Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sewing - Project Christina

Back in April, knowing my nine-year-old niece's passion for Project Runway and her desire to be a fashion designer when she grows up, and being at a loss as to what to give her for her birthday, I wrote a little "press release" and tucked it in a box with some tissue paper, the logo above, a couple of photos of Tim Gunn and wrapped it up. Christina's reactions to gifts I've given her in the past have always been quite subdued (Chuck will tell you this runs in our family :) ), so I was really tickled when this gift was met with such obvious glee - she was literally bouncing up and down on the sofa while her mom read the press release aloud.

April 15, 2007

Project Runway Spin-off Announced

NEW YORK – The producers of Project Runway today announced Project Christina, starring Christina ___. Christina, who recently celebrated her ninth birthday, is an aspiring fashion designer. With locations in ___, ___, and ___, Maryland, Project Christina will trace Christina’s progress as she brings one of her designs to life.

The first episode will set the stage for the entire project as Christina sketches her design. In later episodes, her assistant, Cathy ___, will take Christina’s measurements and modify a basic pattern so as to approximate the design Christina envisions. After a trial run in muslin, Christina and Cathy will go to ___ Fabrics where Christina will select her fabrics and notions from among the vast array on offer there. While she will have an unlimited amount of time to make her choices, she will be restricted to a $40 budget. After her purchases are made, Christina will attend a celebratory luncheon in her honor at a restaurant of her choice.

Christina will later spend time in Cathy’s sewing room overseeing the construction of her garment. During this time, she will ensure that the garment is true to her design and that it fits properly. She will also participate as much as she is able and/or wishes in the actual sewing of the garment.

As one might expect, the series will conclude with a walk down the runway, as Christina models her completed design for her adoring fans in her very own home.

Christina sent me her design a few weeks ago and we set the date for this weekend. In between I worked on the pattern (I started with Butterick 4220 and made some major alterations) and did a couple of trial runs in muslin. Christina and I went shopping Sunday, had a nice lunch out, and then got to work. We were up early Monday and finished about midday. Christina helped every step of the way and in spite of the fact that she was a little nervous initially about using the sewing machine, she took to it like a fish to water. She really was eager to be involved as much as she could be and I was impressed with how well she remembered instructions I gave her and how carefully she did things.

This was a learning experience for me as well, since this was the first time I've ever made more than minor adjustments to a pattern. My pattern wasn't perfect - notches didn't line up exactly as they should, etc. - but it worked well enough. Much like cooking, with clothing construction I've always been one to follow directions. This experience has whet my appetite for striking out on my own on occasion.

If you sew (or cook, or knit, or crochet, or weave, or whatever), pass it on to someone! It'll make their day and it'll really make yours :)


Cerebrum said...

Cathy - that's awesome! And way to go, Christina! She'll be on the real show in no time!

Nupur said...

The sweetest gift EVER! Christina's design is just lovely, and when you talk of her attention to detail, I am convinced that she is really your niece :)
The dress looks so cool. Go, Christina and Cathy!

Rowena said...

What an incredibly sweet and endearing post Cathy. I had to chuckle a bit because it reminded me of "my days" as a wannabe fashion designer. I learned to sew at 12 years and have always made much of my clothing until I joined the working world. Of course here in Italy I just hit the big sales and buy whatever suits me. Sewing clothing is not such a big deal here from what I've seen.

Anonymous said...

I want to be on Project Christina. What a great gift!

Anonymous said...

Cathy, that is the most adorable dress ever. And what an inspiration you are to me, as a new auntie! I'm going to want to learn to come up with some of these great "experiential" gifts for the little niece and nephew -- fortunately, I have a bit of time...

Cathy said...

Hi Zarah! I think she's on her way too - and I knew her when :)

Hi Nupur! She actually drew several designs, but my brother asked her which one would she really want to wear. I haven't seen the others, but I'm going to have to ask to see them next time I'm over there. Now I need to jump in and try to draw a design of my own!

Hi Rowena! I nevered aspired to be a designer, but I loved sewing back before I entered the working world too! It's one of those things I really need to try to make more time for.

Hi Mari! Sorry - we have an exclusive arrangement with Christina for future seasons ;)

Hi Julie! I think you've already been getting practice what with your teaching that cooking class and all - I have no doubt you'll be dreaming up all sort of fun things to do with your neice and nephew!

Jannett said...

Amazing job.. The dress is adorable.

Anonymous said...

Cathy - This is just such an incredible thing to share with Christina. Our small town of Taree in NSW Australia hosted the 'Flair Fashion Awards' and it was fabulous. Students and anyone can enter designs - 800 were received - and are modeled by local girls. Perhaps Christina could think about submitting something to this in the future. The model Maggie Eckart was there and she said she started sewing her clothes when she was 11 and ended up an international model. I think sewing is the most liberating skill besides cooking that you can have.
The dress looks wonderful.

Cathy said...

Hi Kaz! I hope Christina's interest in design and sewing continues. Who knows where it will take her, but even at the hobby level I know it will bring her great satisfaction. I'll definitely tell her about Australia's Fashion Flair Awards and Maggie Eckart!