Step into my Handmade Closet! Everything I've Sewn in 2021

all my 2021 sewn garments | the handmade harriells

It took me a minute, but I climbed back up on the YouTube horse, and I did it by swirling around in every technicolor thing I made in 2021. (One of those things was finished right under the wire, I might even be lying a little bit in terms of stitching the hem...maybe that was in the first week of January? Eh. Time is a fiction!)

Physically modeling a garment is one of the many things I'm surprised to find myself liking about videos. Don't get me wrong, I'm an actress, I love being a ham in front of the camera. But I've always enjoyed my sewing content static. Maybe because it used to be an escape from the entertainment industry for me? It's an eye-opener to see handmade clothing in action--and, it prevents the sewist (points at self) from snapping a perfect picture for Instagram and dropping the mic, uninspected. On the other hand, I also found out I like a couple garments that were previously on the chopping block!

If you'd like to step into my little slice of New York Narnia, the video is right here waiting for you: check out my handmade wardrobe 💗

Hope you're getting some sewing in on this long weekend here, or wherever you are!


Sewing for My Man: The Neverending Story.

Rob Harriell Fabric Shopping!

Help me Rhonda, it's time to make Rob a blazer. It's been time for years now. But in my defense, this man is a VERY PICKY DRESSER. This is strange, considering the 22-year-old dusty mauve oversized t-shirt that I just am not allowed to toss, regardless of the many holes and various bleach splatters.

This t-shirt is the ugliest thing in our closet. NO YOU CAN'T SEE IT. I refuse to take a picture of it and validate its continued existence.

But here's some evidence of pattern choice and toile:

Sewing a toile for Vogue Patterns menswear

I'm using Vogue 2616, nabbed at the 2019 American Sewing Guild Maryland Annual luncheon, where I was the guest speaker on the topic "Remix, Redesign & Recreate." I ran around a packed Hilton convention room with a mic and a rack of garments, and sweet baby Yoda, was it ever a wonderful day. What a marvelous, multiethnic, creative mix of humans! It's something I've been meaning to holler about here, but shortly afterward, life events (and then world events) prevented that. A trip down memory lane is on the way.

A good chunk of that speech was all about thinking outside of the pattern envelope. Technically I shouldn't be allowed to talk about pattern envelopes--considering the horrific way I treat them, I'm surprised they haven't collectively sought out a restraining order against me. But I do love to beat a different path when it comes to the prescribed journey! When the ASG sewists heard that I had yet to make good on my promise to Rob, they steered me towards this pattern in the swap portion of the luncheon.

The heavyweight flecked purple yardage (modeled by ole blue eyes above and found at Osgood Textile) was my intended suitor for this blazer, and it's very much not the right choice! It's way too heavy for a suit jacket. Though I'm itching to make it happen and go against the envelope recommendation since it's a Rob-approved, technicolor choice. These sort of choices don't happen errrrry day! 

I'll probably go with a much more conventional yardage picked out by the man, the myth, the legend: Sam of Chic Fabrics. I took our YouTube audience out shopping with me to source the right fabric and found Sam on duty! We had a very, very good masked romp through the aisles. You can see the picks in this video!

Sewing a tailored blazer

I've got a few options to help me along the way: the Basic Tailoring edition of the Art Of Sewing; any number of Craftsy classes, and the mac daddy of them all: Kenneth King's Smart Tailoring course, graciously gifted to me by the Threads Team when the subject of The Missing Blazer came up in Episode 36 of Sewing With Threads. Thankya Threads team!!! Now I just have to find the time to watch the King at work, fit the Rob at hand, and SEW THE DAMN THING.

Have you ever sewn a tailored blazer? How did it go? Wins and horror stories alike are welcome...


New Year's Eve, 2021

Sewing Vintage Simplicity Patterns

This is a post to mark the passing of time. Full disclosure, ya might wanna skip it. It’s not the usual mood around here, but as everyone’s aware at this point, the glossy half of social media is just that: half of it. This post is for that blip in the future when one of us turns to the other and says oh yeah that christmas was crazy. What happened that year? And I head to the digital journal of blog and instagram to check my trail of breadcrumbs.

Future Me won’t find much on the grid at the end of this misbegotten year. 2021! The year Covid reached legal drinking age, invited all its irresponsible friends over for a house party, got TOTALLY WASTED, and in the morning left the rest of the world to clean up the wreckage. 

The Handmade Harriells Youtube Eggnog tutorial

The party landed on us both at exactly the same moment (because we do everything together), right after we’d spent an evening making an innuendo filled Egg Nog video (because nothing says innuendo like Granddaddy’s Egg Nog). Of course we didn’t know it was covid until later, since New York turned up the volume to Threat Level Eleven overnight, and testing meant an hours long wait on cold streets. We just assumed we were part of the avalanche of (vaxxed and boosted) omicron cases, canceled the handful of dates we’d made, kept ourselves isolated, and worked from home through sore throats & body aches. After a few fever free days, I masked up and ran out for new toothbrushes, and—a Christmas miracle!—rapid tests. Our corner drugstore was hiding them behind the counter with no signage, only handing them over if requested, like some morbid version of ordering off the secret menu at In ‘n Out Burger.

To be honest we’ve both been sicker—Rob had a case of food poisoning a month ago that was worse, and I recall a 2018 post Thanksgiving garden-variety-plague where a hoard of water-soaked Gremlins set up a mosh pit in my head. Ah, fond memories of just being plain sick, instead of being interminably wrapped up in a preventable pandemic! 

Comparisons aside, these past weeks were still worse. Because the worst part about being this kind of sick is that we don't have to be. 

Hanging with Ethan Iverson at ZInc Bar NYC

Christmas Eve came with the unsurprising announcement that our NYE concert at Zinc Bar was canceled (like many indoor events in the city at the moment). On Christmas day, we watched a little Bake Off. Then a little Die Hard. Rob went to bed early and I stayed up looking at the lights, and our weird little peppermint striped tree that I bought because it reminded me of my Nan.

Peppermint candy christmas tree

We’d planned on taking y’all on a stroll around the city to share some real holiday diplays, and just how pretty it can be here at Christmas, but that night found me with zilch to edit, and just about as depressed as I’ve felt, ever. We’ve certainly been in worse situations, but we tend to put on our game face and head into battle. Like everyone else, I got to the point where I had no more game face. 

But they say you have to figure out why you’re putting content out there, what you’re doing to serve your audience. We decided early on our goal was to make people smile. So I thought about what I wanted—to laugh—and thought about what our goal was with our content—to make others laugh—and I sat up on that quiet night making a bloopers reel. It cheered me up to splice togeher our generous amount of ridculouness. It's nothing that's going to, you know, end a pandemic or bring about world peace; but maybe it’ll give you a giggle.

What I'm Sewing | oonaballoona by Marcy Harriell

It’s New Year’s Eve, and although we’re 95% good, I’m shelving the 95% finished metallic-gold off-the-shoulder concert dress in favor of something a little more housebound. Though I’m normally down for sewing a gown for no reason whatsoever, I’d rather not look at the thing I should be performing in tonight. All is not lost though, as you can see, I'll still be rocking technicolor--inspired by our week of binge watching Gillian Anderson float around in billowy yards of jewel tones. (Side note: watch Sex Education. It is BRILLIANT. For a mixed chick, this series looks like the world. It is made up of every type of human coexisting in every type of situation with no need to explain the why or how. And that is a *very small* part of what makes this series one of the best things on Netflix. If you’re not into sex, the title is, erm, an obvious warning. But if you want kaleidoscopic, beautifully created characters set to a hilarious and heartaching soundtrack of high school, don't walk, run.)

That’s it, that’s the blip in time! If you’ve made it this far, here's the most important part: although I've spent a good bit of the end of this year in that decidedly 2020s mood of being furiously depressed by the situation, I'm also acutely aware of the larger situation of the world, and those who have things FAR worse. I’m extremely grateful that I can head out to the store, pick up something festive, and toast whatever the hell is coming our way in handmade technicolor.

I hope the switch to 2022 finds you doing something enjoyable, or even just something manageable. Me, I'm off to pick up the makings for a New Year's Night in. I'm thinking nachos. New Year's Nachos, baby. Sounds achievable! 

Happy New Year, friends 💗