Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Now what?

And then Project Run and Play was over.

And it feels like I have nothing to do.

Of course there are a million things that I should do, but nothing that seems very fun.

Because at times the contest was stressful and frustrating, but mostly it was SO MUCH FUN.

Here is a recap of all six looks I made for each challenge. (you can click on the picture to take you to the post about that look)

I ended up taking third place in the competition, which I am really happy about! I knew at the beginning I wasn't trying to win a prize (nice bonus though :) but that I wanted to make something for each challenge and be able to share it with everyone. Which I was able to do! That was the best part for me.

Some "After the Runway"... if you're interested...
  • I felt like a major underdog when I started the competition. I am not the greatest blogger ever and I believe I had about 12 blog followers to my name (today I have 54 woo woo!). I didn't have sponsors, unless you count Bitsy Bear which is going to foot the bill on this one. I was confident as a designer, but unconfident about the following or support I would get.
  • We found out what all of the challenges were going to be about a month before the actual competition began. This was to help give us a head start so things wouldn't get so hectic. I used that month mainly to brainstorm and think about everything I wanted to do and I got started early on my mermaid skirt. Which was a beast and needed extra time. So every other week I was working in real time. And yes it was a little hectic.
  • The Mermaid Skirt was my fifth design for the circle skirt challenge. This is after I bought fabric for and even started the previous designs.
  • Drew had never hopscotched before.
  • My sister was my sounding board each week and I would usually text her a picture of my clothes and get her advice about styling, photo shoot, etc. The Eco-Princess story and styling was her idea!
  • The Just Peachy pictures by the historic Chevy was my second photo shoot with the dress. The first photo shoot outside my house did not have me excited at all.
  • Drew was sick and running a fever in the Willy Wonka pictures for the movie challenge. My usually spunky model still wanted to take pictures in the dress, but did not want to be excited about it. Understandably. She didn't want to wear the top hat or the gloves. Understandably again. I guess even the best models have their off days.
  • From head to toe I didn't spend a single penny on my Mini Maxi! I woke up on the Monday morning when I saw I had made it to the final challenge and all I knew was that I was going to make a maxi dress. Right before I headed out the door to the fabric store, I decided to look through my fabric closet. I saw the gray and white polka dots and the rest is history.
  • It takes me FOREVER to write a blog post. Seriously forever. I was up to wee hours of night picture editing, typing, re-reading, html-ing, etc. This is why I am not a good blogger!
  • I checked the votes so many times.
  • My favorite look is the Hopscotch Romper.
  • Drew's favorite is, "All of them."
  • And that is what is most important.

So big thank you to my family and friends and everyone who commented or facebook-posted and who supported me! I can't tell you how happy it made me to feel. The contest is over and on to other things!

Just not sure yet what they are... :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mini Maxi

Well this is it! The final challenge of Project Run and Play. I'm so thrilled I made it this far and I'm not exactly sure what I am going to do when it is all over. Maybe clean my house? My time and brain power have been consumed by this contest the last six weeks or so and I have loved all of it!

The final challenge was to show our signature look and it was a great opportunity for me to really think about what my signature style is. I have specific tastes (I know what I like), but I couldn't fit my style into any specific category. So I started thinking about why I create and where my inspiration comes from. I am always inspired by what fashionable women are wearing, even though I am creating for my four-year-old. I usually see something I like in women's fashion and then create a "mini" version for Drew. Hence, my look this week is a Mini Maxi.

Here are my steps for creating mini fashion... (without a pattern)

1. I see something I like. For this look, I own a maxi dress with the same gathered piecing detail at the bottom. I would love to say that all my ideas come from only me, but I don't work that way. I am always inspired by a fabric, a color scheme, a detail that is the starting point. Buying a pattern is a great way to start a creation too of course, but that is not how I ever do it or like to do it.

2. I study that item. When I go clothes shopping by myself (um, when does that happen?) you will see me turning clothes inside out, checking out the seams, and really thinking about how it was all put together. People, this is how I taught myself to sew! By studying the seams in an item you can see how the pieces were put together and what order they were put together in. And if you were desperate you could even rip out all the seams and have the entire pattern right there for you. If you want to take your sewing to the next level, study the clothes that are in your closet.

3. I draw out a pattern. Once you have a basic bodice pattern that you know fits great, you can use this over and over in so many different designs. You can take a top that you know fits well, carefully trace it, and add a seam allowance. Or you can buy this book that changed my life, and taught me all about how to draw out children's patterns. It gives specific mathematical directions, but I wouldn't say it is pattern making "for dummies". I'm kind of a dummy and it took a lot of studying and figuring out for me, but with excellent results.

Also, when drawing out a pattern I make accomodations. Women's fashion doesn't always allow for comfort and easy dressing, which are essential for mini wear. And I always add playful details to keep the look age appropriate. This Mini Maxi showcases my signature pattern style with a very structured look. I like button bands, collars, sleeves, tabs, etc. My dress patterns tend to have a lot of pieces. For easy dressing I also had to add in a side seam zipper.

4. I choose my materials. This part is always fun. I use a lot of solid colors in my designs, but when I am using a print I love geometric stuff like dots, stripes, plaids, and checks. It is also fun to try different materials all together like this cool cutout material I made the little cropped cardi with. That material has been camped out in my closet for a while needing to be used for something great. And now I need that cardi in my size.

5. I sew it together. And the most rewarding part is to see your creation come together. Because I sell a lot of the dresses I make, my creations hav to be perfectly finished. And if I am going to spend all that time on something, I want the craftsmanship to be perfect. Just like it could be sold in a store. Better than being sold in a store. It is even nicer to give it something extra special, something you wouldn't find in a store. To achieve this in my maxi dress I hand embroidered a zig zag pattern of dots in mustard yellow. The possibilities here are endless.

So, are you still with me?...

Because I wanted to go out with a bang for my final week of the competition, there are some great accessories with this look. First is the mustard yellow stretchy knit rosette belt. It is made with elastic and an easy clasp and can be worn with so many things. I made a stretchy bracelet out of wooden beads wound about in yarn. They look like mini yarn balls! I also took an old pair of shoes and transformed them into these amazing summer sandals. The last time Drew wore the old shoes was at the zoo and they left her with two blisters, so it was time for them to go anyway.

See the transformation in a basic picture tutorial...

I made a bias tape for my straps, but ribbon or trim could work too.

And some stand alone pics of my look. Plus a view of their insides...

Now, head over to Project Run and Play and VOTE for your favorite look!

Drew and I are hoping it is the Mini Maxi, although she is a lot more forceful...

And thank you to everyone's support that helped us make it this far in the competition already!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Willy Wonka

This week for Project Run and Play the theme is Let's Go to the Movies!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of Drew's all-time favorite movies (she also loves the new version), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of her favorite books (we are big Roald Dahl fans). Although I love making costumes, I did not want to recreate a look or make a costume from the movie. Rather, I was inspired by Gene Wilder's fabulous get-up and made something every day wearable.

Ms. Willy Wonka got sick the day we planned for the photo shoot. Plus it rained the very hour that I was to start the photo shoot! It never rains in Phoenix. Just like Charlie Bucket, all the odds were stacked against us! So we waited and took these pictures on the very last day possible (yesterday) and she was still not feeling good. She really wanted to take them though and she was a trooper. I'm thinking the huge lollipop had something to do with it. So if Drew dosen't look as ecstatic as she should be for finding a golden ticket, then you know why! We had to make it work.

On to the clothes...

I should begin with the purple sleeveless dress which will probably get worn every day this summer. It is made of a lightweight corduroy and features a sweetheart neckline, two large heart pockets, and button-up sides for easy on and off. It will look great with any shirt underneath (and tights in the winter!), but for this look I mimicked Wonka's floral shirt and bow tie with this vintage purple floral with an assymetrical bow.

The little cropped jacket is my masterpiece. Literally. I searched and searched for a chocolate brown and white buffalo plaid fabric with no luck. If I could go to Mood I know I would have found it. Or if I had time I could have printed my own fabric from Spoonflower. But I didn't and I wouldn't compromise so I painted my own fabric! I used a soft fabric paint that worked wonders. The twill I painted on is still soft, bendable, washable, and ironable.

The work in progress...

And some more pictures of the individual items...

The top hat was a fun accessory to make for the photo shoot. I used this tutorial for the most part. There are not many pictures in the hat because sickie was less than thrilled to wear it and I was not going to push it.

And some insides...

The jacket is lined in chocolate brown...

So please go and VOTE for Willy Wonka! Next week is the final challenge and I need your votes to make it there!

And then go watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory because you know you want to now.

"We are the music makers... and we are the dreamers of dreams!" -Willy Wonka

Friday, May 4, 2012

Just Peachy

Color challenge! This week for Project Run and Play we picked a color and designed an outfit based on that color. This was not easy for me. I love so many colors. If you follow me on Pinterest, I arrange my boards by color for visual inspiration. I initially wanted to pick a rich shade of blue or green. And Drew said at the fabric store, "First look for a pink, and if you don't find a pink, then a purple. And if you don't find a purple, then a yellow." She then rattled off five other colors that would be okay with her. So yes, it was hard for us to narrow down a color!

Another fabric store later and I found this perfect peach color and the world made sense again. Peach is not pink. Peach is fresh and fun. Peach is perfect for spring and summer. Peach is youthful. Peach is a little bit retro. Peach is a fashionable color right now but not so trendy and overdone. Peach, peach, peach!

I use solid colors a lot in my designs. I love me a good pattern, but with solids you can really see the details and structure of the item. In this dress the details are the tuxedo ruffles in front, ruffles along the skirt hem, the perfect collar, and my favorite, the half flutter sleeves. I also played with the circle skirt pattern again and came up with a "mullet skirt" style. You know, short in the front and longer in the back! Because of this shape I knew the inside of the skirt piece would be very visible and I wanted it to be just as beautiful, so I used french seams (the seam is fully enclosed). It made such a strong and pretty finish that I used french seams for the entire dress (see pics below)... no serger for me this week! If you don't have a serger and still want your clothes to look professional, french seams are the only way to go. And they are simple too.

The perfect accessory for this dress is the braided leather belt. And I made it. And it was SO easy. And it took me about 15 minutes. And it cost me only $2. Can you tell I'm proud of that belt? I am. I'm not sure when I'll have another 15 minutes to spare, but when I do I am going to make me one too. I used leather scraps from an upholstery store near my house and a buckle from an old belt I never wear (last week's recycle challenge has stuck with me!). And just to send this outfit over the top I made a little retro pillbox hat with silver eyelets for insert the bobby pins. I really played off the vintage feel of the dress in the photo shoot, but take away the pillbox hat and the historic Chevy and this dress is also modern too.

As usual, I try to show you the details and insides of the dress. See the french seams. If it weren't for the buttons, the insides are so pretty that the dress could almost be reversible. I love how the peach seems a different shade with the green backdrop of my backyard compared to the bright blue truck photo shoot. Colors are interesting.

And another shot of my cutey. This girl has been modeling for me for so long (since she could barely sit) that I don't even have to tell her what to do any more. She knows how to pose alright. She simply gets behind the camera, works her magic, then sticks out her hand to me for payment. This time it was a dum dum sucker... cheap labor, right?

Oh, and don't forget...

Please go and vote over at Project Run and Play! Every week I talk to my husband about whether or not I will go home from this competition and he says, "Go home? As opposed to you being in New York right now in a fierce TV competition?" So obviously I'm already home, but the competition is fierce and I'd love to stay in it!