12.03.2018

Deck the Halls with Yards of Fabric

Deck the Halls with Yards of Fabric | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Wouldn't it be great if we could bathe our houses in jacquard and brocade and taffeta...

Deck the Halls with Yards of Fabric | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

and have those lovely yards serve as holiday decorating?

Deck the Halls with Yards of Fabric | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

We could include lacy neon exposed zippers...

Deck the Halls with Yards of Fabric | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

and giant statement earrings...


and we'd pleat fabric all around corners, and stairs, and windows...

Deck the Halls with Yards of Fabric | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

and use EVERY INCH OF IT to decorate our BODIES when the holidays are over.

Deck the Halls with Yards of Fabric | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL SUSTAINABLE SEWING.

The deets:

She's a simple, lined, princess seamed bodice (self-drafted, but you could use a pattern like this or this). Although the vertical seams are boned with rigeline, there's pulling across the front, either due to Thanksgiving Feasting (no regrets), or, maybe a darted foundation is the key to erasing those lines? I'm in the middle of Vogue 1426, which uses just that, so we shall see. WE SHALL SEE! 

The skirt is a giant rectangle of fabric, pleated and draped to fit the waist circumference, sans side seam. Sort of a column dress! There's no vent action, so you're not running any marathons in this. But you are going to walk a red carpet in it, nice and slow. And if you're like me, after you're done, you'll drape it over your bedside chair, like a decoration...to gaze at All. Year. Long.

11.12.2018

Revisiting a Veteran's Story

Revisiting a Veteran's Story | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Two years ago today, I wrote this post about my Granddad. I don't have new stories to share about him, because I didn't know him when he was here--but I thought this old story was worth revisiting. 

This is my granddad. I always believed that he did not love me.

One summer, long after he had passed away, long after both my Grandmothers had passed away, my parents put together a photo album for me as a birthday gift. The bulk of the shots were true and believable memories. But I stared in surprise at my Granddad, me cradled in his arms. The love on his face was undeniable. And unbelievable.

But our beliefs are not always truth. 

Granddad was a quiet man. I shared maybe a hundred words with him over the years, most of those in the form of hellos and goodbyes. He was a Veteran. He served for four years in the Navy during World War II. I know next to nothing about him. This is what I learned today:

In 1941, my Nana had moved from Virginia to New Jersey, where she met my Granddad. Her brother, Eddie, was a Marine, and when my Granddad first met him, Eddie was in uniform. Granddad thought this man was an unbelievable sight, and he enlisted in the Navy in '42 -- mainly because he didn't want to give up the curl in his 'do with the mandatory buzz cut of the Army and Marines.

Granddad served in the South Pacific, but whenever they were docked stateside, Nana would go to visit him on his ship. His crewmates were incensed that a Black man was involved with a woman who, by all appearances, seemed White. They had to assure them that she was not.

When he returned from the war in January of '46, they were married by the end of the month. Twin girls arrived in November of that year. 

His first job after the war was short lived. When he asked for a raise, his boss said, no problem, you'll have your raise starting tomorrow. He arrived at work the next day to find that his boss had placed several pallets by his workspace to stand on. He quit on the spot.

He was incredibly hard working. He had multiple side jobs on top of his full-time job at Western Electric, which he got because he was a veteran, in spite of the color of his skin.

One hot summer day, the young family of four all got on the bus to Olympic Park in Irvington, NJ. They were excited to ride the roller coaster and cool off in the pool. But when they arrived at the gate, they were denied entry, because of the color of their skin.

During the Newark riots of '67, now a family of five, their car was stopped by the police, who then searched the vehicle. The police found a hammer in the trunk, there because Granddad did all of the repair work on the two homes they owned. The police considered the hammer to be a weapon and said something to my Granddad, something my Mom did not hear. But she felt it when he suddenly hit the gas and sped off and she heard it when the police shot at their car. 

Or was it the National Guard? My shock at these stories, at once completely believable and absolutely unbelievable, makes it hard to remember the facts.

Granddad once caught an electric eel when fishing in the Raritan River. What did he do?! I asked. He threw it back! my Dad replied. The thought of my stoic Granddad reacting to an electric fish is unimaginable and yes, unbelievable. 

Revisiting a Veteran's Story | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Everything I've just told you comes from a conversation I had with my parents this morning. I didn't hear any of these stories from my Granddad, who I rarely saw anywhere but in his domain: the basement TV room and bar. There, he would sit in his recliner (though never in a reclined position), watching TV. We would kiss him on the cheek. He would grunt a hello. We would leave him be, and go outside to play with our cousins. The only thing that changed as we grew up was that I would go upstairs to debate with our cousins, while my brother would stay downstairs and sit with him. I know no other small tidbits about him. 

I do have one memory of my brother and me, sitting on bar stools, while Dad and Granddad made a couple of rum and cokes for the ladies upstairs. (Nana said no one made a rum and coke better than my Dad. EASILY BELIEVABLE.)

Revisiting a Veteran's Story | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

This might seem like a story about race. It's not-- but it is. I said at the beginning of this lengthy post that I believed my Granddad didn't love me. I suppose I should tell you why. My extended family looked like a Colors of Benetton ad, but it sure didn't act United. We were opinionated, and funny, and loud, and passionate, and ever-slightly-feuding--and though every single person in that house was born of an interracial marriage, a lot of those holiday feuds were centered on race. What race you were, what race you claimed, what race was better than the other. Neither of my grandparents ever joined in these conversations, especially my Granddad, who sat downstairs as the hollering went on. His silence made it easy for me to believe he didn't care enough to talk. I believed my particular racial blend held both of my maternal grandparent's love for me at a quiet arm's length. 

But maybe my Granddad simply wanted quiet after the weight of so many struggles. The worst of which had to be losing his 33 year-old daughter. Maybe my Nana was just shocked to see a teenager with natural hair the size of New Jersey greeting her at the door, when she had to wrangle her hair into a small, straightened shape every day of her life in an effort to appear a little bit more "acceptable." Maybe I was just an unbelievable sight to her. 

Race plays an enormous part in the story. You could easily say it is the cause of it, but it is not the sum of it. It is a story about strangers, brought on by a day which honors a man I didn't know. 

I've been reading this over and over, wondering what the hell I'm trying to say. Just now, I heard some yells, some drums, coming from up the street, and my mind immediately went to thoughts of protestors and trouble. I believed this imagined scenario instantly and completely. Looking out the window, I saw a troop of 30 young Black kids dressed in some sort of school military uniform, carrying marching band instruments and carefully rolled flags. They walked happily down the street, obviously heading somewhere in honor of Veteran's Day. I wrote a story in my head that I instantly believed, and which turned out to be the complete opposite.

Would I have gotten these stories directly from my grandparents if my own beliefs hadn't clouded up every encounter I had with them? My beliefs became truths that made no room. They colored every hello and goodbye. And they made my grandparents strangers to me.

We all have strangers in our lives: neighbors who vote the other way, family members we just don't get, countless people we only know through half-thought-out opinions on social media. In honor of this man I didn't know--this man, who by sheer virtue of the magnificent daughter he raised, was obviously a man who had great love inside him--in honor of this man, I'm going to do my best to question my beliefs. To hear a siren and consider that it might mean help is on the way for someone. To consider that a stranger's sideways glance might not be condemnation--maybe it's a commendation on my latest creation. To let my beliefs be pliable enough that I can give small and large kindnesses to those that I see every day, and those that I'll never see again.  

To consider that my belief isn't always truth.

10.29.2018

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman (or, How I Got Rob in Pleather.)

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman (or, How I Got Rob in Pleather.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Babe. DO. NOT. PUT. ME. IN. SPANDEX he said, in all caps. BABE. I replied, caps lock on: I GOT YOU. 

NO BABE YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, I AM NOT WEARING SPANDEX. 

BABE I AM NOT GONNA PUT YOU IN SPANDEX YOU ARE GONNA LOOK AMAZING I GOT YOU

WE TALK IN INCREASING LEVELS OF ALL CAPS AROUND HERE BUT I MEAN LOOK AT THE RESULT

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman (or, How I Got Rob in Pleather.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I *think* he ended up being down with it 😁

Close Up on Suit Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman (or, How I Got Rob in Pleather.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriellUp! Aquaman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I'll tell you another thing: as the pieces came together, he was so down with this look, he demanded that I forge ahead with my idea of shoulder and hip gauntlets, when others were iffy on the extra-ness of it. I was like, EXTRA IS MY MIDDLE NAME. 

Babe, he assured me, if you see it in your head, do it. (We revert to lowercase, when encouragement warrants it.) And everyone ended up liking them once they were 3D.

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Also 3D: gloves! These things were flat and lifeless pieces of flannel backed pleather, and I was pretty mad at them, to tell you the truth. I wanted them to look like ocean waves, but they were flopping lifeless as a sad little kiddie pool, until I started folding them in frustration. Eureka! I made the folds permanent with some simple lines of stitching. Oh, and I attached them to combat gloves. And painted the whole shebang for depth. OH YEAH SPEAKING OF PAINT...

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Here's how I kept my no-spandex promise! Those are Levis, baby. Rob has about 20 pairs. I thought it would be very cool to take a little bit of biker/roadhouse/Momoa Aquaman (behold, Rob's weathered motorcycle boots), and mix him up with the classic green & gold Aquaman, by simply painting jeans to look as though they'd been underwater. I layered up some colors and went nuts on them with a tracing wheel dipped in gold paint. Rob liked the gold so much, he asked me to rub some of the paint into the creases of the jeans, "as highlights."

LIKE I SAID HE GOT SO INTO IT.

What he *wasn't* totally sold on was the color of the jacket. That burnished basketweave pleather...

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman (or, How I Got Rob in Pleather.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

...that Rob is displaying with SO MUCH BADASSERY...

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman (or, How I Got Rob in Pleather.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

...started out VERY! SHINY! GOLD! As you can tell, I am UBER EXCITED ABOUT THAT. Contrary to the smile captured by our awesome photographer, Rob was not of the same opinion. He's right, it's so wrong in its virgin form. I will say, in my defense, that our strange tv diet at that time included back-to-back episodes of Bret Michaels Rock of Love, and The Handmaid's Tale. I can't say why we were doing that to our brains. But I think it bled into the outfit. We started calling him Rock-quaman. That state of mind is also what pushed me into getting a blonde wig, rather than a Momoa toned 'do. I thought...I'm not going Gal Godot on my 'fro, why put Rob in anything but blonde Hair Band locks?

I digress. 

When Rob first got a gander of that gold pleather in full metal jacket form, he asked for a couple of swatches, walked mysteriously off towards the kitchen, and took matters into his own hands.


He returned with several hues of shoe-polished-pleather. I picked one, and yelped HAVE A GOOD TIME GIVING THAT JACKET A RUBDOWN BABE CUZ  THAT'S ALL YOU (we were back to all caps at this point, as Aquaman had well over a dozen embellished costume pieces. I went overboard, pun intended. THE HIP ARMOR ALONE HAS 7 PATTERN PIECES.)

Sorry, didn't mean to go caps lock on that last sentence.

Close Up on Suit Up! Aquaman (or, How I Got Rob in Pleather.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

But I mean can you blame me?! THIS IS MY DREAM COME TRUE!!!! ROB IN METALLICS AND PLEATHER AND WITH A FREAKING TRIDENT TO BOOT?! I DO NOT HAVE A LARGE ENOUGH FONT!!!

Out of this series, this was hands down the most fun to make. If Rob wanted stuff like this, welp, I'd be sewing for him alllll the time. As it stands, I'll be making another version of the jacket for him, in as wild a material as he will allow. Sans shoulder gauntlets. 

You can see how I (erm, we!) did it in Ep 2 of Suit Up! on Bluprint. If you don't have a subscription, you can snag a free trial, or peep Ep 1: Batman for free over at Ye Olde YouTube. (And if you want to make that jacket, I used Burdastyle's "Men's Pirate Jacket" pattern, with a few mods, natch 😉)

Alrightly then! I gotta go make my rocker birthday boy Coq Au Vin. His birthday week came with the promise of No Deadline Stress Sewing, so I've been cooking. Slightly poorly, if I'm honest. Who knows what'll come out of my machine when I'm back to sewing this weekend...

10.28.2018

Close Up on Suit Up! The Dark Knight (I'm BATMAN.)

Close Up on Suit Up! The Dark Knight (I'm BATMAN.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | dc comics

Do not adjust your monitors, I am indeed clad in head to toe black (literally--I mean, do you know how hard it is to get my mass of hair into a cowl?). This absence of technicolor is something I would only do for The Dark Knight.

Close Up on Suit Up! The Dark Knight (I'm BATMAN.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | dc comics

I loved comic books ever since my bigger bro (as he likes to call himself--this is, again, a quite literal description) started a collection as a kid. The collection was solely his, as the ballet barre and mirrors installed in my room by my Dad were solely mine. Though I would've been delighted if Bigger Bro wanted to join me for a plié or two. 

I can't remember if this no-trespassing-on-hobbies-thing was a rule, or simply an innate knowledge that the two of us had to have some interests that were unique to us. Maybe the understanding came when I switched from Michael Jackson to Prince? Prince was Bigger Bro's domain, until I came to my senses. He was all DO YOU EVEN KNOW ANYTHING PRE-PURPLE RAIN YOU POSER.

Close Up on Suit Up! The Dark Knight (I'm BATMAN.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | dc comics

Unfortunately for bro, I was HIGHLY interested in the plastic sleeved boxes of mini art that grew in his room. I was allowed in once a week to read a small pile of the latest issues, but really, I only ever got through one in a session, since it took me roughly an hour to get through fifteen pages. I was, and always have been, a speed reader, but comics had so much more than words to devour! They had color, they had art, they had lettering, they had story, they had layout. Usually about three pages from the end of my chosen issue, Bigger Bro would have enough of my presence in his domain and bid me farewell, the small pile of new issues mostly untouched.

(I would sneak back in later and read the rest when he was out with friends. Sorry bro. I felt it my reward for being the good kid who stayed in at night 😜)

Close Up on Suit Up! The Dark Knight (I'm BATMAN.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | dc comics

You know that feeling you get when you're away from your childhood home for the first time, and you understand that you can have ANYTHING YOU WANT for dinner? That's the feeling I got when I walked into Midtown Comics, just a half block from the theater I was working in as an adult. Frank Miller's work jumped off the shelves, in the form of a Batman I'd never seen before. This Batman had had it. This Batman was the anit-hero, a Dark Knight who considered his previous career of crimefighting a mere slap on the wrist! This Knight was ready to FULL ON THROW DOWN, and I'm talking physically knocking Superman out of the Batcave throw down. I was in love, and bought everything Frank Miller I could find.

Close Up on Suit Up! The Dark Knight (I'm BATMAN.) | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | dc comics

Out of the list of Super Heros for Suit Up!, Rob insisted I take Batman. Although his fandom equals mine, this ask was *mainly* because he thinks black looks great on me, and saw his chance. Civilian! I whispered, in my best Dark Knight bass rumble. You do not realize how easy an ask that is. I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE TO DEFEND GOTHAM AS THE DARK KNIGHT. 

There's zero sew-speak going on in this post (I know, you're shocked) but the entire Batman episode is up for free on Youtube, and they're very good about making me talk about sewing (though I do still get to act a fool--that's pretty much impossible to contain). If you're a member, or start a free trial, you can view all four heroes on Bluprint...and tomorrow, I'll be plastering Rob's Aquaman look ALL. OVER. THIS. HERE. SPACE. We went a little rock with it. Let's just say that green and orange spandex was a...harder sell, and I had some figurin' out to do.

Happy Sunday, Super Sewists. From the middle of Gotham, I hope you are fighting the very best fight, and finding a moment in this world to bring something creative into existence.

 (all photographs by Dylan Osborne, check out his Instagram feed for a dose of beauty)

10.25.2018

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

For a solid three weeks in a sweaty end-of-summer, our entire apartment was bathed in a heady mix of novelty fabric, fusible, scraps of gold covered bits, and all manner of paint fumes. And as those heatwave prep days for Suit Up! grew shorter, so did my Wonder Woman skirt. 

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Not so much because of the heat, but because I was OBSESSED with getting the angles perfect. That leather just kept getting a haircut! "she's short" I would whisper scream every few hours or so, glancing wide-eyed over at my dressform, where the teeny leather dress chilled while I banged out scuba capes and S shields and bat ears. I've worn my share of miniskirts, but only onstage, and said several years ago with GREAT FINALITY that I was done with them. However, this recent marriage of acting & sewing has apparently brought it back full circle. I went super short for the first ep of Re:Fashion, and I don't think you can even deem this here jammie a mini. 

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

BUT I MEAN. I'm supposed to be freaking Wonder Woman, right?! That's what the leather belt with gold taped accents says!! Wonder Woman has to have room to kick them gams and knock out villains!

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Of course, her footwear is a bit more kickable than mine. Hey, you know what's hard to find? RED WEDGE BOOTS. Even flat red boots. At least, any that come with a price tag of less than a couple hundred bucks. What I DID find was some pretty glorious, thigh high white pleather boots that, with such great height, could double as knee armor as well. All they needed was a little floral spray paint and some more gold tape! 

By the way, y'all: floral spray paint is a great adhesive for changing up any pleather action. And a great way to scare your neighbors, too! One early morning during the slamsewing fest, I donned a heavy duty ventilator mask, took my boots out into our trusty alleyway, and painted the town red. Literally. Could see small clouds of red wafting up into the atmosphere, no matter what angle I used. A lightbulb clicked, and I grabbed a giant cardboard box from the recycling area, stuck the boot in, and contained most of the red menace. 

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

But New Yorkers heading to work looked down on me like I was Armageddon. Probably had something to do with the mask. And the crazyeyes. However, if you're looking to change up the hue of your footwear, this stuff is the way to go. Though I would suggest starting with, say, a sensible pair of low heeled pumps, if you're faint of heart and want a test run.

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I finished her off with some jewelry cuffs that I found at the eleventh hour--and I do mean eleventh. I had them shipped to LA where we shot these episodes. Rob, ever the voice of reason, placed dinner next to my sewing machine one night near the end of the line, and noted my wild stare as I wrangled EVA foam and gold tape into an armband and tiara. Can you use your gold bracelets for her cuffs? My pant was a sufficient negatory answer. How 'bout you eat, and we just find some silver cuffs online, hoss? We want some items "from the closet" in the mix, right?

I think I actually sat down on the floor in response. I had fully lost my grasp of English at that point and could only speak in Sew. He smiled, moved my dinner plate to my lap, and pulled up Ye Olde Amazon.

I LOVE THAT MAN.

Close Up on Suit Up! Wonder Woman | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I hope you enjoyed looking at this hero in static form, I know that sewists hit the pause button when they want to ogle a garment in action, so hopefully this does the trick if you'd like a closer peek! Next time I'll remember to ask for some back shots (our AWESOME photographer Dylan was, of course, not thinking about the back angle). This last snap shows me inserting the gold exposed zipper, which you can see in action in the trailer here, or of course in the ep if you already get your "Sewing TV" through Bluprint. If not, you can peep the first full episode of Suit Up! on Youtube--and I'll highlight that dark hero this weekend ;)

Speaking of WEEKEND! If you're working on some cosplay or Halloween fun of your own, here are some of the things that I used and loved for this look. (They're amazon links, so let your fingers do the typing if you're not into that!)

Gold mylar film tape -- excellent stick without damaging the materials. And repositionable!
Silver cuffs -- Thank you Rob ❤️
Sky high white boots -- nuff said.
Design Master Floral Spray paint -- this brand is awesome and comes in ALL the colors.
(...and if you're gonna paint the town red, please do it with one of these!)

Happy creating, sewing superheroes! Holler if you're stitching something for the season 💃🏽

10.11.2018

Suit Up! Our New Series on Bluprint

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Suit Up! Our New Series on Bluprint

Hiya peeps. This is a very quick PSA, as the week has gone upside down topsy-turvy. A kerfuffle, I tell you, A KERFUFFLE!

Our new series, Suit Up! in collaboration with DC Comics, launched on Bluprint last week. We had a rip-roaring, great good time doing this, and it was this comic book lover's dream to recreate some of my favorite icons--AND to dress ROB up too!!! (Y'all, I went absolutely overboard on his look. I saw my chance to get him in gold pleather, and I merrily took it.)

There are four episodes with four heroes in all--and although the goal of each is to create a costume, I think you'll get some cool stuff out of it in your everyday sewing life-- like how to work with leather. And the aforementioned pleather. Oh and I stumbled into a GREAT sewing machine that I'll tell you about soon!

But I digress. The main point of this quick post is to let you know that all content on Bluprint is FREE right now, through tomorrow (10/12). This event actually started earlier this week, but again, topsy turvy kerfuffle land over here. So! You've got, oh, twenty-four hours or so to catch Suit Up!, or Re:Fashion, or just go down the rabbithole of the gazillion things you can learn over there. Inspiration for a lovely weekend of creating that I dearly hope awaits us all. I'll be back next week with some costume close-ups, cuz I know we all like to get into the stitchin! 

Happy surfing, fellow creators...

10.05.2018

Fall...


Sometimes a garment gets stuck in your craw and sets up shop until you make it. This particular dress did just that, chillin' in my noggin' for THREE YEARS until I finally got it out of my head and right (ish). 


Sallie Oh's romantic beauty was the original vision in my mind, and at first, I set out to make a full on copy of my girl's floaty, liberty flowered, burdastyle midi dress. I had two attempts at my imitation: one fail, one fail-ish. I knew after the first try (the fail in Liberty silk cotton, huzzah) that the gathered skirt panels didn't suit me. 

I'm getting deja vu here-- have I typed this exact paragraph before? It's a little foggy.


Speaking of foggy. September. Right? September happened. I was out of my head for most of it, honestly didn't even acknowledge a numbered date, so much as a Wednesday. Maybe that's for the best, considering what September was in the larger world. In my smaller bubble, it's been happily (although batshit crazily) nonstop sewing, filming, singing, and traveling. Since the end of July, really. Which is just how I like it--but I think Rob would appreciate having some apartment space back. Our living room (which basically means, our home) has been entirely usurped by boxes, supplies, and fabric for two straight months now, with no sign of stopping. AGAIN SO NOT COMPLAINING. But I feel for Rob. It's like a game of twister up in here.


This is obviously not our apartment. This is a SUPER posh hotel, where I was housed for a job which marked the start of the nonstop rollercoaster. I can't say what the gig was (yet), but I can say the lodging was CHOICE. When I got wind of the location, I packed a suitcase full of sweeping dresses and used every minute of downtime to swan about and take pictures. My fellow guests didn't mind one bit--in fact, the technicolor parade opened the door to many a wonderful conversation with strangers on this solo trip.


The third try at this pattern is still an "ish," as you can see I've got a few wrinkles across the back. I added my own l/s lines, and did my standard short waist adjustment of one and a quarter inches. Usually, this does the trick, but I need a little more length taken out of the back bodice. 


It certainly ain't stopping me from wearing it! This sweepy gal got her debut onstage, in a concert reading of "Showboat" at Bucks County Playhouse. I got to sing "Bill" and "Can't Help Lovin That Man" in 5 yards of silk chiffon. WHAT EXTRA BACK BODICE LENGTH. At events like this, actors usually wear their own fanciness, so OBVIOUSLY, I was gonna wear handmade. I was slam sewing right up until curtain. At half hour, when the fabulous ladies of the cast were applying the usual war paint, I was madly stitching allllll those buttons along the front edge. Note to self: next time, start the placket lower, or add another button above. 


Oh! Last changeup, I used a half circle skirt to finish the job. The CB seam of the skirt became the CF seam, making it possible to extend the buttons all the way down, and removing the need for a zip! 

I think this might be the most haphazard post I've ever written. I BLAME THE ROLLERCOASTER!! Come on back Monday for some yammerin about the slamdance that was the end of summer, or if you follow me on Instagram, you'll get the deets later today ;)

Happy weekend, y'all!

8.29.2018

Vogue 9253 & Clothes Making Mavens!

Vogue 9253 & Clothes Making Mavens! | oonaballoona | a sewing blog by Marcy Harriell

I'm under the wire for another top-secret misson, so it's a very quick one for my last post on series 1 of Re:Fashion on bluprint! 

Vogue 9253 & Clothes Making Mavens! | oonaballoona | a sewing blog by Marcy Harriell

Episode 5, The Festival Robe, dealt with refashioning a garment you've sewn from scratch. I know that many of us are loathe to remake something we've already made, but I myself am far more loathe to make something, dislike it, and decide the time spent on it was too precious to hack into it again! I wanna wear the shizz I make, man! One could say I also say I am far too stubborn to fail. One would be right. Vogue 9253 saved the day, no surprise, the pattern is glorious, and if you haven't tried it out, lemme say it again, DO. This is the second time I've sewn this in a sheer, but the first time I've done it on camera. Oooh, sounds kinky.

Vogue 9253 & Clothes Making Mavens! | oonaballoona | a sewing blog by Marcy Harriell

I am about out of time for typing, but oh, my friends, you are in SO MUCH LUCK if you're feeling cheated out of my usual nonsensical jabberings, as I can currently be found yammering with Helena and Lori on their Clothes Making Mavens podcast! The aforementioned Top Secret Mission began right before the podcast launched, so I haven't had time to holler about it yet. 

Laughter and NY Noise aplenty in our conversation--I've followed both their blogs for years, so it was like talking to old friends you've never met. I apologize in advance for the deafening, uncontrollable cackling that came out of my maw when Lori said I was a fashion icon.

Vogue 9253 & Clothes Making Mavens! | oonaballoona | a sewing blog by Marcy Harriell

Over and out, and back to the mosh pit! If you'd like to see the truly horrible "before," and complete visual steps of how I turn V9253 into a sheer open robe (and yes, almost wreck it again), check out Episode 5 of Re:Fashion, The Festival Robe! If you aren't a bluprint member, you can view the first episode for free here, and try the whole site out for free for a 7 day trial period here. OKAYBYEIHOPEYOUGUYSARESEWING!!!!!

8.22.2018

On Wednesdays, We Wax.

On Wednesdays, We Wax. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

The first time I heard about AKN Fabrics, I was certain I was being led to my death.

Whaaat? I can hear many of you cry, having experienced first hand, at PR and MPB days and meetups, the glory that is AKN. Don't worry, the story ends well, I love the jam-packed joint as much as you do.

On Wednesdays, We Wax. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

It was 2014, the year of my first wax print--a gorgeous, megawatt yellow spray can print sent to me by Sarah. It was so vibrant! So weird! So stiff with wax! I hammered out an Anna dress and lived in it the rest of that summer. 

On Wednesdays, We Wax. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

One hot August day, I was stomping through a particularly seedy section of the city. This neighborhood is unexpected, almost right in the middle of Manhattan on Broadway between 27th to 35th streets. I wanna say it's the perfume/costume jewelry/wig district. I don't know why it feels so off, but it's one of those Stephen King zones. Know what I mean? All strangers suddenly feel dangerous, even the buildings are eyeing you. Shadows are thick and make you invisible even in broad daylight.

It was high noon and plenty of summer sunshine, my favorite kind of day--but I was in that area, and had to cross the gauntlet from the subway to a casting office on 28th. A stretch of two blocks populated with, as SK would call them, low men, possessing far-too-appreciative glances and bestowing "compliments" upon pretty much anything with legsIt was a no-smile zone. And although I had my spray can dress on, a dress which screams happiness, I also had my game face on. My I am not a friendly person face. Focusing on a dot in the distance, I passed an "admirer." From behind me, I heard a suggestive: you like wax print?

On Wednesdays, We Wax. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Huh? Did he just comment on my fabricThis gave me pause. I slowed to a stop and cautiously turned. Yesss...?

He gestured to a dusty, six-story building behind him. A building with papered windows and a dark, unmanned entryway. I have wax print. For sale. Come upstairs with me.

OH HAHAHAHAHA, I answered, bubble burst. I'm sorry, but there is ZERO way I am following you into a building, by myself, to a high floor. I'm not saying you're a creep, you know, you could be great, but you could also be trying to kill me. You understand. Thank you though. I'll bring some of my sewing buddies next time, and if you happen to see us in a gang of three or more, ask again. 

On Wednesdays, We Wax. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Follow him into an unmarked building! From a street! I laugh out loud at it even now. Who knew he was referring to an ACTUAL store?! Not I! The only fabric stores I knew of at that point were ten blocks north! Years later, when I finally found, and ventured up into, AKN Fabrics, I saw my old friend on the street, working the passersby, and rode the elevator up with him. He's great. Zero creep factor. He could work on his sidewalk sales pitch, though.  

Speaking of creep factor. What is it with me and once a week Wednesday goals? That damn Wednesday creeps up on you like its running a perfume joint on 28th street! Mr. Hump Day especially likes to creep on me when it's the end of summer and all hell breaks loose when things are normally quiet and the only thing on the to-do list should be SWEAT IN THE HEAT! ALSO WHERE DID ALL THE HEAT GO?!!


Sorry. I'm typing this at 2am with the windows open, because although it is oddly cold, IT IS AUGUST, and I refuse to close them! And I am chilly! CHILLY I SAY! Let me return to the point. It occurred to me, the hump day having crept up on me once again, that setting myself the task of sharing the finished garment for each of the five re:fashion episodes every Wednesday for a month was much like setting myself the task of putting up a work-in-progress every Wednesday for forever and ever amen. I abandoned ship fairly quickly on the latter, but with one more finished garment to go, imma power through the former... and the final episode features a sewn pattern that you'll likely recognize (and one that I bet you WON'T). Oh! And yes, the gorgeous floral print you see here hails from AKN, but you have to venture up into the store to get it. It's behind the cash register. Whatever you do, don't go pulling colors off the shelf. They've got a system. Ask my guy to help you out.

If you'd like to see how I made this flowery gal and you're a bluprint member, episode 4 of Re:Fashion is here. If you know how to sew, it's fairly easy...I added a full circle skirt to an RTW crop top on which I taped the seams for a little "extra." However, it is almost never smooth sewing for me, and I had a pretty awesome, ahem, flower placement snafu. Rob is also showcased in some lovely prints as well. He is, how do you say, a VERY good sport.

8.15.2018

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 3: Come Join the Cult of Sewing

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 3: Come Join the Cult of Sewing | oonaballloona by marcy harriell

Let's watch "Wild Wild Country," Rob said. MEH, I said.

I need my TV to take me away from real life, if you know what I mean-- alien races, superheros, out of this world circumstances for ordinary people. A cult in a dusty, faded, early 80s Oregon? Not so much. But I like to pepper my penchant for escapism with something a little more meaty for the Robster, so I resigned myself to an evening of mind-sewing whilst snuggled up on the couch. I can have a lot of fun mind-sewing. Escapism at its finest!

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 3: Come Join the Cult of Sewing | oonaballloona by marcy harriell

To be fair, I'm stitching in my noggin' no matter what's on the screen-- a seamline catches my eye, and my head is off to the races. This time, I began with a totally off-topic dress, already in progress. But about halfway into episode one of this seemingly drab documentary, the haze lifted, and I realized a trend was happening on the screen in front of me...I was seeing a lot of pink...a little orange...and EVERY SHADE THAT HAD A SPECK OF RED IN IT. I rewound in my brain and realized those warm delicious tones, floating in blurry old footage, were the colors of the cult in question. From that moment on, I was ALL IN.

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 3: Come Join the Cult of Sewing | oonaballloona by marcy harriell

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to start a Hell's Kitchen chapter of Rajneeshees, and I'm not going to get into the finer points of the documentary, per se. Nooooooo, my friends, this is not that heady. I JUST LIKE PINK AND RED. And when video footage of the ACTUAL CULT BOUTIQUE was revealed? FORGET ABOUT IT!! My brain went on a merry trip to the land where I was the owner of said boutique, and I began to mind-sew garment after garment for those sunset colored racks. On this journey, the boutique was the main reason for the cult's existence. Not the other way around. Facts! PFFT! Who has the time to pay attention to the TV when there's SEWING TO BE PONDERED?!

(Rob has to hit pause quite a bit on our nightly small screen adventures, dontcha know. Hey babe pause it I need to see that peasant blouse. Hey babe pause it why is the FBI in this scene. HEY BABE PAUSE IT WHY ARE THERE EXPLOSIONS HAPPENING. Et cetera, et cetera.)

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 3: Come Join the Cult of Sewing | oonaballloona by marcy harriell

So, maybe I was wearing rose colored glasses, ahem, please forgive the cherry-picked inspiration (see what I did there?), but when it came time to think up a garment for episode 3 of Re:Fashion, I decided I needed to make my cult dress a reality. My brilliant friend & colleague, Elaine, dubbed it The Culture Dress ;). 

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 3: Come Join the Cult of Sewing | oonaballloona by marcy harriell

The actual fashion inspiration, though fabulously hued, was FAR too plain for my tastes. (You can imagine, fashion not being the main priority of the real-life jam.) That's where this beast of a maxi dress came in--she started off floor length, and quite plainly in solid red (that's plain in my book). I got obsessed with some pom trim, some blingy mesh, some embroidery, and went nuts. Along the way, I severely botched it (this happens on just about everything I make) but I think I figured out a save! We show you what I did (and redid) all in the episode.

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 3: Come Join the Cult of Sewing | oonaballloona by marcy harriell

HI MOLLY! This is Molly. She had about six titles on our shoot...set decorator, stylist, and wardrobe supervisor are the three that come to mind. But again, I'm usually thinking about sewing and missing pertinent facts, so don't quote me on that. I CAN tell you, without a doubt, she's awesome. This was halfway through our fashion shoot day, and it was about 300 degrees outside with no shade, hence the shawl. I have no reason storywise for including this shot, other than it makes me happy!

Hope you're feeling happy, and rocking your colors. I like to think we're all members in the cult of Sewing, where our obsession makes the world a more beautiful place, individual garment by individual garment. I guess the "individual" bit defies the definition of a cult? Facts! PFFT!  

Re:Fashion launched on NBC U's bluprint last July, and for the month of August (my birthday month!) I'll be highlighting each episode with a little behind-the-seams. Now, unlike the first episode, the rest of the series isn't a freebie. If you're already a member, you can see episode 3: The Culture Dress here, and see how I saved me from myself on this red tent of a dress! If not, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here and dip your toes in for a whole week. You're gonna wanna swim around.