Wow, now that was fun. Nancy Sidman, another local seamstress, and I led a camp at The Little Bits Workshop in River Forest. We had eight girls (mostly age 10-11), eight different patterns, six sewing machines, twenty-five hours, and one handy assistant and from this motley mix we helped the girls make the clothes for their own Runway Show. The challenge we gave the girls was that whatever they made had to go with at least two items that were in their closets already (I did this so that they could walk the runway twice and to stop them from making something completely impractical).
I started to get nervous that we wouldn't be able to pull this off a few days before camp started. We had met with the girls at our local Hancock Fabric's store to help them pick their patterns, fabrics, and notions. About half of them had some sewing experience but at least three of them didn't really have any sewing experience going into the week. I'm not sure any of them had made something from a commercial pattern.
And it was a crazy week. We kept a running theme about the importance of making mistakes, and by about Day 4 we had the girls exclaiming proudly, "Hey! I made another mistake!" Unlike the real project runway, there were no tears or meanness, but we did have the last minute sewing on of buttons and repairing of seams. The girls were a ton of fun to work with, although I did vastly underestimate the challenge of reading a pattern while eight young girls chattered constantly in the background. And we all worked hard, VERY hard, to pull this off. I don't have pictures to show, but you should absolutely check out the video of the Runway Show on Little Bit's website (it's the QuickTime link in the middle of home page). It comes complete with music, a runway carpet, and revving fire engines (the workshop is across the street from the fire station in River Forest).
Here's a snap of the certificate (printed on cardstock, no less) we gave them after the show:
And now I have some dreams I'm trying not to indulge in for the moment about taking this show on the road. I'd love to do this with other girls (taking into account all I learned from the week), and I wonder if Nancy and I could get a grant to do this with girls who have fewer advantages than those from River Forest. We will definitely do it at Little Bits again next summer and I know a few girls who will be back with us!