Monday, June 29, 2009

How-to: The sock bun part two - creative use of hairnets

Some folks expressed concern about the sock bun method for figure skaters in an earlier post: The concern is that the figure skater in the photos has shorter hair. The mom just blends in the ends of her daugher's hair with the hair on the rest of her head.

I agree. I am a member of the hair net club for sock buns. Here's my method (Ice Girl is in the photos, along with all of our skating stuff - in a disorderly heap.)

Step one: Start from the fountain stage. In other words, make the pony tail, put sock bun form around it, and then have your skater bend over so the hair falls over the sock bun form and covers it completely. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read the earlier post.

Then, wrangle the hair into a swirl using the hair net.
Step two: more wrangling. I pull the hairnet out and twist it over itself, then come back and cover the bun some more.

Step three: the bun. You can see it's kind of enclosed with a hair net. At this point, you can pin it down with bobby pins. Be sure to use two at each spot. Bobby pins should cross over one another to hold each other in place. In other words, make an X with two bobby pins. That way, your skater won't sprinkle bobby pins all over the ice. You can also secure the bun with just another pony tail rubber band.

Step four: Hide the bobby pins with a scrunchie. By the way, this one is made from that sequin fabric that gave me fits. Pretty, isn't it?

Bonus: Using the hairnet not only holds your skater's bun in place, but she can serve lunch when the competition's over.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to say before your figure skater takes to the ice

If you’re the parent of a teen, you know that no matter what you say, your teen will twist your words and create pre-competition drama.

Maybe that’s just my teen, but I don’t think so.

Ideally, you leave your figure skater with her coach, grab a cup of hot cocoa or coffee and huddle under a blanket in the stands until your skater’s event. Leave the coach to handle the unpredictable hormones and angst.

But sometimes you are with the kid before she takes to the ice. What do you say?

What you say: Skate great! Yeah, it rhymes and looks good on a license plate (sk8gr8), but it’s loaded.
What teens think: What if I don’t skate great? What if I fall on my butt?

What you say: Good luck! It’s a good thing to say, right? Wrong.
What teens think: My mom thinks I’m a terrible skater and I need luck to succeed.

What you say: Have fun! This seems pretty positive, pretty harmless.
What teens think: This isn’t fun; I’m a wreck.

What Ice Dad says: Kill! Hello? Competitions are not your comedy stage, Ice Dad.
What teens think: I’m worried someone will notice that he’s my dad. Why does Mom let him out in public?

What you say: Be careful on that landing. Remember to keep your head up.
What your teens think: She’s not my coach. She doesn’t even know how to tie a skate. Why is she telling me this?

What you say: Now, listen to your coach, honey. We’ll be watching you from the stands. Everything’s going to be O.K. I’m sure you’ll do well. Hey, these words are reassuring to you as the parent, but not to your figure skater.
What teens think: Mom’s worried. I should worry.

Here’s what to do.

Say: I love you.
What teens think: My parents love me no matter how I skate.

Outwitted the little buggers, haven’t I? Now, if you could just tell me how to keep my husband from opening his mouth and we’ll all be fine. Muzzles haven’t worked. So far.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Figure skating dress fabric and Jalie pattern #2801

I did some more sewing over the weekend and completed Jalie pattern #2801, a dress with a large keyhole back for Ice Girl’s compulsory program.

As always, the Jalie instructions were good and it went together without any major sewing mistakes.

The mistake I made wasn’t in sewing; it was in the fabric choice. Again, I’m here to be your horrible warning.

I used this beautiful black stretch velvet with a pattern of sequins all over it. I made the white dress you see in the picture and cut out appliqu├ęs of the main fabric for the bottom of the black mesh sleeves. I thought I was so wise: all those sequins made for great sparkle. No crystals necessary.
So far, so good, right?

Well, the collar facing, the keyhole opening, and the leg openings are all in the sequin fabric, which is scratchy. Not the velvet part, but the sequins.
Just terrific. I spent hours on this beautiful, classy dress and Ice Girl complains that it is painful to wear.
My solution is to try to remove the sequins on the facings with some kind of solvent. We’ll see how that works.

Bottom line: Use fabric that won’t itch or scratch the skater. As much as I wanted to wring Ice Girl’s neck when she tried on the dress and began to whine, she had a point, darn it. Of course, this is the same kid who can feel a pea under her mattress, so maybe she’s blowing the whole thing out of proportion. Still, I’ll never buy fabric that even looks like it might be uncomfortable. I don’t care how much it sparkles.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Figure Skating Pattern Review: Jalie 2684

I finished the figure skating dress I've been working on for Ice Girl. It's Jalie pattern #2684 and it looks pretty good. I tell you: I was worried. We've got some bright fabrics working here.

Ice Girl and Ice Coach selected a lycra that's like chrome. I kid you not: you can see a reflection in this stuff. Think aluminum pop can and you'll have it.

They also selected a holographic hot pink, a holographic blue/purple, and a holographic lime green. That's a lot of shine.

I combined the two bodice pieces into one (see photo at left) and then traced out where I wanted the colored pieces to go. You can see where I added extra seam allowances to the pieces. If you've never pieced anything together, realize that when you sew the pieces, it's a good idea to sew a stabilizing straight stitch just inside the seam line and clip the seam allowance to the straight stitch. It makes pinning and sewing so much easier and pucker-free.

use sew-in stabilizer or sew-in interfacing to trace patterns. The stabilizer or interfacing is pretty see-through and very sturdy. It irons well and holds up to multiple cuttings. Sew-in stabilizer is pretty cheap, too. I think I spent $1.09/yard at Wal-Mart for it. I always buy 10 yards at a time because I don't want to run out in the middle of tracing a pattern.

Tip: I also use medical paper tape when I need to tape my patterns together. Irons don't melt paper tape; they melt Scotch tape really well, though. You can see in the photo with the iron that I cut off the top part of a pattern piece. I repaired it with the paper tape and moved on with the project.

Jalie review: Again, I like the Jalie patterns. The instructions and diagrams are clear and sensible. The patterns come with 22 sizes, so adjusting it to fit is pretty simple.

My complaint with this pattern is that I had trouble with the collar. It gapped. When Ice Girl tried on the dress, the collar sagged like a cowl neck instead of fitting to her neck. It took some creative sewing (darts) to make it lie flat and not look funny.

Otherwise, Ice Girl loves the dress. As I said, it's bright, but not so flashy that I'm embarrassed to have passed it through my machine.

The problem? Ice Girl can't figure out where the crystals should go. Um. No crystals, Ice Girl. You'll blind everyone with that much shine.

Bottom line: would I buy another Jalie pattern? You bet. The gaping neckline isn't enough to deter me from their figure skating dresses. Overall the fit is good and I can fix a gaping neckline pretty well.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Allow your skater to fill out the ice contract

When Ice Girl first started figure skating, I filled out the ice contract every month. Ice Girl sometimes complained that her ice was at an inconvenient time because of a sleepover, dance, or party. Boy, I hate to contract and lose that money if she doesn't skate.

Ice Girl and I clashed a few times before I wised up and had her fill out the contracts for the month. Yes, she's 13, but I think that even younger kids can do it with Mom's or Dad's help.

Here's my process:

  1. We prepare to collaborate. Ice Girl and I sit down at the dining room table with the month's calendar and two copies of the ice contract - the real one and the mark-up.

  2. We renew our commitment. Is this really what Ice Girl wants to do? How about track? School play? You still like it? Is there anything we need to change? What's going right?

  3. We decide on the number of hours. This really comes from me. Here's the number of hours I can afford and still buy groceries. We block off lessons and other obligations. These contract and non-contract dates are set in stone.

  4. We set her loose with a pencil. I encourage Ice Girl to keep a tally of the hours at the end of each week so we know she isn't over or under the amount.

  5. We discuss and double-check. I review her work and transfer it to the real contract. At the end I say to Ice Girl, "You know that these are your hours and your choices. You are not allowed to schedule over them without a loss of hours on next month's contract. Do you understand?"

  6. We stick to it. I don't make any decisions about skating without running them through Ice Girl first. "Will I.G. do summer off-ice?" My answer: I'm not sure. Let me ask her what she wants to do.
I think this is smart policy for many reasons:
  1. Fewer arguments about competing activities. They're the hours you wanted, Ice Girl. Contract differently next month.

  2. More buy-in. You wanted these hours, Ice Girl, wake up! Come on: 6 a.m. ice. Get up!

  3. More reflection. Is this what you really want to do, Ice Girl? Because you have to make choices, you know. You can reduce the number of hours you skate and participate in the musical.

  4. Tames the psycho mom in me. I don't want to be the mom who forces my kid out on the ice, kicking and screaming. I don't want to be the mom who makes her kid skate well beyond the time when the kid no longer wants to set foot in a rink.
I want to be Ice Mom, not Mommy Dearest.