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...



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!


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!!!!!


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.


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.


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