Sunday, September 29, 2013

Passion for Fashion 2013 (Picture Heavy)

American Sewing Expo, Novi Michigan...
8am Friday morning the challenge was issued: 

Posters to choose from: Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Woodstock, The Beatles, Ziggy Stardust, Bob Marley, Blondie, Nicki Minaj, Jimi Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Elvis, Saturday Night Fever, and Kiss.
I was the 4th to choose, and immediately knew that I wanted Saturday Night Fever.
When I was about 5 or 6, I used to listen to my brother's 8-track of the soundtrack and would dance, dance, dance. The poster and theme of the challenge meant that I could make a flowy, fun dance dress that sparkles, so I was super excited!

Budget: $100
Rules: All supplies (fabrics, trims, embellishments) have to be purchased at the expo. No patterns from home, but some basic patterns may be provided, and you may bring a pattern drafting book.
Deadline: 3pm Saturday (16 hours)
1st place Prize: Baby Lock "Symphony" sewing machine (2nd and 3rd places won different Baby Lock models).
Haberman Fabrics and Vogue Fabrics were the only fabric vendors at the show, and Habermans brought the most amazing "rock and roll" fabrics for the challenge. I immediately eyed a silver/gold ombre knit ($20/yd) and a black "brocade" knit ($10/yd). I also used a small amount of black stretch mesh for part of the bodice ($10/yd).

The silver/gold ombre knit looked like a tissue lame, but had the most wonderful drape with the perfect weight for my dress.  There were a number of patterns provided (to use, but not make exactly), and I grabbed Vogue 8882 (view E) and McCalls 6741 to create my look. I left the waistband off the skirt, used just the bodice of the dress, and altered the neckline to create a sheer halter piece.

With the limited budget, I couldn't do the entire dress in the ombre, nor did I want to. I chose to use the ombre on the sides, with the darker print in the center front and back.  Since the design had to be "fashion forward" (something currently fashionable, not 70s costume), I decided to not made a dress, but separate the two pieces with a bare midriff.  I used Selena Gomez as my inspiration of a current music artist that could be wearing this look. I made up a story about her remixing the greatest hits of the 70s and that she wanted this look to help promote the upcoming release of her album. As silly as it might sound, it really did help me focus on the right design details to keep it current.
After working from 8am until 7pm, I was able to walk away from "Day 1" with my skirt done, and most of my bodice done.  I still needed to tackle the stretch mesh and the embellishment. 
"Day 2" was a shorter and busier day, with sewing from 8am until 3pm, then hair & makeup for the models, judging, photography, and the runway show at 6pm.  Just a little crazy, no big deal...

We were provided with wonderful professional dress forms, with made the process of designing the bodice lines and halter so much easier. Having never worked with stretch mesh before, it was rather stressful, but with time ticking, you have no other choice but to just dive in!

As much as my dress sparkled, I needed it to stand out in a "big way" according to the challenge, so I went on the search for "bling".  I wanted big bling, and lucked out with a vendor selling lots of different sparkles and trims.
I removed all the stones from the backing, and re-applied them to the mesh halter in a random placement.  Our mentor described it as a "shattered disco ball" look, and I loved it.  I used a glue stick to hold them temporarily while I stitched them all in place.  It was about 2 hours of hand-sewing and the most arduous task of the design.

At 1:30 Saturday afternoon, I stepped away from the dress form thrilled with the final product and excited to see it on my model!
I couldn't be happier with the way it all turned out, it fits her well and fits the theme of the challenge, and is such a fun dress to wear and watch move down the runway.  I placed in the top 6 (woo hoo!!!), but feel like I really came away a true winner. There is no disappointment in my heart, nor regret about any of my design choices.  I've accomplished a task that I've had on my "sewing bucket list" for 6 years, and proved to myself that I possess skills that put me in the same group as degreed design students and phenomenal sewing veterans.  I've always said, "No, I'm not a designer," because I can't draft a pattern or sketch my vision, but this competition has left me feeling very proud, happy, and fortunate.  Proud of myself for taking a risk, happy with the resulting dress and compliments I received, and fortunate for being part of a wonderful community of sewing friends. Rhonda Buss was also competing and made the most AMAZING rock and roll bad-ass leather look that would make KISS proud. Job well done, Rhonda! I had a wonderful Friday night with 5 super awesome "internet sewing friends" filled with laughter and sewing talk.  I met and chatted with other sweet ladies that read this blog, and are now counted among my widening circle of "internet sewing friends" that are quickly becoming "real life friends".

I wish I had more pictures of all the other looks made my the other 11 designers, but I'll be honest... I was really just focused on my design. Here are a few from the runway show...
"Nicki Minaj"


"KISS" (3rd Place)

"Jimi Hendrix" (2nd Place)

"The Beatles"

"Elvis" (1st Place)
3 yards of metallic ombre: $60
2 yards of metallic brocade: $20
1/2 yard of stretch mesh: $5
2 yards of black elastic: $2
2 sets of large beveled crystals: $10
1 yard of gold trim (model's hair): $2
Total Spent: $99 (and change)
Having an amazing sewing/designing experience: PRICELESS

*The local news came out and spend most of Friday with us, and aired a short story about the challenge in the early evening. Here's the link to the video, if you're interested.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hurricane Kristine

While I'm waiting for the bridal appliques to arrive, I whipped up a cute A-line dress for myself with Simplicity 1651
 I used bodice B with the flared skirt.  I had 2 yards of the this lovely cotton sateen print from Haberman Fabrics. It appears to be a digital print, and when I saw it all I could think of was Monet.  A friend told me that it reminds her of a hurricane map. Hurricane Kristine, it is!
It has such beautiful shades of blue, purple and green. All I know is that it's very unique and once I saw it, I knew it had to come home with me. This purchase was made just prior to the fabric diet, by the way!

The pattern was great to work with. The instructions were good and the lines are lovely. One of these days I will remember to lengthen the bodice an inch. I swear, I know I should, and then before I know it, the fabric is cut, and I'm like, "Oops. I forgot. Again!?"  I used bias tape to finish the armholes, hand stitched it very discretely inside so the stitches wouldn't show through.
The peek-a-boo hole in the front was a little too "revealing" for me to be comfortable at work... It may not look like it in this pic below, but from a different angle (taller student, or me leaning over), it was pretty open.
So, I used a scrap of left over, and carefully "patched" the hole, and I think it's good. I don't think anyone looked at me today and thought, "Oh, that's supposed to be open."
I put this together pretty quickly, and I just love the fabric. It was so comfortable today, and I think it has a very flattering silhouette. I don't know if I'll make it again for myself, as the bodice is pretty unique, but I would love it in a solid with 3/4 sleeves!

UPDATE: The Chanel jacket is nearly finished! I just need to add the trim to the sleeves. So excited to finally wear one of my NYC fabrics... but, tomorrow's heat index is 104. Seriously. Michigan in September. Unreal.