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.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

one two skip a few

So, since I don't have a team with five other random people to create a line, I am skipping episode five. Lame, maybe. However, I don't feel that I can truly recreate that challenge on my own.

So, I am working on a lovely bridesmaid recreation!

Come back soon to find out what I do with this parachute like fabric! Find out why a cat is my bouquet! Shenanigans will ensue!!!

episode four: hat's off!!!

The Challenge: Create a look inspired by and to coordinate with one of Philip Treacy's hats.

The Constraints: 15 minutes to sketch, 30 minutes at Mood (my guess, as this was not stated explicitly in the episode), $150 budget, one day (until 11 pm) to create, and two hours in hair and makeup.

My Take: First, I had to come up with a scientific method of getting my hat assignment. My lovely husband suggested that I just get a weird hat from a kiosk at our state fair, but I had a feeling that an over-sized ten gallon hat or a mohawk hat would not really evoke the right feeling. Instead, I cut 13 squares of paper and wrote the numbers one-13 on them. Then I drew a number out of a hat (get it?) to determine where in the hat choosing process I would get to choose. I got 12. That meant it was either the black and green swirly twirly hat that Casanova chose or the orchid hat that Kristen got. I felt like the swirly twirly hat was more my aesthetic, so I went that route. I admit I was really hoping to get a lower number so I could pick the lacy mask, but them's the brakes!

I decided once again to forgo sketching. I had a general picture in my mind of what I wanted to do, and some textures and fabrics in mind. I was thinking a modern take on vintage. I love those old timey eras in which women actually wore hats! I pictures a sort of pencil skirt in a lovely tweed with some embellishment in the back and a drapey silk blouse. Upon arriving to S.R. Harris, I started in the silks as I always do. I found one possibility that I was worried would be too yellow, did some more digging, and decided to think on it. I headed to the wool aisle instead. For the wool, I had a very specific texture in mind. I wanted a black and white fine tweed. I found several that were darker than I had in mind, but felt like butter. Of course these were the long fiber cashmeres that ran $50-$150 a yard. One yard would blow my whole budget! I found several fine tweeds that were the wrong color. Finally, buried under many bolts of wool, there she was! I had to have the hubs help me lift the pile of bolts and tug it out. It was $25 a yard, so definitely with reason. I then returned to the silks, where I went with my first instinct, a chartreuse silk. Not the charmeuse I had in mind, but I felt it would work. (Hey, chartreuse charmeuse!) I went to the embellishments to find what I had in mind for the back, but there was nothing that would work. I decided instead to look for a leather to create a sort of corset. I found this gorgeous dark purple leather that I felt would add an interesting element and keep the outfit from being too matchy-matchy. After getting things cut, I grabbed some wee buttons, cord, and a zipper. This was one of my most expensive shopping trips ever. The bulk of it fell into the leather, as it was a really large piece. I still kept it in the budget, but barely!

I began construction with the blouse. I felt it would be the most complicated piece, so I could base the construction on the simpler pieces on the time left. Maybe I jinxed myself, but this blouse made me want to kill myself! My first error was in patterning the back. I made the pieces too short and didn't realize it until I cut the fabric and tried to sew them together. There went any extra fabric I thought I would have for trimming or lining! I had to attach and tear out the waistband three times before it actually went together correctly. It is not fun to rip out seams on a gathered piece of fabric. My concept was a halter-type blouse with a tie waist and split back. In retrospect, I would have reversed and had a button waist and a tie neck, but oh well. The skirt went together much more easily, despite my delirium and putting the zipper on the right instead of the left. D'oh! I had neither the time nor the desire to fix that, so on the right it is. I had also hoped to line the skirt in the same fabric as the top, but we know where that fabric went! When I tried it on before hemming, I was concerned about it being too dowdy at the kneetop length I had first intended. So, I shortened it just a bit more to make it more edgy. I had little time left, and decided to make a wide leather obi-style belt. For styling, I went with fishnets to reflect the net on the hat. I debated my adorable purple shoes, but was concerned again with the matchy matchy. I went instead with some tough peep toe booties. Here are the results!

After examining the hat more closely, I realized that the green of my top might be too muted. However, I did not have the hat chilling in the next room for reference, so I did what I could. I plan to add black lining to the skirt and to wear it this fall, even with the zipper being on the wrong side. I think with some tights, it will be killer! While we were outside, a passerby commented on how great I looked. I admit it was a little boost to the old self esteem.

What do you think? In or out?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I'm still here and kicking! My plan was to photo and post tonight, but I am feeling pretty crummy. I've been fighting off bronchitis for the last week or so, and tonight it seems to be winning!

I know, I know. The real PR world would send me home! But, in the real PR world, I wouldn't have a day job, errands, or commitments outside of working in the workroom and sleeping in the apartment (with an occasional snooze in the workroom ala Laura the architect).

However, for your troubles, you will get not one, but TWO photo laden posts this weekend!