craftsy + gertie = HEAVEN

oh hai.  how are you?  moi?  i've been tucked away in a cave of sewing bliss for the past three days making the  Best.  Dress.  EVER.  no, seriously, look, i'm not really one to be all look at what i made ohmygod it's soooo pretty right?! but lemme just say:


a couple weeks ago, craftsy asked if i'd like to take gertie's bombshell dress course and do a wee review here on le blog.  smell ME.  this is the first review i've been asked for!  in my daydreams of what will i do if i'm ever asked to do a review i always included full disclosure.  so: they graciously linked me to the course for free, but you can be certain i am absolutely honest in my opines.  i think you know by now i don't pull many punches.  let me admit to you also, in my smallest and most embarrassed voice possible: i never would have taken the course otherwise.  as you may have noticed, i am quite certain that i already know everything there is to know about everything.  i don't need to shell out for instructions or new techniques or what have you.

silly oona.  i need anything gertie haz.

but i'm getting ahead of myself.  do you know about craftsy?  i didn't till now.  craftsy is a delicious site.  the layout, the colors, the peeps, the information...  i could eat it with a spoon.  and a mint julep.  probably a nice fresh burata cheese as well.  it's a bit more craft heavy (natch), but there are garment makers there with a very retro vibe.  a LOT of truly funky knitting going on as well.  that said, i wasn't expecting anything more than some pretty sewing videos with good information (after all, it's gertie).

silly oona.  the good people at craftsy are type As of the first order.  mere videos do not cut it in their universe.

you get chapters.  glossaries.  shopping lists.  supplies links.  classroom discussions.  course notes.  oh!  the course notes!  i want to kiss the course notes on the mouth!  as you're merrily rolling along, hit "take notes" and marvel as a sweet yellow lined pad pops up under the instantly paused video.  type in your note and save it.  the video immediately resumes, but wait!  days later, you're on chapter 15 and you want to remember something you jotted down waaaay back in chapter 2?  hit the little marker on your yellow notepad, et volia.  you are flown to that exact spot in the video.  SWEET.

also sweet, you're able to see everyone's questions to gertie on each step.  she answers them all (she may have cloned herself), and you can chime in with advice or ask your own question.  craftsy has an eye on it as well, and they're on problems like white on rice.  par example: you're using a burdastyle pattern here (which is included with the course fee), and as usual burdastyle puts no info on the pattern pieces other than a number and a straight grain.  this control freak likes to know what every piece is from the get-go.  i wrote my first classroom question, then found the link myself at burdastyle minutes later, and answered myself so that my classmates could have the info.  that evening craftsy responded, thanking me for pointing out the url and adding it to their supplies sheet.

let me say here that a jaded sort would think the quick response was partly due to the fact that i'm reviewing the course.  for shame.  being a type A myself, i can tell you anyone as organized as the peeps who made this bowlful of sewing sugar would surely scramble to fix something forgotten.  it's a mark on a spotless course, chrissakes. that won't do, reviewer or no.

and don't think for a minute (like i did) you'll be walked through making a straight up burdastyle pattern.  gertie does alchemy with this jammy, and lets you in on ALL the magic.  that baby is underlined, padded, boned and handstitched.  light years away from the burdastyle instructions.  

and that's why you need a muslin.  did i say i'd done a bona fide muslin before?  i lied.  this  is a bona fide muslin. i've never had a bodice fit so well.  speaking of bodice, my larger breasted friends, gertie's got you covered. there's like five chapters on modifying the bodice to suit you.  even though i did not go all hollywood in that department, i still used her adjustment to raise the ever-low-tide burdastyle bustline.  and here's where the small, managable bodice pieces made this an excellent pattern choice for this course; fitting the bodice is a lot of work.

va va voom, i haz breasts! 

but, it's a lot of highly enjoyable work.  you could even call it play.  when this course first came out, it was proffered as a "staycation" in the sewing blogosphere.  i scoffed.  how are muslins and couture techniques a vacation?  joke's on me.  that's EXACTLY what it is.  i had the best time making this dress along with gertie.  who, by the way, wears a new and fabulous handmade outfit in each video.  she was dee-lightful to watch and learn from.  a piece of sweet retro candy wrapped in couture vintage palettes.  i might have a girl crush on her.

i'm so not even holding the sides down here, it fits perfectly, this dress just makes you want to strike a pose.

like so. 

i'm quite aware that i'm gushing, and probably pushing you away in doing so.  i can't help it.  you go must go get this course.  yes, it's money, and who has it, but holy shit, the sheer amount you'll learn will stay with you in every garment you make.  and if you follow gertie's videos, you WILL have a perfect dress.  

all right.  rant over.  do you want your own?  the fab peeps at craftsy know the peeps over here in kalkatoona rock, so just use this special oonafied link to get your own bombshell course for half off (a penny under 30 bucks!) and show me what you made if you do!!!


it makes my head hurt

the fabric, not the vino.

over at the sew weekly, the next oona does it! is up, in which i finally paired that maxi skirt y'all voted on.  i went as matchy as i could.  i detest it.

and now, while there is daylight, i must begin the 3,000 hours of sewing i have set up for myself this week.  i look forward to an evening of catching up with what's on your table.  if you could have a nice rose chilled, i'll bring the cheese.


la + la = sew

Awhiles back, saro commented:

Have you ever done a post of how you got started sewing? You're so fearless, I love it..  

Well, lassie, I'll tell ya, it had a little bit to do with boredom, a little bit to do with impatience, and a LOT to do with keeping my sanity.

Peeps who have trolled through the recesses of le blog may recall its beginnings in lalaland. Los angeles, for the uninitiated. And bless those who haven't had the chance to experience it. It's a hot mess. You get in your car, you drive an hour (at the least) to get to wherever you're going, you get back in your car, you drive, you get home, where you have the choice of staying in or braving the cesspool of schmoozing that is LA nightlife. To survive said cesspool, everyone drinks. And then gets back in their cars. 

Now, at the risk of losing another follower (I lost one today! It could be the cursing. And/or excessive drinking) let me add: if you grew up in LA, I'm sure it's a different story. But the nature of the main business of the town, the business of show, makes it hard to find much that's real there. Ruggy & I counted ourselves extremely lucky to have each other, we kept each other cemented to the earth. I can't tell you how many times I was calmly and quite seriously told I needed a boob job. Or how often Ruggy was propositioned a night of booze and sex, from both sides.

But I digress. Upon hearing Kalkatoona would be inhabiting the land of LA for a spell, a good friend advised me to get a hobby. I have plenty of hobbies, I thought, I'm a CRAFTER! I draw and knit and make cards and jewelry. I'll be fine. NOT SO. None of these kept me near enough occupied in downtime. 

I'd been idly chirping about wanting a dress form for years, ever since my first (very short) visit to LA. The lovely ladies I subletted from had a vintage form in their apartment, for show, and while I worked on handmade wedding invites for a friend, I imagined draping gowns on it. The christmas we made our big move, Parental Balloonas shocked me with a Singer Featherweight sewing machine, and Mama Ruggy surprised me with a pair of gingher shears and a dress form-- she even roped her sister into getting me pinking shears. I just about fell over.

We hauled the booty to LA and I dove into my first pattern, new look 6557. I had picked out some horrible synthetic stuff from Hancocks, turquoise and red and orange and yellow phoenix motif on brown (shit brown, to be exact), and I just knew that I'd have the perfect summer dress by five o'clock that evening. I didn't bother reading much about anything. Reading instructions makes me feel I am being told what to do. Ask Ruggy how that goes.

So I just placed the pattern pieces where ever they'd fit and got cutting. You can imagine how that worked out.

Disgusted with myself, but sure it was solely the pattern's fault, I punished the sewing accessories by putting them away for several months. We then enjoyed the coldest winter OF OUR LIVES. The beautiful worn down french doors and sprawling patios we fell in love with on craigslist let an arctic chill in at night that was unbearable. Heating our Laurel Canyon find came to about $700 a month. Seriously. We layered ourselves up like mountain climbers and wore down coats to bed.

Spring arrived, and with the warm breezes rolling in, I thought it would be nice to have a few new dresses. With no cash in my pocket (all of it having gone to Con Ed), I turned to the internet for help. Free help, to be exact. The exact search term was free funky patterns. And found Burdastyle. At the time, they had only been running a year or so, and everything-- I mean EVERYTHING. Was FREE. The first pattern I downloaded and made was the danielle dress:

(Back then, I didn't have a head. LA had absconded with it. The uneven waistline is equally proportional to the amount of teeny 'tinis Ruggy would make for us every evening. Because they were teeny-sized martinis, you could have seven.)  

Taping the pattern together was terrifying. I left a freak-out comment on the forum, worried that I'd ruined the dress before I even began because my test square was off by 1cm.

This time, I decided to take a different route than that New Look failure: I read through the instructions carefully, and followed them as best I could. The instructions were most definitely ESL. I think this was the reason I was able to force myself into patiently reading and following directions; in my head, I would chuckle softly, and gently correct their english. Made me feel like I was the boss. I like to feel that I am the boss.

And it went on from there. I freed the New Look bodice and married it to the Danielle skirt.  

Both of these were done up in quilter's cotton. That section of Joann's is a veritable candy store, it's not surprising that burgeoning garment sewists head there first, and without shame.  

Had my first try at making something for someone else; pajamas for Valentine's day (forgetting that, ahem, boys have extra junk in le crotch. The beginnings of the No Sewing For Others rule). Went nuts on Burdastyle. Tried the celestina. The sabrina. Oooooh, the sabrina, I love that one. I need to make that one again, this time in something other than an Urban Outfitter's curtain panel.  The desira. Also from a curtain panel.

This one still survives in my closet! The same cannot be said for the RTW jeans, they ripped right up the ass in public. At a job interview, to be exact.

I went through the prerequisite making of the Butterick walkaway dress, from vintage bedsheets (total failure). Ruggy and Parental Balloonas fed the flames with a subscription to Burda magazine. I ventured into apparel fabrics. And LA is just fantastic for estate sales. Lotsa folks kicking it daily, many of them possessed of vintage sewing accoutrement and mad men esque decor. Ready to go for pennies! Such a predicament, balancing respect for the dead and sheer joy for the find! At one point, I had three machines for a grand total of 70 bucks. And sewing books, oh, sewing books. Two Claire Shaeffer bibles and countless vintage sewing handbooks. Whenever I was stumped, I looked into one of these. But mostly, I just grinned, and cut, and hoped for the best. Every success felt awesome, and I learned with each failure.

My obsession survived the move back to NY. The dress form, sadly, is still in a storage unit in LA. It waits patiently for me, ready to keep me from a killing spree, should we ever venture back...

So, to sum up, saro, (do you have a link, lassie?) lack of funds + lack of society + lack of patience = fearless sewing.

What's your equation?


sew weekly sunday: got a black magic woman

on my sewing list:

one (1) maxi dress, wedding guest style, for a best friend who is shortly packing up and leaving town

one (1) jungle gym "roof" with ten (10) grommets measuring six by five (6x5!!!) feet for another friend's child

one (1) invisibility cloak to throw on when peeps ask me to sew for them

i was really excited about the current sew weekly challenge: finding inspiration in album art.  album art, like music videos, used to be the BOMB, y'all.  i would sort through my parents' collection in a mixture of fear and amazement.  (ahem, that is, when i reached the age of understanding and appreciation.  apparently, before that, brother beast and i used the two-record set of "the white album" as carpet ice skates.  in our defense, the album cover was white.  just white.)

it's a mystery to me why i would want to put this on my blog.  this cover scared the bejesus out of me.  it's reminiscent of blue meanies... ehhhh, those things REALLY scare me.  i just googled them to jog my memory.  i'm not putting them up on le blog.  no, my brotha, you must go google your own.

ah, that's better.  a little phoebe snow.  she is a warm summer night with a gin and tonic.  i loved this one because of her freckles and curls.

but my favorite was santana's abraxas.  you'll excuse the naked women and the strategically placed dove.

i loved the blue tattoos on the red angel, and her fantastic wings-- i mean, she's riding a STRIPED CONGA DRUM (although daughter fish tells me it is a congo. i am sure she is correct).  all that pattern and print and cloth kept me fascinated every time.  telling?

weirdly, my stash full of prints didn't have anything near enough wild for this.  i had to find and then wrestle this yardage away from a small woman.  

in the garment district, stores will often have a large cardboard box filled with remnants at awesome prices. usually, several customers elbow each other over one stuffed box.  my favorite remnant store has two such boxes, which is handy.  on this particular occasion, Small Woman pawed through one.  i could see treasures at her fingertips, but i decided to take the other box.  how civilized.   

but the minute i began to sift, she dumped her finds and walked over to my box.  she didn't dig through it, nooo, she just waited for me to find something good and then grabbed it.  and forcefully pulled.  while inching ever closer to me.  in disbelief, i asserted my rights:  excuse me, but you're way too close right now. silence, and continued pawing.

i stepped forcefully into her side and shoved my hands into fabric, coming up victorious with 6 yards of silk chiffon.  her greedy mitts were on it immediately.  i got loud.  HONEY?  THAT'S MINE.  the small woman cared little.  can i see, can i see.  not a question so much as a statement.  you can SEE...  knowing she did not infer my meaning to be:  but you cannot HAVE,  i kept a firm grip on my prize as she pored over it.  i gave her three seconds to "see", then pulled it out of her hands and walked away.  surely there were more treasures in the box, but i didn't want my prize ripped in half.  when the proprietress paused in checking me out to help another customer, Small Woman actually picked it up AGAIN and began to walk away with it. at this point i just rolled my eyes and watched as the owner wrestled it away, in a weird emotionless silent dance.

that's abraxas in silk chiffon, yo!

i was going to make a simple summer halter dress, but when i draped it over my shoulder it told me it was too hard won to be an everyday something.  it wanted to be an evening gown.  for like, a gala.  i hope that it will be.

i just need to get on that invisibility cloak.


get you a southern boy

(it is a sweaty summer day.  having spent the previous night with her wino friends, and a subsequent afternoon with her wino parents, oona struggles to keep conscious.  she is wearing a shift dress that is far too snug in the armhole area.  she knows there is a quick fix to this, but it involves the sharp blade and maniacal rattle of her elna prolock.  she needs her wits securely about her first.  suddenly, inspiration.)

oona:  RUGGY.  make some sweet tea!

ruggy:  you can do it.  it's really easy.

oona:  southern boy, you know you'll make it better.

(ruggy rattles off instructions as oona stomps around the kitchen:

one growler, one large glass measuring cup
pour 500 grams boiling water over 6 black tea bags
steep 15 minutes
strain tea into growler
add a pinch of baking soda, 75 grams of agave nectar, and 1/8 tsp vanilla
add filtered water to fill the rest of the growler
shake it up
et voila.

they drink.)

oona:  my tea is not as good as yours.

ruggy:  that's because you ain't southern.

(time passes.  oona pounds away on her laptop.  ruggy, sipping the mediocre tea,  senses he is being typed about.)

ruggy:  still good though.  congratulations on your first tea making venture.

oona:  thank you.

ruggy:  next time do better.

(next time, oona will add rum.)


sew weekly sunday: nothing in my hands, nothing in my pockets...

ooooooooooooh, look how pretty...

let the thread mesmerize you and distract you from the fact that i have no sew weekly sunday for you... aaaaahhhhhhh...

been watching a lot of "friends" with a lot of wine and a lot of ruggy in the hot summer evenings.  so, read that above bit to yourself in a "phoebe" voice, won't you?  been sewing, too.  that thread up there is the current circulation for what's on my table (all for one piece, mind you).  just have to figure out how to get sewing for oona does it! and sewing for me and sewing for friends to all jive--

WHAT.  yeah yeah, i KNOW i said no sewing for friends.  i continually break rules, did you not know this about me?  it cannot be helped.

god i love summer.  I LOVE SUMMER.  it is absolutely the best.  it could have something to do with my being a summer baby (oh yeah, that noise is most certainly coming), it could have something to do with new yorkers fleeing the scalding city like rats from a drowning ship and leaving it all to our greedy little hands, it could have everything to do with SUNSHINE.  yesterday, we walked forty blocks down to chelsea market, had a crepe or two, bought some costa rican coffee, buffalo mozzarella, green olives, pate, and cracked open a bottle of french red with our in-house picnic that night.  ruggy turned to me and said:

this is FUN.

oh hellz yeah it is.  

what about y'all?  are you in summer where you are?  what's your summer fun?



is moving along like a carnival ride.

yesterday i told ruggy i had two oona does it! ideas to make and no material.  i needed black.  and white.

he said: you don't wear black.  or white.

ruggy is right.

my stash looks like this carnival.


those glasses are crazy

come on over to the sew weekly and see who tried to kill me this time.  also revealed: the intended fabric behind my UFO wearable muslin (pictured below, and successfully nip tucked in time for the 4th.  avec red piping.  then i decided it was too on the nose and didn't wear it.  women.)


sew weekly sunday: room for improvement

in an effort to jump back on the sew weekly challenge wagon, i decided to kill two peacocks with one stone and use the UFO challenge as a muslin for my next "oona does it!" challenge.

this did not work.  details mañana.

BUT.  i did get really careful and work really hard on a big time honest to god muslin (mrs cisco is proud.  she's also kind of pissed that y'all are calling her mrs crisco, which i love).  i had a UFO in the form of a maxi skirt laying in my closet for a year.  there was so much material in it, i couldn't see getting rid of it, but i made an extremely poor choice with some very beautiful leather that had been laser cut to look like crochet...

that beautiful piece of remnant was about a foot long and five inches wide before i hacked it to pieces, thinking it would be so cool; who puts leather embellishment on a maxi skirt?! i am the BOMB! mama balloona sure did raise one free spirited child!!! 

and then it ended up looking like regular crochet.  a doilie, to be exact.  on a maxi skirt.  alls i needed was the wagon and the campfire.  having successfully ruined a coveted piece of leather, into the closet it went.

so.  UFOs.  i gotz em.  and in this one, i had the yardage for a small town. glutton for punishment that i am, i chose another burdastyle mag online pattern. actually, it lounged in my shopping cart for days, but when i saw the exquisite alison dahl's liberty version, that sealed the deal.  

but!  lo and behold! their petite sizing rocks.  way happier am i buying le petite pattern from burdastyle. i still took an inch off for my short waist, but the proportions suit my diminutive stature... and no swayback adjustment!

however, today i noticed gaping all over the front and back top panels.  must've been the merlot. it's getting darts tomorrow, so i guess it's still a UFO.  

my scheming needs work.  and i must have a red belt as well. for the independence celebrating and all, dontcha know.

fabric: cotton print, ($1 yd)
pattern: burdastyle dress with a-line skirt ($5.40.  peeps. can we get a little creative naming?)
notions: invisible zip ($1)
time to complete: 4 hours
first worn: today
wear again: tomorrow, avec something red.
total cost: $9.40