Saturday, August 19, 2017

The First Runway - Spoilers

Thursday night was the first walk down the runway for the designers and models of Season 16's Project Runway. The task assigned was to design a Red Carpet look for an awards show that would allow each designer to showcase their individual, personal style. It was a one-day challenge - nothing like throwing the designers into the deep end from the starting gun. As mentioned in yesterday's post, the models ranged in size from 2-22, reflecting the pool of real women who purchase and wear fashion every day. There were a lot of "safe" designs, but there were, as usual, three good and three bad looks that came under scrutiny and critique. Here are those six designs, presented in alphabetic designer order.


The grey and red wasn't horrible, but those flowers! And
Bastani had added them in a straight run down from
the center back down past the model's butt. What was it
hiding? Apparently a hole in the back seam! 

Bastani has a magnificent and strong sense of personal design, but she fell short with this dress. When the model was questioned, she said that the floral appliques hadn't been on the design when she first tried the dress on. Additionally, the back detail down the center back seam across the buttocks was extremely unflattering, almost looking like a poorly attached tail. Heidi asked Bastami if the flowers had been put in that array to hide something but she denied it. Upon closer inspection, however, a hole in the seam where the stitching had separated made Bastini's lie quite clear and Heidi was less than pleased.

Brandon's outfit was a wonderful mix of formal and
sportswear, right on the fringe of the current trend
of formal athletic wear. The sleeve details and edging
on the skirt were discussed with positive notes
by the judges. The color was stunning on Liris. 

Brandon was designing the second women's wear design in his life when he got paired with Liris. Communication, an understanding of current fashion trends, and a strong sense of understanding a woman's curves, allowed him to design a wonderful, edgy outfit that was well received by both his model and the judges.

ChaCha's dress - the glittery tent, wasn't the favorite
of neither the judges nor his model. When I first saw it
walking down the Runway, all I could think of
was  Leoncavallo's "Pagliachi". All his
model needed was whiteface makeup and she
could have appeared on stage at the Metropolitan Opera. 

ChaCha is a unique designer from Taipei, Taiwan, with a childlike wonder and joy with the colors, shapes and possibilities of the world. His playful demeanor showed hints of a sweet design. When questioned, his model said that ChaCha said he had wanted to accentuate her body. But the dress looked like a tent and had strong clown-like tendencies, hiding the model's body under the fabric. Do people still like clowns? Although some people surely do, the judges were unimpressed by the dress, the fabric and the ruffled circus collar that dipped low in the back.

Using a print is often a death stroke for any Project
Runway designer, but Deyonte draped, cut and
stitched the print perfectly, creating a design that
complimented his model's figure. It was a stunning
triumph of floral placement which framed the model's
body and continued downward on the sides. 

Deyonte missed the birth of his son to heed the call from the producers of Project Runway, but it was obvious in his design that he not only understands the female body, but that he can celebrate it. Although he used a large print, often the death knell of a design, his draping and cutting techniques pulled the print together into a large flower with petals falling down the sides of the model. Tim Gunn usually snorts at prints, but he nodded at this one, and the judges loved it too.

Kenya - wow. Just wow. Look at what this girl managed
to pull off in a one-day challenge. And she added pockets
in the gown, one of the best design decisions, EVER.
If she had used a firmer fabric, she might well have
won this challenge. She's a force behind the sewing
machine and the dressmaker's form. 

Kenya pulled together a fully boned, fitted, pleated and hemmed mermaid gown in white for the Oscars Red Carpet. Her corset was perfect, but her fabric choice was poor, proving to be too lightweight to hold the bustier in perfect position for the entire runway walk and examination. Time constraints for the one-day challenge had precluded her adding a lining to the corset, which could have been beneficial to the structural integrity. Still, the mermaid gown was very impressive and exquisitely finished. Her model looked like a movie star.

Shawn - what was she thinking? The top was actually
cute, with that backward sleeve behind on the left, and
the long draping sleeve on the right. But the shorts
looked like a locker room throwaway, despite their
being made from leather. The styling was really poorly
thought out too. This model wasn't dressed for success. 

Finally, Shawn, one of the twins accepted into PR Season 16, looked a bit too laid back for any red carpet. The top was actually really nice - draped well with an unusual sleeve. She paired the white flowing top with a pair of glitzy shorts that really looked as if they might belong in a high-end gym. The shorts were made from leather, which was a small saving grace, but it wasn't enough to pull the outfit up from the bottom.

So, there you have the six - three on the top and three on the bottom. Did you guess who won and who went home? Here are your results. Winning the challenge was Deyonte with a well-deserved win for that wonderful print dress. The runners up were Brandon and Kenya. On the losing side were Batani, ChaCha and Shawn, and yes, it was the happiness and stuffed animal king himself - ChaCha - who was sent packing. His eviction reminded me of the first designer to be sent home in Season 15 - the guy I nicknamed the "My Little Pony" designer. ChaCha was a sweet guy, but his skills definitely were not at the level needed to win Project Runway. Goodbye little man-child.

So, as I head out to the pool, I'm wishing all of you a wonderful weekend. I'm already looking forward to next week's episode - the Unconventional Materials challenge which will take place at a recycling facility. Enjoy your weekend and make it work!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Dryer Vent Hoses and a Project Runway Intro

Project Runway Season 16 began in earnest last night. Most of this post will concern the show, and I'll post the winning and losing looks for you tomorrow. First - mice and venting pipes. *sigh*

The procedure for dryer vent hose installation is simple on paper (or
in photos) but the angles we have to deal with are wicked hard and
we are using a better quality of hose, so the joins are a bit harder but
the total hose is more durable. 

DH caught another mouse yesterday which led him on a serious search to discover how they were getting into the house. One place we've had trouble in the past has been the clothes dryer vent, so he checked the exterior and everything seemed fine. But when he grabbed my flashlight to check the interior connections of the vent hose, it appeared that the hose had been separated from the connection point. It took him SIX HOURS of serious work and trips to two different home supply companies to get appropriate parts to get the vent hose put back correctly and each joint sealed appropriately. Then, when I got home, I got a "check these five places every month" lecture and had to level the dryer once more. I'm hoping that the washer is level. It seemed to be when we checked it, but the real test will come with the first load. What a mess!

Now ... on to the Runway. As I said, I'll post winning and losing looks tomorrow, but here's a basic rundown of the structure for the show this season. Tim has been pushing for the show to feature models that reflect the real life audience of the show for years. Heidi finally listened and this season they are trying to become more inclusive of the broader audience in all ways, opening up to models ranging in size from 0-22. Most of the designers were fine with this, but there were a few who had no idea how to handle the curves of a larger woman.

Heidi and Tim introduced the designers to their new models when 
they were welcoming the designers to this season's show. The models 
have a variety of body types and sizes. It will be a challenge, but 
a really good change for the show. Bravo to Heidi and Tim for this change.

We've seen this problem in prior seasons when they had the "real woman" episode of the designers making clothing for volunteer strangers in the park, or even their own relatives. The "real woman" challenges always seemed to push the designers hard and some horrific items were designed. This season has the potential to be a difficult one for the designers because they'll have to think out of the box from the start.

Liris Crosse, one of the larger models, is a professional runway
model for IPM Model MGMT in New York. She's been on Project
Runway before as one of the runway models for Ashley Nell
Tipton,s final PR show in 2015. To find out more about Liris,
follow this link

I'm finding myself applauding the decision to use a wide range of model sizes. Women come in a variety of shapes and sizes and to push the designers into a size 0-2 box has always seemed rather blind to me. It will be one more aspect of designing to test their skills this season, and I'm all in favor of it.

Here, Brandon works with Liris. Brandon has designed men's wear
almost exclusively, with this outfit being only the second women's
wear item he's ever designed. How did he do? Catch tomorrow's
post for the six top and bottom looks. 

Have an excellent Friday. I'll be purchasing my State Fair tickets on the way to the shop this morning. Fall is almost here, but I'm going to live up the remainder of the summer in style with corn dogs and crowds. I can hardly wait! LOL.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Computers, Trees and Rocks

I left the gym yesterday morning to find a text from my Computer Guru telling me to bring DH's computer to him around 7:30 am. That was do-able, so when I got home I unconnected the CPU, loaded it into my car, and headed north. Traffic going away from the Cities in the early morning is always lighter than the parking lot for the return trip, so I wasn't worried about being late getting out to Dale's. In fact, I had time to grab a quick cup of coffee before continuing to his home.

This is Georgie, a beautiful cat who let me scritch, stroke and
give him lots of love for almost 20 minutes yesterday morning at
Dale's place. He's a feral, but appears at their door every
morning to take his R&R in their home. Isn't he gorgeous? 

While Dale was wrestling with the ON/OFF switch (and it wasn't the easiest fix we've ever dealt with), I met a member of his family I hadn't had the chance to meet nose to paw before. The photo is of Georgie, a beautiful feral cat who has decided that staying somewhere safe for lazy days and then going out to hunt for the nights is the height of happiness. Dale did get him fixed, and checked over by the Veterinarian, but Georgie is fine - great even - and I had him purring and drooling from lap love in no time. It's funny, but I didn't have any allergies to him. I know I don't always feel terrible with cats, though. Sometimes it's the cumulative exposure that's my trigger. Anyway, I had to share this beautiful boy with all of my cat-loving friends out there.

It took more than an hour for Dale and I working in concert to get that darned switch fixed and reset, so we glued it into place so that nothing will move it out of place again. It was small, it was extremely tight-fitting, and it finally required a LOT of push with very non-computer-use tools to get it reset correctly. But it's fixed now, and once again Dale didn't even charge me. We just had fun chatting about the cat, life in general, and how really annoying the switch's setting truly was.

The tree has two cables actually running through it, making
an already problematic take-down even more difficult.
The wooden post at the far right is the power pole, and
the tree is barely outside of the minimum 10-foot from
the pole rule for the tree removal equipment and the
safety of the workers. It's a bear of a job and I'll be
happy if it all comes off as planned. 

John, from Monster Tree, was on time, took a long and careful look at the tree and gave me a quote that I think was a bit high, but I still paid him the down-payment and went with it. We need the tree down before the landscapers come, and he can sandwich it into his schedule and get it done for us. So, one more thing on the schedule taken care of. I won't breathe easy until it is down, though. Things could still go wrong with this tree.

The paver stones for the patio area are quite pretty. By this time I'm
not sure exactly which of the three colors we decided on, but it really
doesn't matter. The old patio was falling apart and looked horrible.
Almost anything will be a vast improvement. 

DH will be ordering the paver stones for the patio either today or tomorrow. One of the local hardware stores has them on sale, and since we need 6 palettes worth of stones, it will work into a considerable savings. The only question will come down to "When can they be delivered?" That question will be followed by a hope that the truck will be able to put them where we want them. If not, DH will once again be transporting wheelbarrows full of stone to a temporary holding space. So many things have to click into place, it's rather nerve wracking. Last year everything depended on us - our schedule, our muscles, our vision. This year we've done all we can and now it's in the hands of others. If anyone drops the ball, it could cause an avalanche.

I'm really looking forward to my swimming today, and getting back to my normal schedule. We're already looking forward to the first weekend of Ren Fest upcoming, and once we're back on the Fest grounds, we'll know that summer is truly coming to an end. Enjoy your Thursday!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Very Crowded Day!

It's a busy day for me today, and it just got busier *sigh*. Interspersed with my usual "day off" errands and laundry and housecleaning, come three other things that must be worked on - well, maybe four things.

Monster Tree did fine for us last year when we had them take down
five trees for us. This time we only need one taken down, but it's
a bit tricky and we have a tight time schedule. I'm hoping they can
sandwich it in to another job and that it won't cost us six arms
and a leg to get done. 

(1) I have a 10:00 am meeting with John, my tree guy, for a quote to remove that one tree we need gone before the landscaping begins. This is IMPORTANT and a meeting that I cannot miss.

The On/Off switch for DH's computer is broken. I'm sure it's
not much of a repair, but it's an important one. 

(2) DH's computer ON/OFF switch is broken. There is no resistance when the button is depressed, it's like stroking a ghost. I left a text message for my Computer Guru last night, but haven't heard back from him yet. I'm hoping to dash up there around 7:00 am to get a quick fix and then dash back again in time to open the store and then meet with John. That schedule may not be possible, but I'm hoping.

I really need to give the bathroom walls
a good scrub in the bathroom that Sharon
uses most often. It's just surface dirt and
dust, but could use a good scrub. 

(3) I have to begin a serious housecleaning for Sharon's visit. I keep a clean house, and I can do things like vacuum closer to the date when she arrives, but I wanted to scrub down her bathroom and wash the small rug that I have in there, I also wanted to start a serious clean of the guest bedroom which usually ends up as a storeroom for us during the year.

I'm not sure if you can see the shimmer in the paper, but I have paper
similar to this for this year's holiday cards. The shimmer card stock
and envelopes is really subtle but fun, it may be challenging to
get my designs to fuse with the paper, though. I need to experiment. 

(4) I got my order of paper goods for my holiday cards and I really want to try a couple of experiments to see if my visions will actually work on the type of card stock I purchased. If it won't, I'll have to order something else and push this paper aside for a year while I think of how best to use it. The trial isn't something that will take a super long time, but an hour in a crowded day can be a hard thing to pull together.

Then there are the usual things - getting gas (quite urgent), grocery shopping, cooking, four loads of laundry, my weekly convo with Aearwen, and I have to finalize how many State Fair tickets I actually need to buy. I'll buy those on Thursday or Friday morning on my way home from swimming. Geez! I'm exhausted just looking at this stupid list. Day off? Yeah. Right! Hope all of you have a more relaxing Wednesday than I'll be having! LOL.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summer is Ending - Oh No!

It's mid-August and my cardstock for this year's Holiday Cards arrived yesterday at the shop. I'll be unpacking that today to make sure everything I need is in the box, then doing some tests on Wednesday on a single piece. I'm trying a few different techniques and products this year with no guarantee that what I just purchased will actually work for the final product. Experimentation is the name of the game!

The trucks bearing the Might Midway rides are starting to gather. I
was behind one as it turned into the street bordering the Fairgrounds
last night. It's starting soon! I'd better get my pre-purchase tickets
bought tomorrow. 

I saw the first trucks bearing components for the Midway rides at the Minnesota State Fair driving toward the Fairgrounds yesterday. OMG, the summer is coming to an end so quickly! Now is the time when I want to grab it by the shirttails and pull, holding it back from moving along. I know I can't manage that feat, but it doesn't stop my wanting it.

I love the colors of Autumn, those warm reds and oranges, splashed
with the last few brave greens. 

It's not that I don't love autumn. The colors of the fall leaves and the foods of the harvest make me very happy indeed. It's more that autumn is followed by winter; and although it has beauty in its silence, winter is still my least favorite season. Yet here I am, planning to begin executing this year's holiday card, so I guess winter is on my mind after all.

There are a variety of designers and levels of talent for this
season's cast. The lady in the back with the blue hair is Samantha
Rei from Minneapolis, the lady in the back, third from the left,
is Kenya Freeman from Atlanta, and we have a set of
twins this time who are very talented, Claire and Shawn
Buitendorp from Grand Ledge, Michigan. 

I didn't remember to mention that I watched Project Runway Season 16 Designer Preview last Thursday night. It looks like there will be some very interesting designers and personalities on the show for this season. The actual competition kicks off on Thursday night, so set your recorders or your alarm clocks. Fashion will once again stalk the Runway.

Claire Buitendorp loves to work in leather and has
a really edgy style. I loved this jacket of hers.
To see the closets of the designers, just follow
the link to the photos page for the show. 

One thing I love is that this season their models will range from size 0 to size 22, pushing the designers to prove that they can design for any type of body. Additionally, there are several designers accepted who design menswear or androgynous, unisex clothing. It will be very interesting to see how they do.

There are some skilled designers who will be challenging the Runway this season, but the question comes down to managing to design and produce a finished outfit under pressure. The time pressures for this show are immense. A jacket that took a week to sew at home, now has to be complete within a few hours, along with a skirt and top. It's never easy, but it's always fun - LOL. Enjoy your Tuesday, I'm getting into gear for a busy day (I'm being an optimist today).

Monday, August 14, 2017

Time is Speeding By

Time keeps on moving and the clock is not really our friend. This week I'll meet with the tree removal people on Wednesday morning. We need one tree taken down to ground level before the landscapers begin grading on September 18th. You'll recall the tree, I'm sure - it's the one with the guy wires growing through it. After talking with the utility company about their cable, we've determined that the various companies will probably be fine with our burying the bottoms of their cables. So we're not going to move them (at a ridiculous cost), but instead we'll remove the tree and bury the bottoms of the cables. That'll be good enough.

Time is flowing too quickly. I need to abandon clocks
and keep time by experiences, loves and good times. 

DH spent Friday and Saturday doing a serious cut-back of two bushes that would impede the entrance of the landscaping equipment. That meant a quick trip to the yard waste recycling yesterday morning, and his chain saw waiting in my car, ready to take to the store for either a new blade or sharpening later today on my way to work.

This clock tower is located in an abandoned railway. It's
lovely architecture and I find the way the hands are
suspended from a central shaft quite fascinating. 

After we got the outdoor work completed, the skies opened up and we had rain on and off until now with some wonderful hard rain, thunder and lightning surrounding the witching hour of midnight. It cooled things off beautifully, making for some really lovely sleeping weather.

One of my favorite regular characters at the MN Renaissance Festival
is one of the Scots - this one, in particular. I don't know how many
years he's been there. We've been attending since the 1970's and many
cast members have been at Fest for decades. He's an excellent
character, his outfit is classic and authentic, and his brogue is to
die for! 

Renaissance Festival begins this coming weekend with Highland Fling. The Scottish Games and kilt competition is always a good time. Apparently the Long Bow competition will be on the following week, so I'm hoping our schedule will allow us to attend that as well. I always love watching it, although it's usually very hot and the sun is beastly. If I remember my parasol, I'm just fine.

It looks as though the weekend when Sharon and Chickie
will join us at the Fest will be International Bazaar
weekend with lots of belly dancing. Find your sashes
and scarves, girlfriends! We'll shake it and make
those coins jingle. 

It's going to be a good time in any case. The end of summer is now upon us. The Renaissance Festival is beginning, the State Fair is not far behind, and then Labor Day and we're suddenly fully into the autumn season. Time is flowing past us so quickly! Have a wonderful Monday. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Memories, Old Friends and Facebook

Yesterday was a rush to the past for me, and I had so much fun with it. It started in the early morning with a long-time Facebook friend putting out a post for an old group I belonged to to check in - to speak out and think about the community we once had. Before you know it, many of us had posted, reminisced, commented on the posts of others, remembered those who were no longer with us, and generally joined a rather good-sized parade walking down memory lane.

The topic snowballed. People were contacted by other friends and joined
into the conversation. It was rather amazing as the day progressed. So many
old friends and good memories. 

It was so much fun when we first got together. It was the early days of the internet - one step above the old bulletin boards, but far below the multiple social network posting options we have available to us today. These were the days when there was no massive money machine behind "Bead & Button" magazine. These were the days when "" and their beadwork section was read by thousands of us every week, everyone downloading the latest pattern and asking questions about stitching and finishing techniques. These were the early days of AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy. This was the group that I joined in 1996.

Most of us actually joined earlier than Version 5.0. I think
I joined in 1996, and 5.0 came out in 1999. As annoying as
AOL might be (and might still be in some respects), it
managed to accomplish something revolutionary and beat out
its competition over the decades. 

AOL was king in those days - sending downloadable disks into everyone's mailboxes and saturating the portal market. The competition crumpled under AOL's onslaught of advertising and their depth of news and communities. One of those communities was in their crafting section - a beaders community that chatted every day, shared tips and techniques, arranged for exchange boxes and bead swaps, and started an annual beading challenge to raise money for cancer research.

We gathered together, the AOL Beaders, at the Tucson Gem Show, the early stages of Embellishment/Bead & Button Show, and others. We rented extra rooms at the hotels for a beading room and met there after classes were finished for the day to bead, chat, and interact. Firm friendships were formed that still exist today. Yesterday, on Facebook, we joined together once more, this time in cyberspace. It was wonderful!

I'm not fond of Facebook, but I do check in every few days. Yesterday I
was checking in often, just to talk with old friends, and I ran into another
old friend on a completely different board. I haven't had so much fun
with social media in a long time. I wish it could always be like that. 

Noises were made about possibly starting a FB group just for us - those who had been together in the early days of the craft, before it had been blown apart by big business and people running after the immortal dollar sign. It might happen or it might not. Even if a new group is formed, I don't think it will have the same magic. The friends, though ... yeah. I'd join just to be in touch with my Beady Buddies one more time.

Have an awesome weekend. I'll be swimming in the 50-meter pool today, then off to work. I want my weekend, so I'm just patiently waiting for the close of business tonight (or maybe NOT so patiently). Be back on Monday *throws kisses out into cyberspace*.