Monday, August 10, 2009

Well, I am just back from IFDC and I entered four of my designs from Project Dollway into the competitions.
I entered my Challenge 1 Vintage into the Time Warp Category and got second place.

I entered my Challenge 7 Empire Pantsuit and got First place.

And, I entered my Challenge 10 Fitted paired with Rufus from the Wedding Party on Challenge 12 into the Miscellaneous Category and got First place too!!!

I also got a number of positive comments from some professional doll clothing designers!!! After the trials of PDW@H, it restored my confidence.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Challenge 7 Empire

Just want to add a little note to this. I entered this design in the competition at IFDC this year and it won first place!!! See I knew it was good, hehehehe.
Now I thought it was time for my big comeback. I thought about this challenge over and over. I must do something really unique. I looked at fashion sites to see what had been done with Empire and suddenly it hit me. The one thing I didn't see was an Empire pantsuit. That was it, I was going to design a pantsuit in an Empire line.

I loved what I did and I was confident that I was going to win this challenge. I even loved my purse and I'm not great at the accessories side of this. When I showed my family they all said...Wow, best yet. Believe me, my girls would tell me if it was awful, so this bolstered my confidence again. I sent in my photos and waited form my congratulatory email.

Unbeknowst to me there was a lot of stuff going on in the background of PDW@H. Now I was hearing that some designers were using commercial patterns. Then I heard that another designer was being sent nasty emails saying the doll she was designing for should never have been allowed in the competition. Next I heard that a judge had made some nasty comments to a designer. The only thing I noticed was that if there was a question and I made a comment on it that went against anything the organizer said, my marks seemed to reflect that comment. I thought it was my imagination, but towards the end of the competition I found out that it was not just me.

On this dark side, designers began dropping out, claiming the judging was biased towards "friends" of the judges and organizers. Well it certainly began to look like there WAS a lot of nepotism going on when the scores given to certain designs were so high, while others were so low. Frankly I was happy with the judges at this point. Judge 1 and 4 always seemed to like my stuff, Judges 2 and 3 didn't!!! Sort of a balance. But then I found out that the persons that were suddenly getting the improved marks, had contacted the judges and asked them how to improve their designs..........what the heck, that wasn't fair. So I decided to try. I was given the judges emails and I emailed them and they said absolutely nothing that was helpful.

But I digress.......back to Empire. Judging day came and here were my results:



5 5 4 Oh Larraine, this is great! Double Empire? Fantastic. You never disappoint me. Years of schooling have given years of SO much to look at and I have to tell you, that I wouldn't think to put these together, but they go really well! Good Job!


4 4 4 I love the pantsuit idea. Very nice. I think the lower sleeves are a tad bit over exaggerated and when you add the vest part all of the gathers draw the attention to the middle. Love the pants part and the belt at the empire waist. The fit if the pantsuit is really nice. Your collection does have a bit of a commonality to it but you need to keep it together for a more consistent flow.


4 4 5 Good interpretation of empire waist in the vest and the jumpsuit The skirt attached to the vest has the expected loose fit. The pants do not fit that fullness definition, but have an excellent fit. Garments are well crafted.


5 5 4 The pants idea is a pleasant change. You're right I don't see much in the way of "Empire" pants, but you made it work. By using the "Empire" design on both the pant suit and the vest piece, you have doubled up on the "Empire" idea. You did a really nice job hemming all the pieces. I would have probably liked the sleeves a smaller, but then, I think they complement the rest of the look well. Nicely done!

And the winner of this challenge:
Yeah I lost..........sniff

Challenge 6 Peek-a-Boo

Well I have to say I flat out hated this challenge. I just don't know what to say about it. I tried to pull off something different by combining vinyl and organza. One of the judges didn't even know it was organza and made a very strange comment: the vinyl and chiffon might have worked. Might have worked, but I guess that brown ribbon made it not work. I had to laugh at that comment, if she'd seen it without the brown ribbon she would have's all faded into a yellow blob!!! The ribbon at least helped to define it a bit more. Without the ribbon it just looked blah. Another judge griped that my peace sign wasn't centered.......oh for Pete's sake Ellowyne, did you have to slump at the moment I snapped the pic!!!


4 5 5 Larraine, this is great. Going back to your first 3 or 4 outfits, this blends nicely and adheres to the word, the line and your overall approach. I think the pleating is a little uneven in the back, but is easily fixed. Your colors are always on the ball and your line is really starting to look like something! I'm going to use you as an example to everyone b/c I feel you are one of the best with keeping your designs alike and yet original.


3-3-3 You made this challenge harder than it needed to be. The vinyl and the chiffon MIGHT have worked, but the brown ribbon overshadows all of your work.


3 3 4 The peek-a-boo elements of the bodice and skirt fit the theme, and the pleated portion of the skirt adds interest to the back. The organza is neatly hemmed. The bodice would look better without the vertical ribbon trim.


4, 4, 4. The best thing is that you captured the "peek-a-boo" element in this design. However, the peace symbol in the middle of the "peek-a-boo" is off-center, and may have worked better as a necklace. It seems a little large and out of scale with the doll. The pleating on the back of the organza isn't quite as even as it should be, but it's close. This design fits in nicely with the rest of your collection thus far.


Here is the winner of the Challenge:

Can we say STUNNING!!!

Sidetracked again..........

OK, I got sidetracked again and all my good intentions of writing up PDW@H got put on hold because the weather turned sunny and hot and I couldn't resist the pool in the backyard. So guess what, the weather has turned cool, and LOL, I'm back to writing!!!

On the the next Challenge.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Challenge 5 Zodiac

This was the design that put me behind the eight ball. As you may have read earlier in this blog my daughter's apartment above our barn caught fire in December and she lost everything including her kitty. This was a devastating blow to us all. However despite this and the fact that PDW@H decided not to take a break over the Christmas holidays, I still had a design to hand in on time. I had no desire to do this design and it shows. The judges were harsh on me and that piled on my other woes, I was ready to pack it in. As I was comiserating with some other designers I learned that there had been some things going on behind the scenes and that some designers had resigned because of it. However I carried on despite our heartbreak and Zodiac was not a stellar performance.

JUDGE 1: 3 2 3 Comments: Larraine, I don't want to score you badly b/c your past creation have been stunning. However, based on this challenge, I have to calls 'em as I sees 'em. This is not Taurus, nor is it your best. I think all of the pieces have fitting issues and though they do go with your line, this will be your forgotten piece. Better luck next time, I really really feel you will top yourself!
JUDGE 2: 5-4-4 You do meet the description of a Taurus sign. The outfit is cute and I can see the apron look In your piece, I think it could have used a little more. I think the jacket could have used a tiny splash of the aqua color, maybe some buttons or beads for buttons or even add a little bow at the neckline matching the ones at the hem of the capris. Your construction looks good although I can't tell if your top stitching on the Jacket is uneven or if it is just the photograph.
JUDGE 3: 4 3 3 The colors reflect your collection and your clients sign. The overall fit of the jacket appears too large. The neckline is droopy and it is too big around the bottom. I would have liked to see the ensemble without the peplum/apron, it's fullness takes away from this ensemble.
JUDGE 4: 4, 4, 3. I like that this outfit is simple and cute. I like the brown polka dots on the turquoise top and the brown pants and jacket. I agree this is a nice way to introduce another color into your collection. I think the style of your jacket is cute, but the brown polka dot fabric you used takes away from the design. I would have liked it better if the sheer brown polka dot fabric had a softer look to it or flowed better. I can't determine if the sheer fabric is attached to something or is a separate piece. It would work fine as an apron, but you didn't show it as a separate piece. The seam in the back of the jacket does not appear to be centered on the doll. Nice idea!

The winner of the challenge:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Challenge 4 Layered

This was a fun challenge, but layered has been so "done" that once again it was a challenge to come up with something different. So I decided to make her skirt layered as well as layer the items of clothing. While my outfit looked fine in person, my photography of it was not stellar. I just couldn't get the darned thing right. Shadows and all kinds of things kept happening to my photos. Colours were off and I was going crazy trying to get things to go right.

Added to my photographic problems I was becoming frustrated with the fact that several designers were always late and exceptions were always being made for that lateness to the point that the rest of us were always waiting for the collages to be posted and the judges scores to come up. To add to that frustration, the person doing the blog and the organizer had a falling out and the wonderful blog was axed by the organizer. On top of that, the organizer now wanted to be a judge herself. Things were really getting stirred up.

However, the show must go on and the judges made their ruling. The judges liked what I did, but not enough to keep me in first place for another challenge and I slipped into second place 2 points behind the first place designer.

5 4 5 Always impeccable! Love the yellow again! The skirt, having all those tiny layers would look great if it were a little fuller!!!!
4 4 5 Nice skirt, cute leggings, layered top and tank is cute too and nice purse. The vest looks almost out of place. I think it is the stand up collar that detracts from the rest of the vest. otherwise it is great. The belt is a nice touch though. The vest does need it.
4 4 4 Good use of layers, colors and textures. The seams in vest back almost reflect the pleats in the skirt. The bands of color on the skirt pull in the darker colors, but seem a bit too tight.
5 5 4 I LOVE this layered look, and stripes are always good. Your stripe print blends in well with the yellow and the brown, and the turtleneck sweater is perfect under the little vest, then the vest jacket. Nicely done. I'm not sure what you did with the stripes around the skirt, because I see shadow between your stripes and your fabric. I think the outfit would have been better and more sophisticated without the stripes going around. You don't need them. Otherwise, this is a nice design.
The purse is really cute!

Here is the winner of the challenge:

Challenge 3 Dolman

Challenge 3 was one of the most uninspiring challenges of the contest. I could think of nothing to do that was original. Finally I decided on a silky fabric with bright bold stripes. I decided to make it very short for the mini skirted influence. BTW I hope you have noticed that all my designs so far have incorporated the peace sign.....sign of the sixties. This week I came right out and said PEACE man!!!

This challenge a new judge joined us and now we had four judges and a possible 60 marks.

This challenge turned out to be a tie between two very talented designers. It just made me more in awe of the fact that I had won the first challenge!!!

Larraine's collection: Dolman proved to be quite a learning experience for me. I have never owned or made a Dolman sleeved garment before, so I had no prior experience to base my ideas on. Keeping with my bold colours and patterns I introduced a new colour in this dress and gave it some bold stripes. That little peace sign just crept right back into the beltlace worn with this dress.
Judge 1
5,5,5 Overall adorable. New colors mix well with old but you're creating a bold look here. The dolman is simply marvelous. For someone not knowing Dolman, you perfected it. Unbelievable details! Another great one from you!
Judge 2
This piece looks nice , in scale, and neat. Love the use of strips and the matching up of the stripes. Love the scale of the accessories. finishing techniques look nice and smooth. Details are nice.
Judge 3
3,3,5 The garment is well made, stripes match perfectly, easy to see the dolman sleeves. The size of the handbag is distracting but a good color match.
Judge 4
5,4,5 This dress definitely meets the challenge of Dolman sleeves. Ellowyne wears her dresses a little shorter than I like, but this dress fits her nicely. The dress is not really original, but your use of the stripes and trim made it your own. There isn't much detail in the outfit...It is what it is...You have catalogued the opening of the dress magnificently. I can't even tell where it is. Nice job!
Extra 1/2 point
Total points: 54.5

But, hehehe, I was still in first place!!!

The winners tied with 58.5. Here are the winners:

PDW@H Challenge 2

Inspired by my win in Challenge 1, if forged into Challenge 2: Pleats. I researched and drew ideas and finally hit on my design. The work was intricate and difficult, but I did it and then looked at my outfit and realized, it was NOT bold as my premise had eluded to.

So I chose new materials and reproduced the outfit. This time the results were more to my liking and I submitted my design in time for that coveted extra 1/2 point.

I thought I had nailed it, but the judges put me in second place for this challenge, but I was still in first place overall.
Larraine's collection: Bringing the cocktail dress of the sixties into the 21st century by styling it in two pieces, but keeping with the bold colors of the sixties. I chose two styles of pleats and used the contrasting colors inside the pleats to give it an even more sixties look. The top is corset-like with Honeycomb Pleats and the box pleats of the skirt match the top. The skirt is also shorter, a la sixties, but not a mini.
Judge 1
5, 4, 5 incredible. this is SO well donme I can't even stand it. I LOVE what you have done and i'm blown away at how tiny these details are and they just make this SO cute...The peace sign on the purse ties together with your line and is really shaping this up to be an amazing collection! Bravo!
Judge 2
3; 4; 4 Nice entry. Very unique use of pleats in the top, Nicely pressed
Judge 3
4, 4, 4 The combination of colors combined with the honeycomb pleating creates a uniquely styled top. The reverse coloring between the skirt and top makes each stand out.
Extra 1/2 point
Total points: 37.5

The winner with 40 was:

Wow, gorgeous, I love the colours and the style was exquisite!!! I didn't feel bad about losing to this talented designer. In fact she inspired me to work even harder!!!

So now we were on to Challenge 3.

PDW@H Winner one is chronicled

So my win in the first challenge made me top headline news in the PDW@H blog. This incredible blog was published by Dot Festu and was scheduled to run throughout the competition, but that is yet another part of this saga!!!
Read about it here:

Project Dollway @ Home is DONE!!!

Well the competition that turned into a nightmare is finally done and I'm now just recovering from sewing burn out and the disbelief that this turned into a forum for the organizer's friends to be recognized!!!
What started as a fun challenge competition took a turn for the worse about half way through and things started going terribly wrong.

Challenge 1
We started back in October with our first challenge: Vintage. The contest was all about design. I have NEVER designed anything in my life. I have sewed for my Barbies once now and again, but actually design something and actually make my own patterns.......NEVER.
So I jumped right in. First to interpret the challenge word Vintage. I chose my era the bold and swingin' sixties. My premise for my collection: I chose the sixties as my vintage era, partly because I grew up in the sixties and loved the variety of styles, from Austin Powers to Flower Children, and partly because of the use of bold color and wild patterns. Anything seemed to go together in the sixties!!! I would like to take this bold use of color and build the collection on it by bringing this boldness of color to the styles of the 21st Century!!!

I chose as my colours for this collection: brown, orange and yellow.

To my surprise and delight I won the first challenge!!!

Judges Comments:
Judge 1
5 5 5 Total 15 Super all around
Judge 2
4 3 4 Total 11 Good interpretation of the 70's. Loved the bag and the long vest and the peace sign. The color is very indicative of the 70's. I like it.Over all construction looks pretty good.
Judge 3
3 2 3 Total 8 Bright, colorful, very 60's. Garments fit well. I like the coat, but aren't the shorts too long for this era?
Total points: 34

Also, here is the Point System the judges used for this competition:
Points go from 5 - 1, with five being the best , in these three categories:

1) Designer's interpretation of the theme, Vintage. How successful were they?

2) Originality (the style)... Is it different or does it look like something you have seen before in fashion... accessories... color.

3) Execution: How well is the garment made? Does it look finished? Are there clean edges? Ironed? The full presentation.

The most a designer can acquire from the judges is 15 points.

This should have been my first clue. The organizer suddenly decided, after a number of designers were late with their designs, that if you got your stuff in early you would get an extra point. Being a teacher I had to put my 2 cents in and said that when you do that you only encourage sloppiness and people will hurry their designs, better to say points off for late. I think that vocalization might have been my first mistake.

After the first challenge we were told that one of the judges had not been able to receive the pics of our designs and so only three judges had judged our work. One judge turned out to be the organizer's daughter.........hmmmm shouldn't that have been our second clue.......or is that foreshadowing!!!

But we were all new to this and everything was exciting. After that first challenge a number of designers even claiming, "I can't believe that she beat me by 1/2 point!!!"

On to Challenge 2...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Where does the time go...Part 2

Another reason why I just stopped blogging was that on December 17, our daughter's suite above our barn caught fire. I was home by myself when the lady who cleans our barn ran down to the house and banged on the door. The neighbours had seen smoke coming from the windows above the barn and I grabbed the key thinking that it might just be steam from the dryer being left on. When I rounded the corner of the garage, I knew it was not steam and I ran to meet my neighbour at the barn. He is a fireman and asked immediately if anyone was daughter had gone to school, to write her final exam of the term, the dogs were outside, only Roxie the cat remained inside. I told him and opened the door for him. He raced inside to try and get the cat, but stopped halfway up the stairs and yelled call 911, I can't see a thing in here and the heat is intense, is there another door. Yes the patio doors around the other side...he raced out and to the other door. I called to his wife and the lady who cleans the barn to get the horses out, while I talked to the 911 operator, fire is on their way she said and I hung up. I went into the suite and up to the landing, but the heat and smoke was bad. I called and called Roxie, but she never came. Our neighbour came back from the other side and said the black, thick smoke was floor to ceiling and he couldn't open the door for fear of a backdraught. He said there was no hope for the kitty. I called my husband at work and told him what was happening, he said he would wait for my daughter at her school and pick her up and bring her home, but that they wouldn't allow him to do that until after her exam was finished. Hope was running thin.
But hope we did, we hung on to that or at least I did. The firetrucks, all four of them seems to take forever to get there and the firemen seemed to take forever to get inside. When they finally did and did their room to room search, I was standing next to the fire chief and I heard the words...the cat is first thought was how am I going to tell my daughter.
The snow was coming down thick and fast and as neighbours came and went and I was finally standing by myself watching the firemen, I realized I was frozen. I told a fireman that I was going to the house to warm up a bit if they needed me. He told me to do that and they would come and get me, when things were under control.
I walked to the house and called my other daughter who was at her working, inventorying stock and cleaning up after the break in to her nearby business the morning before. By this time I was in tears and my daughter said, I'm closing the store I'll be right there.
The fireman came to my door to get me, so I could identify things in the apartment. The heat was still intense and the smell was nauseating. The fire had started in the dryer and smouldered in there for possibly three hours before we had seen the smoke, he told me the cat was long gone by the time we saw the telltale smoke escaping the windows. I did what they asked and then another fireman asked me to get a blanket or towel so he could bring Roxie out and down to the lounge. I opened the bathroom door to get the towel and the heat and fumes that hit me nearly knocked me out. The fireman pulled me back and said, well we are not going in there right now, but I had grabbed a towel as he pulled me out and I gave it to him.
My other daughter had arrived from her store and was making her way through the suite to where I was standing with the fireman. We just cried. We made our way back outside and waited. About 10 mins later the fireman came out with Roxie. She was laying on the floor beside the bed. She looked like she had just gone to sleep, so the fireman said she was probably overcome by the heat and then she passed away due to smoke inhalation.
When my daughter and husband finally arrived(the roads were so bad that they were constantly being detoured away from their way) we were back in the house. The feeling of loss over Roxie, the feeling of losing everything, was so overwhelming.
The feeling of hopelessness, helplessness that I felt while watching the firemen, brought back all my feelings of that January 16th morning when one of my students attacked me and tried to stab me.................
It has taken a long time and a lot of money to get everything back(we can never replace Roxie), we are still working on the you see, that's why I haven't had time to blog.
That's Roxie, sitting in her favourite daughter's bed.

Where does the time go...

Starting Project Dollway @ Home and winning the first challenge as I did waaaaay back in November proved to be a huge time consumer. Having never designed any clothing in my life, I was on a schedule of coming up with a design suggested by one word, every two weeks. Wow, does that put a dent in your schedule. I had planned to show and talk about each design every two weeks, but then we were forbidden by the organizer of PDW to show our designs outside of the MySpace area set up for them. Well I hung in there in first place for about three, maybe four more challenges and then someone else began to move up and now I am still there, but in third place. Not bad for a newb if I do say so myself. Other developments like, other designers selling their outfits on doll boards and other things not to be mentioned here at this time has lead me to believe that it might be OK for me to post my designs here and now talk a little about them. After all the MySpace pics are open to anyone who signs up to see and the designs have been posted somewhere outside of MySpace by the organizers, so that people who fear they will get viruses(and that's another story) from MS will not have to go there.
We have four designs left...reversible, fitted, drape and bridal. For some reason the organizer gave us all the clues at one time.......we are supposed to receive the next word after we turn in each challenge.
So, speak about time, reversible is due on Sunday and I am still fiddling with a few details..... Oh the pic is Ellowyne wearing the entry for the Woeful Winter contest.....a different challenge group.