Not Martha

Fantasy Project Runway Challenge, episode 2: the one with unconventional materials

Tim Gunn in front of a pet supply store

What’s going on here? HP invited me to play along with the current season of Project Runway and sent me a TouchSmart computer to create my own designs. Along with creating designs I decided to write myself into the show. I am not doing well.

The second episode of this season of Project Runway was one of the familiar unconventional materials challenges. This time it was a pet store. I love the shopping scenes for these episodes. I also love how Tim Gunn looks even better with a real world backdrop.

Here is my design:

blue sheath dress with criss crossing leather straps on the open back

And here is how I imagine this came about:

I originally grabbed a huge amount of of colorful rubber and stuffed dog and cat toys thinking I could suspend them, or maybe make a super chic version of Flea’s pants. Or something. My mind was blank. I spent far too much time looking for a decorative domed bird cage to put over my model’s head (they only had square!). In the last moments I grabbed a bunch of leather leashes, some chain and some oversized dog beds because they seemed like safe materials to have. I worked most of the first day trying to arrange the chew toys in a way that looked good but it just wouldn’t work. I started cutting them apart hoping that a solution would present itself. Attaching them to a skirt was too literal, arranging them on a bodice looked to much like brightly colored chest hair. Tim’s analysis was grim. I was out of my mind with worry. Tim gave me advice that was the very opposite of “make it work.” I gave a frantic workroom interview clutching stuffed toys to the sides of my head.

Around 7pm I trashed everything and turned to my dog beds. I didn’t have any time to dye the fabric so I had to go with the dull blue polyester canvas. Great. I talked myself into a simple sheath dress with criss crossing leather leashes in the back. I hoped that decent construction would be enough to keep me in. I also created a fascinator with the feathers from the cat toys and I attached a pull-through chain training collar to a leather clutch I grabbed off the accessories wall and wrapped it around my models wrist a few times. Is it against the rules to permanently alter the accessories? I hope not, I had to poke a huge hole in the corner of the leather to attach the chain.

My model rocked the dress on the runway, but it was obviously a very stiff fabric. The judges thought the look overall was boring, the back detail was interesting but they took off major points for using materials that were so obvious. In the end I just barely managed to stay out of the bottom three and was safe. I didn’t even have to defend my choices and break down onstage to dramatically explain that I had started all over again.

Here is Scott‘s design:

a bulldog dressed in a floral print shirt, a striped mini and with smoky eye makeup, yes really

Use of a live animal was certainly an unconventional material, and the producers loved the drama it created in the workroom and on the runway. (The dog ran straight over to Nina’s legs and left a lipstick smeared lick mark!) Three of the four judges liked a dress made entirely from rawhide for the top spot but Nina liked Scott’s look the best. And since we know that Nina always gets her way when it comes to a standoff in the judging, he won! Twitter was buzzing. Also, he gets immunity for the next challenge.

The end.

(A note: In reality Scott didn’t misunderstand the challenge at all, he watched the episode with me. He had a packed schedule for the weekend and barely managed to find time to make a sketch. Since he was rushed he went with his very first instinct, and rightfully so since he won in my imaginary version of the episode!)

About the episode that happened in reality: I was really impressed with the ways contestants looked at the options. Do you think Anthony’s birdseed dress should have won? I liked it over Olivier’s wood shavings look, but I do understand why the judges liked that one. I also really liked Fallene’s orange aquarium skirt but I agree that paired with the browns it wasn’t shown as well as it could have been.

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· comments [10] · 08-8-2011 · categories:misc ·

links: technology

swissmiss | Make Photoshop Faster.

Does this LED sound funny to you? – Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. All about the candle flicker LED.

Nordstrom Mobile POS at GirlHacker’s Random Log. Oh dear, this could lead to a dangerous amount of spontaneous purchasing.

TIGSource » Recent Good Knytt Stories #3. I’m so very glad levels are still being made, Knytt Stories remains one of my all time favorite games.

I buy macs, despite the premium, but my macbook pro just died and fcpx may signal the end of needing a mac to edit video. Should I not buy a mac? | Ask MetaFilter. Our house has been primarily PC but recently Scott bought a Macbook for the video editing that came with it. I’ll be interested to see if that changes. Right now we’re happy being a mixed house.

swissmiss | Don’t Fear The Internet. Basics for non-web designers.

‘Machinarium’ Heading To iPad Next Month | Touch Arcade. It’s from the makers of Samarost. Few things make me wish I had an iPad, this is one.

· comments [3] · 08-5-2011 · categories:links · technology ·

links: food

Homemade Celery Salt Recipe – 101 Cookbooks. I love celery salt.

Chicken Stuffed Waffles. But they are on a Stick. · Edible Crafts.

Sweet Zucchini Pickles Recipe | Prudent Baby. Yum.

Cucumber Infused Vodka › shutterbean. Yes, please.

Le Tire-Bouchon | David Lebovitz. Which corkscrew is the best? I still use a compact Screwpull because it stores very compactly in our drawer.

Do You Use Fancy Wine Glasses? | Serious Eats: Drinks. A fancy Riedel vs. a very decent everyday glass. I definitely think drinking out of our Reidels was a better experience, but as they’ve broken we have not replaced them. I think it’s time to look into the Schott Zwiesel Tritan glasses.

poppytalk: Sweet Summer: Mexican Corn. I must try corn this way, cheese makes everything better.

Spice Hunting: Piloncillo | Serious Eats.

Inside the Kitchen of the Queen Mary 2 | David Lebovitz. They make everything from scratch. This blows my mind.

Snow Cone Syrup {recipe} | Skip To My Lou.

Steak Salad at Simply Recipes. This is a go-to summer meal for us, though I always forget the kumquats!

So not sweet it’s tart – Our Domicile. Emira makes her own not-too-sweet jam. I usually avoid jam because I find it far too sweet, but I might try making my own after reading this.

The recipe for Elvis’ favorite fried chicken, at Kottke.

Sprinkle Bakes: Homemade Cow Tales.

· comments [3] · 08-4-2011 · categories:food · links ·

Project Runway, HP computers and me and Scott.

Project Runway screencapture

To celebrate their collaboration with Project Runway for season 9 HP invited me to take on a few of the episode challenges, at least in digital sketch form. I’m a huge fan of the show and have watched every single season so I was super happy to be part of this partnership. The lovely people at HP sent me a TouchSmart computer to use for the virtual creations. Project Runway very well might be my version of watching professional sports so this whole thing is sort of overwhelming.

Quick background: I entered college to study costume design where I learned that I really wasn’t that good at it. After college I stumbled into building websites and discovered that being able to pay rent is awfully nice. Somewhere in there I started this site and these days pretty much only use Photoshop to resize the pictures of stuff I’ve made out of meat. Scott, on the other hand, studied actual graphic design before being hired away to work on the web. He continues to design album covers and band posters for his various awesome music projects. He knows how to use Illustrator and send things to fancy print shops.

Which is why when Scott declared he would like to also play along with the Project Runway challenges that I began to feel a bit intimidated. He is so much better at this stuff than I am.

The set up: In the first episode of this season the Project Runway contestants were woken up early, told to grab a sheet off their bed and hustled out of their apartments still in their pajamas. They headed (actually, walked through the streets of New York!) to the workroom where they discovered that their first challenge was to create an outfit from the pajamas they were wearing and the sheet they were carrying. (Is this your new worst nightmare? Because it’s way up there among mine.) Happily for everybody involved they were given scrubs to change in to. They were also given the option of using fabric dyes. Also, scrubs look really comfy.

At this point I paused Tivo and Scott and I agreed we’d have to incorporate what we were wearing at that very moment in to our designs. We were wearing very boring stuff. I had on a white jersey tank top and loose fitting black jersey workout pants from Old Navy (meaning, really, pajama pants). Scott was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans. I wish I’d been wearing something lacy or at least patterned. (Did you see what the winner did using his boxer shorts?)

I also gave myself the rule that once I got started sketching something I wouldn’t be able to back down. It only seemed fair. This might have been folly on my part.

Here is my design:

my first design

Here is how I fantasize, in the style of the Project Project Runway girls, that this would have gone down: I took apart my white tank top at the seams and dyed half fuchsia and the other half a bright green. Both turned out more neon than I intended but I forged ahead. I turned them into a tight fitting top using the black jersey from my pants to create a collar, center stripe and hem. At this point Tim Gunn came around and showed a lot of concern when I admitted I hadn’t thought about what I was going to do for the bottom piece. I freaked out. Since everybody else appeared to be making smaller garments I decided to make a long flowy skirt and dyed bits of my sheet black, pink and green. Tragically the sheet color didn’t match jersey very well so I decided to keep the sheet fabric as far away from the top as possible. I constructed a skirt with vertical black stripes and blocks of color at the bottom.

In the middle of sewing long seams I was called in to give a workroom interview where I shakily admitted to the cameras that I was worried about my idea but it was too late to start over. I was only half finished sewing the skirt just as the end of the night was called. On the way out I contemplated scrapping the skirt altogether and making a mini out of my remaining fabric instead. (Seriously, in real life I went to bed that night giving some real thought to just drawing a different skirt and wondering how much fabric I might have left over if this were, you know, reality.)

It would have looked something like this:

my look with a mini skirt

But the next morning I decided I just didn’t have time and that the mini skirt would be, how to say this? Too Pretty Woman? I had to go with what I had. I spent some precious last minutes uselessly fretting towards the cameras and nearly forgot about accessories. I dramatically grabbed a pair of strappy heels for my model as she was leaving the room.

Here is Scott’s design:

the design from Scott

Scott created a fitted shell from part of the sheet he had dyed gray and appliqued strips of the black t-shirt to create asymmetrical stripes. He dyed the rest of the sheet a melon color, it turned out a bit more muted than he intended but decided to work with it. Lastly he deconstructed his jeans to turn into a cropped jacket with short sleeves. Scott remained fairly calm in the work room and when Tim Gunn came around he had everything ready to show, the jacket wasn’t finished but it was pinned to the form so Tim could see the outfit emerging. Scott worked quietly and the cameramen were unable to even get a shot of him that could later be edited into something that could be interpreted as “looking disdainfully at other people’s work”. During his workroom interview the producers weren’t able to get him to criticize anybody else so none of the footage was used. He worked carefully and had enough time to fit the pants well and finish the seams in the denim nicely. He decided to only accessorize with shoes.

Judging was swift. (We’re still in fantasy mode here, just in case you started reading somewhere in the middle.) I was in the bottom three, Scott was in the top three. My vision and taste level were questioned, I tried to explain that I had run out of time but was reminded that being decisive is part of the competition.

Heidi didn’t absolutely hate the top, Nina had that expression she gets, Michael Kors generously pointed out that I had at least attempted something sweeping, Nina Ricci said something vaguely complementary but ultimately unswaying. I barely managed to stay on until next week and groveled to the judges. I later showed an insincere amount of concern for the loser before Tim Gunn had to come and tell them it was time to leave. Whew. Scott didn’t win but showed pleasant surprise that his first outfit for Project Runway was so well received and heartily congratulated the winner.

The end.

Scott also sent me this, his first idea that he feared might be taking the challenge a bit too literally:

Scott gave me a funny look

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· comments [18] · 08-3-2011 · categories:technology ·

links: travel

Seeking Sweetness in Everyday Life – CakeSpy – Cakewalk: Two Sweet Shops in Ireland.

Alcatraz Night Tour and Gardens at GirlHacker’s Random Log. When we lived in San Francisco we took the night tour and I really loved the extra creep factor. Also, when you emerge from prison itself the whole city is lit up before you.

Where to drink beer in Los Angeles? | Ask MetaFilter.

What should I see/eat/do in New York City this week? | Ask MetaFilter. I’ve got an NYC trip coming up and a lot has changed since I was there last. Lots to see!

Cool Tools: Hipmunk. A flight comparison tool with a simple visual interface.

· comments [5] · 08-2-2011 · categories:links · travel ·

Strawberry Pizza

pizza with strawberries as a topping

This weekend we visited a neighborhood favorite of ours, Flying Squirrel Pizza Company, and one of their specials was this pizza called The Strawberry Alarm: “An experiment that exceeded all expectations! This is soon to be one of our classics. Tomato sauce, mozzarella, Salumi coppa, organic strawberries, Laura Chenel goat cheese, and chopped walnuts. Spicy and sweet and incredible.” It is good, and really interesting. The strawberries add a bit of sweetness, like with fig pizzas. It made me wonder if a strawberry and basil pizza would work out too.

· comments [22] · 08-1-2011 · categories:food ·