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!


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!