Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sew Much Fun!

Several months ago I was invited to judge the "Love to Sew Runway Challenge" at my local Bernina store, Sew From the Heart.

Now you know that I HEART my Berninas (I own FIVE - two are sergers - and still have the first one I purchased in 1983!) and I am always ready to encourage anyone to sew. I was flattered to be asked.

The contest was on September 24 - 26. On Friday night, the four contestants each selected a mystery bag. Inside was an assortment of fabrics. They checked out the fabrics, the yardage, etc. and went home in the evening (without the fabric) to design their garments and draft their patterns.

The next morning they arrived at the store to begin sewing. They sewed all day and the staff provided everything they needed. They had tables, machines, sergers, dress forms, pressing tools, and even their own "Tim Gunn" (actually the very talented Carrie Morgan) to guide and encourage them.

I couldn't resist stopping by on Saturday afternoon to meet the contestants and to check on their progress.

Lovely Amanda McMurdy received a pale green wool plaid fabric. She is making a coat - note the minkee lining!

Tara Brooksby is making a gray plaid dress with a solid gray center front panel. She also has a coordinating silky orange fabric, but at this point I am not sure how she plans to use it.

Terry Young is making a lined bustier top with a sweetheart neckline. She also has some giraffe-print minkee...

Armita Rolf Von Den Baumen has a fabulous solid red wool. This is a great color and I am sure that her design will have real impact. At this point, I think that she has an advantage. The luck of the draw has given her, in my opinion, the "best" selection of fabrics.

It's hard to tell how things will go - the designers will work into the evening and also have the option to return to work on Sunday until 2:00.

On Sunday I returned to Sew From The Heart to conference with the other judges and to determine our judging and scoring criteria. We decided to award points based on Creativity, Execution, Fit, Overall Appeal and Technique. There were ten possible points in each category.

Each designer presented her garment to the judges. First, Amanda,

then Tara,

then Terry,

and Armita. Each described her inspiration and intention for her design.
Aren't they all wonderful?

Then everyone left the workroom as we examined and scored the garments. When we sat down to compare notes we discovered that although our points were different, we all agreed on the winner and also in the order of finish.

(The order was not important because we were only choosing a winner, but still it was kind of amazing that we each determined the same ranking.)

By now a small crowd had gathered in the store and every chair was filled. The audience was enjoying some lovely snacks provided by the Sew From The Heart.

The dressmaker forms were pulled out of the workroom and into the shop so that everyone could admire the designs. They are all fabulous! Don't you agree?

After a brief presentation we awarded first place to Tara Brooksby. Honestly, her skills are AMAZING. Everything from her piping, to her rolled collar, to her precisely matched plaid was perfectly executed. Then to top it off, she created a messenger bag to complete the ensemble.

Congratulations Tara!

The prizes were WONDERFUL. Each contestant received a huge box of thread, another huge assortment of fat quarters, a Bernina tote bag full of notions and accessories. The winner received a gorgeous red dressmaker's form. Click here to see more photos. The staff at Sew From the Heart is extremely professional, warm and welcoming. I'd especially like to thank Linda Lieberman for coordinating the event.

I was kind of nervous about being a judge. Frankly, I don't have nearly the sewing education or design skills to do what any of these contestants did. I didn't feel like I was very "qualified," but I do love the store and there's no way I would turn down the opportunity.

I found that I really enjoyed it. The other two judges, Nancy and Barbara were a blast, and sort of filled in where I was lacking. They were more hesitant to stand up and present our decision, whereas, you can imagine - I was perfectly willing to do so!

Thank you Sew From The Heart and to all of the talented designers and new friends. This was SEW MUCH FUN!!!!


Marsha said...

Wow, Laura, this looks amazing! I'm sure you enjoyed seeing what these folks created.

What is "minkee"? that's a new one on me

Anonymous said...

Amazing, Laura. I really wish I lived close by you. I want to sew so bad and get on Project Runway!!! Actually, I just wouldn't mind knowing how to make home accent pillows and simple things to expand my website.