Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Challenge #4: ‘Hats off to You’ FIN

A little more than 12 hours later, I am done. How do I feel? Wiped. Good. Wish I had a bigger budget and 2 hours more time. Would I do it again? Yes.

When I started sketching this morning I knew I wanted to create something Tim Burton-esque, dark, brooding but with a hint of whimsy. Oh yes, I typed it, WHIMSY.

I hit the fabric store with $75 and a pretty good idea of the color palate I was going for: acrid green, sallow yellow, moonless sky navy, oil slick green/brown, and dark as my soul black. While I was fabric shopping I picked up some fabric markers to create my own pattern, since all of my fabrics were solid.

I started to tackle the cape first, which was really the only thing I sketched that came out the way I had originally planned, with one exception, I wasn’t able to get any leather. My budget was so small (I believe the Project Runway contestants received $200 on this challenge) I couldn’t afford a medium to heavy weight leather. Instead I had to buy a thin polyester version, which doesn't have the drape or weight I was looking for, but one gets the idea of my design. I cut leaf/feather shapes out of the fabric using an Exacto knife. I was hoping to give a wink and a nod to the feathers in the hat, as well as give some nice movement in the garment, also a wink and a nod to the hat. Wow, I have been winking and nodding all day.

Now on to the dress. Oh wait, in the sketch it was a dress. What happened? I’ll tell you what happened. I made a dress and did not like the fit. I knew I wanted the bottom half of the dress to look like a modern 1950’s skirt, with lots of fullness and swing. The dress ended up looked like a sausage that was left on the grill too long and the middle exploded, which I don’t care how smoking your body is, it isn't flattering!

What did I do? I ate the exploded sausage and ripped the dress apart. Since I spent so much time making the print on the bottom portion of the dress, I ba-blammed it into a skirt, complete with horsehair braid to fill out and shape the hemline. I love the print I made, and would rock this skirt, you know why? Because it has pockets!!!

By the time I was done with the re-design I only had an hour left and whipped out this cute little tank. All together I think it is pretty successful, and would wear really well with the ‘Winged Toque’ hat. Picture this outfit with platform shoes, white lacy ankle socks in a wickedly-cool photo shoot… what? You don’t have a good imagination? Well guess what? We are going to make this photo shoot happen for you.


Oh wait… before I forget… was I successful? Did I end up in the bottom 3? Did I sneak by in the middle of the group? Or, gasp, did I win this challenge?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Challenge #4 “Hat’s Off to You”

The challenge starts now!! These are my parameters:

Sketch for 15 minutes
Shop for ½ hour with a $75 budget
Design a garment using the hat provided as inspiration
12 hours of sewing time
Before I run off and start sketching I want to give a bit of information about my inspiration piece, Pinkham Millinery’s ‘Winged Toque’. A toque is a hat with a very narrow brim, or can be brimless. These types of hats were very popular in France and in Europe throughout the 13th to the 16th century.

(side profile)

Dayna Pinkham, the milliner behind this exquisite piece, found this vintage wing and knew she had to show it off in its full glory. She mounted the wing to the toque using a wire, so the wing doesn’t touch the hat at all, but bobs and sways as the wearer walks, making the hat give the appearance of taking flight.

The wing, thought to be upwards of a 150 years old, has been pieced together using many different types of bird feathers and is a myriad of colors, although my photograph doesn’t do it justice. Blue, teal, black, grey, brown, white, silver, cream, tan, green is just the start of the list. Vintage netting pulls the moody look together, dramatically shadowing the face all the way to the chin.

This hat is dark, brooding, moody, handsome, romantic….Did she place it upon my head? YES!!! Did I want to take it off? NO!

I love hats. I love beautiful things, and this beautiful hat I could only dream of having in my repertoire. For more information on this hat, or any of the other hats in her studio go to www.pinkhammillinery.com

Noon I will start, Midnight the needle stops. Are you in?

Monday, August 23, 2010

One down, 78 to go

Last night we cut into the first pie of my ‘Retro Pies: A Collection of Celebrated Family Recipes’ challenge. And boy oh boy was it a doozie!

#78: Three-Alarm Chocolate Pie wasn’t hard to make, it just had a lot of steps and took a good 2 hours to complete, which is crazy since there is only 12 minutes of baking. There was multiple whipping steps (egg whites and cream) multiple folding steps (egg whites and cream), stove top time, chilling time, grating chocolate time… and in the end it was a beautiful looking Diner pie. And guess what?!? I didn’t take a picture.

I followed the recipe right down to the amount of semisweet chocolate you grate on the top of the pie, since a part of the challenge is to follow the recipe, which I have a hard time doing in my life recipe!

If I were to make this again, which I am sure will be requested in the future, I would make a few adjustments. More chocolate in the crust, or a crust made of cookies, and I would definitely flavor the whipped cream.

So 12 lucky pie faces answered my post-pie 5 questions, and here is a sample of their answers.

1. What is your favorite pie?
Chocolate, Pumpkin, Banana Cream, Apple x 4, Lemon Meringue, Cherry, Blackberry, Mixed Berry, Sheppard’s

2. Rate the Pie (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest): 3.99 was the average score.

3. What was the most successful part of the pie?
Texture, Consistency, All about the crust, The filling, Filling as silky as a virgin’s vagina.

4. What was the least successful part of the pie?
Plain crust, Not Sweet enough, Not a fan of the crust, Density: Wanted it more Dense YO!, Whipped Cream, Wished there was more Whipped Cream.

5. Would you eat it again?
Yes x 5, Hells Yes x 2, Fuck Yes x 2, Every Day, Fo Sho & Does Dolly Parton have a bad back?

All in all, pretty successful! Next time I must take a picture.

Manny chooses my next pie…. I wonder what it will be….

Sunday, August 22, 2010

PIE & HATS... both for your face!

In honor of a best gals' birthday, I am baking my first recipe from 'Retro Pies: A Collection of Celebrated Family Recipes' today.

[I blogged about it last month, baking my way through the 79 pies in this book over the course of the rest of the year (and probably beyond), and sharing my experience (and pies if you are lucky)].

I asked her what her favorite pie was, hoping she would choose #11 (Mystic Seaport Clam Pie) or #30 (Deep South Peanut Butter Pie) or even #57 (Virginia REAL Whiskey Apple Pie- she loves to hit the Whiskey!). But alas, she went Berry and Chocolate. I'm not feeling very inspired by baking a berry pie, so I am going CHOCOLATE!!

#78: Three-Alarm Chocolate Pie

The filling includes:
- instant coffee
- eggs
- unsweetened chocolate
- semi sweet chocolate
- sugar
- whipping cream

This is only 6 of the pies 15 ingredients! The author notes: 'this pie is very rich and well worth the work.' YES!!

I will have a little note card for people to fill out if they want to participate in the feedback for my pie cook-off challenge. I think questions will include:

1. What is your favorite pie?
2. 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, how would you rate this pie?
3. What was the most successful part of this pie?
4. W hat was the least successful?
5. Would you eat this pie again?

These questions might evolve over time, but for now K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid)!
Let me know what pie questions you might have!

NOW, down to the next order of buisness. I NEED A HAT!!!! And not just any ol hat, a fancy, pantsy, daring, elegant hat to base my next Project Runway Challenge after. I will probably sew Wednesday and Thursday... so I will need a hat before then. Any suggestions? Any hats ya'll?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Speed bump!

I just finished watching Project Runway Challenge #4: 'Hats off to you,' and I have run into a snag.

So far the last three challenges I have be able to modify quite easily, but this one is going to take some work. I need a hat, and yes, I can go and buy a hat, but that would take the surprise element out of the challenge.

Who's got a hat stash? A fabulous, wonderful hat stash? If you do, I need your help. If you don't I have these options:

- Go to a Vintage shop and have an owner choose one
-Find a hat shop that will let me take one out on loan

I can't tackle this challenge until tuesday, maybe even wednesday of next week...
Let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Project Runway Challenge #3: FIN

Party Store Challenge: Was it a party?

I think not. I enjoyed getting outside of my comfort zone, but wouldn’t choose to work with these materials unless it was Halloween, because even without trying, it looks like a costume. I also wasn’t too keen on using a glue gun. Glue gun boogers are the pits.

My inspiration was Katy Perry going to a Valentines Day party at Liza Minnelli’s house.

I suppose my inspiration was quite costume-y to begin with, choosing a woman who dresses sexy and slightly outlandish with out being too Lady Gaga, so I shouldn’t beat myself up about the garment looking like a costume, even though Nina Garcia would say it. I can hear her voice now:

‘It is cute and girly… (pause, pause, pause) but it is a little costume-y. However, (pause, pause, pause) the style lines are lovely and very reminiscent of a heart, which goes with your inspiration.’

Would Katy Perry wear it? Hells yes.
Would normal Nancy? No.
Am I happy with the outcome? Hells yes!

Let’s get into the details. For this dress I used balloons, plastic plates, tickets, napkins, streamers and a touch of tablecloth, and by a touch I mean about 12 x 2 inches. I built an interior bustier structure for the bust section out of plastic plates, having them act as boning. What is boning? Boning, which used to be made of bone, hence its name, is now constructed out of plastic or coiled wire. Boning is strategically placed in garments to provide gravity defying structure. Boning is most often found in bustiers and in strapless formal wear to keep the boobies up, but it is not limited to these garments. Many couture designers use it in hems, style lines, sleeves, etc. to create very dramatic lines.

For the outside of the garment I then used the plastic plates again to create very dramatic and modern lines around the bust, filling in the free spaces with peacock-like tickets. The further and further progress I made the more and more the tickets looked like feathers, and aesthetic I really enjoy. For added flare I created a fringed effect on the bottom of the dress with napkins, tablecloth and a touch of streamer for some sparkle.

What I like: the matte tickets, the structured top of the dress, the color palate, the whimsy of it all.

What I don’t care for: the costume aspect of the garment, the lack of something to make it pop, and my (pause, pause, pause) accessory. I said it. I know ya’ll were thinking it.

Part of the challenge was to create an accessory. Did I, yes, don’t you see that magnificent yellow star ring? Is this accessory a cop-out? YES. I waited to the last minute to come up with something. And by last minute, I mean I had 10 minutes left on my count down timer.

Would I be kicked off Project Runway for my garment? I doubt it.
Would I be in the bottom 3 for my lack of effort on an accessory? Possibly.

The real question is, when it comes to dressing, who do you most relate to?
a) Lady Gaga
b) Katy Perry
c) Normal Nancy

And would you wear this dress?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sorry Ya'll

You know that saying “When life gives you lemons…” Well, sometimes life hands you lemons and there is no fucking way you have the spirit or energy to make lemonade in a timely fashion and that is what has happened to me.

There are three things that I hate:
1. Death
2. Ugg Boots
3. Heat*

Well this past 4 days has handed me two of the three, and I wish one of them was Ugg boots. The worst of which was the unexpected death of my dear beloved Timmy cat, a sewing companion that I probably have cursed more then praised in the studio. (He had a penchant for getting into my thread)!

Due to the problems above I have been on a time delay that will end tomorrow morning starting at 11am. I will have 5 more hours to finish my Project Runway Challenge #3, and I think I will channel Timmy for this one. He is such a party guy!

So sorry about the wait, fucking life lemons got in the way, and you can never prepare yourself for fucking life lemons. Nuff said.

*And yes, there are more then three things that bug the shit out of me… sample list:
1. Death
2. Heat
3. Ugg boots
4. Flip flops as formal wear
5. Muffin tops
6. Dead fish handshakes
7. Muffin boob tops
8. Scented Candles at a dinner party
9. Mayonnaise
10. Waiting in line

(these are just some of the top few… feel free to add your own).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Project Runway Challenge #3: It’s a Party

Well, in true Project Runway fashion, I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I am only on my first cup of tea, and don’t really feel like having a party… But as Tim Gunn says, I am going to have to make it work.

This challenge should be a gag once I get down to hooters, streamers, bells and whistles, for it starts at a Party Store. Here are the details of the challenge:

30 minutes to shop at a Party Store
$100 budget ( I will only be spending $75)
Full day to sew
Muslin fabric can be used as a base for the dress
Glue Guns/ Spray Paint/ Staples all OK
Surprise Bonus Challenge ½ way through the day

As soon as I found out it was a Party Store Challenge I knew where I was going to go to get supplies: Lippman Co. Party Store in the SE Portland waterfront area (http://www.lippmancompany.com/). Lippman’s has been around since 1948 and is THE party store of my youth.

(They used to be housed about a ½ of a mile away on Grand when I was growing up, right in that area where they are doing all of that road construction. A former boss of mine got a traffic ticket there, he used ‘Where the old Lippman Co. used to be” as a point of reference to his ticket.)

Lippman Co. opens at 9 so I need to get moving. I grab a cup of joe on the way out, but might not need one, since their staff is so hipster-hot I can get energized just by looking at them! (Am I right people, who was with me there last?)

Once I get home the clock starts. 12 hours. At some point a dear friend needs to drop off a bag of Party crap for me to make an accessory out of to wear with the garment.

Am I starting to get excited: YES!
Am I Miss Teenage Sparkle Party: YES!

Do I have an idea for what kind of party a lady would wear this dress to? YES!
Think “Katy Perry goes to a holiday party at Liza Minnelli’s house” and the holiday is VALENTINE’s DAY!!

Sparkle love bring it on!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Couple of things...

First off, I am not wearing any pants. HA pants manufacturers!
Secondly, Minute Rice sucks!

But these two things are not why I am blogging.

With less than 8 hours until my next challenge episode I need to get prepared. I am currently working on a dress to wear to a wedding, as well as a vest and tie for my lover so he doesn’t end up looking like a bum while we slow dance to Sade. I will post photos once the garments are complete. So I need to clean my studio to get prepared.

After every project, what started as a clean, creative space looks like a garbage piƱata exploded in my 10 x 12 space… so I need to tidy up before tomorrow.

But this topic isn’t the reason why I am blogging.

My neighbor needs to burn her closet. She just left her house in white denim sausage casings! Friends, if something is a little snug go a size up please! You won’t lose those pesky 5 lbs, but if you go a size up it will look like you did! And ladies, help your friends, let them know if something is too tight, or too slutty, or too mom jeans, they will thank you for it.

That is all dear friends. My PSA for the day.

Ok, so here are some pictures of the dress muslin I am working on. There are two different ways to pattern a garment. There is flat patterning, where a pattern is created by using and modifying a pattern block, called a sloper. Slopers are made using body measurements, such as bust, waist and shoulder measurements.

The other way to create a pattern is to drape one. This requires a dress form (a soft mannequin you can pin into) and fabric, generally muslin, which is inexpensive. By pinning and manipulating the fabric on the dress form, you can create a garment to then pattern. I do both, but really love draping. I feel like the fabric starts speaking to me, and even if I go into the process with a garment in mind, after draping it in muslin, instead of flat patterning, I create something 10 times as good.
I went into this dress thinking about paper airplanes. The dress fabric is really geometric… but you will just have to wait and see. I just hope the details don’t get lost in the fabric…

You’ll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We have a PROBLEM

No need to freak out, but HSN (Home Shopping Network) has a 'Singer Sewing Hour'. Shit. I don't need a new machine... but this one is so cool.... It comes with 18 feet, 13 built in button holes, welt cording foot, sequin foot... $499.... RETAIL over $1000....

I don't need this.

If I am going to get a new machine, it is going to be an industrial or a coverstitch machine.

DAMN you HSN!!

Friday, August 06, 2010

A little over 10 hours and I am done! Tired. Stiff. Proud. This is how I feel after this challenge, and I know ya’ll have been waiting, so let’s jump into the sewing pool!

This morning I went to pick up a Marie Claire, and realized I have been spelling it wrong. I don’t know if I have really looked at Marie Claire. I get Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and US weekly, so Marie Claire was new to me. I had a half hour to sketch and look over the magazine.

First off, Mary-Kate Olson is on the cover, which threw me for a loop, because she dresses like a crazy person most of the time; a crazy person with one hell of a wardrobe. What she has going on in her style is the same thing Marie Claire has in their magazine, take your 5 favorite pieces and put them on at the same time and voila!!!! You’re ready to hit the town! All of the spreads in the September issue are all about mixing decades, prints, weights, colors, prints, crazy and grandma. I am pretty into it, being a Goodwill shopper myself.

I did some sketching while flipping through the magazine and felt pretty pumped when I hit Fabric Depot with my $75 budget…that was until I realized Fabric Depot had NOTHING on sale. (For those of you that shop there, you know the horror of having to pay 100% retail, when usually all of their stock is between 20%-40% off). I knew I wanted to make a structured vest and an airy dress, mixing and matching styles with a rock-n-roll edge. I had my fabric cut and paid for well before my half hour shopping limit was up, but that is only due to the fact that I know that fabric store like the back of my hand.

HOME. Whipped out the muslin to drape my vest pattern, because I had a strong vision of how I wanted the vest to look. My Mom stopped by and read Marie Claire while I worked for a bit, I love my Mom, but I was glad to see her go, she really slowed me down, which made me think:
“Working with a bunch of designers in the room, chatting, joking, asking for advice must slow them down, not to mention they haven’t worked in the studio before, nor do they know Mood Fabric really well….” I had an advantage.
Vest. Done. BAM! Try that on ladies and gents. It fits perfectly into my vest vision. It has Rock-N-Roll, it has structured tailoring with touches of raw fraying for the ‘I’m not trying too hard’ look. I am really happy with it. But all designers should be really happy with their garments.
Dress time. Shit. What did I pick out? The vest was made from wool (one of my favorite textiles to work with, which is renewable), and the fabric I got for my dress was also environmentally friendly: Bamboo knit and Lyocell (also called Tencel). Both fabrics feel like butter and drape really nicely, which is what I wanted for my ‘light and airy no fuss’ dress.
But I was stuck. My energy was drained. My mind hit a brick wall and I stared at my dress form for at least an hour, draping the fabric this way, then doing it that way, making tea, letting the dogs out, finding new music to get my flow back… but…. Stuck. DAMN!

Here is the dress. Easy. Light and carefree. But DAMN! I wish I had gone army green and tangerine not baby mauve pink and tangerine. I think the dress would look much less sweet and more dirty Mary-Kate if it were army green and tangerine… but oh well… you only get a half hour for shopping, so if this is my only qualm, I am pretty happy about the outcome.
The challenge was to make an outfit for the Marie Claire woman, whom they describe as: Intelligent, Practical, Fashion Forward and Sexy. You be the judge. Did I tackle this Challenge, or would I end up in the bottom three?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Project Runway Challenge #2: Larger than Life

Just finished watching Episode #2 (go Portland, by the way), and am geared up for tomorrow's challenge.

Here are the parameters:

Design a outfit for the Marie Clare Woman: Intelligent, Practical, Fashion Forward & Sexy
30 minutes to sketch
$150 fabric budget
30 minutes to shop
Full day of sewing time

I am changing things a bit to fit my world. I will do all of the above, changing the budget to $75 (we are broke ya'll) and confining my "One day of sewing time" to 12 hours, since they really don't tell you how long a "One Day" time limit really is.

On the episode they got up at 6am, there is filming time, finding out about the challenge, getting to the shopping site, etc... I bet they start at noon sewing and I know they finish at midnight. So tomorrow morning I shall awake, hit up the store for a Marie Clare, go home and sketch for 1/2 hour, hit up fabric depot at 9 when they open and then work from 10am till 10pm.

Wish me luck ya'll!

Pie, for your face!

I know I don't have time for another challenge, but I think I can slowly make my way through this one.

A couple of years ago my friend Carrie got me the book 'Retro Pies: A Collection of Celebrated Family recipes' by Linda Everett. Carrie knows that baking has never been my strong suit, except when it comes to pies, and although I bake about 5-6 pies a year, I have never baked a pie from this book. Well that is about to change!

I harvested apples from my tree today, and pulled out the book for some inspiration, but none of the apple pies look as good as my old standby, but what really caught my eye were the savory pies!

  • Mystic Seaport Clam Pie (Connecticut)
  • Oysterville's Pride (Oysterville, Washington)
  • Steak and Kidney Pie
  • Alaskan Tundra Partridge Pie
  • Wintery Favorite Onion Pie
  • Colonial Chicken Pie
  • Old Arkansas Boiled Egg Pie
  • Creole Pork Pie
  • Southwest Tamale Pie

And then there are the crazy desert pies:

  • Green Tomato Pie (No, really this calls for 1 1/2 cups sugar)
  • Heartland Butterscotch Pie
  • Three-Alarm Chocolate Pie
  • Grange Apple-Custard Pie
  • Pineapple Cream Pie
  • Webster County Vinegar Pie
  • Deep South Peanut Butter Pie

These are just a few that look amazing AND WIERD!!!

So I am going to cook them all. Even the really strange ones and envite my friends and family over to eat them, rate them and have some good ol family fun!

Who's in?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Air it OUT

I love being able to connect to friends and family through blogging, facebook and my website… HOWEVER, going through all the hoops, bells and internet service problems DRIVES ME CRAZY!

Having to resize photos, fill out numerous tabs and tables, only to have them erase!!! ARGH. I have flashbacks of term-papers being erased, or dropping a perfect pie, or…

That’s all.