Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown!

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

This right here is something I’ve been wanting to make for years now. A quilt dress. Mind you, I did NOT want to make the *actual* quilt. Though I do have roughly ten bags of wax print scraps stored up for a rainy day, this squirrel does not have the mindset (yet) for quilting.

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

But my mom likes to surprise me with all manner of technicolor goodness. And plants. Her thumb is green as the day is long. Sadly, the technicolor goodness has a much better chance of survival around these parts (watering is key, I’m finding out). However, I’d been wanting to hack into this Kantha quilt since it entered our domain. I couldn’t see cutting up such a beautiful gift from my mom, but then the perfect reason presented itself in Re:Fashion Season 2...

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

Said reason is revealed in the full episode on Bluprint, which you can, right this very hot minute, watch completely free! As in NO “free trial sign up,” NO “cc info needed,” just enter an email address and you can binge EVERYTHING on the site through January 7th.

Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

I won’t say much more about this dress here, since you can get the whole story right now, even if you don’t subscribe to Bluprint. But I know we sewists love our static close-up shots, so I made sure to ask for some in our photo shoot!


Re:Fashion ...from Quilt to Gown! | oonaballoona | Rob and Marcy Harriell

HI HANDSOME! MATCHING ME LIKE IN MY DREAMS! He is actually down with this sort of thing now! Well, to a degree. I mean, he’d *rather* a subtle hint of a pocket square. He went big for me this time. But couldn’t you see him in a technicolor blazer? A brocade blazer? A BROCADE BLAZER WITH A SEQUIN BACK PANEL AND ME IN A MATCHING SEQUIN BALLGOWN?! CAN YOU IMAGINE?!!!!!

Maybe in season 3.....

For now, catch seasons 1, 2, and everything else these Handmade Harriells have on Bluprint for free through January 7th. Just search “Harriell” on site to pull up all our madness.  And remember —- everything else is bingeable as well; cooking, carpentry, oil painting, ballet, crochet...and yes, actual quilting ;).


A Blogger Walks Into A Bar....

Or, what are you doing New Year’s Eve?

Before I revealed my secret identity as an actress, this space was all about stitching. No one in the sewing world really knew what we were doing jetting from NY to lalaland, or why random strangers who had nothing to do with a sewing meetup were asking for pictures on the street, or why I was suddenly popping up on a tv screen, left on for background noise whilst setting in a sleeve. And on the flip side, people in “the business” had no idea I sewed, until I screamed THANKS I MADE IT when complimented on an outfit at work. And they certainly had no idea I had a blogging alter ego.  

But in this particular case, I had the surreal situation of making a friend, through blogging, who was in the music business, who had no idea this sewist was also a singer.

We first heard Ethan Iverson play the piano through a tiny, tinny TV speaker in a little LA tree house apartment. The cable TV “jazz radio” station had started off with the ubiquitous “Take Five,” swinging us from Coltrane, to Davis, then suddenly to the quiet opening notes of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Rob and I slowly turned from our books and fabrics to the TV screen, in confused recognition, as the intro settled into a transcendent Tears For Fears cover, with Ethan’s piano as voice.

This was The Bad Plus. We immediately sought out everything they did, including all the live concerts we could make. I never said we’d been introduced to the catalog of their music on cable TV *out loud*—which at the time was akin to saying I'm a coffee afficianado, and then giving the name of your favorite Nespresso pod when asked which bean you drink. (Mine was Ristretto.) But we find so much music through streaming devices now, it seems completely normal. (And I’ve since graduated to fancy small batch indie coffee, SMELL ME.)

We started to become familiar faces at concerts. Then Ethan found us, through the blog. Through a post about the public appearance of thongs in airports, to be precise, in which our opinions were 100% sympatico. One evening in NY at Smalls, during a particularly awesome birthday week, he stopped at our bar stools between sets. I know you, he said. You’re oonaballoona

YES I AM, I grinned back, practically falling off my stool onto Rob’s lap, who was coolly shaking hands and exchanging actual names. Of course I shoved the Marcy part under the rug, I mean, I had just missed one of the few concerts they had done with a vocalist, because I was in the middle of shooting a David E Kelley pilot and starring in ”In The Heights” on Broadway, but more importantly, I MADE MY DRESS.

We met and fell immediately in love with his mate, Sarah Deming, author and Golden Gloves champion among her myriad talents. The four of us multi-hyphenated folk—author/pugilist/sommelier, writer/musician/composer, writer/actor/saucemaker, and sewist/secret identity, grew into the sort of Great Good Friends you cook for, and stitch for; friends that you watch all the important episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with, friends that you eventually let your secret identities out with. The sort of friends you plan imaginary vacations with, and spend real New Years Eves’ with. 

We’ve been happy audience members at the annual Village Vanguard concert for years now, Sarah and I bedecked in oonaballoona originals, Rob in a handmade tie, Ethan bringing down the house.  This year, Ethan’s stepped out on his own, continuing his constellation of fantastic collaborations with jazz greats and mentors, writing, composing, creating, and basically exploding. And this New Year’s Eve, our musical paths converge, as I’ll be sharing the stage with him at the Zinc Bar (a stage where Billie Holiday sang while Sinatra watched from the audience. No pressure.)

Two sets begin with The Ethan Iverson Trio, Vinnie Sperrazza on drums and Corcoran Holt on bass, then I’ll totter on out in a handmade gown for a set of songs you likely know well— the music of Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Dionne Warwick. And yes, I’ll wear a different dress for each set. Never pass up an opportunity for a costume change. NEVER

If you’re in town, I hope you’ll join us.  And let me know if you do, and let me know what pattern you’re wearing, because when you think about it...sewing is the thread that got us here.


Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress.

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

GREAT TITLE RIGHT?!!!! Last week, Rob was away for five days, which in Casa Harriell Time (CHT) is ALMOST FIVE YEARS, and, as previously evidenced when we are apart, questionable decisions were made.

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

For Rob, it's doing things like demolishing and renovating our bathroom single-handedly (this turned out to be a very good thing in the end; Rob: I love the bathroom). For me, it's turning the house into a tornado of fabric and slam sewing through anything within reach.

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

This was one of those slam sews, a dress made in about 5 hours, which at the end of the day, for a dress of this level, is just silly. It was worn that very evening, to perform with the Loser's Lounge. We have a ridiculously good time at those concerts! But when my ladies asked me how I was upon arrival, I had to say-- nay, HOLLER: 

There were a lot of new faces there, and therefore new peeps learning I make my own stuff, and therefore new requests for stuff of their own, which I happily dodged as much as possible. Though one gorgeously talented lady did correctly guess how much a dress like this might cost...she gave me PAUSE, y'all!! 

I digress. The dress. The slam sewn dress. She doesn't stop at the waist, as the belt might suggest. I elongated my self-drafted strapless "bustier" pattern to stop at mid-hip, then attached a paneled skirt. 

To keep her up, I made a second bustier pattern as drafted, and threw rigilene boning on those seams. Now, if I hadn't been POSSESSED, I would have realized that having a waist edge underneath a dress without a waist seam would get uncomfortable, which it did. Should have made the lining as long as the bodice, but you know, I elongated my pattern directly on the fabric, because poor choices.

I didn't have an appropriate invisible zipper, of course I didn't, I didn't plan this out AT ALL, so I used an exposed gold zip. She buckles a litte just under the waist--but never you mind that, JUST NEVER YOU MIND, because she's not long for this world in her current state! 

Which is why you're getting these slightly blurry, back alley pictures of this dress (another intriguing decision, as my photographer was gone). Evidence that she existed as such!

My first instinct for this fabric, which hails from @fabricsusainc, was to go for an autumnal maxi skirt, and after her virgin outing proved vexing, I believe that's just what I'll do. Time for some surgery. Though I'll grieve losing that print placement on the bodice portion! Print placement took about 3 out of the 5 hours of stitching!

I know, I know, shhhhhhhhhh. Nothing is safe in my handmade closet. I might salvage the bodice portion for a two-set, though!

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

If you wanted this look, you could use the bodice portion of Simplicity 8456 (it's really the same look, my pattern just fits my tatas better 😁) and attach a half, or full, circle skirt at mid-hip. You'd simply use your mid-hip measurement for the "waist" measurement, and if you don't want to do the math, put those digits in any number of circle skirt apps to get your skirt pattern (I love By Hand London's online calculator.)

By the way, I have LOVED reading your comments on my jacket giveaway post, both here and on Instagram!! I haven't replied, as I'm keeping the area clean for pulling a name later today. I'll close off entries at noon 10/28 EDT (that's today as of the writing of this post) and pull a name out of a hat this evening. It'll probably be announced on Instagram before the blog, but I will put the winner up here as well (and you don't have to be on IG to win, though you do get an extra chance if you follow & comment there as well--again, before noon!)

Okay cheerio then! I don't know what's got that phrase in my head, but when you start with a post title like this, might as well FINISH STRONG.