March Madness and March Sadness

Plano ASG member Melanie Fredrickson has three great loves – family, sewing and sports … March Madness basketball in particular.  But time is at a premium so how could she bring all three of her great loves together? How could she get quality time with all three? 

The perfect answer to this question emerged when Melanie’s son gave her a surprise birthday gift in 2017.  A mother-son-grandson weekend March Madness trip! The excitement of the trip inspired her to design a jacket to celebrate the occasion.  And just like that, a birthday tradition was born. A March Madness Weekend and a new Bracket Jacket have been a recurring theme for four years now. 

To fully appreciate the buzz around Melanie’s jacket, you need to know just a little bit about the March Madness schedule.  Selection Sunday is the big day when all the teams and where they will play are announced.  From Selection Sunday to Thursday, Melanie and her son have picked the teams they predict to win, she has written them on her Bracket Jacket, sewn any finishing touches, packed and they are on their way.  What a timeline! Let’s take a look at these jackets!

2017

Melanie’s first Bracket Jacket began with a repurposed jean jacket.  She added lots of personal flair, spraying it with Rit dye to add some color and interest.  Then adding the fun basketball trim and colorful ruffles to give it just the pop of color she was looking for to reflect the excitement of the tournament.  Notice the front pocket. It is a small hoop and ball! On the back, she uses a Sharpie to add a blank bracket just waiting to be filled in with her winning predictions as soon as the teams are announced on Selection Sunday. 

As you can see from the completed bracket, her predictions were not so successful in 2017.  Her final pick, Villanova, lost to Wisconsin in the second round, but she was able to soften the loss with a John Daly and a slice of pizza.

Melanie says: The trip was great!  We drove to Tulsa, stayed at an Air B&B, ate our way through the town, discovering Hurts donuts and the Woody Guthrie Museum along the way.  We had a blast even though I lost early in the tournament.

2018

When 2018 came around they decided to do a repeat and so the tradition began to emerge.  All of Melanie’s Bracket Jackets have the same black, white, and orange color theme.  Black and white represents the referees and orange represents the basketball.  How clever is that!  But each jacket has a very different style.  This design is a sporty jacket made from stretch twill in off-white and rust with black stretch satin.  Notice the exposed zippered pockets on the front, deep cuffs that memorialize the year, and a cute peplum with drawstring to fit at the lower back.  And of course, the bracket!

Since the tournament was in Dallas, they used the savings in travel cost to purchase seats closer to the floor which just heightened their excitement. 

Melanie says: One of the highlights of this tournament was meeting Sister Jean, the beloved team prayer leader of Loyola, seen on TV many times since Loyola was the Cinderella team of the year.

2019

The next year Kansas State made the tournament and would be playing in San Jose.  Since she is a K-State alum, this was a double bonus!  Melanie’s Bracket Jacket took on a bomber style made from white stretch twill combined with black floral stretch velvet and silver metallic bias tape for additional bling.  She kept the bracket on the outside as always but used a KSU t-shirt to decorate the white satin lining in tribute to her alma mater.  She made the jacket reversible and wore it bracket side out when out around town but KSU side out when watching her alma mater play.  This lining addition was quite a full court press since she only found out KSU was playing on Selection Sunday.  Even with these last-minute changes she had it ready to roll out the door when they left on Thursday!  

Don’t miss the fun Bucket List on this jacket.   Since the jacket is always such a conversation starter, one woman at a restaurant saw item #7 – Get another margarita – and sent one to her table!  Melanie had such fun going to thank the woman and having her check that one off the list.

Melanie says: The top highlight of the trip was walking the Golden Gate, both ways.  Other highlights included eating in China Town and actually using chop sticks, going to a Fabric Art show, riding scooters and planning our 2020 March Madness trip.

2020

Melanie and her son decided to step up their game in 2020 and go to the Regionals in Houston to see the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games.  Well you know the rest of that story!  Their planned trip to Houston … or anywhere else … was of course derailed by COVID quarantine.  March Madness quickly turned into March Sadness. 

She had already started her Bracket Jacket, deciding to celebrate Chanel in her jacket style this year.   She chose embossed scuba knit for the fabric, beaded the pocket trim and added metallic disc fringe to create the design.  As you can see, this jacket is currently unfinished, but Melanie says she plans to finish it.  The design she has envisioned may be what you could call Twisted Chanel, all about fun.

Melanie says: We started our tradition four years ago and I have marked the special occasion with a new Bracket Jacket each year.  When my Twisted Chanel Bracket Jacket is complete, it will find its home hanging in my closet with the other Bracket Jackets.  Each one tells a story of a fun time shared (or at least planned) with my son enjoying our passion for the annual Madness that college basketball brings. 

Melanie, you have inspired us with your creativity.  We love how you found such a wonderful way to celebrate your three great loves in one amazing creative expression.  And one of these years we hope you fulfill your dream of making it to the Final Four! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

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6 thoughts on “March Madness and March Sadness”

  1. Melanie, what a true artist you are! I saw the first jacket in person and thought that was the end of it! Each year you’ve come up with more and more great ideas. You are inspiring. Keep up the wonderful work and look forward to seeing the Twisted Chanel one of these days, perfect for a Beyond Chanel meeting.

  2. Melanie: Fun, clever, and definitely Team Building with your family. You could finish your bracket by calling it your “Dream Finish”, then write in KU as the winner. In your mind they already ARE , right?

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