hey look we made progress!!!

oh HAI ! remember my big promise to show y'all what we were up to with our mad decorating skillz? well just LOOK!

no, wait, you haven't seen the west wall, really and truly, it's the focal point of the room, oh well see for yourself!!!

yeah baby, it's all comin' together now! just look at that little patch of acid washed clean-as-a-whistle brick. bee-YOO-tiful.

so. a bit of a setback. the water damage has grown from a problem outside-the-building/in-one-of-our-walls to a problem within ALL of our walls. oooh, and floors. get a load of this here pretty li'l thing:

(actual image to left. oona-slightly-fainting-while-taking-account-of-size-of-damage image to right.)

THAT is our bedroom floor, gutted through to a big old pipe attached, as i understand it, to the building's boiler. or possibly sewage waste pipe? YAY!

we have some very handy men working on the situation (they always ask me how i'm feeling, they are seriously so nice), and with each accumulating issue, they still promise they'll be done in two weeks. i love them for it-- and i'm still happy as hell to be home and not in some stranger's house-- but wasn't two weeks the estimate in the money pit?


oona and the stream of consciousness

(Ruggy returns from work to find oona flat on her back in bed, surrounded by cats. Fabric is everywhere.)

Ruggy: Hi sweetness... you okay?

oona: I... I... I... I CAN'T SEW ANYTHINGannnnn I just wanna be creeeative an' but I--I-- I don't even have the right faaabric to sew the p-p-p-pattern and this day is just Baaad and I can't get anything right and why am I so TIRED and I don't even know whyI'mm cryyyyying wuh wuh what is THAT ABOUT?!!!

(There follows some soothing sounds and the promise to get whatever might make the probably still drug- induced oona happy. Ruggy braves the depths of the Still Unpacked, and a box of vintage treasures is produced.)


Smart one, that Ruggy.

I've had the great luck to have grandmothers who loved and collected costume jewelry. I've not had the luck to have both grandmothers love me quite as much as their baubles--I have my mom to thank for most of this box of treasures. (thanks, mom!!) I didn't really mind, I had a slew of cousins growing up, and I felt, quite democratically, that they had their nana and I had my nan (not to be confused with a nanny), who loved me enough for twenty grandmas. 

There's not a lot in this box that came from my nan. She never bought much for herself. She spent most of what she had on family, and those she quietly embraced as family. She allowed herself what was necessary. I wanted so much for her to have had the pretty, frivolous things she wanted, that whenever I am given a piece I knew she would have loved, I place ownership to her in my head. Especially to butterflies. She loved butterflies.

I seriously have no idea if any of these were actually hers. But they've been given to her in my imagination, so there you have it. Kalkatroonaans have one hell of an imagination. I often think things up to make them so.

Maybe I should think up some good sewing mojo for tomorrow. I could sew her a dress she might have wanted...



rockin' down the highway

we are on our way to the doc's for a post op visit, and the thing i'm dreading the most? getting there.

i'm one of those new yorkers who flies around the streets, weaving in and out of traffic and pedestrians like a nascar racer, shooting glares at tourists that get in my way. ah, how the tables have turned. i currently move at a snail's pace, arm in arm with r, now the recipient of those dirty looks. the lights change two steps into the avenue wide crosswalks. even when we have a walk sign, turning cars honk at us to hurry it up. throngs of high school kids barrel down the street towards us like we're a mirage. oh, and the worst? PARENTS WITH STROLLERS. to be specific, new york parents with strollers. they hate us. apparently they have the market cornered on taking up the sidewalk. we played a game of tortoise and slower-tortoise with a family down one full block, politely stopping for them each time they decided to speed up. after the third stop and glare from the mother unit, r set his teeth and led me down the middle of the sidewalk with me grinning all the way. all the very, very long way.

it's given me a new perspective on life in NY. when i'm back up to full speed, you won't catch me using it against other peeps. i don't know how the elderly or infirm handle it every day. or hell, the people walking slowly that look perfectly fine. maybe they just, you know, had surgery, and you should not shoot them the look of death.

today i've chosen the bus as the path of least resistance. (yes, that's right mom & dad. subways have many stairs, cabs have many potholes. oona no bouncy right now.)

rant over!


two amazing ladies: the caracarmina petit frida brooch giveaway & the streamer frock grosgrain giveaway

well peeps, having feeling quite lucky to come through the past few weeks a-ok, i have entered into not one, but TWO giveaways.

you get an extra chance to win if you link to these absolutely fantabulously freaking talented ladies on your bloggity blog. of course i want an extra chance to win, and as a nice bonus the handful of folks who swing by here might click and throw their names in the hat! share the wealth, i always sa--

(a tap on oona's left shoulder:)

evil oona: dude. that means more peeps to compete with. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, GODSAKES.


the images above are the work of caracarmina and grosgrain, respectively. click on the links below the images to visit each giveaway. i hope it's alright to show them to you here, but you just have to see the eye candy to click, ya know? and they go so well together! i am in love with both of them. please go visit to see more awesomeness! 

and ps: be on the lookout for a little giveaway of my own here in a few.


luckily, i covered the machine.

so, yeah, i had a little unexpected trip to the hospital. well, it was expected, just not expected to be, shall we say, as in depth as it turned out to be. bit of a shock. luckily i got the sewing machine cover done before all hell broke loose. i mean, thank god.

at the moment, i'm relaxing in bed, about the one thing an oona hates most in the world (there are so many things to DO! clean! sew! organize! RE-ORGANIZE!).

actually, i was too in-shock & out-of it to be bored for the first few days. now i'm antsy and wanting very much to boogie. (don't worry, parental balloonas. i won't shimmy anytime soon.)

(oona reclines in her room at the hospital, suspiciously considering the latest offering of sustenance before her. suddenly, a knock at the door.)

big daddy: is there a balloona here?

eg: we brought you balloons!

big daddy: yes, but we couldn't find anything good to weigh them down, so we used a bottle of champagne.

(r enters, and looks to the bottle hopefully.)

r: how soon can she drink that?

(oona grins mischievously. the beige mass of pasta and meat balls have lost all luster.)

they know me pretty well. like balloona, like balloona.

wow. get me. links and scenes and everything. i must have more energy than i thought. for the past few days, all i could do was point & click-- in fact, i've spent MANY hours enjoying everyone's blogs and finding new ones through your favorites...so a very big thank you blogger peeps, you've helped keep me entertained and sane. we will raise many glasses when we pop that champagne open, and one will be to y'all.


what i've learned about leather: a little how-to

i've stumbled across many sewing peeps, both online and in person, who have a fear of working with leather. having jumped into this material blindly and with both feet, i thought i'd share what i've learned so far with you.

be prepared to get it wrong the first time.
just like the first dress you made or the last seam you ripped, you're going to have to accept a few fails. now, fails in this area do suck a bit more because leather is expensive, so try to find scrap leather to play with before starting that red MJ jacket. some stores will have remnants. if you don't have the garment district at your disposal, try this site.

get the right tools.
hands down the best machine needle i've found is schmetz, they make specifically marked leather needles in sizes 12-18. Amazing Lady hepped me to these. i use 14 for thin leathers, and 18 for the thickest hides. buy a few packs, because you'll want to replace them often! i have a dedicated pair of fiskars for cutting, no need for my fancy ginghers. i like a sharp seam ripper rather than a thread snipper to trim thread ends, i can get closer to the leather without nicking it.

when leather is pierced by a needle, it's not something that can be steamed away. those holes will stay. practice and muslins and lots of patience are your best friends with benefits. now, pinning is a very mean girl that likes to talk about you behind your back. ignore her. double sided leather tape is key when joining pieces together, i cut very thin, small strips; about 1/8 inch wide, and use these strips in place of pins on the WRONG side of the leather. this stuff is much thinner than ordinary double stick tape, you can sew right though it.

threadwise, i like coats & clark dual duty cotton/poly, it's strong, not too thick, and i can always find the color i want-- that's important to me, because i play with extreme colors in leather and need way more than the basic black and white heavy duty threads i find in most shops. but play, you might like thread the size of a plywood beam. no judgements here.

can your machine handle the truth?
i don't know about y'alls new fangled computer-ma-rized machines, but if you've got an old metal vintage job, you're in luck. my 80 pound metal kenmore eats up leather with a grin. when sewing leather on any machine, the tension should be set high (on mine that's a 6), and the stitch length should be fairly long--shorter stitches mean less space between the holes the needles creates, which for obvious reasons ain't good. on mine, no lower than a 5 for length on a straight stitch. i like to use a zigzag stitch when joining leathers on my belts (that's a 4 width & 3 length on my vintage dials).

slow down, partner!
best not to race through a seam on leather like you're sewing cotton. there are too many little hitches that can-- and will-- break your needle and send it flying off into your facial region. (oh, what's that you say? you have one of those computer-ma-rized machines with a needle guard? feh.) the hide of the leather can cause friction with the pressure foot, a little burl on the underside can mess with the feed dogs, the grain of the leather will change and simply not want to go in the direction you're headed, the needle gets pulled the wrong way one too many times and pop! as long as you're taking your time, you'll be fine. also, starting your seams at the very edge of your leather will cause you grief. the material will hitch up before you can begin. start with about a half inch of leather behind the back edge of the presser foot.

you got to know when to hold 'em.
so, your leather says: no thank you, my current plans do not include following the path you are leading. you can reverse the current direction and sew your seam from the opposite direction, that will solve the problem most times. otherwise, a little manual help will do the trick. while running the machine very slowly,  give a gentle and constant pull on the back of the material to get it moving, holding the front steady as well. if you & your machine are still working hard after a few inches of seam, try reversing the direction. sometimes, the grain of the leather just wants to go where it wants to go.

papa needs a new pair of shoes!
machine feet! i have learned to love them. i have not, however, found a teflon presser foot that fits my vintage guy. c'est la vie. you may find one quite easily, and it could make the 2 previous paragraphs of rambling completely moot for you. if you have a vintage machine and can't find your proper foot, don't despair-- after my first hour of playing with leather, my machine seemed to build up some confidence and sews like a dream now. or perhaps my machine does not have access to human attributes, and the oils from the hide have just built up? maybe that's not so good? again, i say FEH!

i have also heard of peeps using baby powder; dab some onto the underside of the leather, tap off the excess and go; but as a vintage user who regularly cleans and oils her machine, that starts the JAWS theme music in my head.

what's my type?
if your leather is of the shiny patent variety, you're in for some tears. the shinier the leather, the less it will want to move freely under that presser foot. it would be like sewing your first garment in silk chiffon rather than cotton... just step away from the patent leather, ma'am. go for a nice buttery soft thin to medium weight leather for your first outing. not to mention, if you're sewing a garment rather than say, a belt, you'll want thinner leather for all those seams.

i hope this proves useful... ask away if anything's unclear or unsaid.  my best advice:  dive in and see what happens! 

love, oona & roxie.


but slowly

recipe for making your house a home again:

1. start with caffeine

2. focus on the pretty bits

(small though they may be)

3. end with a wee drink

4. repeat, adding more pretty bits as necessary.