Hey friends! I just landed in home in New York, and I have SO MUCH to tell you about American Sewing Expo. In fact, it probably won't fit in one post. So let's start with the event that brought me to the expo: the contest! As I mentioned last week, I was one of the finalists in the Passion for Fashion competition, a live Project Runway-style challenge. Thursday night we met at the expo center and picked our models in random numerical order. I was 9th out of 12, but still got an incredible model named Samia. Little did I know exactly how perfect she would be for my creation. (See what I did there? Foreshadowing!)
Friday morning we arrived early at the show and received our challenge from Janet Pray, president of ASE and all-around awesome lady. It was very reality TV: we walked into a room with movie posters hanging all around the walls. The challenge? Pick a movie poster and design an ensemble inspired by the movie, a character in it, or the poster itself. There were lots of great choices: Breakfast at Tiffany's, Alice in Wonderland, Casablanca. But I knew which one I had to have:
here!). Readers, I had to have it. Luckily I was 4th to pick (in reverse order from model selection) and got it easily. (I later found out that no one else wanted it anyway!)
We got to work on sketching. I immediately thought of Frida's body cast--she was in a horrific bus accident in her teens, which resulted in massive injuries (including a broken spinal column) and necessitated 35 surgeries over the course of her life to correct. She began painting while she was bed-ridden, and later would paint her body casts, using a mirror to help her.
After sketching, we were given $100 to shop for supplies on the expo floor. Here I am picking out some felted wool rayon at Crawford Designs. I also bought fabric at Haberman and Sew Batik, and a couple gorgeous trims from Soutache.
Anyway, long story short, here's the outfit I made over the course of the challenge:
The skirt is batik, as Frida loved folk art. There's horsehair in the hem (of course!) and border-print ruffles peeking out from below. The capelet is in a saffron-colored felted wool/rayon, and it elongated Samia's neck in the way Frida's portraits often did (you can check out some portraits here if you're interested. My favorite is "Broken Column."). The final touch was a bright rose-red silk ribbon which was twisted through Samia's hair.
I draped all three garment patterns, which felt like a big accomplishment. We had to sew everything over Friday and Saturday (in the middle of the expo floor, no less), ending at 3pm to get ready for the big runway show.
We were interviewed by the judges first (one of them was Suede from Project Runway Season 5), and it was hard. I was nervous.
We followed that up with the runway show, where we got to talk about our inspiration for the garments. Samia looked stunning. After all the garments were presented, they announced the top six and I made it! We were interviewed by the judges and some audience members while onstage (I felt like I was in a pageant). We made our way backstage while the judges deliberated.
We came back out and the winners were announced, starting with third place. It was me! Hurrah! I won a Babylock Melody sewing machine.
Here are the winning garments. The center is First Place (inspired by Alice in Wonderland) and on the right is Second Place (inspired by 101 Dalmatians).
Overall, it was a fantastic experience. Everyone was super nice (no reality show back-stabbing) and it got me thinking outside of my usual design choices. The sewing wasn't as stressful as I anticipated; the hard part was the designing. I think I'll have more to write about that later--as well as my recap of the expo itself, of course. I have the garments home with me, so I can show you more construction details if you're interested. Just don't ask to see how the ruffles are attached--that was the one time crunch! (Don't worry, it's not glue or staples.) It's just not very pretty . . . and of course everyone at the reception afterwards wanted to flip up her hem and inspect it. Oy. Anyway, more to come!