A Tree Skirt.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | A Tree Skirt.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | A Tree Skirt.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | A Tree Skirt.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | A Tree Skirt.

Suddenly, and without warning, the city tore itself out of hibernation mode. There was a furious need to do something before 2017 rolled in. 

In "the business," the space between Thanksgiving and New Years gets progressively more chill, winding down to a dead stop by December 15. So, although this flurry was a welcome change, we suddenly found ourselves racing everywhere, and I suddenly found myself racing to get ALL OF THE THINGS SEWN, having previously decided to sew a gift for pretty much everyone in my life. Over a dozen items in under two weeks--and I'm talking lined jackets. I finished. I do not know how. As I wrangled wrapping four evening jackets in the car ride to our NYE celebrations, Rob cautiously inquired, so, what will you be sewing next in the new year?

I pulled myself out of a tornado of tissue paper and ribbon. WHY DO YOU ASK.

What will I sew? Well, I think it's going to be a mohair coat fashioned from a vintage blanket, featuring a horse head with a glass eye. I'm not joking. I know I'm going to take my time and enjoy it, because the moral of that car conversation was one I already know: NO MORE RUSHING ALLOWED. Rushing helps nothing. Take, for example, the skirt pictured above. This was my December MSN project, and I raced through it, desperate to have a Diane Keaton-esque ensemble to swan about in on Christmas Eve. It suffered for the pace: the pleats don't quite match, forget about print placement across the side seams-- and although I faced the hem, and gave the waistband a petersham treatment, I am 99% sure I'll be pulling this apart and putting it back together again. 

A lot of seam ripping? Yes, but I actually don't mind. It's wonderful to create better things from botched projects.

Hope you're easing yourself into this new year...may we create better things from botched! 


Silk Holidaze

silk holidaze | mcccalls 7387 | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Things have turned crazyface around here! Alongside the ramp up to the holidays, the business side of life suddenly woke back up and I'm a little (happily) swamped. So, I'm just going to dive right in. On my last Mood Sewing Network post, I talked about the fabric, now I'll tell you about the pattern...

This is McCalls 7387, which I've sewn up twice, and failed at twice, if you consider the fact that I lost a good foot and a half of fabric on each make a fail. I DO. Cuz I did it twice. Twice, people. That's three feet of fabric. THAT'S LIKE A SHIRT'S WORTH OF FABRIC.

silk holidaze | mcccalls 7387 | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I lost said footage from the hemline. That damn hemline is supposed to be far more dramatic, but each time it came out looking like a Beta Fish tail. Which actually sounds much cooler than it looked. Don't let the description fool you. After a time-out to mull over the fact that I had repeated my error, I lopped it off. (It originally hit just below my calves, the side seam hitting right about where it is now.)

silk holidaze | mcccalls 7387 | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I omitted the front fly facings after reading several pattern reviews about how wonky those directions were. Maybe I had been influenced by the general opinion, but after one glance at the fly instructions, I decided to bail on it. Instead, I cut an extra 5/8ths, using the selvage as the edge of the shirt. I then interfaced & folded it under once to the back, and once to the front, accordion style, to create a placket. The selvage is the front edge of the shirt. (There's also plenty of triple-stitched fuchsia rayon topstitching, but did I get a shot of that? I did not. Here, squint at this next shot, mebbe you can spy it...)

silk holidaze | mcccalls 7387 | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

As for those sleeves. HEY. Can someone tell me why a dropped sleeve would have so much ease? You don't need the extra movement, since the seam isn't on your shoulder, right? Also: why do we press the seam towards the sleeves on a woman's shirt, but towards the bodice on a man's? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. 

After inserting the sleeves, I pressed the seams this way and that, trying to figure out which draped best (man's way did), but still, they hung a bit...poofily. That extra ease at the "cap" on my bicep just wouldn't lie flat. I hacked the sleeves off, losing about 5/8ths from the armsyce, and added the fold over band option instead. Those little interfaced suckers stick out like I'm a silk crepe de chine'd line backer. Football and silk. I'm down.

silk holidaze | mcccalls 7387 | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

They really do wing out! I love them. Finally, I went haywire on the neckline (which does indeed hang straight) and encased it in bias, rather than adding the collar. I didn't see the need for buttons on this go, it feels more artsy this way. 

silk holidaze | mcccalls 7387 | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Oh yeah! One last thing, I did a center back pleat, rather than the diagonal, swooshy, très artsy pleat in the pattern. Because there's only so much art I can take.

Well y'all, hopefully some of this sew-speak makes sense to you. I'm mainly sharing the details in case you want the same outcome! Although I love my new topper, I'm still looking for that perfect, open shirt-dress pattern, with no waist seam. Got any suggestions?

this silk crepe de chine topper was made with my fabric "allowance" as part of the mood sewing network.


In Need of Beauty: Three Rizzoli Books You Must Possess.

In Need of Beauty: Three Rizzoli Books You Must Possess.

We had a gorgeous Thanksgiving, during which time the world stopped, and we were able to live in a private universe of family and food and love and beauty. On Sunday, our world was whittled back down to our dynamic duo. We readied ourselves for Monday--Rob with football, and I with a floral mesh swing coat inspired by Dior. We ended the weekend together on the couch, with the final episode of Friday Night Lights (our second time through), and Rob sighed,  I want more Good stories.  There's not enough of them.  I replied,  I think we'll see more soon. Actually, I think we're about to see a lot of beauty over the next four years.

We're about to see a lot of *everything*, no doubt, but don't you feel a push, a wake up call, to make it clear that you are Good? Even in the commercials we saw during Sunday games--the COMMERCIALS--people, corporations, are making themselves clear. Walmart had an ad up with Thanksgiving tables mixed with every race, color and creed--a black female soldier declaring to her platoon that you are my family, it doesn't matter what color you are. Zales showcased a lesbian couple joyfully tying the knot, showered with love from every direction. Amazon has an ad that's gone viral, in which two old friends with different beliefs share the same aching knee problem, from the kneeling they both do for their separate religions. Beautiful.

At any rate, I won't belabor you with half baked deep thoughts on every post, but it did seem to me that beauty is more important than ever right now. So I'll end the musings there, and give you an eyeful of beautiful books I've been meaning to share with you since last Christmas, as part of my Sewing Goodies series. Because these books will make you want to Sew. Beautiful. EVERYTHING.

In Need of Beauty: Three Rizzoli Books You Must Possess.

I don't like to say "never," but I can firmly say that I will N-E-V-E-R be a person who can read a book on a Kindle. Books, real books that you can hold in your hand, there's no comparison for me. Yet, I was completely blind to the use of fashion books for years. I mean, you can google inspiration from any number of designers! Turns out, having that paper in my hands is pure ambrosia. Beats a computer screen right to death. 

Hands down, Rizzoli books are my favorite. It's gotten to the point that if I see their mark, I'm sold. This large format book, Valentino: Themes and Variations, is glorious.

I've had this huge tome since last Christmas, and I haven't even gotten through the whole thing yet. Partly because I want it to last, partly because the inspiration is so overwhelming, I can only take so much at a time before I cry UNCLE VALENTINO and run to my sewing desk. It's just that stunning. 

In Need of Beauty: Three Rizzoli Books You Must Possess.

When I added Lanvin to my wishlist, it was purely for the fact that it was published by Rizzoli. (See? I wasn't lying!) When my parents gifted it to me, I thought ehhh this isn't my style even as I proved myself to indeed be a liar, as I drooled over the beadwork and thought up ways to incorporate it into my hamhanded machinations....


In Need of Beauty: Three Rizzoli Books You Must Possess.

And last but not least, Dior Impressions. The one that started my little collection. I checked this book out from our local library--it was actually the first designer book I ever leafed through in the quiet of our home, and as Rob read his "book" in bed next to me (on an Ipad, BLASPHEMY) I couldn't keep my reactions quiet. In fact, he got very little reading done that night, as I kept punching him to look at each new page.

It was the first designer book I decided I had to own. Not quite coffee table size, this cloth wrapped gem is smaller than the rest, and hands down my favorite. It ties Dior's work to inspirations of his own: art and nature.

(Speaking of coffee tables, these don't actually reside there, as that is reserved for eating in our small apartment. Nope, they live atop our electronics cabinet. Yesterday, Rob shocked me by asking if I could move them, as they're staring to pile up and block the speakers. I think you know what my reaction was.)

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into some of my favorite "trophies," as Rob rightly calls them (you'd think such a perceptive man would know better than to pose the aforementioned question, eh?). We readily plunk down cash for sewing books, but poring over these tomes is, in my opinion, a gold mine. It's like having a carefully curated exhibit in your home. If you're like me, and late to the party on the value of having one or two or TWENTY around, I hope you'll give them a try, whether it's through these links, or your local library (actually, the library is a great gateway drug for these! I have a pile of books that I check out every time we trek home for the holidays, and I pretend they're ALL MINE for a whole week.)

And for those of you who are already designer bibliophiles...got any recommendations? Our electronics cabinet needs piling up, dontcha know.

the links in this post are amazon affiliate links, so let your fingers do the googling if you're not into that! pennies earned go towards keeping up the sewing and blogging habit... and maybe another book or two...