Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

YOWZA. I'm back from a shoot in Pittsburgh and playing catch up! I've been rabid to show you this dress since I finished it a month ago, so I'm going to give myself a pass on creating my usual, slightly incoherent paragraphs to go along with it.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

Or maybe I have a couple of things to say.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

I DO NOT DO WELL AWAY FROM ROB. That would be the first and main thing. Although I had a wonderful time with the people of Pittsburgh (the phrase "salt of the earth" is not only applicable but proven there), don't let my wackadoo grin fool you: when apart, we simply wilt like plants that need sunlight. 

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

Also, we make questionable choices. Anyone around here remember Rob's One Man DIY Bathroom Renovation of 2013?*  Well, a month ago, when I careened through this dress, it was Rob who was out of town, and me making bad choices. While none of them involved a sledgehammer, I got drunk on a heady mixture of power and loneliness, and rearranged the entire apartment into my sewing domain. 

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

The kitchen table was shoved out into the middle of the room, fully extended, covered in rulers and blades! Rob's desk was commandeered, all flat surfaces held a sewing machine! Small mountains of Ankara were piled on sofa and chairs! Lamps, railings, drawer pulls, ANYTHING HOOKABLE was repurposed as hanging racks for a dozen or more projects! Stitch centric podcasts blared! (with the occasional break for King of The Hill and Jill Scott.) It was a creative war zone, made to keep my sad brain occupied. But in the end, my war zone only reminded me that I was filling up all the space that Rob wasn't using, which just made me miss him more.

I've got three finished Ankara maxi dresses from that week to show you, and all of them are evidence of questionable choices made when apart. On this diddy, ooooo, take a gander at that back view! That's not just twinning, that's quadrupleting! The passerby might not mind it, but it makes my right eye do the boogie woogie--and not in a good way. 

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

Nevertheless, I obviously feel good in it! (And I did make the very good choice of packing up some dresses to shoot during my downtime in Pittsburgh, as evidenced by the ever present remote in my right hand.) I'm happy to be back home and together, and happy to give myself a pass on a happy dress sewn to ease a state of sad brain!

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Simplicity 8013: Sanity Sewing!

Pattern: Simplicity 8013
Fabric: Anakara from AKN Fabrics --a VERY early birthday gift from my girl, Carolyn!!💕❤️
Reduced the width in each skirt panel, eliminating the gathers at the waistline. 
Used only the "flat" side of the bodice
Straightened the front bodice side seam by adding 1/2" width, tapering to nothing at armsyce
Shortened the sleeves, and added a 1/2" horsehair in the sleeve hem
Added a box pleat to the back skirt panels
Cut the CF panel in 2 to make the faux wrap appear less faux
Cut a deep V back 
Added twill tape to the V neck , front and back



The Trees for the Forest

Heeeeere's to the LAAAAYdies who LUNCH, Rob crooned when he caught a glimpse of my getup. I hollered back laughter. Yep. Not my style, is it.

I don't know how to explain my fascination with this fabric. It's my Mood Sewing Network April offering, a scuba print from Anna Sui, found in-store. The more I looked at it, the uglier it got, and the uglier it got, the more I had to have it! Do you know what I mean? I truly can't explain it!

Making something for yourself that ultimately turns out to be not your style can be a bummer. And, in the middle of #fashrev week, it also points out the waste that we sewists can produce. But I like to look at the flip side of the coin. I enjoyed every minute of making this--I tried new techniques, and I made it well. Is that wasteful?

Everyone has their line in the sand. Leaving aside the myriad (important, ethical, needed) reasons for the focus of this week, my personal #fashionrevolution is about taking the reigns of my style, and making beautiful (or in this case, INSANE) armor with my own two hands. Do I save every scrap and try my best to use every inch of what I have? Just ask the bags of remnants waiting for their purpose in life. But my revolution also leaves room for discarding the things that keep me from moving forward. It leaves room for guilt free "failures." Creating, and trying, and succeeding, and failing, are all part of constant growth--the positives of creating something almost always outweighs any final outcome. As far as waste goes, time well spent isn't a waste.

What's more: the fact that I made it with my own two hands means it isn't going anywhere soon. Had I bought this piece RTW (likely at a fast fashion, cheap store, because that's what my wallet allowed when I shopped), it would be so easy to discard it. But when you know by execution the amount of work that went into it, it's not so easy. Luckily so! Just last week, I did a 180 and fell in love with a silk shirt dress that had languished unworn in my handmade closet for a full year.

Maybe a year's time will change my mind. Maybe this weirdo jacket would look exceptional on someone else! Who knows. It's not going in the bin, at any rate. There's too much thought in it for that. You can see it in a more sensible photo setting over at the Mood Sewing Network, including detail shots of the fancy bits that gave me hours of such tremendous glee.

What's your line in the sand for your Fashion Revolution?


Hemp time: Summer in the city.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing | hemp negroni

Ain't he handsome? That's my Dad, all decked out in a Hemp Linen Negroni, with mother of pearl buttons. (I know, I know, you can't really see that sharp mug. He's keeping it incognito. Because of The Man.)

This rare sighting is many layered. Dad is wearing not only a solid color, but NON color. I inherited my sense of technicolorality from my parents, dontcha know. Come summer, Jams are his jam. So the request for this neutral shirt was a bit of a shock.

Not a shock: the desire for hemp. For years now, Dad has had a 100% hemp shirt on his wishlist, despite my protestations. Because LISTEN. I searched here, there, and everywhere for hemp fabric, and all I found were cardboard rolls of scratchiness, in the most unsatisfying color palette imaginable. Holidays would roll in, and I would hand over psychedelic Negronis in barkcloth...linen...rayon...cotton...his Charlie Brown closet was starting to fill up nicely, but there was a large hemp shaped hole. (I'll let you imagine what that might look like.)

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing | hemp negroni

Then Organic Cotton Plus contacted me, and the heavens opened up and sang. Well, I mean, they didn't sing for me, the color palette is obviously very much out of the oonasphere, but OH SO MANY CHOICES for my Dad! I'm delighted when I can collaborate to sew something up for my people! (And although solids are not my style, I assume the range of color choices is excellent for about 99% of the population. I should perhaps dip my toes into the realm of "solids." I hear they are good for "coordinating.") 

This is exactly the classic, lightweight summer shirt my Dad wanted, hue and all. He went for this hemp linen (which is far less yellow than pictured, at least on my screen). 

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing | hemp negroni

And although I hollered over the lack of color, it was seriously sweet to work with. It had such a crisp, lofty drape upon arrival, I decided to go the RTW route and sewed it up before washing the yardage. SHOCK AND HORROR! My reasoning was twofold: the hand was so beautiful, and it pressed so cleanly, I thought leaving it alone would make the sewing of it a delight. (I was correct). Reason number two: Dad prefers a slouchy Negroni, and although I've told him many times that we could go down a size and still get the slouch factor, he will have none of it. 


So, I thought, if I lose a little ease in the post-wash, no biggie. And since this is a cold wash, lay flat to dry fabric, going the post-wash route wasn't a problem at all.

LOOKIT THAT POSE! Where did you think I get my skillz from?

I can already hear what my Dad will say: You shoulda posted this on 4/20. Yep. Missed opportunity, that. Luckily I've found my hemp source for future themed posts. Stay tuned for 4/20/2018: The Return Of The Hemp. 

But don't expect to see his mug. That's top secret stuff.

Organic Cotton Plus supplied the fabric for this post. Thanks OCP, for making my Dad's hemp dreams a reality!


An Outfit for SewSew Def

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewsew def

A few short weeks ago, when there were still piles of weathered, traffic beaten snow on the city streets, three Californians wrapped in newly minted down coats arrived on my doorstep. Barefoot, grinning, and clad in a seasonally inappropriate crop top and pencil skirt, I bear hugged each of them before they could get a word out.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewsew def

Underneath their coats, Mimi G, Norris Danta Ford and April Hartsfield were as fashionable as you'd expect, and although we have a no-shoes rule upon entering casa Kalkatroona, I had decided in advance to lift this ban. There was NO WAY I was asking Mimi to take off her kicks. That would be like asking someone to take off their pants. Her kicks are a non-negotiable part of her ensemble. Norris, however, caught sight of my toes and immediately joined me in my bohemian vibe, which provoked laughter all around, a sound that continued for the next two lovely hours, while we videotaped an interview for their new multicultural sewing magazine: SewSew Def.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewsew def

Here's the thing: I had no idea I was even on Mimi's radar. Though I haven't talked about it much--if at all--I've been following Mimi since I started blogging. Many of my ensembles have been inspired by her eye for fabric and her out-of-the-pattern-envelope-box thinking. I've just...never mentioned it. I began to imagine how, once meeting IRL, I'd confess, you know, parts of my deepest soul. I'd say something super un-awkward like You are so pretty. I've been a little scared of you for years. I was fairly certain you were like the perfect girls in high school that didn't like me because I was a little too white or a little too black or a little too italian or a little too whatever-part-of-me-that-didn't-fit so I just kind of quietly lurked in the shadows and got inspired by your stuff.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewsew def

You know, the sort of lighthearted conversation you make when you're meeting someone you've only known via a computer screen for the first time.


oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewsew def

(Obviously, she would go body-con, and she'd whip it up without a pattern, which is exactly what I did. And she would wear the perfect kicks and sunnies for the shoot, which I *tried* to do. But look, I own two pair of sunnies, and don't even start me on my shoe collection. It's more like a shoe box.)

You can see us laughing our way through all manner of things on SewSew Def's youtube channel-- the interview is just under half an hour, and listen: she surprises me at the end. Actually, we surprised each other a few times. Fortunately, they made it SFW. And you can subscribe digitally to SewSew Def here, monthly or yearly. Bonus, two patterns are included with each issue, one for the gals and one for the guys. (Cue Rob's dance of joy. Soon, he will have very def t-shirts.)

I know I sort of claw my way through a story, picking up bits and thoughts here and there, so here's what I really want to say: I'm so thrilled to know the real version of Mimi, and not the person my high school mind created. She's the antithesis of that girl. Though we are a diverse and barrier-free community, that's not always evident at a high level--the companies at the top have been slow to catch on to that fact. Mimi has been the face of ethnicity in the sewing universe. It would be easy to corner that market, but instead, she's using that power to lift others up. This magazine is a burst of color in every sense of the word--take a peek at the contributors page: it looks like the world. I'm honored to be a part of the first issue, and I can't wait to see MORE.


Throwback Flares

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | embroidered birkin flares

Well, hello, Thursday. How YOU doin'. What's that, baby? You wanna throw it back? All right mama! I got you! It just so happens I have a handful of pictures and a mouthful of words all ready to go, from way back in spring of 2016. Lay back, Thursday. Let's #tbt this.

Take it away, voice of Marcy past...

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | embroidered birkin flares


Lemme get right to it, I'm not sure how long my time travel layover will last. What we have here are the Birkin Flares, done up in a non stretch denim. I KNOW! This is my third dance with this beauty of a pattern, and I have yet to use the actual suggested denim weight. What can I say, I fall in love with a fabric, and I make it do what I want.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | embroidered birkin flares

And I fell very hard for this fabric: a lovely, medium weight, all cotton denim that looks like it went through an Instagram filter. It hails from Chic Fabrics. (Future Me would like to note that they are indeed still open, go and give them some love. I wish I'd bought the whole bolt, because Future Me would also like to note that I NEVER run across denim like this. Le sigh of hindsight.)

In order to accomplish this zero-stretch matchup, I cut two sizes larger than my suggested size, and used 3/8ths SA. I find this gem of a pattern to be very fit-as-you-go friendly, so I just used basting stitches at the appropriate time, and then did a good amount of testing by walking around Ye Olde Apartment: sitting, squatting, karate kicking…after an hour or so with booty & side seams still intact, I sewed them up for real, complete with periwinkle topstitching.

Only I kept the basting in at the knee down to the hem, because I planned on absolutely covering the lower legs with flowers.
oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | embroidered birkin flares

Would that I could have basted-in my first embroidery try!! I decided on a heeeoooouge vase full of holly hobby-ish flowers, and at, oh, about the second to last color change, I realized it wasn’t the look I was going for. Many an instagrammer lamented the impending carnage that was about to happen with my trusty seam ripper, but I knew what I had to do. 

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | embroidered birkin flares

My next route was a collection of patterns from Embroidery Library: a handful of beautiful free floating blossoms, which I merrily hopped back and forth betwixt. Basically, I painted with thread wherever I wanted. 

Watching those flowers appear was like a magic show.  I didn't want it to end! Yet, just before embarking on the other leg, I recalled the hours spent ripping out poor embroidery decisions (y'all, I even went at it with a shaving razor). I quickly consulted my own personal Tim Gunn. “More? MOAR??! SHOULD I DO THE OTHER LEG?” I panted, drunk on embroidery. It was Rob’s opinion that the cacophony should be confined to just one gam: “Otherwise, it would be clear that you bought these instead of crafted them.”
oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | embroidered birkin flares

This gave me pause.

WHOOOOOSH. Oh, bye Past Marcy! Bye Girl! That's where you stopped typing! You take yourself too literally, Past Marcy. But thanks for coming by! Now let me tell you what, y'all... Present Marcy is seriously considering ripping out some stitches again. The denim is perfect...the flowers are perfect...but the variegated pastel thread makes me melancholic. MELANCHOLIC, I TELL YOU! There's enough melancholy out there, yeah? Who needs more on their jeans?!

So. You may agree with me, you may try to talk me out of it, but you should know that all versions of me are quite stubborn. But I'm open to suggestions before I grab my razor...


alice + olivia + oona + marcy

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing alice + olivia

Ahh, little mesh embroidered top. Hi, you. Snapped on my bod in the 70 degree days of February, stuck on a hanger in the 10 degree days of March. 

I have a feeling we'll soon be seeing an onslaught of blog posts entitled 10 Ways To Seasonize Your Wardrobe! and Temperature Tricks With Goop! or Climate Change Your Closet! It'll become the next thing we're all "doing," like Kondo-ing. Ugh, Kondo-ing.

(Deeper and infinitely more terrifying ugh, CLIMATE CHANGE. Not so much ugh as silent unending scream. Alrighty. In the interest of getting a day of sewing in, I'm going to stop that rollercoaster train of thought there before I careen down the first of many slopes, and talk about this little top.)

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing alice + olivia

Lately, I've been wanting everything to be pretty, and fancy, which in my mind precludes "everyday wear." At least in the eyes of the general public. Mind you, I will gladly go out overdressed every day, if permitted. And when I get my hands on a fabric like this, my tendency is to really go for the gold and make something ridiculously complicated, meant for full-on party mode. 

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing alice + olivia

However, I’m glad I reigned myself in on this one, because this fabric is a garden party right off the bolt. I only had one yard of this Alice + Olivia embroidered mesh to play with, and eventually went with my first instinct of crop (ish) top. Yes, I had to talk myself down from wiggle dress... sheer skirt... bell sleeve jacket. I'm glad I did! Methinks I've struck middle ground with this little fancy every day top! I'm not sure yet, since its only test drive was that weirdo springy winter day. But, drugstore/grocery/errands wearable, yes? I DON'T KNOW YOU'LL HAVE TO TELL ME. I'm wearing it everywhere when the climate allows.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing alice + olivia

Going simple was also the right choice for a complicated fabric like this. Even for a little self-drafted top, there was a lot of (HIGHLY enjoyable) work involved. The seams were stitched up with tear-away stabilizer, then trimmed & bound in a wonderful flocked velvet ponte from Chic Fabrics. After much deliberation on creating a cutaway neckline to mirror the hem, I decided that a defined outline on the neck was best– it’s encased in the same ponte. (And when I say deliberation, I mean I spent several hours trimming and pinning and placing flowers all around the neckline on my dressform, took two steps back to admire my handiwork, and realized it didn't work. What was surprising is that I didn't mind that it didn't work-- I tried it, I enjoyed the trying of it, I made a different choice. Not long ago, I would have gnashed my teeth over all that work and forced myself to keep going. 


For the sleeve, I carefully cut the mesh away right up to the embroidery. The sleeve hem is the border “print” of the fabric, that brown embroidered motif ran parallel to the selvedge. As for the hem, I cut away a free form path, and appliquéd extra flowers in where needed (that little white daisy at center back, and the extra flame-y orange & yellow leaves at center front, for example).

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | sewing alice + olivia

So, I promised the showcasing of this baby's guts when I posted over at The Mood Sewing Network for my February fabric allowance project, but that's going to have to wait a minute. Mea culpa, I'm going full-tilt during the week, so I'm saving a great big chunk of my weekend time for creating! Details, like Spring, will come. Just not on a promised schedule. (Much like Spring).



oonaballoona by marcy harriell | sleepwalking

Last night, I fell asleep walking through my Nan's apartment. I loved my Nan's apartment. I can see it clearly in my head, though I can't remember if the color of the two family house was yellow or green. It may very well have been blue or beige, but I lean towards yella in my head, because it was her favorite color

The entryway boasted three locking doors, which it had no business doing in such a tiny amount of space. There was a main front door, and once through, you could reach out and smack Nan's door to your right, or walk headfirst into another locking door protecting the staircase that led to the second story apartment. This was easy to do, since the tiny entryway was always in shadows. (This could also be a misremembrance. I might have put that third door there in my mind to keep Nan's space separate from the quiet, but unknown to me, strangers upstairs.)

Each time Nan's personal front door closed, the enormous spindly room divider in the living room would wobble in response, as would all of the pictures and keepsakes displayed on the open shelves. The questionable unit looked like it was made out of old thin table legs, with three large cabinets at the bottom to anchor it. A mini stereo system held pride of place in the center spot. She played Engelbert Humperdinck and Billy Ocean.

A growing collection of stuffed animals and dolls sat on one end of the amber hued, floral couch, several of us having found out in later years that Nan loved stuffed animals and dolls. You mean, all this time, we could have been buying her dolls?! We made up for missed opportunities at every chance, and our seating options suffered for it. The only other perchable spot in the room was a dusty blue recliner, right in front of the small TV stand, and that was Nan's captain's chair. 

We had several small TV trays for tiny spaghetti and meatballs, or cut-up-hot-dogs and beans, or yes, those special frozen dinners with the brownie dessert in the upper right-hand corner. We could eat those kinds of meals in front of the TV, but we always ate real dinners and any kind of lunch in the kitchen, at an old solid table that took no shit. You know the kind of table? You'd get a bruise the size of a baseball if you knocked into it. That thing didn't budge.

The floor of Nan's kitchen shucked and jived all over the place, like a ski slope. The vinyl tiling on the floor made this highly enjoyable, especially in socks. The sink took up about half of the kitchen, along one long wall, a big old set-in ceramic sink, with never a dish in it. I think she magicked the dishes away. Or maybe I was just unconcerned with the housekeeping details, as I ate my ham salad sandwich. Or maybe Nan did the dishes while my eyes were fixed on the basement door, which faced my spot at the kitchen table, and needed CONSTANT guarding. Though really, the steps leading down into that darkness were so creaky, our ears would have alerted us long before any visual evidence of monsters. 

The fridge was always stocked with jello, fruit suspended in the middle, and orange juice, which I would only drink for Nan.

A teeny bathroom barely existed at the far end of the kitchen. It was enough space to turn around on yourself. Even for a kid, it was ridiculously small. A shower somehow appeared when needed, through some kind of rip in time. I don't even know where Nan found room for her favorite (and only) tube of lipstick, but she did, because she'd always emerge with her color on. 

(When I grew to adult height, I spied the tube tucked away on top of the old, rusted medicine cabinet, which, like everything else in her house, was ridiculously clean, even if rusted shut and no longer useful.)

Although the solitary postage stamp sized bathroom made this next fact ridiculous: two bedrooms stood at the back of the house. One was a revolving room for uncles and cousins, always available for days, months, or even years when needed. My brother and I never slept in the second bedroom when we stayed over, even if it was empty, because it really wasn't an overnight guest room, it was a room ready for family to live. The room felt more substantial than a sleepover. There was a small antique drafting desk, a metal standing double door locker, a bed, a heavy chair which was lugged out to the kitchen table when needed. Also, the second bedroom housed another locking door, which led to an outside staircase that wailed at a steep psychotic angle down to the super creepy, wild backyard. No one ever used this staircase. If you didn't die on the staircase, you probably would in the backyard. 

So we slept in the living room on the sofa bed, opening our eyes on Easter to giant baskets, or in the middle of the night to thoughts of the creaky stairs leading up to the basement door. 

Come to think of it, every room in that house, except for Nan's bedroom, had a locking door leading to foreboding stairs. Could easily have been a kid's nightmare factory, but Nan overruled the cliches. 

Nan's bedroom was a magnificent shade of blue that was so deep it seemed like you'd never be able to sleep for the color radiating off the walls. Little shuttered green porch doors, the kind that ask for fingers to get caught in, kept her room mostly hidden. She had a bed, and a dresser. Maybe a night stand. Once, I spent the night there with her--no idea why I wasn't on the sofa, maybe my brother and I had grown too old to share the sofa? But I remember being transfixed by that blue. It was impossible to close my eyes. Another time, the louvered doors were slid to one side while Nan chose a scarf for an impromptu trip "up the street." She had a small array of silk-like scarves behind the door of her dresser, and always tied one around her neck when we went out, which was pretty much every time I visited. They were part of her armor. You have to get up in the morning, take a shower, do your hair, and be ready to do something every day, even if you're not. That's whatcha gotta do.

Today is her birthday. I'm not sure of how old she would have been, much as I'm not sure of most of the facts in this story, except that all of them are true because the creaky stairs and beaten cabinets and vinyl floors of that first floor apartment were made different by her presence. This sleepwalk might not be for anyone but me and the people who loved the woman who lived in it, but I'm positive that on her birthday, the most important thing on her mind would be wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day--as do I. 

And now I gotta go do my hair, and tie on a scarf.


a new york minute

A teenager rolled onto the train with his bike, a subway accessory that puts most New Yorkers into an immediately irritable state of mind. The doors were closing as a woman pushed through the turnstiles, struggling with several bags. As she gathered herself on the platform, the teenager noticed her, and used his free arm to hold the door open. She casually strolled onto the train without even a glance in his direction. As the doors closed and we pulled away, a fellow rider caught his eye and quietly said: Hey, good job. The teenager sort of shyly shrugged. No really, she didn't say it, so I'm saying it. Good job, he repeated in a warm, but matter of fact manner.

The local train plodded on, and a voice made its way down the car, asking for any little bit of help, I'm down on my luck, please, anything you can spare. Shy Teenager opened up the bag strapped to his bike and pulled out what looked like a completely untouched sack of to-go food. Down On His Luck gratefully accepted the bag. Hey, yeah! My wife will eat this, I'll eat this, what she doesn't eat the cat will eat. 

The doors closed again. You're a good kid, said the Thank You Man. Shy Teenager shrugged again. No. You're a Good. Kid. Thank You Man reaffirmed, and got out at the next stop with one last approving nod.

Shy teenager straddled his bike, put his headphones on, put his head down, and enjoyed the rest of his ride with small smiles aimed at him from every direction.

(Best guesses at races involved this story, simply because, as a mixed chick, it's something I'm always aware of, and heartened by, in instances like this... Shy Teenager: Mixed, maybe Hispanic/Indian. Thank You Man: White, maybe Irish/German. Strolling Woman: Asian, maybe Korean. Down On His Luck Guy: White, maybe Mediterranean. I adore the great big melting pot of the subway.)

Heading into the weekend, I'd like to thank you for your comments on my last post. I started to reply to each and every one, but because the thing I wanted to say most was thank you, for being good people, and being good to one another, I'm going to say it en masse here. Thank you. The sentiment is not specific to my personal situation as much as it is specific to the world's shared situation. Your good words and actions are always appreciated by someone, and I'd like you to always know that.


All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

I have so many things to be thankful for. Rob. The love of our families. The home we've made. The fact that that home is, literally, located on an island of sanity in the middle of an upside down world, an island that so many artists call home, so many who have made it their life's work to simply create beauty.

Over the weekend, we saw the Ethan Iverson Quartet play at the Village Vanguard. I closed my eyes through the first three songs, so grateful for the sounds, so grateful to have a respite. However (though you couldn't tell by the music) the musicians were having a difficult time. It was hard for them to come into work that week. Ethan admitted this after a couple of tunes, in a short impromptu speech in which he dedicated the rest of the concert to Billy Higgins: a drummer, an American, and a Muslim. The set was sublime. It was beauty.

Artists are struggling with beauty right now. Beauty feels ridiculous and ignorant right now. Useless. But for the audience, it is supremely needed. 

Each morning, we wake early (well, one of us earlier than the other), and try to start the day with something beautiful. As I search the screen for a small distraction, I think about my own small distractions, queued up to publish, becoming increasingly more ridiculous with each minute. By the time photos are taken and (hamhandedly) edited, there's some new atrocity that makes everything else... unimportant? Undone.

But Rob reminded me that this is exactly the sort of the thing we're looking for in that early morning hour, and when we find that thing, we don't consider the author to be either ridiculous or ignorant. We're thankful to sit on the couch and gaze at a bit of beauty for a moment. We're thankful to sit in a small jazz club and be surrounded by the sound of beauty.

It doesn't seem enough to create beauty, but it is not possible to fight without it. So, I'll continue to post these bits of cloth, and I'll continue to make beautiful armor that transcends at least my demeanor, if not the climate.

Will every post come with a disclaimer that I can't stand what is going on? If things continue as they are, then yes. I'm not okay with this. None of us should be. This is not America.

The sewing details.

Top: Simplicity 1099, hacked into a hi-lo top, added sleeves, & pleats to the hemline
Skirt: By Hand London's Charlotte skirt, with an added back vent
Fabric: Wax print from Mood Fabrics, using my January "fabric allowance"

I had a 6 yard cut of Supreme Wax Osikani to play with, which was extremely freeing. My immediate thought was to make a matching ensemble, full of pleats and frills and larger pattern pieces that wouldn't break up the print. I then fought myself for about an hour, thinking I should probably make something a little less "out there."

Then I reminded myself that "out there" is where I want to live.


Past Jacket, Present Future

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Past Jacket, Present Future | vogue 1493

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Past Jacket, Present Future | vogue 1493

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Past Jacket, Present Future | vogue 1493

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Past Jacket, Present Future | vogue 1493

Worst lead-in for a post ever: I honestly don't have much to say today. It's a dreary Monday, the fitting end to a long weekend full of figuring out what felt right, but mostly feeling wrong, and wronged.

Speaking of wrong: when I looked back on 2016 for the ubiquitous wrap-up, I was a little shocked at the number: 16. A garment a month. That number is ridiculously off. (ETA: Yes, it is. Because 16 does not equal a garment a month. 16 is visually similar to the year 2016. And now you know how math works in my head.) Not included, and not blogged, are the attempts at creating staples, staples which would keep my attention and not bore me to tears. AND AS YOU WELL KNOW, THERE IS NO CRYING IN SEWING.

This little diddy, made in 2016, walks that fine line, but it was not made for me. It was one of the few Christmas gifts I actually got a jump on; completed well enough in advance that I was able to take these photos on election day. Although my mood was positively ebullient after standing in line for two hours with my fellow New Yorkers, the shots came out strangely harsh, and very moody.

Apparently, my camera comes with prediction mode.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Past Jacket, Present Future | vogue 1493

I have definitely figured out one thing that feels right, having nothing to do with saving the world, having everything to do with saving my sanity: create what I desire. And I desire the abnormal. We're not living in normal times, eh? Let's dress appropriately! I have no time for staples! My new abnormal involves beautiful armor that reflects whatever my heart desires. Ensembles for Saturn.

It has certainly helped in keeping me sane. I strongly believe that if we take care of ourselves, we can take care of others. And no matter where we stand, we need to take care of each other.

Sewing deets:
Koos jacket, Vogue patterns 1493
Materials: Denim from Chic Fabrics, Tapestry from Century 21 (not linking, because they are bossy. Go buy things from Chic Fabrics.)
Changes: I skipped all of the embellishments--if you do this, have a good look at the pattern pieces, it makes the layout MUCH simpler. I cut a size XS after reading Sarah's review on the enormous amount of ease in this. (Have a look at her crazy creative Instagram, by the way!) The hemline is not as drafted, I curved it up at the side seams.
Tips: Mark ALLLLLL of your notches on this one! I managed to sew the sleeves to the cuffs the wrong way the first time around. Notches are your friend. Impatient people skip notches. (Ask me how I know.)


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!