Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 2: Jeans + Auditions

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 2: Jeans + Auditions | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I had an audition. A callback, to be exact. And as Murphy's Law would have it, this callback needed to happen when I was scheduled to be fully engaged elsewheres, and would have to move mountains to make it work. Usually when I get this kind of ask, it's a last-minute, NEED IT YESTERDAY "self-tape," and Rob and I are suddenly wrangling every source of light in our house into a jerry-rigged mini studio in our bedroom at the midnight hour, fifteen lamps blazing us into a sweaty mess while the camera rolls. (Sounds kinky, but we are not that professional.)

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 2: Jeans + Auditions | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

This time, the day before we left for our bluprint shoot, we got the ask for a skyped callback, to be scheduled sometime during our first shoot day. ?!!! Pretty much out of the question, I told them, we'll cross our fingers and see if the lunch break jives with it.

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 2: Jeans + Auditions | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

It did not. Instead, in the middle of the very first day of a very short week, the crew at bluprint stopped the shoot, set up a quiet, air-conditioned, beautifully lit corner for me, and removed themselves to the blazing outdoor heat while I skyped a callback, in which I improv-ed dialogue that should have lasted twenty seconds into twenty minutes of comedic banter. I WAS COUNTING EVERY MINUTE. I was sick that these beautiful new people had halted production for my ass! WE HAD SHIZZ TO SEW, MAN!!!!

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 2: Jeans + Auditions | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

WOMP WOMP, I did not get that part (it happens), but the circumstances, being a regular life occurrence, made it into the second episode of Re:Fashion, Jeans + Tee. A segment of the show is devoted to a last minute callback 😂. Our wonderful-jump-up-and-down-I-love-him-so director was all about bringing our real life into the series, and that first day was full on art imitating life. 

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 2: Jeans + Auditions | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

What's unreal about the episode is the fact that I'm wearing jeans and a tee shirt! WHO IS THAT WOMAN?!! I guess I wanted to try my hand at life imitating art? Really, what I wanted to do was give this everyday staple some twists, maybe inspire some fellow sewists into upgrading some basics, and definitely entice some civilians into breaking into what's already in their closet, busting out a needle and thread, and joining the fold! WE WANT ERRRRRRRYBODY SEWING YO!

You can see how I did what I did on episode 2 of the series. I hope it inspires you to add some awesome to your basics...

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 2 here, but if not, you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here and binge watch whatever you like! I would suggest you use that week to devour everything on the site, because there is A LOT OF DELICIOUS STUFF TO EAT. 


Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 1: Of Glue And Girls

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 1: Of Glue And Girls | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

It was my first Girls' Night Out, and I was TERRIFIED.  My co-workers, a bevy of Broadway beauties, had planned an evening of debauchery, and I had no idea what to wear, let alone how to behave in the midst of all...those...ladies. My career in feminine friendship at that point was pretty much nonexistent, having had very little to do with the female beast since childhood. My prepubescent interactions with most girls involved them making fun of my mix, my hair, my off-the-wall fashion choices, or just mistaking my shyness for disdain. As a kid, I would grab all manner of color and print and swath myself in statements of cloth, but my yapper was pretty much shut if I was confronted with a classroom of new faces. Unless it wasn't, which was whenever I was onstage. All in all, a confusing mix that did not lend itself to gal pals.

Come to think of it, I did have a few kiddo versions of a girls' night out! You know, sans adult debauchery. Most were with various little bands of merry misfits, but the one that comes to mind was the terrifying sort: I was invited to a sleepover party, by one of the most popular girls in school, somewhere around the 5th or 6th grade. I was shocked by this invitation; all we had in common was the receiving end of a rolled eye.

The party kicked off at a small carnival, where I stood holding Miss Popular's Mom's hand, too scared to go on the roller coaster or the Ferris wheel. (That earned me major points, lemme tell ya.) Later on, in a cavernous shadowed living room, I was careful to keep my movements quiet and small (so as not to alert the natives to my presence), as we made tiny bottles of perfume, ate pizza, and climbed into our sleeping bags for the night. Around 3am, I woke up and assumed I'd been crying, because I couldn't get my eyes open. This didn't surprise me, as the few sleepovers I'd been to at that point usually ended with me sobbing myself awake from homesickness. #WINNING. But I really couldn't get my eyes open, and that really revved up the waterworks, which brought Momma Popular in, who washed my face, got my lids unstuck, and asked gently if I wanted to go home. N-n-n-n-noooooooo, I stammered, determined to GET. THROUGH. A. SLEEPOVER. I gratefully received an encouraging hug from Momma Popular, climbed into my sleeping bag, and willed myself to sleep.

In the morning, I was the first to leave, and when I reached for my tiny bottle of perfume, Miss Popular said I couldn't have it. I whispered in my defense: but Allison said she's keeping hers...at which point all of the crew verbally descended upon me in the way that I was very much accustomed to at school. DAMMIT! Rookie mistake, opening my yapper! I'd been hiding in plain sight for fifteen hours and blew it in the last five minutes!

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 1: Of Glue And Girls | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Momma Popular intervened, handed me my eau de sleepover, and sent me on my way. She had a slightly disapproving look fixed on her little crew of pre-teens.

Years later, Miss Popular showed up backstage at the very Broadway show that started this whole tale, to congratulate me and get me to sign her playbill. I was still pretty shy at that point, but bold enough to tell her we weren't friends and she was never nice to me. Major burn, I know. Still, I raced home to tell Rob about my small victory, including the Saga of the Sleepover, as backstory. Babe, he said, you know they glued your eyes shut, right?

WHAT?! THIS IS A THING THAT KIDS DID?!!! I yelled, shocked. Well, yeah--kids did stuff like that all the time, flour and water paste, a hand in a bucket of water, you know, sleepover stuff. 


So there I was, thinking I was hiding out, quietly infiltrating, when really I was an activity for the party, like those teeny bottles of perfume. That gave me a good laugh, which instantly turned to fear, as I was faced with my first adult invitation to an evening with the girls. Beautiful, popular, strange women. I was that naive kid all over again. ROB! I yelped, wide-eyed. What do women DO at these things?! How do they act?!! What do they wear?!! SHOULD I EXPECT HOMEMADE GLUE?!!!

Re:Fashion on bluprint, Episode 1: Of Glue And Girls | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Rob had no answers for me, being versed only in the strange rules of pre-teen sleepover parties. So I steeled myself, put on some floral jeans and an ill-fitting tee from Gap Kids (I didn't sew back then, and thought Gap Kids was the bomb for my short-waisted frame), and headed into the fray.

Once again I was that kid at the carnival, only this time, the rides were a pitcher of something with a dozen adult liquids in it, a table with an inset grill upon which live jumbo shrimp were thrown on to "dance" before finally dying and being consumed, and several rounds of "marry/kill/bang" (the answers to which would surely be repeated to the wrong people at the theater the next day). GOOD GOD SO MUCH MORE TERRIFYING THAN A FERRIS WHEEL.

And the outfit? I got it dead wrong. My new gal pals were all in something barely grazing the curve of their collective booty, dancer's legs shining and free, faces sparkly with glitter and jewelry. It was like I was an alien visitor to the planet of Girl.

99% of the time, when I sew something, I'm thinking about where I'm going to wear it. As I was coming up with this maxi-to-mini dress for the very first episode of Re:Fashion, those dancing gals (and dancing shrimp) popped into my head, and it hit me that I was making an outfit for that Girls' Night Out. And suddenly I wanted to jump in with both feet...and pretty much alllll of my legs, and go MICRO mini. I'd never tried it before and saw no reason not to!

Today, of course, I know what to wear to an escapade with friends, because many of those friends--female, male, human--were met through sewing, that wonderful art which has provoked me into willingly venturing into many a night out, with roomfuls of strangers, met through the internet. I wear something handmade. Everyone will be in something handmade, the better to exclaim over whilst emptying that pitcher. And no one's gluing anything...unless we're talking glue guns. All bets are off with those things.

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. Click here to watch the first episode, Girls' Night Out, for free on bluprint, where I actually talk about sewing this garment, and see how I went from maxi to mini (and almost botched the whole shebang!) 


Behind the Seams with Re:Fashion, our new series on bluprint!

Behind the Seams with Re:Fashion, our new series on bluprint!

WELL HELLO DRESSFORM OF MY DREAMS. Y'all, dreams *do* come true in Hollywood!

Though that leggy dressform didn't make it home with me, I really do mean that bit about dreams, because in the past year, sewing and acting have come together for me like fine champagne and dark chocolate; it's a dream come true that I didn't even know I had. Our new series, Re:Fashion, just launched on bluprint, and I am actually beside myself. I am most certainly and ridiculously happy to be beside Rob, who also stars in the show, bringing his special blend of sewing insouciance to the mix. (The looks, people. THE LOOKS.)

Re:Fashion is about, well, refashioning, but it's also about getting into what works for your closet, upcycling, looking past a pattern envelope, trying something new, shifting gears when something goes awol...it's Re(garding) Fashion. We wanted this show to be an extension of the blog, and so over the month of August (my birthday month!) I'll be highlighting each of the five "series 1" episodes in my usual blog style--i.e, a finished garment post, in which I talk very little about actual sewing. If it ain't broke don't fix it, eh? Don't worry, over on the series I do talk actual sewing.

We had an amazing team of stupendously creative people behind this, and hopefully, our efforts will inspire you to bust into your closet, your patterns, your building's recycling center, and wreak some havoc with fabric.

Most importantly, we hope to give you a break from the world, and make you smile.

(The detail type stuff: for those who don't know, Craftsy Unlimited is now bluprint, an extension of NBC U, the network that is also giving us the gift of Amy Poehler & Nick Offerman in Making It *YES IT HAPPENS TOMORROW NIGHT AND I DON'T CARE IF I SOUND LIKE AN AD, I AM DANCING WITH UNABASHED JOY OVER HERE*. Craftsy as we know it still exists-- you can still buy à la carte classes and enjoy your life there.  But for the cost of a handful of Craftsy classes, you can subscribe to bluprint, and get unlimited access to all of those Craftsy classes, plus new series like Re:Fashion. Details over! See you August 1st with the first behind the seams ;)


McCalls 7745: Advantage, Jersey

McCalls 7745: Advantage, Jersey | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Although I'm usually in the minority when it comes to what I consider to be "neutral," in recent years, a commonly held acceptance of "animal-print-as-neutral" has developed, and the “rule” is: animal print is a neutral so long as you don’t pair it with another print. (We watched an old episode of "Friends" last night, please picture me "air quoting" everything à la Joey.)

McCalls 7745: Advantage, Jersey | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

This "rule" is where I juke left; I have several coordinating pieces of various wildlife in my closet, and I swear they go with EVERYTHING! However, my wardrobe was lacking a full-on leopard print dress, for those times when you need an easy, solid basic--something quick 'n classy. Because quick 'n classy go together.

McCalls 7745: Advantage, Jersey | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I scooped up this hybrid leopard/python/giraffish rayon jersey print at Mood Fabrics for my MSN July allowance, and informed Rob I was going Full Florida. I don’t know why I associate a leopardish maxi dress with Florida. But in my head, when you arrive for the 5 o’clock early bird buffet, you’re wearing this. QUICK 'N CLASSY.

McCalls 7745: Advantage, Jersey | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

This is McCall’s 7745, sized down to accommodate for jersey. I didn't have much luck with it in the recommended woven. It was sort of baggy on top, the darts as-patterned are kind of gigantic--but I thought a nice stretch fabric might take the wrinkles out. (I find that if you take a woven pattern down two sizes, you're good to go for jersey. But be ready for some shucking and jiving, it doesn't always go swimmingly!)

The bodice is fully lined in animal deliciousness as well, all seams are enclosed, and therefore reversible. This gave me the option to decide which side I preferred before attaching the skirt. I love using fashion fabric as lining for that reason, you have double the choices when starting to sew! Especially when using haphazard prints. Which I usually am.

McCalls 7745: Advantage, Jersey | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

I lengthened the ties, and made it a true wrap dress by leaving a gap in the right side seam of the bodice.

McCalls 7745: Advantage, Jersey | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Rob's making pancakes 'n bacon for my birthday week! PANCAKES 'N BACON!!!!!! I might throw this on and pretend we're at a "super" early bird buffet.

(ps: no tennis courts were harmed in the taking of these photos. I trod lightly.)


McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

My apologies for the smirky faces--I shot these with a timer on the side of the Henry Hudson Parkway, trying not to laugh at myself as cars just below me buzzed by in confusion at the lone chick twirling in twenty-two colors.

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

Before I wander too far down the path of run-on alliterated sentences, lemme change things up and talk about the garment. I'm all talked out for the moment about everything else. So. Sewing talk, yes? OH LET'S DO.

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

This skirt was borne out of the need to do something with a six yard cut of wax print, done in a traditional Kente pattern. (The fabric hails from Mood, as part of my fabric allowance for the Mood Sewing Network.) When it arrived, I was surprised at the amount of forest green and royal blue running through the print, which are not my colors at all! (Which is why I put it in my cart? Which is why I own a royal blue crop top?) There seemed to be little hope of getting just the warm tones on the bodice...but I tried to force my original plan of a strapless maxi dress with a circle skirt anyways. After FOUR unsuccessful attempts to cut a pleasing bodice, I abandoned ship and put the rest of the yardage away before I got into rage cutting. 

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

As I mulled over some really great suggestions on piecing the bodice, it occurred to me that the planned circle skirt would definitely produce some frown lines in such a linear print. Y'all, I hate frown lines of all kinds. (Smile lines, in the cloth of humans, I'm good with.) This was quickly moving into the realm of Fabric Regret.

Emily Hallman's pink gingham skirt popped up in my feed back in May, and like many of her gorgeous creations, I wanted it, but in my colors. Our styles are completely different, and yet I so admire everything about her vibe. 

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

It occurred to me that this squared Kente print had the same linear feel as Emily's large scale gingham print, and the prospect of using Kente to copy a gingham inspiration seemed pretty delicious--a southern gal in a traditionally casual, picnic gingham, and a city chick in Kente print, traditionally reserved for royalty, both sporting the same style lines? HOW COULD I NOT TRY IT. And as that ruffle came to be, a Spanish Flamenco vibe drifted on into the mix, and I pronounced it the ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente skirt. I can barely walk in it without lifting the side and pounding the pavement to the music in my head.  

Is any of this making sense? As I said earlier, I'm all talked out about everything, BUT, the gist of these multicultural fragments floating around in my head concerning these sistah-from-anotha-mistah skirts is: Melting Pot. The sewing community has it.

McCalls 7745: The ¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt

Like Emily, I used McCall's 7745, skirt portion only, adding a waistband with long extended ties, with an opening on one side to make it a true wrap skirt (Emily went with hooks & eyes for closures, and a shorter tie length). I also made those ruffles wider than the pattern called for, which was delighting me to no end until I tried on the finished skirt...as patterned, the ruffles extend the full length of the hem, which meant a great big piece of gathered fabric was hanging out on my hip right under the wrapped portion. Emily wouldn't stand for it, I thought, and so, out came the seam ripper. To reduce the bulk, I removed the gathering from the "underskirt" portion from waist to mid-thigh, and cut a curve into the (de-ruffled) ruffle, tapering up to the waistline. It's probably not an issue when sticking to the width of the ruffle as patterned, but next time I'll do this right off the bat anyways.

Because there will be a next time! I love the shape of it...and even more, I love the the great big memory stew of it.  


Pineapple Head

I was running to the subway last weekend, all dolled up for a concert, with my hair piled high on top of my noggin' in what I now know is called a "pineapple." A man with a smattering of salt and pepper stubble gave me a sideways glance as we waited for the light to change.

That's some hair... he tested the waters, in a weathered voice. Wouldja believe I usedta have hair like that? 

ABSOLUTELY. I crooned back. My dad said the very same thing to me for years before he started buzzing it!  Door opened, I waited for his next move.  

WELL YA GOTTA SEE IT! My new friend whipped out his phone and scrolled his numerous photos for evidence. Do ya have high hopes for this picture?! He cackled, as the lights changed, and changed again. YOU BET YOUR ASS I DO. I chirped back. believe this is going to be worth missing my train for.  

I was right. My man had some KILLER style. All the way from strawberry blonde shoulder length 'fro (and in a soccer uniform just like my dad, no less) to blown-out, thick glossy waves, '70s prom posing, complete with powder blue suit. Did I miss my train? Yes. Was it worth it? SO MUCH YES.

I find that the louder I get with my style, the happier people are around me. And by people, I mean all kinds of people. That mini-epiphany hit me this weekend. This technicolor armor I built up over the years was borne out of being different--a little bit of every race, and not enough of any race. Everyone told me I didn't fit in their box, so I made my own. Now the armor I put on is actually becoming an invitation, to all kinds of folk. Many of the barriers of the past, imagined and real (and in the present, that I deal with every day in the "business") are just not there in these random encounters. I love it.

Now, maybe those shout-outs on the street and smiles on the subway are because my rainbow jolt is more amusing than anything else, but if my mass of Sideshow Bob hair, or swath of neon, puts a smile on someone's face, I don't much care where that smile originates from. Smiles are a commodity these days.

I guess I should tell you about the dress, yes? She is the True Bias Ogden Cami, that glorious and beloved pattern, cut a bit shorter, and maxi-fied with two rectangular tiers of gathered fabric. Pineapple printed viscose, to be exact. To match the hair, naturally. Summer style, about as easy as you can get! 

(Though it will take you some time to gather those panels. I suggest a beverage with an umbrella in it to ease that li'l bit of pain. A Piña Colada, perhaps? It's summertime, y'all. Go full pineapple.)

fabric: mood, this took about 2.5 yards
pattern: true bias ogden cami, modified


Hot Time! Tocca in the City!



What's that you say? It's technically still Spring? And drizzling outside? I'm sorry, you're mistaken. When you get six months of Winter, you get six months of Summer. I see nothing but blue skies. Them's the rules.

In celebration of this New World Order, I've finally made myself another maxi-fied Derby Dress, a pattern that hails from my summer-in-the-city girl Christine Haynes. It was high time to give my beloved rayon version a partner in Summer Crimes (read: drinking boozy cold things in hot sticky temperatures).

I maxi-fied this pattern for the first time about six years ago, for my birthday Promaballoona, to surprise Christine (she was one of the party hosts!). Then, pretty much immediately again in vintage rayon from mizz Lladybird Lauren, so this pattern has heaps of fond memories and good vibes in it. I honestly can't believe it took me so long to make another! I DO SO LIKE GOOD VIBES.

You can see more pics over at the Mood Sewing Network (aka the reason I missed posting a #wednesdaywip, as I had to get my monthly jam in over there. Also, yes, I've officially decided that posting a WIP every Wednesday is a silly rule. I know, it was worrying you. Shhhh. It's okay.)


#wednesdayWIP: McCalls 6044

When I don't know what to make, I make something for Rob. For no other reason than that I love him like words can't say. It occurs to me that this is the most selfish sewing I can think of, because it thrills me to no end to see him wearing something I stitched. And it's gotten a lot more thrilling since I've relieved myself of the pressure of getting it perfect. Don't get me wrong, I believe in perfection! I think that perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Attainable perfection, if you will. But I have yet to make Rob a perfect garment. (To wit: check that buttonhole in the middle shot 😂)

Questionable buttonholes aside, this is largely due to the fact that I just don't have the reps in, man! I've made *who knows how many* dresses for myself, and they get better every time (well, sometimes it's a one-step-forward & two-steps-back kinda thing, but who's counting). Practice makes perfect, but with so few options out there for him pattern-wise, I can only practice so much.

I'm in the middle of McCall's 6044 at the moment, which has been used and abused errrrrywhere. (That's colorful language, there are myriad gorgeous renditions across the sewing blogishpere). It's...okay...but only after I abandoned the directions finish-wise, and removed some of that blousy sleeve cap ease. HOLY GATHERS, BATMAN.

It's hanging out, waiting for a try-on. 

Pam at Off the Cuff has some great tutorials on shirtmaking, I recommend devouring the posts on plackets & getting a pointed collar. Plackets! That reminds me, I want to make a tuxedo shirt for Rob! A proper one. To go with all my gowns.

I have no good finish to this post, and no idea how Wednesday snuck up like a stealth ninja! I SWEAR IT'S ONLY BEEN LIKE THREE DAYS IN KALKATROONAAN TIME. I haven't even had time to reply to your comments on the last WIP, but I'm stoked to hear that several of you went out and found that pattern for yourselves. You are gonna have a BLAST. (And I'm gonna rethink this whole self-inflicted Every Wednesday thing. 'KBYEEE!)


#wednesdayWIP: OOP Vogue 1806

#wednesdayWIP: OOP Vogue 1806

A package, covered in hearts, and filled with patterns, arrived last week. Prizes from a new friend and sewing sister who has the gift of knowing EXACTLY what song I'm sewing to at any given moment. (I don't know what you'd call this ability. ESP? Extra Song Perception?)

My sew-sister is into fancy!! This Badgley Mischka pattern immediately caught my magpie eye. LOOKIT THOSE STYLE LINES! Or rather, TRY TO FIND THOSE STYLE LINES ON THE ENVELOPE! A black dress and a back view does not a style line show.

#wednesdayWIP: OOP Vogue 1806

But gawdamighty there are some deliciously fun pattern pieces in this bodice.

#wednesdayWIP: OOP Vogue 1806

Last Sunday morning, I flitted merrily off in five different fabric directions, my scissors hovering in indecision, drunk on dreams of gowns...so I made myself stop and make a bodice toile, while I tried to pick the winner.

Then I went with all five candidates.

We've got: rose gold & blue floral guipure (both from Chic Fabrics), jacquard with the wrong side as public (Mood), some sort of textured doubleface woven (Trumart)...

...and another taffeta from Mood as underlining. (Maybe as lining, too, though I do have a sixth candidate for that. Naturally.)

The pattern calls for interfacing on all bodice pieces, which made me raise my eyebrows, but I did it on the front bodice pieces anyway. No bueno! See the rippling along the seam where the underbust meets the lower front bodice? GNASHING OF TEETH.

It's not as noticeable when it's on, but still. GNASHING OF TEETH. After my chompers relaxed, I decided to go with the taffeta underlining on the back bodice, instead of the recommended interfacing. 


So much more bueno, that I seriously considered ripping out that underbust...then I looked at all the clipping & notching and gave myself a reality check. Live & learn & wear the ripples. 

Perhaps they meant a non-fusible? Yeah, could be. It would have been better to go a little more highbrow and use silk organza as interfacing. But, as you know, classy isn't always my strongsuit.

To wit: my dressform, sized out in faux fur, and repaired in masking tape. UBER CLASSY.

Next up: deciding on what to use for the gown portion! YET ANOTHER FLORAL PRINT FOR SURE! And I'm going off-pattern on that slinky skirt. I like me a full sweep! 

I also like me more visits to this space, which my Mom tells me I'm not posting to enough, and should rectify. Mom is right! So, in an effort to do as I am told, I'm starting a Wednesday series in which I'll show you a work in progress. This first #wednesdaywip is very much inspired by my Mom, which I thought a fitting start (pun not intended, but heartily claimed.) We were rained out on Mother's Day, and so we postponed our visit to her fabulous jungle of a garden. As I threw this cornucopia of fabrics together, I thought about how she paints with a stunning variety of leaf and flower. It's really incredible. I wanted this dress to be like her garden in bloom.

So, whatcha working on? Join me in parading if you like, we all love some fabric porn! Tag it #wednesdaywip so we can peep it!


oonaballoona brain

Rob & I have spent the last seven days in a furious nonstop tornado of creativity, with some of the MOST WONDERFUL human beings around. Saying "I really can't tell you how much this week meant to me" is such a cop-out, but... I really can't tell you. For one, our recent capers are still top secret, and for two, English has left the building of My Brain.

I do, however, have the picture that perfectly encapsulates my feelings, with this shot captured by our fearless director, who joyfully jumped right smack dab in the middle of my technicolor head, feet first. This right here is what the inside of my brain looks like.

I can't wait to tell you more! But for now, I just wanted to say OH HAI, and HOW ARE YOU, and wish you a frenzied, freewheeling weekend of creating. More soooooon!


Four Faux Fronts.

oonaballoona | Four Faux Fronts.

It's been a minute since I posted a What Was I Drinking, but it's certainly not because it's not happening. I'm just not documenting it. Last weekend, however, I had the pleasure of cutting out a center front bodice for a strapless halter dress FOUR TIMES without a satisfying result. I snapped a pic, I threw my arms up in the air, I stomped away before I did more damage. 

Three were cut on the bias to create a chevron effect, one was cut on the fold, all are going in the "figure it out" pile. 

It's a Dutch wax print, actually labeled as a "Kente print" on the selvedge. This printed fabric is very different from a true woven Kente cloth, which hails from Ghana, and is made of interwoven cloth strips (here's a very cool short video on how Kente cloth is woven). It was originally reserved for Asante/Ashanti royalty only. And damn if I didn't end up making some sort of plaid tartan out of it. Not that I'm not down with plaid. Or tartan. Or mixing up cultures and races. Peanut butter and chocolate. Sauvignon and steak. Whathaveyou. I'm down with it. Obviously. 

BUT UGH WITH THOSE CENTER FRONT PANELS. I think what's really tripping me up is that forest green, a color I've never really gone for. So I must have been drinking something super strong when I put this jammie in my cart, because forest green is ALL OVER this stuff.

I'm probably going to cut my losses (a phrase borne out of sewing if I ever heard one, but probably having origins in accounting) and make a voluminous maxi skirt out of it, to keep the green out of my immediate sight. If I can work out how to keep just that orange up near my head, I'll go maxi dress. But that's another great thing about wax print, with all that yardage at hand, you have some room to play...

And play I will, as today looks to be all weather and not much else. I'm thinking of building a blanket fort out of all the ankara I've got. It would be like Planet Color. Where it is perpetually summer. 

Have you experienced a true Kente cloth? I'd love to fondle the real thing someday!


Ten Years In Fabric: A Decade of Sewing!

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Ten Years In Fabric: A Decade of Sewing!

Well HELL'S BELLS! (I've been listening to a lot of AC/DC). It's my ten year blogging anniversary today! TEN YEARS! A decade of oversaturated photos accompanied by occasionally coherent yammering, and I have nothing prepared for this moment! ONLY MY CAPS LOCK BUTTON, BOLDFACE, AND MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!

When I started this space, it was for my parents. Social media hadn't hit, and plastering your face all over the world wide web was still questionable. But a cross-country move made carving out a little visual corner of the internet a no-brainer, just to keep in touch with something a little more than a phone call, you know? It's grown into much more than I ever thought it would. I feel I ought to do something to mark the occasion, and I will...I just need a minute to figure out what that is. Because, y'all, I been BUSY. Like my mom says, when I'm radio silent on the blog, she knows I'm busy. (Cuz they still read my blog. I love my parents.)

For now, I thought it would be fun to whizz through my virtual closet and pick a sewn item for each year I've blogged. Up above, you've got from top left corner: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. Everything in yonder collage still exists in my closet (save for the leather belt, which was for my Etsy adventures in 2009). The nice thing is...it got harder to pick a favorite as I got further along in my sewing escapades! I think that means I know what I like now. And I like what I sew.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | Ten Years In Fabric: A Decade of Sewing!

As for 2018, I haven't made my favorite thing yet, but the wax print on my dress form is driving me happily bananas. Although I'd sewn with it before, 2017 was the year I fell fully in love with this wonderful stuff. In fact, 2017's pick was the hardest...so much Ankara! HEY. HEY!!! I know what I want to do for my celebratory gesture! 

Okay but I'm not telling you yet. I gotta figure some shizz out. Soon! Until then...thanks for hanging out with me, beautiful people. Here's to future cocktails, capers, and above all, color!


Simplicity, With a Little Complication.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | a sewing blog

When we venture South for the holidays, my suitcase is stuffed with 20% everyday, 80% special occasion. Not that I don't dress for every day as if it were a special occasion! I do. I really do. But, this is the kind of bling that even I can't justify donning for what is, mainly, at-home family gatherings. 

Bling that has a slit up to here...

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | a sewing blog

And that likes to get frisky...

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | a sewing blog

With any little hint of a breeze...

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | a sewing blog

It just doesn't say "holiday brunch and Scrabble," you know?

Still, I pack the things I can wear for all of 15 minutes, in anticipation of documentation in more forgiving temperatures. It was 64 degrees when Rob & I ran joyously outdoors to snap this dress, and I am 100% basted into it.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | a sewing blog

YES YES Y'ALL, I had my first zipper fail of my sewing career!! Hair and makeup ready, jewelry set, I went to zip her up, and the coil came FULLY away from the tape, right in the middle of the seam. It wasn't too tight, it was too old. At the time, the only zip I had of an appropriate color was my "basting zipper," a plastic job that had been used and reused so many times, I've lost count. 

It could've been worse, it could've happened during its maiden voyage, while I was singing in it 😳

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | a sewing blog

When I trudged out of the guest bedroom in defeat, holding the wounded brocade in my clenched fists, Rob wouldn't take no for an answer. "You have a needle and thread? You have no problem."

I MEAN REALLY. He knows exactly how to goad me into competition with myself.

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | a sewing blog

But I think I'll be inserting a nice, new, unused zip, now that we're home. 

Bodice: Mimi G for Simplicity 1115 (great!!) which I joined at the waist to...
Skirt: Simplicity 1099 (not great!! Why do I keep using this pattern?! I've made the skirt here and top here, and the draft on both cause gnashing of teeth at some point in construction. On the skirt, I always have to change the weird pleats on the front at the last minute.)
Fabric: Brocade from Janky Store in NY's garment district, lined with silk CDC from Chic Fabrics.
Zipper: In a trash bin somewhere in Arkansas.

Happy New Year, peeps! May you have all the closure you require... and needle & thread, should it fail you.