Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Move That Bus!"

It's time for the big reveal. Last week we participated in an Extreme Makeover - Home Edition (EMHE) project in the Chambersburg, PA area. The show should air just after the holidays, but I don't have an exact date yet. I am unable to share any details about the family or the home at this time, but I can tell you about my amazing experience.

As you may know, the entire home is completed in a just a week from the initial door knock and demolition to the moment they move the bus and reveal the new home to the family. I'm fairly sure the only time there was no activity in the house was very early Friday morning when security locked the house down for a few hours so staff and volunteers could catch up on their sleep.

On Tuesday, I rode along with two of my colleagues, Monique (our group's benevolent liaison with EMHE) and Lori, to the site. While there, we reviewed the plan for window treatments and fabric accessories with the EMHE design assistants . After the meeting, we walked over to the house to see where the treatments would be installed when completed. Donning hardhats, we ducked under the stone mason's scaffolding and made our way to the front door. Once inside, we skirted stilt-walking dry-wallers and drying fans as they worked quickly to prepare the walls for the painting crews to come in. Our excitement to see the house aside, we (along with the EMHE designers) were glad we previewed the placement of the treatments. We were able to suggest an adjustment in the number of family room drapery panels and regain some pillows that had to be removed from the plan due to lack of yardage.

Next, we were joined (in the field used for volunteer parking) by several other window dressers to divide fabric and assignments. Thankfully, I had brought along two old sheets on which we rolled out about 75 yards of fabric to be doled out amongst the volunteering workrooms. Monique was fantastic at keeping the flurry of activity we generated over our fabric allocations organized. During our drive home, we reflected on the day and what an honor it will be to have a part in something that will have such a positive impact on the family who will receive the EMHE home.

Wednesday morning came quickly and Sandy joined me in the workroom where we jumped right into our EMHE project - panels for the master bedroom. I'm happy to report that the drapery assembly went well and the outcome was beautiful. Sandy and I worked very well together to accomplish the task. I am so grateful for her help. Other than the gift we were giving the family, I didn't realize another aspect of the project we were working on until my daughter said, "That's always Ty's room!"

Thursday afternoon, I loaded the panels (well protected against the rain) into my car and headed back to the worksite to meet up with the rest of my group, who had also been very busy sewing. I was amazed at the transformation in the house within those two days. We watched as a "bucket briggade" passed furniture off of the supplier's truck into the house. Then it was our turn to move in and install the window treatments and accessories we'd all been working on for the past two days.

During the installation, someone tapped me on the shoulder, thrust a broom at me and commanded me to "Sweep!" After I got over my shock and fear that I would be removed from the house if I didn't move quickly, I realized that she was part of a camera crew. They wanted to film myself and another member of my group (Lisa) sweeping the stairs. Using a simple broom never felt so awkward. It will be interesting to see if my cleaning skills were good enough to keep that footage on the segment and off the cutting room floor. Watch for the shocked woman in a hard hat on the stairs.

At one point, Monique discussed ideas for the remaining fabric with the design assistants. They settled upon a few additional panels and Monique, Pam, Sharon and I headed back to the hotel conference room that Monique had reserved for a situation such as this, while the others stayed at the home to help with other assignments. We pushed together conference tables to stand in for the worktables we all have in our workrooms, dragged in the portable sewing machines, irons and other necessities we had brought from home and set about making more panels for the house. By 1:30 am we were back at the house installing the panels we'd made in our makeshift workroom. Grateful for our help, one of the design assistants, paved the way for us to return the next day to help with some last minute activities, and have VIP viewing of the moment of the big reveal. My head finally hit the pillow at 3am Friday morning.

Friday was a day filled with excitement. We arrived at the house to be on hand as the celebrity designers made some final adjustments to the rooms they had carefully planned out. As I found myself sharing space with each of them throughout the day, I was impressed by how much thought they had given to the individuals that would occupy the rooms they had designed. Those unique, meaningful touchs they put into each room are like a personal message of hope they send from themselves to the family members.

Finally, we were told that it was time to line up directly behind the bus to watch the family arrive. As the limo drove past us, the excitement began to build. After the family was greeted by Ty, those of us behind the bus were drawn into a horseshoe around them to watch the excitement unfold. I watched as the the new home, a generous gift from the hands of hundreds of strangers, was revealed to the family, and I was very proud to take part in something so meaningful to someone else.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Mum's the word"

I'm "on cloud nine!"
Next week, All Sewn Up is taking part in a really big project. I want to fill you all in, but I think it's better that I wait until it's "all wrapped up". Sorry to leave you "in the dark", but, I suppose you'll have to check back in next Friday.
Until then, it will be "strike while the iron is hot", "nose to the needle" (rather than grindstone), and "pedal (of our sewing machines) to the metal" for us! Let's hope it all comes off "with flying colors."