Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Reflections: I dream of Paris

As I began my last class working on my MLS, I dreamed of going to Italy.  In fact, the plan was The Mr. and I were going to go as a graduation present.  I had even gotten a big, fat, luscious travel guide to Italy for Christmas that year. It was a glorious Christmas present full of dream and promise.  Later that semester, however, I learned that I was pregnant.  And then I learned about HG.  Needless to say, I have still never been to Italy.  I tried to convince The Mr. that we should name our baby Italy, but he said we couldn’t name our child after a dream deferred.

Now, that baby is a Tween, the oldest of 2.  Like me, she is a dreamer.  She dreams of going to Paris.  I don’t know how it happened, her falling in love with Paris, but she did.  She swears I told her if she got all As and Bs in high school I would take her as a graduation present.  Wouldn’t you think I would have asked for straight As?  But if we do go, and I hope we do, we’ll have to slide on over to Italy for a couple of days, just so I can finally say I have been.  Maybe one day we can both see our dreams fulfilled, together.  There is nothing I would like more.

Like a lot of tweens/teens, she is going through the fashion design phase of her life.  Every Thursday we watch Project Runway together.  So this year, I went in search for the perfect Christmas present for her and I struck gold.

Some original Tween fashion designs

 It all began during Zest Books week.  They had all these great fashion books and I thought, I will get a copy of them for her.  But then – a miracle – I found this Paris themed trunk.  I don’t know about you, but one of my librarian quirks is that I am obsessed with storage and organizational things – please tell me I am not alone in this.  So I filled her Paris trunk with fashion and craft books from Zest Books, and then added in some fun supplies – like different colored duct tape, beads and baubles, etc.

The magnificent Paris trunk

Full of books and supplies

The tween looks at “The Look Book” while sporting her own unique look.

Let the crafting begin!
 I am not going to lie, I was super impressed with myself. And we have had a lot of fun making stuff and things.  The tween had a friend spend the night and they gave the 4-year-old a make-over.  I’m thinking she needs a sewing machine, and someone to teach her how to use it (I’m looking at you Stephanie Wilkes). It just goes to show you, books really do make the best presents.
I still have that fat, luscious travel guide to Italy, now completely outdated.  We have replaced it with newer editions several times at the library.  I still dream of Italy, but I would rather make sure she sees her dream of Paris comes true.  If I had to choose between Italy and her, I would definitely choose her all over again.
Join the conversation and share in the comments:
What are some of the best book presents you have ever given or received? 
What treats did you give yourself after graduating high school, college, or graduate school?
Where do you dream of going one day? 
You can read about the fashion and craft related Zest Books in Project Fashion

TPIB: Project Fashion, part 2 with Jeaneology, Junk Box Jewelry and more

Get Your Fashion On
(fashions drawn by my tween)

I am a Project Runway junkie and have posted some Project Runway inspired TPIBs before, but now I have some great ideas for yet another Project Fashion TPIB thanks to several great How To books by Zest Books:

Junk Box Jewelry, 25 DIY Lost Cost (or no cost) Jewelry Projects by Sarah Drew
Jeanealogy: Accessories, Clothing, Gifts by Nancy Flynn.

Also, I found some helpful resources that help explain the things people are saying that I have never really understood, like what an A-line dress or a Peter Pan collar is.

Fashion 101: A Crash Course in Clothing by Erika Stalder is such a cool book; it is literally a reference guide for the fashion illiterate like me.  It explains things like what a bias cut is (fabric cut across the grain of the fabric) as well as being a reference guide to tons of types of dresses, shoes, belts and more.  Each entry has an illustrated pic as well as giving you basic info like what it is, who made it hot and how you can rock it.  Who made the vest hot? 80s teen queen Debbie Gibson brought the vest out of the menswear closet and style icon Kate Moss still loves to rock the vest (p. 44).  Sections covered include dresses and skirts, tops and coats, pants and shorts, shoes and underthings. There is an index included.  This is a great tool not only for your teens, but for you – you can put together your own Fashion Jeopardy game as part of your Project Fashion program.  Or toss a bunch of thrift store clothes and have a Fashion 101 challenge where teens have 60 seconds to find something with an A-line collar, a dropped waistline, etc.

The Book of Styling: An insider’s guide to creating your own look by Somer Flaherty helps teens find their fashion look with a handy quiz and then it helps you put together your “look”.  This is an everything and the kitchen sink book of awesome fashion info.  And throughout there are little program snippets right there for you to use including creating a mood board (p. 18), a GNI with a themed movie night (p. 54) and making your own styling kit – one of my faves (p. 66-67).  Here we also discuss body type (Cameron Diaz is a rectangle while Drew Barrymore is an apple), shopping tips (buy used!), and styling others (in case you want to be a stylist).  I can picture using a bunch of Barbies and Barbie clothes to do some fun styling practice.  This is a case where thrift stores are your friend.  You could even deconstruct Barbie clothes to make originals.  Zombie isn’t a style in the book of styling, but you can make awesome Zombie Barbies. Just saying. 


The Styling Relay
You can also use the thrift store clothes mentioned about to do a fashion relay race.  Divide your participants into teams and have one person be the “it” person, the person who will be styled.  Write the different styles (grunge, goth, punk, etc.) onto slips of paper and have the teams draw them out of a hat.  Put a large pile of clothes at one end of your program room and have the teams line up at the go, each team member runs down to the pile relay style to grab an item and dress their “it” person in the style that they choose.  The first team to put together a complete outfit: shirt, bottoms and say 2 accessories wins.

The Look Book: 50 Iconic Beauties and How to Achieve Their Signature Styles by Erika Stalder takes you through a timeline of beauty and gives you step by step instructions of how to achieve iconic elements of their looks.  Want kewpie doll lashes like Twiggy? The Look Book tells you the tools you need, the amount of times it takes and gives you step by step instructions.  Plus, it gives you a little info on Twiggy.  Other interesting sections include the No-Makeup Makeup look inspired by Kate Winslet and face tattoos inspired by Kat Von D.  Don’t worry, it’s makeup, not real.  They also talk hair from the bed head to the pinup girl look, we’ve got ringlet curls, the sleek bob and Diva hair.  The five sections covered include lips, eyes, brows, skin & face and hair.

I was super excited to find this 5 book collection of all things fashion and style and am going to be getting a set for the Tween for Christmas, because she wants to learn how to sew and is in that I want to be a fashion designer stage of life.  I’m not particularly fashion oriented, but I found the information so useful and presented in ways that made sense for those of us who are fashion challenged.  And in all honesty, these particular titles are not really limited to teen appeal and would be great additions to all library collections.

Programming Ideas

Blue Jean Crafts
Jeaneology has a great variety of craft ideas you can do using old jeans.  Note: Also great for our TPIB Environmental Crafts.  They very in difficulty and some require actual sewing, which I keep meaning to learn how to do with the tween – these would definitely be some good learning projects and I probably won’t care if I mess up a pair of old jeans that don’t fit any more or .99 cent jeans I bought at the thrift store.  In addition, there are also some idea that discuss embellishing your jeans and tell you how to get that distressed jeans look.  Also, bleach pens and permanent markers can be your friend for some great graffiti jeans.

Some of the crafts you can do in a program include:
Jean hair band, page 44
Jean MP3 player or cell phone pocket, page 46
You can create a pencil pouch out of jeans for a back to school craft program, page 64
Make glittery ear rings or bracelets using jeans and wire (or use safety pins for a larger bangle bracelet), p. 78
Make cuff bracelets, p. 82

Make Your Own Accessories
Junk Box Jewelry would be a good inclusion to an Earth Day program or an accessories program.  It can also be a good way to use up all those left over craft supplies that you end up with.  I have done beading programs time and time again with my tweens and teens and can’t recommend them highly enough.  They are great hands on activities that allow teens to be creative and express their personal style while sitting around and being social.

My favorites from this collection:

  • Newstand Necklace, p. 66 – use old magazines to create paper beads.  Great for Earth Day again and using all those discarded magazines.
  • Toolbox Bracelet, p. 68 – make a bracelet out of hardware bits and pieces.  Again, great for Earth Day and don’t forget Steampunk Crafts.

Beach Party
Also included in Junk Box Jewelry are a variety of beach themed accessories including a Fishing-Net Cuff (p. 46) and a Sea Jewel Pendant (p. 38).  Add some make your own flip-flops (which you can purchase from Oriental Trading or buy them on sale at the end of the summer season and have a beach themed party in the middle of winter to lift every one’s spirits.  Just Google make your own flip-flops for a wide variety of ways to make them.

Project Accessory
For one season, there was an accessory version of Project Runway, which I always thought would be a fun teen program.  Just get together a bunch of miscellaneous items and have challenges including bracelets, chokers, headbands (or hair accessories).

Project Runway
See the original Project Fashion post here with great ideas for various challenges, including duct tape and garbage bag fashion.

Also check out Steve Moser’s Prom Spectacular for some great Prom programming ideas.

Don’t forget you can use the books to put together trivia contests, displays and use them with your social media.  Pick a week and have fashion week where you share style icons, play guess the decade fashion and more.

P.S., please tell me you know about the Fug Girls.  Go Fuy Yourself is my favorite style blog where they break down all the celebrity fashions with glorious snark.  Definitely check out what they had to say about the Breaking Dawn, Part 2 premiere.  This is a great resource to share with teens. Also, they write ya lit, including the title Spoiled.

What fashion related programming have you done?  What are some of your favorite teen titles that deal with fashion?  Tell all in the comments.

TPIB: Project Fashion

True confessions: I am a fan of Project Runway and have been watching it for yours exclaiming – this would be a great teen program, except for the part about the sewing.  But I have mulled over in my head for years and kept thinking someday, maybe.  Then they produced Project Accessory, which suddenly becomes a much more realistic program goal.

The first question we ask ourselves when designing a program is what should it look like; although I certainly think you could have this as a one time program, I think it would work better as a series.  The benefit to having a program series is that you capture and keep teen interests over a period of time, keep your library programming out in the public eye, and you get time to try and build relationships with teens for the future.

In my mind, I see this as a series of 4 events with each event ending in a fashion show.  You could determine a winner at that time or broaden your audience by taking pictures and allowing online voting.

Challenge 1: Accessories
Simply provide a variety of beads and beading “stuff” (I am sure that is the technical term) and let teens be creative.  You can be as specific or as general as you want to be.  On the more general end the challenge is simply create 3 unique accessories of your choice.  On the more specific end you ask them to make accessories to complement an outfit or an event (say, prom).  Or you can name the specific types of pieces you would like them to make: a necklace, a bracelet, a hair piece, for example.  Don’t forget that you can make paper beads out of discarded magazines and manga!

Challenge 2: Shoe alterations
Through places such as Oriental Trading, you can buy make your own flip flop kits.  You can also buy them at most craft stores.  You can glue gemstones, tie pieces of cloth, etc. to create a unique flip flop look.  Or you can use white canvas shoes (think white Keds) and provide fabric markers and gemstones.  Flip flops are obviously on the less expensive end of the scale.

Make fluffy flip flops
Make your own flip flops from a yoga mat
DIY Diva Flip Flops

Challenge 3: The bag
There are a wide variety of ways that you can challenge teens to make handbags.  Some of them involve cutting old jeans (which you could cut and sew beforehand and then just provide the elements to decorate).  Or you can buy a variety of canvas tote or nylon drawstring bags at the craft store for teens to decorate and embellish.  To make blue jean purses, I recommend buying jeans at a place like Salvation Arm and doing any sewing before the event to keep costs down; this also helps with the issue of having access to enough sewing machines.

How to make a Jean purse

Challenge 4: The modified t-shirt
There are tons of ideas online and in our collections for ways to modify t-shirts, often without even involving any sewing.  The most basic would involve fabric markers, non mess tie dye with permanent markers, bedazzling and cutting and tying.

Here are some examples of no-sew t-shirt modification
Generation T is a blog dedicated to t-shirt design ideas (and there are great books to go along with the site that I hope you have in your library collection)
Wren’s T-shirts also has some good examples
T-shirt surgery

You can include some unique variations like: Make Steampunk jewelry, Make a futuristic (science fiction) look, Summer fun fashions (flip flops, hats, beach bags, and sunglasses), and my personal favorite – zombie fashions (deconstruct clothing to make it look like you are a zombie and do zombie make-up). Guys can do it to: they can make studded collars and cuffs and flip flops, for example.  You could also make cell phone bling, zipper pulls and pet fashions.

Shredded ends, strategically placed cuts and tears and some red paint make a t-shirt look like a zombie shirt

Sellers Library did a Project Runway event using trash bags and duct tape – genius!

Getting Prepared for the Program:
You’ll want to spend some time outlining what specific projects you will want to do before you get your publicity together.  You’ll want to do registration, either single or in teams, to make sure you have enough supplies on hand.  The specific challenges you choose will greatly influence your cost, so I would mix and match to keep cost at a reasonable level.

Running the Event:
I would recommend having each specific session run for an hour and a half.  During the first hour teens can make their fashions and then during the last half hour you can have the runway show.  I would make the runway show open to other teens and provide refreshments.  And as I mentioned, I would also take pictures of the runway show to allow for online voting.  Then, the next week, you could announce who was eliminated (if you choose to go the elimination route) and announce the next challenge.  I don’t know that you have to eliminate each week, you could just have a weekly “winner” and then choose an overall winner if you so chose.

If you have some great craft ideas that would be fun for a project fashion event, please share it with us in the comments. Also, please share if you have done this type of an event: how did you set it up? What activities did you do? And do share pictures please!