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Welcome to Sewing Stadium! Home of the Top Stitcher sewing challenge, and the jaw-dropping creations of the most imaginative minds in the sew-blogging world. You're in for a real treat. Go get inspired!

{OTT} Mean Girls

Mean girls?  What's this about mean girls?  Just wait until you see these utterly un-mean girls dolled up as some mean girls!!!  This week is the second Over The Top competition for Top Stitchers Season 3, and are you ever in for a treat.  Grab something hot to drink, put your feet up, and enjoy...

History is filled with women we adore, whose closets we envy. But for every Priness Di and Jackie O, there’s an equally fashionable counterpart we love to hate. For this “Mean Girl” challenge, design a modern, wearable, (and age appropriate) outfit inspired by the Marie Antoinettes and Kardashians of the world.
— Mean Girls Prompt

Judges will be looking for wearable designs with high-fashion elements. Take risks in your designs, and be sure to tie them into the time period, reputation, or actual closets of your inspiration.


Jess' Entry

Our 'bad girl' of choice is Bonnie Parker. Bonnie is the female half of the infamous pairing of Bonnie & Clyde. They were American bank robbers and outlaws, and eventually Bonnie died in a gun battle with the authorities in the mid 1930's. 

I wanted to recreate Bonnie's classic look in a way that was modern, child appropriate, wearable, but still reminiscent of her style. 

The dress is sewn from one of my own patterns (the Star Anise Dress by Gracious Threads). To make it more period appropriate, I eliminated the cuffs and lengthened the sleeves and the hemline. Instead of using facings, I fully lined the dress in bemberg lining; my daughter loves how it feels! The hems are all handsewn for an invisible finish. The gorgeous red fabric is a silk I found locally at Marshall Fabrics

The drapey cardigan is sewn from a super soft off white faux cashmere wool blend. I love how the fabric falls, and the drop shoulders work perfectly for this style. I finished all the raw edges off with ivory bias tape, and the hems are sewn with a reverse coverstitch in a matching ivory thread. The pattern is Ottobre 4/2015 #11

The hat is my favourite piece in the outfit. I used the free Rosabelle Hat pattern from Elsewhen Millinery. The hat is sewn from a lightweight wool suiting and I stiffened it with a layer of cotton twill. The lining is a quilting cotton. All the layers proved a little bit difficult to work with, but the hat is stiff enough to hold its shape, even when thrown about by a child. I handsewed a wide grosgrain ribbon around the hat to serve as a band, and the flower was sewn out of the silk I used for the dress. The hat was the most time consuming part of the outfit, but I can't get over how great it turned out! 

I sewed up a pair of quick gloves last minute to finish off the outfit. I simply traced her hand and used some black poly spandex. 

A few notes about the props:

A huge thank you to the G's for letting me borrow their beautifully restored 1940 Chevrolet Master 85. While it is a few years after Bonnie's time, it still fits the era well. The pellet gun is authentic to the period (early 1930's). We found it in an old wooden grainery when we moved onto our farm. 

Right from the start, I wanted to be sure that despite being a little OTT (over the top) that at least some of the pieces could be wearable. My daughter has plans to wear the silk dress to her piano recital and Christmas concert, and the ivory cardigan looks great with jeans and over her summer dresses. 

I've included more information about each of the individual pieces over on my blog. This competition was a fantastic learning experience, and I appreciate your feedback so that I can continue to extend my skills! 


Andrea's Entry

Hi there - Andrea here from The Design, The Stitch and The Wardrobe and I am SO excited to be taking part in my 2nd season of TopStitchers.  I very nearly had to pull out as I have spent the last 2 months absolutely flat out with Halloween costume orders but when I saw the due date of mid November I gave a happy little skip and signed myself up. The prompt we were given was:
 
'History is filled with women we adore, whose closets we envy. But for every Princess Di and Jackie O, there's an equally fashionable counterpart we love to hate. For this "Mean Girl" challenge, design a modern, wearable, (and age appropriate) outfit inspired by the Marie Antoinettes and Kardashians of the world.'

Like Swan lake in my last challenge, an idea popped into my head that I just couldn't shake -  Anne Boleyn.  Perhaps one of the most famous English queens and the most well known of Henry VIII's wives.  She was both despised by the English people for having the beloved Catherine of Aragon removed as queen and yet envied for her vast collection of gowns most of which she designed herself, inspired by her up-bringing in France. Anne was not known as a great beauty, she had an olive complexion with dark eyes and hair and these were not desirable traits in an English woman of her time. However her wit, charm and 'amusing ways' were enough to bring the most powerful man in the kingdom to his knees.  She promised King Henry a son that she would never produce but did give birth to Elizabeth I, who despite an awful start to her life went on to become one of the most successful rulers England has ever seen.
So enough of the history lesson - back to my outfit.  I totally had all sorts of period costumes running through my head , and then I re-read the prompt and saw the word 'modern' well, I sulked for about half an hour, seriously thought about ignoring the directions but then my competitive side won through. I was up against a pattern designer and I wanted to have at least half a chance.
 
So my project was to suit an older girl 8 - 11 yikes!!! Talk about totally out of my comfort zone!  Boys, I can do, with my eyes shut, and my hands tied behind my back haha (ok maybe that's exaggerating slightly), little girls - no problem-  the cuter the better right?  Tween girls - pfft no idea!!!  I am Mum to 6 boys and all I ever hear about is how difficult girls can be with their fashion choices. I had seen the last 2 OTT competitors decide against the princess dress option but hey ^^^look again at how many boys I have - If I get the opportunity to make a fancy dress I'm going to make a fancy dress.  It was tricky to decide how I was going to go about modernising her look. I figured I could either use a historical dress shape with more modern fabrics, or a newer dress shape with older looking fabrics. I kind of ended up with a mix of the 2.

 I picked the bodice tapestry style, fabric up at an op shop a few months ago knowing it would come in handy one day. The square neckline seemed to be a constant feature of Anne Boleyn's gowns so I knew I had to incorporate it in my look.  I used McCalls pattern 6376 and altered it to make it work for my dress. I used grommets and a ribbon to lace up the back of the dress.

I thought the gold chiffon skirt fabric would give the dress a more modern party dress look.  I used a massive amount of fabric ( 5 x 60 inch widths)  to create the skirt hoping it would give it an ultra full 'Renaissance' look.

The little jacket is the Lotus Blossom Shrug from Rabbit Rabbit.  I left the outer frill off it however as I wanted to show off more of the dress underneath so just finished it with some cream braiding.  

The neck ruff I knew, had to be a part of the outfit.  It was only begininng to become fashionable in Anne Boleyn's time and was usually fairly small. They were a statement of wealth (and if my experince was anything to go by having a very patient dressmaker).  
This always makes me laugh from one of my favourite TV shows:
Blackadder : What are you wearing around your neck?
Percy : Ah! It's my new ruff!
Blackadder : You look like a bird who's swallowed a plate.
Percy : It's the latest fashion actually and as a matter of fact it makes me look rather sexy!
Blackadder : To another plate swallowing bird perhaps. If it was blind and hadn't had it in months.


I can honestly say that it took me longer to sew that ruff than it did to make the whole dress lol.

Portraits of Anne Boleyn more often than not show her wearing gold 'B' around her neck.  My very clever hubby carves a lot of crowns and pendants for me out of leather so I knew a simple letter would be easy for him.  (Although I painted it gold)  The necklace was made buy threading pearls onto a ribbon. The headpiece was a gold chain that I added pearls to.  I tried to think of a way to incorporate the french hood into my outfit but couldn't think of a way to do it and still have it look modern. My headpiece was inspired from costuming on the movie 'The Other Boleyn Girl'. Incidentally, loved the book, the movie - not so much. I'm sorry but casting Scarlett Johanssen as someone so easily cast off because she wasn't pretty/ inspiring/ beguiling enough - just not believable. 

If you would like to see more pics please pop over to my much neglected blog www.designstitchwardrobe.com

A massive thank you to the stunning Annabel (11)  who modeled for me.


Before you give your ratings, here's a quick refresher of the rules!

  • You will rate rate each challenger, and every category. Max of 5 stars, 5 is highest.
  • Challengers will receive an average score for each category, and an average score overall. (You can see an example here) New to Season 2 - 50% of the vote will come from 3 Top Stitcher Alumnae who volunteered to judge this season's creations!
  • Your feedback helps each challenger recognize areas that they can improve their craft, and celebrate those areas that they already excel. 
  • As such, please submit your feedback for each contestant only once. Admittedly, I cannot enforce this, but the objective is for each contestant to receive a thoughtful rating, not skewed scores. 
  • It is SUPER DUPER NERVE-WRACKING to put work on display for others to judge, so let's remember to leave some love and encouragement for our challengers in the comments!
  • YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PICK A FAVORITE! Any week, any sew-down, you are welcome to reward both sewists with the highest scores. Or one sewist higher than another in different categories. This is a contest against each contestant's personal best, not against one another.
Jess' Technique *
(Technique) Do garment(s) reflect a strong knowledge of the fabrics used, and the methods and tools use to sew them?
Andrea's Technique *
(Technique) Do garment(s) reflect a strong knowledge of the fabrics used, and the methods and tools use to sew them?
Jess' Creativity *
(Creativity) Do garment(s) relate to the given prompt, and showcase the unique talents of the sewist?
Andrea's Creativity *
(Creativity) Do garment(s) relate to the given prompt, and showcase the unique talents of the sewist?
Jess' Presentation *
(Presentation) Quality photography is key, as is an overall vision for presenting finished work.
Andrea's Presentation *
(Presentation) Quality photography is key, as is an overall vision for presenting finished work.
Jess' Degree of Difficulty *
(Degree of Difficulty) Sew many pieces, or very intricate ones? These points reward that challenge.
Andrea's Degree of Difficulty *
(Degree of Difficulty) Sew many pieces, or very intricate ones? These points reward that challenge.
Feedback Pretty Please! *
(Leave some love!) Let this week's challengers know what you liked best from each look!