Last week I competed for the first time in the Passion for Fashion contest at the American Sewing Expo. It was such an amazing experience that really pushes you as a designer and sewer! You have two days and $100 to create a fashion forward look based on a secret challenge revealed on Friday morning.
Designers from all over the country submitted garments to be considered for the contest. Out of all the applicants, 12 were selected to compete at ASE and I was one of those lucky 12!
Ellen and I arrived to the convention center on Thursday night so she could prepare for her fashion show, Embroidery Extravaganza, and I could meet my fellow finalists, select a model and set-up my sewing station. I picked Azia, a super sweet and professional young woman, with a great walk and look. We went back to our sewing stations and took our models’ measurements. Then it was back to the hotel to try and get some sleep.
I arrived back at the expo by 8am to receive our secret challenge. They unveiled a selection of iconic American model cars. What a beautiful sight! My eyes immediately started looking over each car to find one that inspired me. We selected ours cars one by one, and I chose the ’53 Studebaker Starliner.
The coloring, lines and subtle, yet striking design spoke to me. The challenge was to design a fashion forward garment that was inspired by the car. We had 30 minutes to sketch and plan out our design, and then we each received $100 to start shopping for fabric and trim. It was a mad dash all over the convention center trying to find the perfect fabric. Luckily, I found the perfect colors and textures! I selected a light blue/teal 4-ply silk crepe, muted teal silk Georgette and a rich brown wool camel hair. I also found some great vintage opalescent buttons.
Everyone slowly started arriving back at our sewing area and either started draping or patterning. It was fun because our area was in the middle of the convention. Attendees could walk around and take a look at each designer’s car and watch them work. Everyone was so supportive of the designs and also really interested in the tools and supplies we were working with.
It was so amazing to see the progress of each designer’s garment. You could really see the difference in each designer’s aesthetic and interpretation of their car. Everyone is so talented!
We were able to work until 7pm on Friday and started back up again at 8am on Saturday. We worked all morning and most of the afternoon and met with the judges to explain our design concept (check out the end of this post for my design concept). We had until 4pm to work before we met again with our models for a very hectic fitting before the runway show. Not only did we have to fit our garments for the first time and try to make any changes, but we had to style the models’ hair and makeup and still get ourselves presentable for the show! It was two whirlwind days of sewing, sweating and of course, some seam ripping (it’s inevitable).
Who do you think will be in the top 3? First place?
Stay tuned to see the final looks on the runway and the winning look!
My garment design concept was based on the fact that the Studebaker isn’t the flashiest car, but it’s a streamlined car with a classic and subtle stylish look. I loved the light roof and the darker body of the car and wanted to mimic that color blocking in my design. I used the light colored silk crepe as a yoke that extended to the bodice front and back with no shoulder seam. I used the darker colored sheer silk georgette for the bodice body front and back.
I loved the idea that the front of the shirt was going to be a little “buttoned-up” looking, but the sheer body would be modern and unexpected. I brought more modern lines to the back of the top, with a deep plunge that was secured at the neck with a small delicate tie.
The hardest edges on the car are the back fins. I took those lines and created a structured sleeve. Inside the car there is straight seaming on the seat and doors. I mimicked that in precise tucks down the middle of the top. I created a classic Peter Pan collar, using the Georgette as the upper collar and the crepe as the under collar. I manipulated the collar’s shape with a pleat to create more color blocking and textural interest. I used mock French seams to create all of the top seams. (Although, looking back I think I would forgo any intricate seam finishing if I competed again, because I don’t think the judges got up close enough to see. But I love to have well-finished garments even in a time-restricted competition.)
I created a wide leg, almost drapey, high waist pant as a rich contrast to the delicate top. I thought about the fashion forward, chic, but classic women who would drive a Studebaker. I thought she would take a classic silhouette, like the high waist pant, and modernize the look with a sheer blouse. The pants also have two larger pleats on the front for that created smooth sculpted line. I used the two vintage buttons for a side closure and extended a waistband to create another straight lined pleating detail.
Stay tuned for the final look!
How would you interpret the ’53 Studebaker or any of the other cars? What kind of garment would you make?