Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallow's Eve

This week's theme, in honor of Halloween, was Ghosts. I decided right away that I would use the "wailing souls" pattern I made for the Cthulhu pillow as the base of the design. And to freshen it up for this contest, I reworked it with more detail, using the "haunted" colors from the Synergy group.

Haunts, Ghasts, and Poltergeists

It was fun drawing little skeletons into the wiggly shapes I had already made. I'm pretty pleased with how it came out. It came in 66 out of 276, with 103 votes. My favorite was this paisley interpretation. I also really liked the bats and these toothy ghosts swooping among trees.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What is your quest? To find candy!

This week's contest, ahead of Halloween, was to create a kit for a costume that fits on a yard of fabric. It took me a long time to come up with a compelling idea - what possible costume could I come up with that isn't already available commercially? And if someone is crafty enough to want to sew together a costume, why would they buy one of these on Spoonflower, why wouldn't they just sew one from a pattern?

Having a toddler, I definitely wanted to make a toddler-sized costume. I ran through some of the classic costume ideas of yore - vampire, ghost, cowboy, knight. That last one led me to the idea of heraldry on a shield, and that occurred to me as a fun way of personalization. I could provide the pieces for a plain shield and tabard, and a bunch of different symbols to cut out and put on the shield.

Knight tabard and shield for toddler boy/girl, customizable heraldry, no sewing!

There are a couple of other interesting touches I hoped would add appeal. The tabard is mainly yellow, to be as high visibility as possible. Also, I included pieces to make a neck facing for the tabard, but you can actually make the whole thing without any sewing at all - just cut everything out with pinking shears! And finally, I put all the symbols in the lower left, so if anyone just wants to play with those and not the whole costume, they can get them on a fat quarter (or most of them on the 15" square decal). So I'm quite pleased with how it all came together.

This came in 23 out of 47, with 200 votes - a moderate placement, but within the top ten of most votes of any of my entries. My favorite other costumes were the raven hood and matryoshka doll. I also really liked the feather cape/mask that won.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Project Runway Season 12 Finale Part 2

Now that they've finally pared the field down to four designers, it's time for them to wrap up the final challenge and get to the runway show. (Though in the recap of last week's elimination I noticed a detail I missed before - Justin had 3D printed himself the bowtie he wore on the runway! Awesome!) There's one more trip to Mood to buy easy-care fabrics for the Tide "washable garment" challenge. They will have to swap out one of their ten planned looks to include it.

Dom makes an interesting observation - since she and Bradon didn't have to present three looks to the judges, they haven't gotten any feedback on what they have. Justin and Alexandria, however, can choose to address any criticism. As everyone soldiers on finishing up their collections, we get the first of two L'Oreal product placement segments, as they get the hair consultation. Justin, having gotten negative feedback on the giant mushroom hairdos, comes up with a less crazy iteration of the idea.

And just to continue my apparently all-Justin post, he helps Dom get her heavy unconventional materials dress up on a form. She calls the dress "a nightmare," to which Justin replies "a beautiful nightmare!" "What are you Beyonce?" "Yes!"

Tim comes by to check in on their collections. The editors didn't include any advice, if any, he gave to Bradon, but he has lots of little nitpicks for Dom. He also advises Justin on the length of a dress, and informs Alexandria that Nina thought her t-shirts were "dumb," and that if she doesn't at least appear to have listened to that feedback, the judges will find a way to retaliate. Real talk!

The next day, the last one in the workroom, we get the second product placement segment, since it's time for the makeup consultation. Bradon is running back and forth and back and forth, fraying first Alexandria's nerves and finally everyone's. As the day drags on everyone picks up the pace, and Dom loses her bag of zippers and has to beg one off Alexandria.

The day of the show, the designers make the traditional pre-dawn trip over to the tent to see everything before anyone else arrives. After a few star-eyed moments of contemplation, they all fall to work and start getting their models dressed. Justin takes an early lead in last-minute drama, when one of his models turns out to have broken an ankle, and he has to fit her look on an alternate with a different body type. Then Alexandria surges ahead by harassing the hair and makeup folks with constant tweaks and "being neurotic about every detail," as Dom puts it. Then, in a perfect "Checkov's gun" moment from the editors, Bradon warns all his models and everyone else around to please move their "tea and muffins" away from his garments, less any stains result. So I'm sure no viewer was surprised when, thirty seconds later, he was sponging coffee off of charmeuse. Agh!

And then, finally, we get to the runway. Justin's collection is very much the black, white, and gray tailored style we saw in his three-look preview. His washable look is a pants and vest outfit that strikes me as looking like a civilian outfit from Star Trek: The Next Generation (in a good way).  Dom's collection has a ton of prints, of course, with lots of purple. It looked like the judges were laughing at the visible rear end of her model in her metal finale dress, but in the judging later we hear only praise, so it must have been more joyful and less derisive than it appeared to me.

Alexandria starts her collection off with her unconventional look, the phone book dress that her sewing camp kids helped make. The rest are her variety of neutral separates. Bradon's, on the other hand, is very floral and shiny and full of occasion dressing.

The judges have plenty of praise for Justin - it has ease but still femininity, the 3D-printed accessories are cool and give it cohesion - but Nina thinks there is not enough wow. Bradon's has plenty of wow, but is too disjointed. They like Dom's, except that Zac isn't fond of the swimsuit she sent out. They like that Alexandria started out with the shock of the paper dress, and think the styling is good.

Next, they ask each designer why they should win. Justin, continuing his run as the star of the episode, notes that since he hasn't won a challenge yet, this would be the one to win! Dom feels in her soul that this is her time, Bradon knows this is his new direction after retiring from dancing, and Alexandria has sacrificed so much and worked so hard that she's sure it's her turn.

The judges first eliminate Bradon, then Justin. Then, alas for hardworking Alexandria, Dom is named the winner (as widely predicted). I definitely agree with that decision - her clothes had the best combination of unique point of view plus immediate visible appeal.

Next week - we get the reunion special, back right up to the premiere of the next season of All Stars!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Today is a good day to pie

I didn't post about last week's contest, as I didn't have an entry - alas, it was only open to thirteen- to nineteen-year-olds. This week, the theme was pie. Pie is such a staple of the kitchen-crafts design world that, despite having a deep personal appreciation for pie, I struggled to come up with any possible fresh take on the subject. I was sure (and was proved right) that there would be plenty of lovely representations of assortments of pies. I went down the path of deconstruction, and thought about doing something with a recipe, or just the ingredients. A step further down that path, and I went with the plants that the ingredients are harvested from. And as far as picking which flavor of pie, since there's a synergy theme of "apple," that was easy enough.

So the design contains the flowers of apples, sugarcane, nutmeg, and cinnamon, plus sheaves of wheat. Also, the outlines of the hexagons are done in a wavy shape that's supposed to resemble mammary cells, to represent milk.

I aspire to pie-ness (blossoms of apple, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and wheat)

This came in 109 out of 236, with 47 votes. Along with the designs I linked above, I also liked the simple blueberry pie lattice, stargazy, and fruit tarts. For the obvious puns, there were some "pi" entries, but none I liked all that much - though there are some in the synergy group, like this; and of course pie charts.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Project Runway Season 12 Finale Part 1

In preparation for the final show, the final five designers are dispatched home and given six weeks to create ten looks for a Spring runway. One of the ten looks must use "unconventional materials," which seems to have been the theme of the season. Dom and Bradon will definitely get to show what they make, but Alexandria, Helen, and Justin are still on probation - though the judges have been deliberately vague about whether two or only one of them will get to be in the finals.

In any case, we get to have the "Tim Gunn home visits" partway through the six week period. With Dom, he is treated to a patio brunch in Philadelphia, and he urges her to go for the knit substrate for her Blade Runner retro futurism custom prints. Bradon, in LA, was inspired by crocuses pushing through the snow, and Tim gets to go to the beach with his dog. Cute! A bit further north, and even cuter, Alexandria takes Tim to the "Camp Couture" sewing room she runs for kids, where they've made caricature dolls of most of the Season 12 cast! For her collection, she's going for a neo-punk, modern nomad feel, and has already made around 30 pieces.

Helen, in New Jersey, has keyed in on capes and a print based on her boyfriend's iris as ways to convey her theme of "clairvoyance." And finally, after a meal in a very bright and busy dining room with Justin's family, we get to see how Justin is making use of a 3D printer for his looks. He is inspired by his own journey of being deaf for 18 years, and then adjusting to his cochlear implant.

Once the six weeks are up, everyone is summoned back to the workroom. They all suddenly turn into the world's least-subtle rubberneckers as they all try to peek at each other's clothes coming out of the garment bags while concealing as much of their own as they can. Finally Dom breaks the ice by running over to see Helen's. They all seem to like Justin's and think Helen is being overconfident. Bradon thinks that Alexandria's bounty of separates is in fact not an advantage - that too much choice is going to mess her up.

We get a confusing and jarring little interlude when a PR person for Tide (the detergent) comes in and tells them that the final challenge for the finalists will be to create one more look that is actually machine washable. So more on that next episode, I guess. The finalists will be chosen in the usual manner - the three probationary designers will pick three looks to show the judges.

When Tim comes back to check on this effort, he is shot mostly from his right side, as he had an unfortunate accident in the subway and has a busted lip and four stitches in his forehead. Yowch! He advises Alexandria to not put a bra top under one of her sheer looks, as it would mess up the proportions. Justin gets lots of little tips about construction and pressing details. Similarly for Helen - she's been focusing on the whole collection instead of her three chosen looks, so she's also behind on finishing touches. He also doesn't like a loincloth shape she has in some of her skirts, which she is reluctant to remove since she put a lot of work into it.

Alexandria considers this a sign that Helen doesn't have enough critical distance from her own designs, and still has a student mentality. For her part, Helen thinks that Alexandria's collection just looks raggedly and is not seasonally appropriate for Spring. Tim gets choked up as he leaves. Dom ends up helping Helen with some bias tape finishes, and Bradon helps Justin get his model laced into his unconventional materials look - a gown covered all over with little plastic test tubes.

Other than that test tube dress (which I would love to know what it sounds like being worn), Justin also sends out an all-white look of pants, shirt, and jacket, and a black dress splattered with white paint - and some unfortunately mushroomy bowl-cut hairstyles on the models. Alexandria sends out three looks of her mix of separates, but rather overpowering punky, feathery styling. Helen sends out a short navy blue dress with an oddly suspended handkerchief hem, a red cape dress, and a dress with a self cape in that eye print. Her styling mistake is chokers - made from each model's own hair.

Zac characterizes Justin's three looks as "chic" (the white), "too much" (the dress) and "wow" (the test tube gown). The judges like the 3D printed neck pieces as well. Heidi wants all of Alexandria's clothes, but Nina thinks the lack of color may make it "not show-worthy." Helen's is praised as "minimal yet feminine," but Heidi notes that the models look sad. They ask the girl in the blue dress if she can move her arms, and in response she flails around (only from the elbows down) in the funniest moment of the episode.

It's pretty clear from the judging that Helen is not going to make it. Indeed, she is out, and the other two are in.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Project Runway Season 12 Episode 12

Project Runway is down to the final five, and this week's challenge is to be the last elimination before the final shows at Fashion Week. Heidi compares this to a "sausage dangling right in front of your nose - or is it a carrot?" So the editors spend all episode throwing out possible leads as to who is going to fall short fail by overreaching (Justin has never won a challenge!) or by lack of urgency (Bradon doesn't sketch before the trip to Mood!) or by collapsing under stress (Alexandria makes a tearful call home!)

The challenge this time is to be inspired by butterflies, for which they get to spend a little time in a butterfly house to observe many species of them together. We are treated to an adorable shot of Justin watching a butterfly, unaware another one is perched on his hat.  It's also another product placement challenge - this time, the makeup one, so we get plenty of screentime of the consulting makeup artists painting the models' faces and nails. And on top of butterflies and makeup, their looks should be avant-garde. Since it's the last time they have to use their prepaid cards, the designers all go wild at Mood and spend around $1000 apiece on many, many different expensive fabrics.

Most of the first working day is spent in making black velvet piping (by Justin) and white silk "noodles" (by Bradon). When Tim visits, he urges Dom to not be timid in her print combinations, Alexandria to leave the extra flaps along the side seam unfinished, and Justin to use a less inexpensive fabric. He likes where Bradon is going, but doesn't get the noodles. As Bradon tries different noodle placements out, however, Tim starts believing in it. Helen's look, however, Tim is having none of. Helen has her usual crying breakdown, resulting in an awesome pep talk from Tim - he literally stands in front of her, clapping, yelling "Come to! Right now! Rally! Rally!" Dom also has to continue to try to buoy her along, as does Helen's own model.

The next day, they come to the workroom to find all of the losing looks from each previous challenge lined up. It turns out they'll get one more day to work, but have to make a second look - a transformation of one of these losers. It's a completely separate challenge though - it doesn't have to "go" with the avant-garde look, nor does it need to fulfill the constraints of the original challenge (like being for a "modern Southern woman" or whatever). From what I saw, they don't get another trip to Mood, but it also looks like - and if they mentioned this explicitly I missed it - they also get any leftover fabric that was bought by the eliminated designer for that look.

Anyhow, Dom chooses to redo Jeremy's red blazer and print dress from the Belk challenge, since the colors are good. Alexandria is tackling Miranda's red plaid pants from the shoe episode, since she really wants to remake those pants. Bradon takes a risk by taking on Sue's "unconventional materials" placemat dress. Helen selects Kate's gown from the last challenge. And finally, in a teary moment, Justin picks his own look, for which he would have been eliminated in the glamping challenge had Tim Gunn not used his save.

Work continues, and then we got the inevitable long montage of makeup sequences, so I blacked out a little bit. On to the runway!

Dom's avant-garde look, inspired by the cross-breeding of the captive butterflies, mixes multiple exuberant prints in a full-skirted jacket over a jumpsuit. Helen doesn't feel so great about her orange gown with diagonal rows of raw-edged chiffon. Alexandria's is like a messier goth version of that. Justin's outfit has an A-line black jacket over his white dress shaped with waves and swooshes of piping all over. Bradon's all-white look is also swooshy all over, with the addition of the "noodles" accenting the movement.

For the reinvention looks, Dom changed the blazer into a vest, the dress into a top, and added a black skirt. Alexandria made the plaid pants fit like a glove, with leather accents, and provided a new top and painted vest. Helen turned the dress into essentially the same cut as she did last time - super high-waisted skirt, cutoff shirt. Justin makes his foamy failure into a very serviceable cocktail dress. Bradon reimagines his chosen garment in the same silhouette, but (faux?) leather instead of placemats, with the placemats contained to just a half-peplum.

The judges respond well to both of Justin's looks. Nina crows that his avant-garde is his best work all season. Similarly for Dom's output - and they're even more blown away when the model takes the coat off, and reveals the jumpsuit underneath. Bradon also gets praise overall, especially for the fact that his avant-garde look is interesting from all angles.

The reaction is more mixed for the other two. For Helen, Heidi likes the gown but not the reworked look, but the rest of the judges feel the opposite. The orange gown is compared to "a carrot in a grater." They don't have much to say about Alexandria's gown, but they feel that though her new plaid pants are "smoking hot," the styling pushes the overall look too far into "punk costume" territory. Zac says that neither of her looks were transporting.

Now we get the inevitable lineup where they ask each designer which other two designers they think should go to fashion week. Justin and Helen both pick Bradon and Dom. Dom picks Helen and Justin. Bradon and Alexandria pick Justin and Dom. So everyone picked Dom and nobody picked Alexandria - a fact Nina points to when deliberating who to eliminate, even though Heidi is trying to save her.

Bradon is named the winner! Dom is also through to the finals. That leaves the last three. The judges end up with a hung jury - EVERYONE will go though, nobody is eliminated today, all five get to create collections, and only just before the final runway show (and another challenge) will they decide for really-real.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Constellation confirmation

This week's design theme was "constellations," so I reused the "star" colors and pattern from last week but in a different way and a different scale. Each star actually contains a gradient between two of the light colors (gray, white, yellow, blue, lavender), in groups of five or six stars each. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this one looks printed out.

Shimmering colors and shapes in your peripheral vision

This came in exactly 100th out of 211 with 89 votes. There were many, many takes on straightforward maps of the night sky which ranged from abstract to representational to somewhere in between. Diamonds (as in twinkle, twinkle) came up in a few, and I liked this one best (a fellow Synergy/Star entry to boot!). My favorite entry overall was the whales - think how neat that'd be as pajamas. Also unique were the QR codes - each one actually points to an astronomy website.