Friday, August 24, 2012

Project Runway Season 10, Episode 6

This week's episode was to create a look for a woman who had been nominated for a makeover by a friend. These clients also get a hair and makeup makeover for the runway as part of the deal. This meant we got an extended ad for L'Oreal hair products in the middle of the episode when they were all getting ready.

The episode starts with Dmitry wishing for a win, and Sonjia wishing for a male contestant to get eliminated so there would be equal numbers of men & women left. One of these wishes comes true!

I wonder where they find the people for these types of challenges. Who in their right mind would want an outfit from a fledging designer, created in a single day, and you have to be on TV for the whole thing? It's like they think it's going to be some amazing pampering thing, where the designer caters to their every wish, and creates an amazing outfit that makes them feel like a princess. Well, I guess maybe it works out for some of them, but if you've ever seen any of these "real world" challenges you'd be well aware that you can end up being very unhappy if you get the wrong designer.

In this episode, the wrong designer was Ven. And wow was he W-R-O-N-G with a capital W. In previous challenges, he has seemed perhaps arrogant, but at least calm and professional. This challenge brought out the worst in him. He was paired with a woman who is size 14, and spent the entire episode moaning and flailing in the most disgusting manner about how disappointed he was, how it was so unfair, a nightmare, he can't design what he wants, she has no style or fashion, blah blah blah on and on until all I heard coming out of his mouth were mosquito noises. Most of this was just in interviews and to the other designers, but to her face he made insensitive remarks like how he chose black because it was slimming, the belt he chose was just too small so he's waiting for them to bring another one, etc. All the other designers are appalled, the client is in tears, and the friend who nominated her feels terrible. Ven is unmoved. Even Tim's attempt to give him a pep talk to pull his head out from where the sun doesn't shine falls on deaf ears. To the very end Ven maintains he has done nothing wrong, said nothing wrong, nothing is his fault and he has no idea why she's upset. And that he should be safe from elimination no matter what because, in his opinion, he had a harder challenge than anyone else. In other words, the Brobdingnagians have him on speed dial as a handyman, because he's a GIANT TOOL.

On the flip side, Gunnar is also transformed by this challenge - into someone charming, friendly, happy, and successful. He is excited about the challenge from the start gets along great with his client, who is also, like Ven's, a "real woman" and not a runway model size. It's very interesting to see how the same challenge brings out the worst in Ven and the best in Gunnar.

I actually thought all the designs were acceptable this week. I didn't hate any of them, but I thought very few of them had anything special either - most seemed like stuff you'd have no problem buying in a store already.

Alicia gets by far the least amount of screen time - we get just a little snippet where her client says she "wants men to want [her], and women to want to be [her]." We get a few comments from Alicia, Tim, and other designers mentioning she is going out of her comfort zone by making a pink dress. It ends up looking like a sun dress, perhaps a bit too short, and wins her a spot in the safe group.

Melissa makes a black dress (no surprise there) that ends up getting eclipsed by the accompanying scarf, with which the client literally wrestles with the whole way up and down the runway. I wasn't clear on whether the scarf was something she made, or pre-made accessory. Her client clearly loves the dress, but Melissa ends up merely safe.

Chris spends most of his time on a little jacket, but the client takes it off on the runway right away so all the focus is on the gray draped dress. It emphasizes her tiny waist and she looks great. Both of them are really happy with it, but Chris also is safe.

Elena's client asks for lots of color, so she makes a pale peachy shirt with a fluttery hem in front and a black skirt. Hmm. I suppose, technically, those are "colors." Elena is safe.

Sonjia makes a blue draped dress with a knot in the front, very similar to her previous designs. However, it's too short and the proportions are off. She lands in the bottom.

Nathan is paired with an up-and-coming R&B singer who wants something sexy and midriff-baring, but still sophisticated, that she can wear on stage. Like Alicia, Nathan is out of his comfort zone but gives it his best try. He makes a blue prom-like dress with black mesh sleeves. The client really likes it, but the judges do not. This results in some terribly uncomfortable moments when the judges tear it down with the client standing right there, culminating with Heidi saying she looks like a "hoochie mama." (She then has to translate that into British English for guest judge Alice Temperly - "a tart!")

Ven makes a blue shirt and a black skirt with an exposed zipper down the front. I don't think it's really all too terrible or unflattering, objectively speaking, but the client clearly dislikes it and feels uncomfortable, so it's a failure. Ven's objectively terrible behavior does come to light for the judges. He is also in the bottom.

Happily, Gunnar's felicitous collaboration has good results, and he makes a black dress with a lovely ruffled skirt. His client is overjoyed, and he gets into the top.

Dmitry makes a blue dress with geometric seaming that fits his client very well. I think it's a tad too short, but he ends up in the top and the judges like it.

Fabio's client doesn't like to look feminine or show cleavage. He rises to this challenge by creating a dress with a very modest silhouette, but with edgy colorblocking. It's also sleeveless, which the she loves since she "can show off [her] guns." The only issue I have is that the front of the skirt seems stiff. Regardless, it's clearly the best design.

Fabio wins! No qualms there. The elimination comes down to Nathan versus Ven. Mr. Nice Guy versus Raging Piehole. Just based on the garments, I didn't have a strong opinion about who should go. But obviously on the criteria of who I would want to be out, it would be Ven. Alas, it is Nathan. Tim seems even more genuinely sad than usual when ushering him out.

Next week, Ven shows no sign of going back to being more appealing, as he is on tape saying "men are usually stronger designers than women." Nothing follows up aggravating thoughtlessness like insulting generalizations!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Find a nice flat spot for your tent

This week's contest was for a design having to do with camping. My husband and I bounced a few ideas off each other - merit badges, different types of campfires/tents/etc. But, I do have a love of maps, so I decided to make a campground guide. It was a little time consuming to draw, but lots of fun. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

Campground Map

There were several groups of entries containing similar design ideas. I liked this entry which had a similar concept to mine, and came in third. There were also a number like ours, i.e. cutesy illustrations of the overall camping scene, but closer to the action, of which I thought this was the best - and it came in seventh. Also popular were tossed prints of camping implements, and I consider these two the best of that type (the former came in second). My favorites in the marshmallow category were the s'more argyle and the marshmallows on sticks. I also liked this arrangement of camping icons, which stood out as unique. And the best "campers and trailers on the road" design was this one, which came in eighth.

My entry came in 48 out of 162 with 157 votes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Project Runway Season 10, Episode 5

This week's challenge was to work in two teams (one of six members, one of five) to create a collection of clothes that women could wear in the workplace. The winning outfits get to be in an editorial in the new "Marie Claire at Work." When the team aspect is announced, the editors treat us to a lovely montage of all the designers ranting in their interviews how much they hate team challenges.

As the winner of the previous challenge, Sonjia gets to pick the first other member of her team. Heidi draw's Nathan's name to be the first on the other team. The two teams go back and forth, with the last person added to each team responsible for picking the next.

The two teams end up being, each in picking order: Sonjia, Elena, Mellisa, Dmitry, Alicia, and Raul; and Nathan, Ven, Christopher, Fabio, and Gunnar. There are three notable items in this:

1. Christopher and Raul were apparently good friends. Christopher specifically picked Fabio over Raul since Raul and Ven don't get along, and he wanted to avoid that kind of drama.
2. Raul ended up not getting picked at all. Since he was the very last left at the end, he was assigned to the first team by default.
3. Only one man picked a woman - Dmitry picking Alicia. Only one woman picked a man - Mellisa picking Dmitry. As a result, all the women were on one team.

Raul, facing the humiliation of being eliminated, being brought back and then being one place away from eliminated again, and then getting picked last, is not in the best frame of mind for the start of the challenge and immediately irritates his team by being extremely cranky and defensive.

Gunnar, for no particular reason except for his sparkling personality, is also extremely cranky with his team. He has a number of good points about the direction the more commanding team members are taking the collection - in particular the very 80's color scheme of black, white, purple, magenta, and turquoise. But instead of speaking up, he decides to simmer in resentment and just tell it in the interview.

The volatile Elena begins her stress-induced meltdown early on, when they discover that one of the bags of fabric didn't make it back from fabric shopping. She gets more freaked out and more abusive of her teammates as the challenge goes on. By the end, at the photoshoot, their discussion devolves into screaming and the rest of them end up just walking away from Elena and not talking to her any further.

Team Six mixes up their outfits, which each designer making a couple of pieces - two shirts or two skirts, for example - instead of each making a complete look. They are working entirely in black, grey, and blue - most likely driven by the devoted-to-black duo of Mellisa and Dmitry, reunited from the first team challenge. When Tim comes by, he seems pretty OK with all of it, but not very enthusiastic.

Team Five sticks with the more usual strategy of each designer remaining in charge of his own design. Tim calls their color scheme costumey and matronly, which produces another moment of high-grade smugness from Gunnar. They pare their fabrics down to just black, white, and a printed pink and purple chiffon. It turns out that Elena and Mellisa have a nickname for Christopher, Ven, and Nathan - "the Chiffonzies" - since they use silk chiffon so frequently. Sure, they say, it drapes nicely, but most women wouldn't actually wear it to work.

Team Five:

Team Six:
  • Elena makes two tops, one of which has the same giant shoulders she always does. The other just has patches of a different fabric on the shoulder. The latter is good - the former not so much.
  • Alicia makes two pairs of pants: wide and skinny.
  • Dmitry makes a color blocked black-and-navy sheath dress. It has little cutouts along the back, which Nina claims makes it iffy for work, but Heidi defends. Well, yeah, Heidi - you're a super model!
  • Mellisa makes a blue funnel-neck dress which stands out but would personally drive me totally bananas. I think it looks a little silly but the judges love it.
  • Sonjia makes twe pencil skirts, in blue and gray stripes.
  • Raul makes a black shirt fronted with huge stiff ruffles and a leather tank top. The ruffled one draws the ire of the judges.
At the end of the runway show, it turns out that the teams have exactly equal scores! Once the judges go over their praise and criticism, they amp up the drama by asking each designer who they think should be eliminated. Fabio is first, and he tries to avoid the whole game by picking Ven, since he knows Ven has to be safe. The rest of Team Five picks Gunnar - even Gunnar himself! On Team Six, all the women pick Raul because he's the weakest designer and both the men pick Elena because she's so hard to get along with. Because men are more emotional and women are more analytical. Uh, that's the stereotype, right?

Mellisa wins, Raul is out. He sends himself off by tearing into Elena backstage, telling her he can't stand her at all and urging all the other designers to make sure she gets eliminated as soon as possible. Elena seems to have worn herself out with all her earlier yelling and simply sits in silence, taking the abuse with barely and eyeroll - at least if the editing is to be believed.

Next week, the traditional "make an outfit for a non-model woman" challenge - in which we get to see which designers are the most arrogant and shallow for whining about making clothes for someone above a size 0.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What game would you play at a craft party...

This week's contest was for another cut and sew pattern, this time for something that could fit on a fat quarter and be sewn together at a "craft party." I browsed through craft projects I've saved on Delicious looking for inspiration, and found this memory game. I decided to do little drawings for each pair, plus have it possible to do groups of four to be able to play Go Fish or Old Maid.

Cut Out & Sew Memory Game Cards

I used a subset of the colors I used for Hipster Piglet and the seadragons, and I even re-used the checked background from Hipster Piglet for the backs of the cards. By putting the cards all flush together like this, and alternating fronts and backs, I think it makes the overall design look nice even if it is a cut-out-and-sew pattern.

This came in 88 out of 107 with 41 votes. My favorite entries were the globe (which came in third), the oven mitts (which came in fourth), the lavender sachets (which came in ninth) and this board game.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Project Runway Season 10, Episode 4

This episode picks up the drama right where the last one left off, with Christopher starting to feel guilty about how much he chastised Andrea at the judging, unaware that she already slunk out of the competition in the middle of the night. So he feels pretty bad when Tim tells them all that she's gone, and proceeds to overcompensate later by offering "helpful" suggestions to another designer - specifically Buffi. Because what do independent-minded creative types like better than unsolicited advice?

This was the Michael Kors challenge, meaning Michael Kors got to deliver the description to them. Before he does that, though, he and Tim give the designers a pep talk since they are all seeming somewhat oppressed by Andrea's exit - not helped by the inevitable onset of physical and mental exhaustion at this point in the competition. Micheal Kors gets to deliver one of those lines he has that seem calculated to get edited into promos - "Fashion's not for sissies!"

Once the designers get back to the workroom, the discussion is of course around Andrea and they all try to work out their feelings on the matter. Right in the middle of that, Kooan suddenly announces that he is leaving the show too! Tim comes in, simply to announce that Raul will return to take Andrea's place, and gets plunged into the middle of this second emotional whirlwind. Many tears are shed, Kooan is gone, Raul is back. I'm not sure why they didn't also bring in Lantie to replace Kooan, but certainly not disappointed! How is that going to work later on, though? Did they have a double-elimination planned that will have to get dropped?

That's basically it for drama. After that sequence of revelations, the designers seem too emotionally wrung out and inwardly focused to push each other's buttons. The actual challenge, by the way, is to make an outfit that can be worn all day by a glamorous woman through all kinds of activities - shopping, work, plane trip, cocktails, etc. So basically something dressy from Travelsmith.

Sonija makes a draped black jersey dress. Chistopher makes a draped black jersey dress with a black shrug. Nathan makes a draped pea soup green jersey dress. Dmitry makes a dark grey jersey dress with some woven strips on the front. Fabio makes a black and white minidress with a black shrug. Mellisa makes a many-layered gray and black jersey ensemble, something like a modern hipster Stevie Nicks would wear.

Ven makes a beige dress with the same starburst pleats he's put on all of his designs. Elena makes a big stiff coat with the same seaming and huge shoulders that she's made for all of her designs. Alicia makes a shirt with a high, weird collar that would drive me insane within 30 seconds, much less a full day, and a curved hem perfectly shaped to reveal your side muffin tops. This is paired with gray pedal pushers. Gunnar makes a busy, busy outfit with a ruched top and tons of layered petals on the skirt, which causes Kors to literally sniff in disdain as it goes down the runway.

Raul makes a disastrous three-piece outfit: a vest with pointed flaps on front large enough to take flight, a crummy shirt, and badly-made pants. The pants! He actually discovered the waist was a full four inches too narrow at the very last minute when putting it on his model. He commenced sewing leather panels into the gaps in the sides. This caused Gunnar to form possibly the most insufferably smug expression ever seen. The styling is terrible too - and I usually can't tell if styling is good or bad to save my life, so you know it had to be exceptionally bad.

Buffi belts a translucent pink sack over a zebra-print dress. Christopher's unwelcome advice was to remake the sack in black instead, which Buffi calmly rejects to his face, and soon after rejects more forcefully out of his sight in the sewing room.  However, he can still hear her, so he leans into the room with his best "devastated" look. Buffi plays it off by basically saying, thanks for giving me that advice that I totally disagreed with, since it strengthens my certainty that I'm being true to myself! Christopher demonstrates his eternal optimism by saying he's not sure if she's lying to his face.

Pink or black, Buffi's look was doomed the moment Kors said it looked like a hairdresser's smock and proceeded to invent a story on why a woman would be wandering around with such a thing belted over her normal clothes. The dress underneath has so many visible sewing issues, the judges immediately assume Buffi only added the smock at the last minute to cover this up. Oh no, she assures them, this was my design from the beginning! Oh dear, they say - that makes it even worse.

Sonija, Christopher, and Dmitry are in the top. Fabio, Raul, and Buffi are in the bottom. Fabio is clearly way ahead of those other two, so no sweat there - the main criticism is that it is too generic and doesn't show his point of view. Christopher gets a little too on-point by describing his look as being for a mother of four who's on the go - but Heidi totally eats it up! His and Sonija's are the definite favorites, with tons of praise from the judges. Dmitry's is a little too safe for them - they would have liked to have seen it in, like, an actual color. Sonija is declared the winner! The editors do everything they can to make us think Raul will be eliminated - again - but Buffi is the one who is out.

Next week, another dreaded team challenge.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


This week's contest had the theme "aviation." I've been reading Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo so I have space on the brain. I wanted to do something with NASA's mission patches, perhaps an assortment of motifs from them, but most of them are awfully busy. However, I liked the one for Gemini 4:

What a cute little astronaut! So I based the design on that. I wanted the light color of the figures to be a little reminiscent of an Aurora Borealis, so it's a gradient that goes back and forth between light green and light purple.

Gemini 4 - First Spacewalk

I had a scare with this one! The contests always close on Tuesday nights, so I got mine submitted not long before I went to bed. I checked Spoonflower during my lunch at work the next day, and found to my horror that I had mistakenly uploaded a version that still had my initial sketch layer still visible. My first thought was that I'd just have to live with it, but then I remembered that sometimes the contest doesn't close until sometime on Wednesday - I had a previous experience, I think with the pomegranate contest, where the website wasn't working for me on the Tuesday evening. I had no choice but to email support and call it a night. In the morning they told me I should be able to upload, and they'd add it to the contest for me. However, I noticed that the contest option was still showing up in the dropdown!  So this time, I checked - and sure enough, this contest was still showing up as available to enter.

The fix would only take a few seconds, but the files (and program) I needed were only on my laptop at home. Arrrrrg! My husband works from home on Wednesday, so I prevailed upon him to boot it up. I actually work on remote access software in my day job, called GoToAssist, which I then got my husband to start up on the laptop.  From there I was able to very quickly fix the file and reupload it, then withdraw and delete the bad one, and enter the fixed one in the contest.  Whew!

This came in 85 out of 202 with 87 votes. My favorite entry was this travel map. I also liked these dashboard instruments. There were many, many hot air balloon entries, of which I liked this one best.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Project Runway Season 10, Episode 3

There is a common adage in fashion that when getting dressed up to go out, you should remove one thing before heading out the door - the idea being to prevent over-accessorizing. Alas, the producers did not take this advice and heaped tons of extras on this episode. It's a red carpet gown challenge! It's a teams-of-two challenge! Plus you're designing for a client! And that client is a former Project Runway contestant! And she'll wear it to the Emmys! And the winning designer gets to go with her! Plus it's the Lexus challenge, so each team is assigned a car! And they have to use the color of the car in their dress!

The main takeaway for this episode is that apparently hemming a floor-length gown well is a nigh-impossible task, as nearly every team produces a dress with stiff, wonky, uneven hem skittering around their clients' feet.

Nathan and Sonija must design for Valerie. They are happy to be teamed up, seem to get along fine, and make a pretty, gold-sequined dress, but are deemed merely "safe" rather than making it in the top two.

Mellisa and Dmitry, the two "all-black" designers, are teamed with April, also famous for designing in all-black. They are also very happy to be teamed up and work together, make an interesting, artsy draped silver gown, but are also selected as "safe" in the judging.

Elena and Buffi are quite unhappy to be paired, but seem alright with their assignment to Laura. A large segment of the episode is devoted to their drama. Elena is dismissive of Buffi's skills and tries to do everything herself while leaving Buffi to painstakingly iron pleats into fabric. By the time Tim comes around for his usual visit, they are hopelessly behind, and Tim and Laura's gentle pointing-out of this fact sends Elena into a stress spiral, ending in her storming out of the work room to fume and smoke in solitude. When she comes back she finds a way to sew with the sewing machine angrily, so that it sounds like a buzzsaw. In the end, Elena likes Buffi even less and feels the whole thing is Buffi's fault for not being a good designer and taking too long to make pleats. Buffi ends up thinking it went rather well, on the whole, even though Elena is, and I quote, "a psycho." After all that, their rather stiff pleated translucent-black-over-pink gown is also called "safe."

The team with the next highest amount of screen time is Christopher and Andrea.  They are designing for Anya.  They are initially happy to work together but the collaboration quickly sours as Christopher becomes irritated with Andrea for cutting & sewing her part of the work so slowly. As the deadline nears, her speed seems to only decrease, with a number of setbacks and mistakes. She tries to make self-deprecating comments and jokes, but Christopher takes any non-serious statements as a sign she doesn't take the contest itself seriously and goes even further over the edge. Their brown dress is ultimately extremely basic and boring and lands them in the bottom two. Andrea makes the situation even worse when, in the green room where they all wait before filming the final judging, she remarks that getting eliminated would "probably be a relief, don't you think?" This elicits outrage from everyone else, and they all cry out at the things they have sacrificed to make it on the show.

Ven and Fabio are not thrilled to be teamed up, but they get along well enough to produce a dress for Kenley that gets them in the top two. They are helped by the fact that she already has very specific requirements for the look of the dress, so it's pretty much just a matter of them executing the silhouette she wants, in the navy color of their car, adding pleats that look very much like the geometric lines on the candy dress that won Ven the previous challenge.

Kooan and Gunnar must make a dress for Irina, who hilariously shoots down all of Gunnar's ideas.  Black accents on white? "Don't make me look like a checkerboard!" Hand-beading? "Oh no...don't do that." Kooan gives up on the challenge completely and makes weird, sad faces while Gunnar makes a basic white column dress.  At the final fitting before the runway show, they discover a big bulge of excess fabric over her rear. Irina is extremely dissatisfied that they don't seem sorry enough about this embarrassment.  As they gather it up and sew it down, she says "make sure it's really straight and neat, ok???", and the camera pans down to show them tacking down a lumpy frown, front and center on her rump. Fortunately, the dress has a train/cape, which conceals it. To the surprise of all the contestants, especially Gunnar and Kooan, this effort gets them in the top two.

Finally, Alicia and Raul, who both hate the idea of red carpet wear, are matched up with Mila. They commit early on to a red and black print, which Mila and Tim then heartily disapprove of, so they have no choice but to scrap it. All they can do at that point is produce a very blah black dress with a red belt, that puts them in the bottom two.

Ven is declared the winner, since the dress he made with Fabio is more clearly Ven's aesthetic. Alicia and Raul attempt to close ranks and accept exactly equal blame. This causes an increasingly intense interrogation by the judges, who want them to declare whose design it really was. Well, jeez guys, isn't it a team competition? Is there no other possibility than one designer would get to be a designer, and the other must be demoted to just a dressmaker? In the end, they finally get Alicia to squeak out that Raul made the initial sketches the design was based on, so Raul is eliminated.

Before that elimination, though, Andrea and Christopher continue their falling out in front of the judges, with he claiming that she actually said she didn't want to be in the competition. She denies that's what she said or meant, but later essentially proves him right just a few hours later by sneaking out of the designer's apartment in the middle of the night, thus leaving the competition.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cat Olympics

This week's contest was Olympic-themed, due to the games opening at London just a few days ago. However, we were required to not use any of the official imagery - logos, rings, etc.  This was probably more for our own protection than for aesthetic purposes, given how overly protective the USOC can be of such marks.

When in doubt of where to go, I often turn to cats! I decided it would be fun to have adorable cats depicting of bunch the events. I picked events based just on what I wanted to draw: running, hurdles, fencing, wresting (twice), long jump, weightlifting (twice), tennis, pistol, shotgun, shotput, and gymnastics. For the background I just made small dots of the five colors of the Olympic rings, on a field of light blue.

Cats at the Olympics

I actually lightened up the background a bit after I put it together - a more saturated version of just the background dots is here:

Dots in the Olympic Colors

This came in 65 out of 127, with 84 votes. My favorite entry was the one that came in first, which depicts the events on postage stamps, as if they're being done by a normal pedestrian in London.  The other one showing athletes that I liked was this one, that mimics the style of ancient Greek pottery.  I also liked this geometric design in the olympic colors.