Thursday, October 28, 2010


Project Project Runway: the Finale

Just like the contestants who are up in the wee hours getting their collections together - we were up this morning before dawn. (Collecting our wits about us, and feeding a hungry kid. I actually had to wait for the sun to come up to photograph the final look!)

Here it is.
Red Carpet moment
The dress itself. Its a strapless silk dress, cut on the bias.
It has enough weight to hold itself out in the back, without being a mermaid or a bustle.
On the top, is an embroidered organza coat
It has body, and stands on it's own.
embroidery detail
And true to my aesthetic, I kept to my floral motif, without going "cray-cray"

Sheer over coat
I'm really pleased with my look. I think it is red-carpet-worthy. I cannot wait to see what the judges think.
Kat went full on and put a mini collection on the runway. Her looks are beautiful. Micheal Kors said she showed real range. ! She has ready-to-wear looks as well as elegant looks that would be worthy of fashion week. Heidi said she wants to wear this one.

What fun we have had! 13 weeks of sewing for Barbie!
What will our next challenge be?
And more importantly, who will join us?!

Suzology! A retrospective.

The days leading up to the runway show, Tom and Lorenzo do a retrospective on the designer's work, and give a little synopsis of the style and the trends that they see.

Here, I will offer you my "Susology".

What a fun game we have played. !!
I learned a lot about how to sew for a barbie. And I've met some great people along the way.
Did you see the "Katology"? What an amazing collection she has produced! It is very sleek and 'city smart'. Kat really focused in on the details and the styling. Her photo shoots were relevant, and her outfits were well accessorized. Great job Kathy! I knew you would make it to the finale with me!

Making a 10 piece final collection was, sadly, out of the question for us, so we decided for the final show, we would make one "show stopping" look. The last look to go down the runway.
We'll be posting those looks later today! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We are sewing at a feverish pace.
We will post our "show stopping look" tomorrow (finger's crossed)

In the mean time, here is a peak at the fabrics I have the pleasure of working with. There is some beautiful silk and chiffon, and embroidered sheers.
See you on the runway!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 12: New York State of Mind

I'm a couple of days late. I was at my Grandmother's funeral and flying around the country with a toddler. Thanks for the sympathy and the well wishes. We are settled at my parents now. Some napping has resumed, and that is my 'work room time'.

Week 12
We're in a New York State of Mind

For this challenge we were supposed to create a look inspired by New York itself; something to wow the judges.

I choose Times Square. It is bright, and very alive. It is full of movement. Giuliani really cleaned it up, and made it accessible and friendly (and safe!)

Perhaps too literally, the dots are a direct reference to the lights on the billboards.

The dress is light, and flowing, and red the predominant color in the advertising.
I tried to get more bold with patterns.

Am I channeling Uli?

The back has one strap.
I like the way the gathers in the top create a line to draw the eye down.

My finishing has gotten better. I have listened to the Judges criticisms.

Micheal Kors is interested. He wants to see more.
"congratulations, you are going to compete for a spot in fashion week!"
Hands clasped to my mouth in delight!

Have you seen what Kat did? Guggenheim!
She just came running into the holding room! She is going to compete for a spot in fashion week too!
We hugged!
Good work Kat!

Monday, October 18, 2010


My Grandmother passed away.
We had a service for her on Saturday. The family gathered from far and wide. It was nice to see people, even under the circumstances.
The generations have now shifted. "we" are the parents. "they" are the grand parents. "we" are not at the kids table anymore. The kids are. The shift has been gradual. But now it is official.
In sorting through her 'things' (which she brutally, mercifully kept in check) her crafting streak was chronicled. She was a crocheter, a knitter, and an amazing embroiderer. More than one person lost it over the 'sewing basket'. it had beautiful old scissors, fabric tape measures... and all kinds of wonderful familiar treasures.
This picture was taken in May of 09, when I introduced Amelia.
I will treasure it now more than ever.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Get in Line

This week the challenge was to work for Heidi. We were supposed to develop a look that would go in her collection of clothing you could wear on a trampoline in a photo shoot.

Bouncing on a trampoline is the only hard and fast definition of 'active wear' that we have to work with. So we will go with that.

I started off bitter. I looked like Mondo: “fine, I’ll do it. And not put a trace of myself in it.” I decided I would just phone this one in. I stamped and huffed and told "the other designer" that there was no way I was going to make three looks for Heidi!

And somewhere along the way, I started to like the looks more and more. And I just kept going. Ha ha, the joke is on me. The game is still fun.

This is a knitwear challenge. Stretch, jersey, and cotton knits are the order of the day. So it begins with Barbie friendly fabric. (sigh of relief)
And Heidi likes her line to be roomy. (really, you would not know that from what she wears on the runway. "short and shiny"are her buzz word!)
Roomy and Jersey are both good barbie words.

During the Mondo workroom critique Heidi expressed a concern that if a Mom were wearing the look in the grocery store, they would need to hold their stomach in. (Wow, how did she read my mind! My main concern in the grocery store, with a toddler is “I need to remember to hold my stomach in… suck it in…” What’s more, is that I think everyone who passes me in the grocery store is admiring my washboard abs. “Wow, how does she do it?”) On a good day, we are giggling and eating bites of blueberries or strawberries. On a bad day, we are having a full-on melt-down because ‘we’ don’t want to be in the cart anymore. In either case, it is not about my belly.
And thank goodness for that.

The key piece to this collection is the dress.

I did pleating in the back to take up some of the slack, and give it interest and shaping.

Lets talk about pleating for a second. Can I just say, trying to make pleats in this scale is INSANE. (Cray-cray in PR parlance.) Sending these seams through the machine in the lycra/rayon/cotton blend, and watching them wiggle around... it was like pleating lasagna noodles in the sewing machine.

The dress can be worn on it's own, or with the leggings.
The grey has a hint of mauve in it, so it reads like a rose grey. That will make it warmer and a little bit more refreshing on a rainy fall day.

The next piece is a vest. It is sleeveless, and could be a companion piece to the dress. It was done in a thicker fabric, and is a little bit more fitted.

The final look is a top/dress.

Basic from the front, with a plunging v in the back.

And you can definitely jump on a trampoline here!

In the end, I had a lot of fun with the looks.
I was tempted to go get more fabric and try to make some variation in my size. Because, yes, I would wear this stuff!

In the extended 90 minute version - there would be cuts of serious phone calls, and somber moments on the couch in the lounge. My grandma was in a car accident and is not well. And I am holding my breath, and hoping that the Doctors can keep her comfortable.
My lovely lovely Grandma. (Sigh.) I played with her doll collection in the attic of her house in the summers when we would visit. And we slept in the guest quarters in the basement when we were there. Forever more, "that" is how a basement should smell: "damp" but not in a bad way. A cool basement floor on a hot summer day. The smell of dryer sheets, and dehumidifiers. The basement is where her sewing area was set up. She had an old wooden creamery bucket as a 'trash can' for the fabric scraps. It was a beautiful honey color.
I love her dearly and sweetly. And I hope she is not in pain.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 11: Bust

Today, I find myself bitter, and dissapointed.

The Empress has 'new clothes', and no one has told her. Everyone is so busy kissing Heidi, that no one is brave enough to reminded her that she is a model, not a designer, or an editor, or a buyer. (And let's give credit where credit is due, Editing, buying and designing are hard jobs. Otherwise, we would not be watching this show!)

Heidi's figure is as normal as Barbie’s. Her family is as normal as Brangolina’s, and her salary is as normal as Oprah’s. What, pray tell, does she know about ready-to-wear (besides how to spell it.) Her clothes that she wears are awful. (fire your stylist!) And her clothes that she sells are cray-cray.

But what is more – last night was not about the designer’s point of view. It was about what they would come up with if they worked ‘in the house for _______” or “for the label of ________” . This was not a challenge – it was just an exercise.
If the designers were going to work in someone else's shop (like Tim, who works for Liz Claiborne...)then they would work to stay within the constraints of the 'line' they were designing. And if the designers were working for themselves, then they would work to find symbiotic sponsors or partners, like L'Oreal, or Garnier, to help fund their vision. Even Christian, two season's ago previous winner, has paired up with all kinds of unlikely companies (Payless for one). But okay, we are still seeing something that is HIM.

The judging, and critiques were inconsistent.
They told some people not to use other fabrics, and they didn’t steer Michael C away from them. Hence, Thanksgiving Hammer pants!
They said the looks were ‘sportswear’. What is that? Or “active wear” - uhm. What is THAT? I don’t think you can workout in suede ankle boots. And if that is how they are styled, then that is what the designer is ‘telling’ us?
I don’t think that Micheal, Nina, and Heidi were on the same page with what they were looking for. Chiffon inset into the sleeves won the challenge, and chiffon insets into the sleeves was sent home.

Thanksgiving montage was in the bottom three, but "halloween skull" hoodie was given top honors.

I am dreading the challenge.
There you have it. My opinion. I’ll need to go to “mood” for some gray stretch Lycra! Akkk.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Week 10: "There's a Pattern Here" Fabric Challenge

Week 10
“There’s a pattern here”
This week, our challenge was to create our own fabric pattern.
That. Is. Hard.
I love fabric, and I tool around on the internet and look at some of the clever pattern designers our there. I have never looked at, say, Amy Butler’s site and said “Oh, huh, I could do that!”
what ever I was moved to try would need to be scaled down accordingly.
The inspiration for my fabric was my Mom’s garden, and specifically, zinneas.

I drew on a white shirting fabric. The pattern is pretty true to the sketch.
I paired the look with hot magenta cigarette pants.
And then, I heard Nina yawn. “It’s wearable, but not memorable.”
Tim said “be sure to “wow” the judges.
So I dared to add a piece to the look. And, I literally “made my own fabric”. I knit a sweater.
I didn’t want to hear that the sweater was boring, so it is a cropped top, with kimono inspired sleeves. The funny thing is that all of Barbie’s proportions are exaggerated in the first place, so when you start to play with that, the results are humorous. Or “high fashion”

Here is a runway knitwear look illustrates the point, for your viewing pleasure.

They played with scale here. (understatement.) (this is a picture from the Stella McCartney collection.)

I’m pleased with my look.
Sweater binding
I feel like this one is really a ‘runway look’ and not ‘ready to wear’ (at least the sweater part)

Be sure to look at what Kat did. Super sophisticated, as ever. There is some serious small-scale sewing going on there! Impressive.

I can’t wait to watch tonight! A “cheating scandal”! And someone is asked to leave!
Quelle Horror!
Never mind the drama - what challenge will they throw out there next?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Work Room Sketches

The challenge is to create your own fabric print, based on personal inspiration.

work room photos

When my little brother got married (20 years ago. No kidding. 20 years ago!) my parents hosted the rehearsal dinner. It was a lovely affair, in Williamsburg. There were riotous bunches of Zinneas at each table. I came in and saw them and exclaimed to my Mom how beautiful they were. I said "they look just like your garden! Just like you picked them yourself! How great Mom!" And she said matter of factly "I did. Those are from the garden." !!! Of course they were. Mom had brought a piece of home to the whole affair. It was wonderful.
And that is my personal inspiration. If I could find a picture from the wedding, that is what would be on my HP touch. Wonderful, warm happy memories. My Mom, and her glorious garden.

I got a present this morning. My friend was shopping for airplane activities for her toddler, and she found something she thought I would like.
runway Sticker Activity Book
The Project Runway Sticker Activity book!!!! Is that the greatest thing you have ever seen?
"Dare to Design" is says on the cover! Oh, I dared alright!
It includes stickers. How lucky am I?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

We've Gone Global

There is an article about us today in the Hindustan Times (The major newspaper in India)
Here we are in the lifestyle section

Kat and I are nothing if not "Lifestyle"
I am giddy. Does my Husband understand that he is living with a 'designer' with "international press"?
I have to go now. I am very very busy doing glamorous things. (And catching my breath.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Watching Project Runway with the Contestants

Last night was a big hairy deal.
Big. Hairy. Deal.

On our excursions on 24th St, Amelia ‘introduces herself’ to lots of people. One of our great friends is Bobby, who works at the gift/toy/card shop. We got to talking about PR one day, and he said he watches every week at ‘the bar’, and this whole glorious story unfolded from there.

I went to go watch Project Runway at the Lone Star Bar. Jay-Jay, the owner of the bar is Christopher Collins partner. So Christopher, and his friends and family gather at the bar to watch. As a super bonus – this episode featured visits from Loved-ones, and Jay jay actually came to New York, and was featured on the show too!

I brought Barbie with me, in my purse. But Bobby said, "oh, get her out" and she sat with us.
When Christopher came in, Bobby pointed him out to me, and I had to take a moment to get composed. Then, at the next commercial, I introduced myself.

Christopher is SO nice. He is just as nice as he seems on the show. (not tough editing for them to do.)
He has family in Minnesota, so we are clearly best friends already.
He exclaimed his full appreciation for the scale of Barbie, and the challenges of sewing for her.

The show was broadcast on several TVs around the bar, and then it was projected on to one whole wall. Music was playing until the show came on, and then they killed the music, and let the show run. Every time Gretchen let a snide remark rip, the whole place would erupt in boos and hisses. And when Christopher was on, people were silent and intently listening. This was the episode where they pull from inspirations from their own life, so when Christopher mentioned the bay area, or San Francisco, the place went wild!

As a side note, the Lone Star is a Bear Bar. It is really a 'locals joint'. And Mondo’s whole 'reveal' was watched with a passion and understanding that would not have been there if I had watched somewhere else. The place burst into applause when he finally told Nina the story behind his fabric on the runway.
(how about our sweet Mondo with a jerry curl?!)

It was an amazing night. I felt like I was in a Tom and Lorenzo post, like when they say "Oh, Uli just walked in, we have to go". We watched Christopher on the screen, while he watched the episode with us. SWEET!

Now, there are ALL kinds of questions that I wanted to ask, that I didn't.
1. How is Tim? Is he really as badly brushed aside and left out of the loop as he suggests? Should he be? Or is there some crazy stuff going on there?
2. April, thumbs up or down? She does not get a lot of air time, so I am just looking for your real life synopsis.
3. In the fabric challenge, do you get to say how much fabric you need? Or what fiber you will get? Is it all just cotton?
4. Were you all taking bets on Gretchen? Was it like high school with her there!?
5. Have you seen the shows already? Do you know how this is going to play out(more than just the winner?)
6. How was Fashion week? Good HEAVENS!
7. Do you all mock Heidi's clothes? 'Cause MAN-o-man, we sure do. She is so beautiful, she really does not need to do 'that'.
And on and on...
What I did get out of my mouth was "so, how great is Peach? Is she really that great in person?" And he said she is tremendous. Super super nice. (my words, not his)

I think I'm going back next week.
I'll take an adrenalin rush over sleep any day! And maybe I will get the answers to some of these questions.

Now, I need to get to work on my own print. In miniature. With some sort of personal significance. Yeowsa. (Kat and I have not been gifted the HP Smart Touch systems to design our own stuff on yet. We'll let you know.)