Project Runway Episode 8: What Women Want

October 18, 2011 at 2:55 am (Project Runway) ()

The client: Artspace. The challenge (inspired by Episode 8 of Project Runway): to design a commemorative handbag that women will want.

Episode 8 of Project Runway Season 9 found the designers creating a look for a client’s wife or girlfriend. My challenge was to design an accessory, consistent with my client’s brand, that would celebrate the 25th anniversary of this visual art center that I call home.

As many of you know by now, my studio, Studio 109A, is located within Artspace in Downtown Raleigh’s City Market. I moved into Artspace in 2005 and have said time and time again that jurying into the Artspace Artist Association and moving into the building was a turning point in my career as a professional artist. For the last 25 years, Artspace has inspired creative energy by engaging the public in the process of creating art through its educational programs, community outreach, exhibitions, and open studio environment.

On November 19th, Artspace will host its Collector’s Gala and 25th Anniversary Celebration. The event features the unique opportunity for guests to dine in artists’ studios and to enjoy purchasing local artwork in both the live and silent auctions, as well as purchasing artwork displayed throughout the building. Every  year, I donate a piece of artwork for the silent auction. This year, I was asked to design a 25th Anniversary Commemorative Bag.

In some ways, I designed the bag from the inside (lining) out. The inspiration for this handbag came from a postcard Artspace designed for the Gala event. The postcard featured a background graphic that I used to design a custom printed fabric through Spoonflower. I had the fabric printed on Spoonflower’s organic, cotton sateen.

Next, it was off to Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC (outside of Charlotte) to find orange fabric. Artspace’s logo is orange and white, and I wanted to stay consistent with the “brand” without designing a bag that looked like a pumpkin. As a back up, I requested orange swatches from Mood Fabrics in New York, the very fabric store featured each week on Project Runway.

While Mood sent me dupioni silk, wool, chenille, and cashmere swatches, I fell in love with Mary Jo’s ultra suede, manufactured by Toray. Ultra suede, like the organic cotton sateen lining, is animal friendly.

Fabric in hand, it was time to design the handbag, a clutch with a detatchable strap that hopefully women will want.

Artspace 25th Anniversary Commemorative Purse

Interior Flap (Custom Designed Fabric Lining)

This bag and many more fabulous pieces of art will be available to preview November 4th during the First Friday Gallery Walk at Artspace and auctioned off at the Artspace Collector’s Gala and 25th Anniversary Celebration on November 19th. Gala tickets are available for purchase online by clicking here.

So, three more challenges to go. Until next week, auf wiedersehen.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges.

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Project Runway Episode Seven: Can’t We All Just Get Along (Part 2)

September 27, 2011 at 10:59 pm (Project Runway) ()

Last week I blogged about my visit to Spoonflower fabrics. If you recall, in Episode Seven, the Project Runway Season 9 Designers had to design their own fabric, create a collection, and produce a fashion show.

As many of you know, from my jewelry line, I am inspired by ephemera, everday items of passing interest such as advertisements, photographs, labels, postcards, and letters. One of the reasons I intially incorporated postcards and letters in my jewelry designs, was because my grandfather used to leave love notes underneath my grandmother’s pillow.

So, it should come as no surprise that my fabric design is inspired by vintage postcards and letters. This design was printed on Spoonflower’s new cotton silk fabric.

Vintage postcard design printed on Spoonflower's cotton silk.

I must say after having some trouble work with the silk fabric I used in the last challenge (The Art of the Matter), I was a little worried about using cotton silk for this challenge. However, I will say that Spoonflower’s cotton silk fabric not only sews easily, but is also washable.

Inspired by the cotton silk textile, I designed an evening clutch. To finish off the design, I added a removable cameo brooch, which is very fitting since I collected cameos when I was younger.

Evening clutch with removable cameo brooch.

I am happy with the fabric and the final purse design and will be wearing this purse to my brother’s wedding next month. This textile design is now available for purchase at Spoonflower from $18 to $38 per yard depending on your fabric.

Until next week, auf wiedersehen.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges.

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Project Runway Episode Seven: Can’t We All Just Get Along (Part 1)

September 22, 2011 at 1:58 am (Project Runway) ()

In Episode Seven of Project Runway, the Season 9 designers designed fabrics, created a collection and produced a fashion show. I am acutally going to devote two blog posts to the episode, the first of which will spotlight my visit to Spoonflower. In the interest of full disclosure, the fabrics featured on Project Runway Season 9 Episode 7 were designed on HP TouchSmart computers and printed by Dye-namix, which is located in New York City. Dye-namix’s client list includes Calvin Klein, Coach, J. Mendel, and Ralph Lauren.

Spoonflower makes it possible for the rest of us to design, print, and sell our own fabric. Last spring, I blogged about ordering custom designed fabric from Spoonflower. A couple of weeks ago, after Episode Seven aired, I contacted the company to tell them about my Project Runway Studio 109A challenge. They invited me for a tour of their Durham, NC facility.

My fabric design process started with a vintage image, which I scanned into my computer.  I manipulated the image using Paint.net, a free image and editing software program for computers that run on Windows. After finalizing my image, I created a free account on Spoonflower’s website and uploaded my image.

Once my image was uploaded, I had my choice of fabrics and layout options (centered, basic repeat, half-drop, half-brick, or mirror repeat), which I could preview instantly. I then ordered my design in Spoonflower’s newest fabric, cotton silk.

Spoonflower’s fabrics run anywhere from $18 to $38 per yard, although many of the fabrics come in wide widths. For example, the organic cotton sateen and interlock knit fabrics come in 56 inch widths, while the upholstery weight cotton twill (my favorite) comes in a 58 inch width. I ordered my fabric on a Friday afternoon. Normal shipping times vary (usually from six to seven days), although my fabric was ready by the time I visited Spoonflower on Monday morning.

Spoonflower’s offices are located in a modest office park just outside of North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Lined up inside the lobby are chairs upholstered with fabrics designed by the Spoonflower community which numbers around 150,000 designers from around the world.

Just past the lobby is a warehouse full of fabrics waiting to be shipped and a number of digital textile printers feverishly reeling out design after design. Darci, my tour guide, explained to me that the company prints out around 500 yards of fabric per day and averages 3000 yards ordered per week.

Although the company has been featured in the New York Times, Associated Press, Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, Make, CRAFT, ApartmentTherapy, Photojojo, and many others, the owners and employees remain humble, yet passionate about the marriage of technology and textiles that is Spoonflower.

Special thanks to Darci and the Spoonflower team for making me feel so welcome. I can’t wait to share with you my design, but you will have to wait until my next post. Until then, auf wiedersehen.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges.

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Project Runway Episode Six: The Art of the Matter

September 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm (Project Runway) ()

Project Runway’s Episode Six paired the designers up with students from The Harlem School of the Arts. The designers created a piece of art with the students, which served as the inspiration for their avant garde look.

I hooked up with a student from North Carolina State’s Early College High School. She painted a picture of a sunflower when she was in elementary school and asked if I could use that painting as my inspiration. Once I saw the painting, I immediately thought I might try my hand at a garment, but after several disasterous attempts at installing a zipper into a skirt, I settled on a circle scarf instead.

The tricky part of this challenge was to “interpret” the painting and not to re-create a sunflower accessory, which might turn out more costume than couture. I found a printed silk print which incorporated all of the colors of the initial painting (brown, yellow, and green), and paired it with a solid mustard fabric.

I have to say that personally, I love scarves, so you will be seeing them in my accessory collection. What makes this scarf special in my opinion, is the beautiful print.

So, it’s onto textile challenge. Keep an eye out next week for two posts (the first of which will feature my recent visit to Spoonflower). Until then, auf wiedersehen.

The Art of the Matter inspired scarf.

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Project Runway: Off to the Track

September 7, 2011 at 3:29 am (Project Runway) ()

Episode 5 of Project Runway’s Season 9, finds the designers off to the track… The New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory. The designers had to work in teams of three to design three looks for Heidi Klum’s New Balance sneakers.

Heidi Klum New Balance Sneaker

“I love a fashion sneaker that doesn’t look like it belongs in the gym, which was the inspiration for my new Heidi Klum for New Balance sneakers and my Project Runway challenge this season,” said Klum.

Klum’s sneakers come in gray and black suede and pink suede and denim, and the designers were directed to use suede and denim in their designs.

For this challenge, I designed a black and gray suede “fan shaped” purse. Inspired by the “fan shape”, I used an Asian inspired cotton for the lining.

I have to say that at this point in the Studio 109A Project Runway Challenge, this is my favorite bag. The oversized purse would work with practically any of the looks in Klum’s New Balance collection, including Joshua McKinley and Viktor Luna’s winning looks.

Oversized "fan shaped" purse inspired by the Heidi Klum New Balance sneaker challenge.

Asian inspired red, gray, black, and white lining.

I want to thank all of you Project Runway fans who stopped by Studio 109A last Friday night for the First Friday Gallery Walk. I hope to see you next month to show off my New Balance sneaker inspired purse and upcoming avant garde design. Until then… auf wiedersehen.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges

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Project Runway: All About Nina

August 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm (Project Runway) (, )

In Project Runway’s Episode 4, the designers had to create a day-to-evening outfit for Nina Garcia, a Project Runway Judge and Fashion Director of Marie Claire  magazine.

Season 3 Alum Laura Bennett blogs: “Nina starts out by giving the designers a list of her likes and dislikes. She likes tailored clothes. She doesn’t like volume, muted colors, bright colors, pattern, short, long, tight, loose, flashy, boring or ‘Dynasty’.”

So what constitutes “don’t bore Nina” style…

“…classic with an edge, streamlined, clean silhouettes,” blogs Season 2 Alum Nick Verreos.

A Giambattista Valli print (close-up from the dress Nina wore during the "stilts" challenge episode of Project Runway)

After checking out Garcia’s web site, it is clear she likes classic style. Her home page is filled with images of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn and vintage looks from Balenciaga and Nina Ricci. She even posted a close-up of a Giambattista Valli dress she wore on the “stilts” episode of Project Runway.

That in mind, I set out to create a clutch/wristlet out of Marie Claire… not inspired by the fashion images in the magazine, but out of the magazine itself.

I started with an inspiration image… a black and white Guess ad, which I cut into half-inch strips and wove together with other black and white images from the magazine.

Starting point for Nina wristlet, an advertisement for Guess.

I interfaced the back of the woven paper, and sewed in the zipper and lining. The strap is also created from woven strips of paper cut from the magazine, interfaced, and sewn together.

The biggest challenge with weaving paper together (aside from sewing it and its tendency to tear) was to ensure that I wasn’t re-creating a “candy wrapper” purse, which needless to say would not be very Nina.

The end result, I am happy to report, is part Nina, but very me.

So, it’s off to the track for the Heidi Klum New Balance Challenge. Until next week, auf wiedersehen.

Finished Nina wristlet.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges.

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Project Runway: Go Big Or Go Home

August 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm (Project Runway) ()

Episode Three of Project Runway Season 9 had this artist living large (literally). On the show, the designers were broken into teams of two to create outfits for stilt-walking models.

“Whoever came up with this idea A) must have just been to the circus and thought, ‘Gee, this might be a fun challenge filled with TACKY outfits that have nothing to do with being the Next Great American Designer’ or B) was smoking something that’s only legal in certain ‘cafes’ in Amsterdam,” said Season 2 Alumnus Nick Verreos.

So, like the designers, it was off to the fabric store for the first time since I started Project Runway in Studio 109A. Unlike the designers, however, I had a budget of $50 (not $500).

After crawling around on my studio floor for a week cutting, pinning, and drowning in fabric, the end result is a flat bottomed, lined, oversized tote. Although it isn’t what I initially envisioned for this challenge (my vision was a Hartmann inspired tweed bag), this bag helped me realize the sewing skills I have mastered over the past eight months and has helped build my confidence. As an artist, I have found it is easy to get bogged down in my deficits rather than embrace the skills I have acquired.  This bag illustrated to me how far I have come as a sewer and not how far I have to go.

Larger Than Life (41" x 33")

That being said, my Tim Gunn wannabe husband said it’s a good thing I have immunity on this challenge, and my daughter (after I asked her to climb into the purse for a photograph) told me that this kind of craziness should be against the law. So, until next week…. auf wiedersehen.

"This should be against the law."

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges. 

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Project Runway: My Pet Project

August 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm (Project Runway) ()

Terranium Bedding

Last week, I shared with you the fact that I am bringing Project Runway to Studio 109A. Since I started a week late on completing the challenges, I am running a week  behind.

In Episode Two of Project Runway Season 9, the challenge was to create an outfit using pet store supplies. Tim warned the contestants that the judges frown upon using “fabric” for unconventional challenges. For example, you can’t take a dog bed made of fabric and reconstruct it. The idea behind the unconventional challenge is that you use unconventional materials (although you can use muslin as a base).

Keeping that in mind, I headed off to Pet Supermarket with a $25 budget (I didn’t have the lofty budget $300 the contestants did). I ended up purchasing all natural moss used in terranium bedding (pictured above), a bird perch (made of driftwood), and assorted bird toys strung on a wire. I wasn’t interested in the toys, but wanted the wire on which the toys were strung to attach the perch to the purse. After I got to the studio, I was disappointed I hadn’t purchased a leash. When I told my husband I was headed back to the pet store to get a leash, this Tim Gunn designer/mentor wannabe said that returning to the store was against the rules and told me to “make it work”.

My Pet Project "Bird's Nest" Purse

The end result is a small purse resembling a bird’s nest. The handle is created from the bird perch (perfectly pre-drilled to attach to a cage). The centerpiece is made from one of the bird toys (a copper cow bell I hammered flat). After spending an entire Saturday afternoon gluing terranium bedding to muslin, I have a new appreciation for Project Runway Contestant Anthony Ryan Auld’s bird seed garment. Now, it’s off to make a “larger than life” purse. Until next week, auf wiedersehen.

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Project Runway: Come As You Are

August 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm (Project Runway) ()

One Designer. Twelve Challenges. This is the Studio 109a Project Runway Challenge.

Since January, I have been teaching myself how to sew in order to launch an accessory line. Last week, while watching Episode 2 of Project Runway, I had an idea. What if I complete each week’s  Project Runway challenge and blog about it. Of course, in the spirit of Project Runway, there is a “twist”. The “twist” here is that instead of creating garments, I will use each episode’s challenge as a springboard for creating an accessory. At the end of Project Runway Season 9, I hope to launch my own accessory collection.

So, let the games begin. The first challenge of Project Runway Season 9 was called Come As You Are. Designer Mentor Tim Gunn woke the contestants up at 5:00 a.m. and presented them with their first challenge… to create a look using their pajamas and a single bed sheet. In my case, I started with a pair of pink and red, heart print pajama bottoms (picked out by my husband who was excited at the prospect of never seeing me wear them again) and a white bed sheet.

Pink & Red Heart Print Pajama Bottoms

My first challenge was to get rid of the hearts. After dyeing the pajama bottoms and the bed sheet at home, it was off to Studio 109a to start making the bag. The end result, a boho bag, which I affectionately call The Pajama Purse.

The good news about the Studio 109a Project Runway Challenge is that I will always have immunity and never be “out”. Until next week’s Pet Couture challenge, Auf Wiedersehen.

The Pajama Purse "Come As You Are" Challenge

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