Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reunion Stitch and Flip Jacket and Trip Down Memories Lane

"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"  I imagine Paul McCartney could not have imagined being 64 when he wrote those lyrics....nor did I imagine that I would so enjoy a reunion of my grade school classmates when I was 64.  But I have reached that age and so did 35 more of my 104 grade school friends and we had had a terrific time laughing and sometimes crying the weekend before last.  But before I share any more of those details, here's the finished jacket that I wore for the morning and afternoon festivities.
Stitch and flip Simplicity 4698

Bias raw edges on front edge....before lightly brushing with a small brush
This stitch and flip technique is so easy (once you have a jacket pattern adjusted) and I trimmed it with the same silk tweed cut 1" on the bias then zig zag stitched on the front opening edge, sandwiching the raw edge in between, and the sleeve edges as well.  I used a 3/4" bias strip to outline the single layer patch pockets, again just placing it over the raw edge so they lay flat against the body of the jacket.  
3/4 " bias trim on patch pocket, again before light brushing
I have been wanting labels for my garments for quite a while now and found and easy and inexpensive way to add a label.  I ordered a rubber stamp from an Etsy supplier who already had the sewing machine artwork which was then customized with my blog title.  I used fabric stamping medium to stamp a strip of ombre ribbon and am thrilled with the result.  

I gave myself a personal challenge for this reunion weekend, to wear something that I had sewn each day.  No one else there had to know, I just needed something to give myself some confidence and comfort since I was emceeing our gathering and felt overly responsible.  Friday evening a number of early birds got together for dinner at a local hamburger joint.  I'm wearing the silk striped shirt from a much loved New Look 6110 pattern.  I like this pattern so much that I have a few more in mind.  It is comfortable and flattering and has plenty of opportunity for embellishment and hem variations.

Saturday's festivities opened with a tour of our 1931 grade school.  More than half of the signed up attendees gathered on our old school playground before we took a tour of our former school building, now parish offices and a small private school for gifted children.

Mary Jo's mother....and my former scout leader....had saved everything including our 8th grade uniform.
Several particular places evoked some very strong memories and emotions....my first grade classroom, for instance, where I remember learning to read so quickly and eagerly.  By sixth grade we were divided by gender.  In seventh grade, in November 1963, our 2 7th grade classes were watching "educational television" (I think perhaps rudimentary French lessons) when there was a break in the show and we were suddenly watching news about the shootings in Dallas and President Kennedy's assassination.  When we entered that classroom chills went up my back because it feels exactly the same in size, in lighting....and in the television mounted in the same corner.  Among 64 year olds, our two classes have a very unique and on the spot recollection of that day.
The television was bigger, the classroom had 54 13 year old girls in it but it felt the same.....
Of course we also had silly, fun stories and the school auditorium and stage pulled those out of our long term memory.  Our girls' basketball team were champions in 1965 (and four of the five team members were together again.)  There were five years of an outside theatrical producer coming to our school to help us put on a show.  Each class sang a few Broadway numbers and there were trunks of rayon-acetate garish costumes that we girls loved and thought were magnificent gowns.  Once we assembled on the stage for a picture (taken by our patient and good humored tour guide, the husband of one of the parish secretaries) we could not help but burst into song.  I will spare you that video but it is receiving accolades on our class Facebook page.  How come I can recall the words to those songs 50 plus years later but can't remember where I put the chalk marker in my sewing room? 
Ready to burst into song....
Of course, one of the "boys" remarked to me afterward,  he thought it was just the same as our former production experiences....the "girls" are happy and excited and giggling about the show and its songs and most of the "boys" are being stoic and kind-hearted enough to go along while hoping to not appear too awkward.
After the school tour we assembled at a nearby restaurant and bar for a cash bar and some appetizers.  There were three dozen classmates from the original 104 and seven have passed away.  I knew it would be next to impossible to speak with everyone in the three hours we had there so I did ask the group to do a one minute speed "update" to say anything about their life in the fifty years since we have known one another.  It was funny, poignant, thoughtful and caring to hear those shares and to experience the affection and good will amongst each other .  People have lives that are full of responsibilities, joys, disappointments and obligations. 

 But for this time together it was about celebrating a common past, a living present and honoring those who could not be or are no longer amidst us.  My final toast choked me up a little (which happened more than once over these three days)..."To the children we were, and the adults we have become."  So glad that we did one last big gathering and happier that so many people who have never attended one in the last fifteen years made an effort for this one.  

To bring this back to a sewing theme, I'd like to share a few last photos.  Our first grade pictures:
Not "my class" but I can name 3/4 of my classmates

My first grade class
I do not own a copy of this picture because I was so distraught when I saw myself in it that I scratched out my face.  I wasn't smiling and that bothered me terribly in first grade.  When I did get to see a friend's copy decades later I could see that I was not the only one caught a little by surprise (imagine the photographer's job fitting all of these first graders into this picture!!)  But sewing people will appreciate that I can still feel the texture of the fabric in the outfit I am wearing.  My mother sewed virtually all of my clothes then....we did have school uniforms so it was mostly Sunday and "dressy clothes."  She would be so surprised and I hope proud of how much sewing means to me today.  I loved the feel of the dotted swiss organza in the outfit she made me and to this day the colors and textures of fabric are what draw me to this hobby.  Now can you tell which one is me?...
Then....last seat with the brown dotted swiss skirt and puff sleeve blouse.  Thank you, Mom. 

Now...in stitch and flip jacket
Next report I'll confess how I found something for my resource center even when the NYC fabric district is closed on Sunday.  Until the, wishing you smiles in your sewing room and life.