Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jeans Challenge Summer 2009

September 2009
First of all -- let me say that Jan Potter made the fabulous ZEBRA bag that I carry with me everywhere I go! She surprised me with it at the 2009 Expo -- and I love it so much -- I use the picture of me (with the bag) as my profile photo...(thanks again, Jan!)

Jan Potter is on the left and Bonne Swett is on the right. Of course, that's one of our most popular Expo Sewing Stars -- Linda McGehee standing in the middle. Linda "discovered' the dynamic sewing duo of Jan & Bonne. And they brought 25 of their sewing "Challenges" to the 2009 Sewing & Stitchery Expo.

Their program was OUTSTANDING. The audience loved their presentation! Jan sews everything over-the-top -- with hanging threads, matching purses, embroidery, embellishments, whatever she can think of to push it to the BRINK. Bonne is more of an accountant-who-likes-orderly-matching-symetrical. Their differences are EXACTLY why their program was so entertaining! Because their challenge was to buy the same fabric, pattern or book and then go home to make their own "version". One year later, they unveil their creations to each other -- and they've been doing it for YEARS. In 2009 -- they shared their very different final projects with our EXPO audience and they were a BIG HIT.

So -- after the Expo newsletter went out, announcing my "BLOG" (ritassewfun.blogspot.com) -- both Jan and Bonne sent me encouraging emails -- and I CHALLENGED THEM to participate with me in a Recycled Jeans Challenge. Mostly because Luveta Nickels, the Junk Jeans girl -- had been my very first "Mystery Blogger"...

Luveta said, "And my first love is sewing and creating every chance I get."

SO -- here's a recap of the Great Jeans Challenge of 2009!!
August 22, 2009

THEY'RE IN....As a test, to see if anybody was REALLY READING THIS BLOG -- I threw out a sewing challenge the other day.

AND I AM DELIGHTED to report that both Jan Potter (left of Linda McGehee) and her sewing sister Bonne Swett (in the blue jacket, on the right) have both sent me emails saying THEY ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE...


Pressure. I'm tellin' ya -- it was pretty easy for me to take a picture of two pair of old cut-up jeans. NOW I'VE ACTUALLY GOTTA PUT IT ALL TOGETHER...and turn it all into something I could actually wear. (and what did I do with that third pair of jeans that almost fit me??...humm...)

Do we have a deadline, girls? Whataya say -- how about two weeks?? Feel free to send me digital photos of your in-progress-jeans-recycle. (I'll post them so people can see what' we're working on!) I'm sure Luveta is reading this blog EVERY SINGLE DAY -- and she'll want to see if we've learned anything from taking ALL THOSE CLASSES FROM HER OVER THE YEARS...

And, of course, Linda McGehee will be relieved to know that the two of you are STILL GOIN' AT THE SEWING THING.

Hey -- if our jeans projects are cute enough -- you can include them in your new Nooner program for 2010 -- right??


August 24, 2009

As you know -- the jeans challenge is a definite GO. Bonne & Jan have accepted the mission. Here's a picture of Jan right before she & Bonne went on stage to reveal their "2009 challenge".

But we still need a deadline. Jan sent me this email: Jan's comments are in italics, mine are in RED INK...

"I can't believe I'm blogging now - isn't that a strange word?!! (I agree completely -- it makes no sense at all.)

I had to call Bonne to help me try to register but alas I couldn't figure it out - (don't worry -- I can't do that, either, Jan! -- just keep sending me emails -- we'll muddle through it together..)...

I do enjoy your "blog" tho - first one I've ever been to. I guess you have us figured out now - Bonne's the brains of us!! She keeps us on track, in line and always figures out how much we have to tip at restaurants! (I know what you mean -- when the Ya Ya Sisters travel, Mary is in charge of math...)

I'm sure you're kidding (or crazy!) at the 2-week deadline - (HEY -- if this deal takes longer than two weeks, I might have to buy bigger jeans. How much time do you need, girls?)

we can start figuring out what we're doing and start taking pics as we go along - believe it or not, just this morning I was checking out my old jeans that I keep forever and voila! strangely, I have some that will work for me!! This may peak some bigtime interest in Expo since you'll be creating for the challenge, too. (I'm only in for the BLOG challenge, babe -- you're on your own with that challenge program at the show!)

Ok, I'm heading for the studio and Bonne's off to church.............see?!!

Thanks for the fun, jan

(You're welcome!! Now -- GET BUSY...Love, Rita...)
Email from Bonne -- the accountant/half of the Sewing Challenge DUO:

August 25, 2009

Hey There Rita,

Would you be okay with a Sept 8th deadline (2 weeks from today)? It's just not in my nature to start a project until the one I'm working on is complete, and I will be done with current project this evening - a little obsessive, but I never have an unfinished project LOL!!!!! Jan on the other hand can work on many projects at one time. You 2 have probably gotten a jump start on me :-)

Okay, now for the fun stuff. Since this is a challenge I'm assuming we can't see each other's final completed project until the end, but we will share bits and pieces along the way. Jan & I tend to throw in some good natured "trash talk" emails throughout the year with our Expo challenges - what do you think?

My first bit/clue to what I'm doing: Are you envious of my hoard of old jeans I've been saving for years? Actually I use them quite frequently for totes or throws.
Being the literal type I'm going to make a jeans jacket using a McCall's/Palmer/Pletsch pattern. Oh, but watch out Jan & Rita, wait till you see what I do with it!!!

Well I'd best get back to work, Bonne


Okay, Bonne -- the September 8 deadline is perfect! I don't have much of a head start -- altho I did cut up two old pair of jeans. And, well, I did all that fun old-decorated-jeans-Goodwill shopping! But, apparently, with the stash you already have -- you didn't need to do that. The most surprising thing in your email was the part where you can't start a new project before you FINISH the one you're working on. I was dumbfounded. What a concept. I am telling you the truth, Bonne. In my whole life, I never once let an unfinished project get in my way....

Sometimes, you just need to let them know who's boss, babe!!

And -- hey -- TRASH TALK??? Are you kidding me?? THIS IS GOING TO BE SOOO MUCH FUN!!! I am really down with that, girls.

August 25, 2009
Okay -- so the recycled jeans challenge is officially ON. And Jan sent this impressive picture of her sewing room and her beautiful Pfaff sewing machine...and her beautiful Viking sewing machine. How many machines do you two girls have, between you?

Wow. Very impressive 'sewing studio". (Ya'll would be very disappointed if I posted a picture of my sewing machine sitting on top of a folding table, stuck behind the pool table...it's not so much a sewing studio as it is a corner of my crowded basement...)


From Jan:

and the flower stuff is..... - vogue DKNY pattern - no plain old blue stuff for me!! Bonne, I'm impressed with your volumn of jeans to work from - I will be OUT of jeans before this challenge is done - who's idea was this anyway? Oh right! Thanks Luveta for sigining up on this blog first!!! ha ha ha! Guess its better than if Martha Pullen had signed in - we'd be doing heirloom baby bonnets!

P.S. Hey -- Martha is a rock star -- and, as a new Grandma, there is something very sweet about an heirloom baby bonnet. That reminds me -- I have some GREAT pictures of Lillian Claire, wearing my husband's 65-year old Christening gown..so much to blog...so little time...

AND -- don't forget that tonight is the NEW episode of Project Runway! So -- Bonne & Jan, Debra, Mary, Linda, Sandy & #7 (you know who you are) -- be sure to TUNE IN. It's really fun to watch and think about how you might handle the challenge....It starts at 8:00 on Lifetime. If you missed last week's premiere -- they will be repeating it tonight. C'mon -- give it a shot!! Some of these designers really can sew!!

August 27, 2009
Emails from Bonne & Jan: (these two women are VERY, VERY COMPETITIVE)

From Bonne:

Hey Rita,
How about some clues from you??? Jan & I have shown you some bits and pieces of where we are going with ours, but what direction are you going with yours?

You know Jan, if we ever did do a Martha Pullen challenge it would be the perfect inspiration to use that pleater I just had to buy because you had one!!!! Then there are all those wing needles we could use..... you know there may be a future Expo challenge depending.... Rita you are aware of our challenges, but did you also realize we have a sewing -machine, tools, patterns, gadgets, embellishment- competition of sorts as well? I mean I certainly can't let Jan having a cool sewing item and not have my own :-) Bonne

From Jan:
Ya rita, some clues - we WANT clues!!! I mean we were generous with our pics - we NEVER see anything like that between between bonne and I on our challenges!! No patterns, no nothin'!!! And bonne, you would bring up the pleater! ha ha! I love heirloom stuff and have almost every book from martha............maybe?!!!! jan... trying to find some thread......could ya send me some blue.............or red, or bright green..............more clues.....no zipper tho! I really need thread now that you mention it.......

Rita: Gheesh...pressure, pressure...it looks to me like the two of you are actually SEWING something fabulous out of the recycled jeans. Whereas, I'm more of a "put three pair of old jeans together to make something new" kinda girl....

BUT -- HEY -- you two are doing the RIGHT THING when it comes to shopping for sewing innovations at the show. I LOVE a little competitive shopping, babe! Our vendors bring their newest, latest, hottest stuff -- and WE MUST BUY IT so they can come back next year with more bounty!!

Okay -- here's one of my first jeans-redo-project pics. I cut out the embellished areas of two different pair of Goodwill jeans. If you scroll down -- you'll see I've been "fraying" away the edges...it's a nice "television" activity.

Maybe I've taken it too far, eh? The fringe is about 2" long so far and I JUST CAN'T STOP...(can you see the cute little reverse applique peaking from the underside of the denim?) Hummm...what's my next step?

And right now, my biggest problem is that I can't actually ZIP the recycled pair of jeans I was gonna restyle....

Well -- I may have to insert a gusset for my butt...(it's not like THAT would be a new experience...)

I wonder if "butt gusset" is an actual sewing term??

August 31, 2009
Bonne wrote to tell me she WANTED THE SEWING MACHINE LAMP... and also, she loved the picture of Jayne's wedding quilt. That was a very touching story....thanks again, Jayne, for sharing!!

Bonne said: Jan may absolutely love HAND sewing, but in my book it's a four letter work. Last evening while I was doing the Four Letter Word, I was trying to think of something fun. I decided to try and imagine what each of your garments would look like, and I think I just may be starting to come up with a visual in my mind.

Rita: a wonderful, very sassy, creative pair of jeans with a possible zebra gusset :-)
Jan: an amazing, colorful, artistic jacket with just a hint of thread (not! -if I know Jan,more like miles of thread- LOL!)

Am I getting warm Ladies???
So -- Bonne. hummm....your email makes me think the three of us should come up with a FOUR LETTER WORD that would describe our finished jeans project. THAT's your next clue assignment....now I'm thinkin'.....

September 1, 2009
Jan sent this email:

Dear Rita,
Sooooooo, my friend bonne has brought up the "four letter word" now in your blog!! (That still is a strange word!) blog blog blog........she whines and whines when she has to do hand sewing! Last year at expo, Jane from YLI Thread, asked the two of us to help her with her 4 hour class, and you won't believe what the class was!!! Ha ha!! Yes! HAND SEWING!! Like embroidery stitches - bonne had about passed out at the thought of her helping in this class!! So ya know what she did?!!! she offered to take the tickets, the money and hand out the supplies!!!! She sat as though duck taped to the chair in the back of the room - oh she did help a lady who lost her needle by getting her a new one!! But she did look good in one of our challenge jackets!!! I hope everyone who reads your blog (!!) will come to expo next year - we could have a bloggers get together! We have so much fun and there is so much to see, do and learn! Are we allowed to tell everyone about out fashion show we're gonna do again this year?

(Note from Rita -- HEY -- in two weeks, I'm going to activate the Sewing & Stitchery blog -- and that would be a great story for us to lead off with...especially now that, because of our exciting JEANS challenge, everybody from THIS HERE blog will wanna go over there and see what the two of you are up to. Right?? We'll have to get our friend Linda McGehee in on the fun...)

Well, I guess I'd better get busy in my studio and quit blogging - only 9 more days til our deadline! byee, jan

note to blog readers: I've received several questions about why both Jan and Bonne shared pictures of their "sewing studios" -- but I did not. The reason is simple. I do not have a "sewing studio". I have a "sewing dungeon"....and I would be ashamed to let anybody see it. Y'know -- I posted a picture of the backseat of my car. Isn't that enough embarrassment for one year??

Like all really fun sewing projects -- the "thinking" and "planning" is the most difficult stage. My restyled blue jeans project is no exception. I thought I was going to do one thing -- and it turns out -- I'm headed in a completely different direction.

Although I was stalled for a long time -- having a deadline is a very useful thing for me. Y'know -- like, when you're sewing for a wedding, or a Christmas project...having that date when you MUST finish...it just gets the creative juices going. One of my very good friends, Eileen Roche, the editor of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine -- taught me the important lesson that "done" is a worthwhile goal -- whereas "perfect" is a waste of time.

Then, too, there was Jan sending a snarky email about the fact that SHE IS ALREADY DONE. A week before the deadline? REALLY? You're right, Bonne -- she's quite an overachiever.

I DO have my four-letter project description all figured out, tho. HEY -- that took longer than you might think.

Anyway -- I don't want to give it all away...but, as it turns out, my porch pillow is a gigantic hint -- in ways you can only imagine...

P.S. As a reminder -- our big unveiling is NEXT WEDNESDAY. September 9. And I'd also like to remind everybody that I haven't actually "worn" a pair of blue jeans for over 20 years. Seriously. It's a good thing I lost 100 pounds in preparation for this momentous occasion, eh??

From Jan, September 2, 2009:

dear rita & bonne,

the jeans queen is DONE!!!!! Yup, my project is finito!!! (Is that the way you spell that?!!) Ready to wear! Bring on some cold weather!!! And I have a 4-letter word, oh! maybe "title" for it!!! It is proudly gracing one of my mannequins and lookin' gooooood! as we speak, or BLOG - thats what we're doin', blogging!!! Your challenge buddy, jan.....who is now really into this recycled jean thing!!

So you can keep the players in our little game straight --Jan is in the black & white vest, and Bonne is in the jeans jacket. Linda McGehee is the one who DISCOVERED these two super-sewers and put them on the stage last year. I can HARDLY WAIT to see what they both came up with for this jeans challenge. For the life of me, I do not know what I was thinking...AND -- Jan -- WHAT DO YOU MEAN, "ONE" OF YOUR MANNEQUINS?? AND -- hey -- who color-sorted ALL THAT FABRIC?? The two of you are really scaring me...cuz I am in WAAAAAY over my

As you know by now -- Bonne is the one on the left and Jan is the one on the right. Here's what you don't know. Bonne is "conservative" -- and Jan is "wild and crazy". That's what makes their sewing challenges so interesting. Bonne enjoys a tailored, classic look. Whereas Jan lives to take things over the top. She adds miles of thread, then lots of beads, charms and trim -- maybe even some piping. When she has that moment, where she worries that she's gone too far -- she pushes through and makes a matching purse and maybe a bra for good measure. (I'm making up the thing about the bra...but it would not surprise me).

But, for this recycled jeans project -- I wonder if they decided to "switch it up". I mean -- can it be true that Jan is actually DONE?? And Bonne is the one "acquiring" secret elements in plain brown envelopes?? Something seems a little out of order at this point...


September 3, 2009
Bonne writes,

Every evening after all the Expo events are over (as well as any stops at Pacific Fabrics or Quilt Barn after hours) we head back to our hotel for show and tell. We get to share what we learned in our seminars, as well as what treasures each of us discovered and purchased. Besides -- that way Jan doesn't get home with something really cool that I missed!!!! - I can go back the next day and get my own

Off to spend the evening on my ultimate recycled jeans jacket!!!! Bonne


HEY -- keep up the good work!! Expo needs all the super-shoppers we can get!

Okay -- this just goes to show -- you should always BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR. I swear, the bra was just a little joke...nobody could have predicted it would turn into anything...

September 5, 2009

Bonne's email:

Hey Rita,
I'm so with you on Qristyl & Epperson - I wanted to scream "GROW UP"

The Bra thing isn't so far out there!!! We actually bought bra purse patterns one year at Expo!

I also wonder if Jan is truly done. It's not over till it's over, and she's been known to get some amazing last minute inspirations!!

Have a great Labor Day everyone - can't wait for the reveal!!! Bonne

Then -- Jan wrote:

Dear Rita,

First rita, I'm sorry your zebra placemats died - really I am, as I'm getting to know how precious these critters are to you.

AND SECOND, whaaaaaaat are you saying? A bra................

I can do it!!! I have 5 days to go, ya know! A bra will go with my recycled jacket............yes it will! AND I will model the whole thing!!! Your "blog" will fall into deep depression, but I will model the darn thing!!

AND THIRD!!! You HAD to put that pic of me looking like I'm half asleep, thank you very much - paybacks are bad girlfriend!!! Even in zeBRA world!!! This Wednesday, you will see the "plain and simple, no frills, no big deal jacket and BRA!!! So whadaya think pal bonne?!!!

jan .... (too much info?)


I'll be lucky to have my jeans project done by Wednesday...SO THERE WILL NOT BE A BRA FROM RITA. But, just so you know -- if I could do it -- it would look someting like this:

No comments:

Post a Comment