A fistful of organza flowers in my mitts, an open flame dangerously close to my coils, I  looked at my pink reflection in the mirror and maniacally breathed to Rob across the fabric bombed expanse of our Denver digs: I'M THROWING IN THE TOWEL.

He 98% believed me, which tells you how underwater I was. At that point, I'd been sewing for six weeks straight, and little else. That's not a complaint, let's be real, WHO NEEDS FOOD AND WATER AND BATHROOM BREAKS WHEN YOU'VE GOT SEWING. But, when you're slam sewing stuff intended to be paraded around in front of cameras, and you're Type A, the "this is sh*t" stage of the creative journey sometimes sets up shop and refuses to leave. And that's where this dress was hanging out at 11pm the night before the shoot.


And I do mean hanging out. On a hanger. ln a corner. I'd been giving it the hairy eyeball every night after Rob forced me to turn off my brain, eat a good meal and chill for a minute.

Lemme back up. Here's the skinny. In the midst of production for Re:Fashion 2, this extra challenge dropped in my lap. And I do like Extra. This chameleon dress (that has too many looks to reveal in this post) was created for the new Bluprint series, RUNWAY REMAKE. Hosted by Mondo Guerra, it goes hand and hand with Project Runway--an episode drops every week in conjunction with the main event on Bravo. I was slated for the premiere episode. The timeline was tight. Supatight! SPANX TIGHT! (That last bit, to my chagrin, literally.)

The premiere ep's challenge was "First Look." My dossier was to reinvent a past look for my present self, and my inspiration was a shot of me in my prom dress. Ah, prom! Basically the red carpet of high school. As I've said before, I was a shy teenager, but although I used wild clothing as daily armor to walk those hallowed halls, the thought of 400 eyes at prom was apparently too much. And this was me going to prom as a bewildered junior, so I well and truly squashed my naturally off-the-wall instincts and went full wallflower, with a demure fit and flare solid pale pink gown, adorned with a shy satin rose.

I am 24/7 bold now! My red carpet reinvention would have metallic bling! Couture organza flowers! Boning! Multiple capes! And I could totally get it done on top of Re:Fashion sewing! AGAIN WHO NEEDS SLEEP WHEN YOU HAVE SEWING! Prom pic at hand, I sketched an updated look, extending the neckline into a tiered cape surrounding a mini dress. And then, I worked up a mini version on my half-scale dress form with THREE capes to mimic the three pleats on the original neckline. BECAUSE MORE IS MORE.

So, the dress was pretty much designed before I started to sew. And that was what was biting me in the tuchus. How do I always forget it's hard for me to make something *as promised*? I like to have an idea in my head, and then I like to be able to BATTLE ROYALE myself. Smackdown sewing! Make mistakes! THEN FIX 'EM! I especially need that improvisation when there's a time crunch.

My first catastrophe was the underdress. I went with a self-drafted bodice and pencil skirt. So smart, going with an already fitted pattern! SUCH A TIME SAVER! I chose to underline and line the poly metallic organza, using a lofty, textured metallic jacquard for the visible underlining.

And then I decided to machine baste the layers together. And then when they weren't behaving (because I had skipped hand basting), I decided to steam blast those layers flat before assembling the dress. Both questionable choices worked in harmony to shrink my perfectly sized, supersensible pre-fitted pattern to about 2 sizes smaller than intended.

Enter seam ripper, teeny seam allowances, exposed zipper, and taped seams. (And, on the day of the shoot, Spanx. Which I think are the devil incarnate. But, when you've got a deadline and no minutes for remakes, you make your deals, yo.)

I gave myself a break by testing a flower or two. They were so quick and easy, I decided I'd knock out the rest in Denver. Because I had boning to get to.

I chucked some rigilene in along the neckline as well, within the seam allowance. Lately, I've been using rigilene here instead of twill tape. I love what it does to a neckline! You can see here how it keeps a square neck & deep V supported in a strapless romper I made.

I figured it would also add some stability for the caped contraption that was somehow going to extend from the dress bodice down to my waist. In theory, the whole cape-beast-thing would be one liftable unit. IN THEORY.

Y'all. WHAT THE WHAT IS THAT. This exo-skeleton contraption mocked me for seven days at home! The night before the flight, I still hadn't figured it out. I brought the structure, two flowers, the strapless wiggle dress, ten yards of organza, five suitcases of fashion, and a headful of stubborn with us to Denver.

After a fantastic and wonderfully technicolor week of Re:Fashion, the night before the Runway Remake shoot, literally at the eleventh hour, I decided it was either the ridiculously engineered exo-beast, or me. Were it not for Rob, who handed me a digestif and said you need to follow your instincts, babe, it probably woulda been me, in a blaze of stupendous cursing, because THERE IS NO CRYING IN SEWING.

I dismantled the overworked structure, and repurposed two of the taffeta covered lengths of boning for straps for the underdress. Six little filigreed hook and eye sets afforded me the solution to attach the newly freed cape tiers at three points along the dress: straps, underbust, and waist. It was SO much simpler! Sometimes simple is beautiful. However, my exhausted brain wasn't convinced at that point that what I'd made was anything approaching beauty, so to bed I went.

The next morning, Rob was my hype man. He got me coffeed up, packed up, and on my way. In the dressing room, I tried on the full look for the first time, and went to meet the (always fabulous) crew for the day. A man said "that is the best thing I have ever seen." To which I hollered back with the force of a thousand suns

And that's how I met our DP Dave ;) 

Moments later, to my caffeinated delight, I realized my left turn at Cape Dismay meant I'd doubled the ways I could wear the beast! That's up next. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Thursday. I've learned to give myself a little wiggle room, dontcha know ;)

AND NOW I GOTTA SUNDAY SEW SOMETHIN'. I've got mistakes to make! Hope you do, too!


  1. Amazing results! Eager to see it on you! I enjoy reading about your thought processes (explosions) as you design/sew. ;)

    1. thought EXPLOSIONS?!!! I LOVE THAT!!!!! I'm so glad to hear it, I miss the days of everyone's lovely blog posts flooding my feed!

    2. So glad you understood what I was saying! I love the way you work!

  2. I love hearing your process so much. I procrastinate so hard on obligatory sewing, and I know exactly how you feel about making the half-size mock-up (glorious!) and then completely losing steam on the real thing!

    1. I lose steam on the mock up all the TIME. That was great about this, it *had* to be done. (Tho for real, I did almost bail the night before!)

      I honestly can't imagine you losing steam. Your creations are always so detailed and thoughtful!

    2. Oh, I am a procrastination QUEEN! Especially when a project is for anything other than immediate personal gratification. 😂 I’ll take the compliment though!!’

  3. That thing now definitely needs a red carpet to be worn on and stun everyone. Or at least the next best thing which I'm sure is obtainable in your world (it would be harder in mine).
    Because from what I can see, it's one of the best things I've ever seen, too.

    1. Hana thank you!! You know I'm plotting to wear it on a fancy carpet...

  4. Such gorgeousness and thanks so much for sharing.

    True confession: When I was in high school I was very concerned about appearing more grown-up than my classmates so when prom time came around I had my mom make me a "grown-up" dress - fitted, spaghetti straps, peach satin. But now I regret that I never got to wear one of those fluffy prom dresses everyone claims to hate.

    1. For real, I think very few of us don't have a little desire to wear a frilly over the top jam! I went your way too, for my senior prom--fitted jersey tube dress with a cape. I guess the cape thing stuck ;) Good thing we both want to be kids now!

  5. Honestly you encapsulate in one person everything I love/hate/cry about sewing. This whole concept and process and result are bonkers and perfect, and you inspire me to try harder. I LOVE YOU.

  6. Of unseen supports,
    some body Bondo,
    elastic contorts,
    and time with Mondo.

    To be mile high,
    Rob is your guy,
    caped and draped,
    ensconced triple-ply.

    For all the suffering,
    this creation ranks,
    ever so sassy,
    no thanks to Spanx.

    The smaller dress form
    romantic and how,
    life-size you sizzle,
    then, and more now.

  7. I have no idea how this story manages to be entirely relatable?! Even the best sewists meet their limits on occasion - but look how you wrangled things into working order!

    1. cuz we are STUBBORN, girl! To a win (you know, instead of a fault ;)

  8. It looks like it can take wings and fly.. Soo pretty..


i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!