#tbtpost: Mr Brown, A Ghost Story

oonaballoona | #tbtpost | a ghost story

Happy Hell Night, or Mischief Night, or Devil's Night, or RUGGY'S BIRTHDAY(!), or, you know... Thursday. I thought it might be fun to throw back to an old post every now and again for this hashtaggable day. Maybe you'd like to join in, and dust off an old tale that new friends may have missed? For the first #tbtpost, I've got a ghost story for you. Added bonus: Now With Proper Capitalization. (Miss the ee cummings vibe? You can peep the original lowercase post here.)

I was very lucky to spend my collegiate years in the historic old town of Boston, MA, at an historic old college founded in the historic old mid 1860s. I chose to live on campus-- well, technically, as a freshman, there wasn't a choice. "On campus" meant a block long row of victorian brownstones acknowledged in the National Registry of Historic Places (told ya). I was down for that coolness, freshman or no.

As a pink faced first year, I was assigned to a sprawling room with 12 foot ceilings, crown moldings, and two windows that faced the back alley. The back alley of death. Now, as a grownup, armed with years of city living experience, I'm quite certain I would not walk down this back alley by myself. Not even at high noon with clear skies in broad daylight. But I did it at all hours back then. I had no choice, it was the shortcut to many classes, and as a quasi-triple-major I didn't have time for the long way. Once, I met a police officer running full tilt down the alley, pausing to tell me to GET THE HELL OUT OF THE ALLEY, as he was busy chasing a suspect who had just assaulted a woman. At 1 in the afternoon. HAD I SEEN HIM? No, officer

I'm not even shitting you.

But I digress.

(Mom and Dad, obviously I survived the back alley so please breathe. Okay? Okay.)

My dorm room came with two roommates. The first hailed from a sunny tropical island, and we hit it off immediately. She was absolutely game to take the bed by the windows, she wanted the sun, and I was absolutely game to take the bed waaaaaay over on the opposite side of the room, away from the fire escape leading to the back alley of death. We left the bed in the middle for the absentee number three. We rummaged each others' closets, hung the prerequisite comedy/tragedy masks and posters of gloomy rock artists whose music we'd never heard, and went off galavanting nightly in the week before classes began. We had so many days as a twosome, we weren't sure number three would ever arrive. Luck was ours! We had the biggest triple in the brownstone, nay, in the SCHOOL, for two! We Urban-Oufitted the third bed for late night geekfests and schoolwork.

But she did arrive. Weeks after the official start of the year, in a stink of rain and hail. The daybed was suddenly enveloped by a dark cloud that seemed to have been accumulating for 17 years. We opened our closets to her, we offered her the fancy daybed pillows, we hastily took our posters off her wall and encouraged her to hang her own.

She was not having us.

The triplet down the hall was much more her style, girls I would deem "popular" and "cool" in high school-- we were the straightlaced nerds. She smoked. She drank. She was on academic probation almost upon setting foot in the front door. But she was stuck with us. Beyond miserable, and completely volatile to boot, she would scream and curse at us before storming off to the triplets. Our quirky brownstone loft became quiet and gloomy. We went with relief to our classes, dreading going back to the dorm.

One night, around 3 am, I woke up completely and calmly to the sound of something shattering.  I turned to look at island roomie, way across the room by the windows. And saw a man sitting at the edge of her bed.

It was dark, and he wore a mask. Even in his seated position, I could tell he was he was very tall: he was hunched over the foot of her bed, elbows on his knees. He was slowly moving his head from side to side, looking first at my sleeping roomie, then turning his gaze to rest on the sullen newcomer a few feet away. Each time he turned his head back to my fair haired roomie, the soft glow from the back alley security light positioned on our fire escape would catch his face, illuminating the shiny brown mask covering his features.

I watched him do this for minutes. It seemed his only purpose. I truly didn't feel he was there to harm anyone, but still, feeling worried for my roomie, and safe enough in my far away bed, I reached for my glasses to get a better look.

And found he had stopped his motion to stare directly at me.

I whispered, "okay, you're cool", and hearing every-bit-of-horror-music-ever-played in my head, I purposefully clenched the covers and pulled them up, slow motion, over my face, seeing him stock still, fixing me in his sights the entire time. Under the covers, with my glasses still on, I waited to hear his footsteps fall across the room. They never came. and finally I fell asleep.

The next morning, covers still over my head but with the sweet light of back alley sun flooding across the room, I sat straight up and found island roomie stirring. Third was comatose, and usually was till noon. My glasses were still on, the only evidence that anything had happened at all. I grabbed my shower kit and headed for the door, when my foot hit something cool and shiny. A thin ceramic mask, with not a nick on it. A brown mask, of the tragedy sort, lying face up on the floor, seven feet away from where it used to hang... above my bed.

Island roomie saw my look of complete horror and as I stammered out my story, third awoke. Mad. But listening, quickly quieting, and then turning pale. She barked questions at me. What did he look like? Was he tall? Was he staring at both of them? Or just her? 

A week or so later, she was gone. Left school, went home. The triplet down the hall told us, not without some guilt, that her boyfriend had been killed in a car crash, weeks before she was to start college. All of her anger towards us made sense. We had no idea.

We took the masks down and gave them away. After freshman year, I stayed in the dorms, becoming a resident assistant, and made it my business to stick my nose in everyone's business. I still feel badly about her.


throw it in reverse

oonaballoona | silk brocade circle skirt | zac posen mood fabrics

My favorite way to eat is to appetize. Meaning we order every appetizer on the menu, have them all come at once, and stare at the bounty before us in open mouthed delight. This is also called tapas, but in New York tapas is really entree priced plates at appetizer portions. So I don't do tapas.

I like a smorgasbord in my beliefs as well, but right now Mercury Retrograde can go take a long walk off a short pier. Technical problems galore can happen when that planet gets to doing the moonwalk, and I'm known to fritz electronics under the best of circumstances (I had a great aunt who fritzed anything she touched, and who could not be photographed. Just Didn't. Show. Up. COOL.)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyhoo, that's my long winded, thinly connected way of saying a bunch of your lovely comments have made their way to spam folders, and my post from yesterday, a silk brocade ensemble, never made it to Bloglovin or Feedly. So, apologies if this is a repeat for some, but if you'd like to see a Zac Posen circle skirt with a side order of a crop top destined for the seam ripper, order up here


The Coiffed Quaff

oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics | zac posen

Hands down one of the best things about temperatures dropping: brocade. One of the worst: I'M BACK IN THE DAMN ALLEYWAY AGAIN.

A few short years ago I would have laughed like hell if you told me I'd say either of those things. Now Fall hits and just about all I can think of is brocade. Yes, I'm back to taking frozen pictures in the alleyway, but I'm in brocade. Past oona, the oona who would laugh in your face, never touched the stuff. Appropriately, not till Mood, to be exact: evidenced here, in July of 2012.

oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics | zac posen

Several weeks ago, a wiser oona walked into Mood Fabrics for something. Something for my October MSN make. I really don't remember what. But I do clearly recall I had a list, a gameplan, and all carefully laid out thoughts left my head at a full tilt boogie when I saw this Zac Posen Floral Silk Brocade.

Then the Pinkness whispered to me from a low shelf, and my allowance was gone.

I have since lost the list. I am 100% okay with that.

That said, I'm only 50% happy with this ensemble. The top, she does not fit well (Cynthia Rowley 1873 bodice). I knew those bust and waist darts were too angular (especially considering the weight of the fabric), I knew I should have taken a little more care around the neck curve, I knew I should have basted a zipper in to double check for fit before setting those snaps... but I didn't.

oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics | zac posen


(That should actually be coiffed. Considering the author, it works both ways. So I'm leaving it.)

oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics | zac posen


oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics | zac posen

Sigh. That top. It's like a tragic romance. I'm sad about it in the most wistful way. I've been feeling wistfully sad lately. It may have something to do with Kalkatroona's current fascination with The Vampire Diaries. Oh, multiple Elenas loved by multiple brothers, will a pair of you ever find happiness? 

You can barely see the seven snaps up the back, they match so well, but you can surely see the pulling occurring. Crop Top! I succumbed to your powers, and you have defeated me!

oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics

You can see the defeat better in these inside-out shots. Whole shebang fully lined, except for sleeves, which were fished with satin bias tape from Pacific Trimmings. The skirt is lined with some truly glorious satin, also from Mood, and comes in lots of colors... when it arrived, the weight and the loft of it tempted me to use it solely for a dress, especially at the price. BUT. Me n' solids. You know how that goes.

oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics | zac posen

You can see the surgery is going to involve undoing a bit of work. Luckily the work I put into the skirt paid off, lots of handstitching, and cooing and petting. Like vampires do. I will try to remember to coo and pet when I dig back into that top...

oonaballoona | silk brocade skirt and crop top | mood fabrics | zac posen

After all, I do think they deserve to be together.

this ensemble was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the Mood Sewing Network.


perfect student

Oonaballoona | Supporting Pattern Parcel 6 for Kids & Teachers | Sewing up the Bronte Jersey Top

I love school. I really, really do. If I could prove the 1/16th of Lakota Indian running through my veins and go back to school full boat, I totally would.

Because let's face it. SCHOOL AIN'T CHEAP. And at the moment, that DNA daydream is the only way this gal is getting back in class.

For now, I shall content myself with the School Of Google, the Further Education Of Sewing Blogs, and the worthy cause of helping kiddos and teachers out there who are in the thick of the repeatable truth that SCHOOL AIN'T CHEAP.

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

It's time for Pattern Parcel 6, that beautiful beast thought up by Jill and Danny of Made With Moxie, and I'm happy as a geek in Staples at the end of August to be a part of getting the word out again. Last time around, I played in Pattern Parcel 3, which raised over $5,100. Go on, peep the snazzy infographic and breakdown of the supplies galore that were donated through Donors Choose. To date, over $12,000 has been raised. Awesome.

Oonaballoona | Supporting Pattern Parcel 6 for Kids & Teachers | Sewing up the Bronte Jersey Top

This time I chose to dive into Jennifer Lauren's Bronte top. Though there are many beauties to choose from, my school supplies are dwindling over here, and I had just enough for this top. University of LIFE, yo. SCHOOL. AIN'T. CHEAP. It took about an hour to make up, including taping the PDF together. Which Mizz JL gets an A+ for! I would call myself a PhD in PDF taping, always working out my own thesis on how to make the ginormous maps work with the little space I have-- Jennifer Lauren did all that math for you. Brilliant pattern, easy top, and no, you don't need a serger, this was all done on my beloved Pfaff.

Oonaballoona | Supporting Pattern Parcel 6 for Kids & Teachers | Sewing up the Bronte Jersey Top

As usual, you only have a limited amount of time to snag your package. School doors close on this parcel October 31st. And wouldja lookit that, I made it super easy for you and threw a buy it button in the sidebar! Well, further on up the sidebar. But how cute would that have been if I was looking right at it?

Click on over and see if a thing or six strikes your fancy.

this top was made using the patterns included in Pattern Parcel 6. the patterns were gifted to me in exchange for spreading the word about this great cause.


What was I (drink)thinking #1

So! Welcome to What was I drinkthinking, a little series dedicated to wadders. This gem has gone to the great Thrift Pile In The Sky, so it's of no use to tell me how cute it is. ALSO I WILL NOT BELIEVE YOU. I MIGHT EVEN CALL YOU A LIAR! FRIENDS DON'T LIE TO EACH OTHER! (Of course, there's the danger that someone out there might truly think a wadder is cute, in which case, no offense, but this thing felt like I was wearing a candystriper's hairshirt.)

Let's begin, shall we?

In one of those recycled fashion stores that are all the rage in LA, I was in the dressing room, going through the aggravating experience of finding appropriate audition attire. It wasn't always so vexing. 

But at that point I knew a bit more about fit. A BIT. Because this romper, this janky carnival ride, this was what I thought photo worthy. Come on, y'all.  Feast your eyes on that front crotch curve and the sumptuous excess baggage. FEAST. Plus too tight legs! I WAS A POSTER CHILD FOR FIT!

Even so,  I had just enough knowledge about how things should fit to make me dangerous, and the RTW dressing room was therefore not the Candyland it used to be. Mais, I had no desire to sew audition appropriate clothing (still don't). So there I was, looking for bargain priced designer hand-me-downs.

(Ooo look what a badass I thought I was. I invite you to gaze at my crotch. That's not a shadow. Hey oona, for all your careful placement, how'dja manage to get the two DARKEST STRIPES in the yardage RIGHT IN YOUR FRONT CROTCH? Embarrassing tampax commercial every time I stood legs akimbo. Which I often do.)

Where's my waist. Anyone?

How does my butt look?! How many calories were in that dessert?! Did that guy from last night call you?! This was the stimulating conversation wafting from the dressing room next to me. Well, honestly, it wasn't that inane, it's absolutely appropriate dressing room talk. But I was so utterly disgusted, I could feel my eyes roll back in my head. The kind of roll that makes your eyelids twitch from the force of it. Dressed in my ridiculous attempt to look like a lawyer, I caught the roll in the mirror, and laughed at myself. I hated those chicks because, at the time, I had zero girlfriends in LA. And I wanted to go shopping with my girlfriends, and laugh in dressing rooms, and go eat ice cream.

I bought zilch, called a girlfriend on the walk home, and yammered about every silly trivial thing possible.

It was a good reminder that most people who are hating on you for seemingly no reason have reason of their own, usually having very little to do with you. 

This romper ended up on the counter at that very same store, along with a pile of clothing I couldn't imagine carting back across the country. Unsurprisingly, the buyer behind the counter did not bite.

What Was I Thinking: 
The fabric was way too heavy for this pattern (Suede Says 2222), a medium weight cotton with zero drape.
The print placement! EGADS!
Extending the crotch curve out and crossing my fingers didn't work.
The Armsyce extends down to Mexico.

What Was I Drinking:
I believe Ruggy was very into perfecting the perfect Manhattan at the time. Mostly due to the fact that we missed New York.

What I Learned:
Even though I failed miserably on that crotch of questionable color, I did take my time with those stripes. I was starting to think seriously about print placement (and doing lots of failing. No really, lots). And I was beginning to figure out where my real waist sits, and where the pattern should sit in relation to it. For a while after this, I was hiking errrrrrrthang up to my natural waist, a la Ed Grimly. Also, I learned that Suede Says he is not the pattern maker for me (although that lesson took some time, and several more tries of several more Suede Says patterns). 

I sincerely hope you found this little gem as catastrophic as I did! And lest you think all the candidates in this series will be ghosts of stitches past, just wait. I've got a wadder from last week that's amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing.


Irrational Catastrophe

oonaballoona | go get catastrophic

Several weekends ago, under my maniacal supervision, in a mere fourteen hours, one of my very favorite girlfriends Brilliant Chica sewed up the Kate & Rose Giselle dress from start to finish. She walked away with a garment, I walked away with a bigger head. No, really. I literally command myself to LISTEN AND RETAIN INFORMATION when the two of us are together. Intelligence seeps off of her like a heady perfume. I love it. My favorite observation of her beginner's view on sewing:

It's all about the avoidance of catastrophe. 

DAMN STRAIGHT, I hollered back happily. That's why I love my seam ripper. 'Cause stitches be TRIPPIN. (We were singing a lot of Iggy Azalea that weekend.)

She, however, was hellbent on not using her seam ripper. Until she saw that I too had to use that most important tool. Lots. Even with careful planning for catastrophe avoidance. Whatever level you're at, the seam ripper is your Number One Pal. Her surprise turned our conversation to the assumption, propagated by beautiful blogs and eye candy instagram and what have you, that once you reach a certain level, perfect garments appear with very little strife on the maker's end. Sort of like that Facebook syndrome everyone was hollering about. A kind of Irrational Reality. The number of people stitching has grown like some gorgeous untamed vine over the past few years-- I think the last 365 especially has seen an absolute eruption of people picking up needles and joining in the fray. It's wonderful, but also misleading: Everyone is doing it, and look how easily. 

Lately, I've had a lot of emails asking advice on how to begin, how to get a good fit, how I choose my wackadoo combos, how much do I really drink... well. I AM QUITE BRATTILY FLATTERED! But let's be real, not everything in Kalkatroona is a winner. I'm just not showing you the wadders. I mean, I could start a weekly series on What Was I Drinking Thinking. (I'm also not putting Coca Cola in my Gin. The horror.) 

But while some things come (seemingly) easy to me, others don't. I look at the great big beautiful pool of sewing blogs, our version of Reality TV, and fall headfirst into the trap. I look at the reality of Sallie Oh's silks, and Cashmerette's coats, and Amy's undies, and I irrationally think I CAN DO THAT! I TOTALLY HAVE THAT TALENT SIMPLY BY VIRTUE OF HOW INSPIRED I AM!!!! MY HIGH WAIST AND PROTRUDING DERRIERE WILL LOOK AMAZING IN AN EMPIRE TUNIC! AND WHY AM I NOT MAKING ALL OF MY OWN CORSETS?! I WILL BE SUCCESSFUL AT THAT RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!!!

And maybe I will, but in all likelihood I so won't. I'll dive headfirst into whatever shiny thing has caught my eye, I will try, and fail, and try again, and maybe get better, and maybe fail some more, and maybe decide I don't wanna wear that ever again, and maybe be the best there ever was...which is ALL great. IT'S ALL LEARNING. Sink or swim, you've simply got to jump into the pool. And the deep end is different for everyone. For some, it's couture sewing. For some it's knits and an overlocker. You won't find out until you're standing on your own high dive board, ready to jump. More and more, I find I want to climb up to the top rung, stomp on out, and leap off.

It's where the irrational vibe can work in your favor. Turn it into inspiration, and have your seam ripper ready.

Go get irrational. GO GET CATASTROPHIC. Go sew something.