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PPR Season 12 – Challenge 5

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Well, let’s jump right into it. The challenge this week was called “YOU Chose Your Materials.” It was yet another entry in the frequently utilized “unconventional materials” column this season. I think this is arguably the third such challenge in five episodes. Jeez. Anyway, the challenge was to create a lux, high-end look utilizing materials from three locations: a wallpaper store, a gourmet food store, or a home good store.

We were supposed to utilize two of these three options, but I utilized only one and called it a day. I didn’t feel like running all over town to both the grocery and a (affordable) home good store. And I don’t have any idea where one would even find a wallpaper store these days! So I decided to use two different materials from one type of store instead; I chose the gourmet food store.

Once I had narrowed it down to my store of choice, I began thinking about possible items I could utilize that wouldn’t look weird at the scale of my model. My initial idea was to use pasta in some way to create a look, but it just wasn’t calling to me. For some reason I had the idea of the bulk bins in my head, maybe because there are a variety of color and textures there and I could pick up quite a lot for not too much money. I can’t always track my thought process very well, but I became fixated on the idea of mosaics for this challenge – I have no idea where it came from, it was just there. I had this vision of a mosaic-style bird made out of rice, the grains of rice looking like feathers. Whatever, brain; let’s go with it. So at the local health food store I picked up a variety of grains, beans, and seeds for my mosaic-inspired look.


All of this for a grand total of $2.61 – including the paper bag became…


This! (Zhanna heads down the runway in a strapless, knee-length dress encrusted in grains, beans, and seeds.)

I determined that to really engage with the challenge, the base for my dress would also need to be an unconventional material. Using fabric and then applying the foods would be cheating. So I created the base for the dress out of the paper bag using a technique I learned in elementary school to make it softer and more malleable (crumpling it up and smoothing it out repeatedly.) I then sketched out my general design and began the tedious task of placing my designs. It’s supposed to be a bird (lower left hand side) and vines, leaves, and flowers.

As I had planned, the bird is made out of grains of white and brown rice, as are the white flowers and the stems/vines. The red flowers are adzuki beans with Middle Eastern couscous centers. The leaves are French lentils, the orange accents at the hem and top are red lentils. The overall “background” texture is millet. It’s all held in place by lots of glue.

Creating this look was quite time-consuming, but also in some ways relaxing. For the design elements, every grain or lentil was hand-placed with tweezers (the millet background notwithstanding.) The millet still took some time, but was not a grain-by-grain process. I painted on my glue and then sprinkled the millet over it, pressing it down and shaking off the excess. Needless to say there are a variety of small foodstuffs that I’m sure I will be discovering over the next few weeks throughout my craft room.

In styling this look, I didn’t want to take away from the bright natural colors of this look, while still being luxurious and “red-carpet ready.”


From the Belk wall I chose the ABS by Allen Schwartz Gold Tone Coil Bracelet because I thought the beading reflected the texture of the dress quite nicely. I also added a pair of Steven Ravesh Pumps in Olive Nubuck which matched the green French lentil “leaves” quite nicely. I also highlighted a close-up of the bird portion of the dress.

In terms of hair and makeup, I think the hair would be lovely loose, in softly curled waves. The makeup should use slightly more neutral autumnal tones than I usually utilize to create cohesion. Maybe coppery eye shadow and a medium-dark lipstick, deep in color but with a more orange-y undertone would work.

In general, I’m very happy with how this look turned out. It’s not exactly as I envisioned it, but it’s pretty darn close. I’m thrilled that the materials actually stuck to the dress base, I was envisioning seeds and lentils rolling down the runway, but it’s held up very well so far (Thanks, Tacky Glue!) I think it’s okay that I only used materials from one shop, as I could have gotten the paper bag or a similar material from the other stores, I was just being time- and cost-conscious in only utilizing one shop. I think I might be at the top this episode, but I’m not sure – it’s hard to tell with these judges. I mean, the bottom three were criticized for using placemats; the top three were lauded for using placemats. Would I be congratulated for using the unconventional materials in the way I did, or would I be criticized for using them as an application on the garment? Who knows. Well, I’m happy with it, so there.

And as always, check out the PPR Flickr Page for more great designs.


Project Project Runway 2012: Challenge 5 Runway

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Yay, another runway day! Thursday is my favorite day; the day to share my weekly creation and the day to enjoy on Flickr what my fellow PPR-ers have concocted.

This week’s challenge was entitled Clothes Off Your Back. It entailed finding a muse and refashioning the muse’s garment. For Project Project Runway we were given a couple of options on how to move forward: we could either pick a human-sized muse and use human-sized clothing to refashion a look, or we could choose doll clothing and use that to create our looks.

As I posted earlier this week, I chose to use a doll and her fashion as my muse, as I felt it was a more accurate representation of the show’s challenge. I picked for my muse the wild and bright Nikki:

I was very drawn to her strong sense of style. I loved that everything from her mini-dress, to her sneakers, to her boombox-inspired purse all spoke to the 80’s style revival that has been popular the last few seasons. I also picked up another dress (for free with purchase) in order to have some more fabric to work with, as I knew Nikki’s mini-dress would not yield enough for me to include 50% refashioned fabric in my final look.

My inspiration for my look came from Nikki’s outrageously bright colors and the music-inspired aspects of her accessories. I knew my outfit would have to be skimpy, because the dresses I purchased did not use very much material. I thought it would be fun to create a look totally out of my usual aesthetic, something bright and fun and truly inspired by my muse.

See? Totally crazy! May heads down the runway in a belly-bearing bikini-style top with halter straps (fabric from secondary dress, ribbon from Nikki’s outfit,) a multi-tiered ruffled skirt with glitter accents (fabric from my collection; glitter ribbon and star from Nikki’s dress,) and print leggings (Nikki’s dress fabric.)

Making this outfit really pulled me out of my comfort zone and is much more of a “fantasy” outfit that the kinds of things I usually make. I knew I would have to do something loud and bright when I picked Nikki as my muse, and I think I achieved that.

After I had my photoshoot with Nikki, I began by completely taking apart the garments I had selected. This took a lot longer than I thought it would. Barbie clothes are surprisingly well finished, with double stitched hems and well-affixed trims! (I just realized I should be thanking my lucky stars that nothing was glued!) After I took apart the dresses, I laid all the tiny pieces out in front of me and tried to figure out exactly what I could achieve with the limited material. I actually had thought that Nikki’s dress would make great leggings when I chose her, so I went with that as the majority of my refashioned fabric. Thank goodness there was enough material. I then decided that I should make some sort of skirt to go over it, as that felt more 80’s to me than just leggings (plus I am not a fan of leggings as pants in real life!) The additional dress that I purchased did not yield much fabric at all, as the back of the dress was an awful lavender knit that curled and unraveled like nobody’s business, so I only really had the front panel of the dress to work with. I decided that I could probably make a bandeau top with the limited material I had. The other details I changed quite a bit from my initial conceptualizing of the look. Originally, I planned to make a denim mini-skirt and a bright Letterman style jacket, utilizing trim and details from my muse’s garments. Something kind of inspired by the aesthetic Gwen Stefani used for “Hollaback Girl” or more recently Madonna’s new single “Give Me All Your Luvin'”. But as I was working, it just wasn’t coalescing for me, and the jacket especially seemed like it would ruin the proportion of refashioned material and new material. So I changed my idea and made the ruffly skirt instead out of fabric I already had on-hand from previous Project Project Runway creations. I’m incredibly thrilled with how the skirt turned out. I love how it pulls some of the bright colors from the prints and adds even more intensity to the already over-the-top look. This skirt may be one of my favorite things I’ve ever made for PPR, just because it is so fun and different for me.

To style the look from the Neiman Marcus Accessory Wall, I decided to just “go for it” and continue with the outrageous look. I found the perfect shoes in B Brian Atwood Suede Colorblock Pumps. The colors are spot-on! I also added the Ralph Lauren Suede Wrap Bracelet in Blue, just for fun. Maybe somebody like Katy Perry could wear this out with her signature brightly-colored wigs and makeup; in fact “Katy Perry goes to Rave” is how I have described this look. Being that I am a huge fan of Electronic and Dance music, I have been to shows where this would not look at all out of place. Even though it is so very far away from my usual aesthetic, I am incredibly proud and happy with this look. Wearable? Not for every day, that’s for sure. Classic? Heck no! Chic? Definitely not. But it is certainly fun, and that’s exactly what I was going for and was my muse’s feel. A definite improvement over the mediocrity I felt with last week’s look.

Project Project Runway 2012: Challenge 5 Workroom

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Wow, a workroom post! I don’t do these very often, but this week I thought it would be fun.

This week for Project Project Runway we have been asked to create a look using the clothes off our “muse’s” back. In the finished look, half of the look must be made from the muse’s own clothing, the other half can be made from material purchased from the fabric store. For this challenge, we have been allowed a couple of options: we can use a real person as our muse and use their human-sized clothing as our material, or we can be inspired by a piece of doll’s clothing and use those tiny clothes as our material.

Well, of course I have decided to do the harder option; that is reworking doll clothes into a complete look. So on Friday I headed down to the Target toy aisle to find my “muse.” (That’s where all the big designers get their inspiration, right?) This girl caught my eye, and I knew I wanted her to be my muse:

She’s Barbie’s friend Nikki, and I loved her over-the-top look, from her oversized yellow sunglasses, to her wild neon dress, even her cute little cassette player purse. This girl had a complete look and point-of-view, so I knew I wanted her, and at $11 I couldn’t refuse. Plus, Target was having a sale that with the purchase of this style of doll, an additional outfit came free. So I picked up this outfit, since it seemed to coordinate quite well:

Plus the designers on the show were able to use more clothes than what their muse provided them, and I knew Nikki’s mini-dress would not yield nearly enough fabric to do an adequate refashion.

I can’t wait until Thursday’s Runway Day! Get ready for something completely different than my usual aesthetic!


Project Runway All Stars: Episode 5 Recap

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So hopefully the designers will have actual time to complete their looks this week.

The challenge is to find a “muse” to inspire a fashion-forward look. Each designer must also manage to convince his or her muse to give up the clothes that they are wearing to be used in the challenge. They have a $150 budget, which they have to split between bribing the muses and buying fabric. They also have to use half of the muses’ clothes in their finished designs. They do, thankfully, get two days to complete the challenge.

Most of the designers seem to do pretty well finding muses and getting clothes in the park. I do think some of them could have driven a harder bargain, though. This becomes abundantly clear when they get to Mood and their budgets are tight. It is very kind for some designers to give some of their leftover cash to their fellow designers who came up short. I actually really enjoy seeing the camaraderie. See, people getting along can make for good tv!


The Runway

The guest judge this week is Sean Avery, apparently a NHL player and somehow fashion-y person?

Read the rest of this entry

Project Project Runway Challenge 5: Runway Show

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Man, this week was brutal. The challenge alone was enough to make me pull my hair out—thank goodness I didn’t have to work with other people!

To recap, the designers had to create looks based on Heidi Klum’s new athletic shoes for New Balance (which are available for purchase here.) No offense to Heidi, but these shoes are pretty ugly, and not really the most inspiring jumping off points:

Image from Just Crafty Enough; Read the full challenge parameters here.

The designs must also include suede or denim to reference the shoes.\



This week I made a pair of black leggings and a bias-cut knit tunic top in a plum tone with suede accent sleeves.

I learned this week that sportswear is not my favorite to design. I felt extremely limited in what I could come up with. I wanted to make something sporty, but also something that could be “errand running” clothes. I had a pretty clear vision in my head of the top; I knew I wanted to use the suede as an accent on the sleeves. I also wanted the top to be loose-fitting and drape-y, basically a comfortable “throw it on” kind of piece. Then, knowing that at least one pair of the sneakers were predominantly black, I went with a simple legging, basically to let the tunic be the show-piece.

This week I once again did inset sleeves. I can’t believe I was so afraid of them; they really aren’t that hard, they just need lots of pinning! This week was also my first attempt at using fabric on the bias. I think this worked okay in that the tunic drapes better than it would have had I cut it on-grain.



The best surprise of this week was when I finally (this morning) took a closer look at the shoes. It is a total fluke that the accent color on the shoes is the exact color I chose for the tunic. In complete seriousness, I had not looked at the shoes in five days when I purchased the fabrics. Maybe my subconscious remembered that they were a plum color, because I 100% thought they were black and charcoal! So a total happy accident!

I accessorized with a multi-layered necklace and over-sized pair of sunglasses from the Piperlime Accessory Wall. I really wanted to keep the look casual. For hair and makeup, I think a natural-looking face would look great paired with a high, tight ponytail. As to who might wear this look, I think a more casual-styled actress like Kate Hudson or Drew Barrymore could wear this out shopping and the paparazzi wouldn’t slam them for it.

Project Runway: Episode 5 Recap

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Opening Drama

The show starts with shots of little piles of clothes with people’s names on them. It’s gym clothes and athletic shoes. Let’s humiliate the Design-testants!

Cecelia is moping because she is still in the competition. Poor Julie, having to go home when someone else clearly doesn’t want to be there now.

The Challenge

The designers head to a Track and Field center. Heidi is wearing a tie-dyed acid-washy monstrosity.

Photo from Tom and Lorenzo Note: Even Heidi isn’t wearing her uninspired athletic shoes.

It’s going to be another team challenge. I am really getting tired of team challenges this season. I understand that the producers adore team challenges for the drama and personality clashes they create, but I kind of hate them. They make it so that no one’s true design vision gets fully realized, and I often feel that people get sent home over not being assertive enough or over someone else’s designs. Please get back to individual challenges, please!

To determine team captains, the designers must run a race. My personal nightmare. The top four runners will be team captains. This show is just mean. In a way, not winning the race could be beneficial, though. In many team challenges, the team leader is the one on the chopping block if the resulting look is below-par. So if you aren’t dead-set on winning this challenge, being a non-team-leader could work to your advantage.

Cecelia decides to drop out of the show. Maybe she couldn’t deal with the pressure, or the criticism. Or maybe she just didn’t want to be involved in yet another team challenge.

The designers are off! Olivier falls Hard. His knee looks kind of screwed up. And he passes out. At least he was already on the floor. Get the smelling salts!

Rundown of who placed top 4:

1. Joshua

2. Bryce

3. Anthony Ryan

4. Viktor

They pick teams, playground kickball style, in short, humiliating style.

Josh picks Anya

Bryce picks Kimberly

Anthony Ryan picks Laura Kathleen

Viktor picks Olivier

Josh picks Becky

Bryce picks Danielle

Anthony Ryan picks gets Bert

Viktor and Olivier can pick someone to come back, they pick Mormon Josh. He seemed like a nice guy. Interesting that the fourth placer gets what may arguably the best pick of the day, in that he gets a wider range of people. It would have been more fair to allow that option throughout the picking process, so potentially Joshua’s first pick could have been a kicked off designer. But whatever.

So anyway, the designers are making outfits to go with Heidi’s sneakers. They must use denim or suede in their looks. The outfits don’t have to be gym clothes. And the winning look will be sold as part of Heidi’s line on Amazon.

The Workroom

Becky starts throwing out ideas, but Anya and Josh poo-poo everything pretty harshly.

Other teams throw out ideas, but I don’t hear a lot of definite plans or designs at this point.

The designers head to Mood. Josh and Anya continue being bitchy to Becky.

The designers only have eight hours to make their looks. It is clearly a designer torture challenge.

Joshua and Anya continue to exclude Becky. My blood is totally boiling. It is an interesting contrast of how Joshua and Anya are trying to gang up on and exclude their team member, who as far as we know is not a grouchy person, or someone who is difficult to work with as compared to Anthony Ryan and Laura Kathleen who seem to be trying to include notoriously grouchy and difficult Bert into the designing and decision making process. It really shows Anya and Joshua’s ugly sides. Snark and a little bit of cattiness is fun in Talking Head Interviews, Joshua, but when you treat likeable people like crap in the work room, it doesn’t gain you any fans.

Heidi and Tim come in to critique the looks. This is the second week in a row that a member of the judging panel can make their opinions be known before the runway show. Once again, I feel that being compliant will be rewarded above the designers staying true to their visions.

Heidi hates what Team Bryce has come up with so far. I actually think Bryce could have defended the “cowl hoodie” instead of just kowtowing at the slightest whiff of questioning. It shows he’s in such a self-doubting space that he didn’t even try to defend any of his work. Not a good sign.

Heidi criticizes the long skirt Team Viktor has come up with, and I totally agree. It is a super-simple elastic waist gray skirt. Yuck. Total “whipped up in a half-hour” throwaway. Bleh.

Heidi thinks Team Anthony Ryan’s looks are too dressy. So apparently the introduction to the challenge was Lies, all Lies! “Think a dress, think a suit.” Nope, lies. Designers, completely change everything you’ve thought of thus far, because in actuality, you are making workout gear. Yes, we are recreating what was arguably last season’s worst challenge. So y’all better pull out some lulu lemon knockoffs again this year if you want to win.

Heidi doesn’t have much to say about Team Joshua.

Heidi then announces that they have until 4 am instead of 11 pm. Oh so clever, the producers are, putting the designers into an impossible time constraint, pressure-cooking them that way, then almost last minute extending that time to make sure they are all sleep deprived and overthinking their looks and yelling at one another. See, I said torture, didn’t I?

Joshua then blows up at Becky. What a bitch. Joshua, not Becky. She heads out to the Ladies Room and cries. After the commercial break, Joshua heads in and apologizes. In his talking head, he says it was sincere, but kind of undermines it with a “get back and sew” attitude. Way to lose a fan, dude.

Team Joshua decides to add some color to their work, which makes me realize that almost everyone went boring and monochromatic. Hm.

The Runway

The guest judge is model/designer Erin Wasson. I know little to nothing about her.

It is going to be extremely hard for me to critique this runway show, as I really have no idea what the judges are looking for. They’ve been vacillating back and forth in the parameters of this challenge as to whether they are looking for easy clothes that look cute with sneakers or actual workout gear. In my opinion, the challenge just kind of stinks overall.

All images from

Team Viktor

Viktor: I love the little motorcycle jacket he made; it looks relatively well-constructed. The dress is cute and easy, but I wish he had done something with the hem. As it is, I think the hem is just the raw edge, and it makes the dress look a bit homemade and unfinished. And it doesn’t really look that great with the sneakers.

Mormon Josh: I like the slim-fitting pants; they look okay with the shoes. The top is super-boring though, aside from the sleeve detail, which I hate. It makes the model look like she’s wearing a backpack.

Olivier: The skirt looks a bit more finessed than it did in the workroom and I actually kind of like it. It works with the shoes mostly because it covers them up. The top is very simple. I guess Team Viktor decided that the tops were just unimportant.

All together, the monochromatic palette and the simple tops for this mini-collection make it yawn-inducing and bland. I would maybe buy Olivier’s skirt for “hanging out around the house” wear.

Team Bryce

Bryce: Isn’t this basically the same dress he made last week? I mean, I really don’t find much to say about it. It is a basic black dress. It doesn’t look at all like it took 12 hours to make, and it doesn’t fit the model very well at all. And it looks dumb with the shoes. The only thing that could be in its favor is the button details down the sides, but not buttons he chose. They are shiny, and look plastic-y and cheap.

Kimberly: I think the top and jacket are okay, maybe a bit basic, but well made. The shorts are fug, though. I don’t think pleated short-shorts are cute. They are diaper-y, at least from the front. Which is sad, since we know Kimberly can make a banging pair of pants.

Danielle: Good for her for throwing some color into the mix. It is her usual blue-green and her usual sheer fabric, but after five looks of black and gray, any color is a breath of fresh air. The top has unfinished edges, which annoys me. The skirt looks fine. It kind of looks silly with the shoes, though.

Altogether, Danielle’s look is disparate from the other two’s. And all three looks are almost the exact-same length. I would have liked to see more variety in regards to that. I would maybe buy Kimberly’s jacket (Note: we find out on the runway that Danielle did the jacket) and Danielle’s skirt.

Team Anthony Ryan

Anthony Ryan: So disappointing. Jersey shorts? Ugh, no. They look like culottes. And even the skinny model has them bunching up in the thigh area. Holy ugly, Batman. The top has potential, though. I can see where he was going with the draping and asymmetry. I think I would have liked it better with the shoulder treatment done in a color, though.

Laura Kathleen: I really don’t like the shorts (or is it a romper). Or the swimsuit-looking top. The vest is fine, though not anything special (I think they sell stuff like that at any Kohls.) It’s just all mediocre off-the-rack looking to me.

Bert: Well, well well. Who’d have thought it? But this is actually kind of cute. I mean, it doesn’t really go with the shoes, but the top is really interesting. I think Bert worked the print to his advantage. And although it is simple, it looks nice. The skirt is a smidge short (so Heidi will love it) and the ruching is not the best, but it is actually a nice enough look.

All together, the three designs work relatively well as a collection when it comes to textiles. Anthony Ryan’s is the least fitting. I think if he had used the blue print at the shoulder instead of the tan it would have been more cohesive. I would maybe buy Bert’s top.

Team Joshua


Joshua: Setting aside all the catty bullshit, there are elements I like. I think the print for the top is very nice, and though it is just a tank top, at least it looks well made. The skirt is short, but also fine. I kind of hate the fringe-y vest thing, though. The outfit certainly needed a third element, but this just looks thrown on and poorly made from the front. From the back, though, it does have some interest.

Becky: I like the top, it could be either sporty or chic, but it doesn’t do the model any favors in the boob department. I can’t tell if it is due to the cut of the top, or if the model is just unusually well-endowed. The skirt is fine, though I don’t love the red accent or the stripe panel, but at least there is a little bit of adventurousness to it in a sea of gray and black.


Anya: This is pretty cute, too. I don’t think the red stripe is well-applied to the dress, it looks like it is rippling and weighing down the jersey. And the shape of the dress is kind of simple. I think the racer back is a nice touch. It is cute.

Altogether, I think this is the most cohesive mini-collection. There is variety, but they belong in the same world, as it were. I would have liked to see more variations in necklines, though, and a couple of the elements (the stripe) feel a tad out-of-place. I maybe would buy Anya’s dress and Joshua’s tank top.

My top 3:




My bottom 3:


Anthony Ryan (though it breaks my heart)

Laura Kathleen

The judges don’t have a clear top three or bottom three. They just kind of group the designers into the overall top and bottom.

The Judges’ Top Picks:





Mormon Josh

The Judges’ Bottom Picks:

Anthony Ryan

Laura Kathleen




Kimberly was in the middle

Viktor is the Winner and gets his jacket and dress sold, and immunity

Joshua is also the Winner and gets immunity but Anya’s dress gets sold. Wait, what?

Anya and Becky are in.

Olivier and Mormon Josh are in.

Bert is in

Laura is in

Kimberly is in

Bryce is in

Anthony Ryan is…in

That means Danielle is out. This means that once again Heidi is over-ruled. You know, the consistency to which Nina overrules Heidi, there is no real drama anymore. You know if those two argue, Nina is getting her way. The producers really need to force a bit of a mix up, at least every once in a while. It just makes for better TV.

Danielle interviews that she doesn’t think she should have been sent home this challenge, and I have to agree. The jacket she made that Kimberly’s model wore was one of the best pieces of the night. But such is the nature of the mercurial judging panel.