Saturday, July 30, 2011

Project Runway Season 9, Episode 1: Come As You Are

Welcome to a new season, Project Runway Fans!  I hope enough time has passed since Season 8 that you were able to finish your anger management sessions over Gretchen's win.  It's over.  Time to move on.  It's a new era of hope and change....

Breaking News: Speaker John Boehner fails to get 216 votes in the House of Representatives to pass debt ceiling bill.

Whoa...that does not look good.  Let's switch over to Lifetime where they have graced us with a full 2 and a half hours of Project Runway goodness.  The first hour introduced us to each of the designers as they auditioned before various panels of judges, mostly made up of past PR contestants.  It was a nice addition to the franchise and made it easier to follow along once the challenges began.

The true star of the show, however, was Seth Aaron Henderson.

He was a perfect panel judge for new contestants.  He had tried out for the show multiple times, each time with a different hair style.  He internalized the criticism and with a stronger, more refined portfolio, not only got in but won the whole shebang.  Some of them should have listened to his pearls of wisdom, which he so generously cast.

Lets move on to the second show, Come As You Are.

The show started off with each designer meeting with Nina, Heidi, Michael and Tim (!) to review their portfolio and collection.  Based on the judges' assessment, four designers would get picked to leave.

The challenge was a twist on Season 2, Epsiode 2, The Clothes Off Your Back, only this time, instead of using the street clothes they were wearing to design an outfit, they could only use the clothes they slept a sheet.

It's comforting to know that Times Square, NY is one of those places where you can walk down the street wrapped in a bed sheet and no one will notice since everyone is looking at this guy.

I was hoping the designers would have to strip and force the cameramen and producers to cover up the naughty bits with props like they did in Austin Powers.

Alas, they dressed them in medical scrubs.

Anthony Ryan Auld decided to raid the trimmings bin to supplement his limited fabric.  The result was something Tim called a "pubic patch."

Anya Ayoung-Chee, a self-taught, beauty pagent queen from Trinidad and Tobago realized she'd actually have to sew.  ON A COMMERICAL MACHINE.  I've never sewn on a commericial machine, myself.  Everyone seems so intimidated by them.

Bert Keeter worried that his cute, orange gingham boxers would be enough.  He had the sheets, but he had to make them exciting.  He designed for Blass, Halston and Scassi back in the late 70's and early 80's.  So he knows how to drape a bed sheet, people, only this one isn't satin and sprinkled with cocaine dust.

Fallene Wells wore a t-shirt to bed with a picture of a puking clown on it.  The clown is puking a rainbow into a toilet.  This can only mean that it's also flushed the pot of gold that was at the end of it.  Speaking of flushing money down a toilet....

Sorry...I digress...
We now learn that by day, Julie Tierney is Sporty Spice, but at night, she dresses like Baby Spice.  I know what she did.  She brought all of her ugly sleepwear just in case they repeated the first challenge from last year where contestants pulled something out of their suitcase and handed it over to another designer.
Laura Kathleen turns out to be an expert in dyeing, which I would take with a grain of salt.  Seriously, she pours salt into the dye to set it.  Blessedly, this year they gave the designers dye bins so they wouldn't have to use the toilet like two seasons ago.
Rafael Cox wore a three piece outfit to bed and is struggling to figure out how to design something for his model.  It looks something like this:

Tim asks him why he isn't using the leopard scarf that he has wrapped around his hair.  "Didn't you see Season 2, Episode 2 when Andre refuses to use his Kristen refuses to use her grandmother's Herm├ęs  scarf as part of the garment?  The judges eviscerate him her!*  Don't let that be you!"

Ah...the judges....

Christina Ricci joins the judges panel this week and Heidi introduces her as "a movie star who wears a lot of fashion."  High praise from a fashion model who watches a lot of movies.  Ricci is here to promote her movie, Cowboys vs. Smurfs.

Considering that this was the first challenge, the runway show had a surprising number of pants.  Given the materials, it was not surprising that most looks were sportswear/casual.   I thought Viktor Luna's crisp, white dress with black details was the most polished.  But it was not very innovative.  Let's look at the ones the judges concentrated on the most.

I guess if you impress upon the judges that you only touched a sewing machine 4 months earlier, everything you do will look like a miracle.  Anja was the best dressed in bed the night before, wearing a gorgeous, silk kimono nightgown.  She used the silk for the top.  The pants, she said, were the first she ever made.  From the front, that's painfully obvious, particularly as the model walks.  The crotch is halfway to the knees.  What saved the look was the back. The top had a cute racer back and the pants perfectly fit the butt.  So the model gave a great lasting good, that Laura Kathleen whispered, "I want her!"  Model drama!

Yeah, right.... moving on...

Whatever happened to Anthony Ryan's pubic patch?  Well, it grew up, Jimmy, and began to experience important changes....

and eventually became a panel.

Speaking of panels, our panel of judges LOVED IT.  I'm thinking, perhaps, they snorted some of the coke dust off of Bert's Halston dress from 1978.   Or maybe it just walked down on yet another model Laura Kathleen needs to steal...if she ever wins a challenge.

So who won this challenge?

Bert Keeter and his cute, gingham boxers!  Now, had he not taken his gorgeous model and turned her into Lauren Hutton, circa 1978, you would have seen the details.  The gingham side had a sweet strap that contrasted with the wide, gathered bodice on the other side.  The fabric was dyed in two tones of grey, folded, layered and wrapped.  Michael Kors nailed him on his atrocious styling, but clearly this, among the others, was the most clever and fashionable.  There were others that were more polished and pretty, but this one was memorable.

Not memorable was Rafael's final product.

Kors focused on the "Flintstones disco pouch" that Rafael placed around the model's neck.  It was made out of the scarf that Tim suggested he use.  I'm not sure Andre's grandmother's Hermes could have saved this outfit.  And it's really a shame that he told the Garnier/L'Oreal team to "make the model look like Tonya Harding." The only thing missing from this look is a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.  He's "auf."

Whoa.  Look how long this blog post is.  Too long, if you ask me.  And I'm really glad not every episode is 2 1/2 hours long.  I know someone else who is, too....

Until next week...
* Corrections courtesy of MoHub!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A tale of two sundresses

To get a taste of my sewing prowess (limited as it is...) I'm sharing two sundresses that I made from vintage patterns.

The first is a sundress from a 1940's pattern (Simplicity 1578, Size 36.)

These days, I fluctuate somewhere between 36 and 38 (you measure dress size from the bust size.)  I was able to sew this pattern without any alterations.  I did not make the little jacket and I omitted the pockets and the ties on the shoulders.  I used Hopscotch for Chloe's Closet for Moda Fabrics, a recreation of a 1930's fabric pattern.

Here's the result:

I made a simple belt with leftover fabric and cinched it with a vintage, bakelite belt buckle.

For the second sundress, I turned the clock back a decade earlier and used a pattern from the 1930's, Butterick 6932, 38 bust.

Styles from the 30's tend to have a thinner silhouette, so a 38 bust gave me the ease that I needed.  I significantly shortened the length of the skirt.  Flared, gored skirts are usually shortened from the middle, not the bottom, in order to retain their shape.

For this dress, I used a red, blue, olive and cream seersucker fabric.  The beauty of this fabric is that it the same on both sides, so it didn't matter which way I cut the pattern pieces!  Here's the result:

Front view with same fabric belt, tied off with a red, bakelite buckle.  The red bakelite buttons at the straps are decorative.

Back view.

Close up of the button detail.

Close up of the bakelite buckle.


It figures that practically a decade after blogs became popular....heck, even the Pope has one....I decide to jump into the pool with mine.  Tirare le fila means "pulling the string."  These blog posts will attempt to pull the various disparate strings of my life: sewing, cooking, beekeeping, etc.... along with some of the things I love.

Why now?  With a new season of Project Runway about to begin, I figured this was the best time to jump into the blog pool with a weekly recap.  I've been co-hosting a chat room on Blogging Project Runway for two seasons now.  The chat action moves too fast for thoughtful analysis...and snark.  But I kid because I love.  I've ripped more seams than I've sewn.  I've cut patterns out only to realize that the fabric was facing the wrong way.  I've ordered less fabric than I needed for a project.  I can't even manage to work my mother's vintage Necchi without getting the thread jammed.  So, I feel the contestants pain when things go wrong and marvel at their triumphs.

So enjoy the posts and drop me a line.  I'd love to know what you think.