10.28.2019

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress.

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

GREAT TITLE RIGHT?!!!! Last week, Rob was away for five days, which in Casa Harriell Time (CHT) is ALMOST FIVE YEARS, and, as previously evidenced when we are apart, questionable decisions were made.

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

For Rob, it's doing things like demolishing and renovating our bathroom single-handedly (this turned out to be a very good thing in the end; Rob: I love the bathroom). For me, it's turning the house into a tornado of fabric and slam sewing through anything within reach.

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

This was one of those slam sews, a dress made in about 5 hours, which at the end of the day, for a dress of this level, is just silly. It was worn that very evening, to perform with the Loser's Lounge. We have a ridiculously good time at those concerts! But when my ladies asked me how I was upon arrival, I had to say-- nay, HOLLER: 
I DID NOT LIVE A BALANCED LIFE TODAY. 

There were a lot of new faces there, and therefore new peeps learning I make my own stuff, and therefore new requests for stuff of their own, which I happily dodged as much as possible. Though one gorgeously talented lady did correctly guess how much a dress like this might cost...she gave me PAUSE, y'all!! 


I digress. The dress. The slam sewn dress. She doesn't stop at the waist, as the belt might suggest. I elongated my self-drafted strapless "bustier" pattern to stop at mid-hip, then attached a paneled skirt. 


To keep her up, I made a second bustier pattern as drafted, and threw rigilene boning on those seams. Now, if I hadn't been POSSESSED, I would have realized that having a waist edge underneath a dress without a waist seam would get uncomfortable, which it did. Should have made the lining as long as the bodice, but you know, I elongated my pattern directly on the fabric, because poor choices.


I didn't have an appropriate invisible zipper, of course I didn't, I didn't plan this out AT ALL, so I used an exposed gold zip. She buckles a litte just under the waist--but never you mind that, JUST NEVER YOU MIND, because she's not long for this world in her current state! 

Which is why you're getting these slightly blurry, back alley pictures of this dress (another intriguing decision, as my photographer was gone). Evidence that she existed as such!


My first instinct for this fabric, which hails from @fabricsusainc, was to go for an autumnal maxi skirt, and after her virgin outing proved vexing, I believe that's just what I'll do. Time for some surgery. Though I'll grieve losing that print placement on the bodice portion! Print placement took about 3 out of the 5 hours of stitching!

I know, I know, shhhhhhhhhh. Nothing is safe in my handmade closet. I might salvage the bodice portion for a two-set, though!

Rob Was Gone For Five Days So I Made A Five Hour Dress. | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

If you wanted this look, you could use the bodice portion of Simplicity 8456 (it's really the same look, my pattern just fits my tatas better 😁) and attach a half, or full, circle skirt at mid-hip. You'd simply use your mid-hip measurement for the "waist" measurement, and if you don't want to do the math, put those digits in any number of circle skirt apps to get your skirt pattern (I love By Hand London's online calculator.)

By the way, I have LOVED reading your comments on my jacket giveaway post, both here and on Instagram!! I haven't replied, as I'm keeping the area clean for pulling a name later today. I'll close off entries at noon 10/28 EDT (that's today as of the writing of this post) and pull a name out of a hat this evening. It'll probably be announced on Instagram before the blog, but I will put the winner up here as well (and you don't have to be on IG to win, though you do get an extra chance if you follow & comment there as well--again, before noon!)

Okay cheerio then! I don't know what's got that phrase in my head, but when you start with a post title like this, might as well FINISH STRONG.

10.21.2019

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One!

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Most weekends, when other teenagers were grabbing their friends and heading to the mall, I grabbed my Nan for a girl's day. Mom would drive us up, drop us off, and we'd spend hours arm in arm, checking out every store, getting a slice of pizza and cake for lunch, meeting at the pickup point in time for dinner.

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Nan could change my luck in a store SECONDS after walking past the threshold and taking in the scope of things by simply saying: Nah, there's nothing for us here... As the type of personality that wanted to go through *every rack*, this always dismayed me. But when we hit a store that passed muster, forget about it. You like it? Get two! You love it? GET THREE!

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Where the first proclamation made me slump, the second always made me cackle. Nan! I don't need multiples! What am I gonna do with three of the same neon yellow polka dot shirt? And we'd laugh and laugh, arm in arm, ignoring the weird looks from my contemporaries in their teenaged, impenetrable circles.

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

By the time we got to lunch, we usually had a bag or two of clothing, which I later realized she was buying with her Social Security checks. She lived pretty frugally, spending the money she saved on others (and not just the trivial fashioning of a grandaughter by a woman who raised four rowdy boys and didn't get to play dress-up-- I'm talking, we think she helped put more than a few people through school).

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

All this is to say, when I saw this jacket: I bought two. I liked the longline style so much, I wanted to take the original idea and run with it. I figured two jackets would morph into one extra long duster. Then....this embroidered mesh caught my eye (and my breath) and I was careening away, off on another track. 

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

When we finished this episode of Re:Fashion Season 2, I realized I had plenty of fabric left over to make another! 

You like it? MAKE TWO! 

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell
  
Don't mind if I DO, Nan!

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: BUY TWO!!! And Giveaway One! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

And true to her spirit, I'd like to give the second one away. A little trip to the oonaballoona mall! To get your name in the hat, leave a comment here, and tell me what you love about fashion. I have many layers of love for fashion-- a very fond layer is the memory of those Mall shopping dates with my Nan. I wish she could see what I'm doing now, I know it would make her holler (she often hollered on the phone to me, if there was even a *nanosecond* of silence: MAAAAAAAAAAARCY! Followed immediately by laughter on both ends). She would have been yelling at her TV set to see me wearing this on the Today Show, for sure. And she was always giving, so this seems the appropriate thing to do, when you buy two ❤️

You can also enter on Instagram, but as stated in my last post, the world is not entirely on Instagram, non? But, you'll have two chances to win if you throw your hat in the ring on both arenas.

Full disclosure, the jacket is my size, as I didn't know where I was going till I got there! As usual. Giveaway is open all over the world, and I'll close the entries on Monday Oct 28. I'll throw the winner's initials of choice in crystals the back :)

Speaking of bling, there were also LED lights and all manner of mayhem, courtesy of Rob, on the meandering way to creating this look--to see how I did it, you can catch the full episode here on Bluprint. (If you don't already get your Sewing TV there, you can sign up for a free trial, and right now they're offering a super discounted price of 59.99 for a year, but I think that only lasts through tomorrow! I know I sound like a commercial, but that is SO MUCH LEARNING Y'ALL. Besides getting entertained by all manner of makers, last weekend, I watched Kenneth King sew pockets, & Alison Smith taught me tailoring. Cuz somebody's on the warpath to make a tuxedo.) Links in this post are affiliated, to feed the sewing beast!

10.17.2019

The NYCB Fall Gala Gown, Take Two!


The NYCB Fall Gala Gown, Take Two! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

Sometimes I think in captions, ie: I'm def gonna need more coffee lolzzzzzzzzzz😴☕️... AND THEN I WANT TO PUNCH MYSELF. When you think in captions, it's time to re-evaluate your life choices. It's good to know when you have a problem. The first step is calling yourself out on it. Or rather, as Rob said when I outed myself on the morning coffee talk in my head, The first step is admitting you don't have any control over it.

The NYCB Fall Gala Gown, Take Two! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

HAHA ROB. Ok. I don't, I really don't, Instagram is taking over my online life and I need to curb it STAT. I forget that the world is not entirely on Instagram, nor should they be, and it's high time I had y'all over for coffee here, in my own internet living room, and gabbed about what became of the Gala gown! The Bazin print is still waiting in the wings (that Bazin print placement is TRICKY, y'all!) I decided to leave her for when the time is right, and dove headfirst into this pink and black wax print from AKN fabrics. Or pink and green, as my man behind the cash register at AKN insisted. I see black. Though as you're about to see, she photographs as she pleases. 

I didn't have much time, but I already had the one-shouldered bodice pattern drafted, and figured I could drape the skirt. That said, it wasn't super quick. There was still a bit of wrangling to do, print-wise, on the bodice. Lots of opportunity for lines cutting me in half or circles outlining circular areas! The bias looked best to me on the form, so I split the CF panel to get a chevron effect, cutting the bodice on the bias across the front. To support the bias, I cut all the lining pieces on the lengthwise grain, and used some rigilene boning on the bare-armed side.


But the skirt was eaaaaasy, I just used the existing lines in the print as my guide, and pleated along the design. I whispered to myself a lot during this phase. Black to the pink, over to the center, black to the pink, I'm sure I sounded properly off my rocker, which really, I was. As usual, it was nonstop around here-- I was rehearsing a musical workshop from 10-6, sewing 7-11p and/or 7-9am, doing a gig with my loves The Tall Pines, and recording a segment for The Today Show. (Oh yeah! I should tell you about that! It airs TOMORROW, Friday, 10/18, in the 8am hour!)

The NYCB Fall Gala Gown, Take Two! | oonaballoona by marcy harriell

One of my dinner breaks was spent buying a hoop crinoline from Ye Olde Amazon. I bought several, actually. I've been meaning to make one for years, and you know what? I just have ZERO DESIRE TO WRANGLE TULLE THAT NO ONE WILL SEE. I grabbed 4 different styles, and I'm going to throw a video up on our channel to give y'all an idea of what you can get for under twenty bucks. Spoiler alert; they are ridiculous amounts of fun to wear. I have no idea if I'm wearing mine correctly, I have a feeling you shouldn't see the ridge of the hoop around the hem...but FUN nonetheless!


A lunch break was spent careening into the garment district to find some extra bling, when I decided the finished dress didn't scream Gala. These "crystals" are made to look like hot-fix Swarovski crystals, you just get more for your buck. They come in a large cuttable sheet, with a glue back. I lost a few strips during the actual Gala! 


Now, I decided to iron these on after the dress was made. I was in fact, madly ironing them on the day of the Gala during my lunch break. Heat setting the glue on curves, through multiple layers of fabric, is probably not the best way to give these a thumbs up or down. I have more, and will test them out in a more sensible way and let you know, cuz if these babies work when properly applied, there is a WEALTH of gorgeous pattern and color out there to be had! DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT WAS TO GO WITH BLACK UMMM SPEAKING OF....


Black tie, black vest. Which I made as well. CUZ I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH ON MY PLATE! This is a sample welt, Rob decided he liked the bias cut as well, and he gets what he wants ❤️. His shirt & tie are also made by me, though from previous years! 

the handmade harriells

Lookit that face. This is what we look like after we wait in a red carpet line for an hour after the rain moves the red carpet to a cement walkway and causes a veritable goat rodeo. A man with that much good humor deserves a tuxedo, no? Anybody got a good pattern? Anybody? Help...

our "red carpet" photos by the awesome Nina Westervelt!

10.06.2019

MY Favorite Sewing Machine for YOUR Wallet!


I've just put the full premiere episode of Suit Up! on our channel, and it reminded me about this gem of a machine that I've been meaning to holler at y'all about!

The Singer Heavy Duty came onto set when we realized, at very much the 11th hour, that odd parts for the machines at hand had grown legs and walked away. To boot, the manual for the computerized Janome was MIA. This should have been no problem, as manuals come embedded in the screens of this kind of machine, but I could not, for the life of me, get the computerized Janome to Let. Me. IN! A giant graphic padlock hovered on the display screen, taunting me, while a pile of Superhero prep work cackled at me like it had flipped over to Villain mode. 

Luckily, we were shooting right next to LA's delicious garment district, and when I cried uncle on that padlock, our heroic production manager put on her cape and made a new machine appear. With very little time to find the perfect mate, we went with this model after a Google search showed us what we could get, STAT. I recognized it as the machine a friend had purchased a few years ago (without asking me what to buy first! The nerve!). He was brand new to sewing, and wanted something that could handle heavy materials. He liked it. It was gettable. So I bit, with more than a little bit of trepidation.

The preference for Singer, for those in the sewing know, is usually of the vintage variety. When faced with the solution to this unexpected shooting problem, I raised my eyebrows at myself. Now I get raised eyebrows when trumpeting about this gem in sewing circles! So lemme be clear, I'm specifically recommending the Heavy Duty range. I've found that all the brands I've played with so far--Pfaff, Bernina, Janome, Elna-- aren't flat out fantastic across the boards, no matter what the price point. They all have hits and misses...you have to find the right model.

As you can guess, I was shocked at how much I loved this machine. It took on leather, neoprene, spandex, denim, felt, waffle weave jersey, basketweave pleather, a veritable smorgasbord of fabrics. It packed a punch, and was solid as all get out. Zero slip-sliding that you get from most machines at this price point (heck--even extravagantly priced machines). I turned to Rob on day 4 of the shoot, and said, This is the kind of machine I would kiss on the hood before shutting it off, if we were at home.


(I do that to machines I love. They deserve acknowledgment at the end of a long sewing day. But I decided to go psychic on the kiss in mixed company.)

This particular guy comes with ample feet (including a Teflon foot for out-of-the-ordinary materials, though I show you a trick to turn any foot into Teflon in this episode), automatic needle threader, free arm, extra-high presser foot lift, 23 stitches including stretch stitches & a one-step buttonhole, and three needle positions, giving you a 6mm stitch width. (Nerd talk for a minute: I'm not fond of machines that swing past 9mm wide, at least not for precise straight stitching...which let's be honest, should be the number one job of a sewing machine!)   

Though it comes with a pack of Singer branded needles, I used Schmetz needles that were appropriate to the weight and type of fabric, which is what I'd recommend--Schmetz are just the best, in my book. We weren't sewing any fine materials that week, but I've sewn finer fabrics on it since then; wax print, chiffon, jersey--and again it's all about the appropriate needle size & type, and taking advantage of the adjustable pressure foot pressure. LOVE a machine with user-controlled adjustable pressure foot pressure!

And I really loved that we shot this series with an economical machine. I've stitched on an arsenal of models--some of them come in the "thousands" range--this one comes in at well under 200 bucks, and performs beautifully. You don't have to be Rockefeller to get a brilliant machine.

If you're in the market, you can check it out on Amazon, and if you're in the states, I've seen it at Joanns as well! 

Head over to our channel to see me stitch on this baby in the FULL first episode of Suit Up!, or catch the entire Suit Up! series on Bluprint. Links in this post are affiliated, and go right back into feeding the sewing beast, to bring you more technicolor content!

9.21.2019

Design Process: A Gown Gone Crazy

puff sleeve

I have been having a time and a half working out this dress for the NYC Ballet's Fall Gala. A TIME AND A HALF. Said Gala is this Thursday. In hopes of getting ahead of the curve, I started stitching soon after my birthday, when my Mom presented me with this g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s bazin print. Isn't it amazing? IT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PRINT I'VE EVER SEEN.

side view

It's also turned out to be one of the trickiest! Once I really took a look at the layout, I realized it had a heavy directional repeat. The smaller suns run along both selvages, the larger suns lay smack bang in the middle. Then there are lions within each sun. (Cuz the birthday girl is a Leo.) The smaller lions' feet point towards the selvage, the larger lions' feet alternate every other sun. And ALL feet are marching along the crossgrain, so using this print on the lengthwise grain means your lions are ass over teakettle. To boot, you can't use both sides of this print like other forms of wax pint, as this has a (super cool) shiny, embossed jacquard print on the "good" side of the fabric.

front view

I took a full day to carefully cut a twelve-paneled maxi skirt, making sure I got all of the suns in the mix. Then spent another day on the bodice, eeking out a sun section for the sleeve. I'm talking days of cutting only--not stitching! Sewing it up was a slow train as well, french seams and underlining and boning and all that jazz.

These are not complaints, I LOVED figuring out this stuff! But after all that, I didn't like her. Maybe I spent too long looking at her! But I developed an eye twitch with the placement of the smaller suns. I felt like my gaze was drawn was to knee level, snared by those larger suns.  


So the three center front panels got a haircut from the waist down. 


It seemed like I could finagle the rest of the length into some sort of bustle...which, to be honest, looking at these pics, maybe I should have done. But each french seamed panel kept getting separate haircuts, until I was at the point where I should've just shortened it all at the waist in one go. 


With a fully shortened skirt, I tried MORE options...these are just a few pinned up. I went back in and added more panels for fullness, which I somehow don't have a picture of? That's ridic. Hold on a sec.


She'd need a crinoline, and I need my head checked. The amount of iterations she's gone through at this point is approaching Hollywood levels of reboot.

As I was scrolling through my own IG feed last night, like a diary, trying to find clues on where I began and where I might end, I came across another red carpet attempt that didn't make it to the finish line, and thought....maybe I should get that peanut butter in this chocolate.


I DON'T KNOW MAN I JUST DON'T KNOW!

This is often how things go around here! I thought y'all might like to see the process. I hope you don't get too attached to any of these as it may turn out to be something completely different...but feel free to tell me your favorite, or share more ideas! 

I am bound and determined to be somewhere solid with this by Sunday night, like, WEARABLE solid, since I start rehearsals for a workshop of a new musical on Monday, and I am NOT GOING TO SPEND THREE WEEKDAY EVENINGS SLAM SEWING. I'm not! I'm so super not! I have other options, and if I don't get her done by then, she shall marinate before I cut into her any more than I already have! 

9.12.2019

Behind the Seams of Re:Fashion, Season 2: MADMAXI !!!


On the streets of New York, most people hear me coming, and turn slowly in wide-eyed terror to get a glimpse of the large, intimidating beast that is surely barreling down upon them. Nope. Just me. 5’2 of clomping heels, swirling fringe, jangling bells and a large mass of curls COMIN ATCHA. 


My favorite clothing makes NOISE when I walk. I love it when I make noise! Sometimes I speed clean the house yelling BANGCRASH just to make it more fun. Ask Rob. It's one of his very favorite things. This little dress is noisy both in color and in volume! I think of it as my mad maxi. Thunderdome in technicolor. Partly because of the frantically paced trip I took while adding trim upon trim to it, in an effort to fix my miscalculations on that hemline. She used to be super long! And super weird! You really do need to see the before on this one:


YOWZA. That’s a SKORT under that open floor-length panel, a panel that displays the wrong side of this polytastic madness. AND CHECK THE BACK VIEW. Y'all, the back view of my dress was WAY WORSE...the technicolor warning bars of the tie occupied an entire side of the back, right smack dab across my booty, which I happily model for you in the episode

But I saw all that color on the hanger, and knew it was meant for my scissors. And when I went too haywire with the shears, trim came in....POM POMS! LACE EDGING! LANTERN BELLS!






I'm fond of all of the episodes, which I feel I can say humbly, because it is largely due to the wonderful crew that we shoot with. But I'm especially fond of this one! It's the last episode we shot, number 6 for Season 2. On most sets, the last shoot day is the hardest-- people are tired from a long week, especially as the hours grow longer, but not with this gang. There were so many bits and bobs on this one: panels, french seams, lapped seams, gathering, reworking the sleeves, hemming, reconfiguring prints, ripping and reinserting invisible zippers, and allllll that trim work...IT WAS A LOT! But the mood that day was just as fantastic as it was the first day. (And, at that point in the week, we'd found the sweet spot in the day for caffeine Nitro, so 🤪)

I've gone out of order in my recaps here, because I think these next two outfits are appropriate for Transitional September Styling, la di dah. I'll be back in a minute with another transitional look, that I think is probably the fan favorite for this season ;). Til then, you can catch all six episodes exclusively on Bluprint

Happy almost weekend, peeps!

Tips! If you don't get your sewing TV through Bluprint and want to scope it out, you can download the app and watch free for 24 hours. You can also sign up for a 1 week free trial on the website...handy for a weekend of Making All The Stuff.

9.08.2019

Sewing In the Wild...YouTube, that is.

Self-drafted floral maxi dress with tie front

I am nothing if not stubborn. To wit: this dress was a self-drafted job, wrangled when I HAD TO HAVE some version of several tie-front dresses out in the summer Big 4 offerings. 

Self-drafted floral maxi dress with tie front

I am nothing if not impatient. To wit: I was not near a Joann's, and could not wait for shipping. 

 
I am also nothing if not FORGETFUL, cuz my sewsister Sonja picked up this pattern for me like WHO KNOWS HOW LONG AGO and I have yet to carve out a freaking hour to squeeze her, and take whatever number of envelopes I've gone scatterbrained on, off her hands!


So, if you'd like to make this dress, do have a search through McCall's summer dresses. There are several there that fit the bill. And though I'm pretty pleased with myself for drafting it on my own, I'll readily and happily admit, I love Big 4 patterns. Especially McCalls, Simplicity and Vogue. (Are they Big 5 now?)


As usual, my photographer was a bit more concerned with the composition than the details,  like the tie front and exposed lacy zipper...


...so you get a flat lay of Sewing Splendor in the Grass.  


(I'm pretty sure that's inappropriate speech.)


ALSO IT HAS POCKETS.


I made sure he got the pockets 😂

SOOOOOOO.....these were snapped at the end of filming a little ditty for our YouTube channel, a ditty which includes footage of me actually moving and twirling in the dress, with closeups, courtesy of Rob "Shoots-From-The-Ground" Harriell himself! YES! We have not forgotten our YouTube promise! Our first bonafide, made-from-scratch video is live TODAY. In it, I climb a tree fort, battle some small children, tell some stories, terrify you with my lack of manicure, and maybe teach someone out there how to slipstitch a hem.

I hope it brings a smile to your face as we close out one of our last summer weekends (I'm finding it exceedingly hard to type that).

Happy Sunday, Sewists!