Sunday, October 17, 2010


I totally suck, no need to tell me! I knew this would be hard. However, the ol' day job also decided to go apeshit in the midst of this (Five am starts, overtime, major projects, you name it!). Plus, my back, which I thought was on the mend has absolutely been killing me. It has been really hard to be motivated when sewing hurts! So, I've fallen behind. I debated quitting, but darn it, I am finishing this thing!

So, I am going to allow myself to prepare for our long planned vacation, enjoy said vacation to the best of my ability (Although I am trying to get over not being home for my birthday. I think the hubs will have to ply me with copious amounts of gin to make up for it), and worry about it when I get back. Hopefully, my back will have calmed down with all the R and R and if not I think I have some major painkillers around somewhere. So, I will pull all of the pieces of fabric I have carefully cut out and put them together, and post a flurry of photos, and if I am lucky, I will only be a week behind at the end.

I hope you hang in there with me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Episode seven: the other half

This post will be the first guest post!! This is from Emily, my partner in crime for the resort wear challenge. Enjoy!

Hi, I'm Emily (also known as Momily on callboard). I'm a friend of Amanda's, and we chat about PR on a local theater callboard, with other fans of the show. I'm a costume designer in the Twin Cities, so I offered to do one of the challenges with Amanda, the resortwear challenge!

I've had some experience with sewing samples, and explaining construction techniques to seamstresses (sewers always looks odd to me!), so I thought this would be easy. But I didn't have a sample to show to Amanda, because she was making the sample! So I had to explain what I wanted, without a visual example; this was really hard for me. But Amanda did a great job with the pants. I wish I had not tapered them so much towards the ankle, after trying them on I decided I would like more fullness in the lower leg. And I had to make a slight adjustment in the top, after sewing on the tie sash and fitting it, the front neckline gapped a little too much. But at least I don't have side boob! I really love this fabric. And luckily, the weather held until I could take a picture on my dock. So I'll put these items away until next summer.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

getting ahead is getting me behind

I was gearing up for the Jackie O./American sportswear challenge. Sketch? Check. Fabric? Check. Spoiler for episode ten? Wait what? So, I found out that some custom designed fabric was involved. I've never done such a thing before, but I know that there is a bit more turnover involved in the real world than on PR. So, I had the hubs strategically fast forward episodes 9 & 10 just so I could get the challenges and max my fabric store shopping time. I got the challenges, got more fabric, and set to designing some fabric.

I decided to order from . Their prices were comparable to other vendors, and I know several folks who have ordered from them and have had nothing but praise for their wares. That was the easy part!

I sadly lack any fancy HP tablet PCs. So, I started on our laptop in PhotoShop, a program I have never used before in my life. My first results were an epic fail. So, I sat with my sketchbook and had better luck, but not perfect. To attempt to remedy this, I scanned the image and opened it with PhotoShop. I am now teaching myself how to use PhotoShop to edit my drawing and get it perfect for the making into the fabric. I had no idea when I started this whole blog that I would lament my lack of PhotoShop skills!!

However, as with all the projects, I am learning something new! My brain will be so full at the end of this thing it just might explode. Once I get my drawing perfect, it will be sent off to the wizards at Spoonflower, and in a mere 10 to 14 days, I will have custom fabric! I am wavering slightly between the silk crepe de chine or the cotton lawn. The cotton lawn is in the lead at the moment. While the fabric gets prepped and sent, I will hopefully get caught up on the other projects and attempt to maintain sanity.

I totally blew the one-hour limit for the design portion, but I also do not have the same easy peasy tools at my disposal. That is just the way it is at the moment.

Between now and fabric arrival, stay tuned for some Jackie O. style and a frock that will be just as pretty as a peacock.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Episode Seven: What's Mine is Yours!

The Challenge: Create a resort wear look that shows your point of view as a designer.

The Constraints: 30 minutes to sketch (on a boat!), one day to construct (until midnight), 30 minutes to shop at Mood with a budget of $150, and two hours in hair and make-up.

The Twist: Tim Gunn will randomly draw pairs to work together and the two will swap designs. The designers will work on their partner's design with direction from the designer! The goal is to get a feel for life as a designer and having a sample shop create your designs.

My Take: I am fortunate to have friends who sew. I had two ladies willing to help me with this challenge! I have done one so far, and hopefully the stars will align and I can get together with the other soon!
I met with CostumeMama in the evening where we shared our sketches and fabric selections. I wanted a striped tee and nautical inspired cropped pants. I had red-and-white striped knit for the top and black linen and red buttons for the pants. She had a halter and wrap pant combo with brown linen for the pants, a fun burn out sheer in warm shades of green, brown, and gold and a cream shantung for the top. Two very different aesthetics! We got to work on draping and patterning and explained what we were looking for. We worked for several hours and agreed to finish on our own (still working on each other's projects). It was interesting because I don't own a serger. I have used them, but it's been a while. Thus I think in old timey methods and working without a serger. I do a lot of French seams and occasional zig-zag stitching. She is a costumer and has a serger, and is used to having to create a lot of things in a limited time so she is used to working quickly and in a more modern manner. I think it was a good pairing because of the differences.

I took her pieces home to finish, and tried to keep everything in my mind for the construction. It is really interesting to work on something that is not my own, and not an off-the-rack pattern. Also, my aesthetic involves more tailored pieces, so it took more thought to work on a more drapey flowing piece. I admit that I didn't quite finish her pieces before returning them. I couldn't remember exactly how she wanted the sash attached to the top so I let it unattached. Plus I remember she had buttons for the pants, but didn't get them so I left that alone. I did not want to put the wrong size buttonholes in, that was for sure! Since the designers were able to take back their own designs at the end, we'll pretend that is what happened. (Of course if we would have still had time to work together, I would have been easily able to have her for reference.) I am still waiting to hear her feedback and get photos, so hopefully I achieved what she was after! It is pretty nerve-wracking working on someone else's garment. I know what shortcuts I can take and changes I can make on my own garment, but when someone else is relying on me I have a definite air of paranoia. I don't want to let anyone down or disappoint.

Here are the results of my design as created by CostumeMama:

Now, back at CostumeMama's when I first attempted to try on the pants, I discovered I didn't allow enough space at the front flap to get them on. I have a major difference between my waist and hips, so I tend to have to leave a lot of room to get things on, so they fit at the waist. We decided to put a side zipper in to alleviate this. Well, when I got them back, they were too snug. This was a combination of me mismeasuring and the fact that I ate very poorly all week and put on five pounds (it was a treat bonanza at work). They will fit great, though, once I am able to run again and peeps stop bringing treats to work every day I think they will be great! In the spirit of making it work I used my sun hat to disguise where it didn't fit correctly. It would have been on my head, instead it was at my hip. I thought about quickly turning it into a skirt, but felt that would have been far less interesting.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

resort wear is in the works!

Just wanted to let all of you in the wonderful world of the internets what is happening in my Project Runway world!

If you are a follower of the show, you probably know that there was a resort wear challenge with a twist! The contestants were paired up with another designer and had to swap designs. I thought I would have to skip out, but I am blessed to have friends who sew and are willing to take on this challenge with me. Not one, but two in fact! So, I am getting together with them this week, and we are making some resort wear happen. There is some amount of coordination involved, so this process is taking a little longer than normal.

I am interested to see how this all works out! I am not hip to the world of resort wear, and am used to my process and making mistakes and making them work on my own. It will be interesting to translate that to working with someone else! I hope I have the skills to create their designs. I meet with one lovely seamstress tomorrow, and the other on Friday. Things will certainly be interesting!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Episode six: always a bridesmaid

The Challenge: Choose a bridesmaid and her dress, then rework the dress into a new wearable look with input from the bridesmaid.

The Constraints: 30 minutes to meet with the bridesmaid and sketch, $50 to take to Mood and purchase up to two yards of fabric, however the bulk of the original dress must be used.

My Take: Well, I only have one bridesmaid dress left in my closet. I kept it because it was the only one I got to pick out, and I actually adore it and wear it. So, I needed to procure a dress to tear apart and reconstruct. Luckily, Goodwill was having a half-off day. They had one lonely bridesmaid dress on the rack, so I grabbed it.

As you can see, the dress is sage green. It's the color for those who are afraid of color. I know that technically a color, but really it falls into the beige family. It's really a neutral, and frankly not a great neutral. On top of that the fabric was not great. It is basically parachute fabric, and not the cool stuff that women used to make wedding gowns in World War II. Who chooses that for a formal dress? Well, I had to make it work. While I love getting dressed up, this fabric would not go with that. I thought something on the casual side would be more fitting for the fabric. I decided to go for a romper.

I have never done shorts or pants without a pattern, so this would definitely challenge my pattern drafting skills! I did much measuring and sketching and calculating. I finally had pattern pieces with I crossed my fingers would work the way they did in my head. I thought to save time, I would line up the seams of the shorts with the existing seams on the dress. Unfortunately I overestimated the amount of fabric in this dress. So, I had to go to my trusty seam ripper and rip out all of the seams of the skirt and press them out to maximize the fabric. I eked out all the necessary pieces, whew! I realized that I was just planning on doing basic machine stitching for all the hems, which I felt would cheapen the look. So, in the spirit of making it work, I decided to make the stitching a feature. So, I used metallic silver thread and top-stitch away. Instead of purchasing fabric, I only picked up notions and black cording. The cording was for a shoulder gather and to break up the sage green just a smidge. After scrapping gathering the top at the waist, I instead went with pleating to make it a little neater.

Surprise! Tim came into the workroom to tell the designers that instead of hitting the runway, they would be presenting their work to a bunch of strangers who would vote on their work. Not really a twist I could instead of buttons I am trusting lots of comments here to give me yeas or nays.

I finished the romper, and put it on. The top was more voluminous and less drapey than I intended. I used the belt I chose from the accessory wall to help tame it for the "runway." I went with the same booties from the Philip Treacy challenge because I adore their edginess. I also added a chunky layered necklace to keep it from looking too bare in the chest. Here are the results:
I'm pretty sure the cat was nursing a hangover somewhere. He would totally be the groomsman that would get hammered and nail the maid-of-honor. He may be cute, but keep that in mind before asking him to stand up in your wedding.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

now with 100% more Tim Gunn!

Had you told me when I thought up this blog, that I would meet Tim Gunn right in the middle of it and get to show him my work, I would have thought you were Crazy. That's right, capital "C" crazy. I mean, what would the odds be?

However over the weekend (the one that most recently passed), my husband came home from running errands and asked me what I was doing on Tuesday. I replied that I didn't really have plans. He proceeded to drop a local paper face down on my work table. There on the back cover, I saw that Tim Gunn would be at the Mall of America doing a book signing on Tuesday, September 14! My response quickly changed to, "I mean, I will be doing that!!!" I then had to e-mail my friend Alison who asked me to introduce him to her when I got on Project Runway. Just in case, I wanted to make sure she got to meet Mr. Gunn. Then, I began to think about the event. What would I wear? Obviously not clown clothes! Could I drop fifteen pounds by then? Probably not. How could I casually and eloquently plug my blog while seeming witty and delightful? I had no freaking clue!!!

I desperately wanted to wear the bridesmaid dress challenge outfit, but due to coughing my head off and ridiculous work hours that was not going to happen. I love the orange dress, but still hadn't solved the bra problem. So, I decided on the outfit from the Philip Treacy challenge. Alison and I coordinated our meeting after studying the event outline. Aside from mildly panicking, I was ready.

The day of, I worked from five in the morning until half one in the afternoon. Due to previously mentioned coughing in epic proportions, I got roughly an hour or two of sleep. I managed to squeeze in a cat nap. Then I had to get myself prettified. The thought of meeting Mr. Gunn, for real, made my brain malfunction. I hopped in the shower and my ultra-efficient routine for showering in a flash left my head. What did I need to do again? Maybe not put face scrub on my toothbrush. I managed to pull myself together and prep relatively unscathed. To save some time, I did my makeup in the car while my husband drove. I was terribly worried that somehow I would miss out on a coveted wristband guaranteeing me a moment with Tim Gunn.

We arrived and met up with the lovely Alison. There were not a lot of people there. I was flabbergasted. I thought people would be camped out, waiting with hushed anticipation of the one-and-only Tim Gunn. I purchased two copies of the book, one for myself and one for my friend Brooke who was unable to come. I secured my wristband and wrote out a question for the Q&A session. (What is your all time favorite Project Runway look? (Season 8 spoilers excluded, of course.))

Because there was not much of a line and the event was over two hours out, we decided to grab some coffee. As long as one member of the party stayed in line, one could go grab a beverage or use the restroom. We thought it would be nice to put off standing for a bit and caffeinate. We sought a Caribou, beveraged up and made our way back to the rotunda. There were a few more people there. Perhaps a gaggle. We figured we may as well hunker down and wait. The hubs went off to run errands and such, and Alison and I pulled up a patch of floor, trying to be as ladylike as possible in our skirts. I lamented not having brought a stool or something though I couldn't possibly have found something attractive enough for the event. We eyed a woman in front of us who brought a painted portrait of Tim. She painted it herself to give him. Suddenly I felt unprepared. Maybe I should have brought a casserole? Some loon potholders? A bespoke three piece suit? At best I could have given him my lint brush or some false eyelashes. I think he would have put together that I fished them out of my purse. Awkward.

The longer we waited, the more anxious I became. I tried making small talk with Alison to ease the pressure. The butterflies still fluttered in the pit of my stomach. I felt like I was in an oven and was constantly blotted, worried I would have to apologize to Tim for the moist dust jackets on my books. Security told us we could no longer sit at a certain point. I then committed a cardinal sin. I took my shoes off. I allowed my stockinged feet to settle on the floor of the mall. I generally frown upon this practice and judge those who de-shoe at weddings or other semi-formal to formal events. Yet, I was one of them. Somehow I did not factor in the standing in one spot for hours. The moment I took the shoes off, I felt like I had made a mistake. My feet hurt worse. Eventually they settled down and stopped trying to escape my body.

Finally, Tim Gunn was welcomed to the stage.

He was just as handsome, charming, and gracious as I had expected. The question and answer session was oddly brief, but Alison's question was the first one asked! (What is one piece of wisdom you regret not putting in the book?) He was nearly speechless! He said that there was nothing he felt he left out, but time would tell.

Then, it was book signing time!!! I thought I was nervous before! The longer I had to think about what I was going to say, the more keyed up I was! Alison and I realized that maybe we should have queued up sooner. Then there would have been less time to mull such things over. We waited, occasionally asking ourselves questions about Tim Gunn. What music does he listen to? What sort of dinner parties does he throw? The scenarios were endless. We watched the woman ahead give Tim her portrait. He was so gracious about it. He held up the painting so everyone could see it and take photographs. We scouted what everyone was wearing, surprised that people were not better dressed for the occasion. We noted that everyone must have come after work or school because suddenly there were many there.

Then, it was our turn! Tim's assistant (or agent or liaison) took my books and I had a small warm up chat with him. I politely waited for the woman ahead of me to finish her precious time with Mr. Gunn. I saw stars briefly as I walked over to stand next to Mr. Gunn. I introduced myself and we shook hands. We posed for a picture together, our arms around each other as though we went way back.

He took my books to sign them, and I started speaking. I prayed the words tumbling out of my mouth were coherent and interesting while my brain concentrated on keeping me from vomiting. I told him about my goals and my blog. I handed him my card with my blog address on the back and asked him to check it out. I told him that the outfit I was wearing was from the Philip Treacy challenge, and how I figured out which hat I would choose.

Tim Gunn: Well you certainly did better than Casanova did.

Amanda: Thank-you. But, Casanova had that Joan Collins/Dynasty thing going on.

TG: I know. I always tell him, "When you're not designing for old women, you're designing for hookers.

(Tim and Amanda share a light laugh.)

TG: (motioning to friend/agent/liaison) He's met Joan Collins.

He proceeds to introduce us. We wrap up, I tell him I would love it if he visited the blog, and that I hoped to work with him soon.

I then managed to make my way to my husband in an absolute daze. I was so keyed up the rest of the night! I met Mother-fracking TIM GUNN!

Wow. The rest of this blog has a lot to live up to. I somehow doubt that bridesmaids dress stands a chance now, but I will make it work. You will see it very soon, assuming I can stop coughing long enough to take photos.