Friday, May 28, 2010

Little Dresses for Africa (Part Dos)

(Otherwise titled: All you ever wanted to know about the decor and the organization)

Having a party like this, I knew that it would have to be uber-organized. And I am not known personally for being so uber-organized. Deep down I knew I had it in me, so instead of waiting until the last minute to work on it, I started three weeks before the actual date of the party to get my act together.

Thank goodness. Otherwise I would have been toast.

I sent out an Evite, but I knew that those things are only so-so when it comes to accuracy, not on Evite's account, but on account of how many people in today's day and age actually RSVP. I had to guess at how many girls I thought would be coming and plan accordingly. I wanted to make sure I didn't run out of supplies because it was important to me that each partygoer had at least enough supplies to finish one dress.

I decided to have it at my house to keep the costs down, but doing so I knew I would need to set up different steps in different rooms to help with traffic flow and making sure everyone had enough space to work. I utilized my front yard by setting up the clothesline and clothespins (yay Dollar Tree!) -- clipping up the finished dresses provided all the cute we needed to decorate the outside of my house. And you wouldn't believe how many people drove sloooooooowly by, surely wondering what in the heck was going on! I also made the party a "come and go" operation, figuring that would also help in traffic flow and less congestion.

For decorations inside, I had seen the most adorable mobile tutorial on this blog, so I copied the idea, but instead used a cardstock pack from Michael's. I wished I could have found colored vellum, but it would've taken way too long to find that many colors and would've been a lot more expensive. The total cost for all of my mobiles (the ones hanging in both my kitchen and in the dining room) was less than $3. The paper pack just so happened to have the five-color combination (called "Soda Pop") that matched my favorite colors in my house, so it worked out perfectly.

To make the mobiles I cut the 8.5"x11" pieces of cardstock into 1" strips horizontally, getting 11 strips per piece of cardstock. Using one piece per color (5 total) I had enough to make 2 mobiles -- one with 5 strips of each color, and one with 6. In total I think I made 14 mobiles. I just stitched right down the center of the strips (taping a piece of masking tape on my machine ahead of time as a guide for where the center of the strips would be) leaving maybe 1/4" or so between each one. On the tutorial they mentioned tying on a fishing weight at the bottom both for adding weight to make them hang better and for looks, but my cardstock mobiles didn't need them so I skipped that step. We taped them up to the ceiling with masking tape, finding that wrapping the thread around the piece of tape at least twice helped keep them up there without slipping through the tape and falling on the floor (we learned the hard way). I also printed off pictures from the Little Dresses for Africa website, backed them with the same colors of cardstock and hung them from the chandeliers, one picture on each side. Easy peasy.

For the party, I set my mom, my aunt, and my friend, Christa, up in the dining room with their sewing machines. It was a good central location for the partygoers to come back and forth from the steps in the other rooms. By having three seamstresses on hand, it made it possible for even my non-crafty-loving friends to be able to participate because no one was required to sew. Without my amazing seamstresses, the party would have been a flop.

There were five steps total for the pillowcases. Each step was set up at its own station and had detailed instructions printed out on paper and backed in matching cardstock. I had hoped to have pictures of each step printed to make things easier, but alas, I ran out of time and that never happened. But as my friend, Courtney, wisely pointed out, it wasn't a problem -- once one person learned how to do it, they could in turn demonstrate and help the next person, and so on and so forth.

Step One was set up in my living room. There were two tables set up with a cutting mat, clear ruler and rotary cutter. This is where the top end of the pillowcases was sliced off (not the bottom open end which was already hemmed perfectly for the bottom of the dress). The girls could pick from different lengths to make their dresses for various sized little African princesses.

Step Two was set up in my boy's bedroom. There was a table with cardboard templates to trace and cut out the armholes from the top part of the pillowcase. Again, easy peasy.

Step Three was set up in my master bedroom. We had three ironing boards and irons ready to go. Step Three involved turning down the top hems in a double-fold of 1/2" each. After those were ironed down, the pillowcases were taken to the seamstresses in the dining room to have the casings stitched. Then it was on to Step Four.

Step Four was back to the living room where a jar of elastic was set up. Partygoers were instructed to grab a pair of 6" pieces of elastic, safety-pinned together. The elastic was then fed through each casing and taken back to the seamstresses to be tacked down on the ends. There were a few laughs over elastic that got lost in the casings, and more than one frustrating moment of having to get out the ol' seamripper and dig in there to find the elastic. This was probably the trickiest step, but everyone plowed through.

And finally, the best part, Step Five -- the "Trim Bar". I had my kitchen island covered in trim options. There were jars filled with ribbons and trims, a bowl of iron-on appliques I had pre-made, and pairs of bias tape to pick for the straps of the dresses. Oh girls, I had bought bias tape package after bias tape package after bias tape package! It's a wonder any was left in our fair city! Thank goodness for the sale at Hancock's where it went 50% off. One package of bias tape is enough for 1&1/2 dresses, so I always bought it in pairs since you could get three dresses out of two packages. It was fun to see everyone's individual tastes come out and see what they picked to gussy up their little dresses. Once their choices were made, they took their dresses back to the seamstresses to have the trims added and the bias tape straps sewn on. And of course, after that, everyone enjoyed pinning their finished dresses up on the clothesline in the front yard.

But what would a party be without food and drink? And party favors?

I had a "snack station" set up as well. I knew that with all of the chaos of fabric and trim and everything else going on all throughout my house, I needed to have something simple and non-messy for sustenance. So I made "salted caramel crunch brownies", bagged them up, and clipped the bags closed with a napkin using the party favors -- clothespin magnets. There was chilled bottled water to take as well. This way the guests could either take their snacks to go with them, or they could grab one, find a spot to sit, and enjoy a moment of chocolate.

This is a picture of similar clothespin magnets we made last year at Courtney's awesome birthday party, just so you know what in the heck I am talking about. Cheap, easy to make, and useful for everyone. Can't beat that with a stick.

Part Tres will be up tomorrow, I hope! To catch Part Uno, click here.


Amy said...

I do love the organization. I looked like a super awesome party....kinda like the hostess. What a great idea!

katie said...

Val!! Thanks for the LONG post! I have to say I LOVE the mobiles! I am going to be copying you on that one! You SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY did an amazing job on that party Val. Thanks for doing this. It was SO much fun!