October 3, 2015


oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | IRL

I had a brilliant idea during #sewphotohop, inspired by the cacaphony on Instagram, and the crickets on blogs. It was "The UNstagram Challenge." The goal was to write, instead of squeezing life into a snap, a blurb, and 800 hashtags.

And then my cat died.

That challenge never happened, partly because I felt that I was being mean to Instagram (see above for the rest of the reason). I pictured an UNstagram button on the sidebar, pointing its accusatory finger at the happy little social media platform, and it made me feel bad for the app. (Because obviously, inanimate objects and pieces of code have feelings. See; Kenny, Ellie, Ricky, LucilleGeorge.) And besides which, I love Instagram! Hell, I've been looking forward to #sewvember since last November! So, I abandoned the idea.

And counteracted the stress of obsessing over the sick critter on the couch by posting fabric filled shots. 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | IRL

Yesterday, I went to get my quick fix of inspiration and pleasing life moments, and the first six shots were advertisements. Not IG sponsored stuff--I mean shots that were swiped from the web and reposted, or carefully composed colorful text, or GIFs shimmying and shaking in a little square box. Announcements, links, reposts. I think of them as Fakegrams. This is all fine, of course, as Digital Underground so rightly crooned, dowhatchaLIIIIIIIIIKE, but I think this shift might be what knocks IG out of its current first place standing in social media. There are fewer and fewer Actual Life Moments, snapped and posted within minutes. Now, even when one does go old school, that Moment needs to be masterfully edited, if the preponderance of tutorials meant to help you beautify your pics have anything to say about it.

(Don't get me wrong, I'm totally guilty of throwing a fakegram up on IG when I post here. I'm fakegramming at a level, oh, I'd say, three? Haven't been able to bring myself to use text yet. That gets you to like, an eight. No shame if you're a ten. And I love photo editing!!! In fact, I'm seriously considering throwing down a whole two dollars for SKCRWT, an app designed to correct lens distortion on your phone. What?! I would go on to say, WHO AM I, but let's face it, I have nine photo editing apps already, and it makes total sense.)

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | IRL

When we lost our big guy this past Labor Day, I posted a shot of an organized thread drawer. It was how I spent Labor Day, but it was how I spent Labor Day because despite our best efforts to keep him from any suffering, our cat of 16 years took a major turn for the worse over a holiday weekend, when there was nothing to do but wait to give him a way out.

Oddly enough, for all my talk about wanting to get back to blogging and sharing Actual Moments with each other, many of you probably don't even know we had a cat. We've had five, actually. The most we've had at one time is three. Those three cats made cross country road trips, forced us to keep feline hours in doorless apartments, and gave us incredible amounts of happiness. Cody was our last musketeer. I stopped posting about them long ago, because it was too hard to post about them when they were gone. It sucks, and pet people get it, and non-pet people (sometimes) don't. It's super fun when the response to No, he's not here is When are you getting another. Easier to not bring the subject up, but I'm bringing it up anyways, because it was a quiet reminder of what deserves concern.

The rise of Instagram! The demise of blogging! Cars that drive themselves and Amazon Obelisks that will spit out everything you need to know! It's a little silly, isn't it? I don't think that any of it is cause for true concern (save for the fact that the machines will one day take over, and they'll be ruling a whole generation of people who will have completely lost the ability to hold an off-screen conversation, no biggie). Social media, in whatever form earns our passion, shouldn't gain our everyday thought. It can't replace real life. (But, it can be real cool. Example: the wonder of color in the second shot, that brightened some very sad days, was a gift from Lusty Wench, who I met on...you guessed it...Instagram.)

I don't have any specific snazzy questions to end this post, but I'd love to know what you think. About pretty much anything. You're more interesting than a blurb has room for.

September 30, 2015

BACK IN BLACK + giveaway

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | marimekko midi skirt | back in black

Guys, we have every AC/DC album ever produced, and it is GLORIOUS. I can throw on the dulcet tones of Bon Scott at ten in the morning, and still be slam stitching to Brian Johnson's serenades at ten in the evening.

That bit of information has nothing to do with this skirt. Except that, considering the amount of horrifically wrong turns that I took in the making of it, one would assume I was imbibing Bon Scott levels of intoxicants.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | marimekko midi skirt | back in black

Hey, easy pleated cotton midi skirt! Look how simple you are, with your six equally spaced pleats!

Record needle screech. It took me roughly 30 days to make this skirt, during which time, said skirt was shoved back into the bag it came in, for some truly furious time outs. Sometimes, the bag hid the remnants of a dress. Sometimes, a cape. Before the final product, the bag held 8 pieces of ripped cotton rectangles, all trued up and waiting for a reincarnation.

Why would I work so hard to save a print that was obviously trying to kill me? Well, like Sonja of Gingermakes, I was contacted by Always Mod with the tempting offer to play with some Marimekko yardage, and like Sonja, I screamed yes.

Unlike Sonja, I did not pick a a pattern perfectly suited to fabric, I did not consider that the iconic black and white print I chose was not comprised of perfectly aligned ovals, I did not, I did not, I did NOT.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | marimekko midi skirt | back in black

Hey, easy pleated midi skirt! Why, you don't even have anything going on in the back save for two flat panels! WAY TO BAIL!

Yeah. As much as I hate it when the back is an afterthought, I actually did put quite a lot of thought into the derriere region. The carefully pleated ovals created the super pleasing effect of Baboon Ass. Away they went.

Oh wait, there's more! I also intended a super chic, colorful little motorcycle jacket to go along with the black-n-whiteness! And then switched to a vintage 50's cropped cape coat! Made out of PVC! PVC IS SUPER CHIC! 

If this isn't a candidate for What Was I Drinking, I don't know what is.

(I invite you to picture that jacket with Baboon Ass skirt.)

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | marimekko midi skirt | back in black

The PVC coat, she is still folded up, and awaiting rebirth as a giant purse. But I soldiered on with the skirt, and I'm glad I did. I wish I'd had the foresight (or the strength) to take a shot of the giant box pleated monstrosity I tore up-- when I left the print as designed, the off centered ovals created some very unpleasing shapes, and not just in the behind.

It seems completely ridiculous to rip up fabric, only to rejoin it to create, essentially, the same length of fabric, but my god, it worked out so much better. You'll just have to trust me.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | marimekko midi skirt | back in black

And I do love how each side reveals a different form of hacked up print. Kind of M.C. Escher-ish!

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | marimekko midi skirt | back in black

Or it could be that I'm just relieved to have escaped with a wearable skirt, free from baboon ass.

Okay, are you scratching your head at my machinations? Would you like to try some Marimekko machinations yerslef? Always Mod is offering up a giveaway of one free yard of your choice of fabric! Click here for the (very official looking, kind of scary) giveaway page (ETA: as mentioned in the comments, fine print says US peeps only. Sorry international friends, I'll be on the lookout for ways to show you some love!), enter your email address, and you're in. The contest closes Oct 8 and they'll announce the winner Oct 9ish.

Just, please, when stitching, remember the cautionary tale put forth here. Remember the Ass, my friends.

Always Mod supplied the fabric in exchange for this post. I'd like to thank them for letting me ruin some really beautiful stuff.

September 28, 2015

been awhile

After a long and furiously lovely week of workshopping a musical that renewed my love for the word, I had a day off to relax, and try to fight my body's desire to break down completely in a mess of allergy-slash-cold. 

I won.

Netflix was partner in this battle. Although I hadn't stitched in well over ten days, Ruggy left the house on Sunday with the order that I would chill and take it easy. This was a struggle. My petite stash called to me with its siren song, Gorgeous George gleamed purple, reflecting the light of the soft fall day outside the window... 

I turned on the TV.

(I hate to turn on the TV.)

I scrolled through Netflix.

(I HATE to scroll through Netflix.)

And then...after endless categories created to lure you into mindless bouts of bingewatching, I landed on Iris, barked WELL YEAH to the empty apartment, and settled in. About three quarters of the way through, the parade of color and texture was undeniable. I got up to cut out a bodice or two. The film ended, and Netflix slyly suggested Advanced Style. I shrugged my shoulders and I left it on, thinking I'd keep stitching with background noise. Two minutes in, I realized this required my full attention, even more than the Liberty tana lawn on my table. (Yeah.) I ordered some fajitas and sat my ass in front of the boob tube.

If I ever see Ari Seth Cohen on the street, I'm going to hug him, and ask if I can walk with him for a few blocks. Well, no, first I'm going to tell him that we shared the same best friend growing up. Then I'll continue with the inappropriate physical contact. What a beautiful film! I felt like I spent the evening with my Nan, or with the fashionable gal my Nan was, but could not be. Don't get me wrong, she had style, but she had too much generosity of spirit to embrace that style fully for herself. And too many years of making ends meet to be comfortable with spending a dime on herself.

She was a huge enabler of style for me, though. Almost every weekend, my Mom would drop us off at the mall, or we'd take the bus sometimes, and arm in arm we'd hit the stores, her applauding my choices and using her Social Security check to fill up bags for me, accompanied by a slice of S'barro pizza midway through. And chocolate cake to finish, of course.

If you've read the yammering around here, you've heard this story before. But what struck me last night was a deep regret, that I didn't know how to sew when she was with us. I think she would have delighted in it, in a way that a best friend would have, in a way that someone whose every Saturday was spent, literally arm in arm, in a New Jersey Mall would have: You can make those things for yourself now? IN ANY COLOR YOU CAN DREAM OF?  

I would have made her such things. I would have had to assure her that the cost wasn't much, I would have had to assure her that the time was so well spent, as in hindsight all our time together was, I would have had to tempt her into taking those things, but I would have draped her in color.