wooden playhouse in her yard.
The past 10 days, I spent almost every evening in my garage studio working with the circles of hand prints and this lovely vintage reprint fabric I found. The colors were so bright and fun, I fell more and more in love with it every time I picked it up. It also made my weary eye's and body somehow pull through the fatigue I was experiencing around 11pm each night. Listening to KCRW (L.A. public radio) helped to. I feel like I know these two DJ's, Jason Bentley, and Garth Trinidad, quite intimately these day's. Along with my Bernina, they pulled me through to the end.
I based the design of the apron on this pattern by Indygo Junction. I was not able to use the skirt pattern because I had 13 hand print circles and they would not fit on it, so I drafted my own circle. Something I learned from the pattern was to cut out the waistband and the tie's on the bias. Made sense since most of the skirt was on the bias to.
I also made it reversible as the pattern does, and used some vintage napkins I found at an estate sale for pockets. I am not sure that I like the placement of the pockets or how they hang, but I do love the cherries, and the red crocheted detail. I realized after trying this apron on over and over again to figure out where to put the pockets, that I really need a dress form in my studio!!
On the circles, I made bias strips out of red gingham and the waistband print instead of just appliqueing them with a decorative stitch. This added many more hours of sewing, but I liked the contrast of fabric's. I used my monogram function on the Bernina to add the children's names to their hand prints. What I didn't anticipate was how heavy the apron would become with all the added fabric. Yeah, it's the heaviest apron I have ever held. It will be great to wear during a winter day. During the graduation party, after Olivia opened it, she put it on, and it was so hot, that I think her waist must have been dying to breath. We joked and laughed about it. I do think she really appreciated it either way. I have definitely learned from this apron...next time, I would choose thinner fabric, and I would not do the bias, or I would not make it reversible..to keep the weight of it lighter, so it's more wearable.
If you clicked on the Soule Mama link, you saw the photo quilt that Amanda made for her Meme, and you might wonder how did I get to an apron with hand prints from that inspiration. Well, at first I wanted to make a quilt, and use photographs Olivia has taken of the children, (she takes beautiful ones). As time went by and I kept re-thinking the project, I felt she would enjoy and apron more, and that is my thing right now. I have yet to make a quilt, and I didn't want my first one to be something that was for someone else. On top of that, I am not set up to do printing of photo's on fabric yet. Something that Olivia does everyday of school, is jot down the quotes that the children say and she categorizes them into a twice a year newsletter. They are just adorable. So while we were getting the children's hand prints, we asked them to tell us what they loved about Miss Olivia and Circle of Friends Preschool. I wanted to take their quotes and monogram them around the circles on the apron, but there was just not enough room. My plan was to put them on a dish towel to go with the apron, but time ran out. So I printed them out of paper and wrapped a ribbon around it and put it in the pocket for Olivia to keep. She loved it. Maybe in the future I can come up with a design that will showcase the quotes. Luckily we have two more years with Olivia, one's I will surely cherish !
I can't end this post without telling you a little about our Beloved Miss Olivia, and her preschool "Circle of Friends". We found Olivia 3 years ago, after having a terrible experience with a small co-op preschool. Olivia was and still is in my book an Angel in not only my children's lives but in mine as well. She gives her whole heart and soul and more to the children and families in her school. She only has 6 children each day, and focuses on social and emotional literacy through play and all sorts of fun exploration. I often describe her as worldly in her approach. Most mornings, Alan drops off Blake, but when I do, I find that I spend at least an hour there enjoying the children and her interaction with them. I have learned so much about parenting from Olivia, and there have been times when I was heartbroken for some reason or another, and she was there for me to impart her wisdom and humor and a nice cup of English tea to help mend my soul . She is not only my children's preschool teacher, but a true friend in many ways as well. I could go on and on, I wish you could all meet her and see for yourselves, because her presence would change you on some level. She ended the party on Friday with a DVD (she does this annually) of some priceless moments of the children throughout the year. Her lovely talented Son, Robert edited hours and hours worth of footage, and put alot of his own music to it. I am so happy that we will have these memories to show Chloe and Blake. I know they will always remember Miss Olivia, and that they are better little people for being with her in there early years.
This photo below is a corner of Miss Olivia's school. One I have come to love, because she plays the sweetest little songs from these vintage children's albums. Just had to throw that in. Circle of Friend's Preschool could be a whole post in itself. I will do that one day, with lots of photo's to tell you it's story....