The Cosby Show: For the East Upper Village Bohemian Socialite Side!

This outfit is dedicated to four of my new fans, the Mandarin Martinis!  It's out there, it's strange, it's HALF A JACKET! It's ART!

This past week's challenge (yes, I'm a little behind because of the Faire last weekend) was to design outfits based on different areas of New York.  I haven't had the opportunity yet to walk around the city, but I do remember in one episode of the Cosby Show, Denise taught Vanessa the appropriate way to dress in the East Village.  You dress in clothes that you steal from your father's closet!

This avant garde outfit is a combination of Vanessa's plaid suit (East Village) that she borrowed from Cliff, and the voluminous over-one-shoulder wrap that dancing Claire (Upper East Side) wears in the opening sequence of Season 3.  The result is this totally unusual mesh of Vanessa's youtfulness (and her Hair), Claire's sophistication, and Denise's artsy/strange taste.  I love it, I don't care if everyone else hates it!  You don't see stuff like this every day!

Renaissance Season Has Begun

Hello, All!

This past weekend marked the beginning of the Renaissance dress-up season for me with the Faire in Palm Springs, so I will have to see if I will be able to catch up on my ProJRun challenge before the next episode appears.  You know I live for those things.

For those of you that would like to see the collection of Renaissance costumes, good and bad,  please remember that you can always follow the link to my Renaissance Channel to see them!

The Brady Bunch: Emo Jan in Yellow?! That's Crazy, I tell you!!!

Ah, Jan.  Misfit, moody, unhappy Jan.  Who else could play her other than Raine?

I must say that I am SO glad that I didn't go with my first (safe) idea of putting Jan in bellbottoms and tight blouse.  Yes, it would have looked pretty good, but would have matched the yellow pants outfit I recall from one episode that inspired this color scheme.  Besides, I've made them before.

Jan was never my favorite character on The Brady Bunch (was she anybody's?), although she did get quite pretty in the last season.  I am, however, intrigued by the legend of Fake Jan.  Remember her?  She's the girl who replaced Jan for the eight-episode first and only season of The Brady Bunch Hour.  She even has her own website! Awesome!  From her site, I learned how she tucked her bangs under her long hair to make her look more like Eve Plumb, a technique I then employed to Raine's wig!

I figured that if Jan were a teenager in high school today, she would be kind of an emo kid, and the emo girls (which is different than goth) that I see walking home from the school near my place seem to favor clothing that looks like a combination of clothes that they have had since they were twelve (like tight pants, usually black jeans, that make their legs and hips look very skinny) and gender unspecific pieces (like curve-hiding baggy torsos worn over skinny armed long-sleeved tees). 

So my made Emo Jan have tight yellow pants that Kick Ass.  I am so impressed with these pants because they fit so well.  I think I finally solidified my strategy for pocket placement.  I also made a loose open-fronted jacket that is not made to close.  For any of you tailors out there who know what the following means: if you move the bust points closer to the center than where they naturally fall on the model, the top will automatically hang open in the front.  For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about:  Ha, Ha!  I'm smarter than yoU!

Do Not Like!

I got an inspiration to make a bodice that looked like a hot air balloon.  It ended up looking like Trina had really big boobs that were abnormally high... Even the mock-up looked better than this!

But I had already used some of my special Vintage fabric to make it, so I tapered down the fullness by making crescent shaped pintucks and made a TOTAL throwaway skirt.  The outcome is something that I think looks like a project that a teenager from the 60's would have made for a home-sewing lesson.  Humph!  To be filed in the Phail archives!

Elemental Challenge: The Air Goddess Brings nothing but goodness and light

I know I could regret sharing this, but ever since I was in my early twenties,  I've had this fantasy that in some alternate universe, I  am part of a pop supergroup phenomenon called "Elementals," with each member representing a different element.  Water is a sexy black girl, Earth is a buzz-cut skater, Air is a blonde soprano, Fire is a Latino guy, and I am Lightning.  The whole world loves us and every song we sing is an instant hit.  Everybody asks each other, "Which Element are you?" just like people used to ask "Who's your favorite Spice Girl?"

So, therefore, this challenge was cool and dear to my brain.

This week, the challenge was to design a garment inspired by one of the elements.  No other direction was given, so a lot of the designers went intentionally FAR out of the box and created colorless dresses out of black and grey.... Why?

For those that have been following me for a while, you know that I already have made a Sea Goddess dress, so I thought it necessary to create am Air Goddess dress that actually was flowy and colorful and...airy!  

No offense to Trina and my other girls, but this instance a live, flexible walking runway model would showcase this garment a LOT better!  I just wish that I could take a picture right of how the fabric moves in the wind with arms outstretched and huge strides being taken.  But, that will have to wait, so this set and the will just have to work for now.

I set up three sets of fans to blow on Trina to show flowiness, but since I prefer to use my camera with spotlights rather than with a flash, it was hard to take a picture without the moving parts of the dress becoming blurry, so I took a video to show how it blows in the wind.  The clip only lasts a few seconds (and I know it looks "squished", it's because I rotated the screen in an editing program, and that's just the way it is!).

When I thought of the kind of costumes my Supergroup would wear, this is definitely one that my Air girl would wear in some romantic ballad number with the wind blowing up from stage fans as the crowd hold up lighters and cries because we are all so beautiful.

Okay, now that I've shared this with the world, let the teasing begin...

Hardware store challenge: bidi, bidi, bidi...

This was fun.  This week, the challenge was to use items found in a hardware store to make an outfit.  I wasn't too sure about this one because on the show, they had a budget of $150 to get their materials.  But you  know what?  I went to the hardware and automotive section of two different dollar stores and made this entire outfit from materials that cost altogether Nine Dollars.

Before I get to what the dress is made from (I know you are all dying to know, so now I can be mean and make you wait), I want to mention that I've been waiting for an excuse to make a Twiki outfit for some time now.  I sure am glad I waited until this challenge came up, because I like the way it turned out.  I always liked the Twiki character, although I did restrain myself from going around the house saying, "Bidi Bidi Bidi" as a kid, at least not while anyone was watching.  Maybe I liked him because we were both short.  Maybe I envied his bowl-cut haircut, a style that I was never allowed to have.

Okay, are you ready?  I know this outfit looks like it was made from glittery black fabric and burgundy satin, but it is actually made from silver car windshield shades, black rubber shelf lining, and red cleaning rags from the automotive department!  The earring accessories are mini hex wrench sets (2 for $1!) suspended on keyrings!

(I considered making an accessory representing Dr. Theopolis, which Twiki wore around his neck, but decided it would be too distracting and just hinted at his presence by the rounded closure at the front of the jacket)

I originally thought to make the whole thing out of the silver shades at the risk of a "Tin Man" callout, but when I happened to overlap the shelf liner on top of the shade, I noticed it gave off this cool glitter look!  Amazing!  The added bonus was the shades are backed with a thin sheet of foam.  This made it absolutely perfect for creating those insane shoulders/sleeves without necessitating shoulder pads or stuffing of any kind.  The sleeves stand up all by themselves.

Not to say the whole thing was easy and I will be quick to use material like this in the future for "stand up" features.  My machine hated these shades.  Well, I should say, the presser foot hated it.  The back was rubbery and therefore would not glide under the presser foot at all.  I had to use machine oil (applied with a Q-Tip) to lubricate the top of the material for every single seam.  But, hey, she's supposed to be a robot, so I guess it's appropriate!

The Bionic Woman: Activewear for the Retro Modern Futuristic 70's Partially Mechanical Woman In Us All.

Actually, I've been wanting to make a "Bionic Woman" outfit for a while now (the first version didn't turn out the way I would have liked). I really should point out that this is a "THE Bionic Woman" inspired outfit. The insulting, updated version that aired not too long ago dropped the "THE" in the title, but that is all that I'm going to say about that...

Anyway, the image I recall of Jaime Sommers when thinking of the series is one in which she running in the woods in a kind of jogging suit, and as my friend Mike showed me (who, by the way, is totally buddies with Lindsay Wagner, who is the also the aunt of a girl that was in my 8th grade class), the outfit that I am recalling is most likely the one she is seen wearing in the opening credits. See the running? The woods? The Prell bouncy hair?

I struggled a little about how fitted I wanted to make the top, and in the end, decided to go with just tight enough and a little space-age-y, After all, although I would consider the Bionic Woman a superhero, the TV genre was considered Sci-Fi. I took the horizontal stripes on the original jacket and made curves stripes in blue and black, and made the bodice out of a stretchy cotton jersey. I wanted to make the shoulders a little more heavy to make them look "stronger" so I used what I had left of a stiffer white corduroy.

I considered making a one-sleeved jacket with metal inserts because it was actually only her right arm that was bionic (along with both her legs and one ear), but knew that would be too "artsy" for this outfit, so I went with the more everyday wearable path.

Dynasty: Nouveaux Alexis Carrington

I found this fabric tucked away in my "stretch" collection.  I usually don't do a lot of work with jersey material because I like making things that are a bit more structured as opposed to drapy.  I know it seems strange to not like fabric that by nature molds to the body shape, but I guess all my years of doing period costuming and corsets has made me preferential to fabrics that can stand up by themselves with a body underneath or not!

Anyway, my last many outfits have all been very darted and tailored and form-fitting, so I decided that I wanted to excercise my alternate skills and do a drapy outfit.  Once I discovered this long lost material, I knew I had my Alexis Carrington, and she was going to go on a trip on one of her yachts, and she was going to definitely look bitchy.  Oh, God.  Raine was almost jumping off of her mannequin stand to do this one...

My parents liked watching Dynasty when I was a kid.  I should ask them why, because I never really did. I get kind of jealous/disgusted when I see shows about rich people and their problems, even today.  Regardless, Alexis (as well as Crystal) Carrington still today remain rich-bitch icons and are so fun to recall fighting and slapping each other silly.

Surprisingly, this dress only took about five hours to make from start to finish, much less time than usual.  This is because I wanted to focus all the drapy attention to the just-this-close-to-being-nasty cowl draped back.  The sleeves are attatched to the main bodice, so I did't have to do much work there, and the hemline between the top and the skirt is simply pulled into a metal piece from an 80's belt that I got from a collection of old belts that I bought sight unseen from craigslist.

I ALMOST didn't finish this dress because it was looking a little bit sloppy until I did the finishing stitches!  I took a chance and didn't do a mockup of this garment before cutting into the main fabric because it's not fitted.  So when it was just in the stage of simply the main seams being sewn, it just looked like it was hainging there and messy.  I'm glad I finished and I like the way it turned out!