The last time I won something based on merit was in first grade. It was the fire prevention poster contest and I drew a picture of my middle school brother and his friend burning down the woods (really happened) and captioned it, "Don't play with matches." Straight and to the point. I got to pick out any bike I wanted from Kmart for my prize. It was pretty much the raddest.
But how often do you get an opportunity to win something like this as an adult? The whole competition has been crazy, stressful, and fun. But most of all, it's given me more confidence in what I can do than I've had since I was a kid. And that would have been true even if I didn't win it.
Even so, the VERY best thing about this experience has been the ginormous amounts of love and support I've felt from my friends (both in-the-flesh and intewebs) and family. It's crazy how much you guys wanted me to win this thing... I can think of a couple of you that were even more obsessed with checking the votes than me!
And my fellow designers were so talented and worked very hard, which is what made competing so much fun. I was always so excited to see what they had come up with each week. I know I could definitely learn a ton from Kiki, Chelise, and the Sew Together girls!
Before the competition got started, I considered backing out for various reasons, but someone always did something amazing and supportive to get rid of all my excuses. Nathan offered his superior camera skills and he and Edie let me use their beautiful daughter as a model. My boss offered to sponsor me with whatever materials I needed from the shop, which was a HUGE blessing. Rachael very graciously gave me a giant bag full of materials from her own stash, PLUS a gift card to another fabric store. My husband started taking the kids out of the house for me to have extra sewing time without ever complaining. Kristin offered to be a sounding board when I needed to vent or obsess about details. My parents were a huge help in numerous ways, and my friend Julie made it her mission in life to see me succeed. I really have all of you guys to thank for making this happen!
Ok, now I'm totally going to copy Danielle from last season and give you a list of fun tomfoolery from behind the scenes:
- I never sketched out my designs, and I almost never stuck to my original plans for each challenge. I would always think of something completely different to do at the last minute.
- After the first two challenges, I was sewing week to week and taking the photos on Thursday mornings, turning in my posts past due on Thursday nights.
- The most stressful part was always getting good photos in time. In the chevron skirt shoot, Lily was actually sick with chicken pox. Huh? Yes, those.
- I'm a pretty slow sewer for someone who isn't a beginner. Especially when I would let myself watch TV or drink wine while sewing :)
- Both of my kids and my husband had their birthdays over the course of the contest. As you might guess, poor Elsie's first birthday party was not quite as spectacular as her brother's.
- I tried to keep up with feeding my kids decent food, but my own diet was horrible the whole time. Once I just had chocolate chips for dinner. I have some poundage to lose now!
- Somehow the elastic casing on Hendrix's Drive jeans never got sewn up. Still hasn't...
- I made a muslin or practice version of almost every garment.
- Hendrix HATED doing fittings for the clothes. I had to bribe him with a lot of candy, but then afterward I would forget to give it to him and he would go back to his new babysitter: the TV.
- I am extremely unorganized and didn't really take time to clean up my sewing space(s) between projects. This resulted in ridiculous amounts of time wasted just looking for things. Guess I should get started on that mess today...
If you will indulge me, I have one more thing to share with you. This is my grandmother, my "Nanny," Connie McTaggart. She passed away the Thursday morning before last from complications with breast cancer. I live in Ohio, away from all my family in Florida and the last time I saw her was in January, right after she had a mastectomy. She was doing so well, just so strong and we all thought for sure that she would be around a lot longer.
She took kind of quick turn for the worse and my parents called that morning saying it didn't look good. I bought a plane ticket out of Cincinnati right away and left for the airport 30 minutes later. She died when I was on my way. I got on that plane with Elsie, me a complete mess and her with some kind of stomach bug. After taking me to the airport, Nick immediately took the Drive pictures of Hendrix and spent the afternoon editing them and uploading them for me. I was in FL mourning with my family, and he was making sure that I could go on in the competition, which was amazing. He then made the 17 hour drive down with Hendrix to join us on Sunday, and he sang at her funeral on Monday.
All weekend I was thinking I would just drop out. I had nothing sewn, no time to do it, and it didn't seem to be all that important anymore. But at my grandparent's church on Sunday and at the funeral, a couple of different friends of hers came up to me and told me how much she had been bragging on me and my creative sewing. They said she was so proud of me.
She was an amazingly crafty woman. She was a lot like some of us bloggers, always learning a new craft, moving onto the next project, cranking out beautiful things. In the past, she sold her creations to pay for her kid's college educations and things like that. But in the last few years, she only sewed for charity. She made quilt after quilt after quilt just to give away to people in need. She was always encouraging me to do more of that. She read my blog religiously and would sometimes comment or email me about it. She was rooting for me in the competition.
So, after the four of us drove back up together, 20 hours (car trouble this time) on Tuesday, I got up on Wednesday morning and started my signature looks, with just one day to finish them. I was very tired, and very doubtful as to whether they were even going to turn out well or not. But I thought a lot about Nanny and the rest of my family rooting for me. She was a beautiful and inspirational person, with a quick tongue and the best giggle ever. I'm glad to know she was proud of me, and would be proud today.
...Geez Louise, did I make you guys cry or what?
Well if you are new here, I hope the sappy doesn't scare you off and you'll stick around- I feel like I have a lot more ideas to share now!
Thank you so much everyone for this amazing experience!