10.29.2015

A Sugar Skull Purse

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | halloween sugar skull embroidery

HELLO HALLOWEEN. Time for treats! A sugary treat in the form of an embroidered, candy apple (or maybe BLOOD) red pleather purse. Oh, adult candy bag! YOU WERE SO MUCH FUN TO MAKE!

Normally I ignore Halloween completely, but this year I did a little something festive, for my fourth round at The Sewing Party. There's loads of embroidery porn & photos in the full reveal at TSP, including my first try at a magnetic hoop (SUCH A COOL TOY!) but I thought I'd share some guts & sewing tricks here.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | halloween sugar skull embroidery

Indeed, I had to pull out a trick or two while sewing up this Chunky Purse by You Sew, Girl! I thought my choice of fabric & lining was stiff enough to stand on its own, but when I elongated the pattern, I had a very sad, very floppy candy bag on my hands. I ended up needing some stabilizer on the fly. Enter: the extra large metallic bubble wrap mailer envelope. The carnage of which, you see above. I cut it down, stitched it to the lining of the purse bottom, and inserted it between the fabric & lining just before slipstitching the lining opening closed. There shall forever be bubbles betwixt the purse fabrics. Had I followed Nicole's instructions, this wouldn't have been necessary... this is a great pattern, and comes with the metal clasp!


In order to aid in sandwiching the purse into the clasp, you're supposed to use cording (and glue), if memory serves. I do know that whatever Nicole recommended was not in my stash. However, I keep a fair amount of this neon elastic stuff on hand-- for real, I use this wackiness all the time. Sometimes even in dresses! I zigzagged it on with a regular presser foot and it worked out great.


Not so great: presser feet and sticky pleather! Luckily, this embroidery kick finds me with rolls of all kind of stabilizer. I used tear-away scraps to provide a smooth surface between presser foot & pleather, and simply tore it away after stitching was done. (Interesting to note, this was not necessary when doing all the fancy machine embroidering on top of the pleather. The hoop is moving, but I guess George is essentially straight stitching?)


For my final trick: Horrific guts! Run in terror, my friends! I had just enough of this geometric pleather to line the purse...if I cut and pieced. Hurts my eyes, man. But it had to be done. I think the added smartphone pocket lessens the blow, no?

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | halloween sugar skull embroidery

More guts! MOAR GUTS FOR HALLOWEEN! What lies beneath this embroidery made me scream with glee. Hey, you experienced embroiderists out there, I'd love to know if this is a nightmare to your eyes. I think I got the bobbin/top thread ratio right, but I'm winging it! 

I'm continually knocked out by what Gorgeous George can do. HE'S A BEAST, Y'ALL. You can see the full reveal of this technicolor bag over at The Sewing Party, where I also wax on for a moment about tackling things that are scary. I'm having a ball researching embroidery techniques, but I'm also finding loads of tutorials that are less teaching and more dissuading. Much like finger wagging in sewing, I don't get it. What's the use of scaring yourself away from trying something new, outside of the box, or "above your level"? How else does one level up? Maybe there's wonkiness on your first try-- there sure is with mine. But that's what the second, third and fortieth tries are for.

What terrifies you? Buttonholes? Embroidery? Tailoring? It's the perfect time of year to scare yourself. Holler your worst sewing fear, let's egg each other on!

10.26.2015

The Science Of Sui

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | anna sui linen mini dress

If I were a dog, I would be one of those mutts that sniffs out truffles. DESIGNER TRUFFLES.

Guess who ran into some more Anna Sui at Mood. I hunt around, I pull out a bolt, BOOM, it's The Sui. It’s not like she has a specific named shelf or anything. Sure, I find her in the “Designer” section…but this yardage was lounging on the bottom floor, in a colorful little bin of medium weight cotton & linen bolts. Next to shirting. NEXT. TO. SHIRTING.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | anna sui linen mini dress

No offense, Shirting. You’re just not my cup of tea.

But this craziness was right up my alley! My first thought was a maxi skirt, like my last dance with Sui, yet in the end, it wanted to be short. It told me so, in very loud tones. And luckily (tragically?) the weather is playing nice… I had zero problems wearing this out on the street last week. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have arrived at that period in humanity’s history where the closet needs to be All Seasons All The Time. Like an All Skate for temperatures!

(Just imagine Fall and Summer, clumsily careening hand in hand, a couple of awkward teenagers…makes it way less apocalyptic, no?)

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | anna sui linen mini dress

Oh, would you like to know about the dress? ME TOO. Let’s just get full armageddon here, and talk about how fast time is flying. Time is literally fleeting at a hopped up rate! Something about the earth's rotation slowing down, and hertzs, and Einstein's calculations of the speed of light and whatnot. SCIENCE! PHYSICS! THINGS I CANNOT COMPREHEND! Go on, google it. Like Climate Change, this is an Actual Thing Happening Now. (Sewing Scientists, I invite you to holler, elaborate and/or refute in the comments.)

Too much fleeting time has passed for total recall. My brain has just enough space for the twelve things I’m working on at any given moment. When something is completed, GET OUT. NO VACANCY!

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | anna sui linen mini dress

I do recall using the By Hand London Polly Top, and the bottom portion of the Salme Yoke Dress. It was intended to be a playset, but I didn’t like the proportions. I ripped off the skirt waistband, and used the box pleats as a guide to cinch in the top, attaching it to the dress. With 8, 5 inch long pleats spanning my waistline, it feels as if I’m wearing a super comfortable belt– which, actually, I probably would do, when wearing in “real life.” Do you find that you don’t accessorize as much when taking blog shots? Gotta see the sewing!

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | anna sui linen mini dress

GOTTA SEE THE CRAZY TOO. Changing the playset up on the fly meant adding a side zipper in the eleventh hour. It's lucky that I have a penchant for off-the-wall zippers, because I was inserting this weirdo plastic job about ten minutes before I needed to get pictures and post to MSN. October was half over and I full on forgot to have this month's post ready! Time flying for real, yo.

I did a semi-exposed, upside-down zipper insertion, which I like to employ when the zipper head is some gigantic piece of machinery that would feel uncomfortable under the arm.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | anna sui linen mini dress

My favorite part of this dress is also the part that gave me the most headache: the hem. 

It started out well. Banging out that decorative stitching in neon thread was super fun! On both this skirt and my Dad's Guayabera, I used wash away stabilizer under the stitching, to support the fabric as the wing needle made its merry holes. Mrs Mole, whose blog is chock full of detailed examples and techniques, asked for some sample shots on the decorative stitching, which I was on my way to happily providing. BUT HEY GUESS WHAT. Incorrectly done, yo! I used the plasticky, slicker wash-away stabilizer, rather than the more papery vilene wash-away. It still worked out, but I'll be hitting pause on those detail shots in favor of getting you correct information :)

Still, it worked out. The real problem with the hem came when I fringed the edges of the linen. It hung so stiffly, I looked more vintage Cher than trendy Bohemian. So I cut off the fringe, turned the (unseen) third row of diamonds under, and added two more rows of stitching. The hem stands out now, almost as if I had inserted horsehair. I love it!


Also loving: 80s remakes of Dionne Warwick songs. Ruggy & I were at a hipster coffee shop, and all these 60s girl groups were crooning hits that we only recognized from the 80s counterparts. Check it out! Ruggy DJ'ed breakfast, and I shimmied to the tunes in my head, to feel a little less odd in front of this parking garage. 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog by marcy harriell | anna sui linen mini dress

Because odd on top of odd equals normal. Mathematical fact. WHOAH. I've got science, physics, and math, all in one post! Truly, the world is as upside-down as my zipper.

this dress was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the mood sewing network. no actual scientific, mathematical, or physics-type (physical?) facts included. 

10.22.2015

This might be why it's called a Manhattan.


DUDE, I said to the smoker, repeat offending on our front stoop for the fourth day in a row (his short term memory is, apparently, 50 First Dates short), you have GOT to be kidding me. Aren't you tired of me nagging you? Aren't you tired of SEEING me? Just go somewhere else. JUST. GO. ANYWHERE. ELSE.

Mumble mumble, he said, crushing his half-finished smoke on the step, sauntering off with his pizza box.

At least this time he didn't bark at me to CLOSE YOUR WINDOW. That was the gem he offered up on day three. Strangers telling me what to do in my own home are awesome! If you'd like to buy me an apartment in a high rise, that'd be just fine, I retorted sweetly. He rolled his eyes and walked away.

I have decided on several options for further courses of action, should he grant me the pleasure of his company for a fifth day. One involves me going full-volume-nuclear on him, and yes, I know I know, that is not the course of action I'll take. While I sincerely believe that I am 6 foot 3, and able to physically annihilate just about anything, I am also aware that this belief is helpful only in terms of boosting my self confidence.

Helpful is a rare breed nowadays in the city. I'm starting to wonder if it's specific to New York, though. I was away in Seattle/Portland last week, doing an absolutely gorgeous workshop of a new musical (apologies to every sewist I was in spitting distance of...so busy!!). And the people. The people! Were SO! FRIENDLY! I had a conversation with just about every stranger that crossed my path! Back at home, I swear, people are crossing my path... BUT IT'S BECAUSE THEY'RE AIMING FOR ME.

And how is it possible that I'm home at the exact time of Short Memoried Smoker's random daily visits? Maybe the universe is putting me in his path. Maybe the universe is trying to get New York to behave itself! MAYBE IT WANTS TO SEE WHAT WE'LL DO! ALRIGHT THEN, UNIVERSE! I'LL TAKE THE BAIT! HEY MANHATTAN! Baby, whassamatter? What the problem is? Why you goin' around smokin' in people's faces and growlin' and shizz? You need a cocktail? Come on over. Chill. I'll mix you up something good. Ruggy even brandies his own cherries. They're delicious.

(Don't let my sardonic tone confuse you, I really am in a lovely mood after that trip. A mood made all the more lovely by being back with my man, who is imitating Michael McDonald as I type. We had a very enjoyable city excursion this morning, to snap some shots of my latest MSN project. It's live at the Mood Sewing Network now, and I'll have some more pics up here in the next few days. Cuz it's my house, yo!!!!!!!  Now, just let me get on humanizing Manhattan. I've got a lot of drinks to mix.)

10.03.2015

IRL

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.