before. after.

i finally added armholes.  better than "before".   however,  my "after" hair is a hot mess.

i was inspired to figure out and finish this stripey number for this week's oona does it!, and i can officially say i'll be posting my first ever tutorial in the next couple of weeks.... you can wear it about 8,000 different ways.  no, i'm not kidding.  i show you 8 in this week's column!



debi's bringing the wine.  meg's got the beer under control.  mena's pouring absinthe.  and i've got tequila.

get on a plane.  get on a train.  hop on a boat if you have to (though i'm not fond of traveling by water, myself). this fabulous foursome is taking new york by storm on friday september 30th, and hurricane irene ain't got NOTHIN' on us.  come early!  come late!  or hang out the whole dang day, we've got plans galore!  

i'm fairly certain there will be drinking involved.

shoot one of us your email for the details  (but maybe you should stick to me, debi or meg.  that absinthe is pretty strong).  you can catch me at oonaballoona, of the gmail sort, or here in the comments!  aaawooooHOOOOOOO!


irene is coming

we've made her a nice fruit salad.  you must always have something on hand for unexpected guests.

hurricane weekend!  hurricane weekend!  EVERYTHING is closed, including mass transit, we couldn't get out if we wanted to.  and we did want to, we had a birthday barbeque to enjoy, but it meant the serious possibility of then being stranded in connecticut for days.  with unhappy cats in tow.  so we're braving miss irene with relaxed cats instead.  it's actually nice, we're forced to be lazy.  no gym, no work, no subway... ruggy made several early morning trips for supplies before the sidewalks turned into pumpkins, waiting patiently in market lines wrapping around stores.  i picked up a few goodies yesterday before the hysteria truly hit.

(oona peruses the "wellness" section of her neighborhood organic market.  she knows this section well and can go it alone.  but the New Level Of Customer Service at her recently revamped haunt is eager.  without prompting, one attacks.)


(oona sighs, and decides it's easier to give in than decline.)

oona:  just looking for some elderberry.

eager rep:  well hereyougo right HERE!  they alphabetize things but you know they start over at D for some reason and this line is 30 percent off be sure they know steve said it's 30 percent off!

oona: okay.

(oona escapes to the checkout line.  suddenly:)


(speechless at first, oona laughs.  upon realizing he is quite serious-- and worried-- she attempts to reassure him.)

oona:  yes, i have a bottle of red and a bottle of white, so i think i'll be okay.

(the eager rep blinks.  he is truly concerned for oona's health.)

oona:  okay.  stay dry!


while my encounter merely struck me as oddball, ruggy described his own in-store experiences as rude.  he lamented that peeps were using irene as an excuse to bump into each other without apology.  as far as i'm concerned, that's business as usual in this town, but ruggy's southern manners make him softer skinned.  lucky for me.  he's the kind of guy that moves a gal to the inside of the sidewalk.  the kind of guy you want next to you in a hurricane.

i think i'm gonna go get him a bowl of that fruit salad.  and some stress tonic.


happy birthday mom!

mom of the greenest thumb, whom flowers flock to in adoration, even hurricane irene would not sully this day.  i hope you have treats by your side, big daddy on a constant pour, a good flick on the tube, and a calm garden to gaze at!


that city kicked my ass

last week, i had to suddenly get to baltimore for work.  by the end of it all, my head felt like this picture.   and my mood was this exact shade of black.

on a short break, i forced myself to walk to guss woolens, which at a sunny 10AM was a sketchy walk.  i was rewarded with a couple of beautiful linen remnants.  the peeps there were lovely, as were all of the peeps in downtown baltimore, let me make that clear.  they were some of the sweetest city peeps i've ever met.  but the city itself was an entity, and it was hard to get along with.  throw a stone, hit an abandoned building.  hell, flick a stone with little to no effort.  in my search for sustenance, i found a KFC, a caribou coffee, and fresh fast!, a buffet bar joint posing as health food.  mostly sauced meat and iceberg lettuce.  and for those of you who've seen the wire, they weren't joking.  at least not where i was.  they didn't dress that shit up AT ALL.  i don't see how they shot that show there, because all of that is REALLY GOING ON.  how did they keep reality from getting confused and jumping in with the actors?

i came home sick.  i can't remember the last time i was sick.  and in august?!  i do not get colds in august!

i firmly believe health is connected to stress, and downtown baltimore stressed me way the F out.  i think if i lived there, i wouldn't live long.  it made me think about the towns i've been to, and how i've felt in them.  seattle, for instance.  more rain than you can shake a stick at.  by default, i should not like it there.  but it was during the christmas season, and that town lit itself up like a megawatt lighthouse to keep everyone in the spirit.  free coffee and warm smiles on every corner.  cleveland: awesome.  dallas.  holy crap.  when i was there, the sidewalks rolled up at 3pm and that was that.  but the sky went on forever.  

and of course there's new york.  last week i was in a love/hate with it, more towards the hate end.  but i think every new yorker feels that way.  you'd have to be a little crazy not to;  i mean, when you're living with 1,634,795 of your closest friends in cramped quarters, someone is bound to piss you off once in a while.  but now i'm happy to be back home.  even the dinnertime procession of garbage trucks didn't bother me last night.  merci, baltimore. your people are lovely, and your country of wealthy neighbors should be doing more to help your city reflect them.

what towns have struck a chord with you, be it minor or major?

(ps: the next oona does it! is up, finished on the train ride home from baltimore.  and yes, it's that dark pinhead of a thing up there.)


happy birthday big daddy!

to the biggest bestest big daddy this side of kalkatroona: i hope your celebratory glasses today were delicious, and may you never see the bottom!


say cheese, for realz.

bag of cheap baubles from the jewelry district.  they put them in a plastic bag to be sure you're not making off with more than you paid for.  i need them, you see, for accessorizing.  i also like to act shady and make them keep an eye on me while i shop.

this week's oona does it! is up.  i wore the purple-y accessory.  and i do have a bit of story to tell you that's not in the column.

sis-in-law and i were at mood, me in my challenge dress, she ready to photograph me after our garment district spree.  for this challenge, i went with a pattern instead of a self-drafted dress, you know, to change it up a bit.

(oona and sis stand in the woolens section, carefully weighing the pros and cons of a beautiful mohair with the charming and chatty todd, when a second clerk comes a running.)

clerk deux:  TODD.  wrap it up, we're closing.

(it is 11:30 am.  the ladies blink.)

oona:  oh, we had no idea you close this early on saturdays--

(second clerk sighs: a resigned sound.)

clerk deux:  nooo, we don't.  we're taping.

oona:  oh.

yeah, project runway called and said they were on the way, CLOSE THE JOINT.  apparently this happens all the time, and at a moment's notice (news to me; i shop at paron & chic).  sis snagged the mohair and we waited in line.  they nearly wouldn't even let us do that (though they were supremely nice and apologetic).  as we waited, i inwardly lamented the fact that the ONE TIME i had decided to wear something NOT self drafted, tim gunn and crew were about to storm the castle.  what would i say when they saw me?  most assuredly they would fall to their knees in adoration, ready themselves to declare me the winner of the current season, and ask with baited breath if i was wearing my own design.  i was screwed.

as credit card was handed over, a second call was received.  they were not coming.   crisis averted.  i wondered about all the customers mood had just ejected for nothing.  

i guess that's why they say thank-you-mood.


dream lover

i dreamt the other night that ruggy was my first boyfriend, and after years apart, we were working together. because he was my first love, it seemed perfectly kosher to sit too close and hold hands and touch his hair, even though i was married to someone else.  dream oona realized this logic was flawed but let it slide.  i woke up nervous, paused, remembered that ruggy is my husband, and was instantly, incredibly happy.

i tell you this because my first ever colette patterns purchase arrived last week.  it includes an oolong for me, and a negroni for ruggy.

yes, i am about to embark on Sewing For Others once again.  but, as illustrated above, i am insanely in love with this certain Other.  in my dreams, i cheat on him... WITH HIM.  for this man of men, i am bending the golden rule.  plus he really rocked the whole birthday week extravaganza.  in the concrete jungle shot of us, we're pre-boarding a sunset cruise, on a yacht, around manhattan, with a cooler full of alcohol and charcuterie that ruggy had prepared himself.

i think that warrants a shirt.

(oh.  and i pre-ordered sarai's new book to ease any residual pain.)


gossip girls

contrary to what those trollops that came to my birthday party might say, i did NOT arrive in my birthday suit.  it was tempting, but in the end, reason won out over debi's drunken midnight ramblings about going streaking.

quelle demure, non? this is the top portion of number two from gertie's bombshell course, paired with a (shortened) summer sewing camp for girls skirt.  and fabulous shoes that beangirl does not own.

one can almost always count on it to be Africa Hot on my birthday, so i left the boning and lining out this time, and added straps for support.  you can see that even though i am a proud member of the itty bitty committee, the top is still sagalicious for want of extra work.  and extra work it shall get.

damn stylist.  i swear, is it that  hard to tuck me in before a shot?  i'm sick of hearing he can only do so much with paws.  EXCUSES.  no catnip for le stylist today.

hello little bustier made in my birthday week!  you're a hot mess.  interlined, french seamed and bias taped, yes, but still a hot mess.  she's on my table for some surgery, she's getting a matching (EGADS!) gathered skirt and possibly an orange accent belt...

but she served her purpose.  i had all the color i wanted on The Day, and all the rain i could handle as well.  i can't remember the last time it rained on my birthday.  the outdoor jazz concert and garden picnic we were ready for turned into a gastronomic fete in my friend's 12 foot long truck.  it was So.  High School.  AWESOME.  and luckily my skirt was bright enough to replicate the rays of the sun.  

a rare shot of an empty glass.  very hard to catch when the glass is mine.

what's on your table?


hair of the dog

the bender continues over at the sew weekly, my home on mondays.  i'm totally stoked with how this challenge came out.

(er uh um uh, yes, i know today is wednesday, 'twas a loaded birthday week.... sorry mena!  but i'm all set up now to mix you a mojito!  mais, not with the teeny bottle of porfidio.  no, that is a special bottle ruggy has been saving for  Ten.  Years.  the alcohol has actually begun to evaporate.  i sense a rainy day coming.)


oh little machine needle

where did you come from?

did i place you carefully to the side while i switched between jersey points and universals?  are you a topstitching needle?  a stretch, perhaps?  you have a 12 on your side... you could be anything.

maybe you're just plain old dull after hours upon hours of use, and i put you aside for certain death in the Waste Basket.

no, don't tremble, little needle.  i think i'll use you anyway.


y'all are party ANIMALS.

it started friday afternoon.  meg the grand and daughter fish stormed in, early birds, but most definitely festive birds.  meg went big with her favorite thing, unboxing a lifesized coldplay, and miss fish uncorked the vino.  the band brought us up to party level in a matter of minutes, meg shaking her pink gremlin covered booty, and daughter fish double fisting it in an otherworldly gold lame infinity dress.

(1. meg of meg the grand, 2. daughter fish of daughter fish) 

lladybird, meli and liza jane were next to knock.  the beautiful bird had worn her party frock to work to make for a quick arrival.  i don't blame her; you do what you have to do to get to the party before all the good alcohol is gone.  no one could resist meli's homemade triple chocolate cake, accompanied by a frothy fairy dress.... and i'll be damned if liza jane didn't bring a teepee.  i'm not shitting you. she hoped we had high ceilings, and our 11 footers just barely made it possible.  she set it up in her groovy tie dyed dress, somebody lit a pipe-- there was a whole 'nother party goin on in there.

(3. lladybird of lladybird, 4. meli of codos on the windowsills, 5. lizajane of lizajane sews)

threadsquare arrived, coolly assessed the situation and chilled the vibe nicely with some tito's vodka, patio grown lime basil, and the classiest summer dress (don't call it a frock!) you ever saw.

(6. threadsquare of threadsquare)

but emilykate, as promised, blew the roof off with a dress made outta easter egg quilting cotton. peeps blinked to be certain they weren't seeing things (quite possible at that point in the evening).  that girl is BANANAS.  she came empty handed, but no one cared as she brought her most excellent and maniacal sense of humor with her. speaking of maniacs, debi pranced in next... bearing several bottles of wine which she claimed as Her Personal Stash.  okay, she didn't say it out loud, but the manner in which she hugged them to her breasts spoke VOLUMES.  it was lucky she didn't share; as guests were arriving already obliterated at that point.  amy banged on the door wearing only a cloth basket on her head, and carrying two cats.  live cats, mind you, not a stole.  the kalkatroonan felines took one look at hat and cats, and hid under the bed.

 (7. emilykate of this is emily kate, 8. debi of my happy sewing place, 9. amy of sew well)

lisette brought the party train in from rhode island-- she was in the midst of celebrating her own birthday, but that don't stop this chiquita! she's got the cajones to party all weekend, and the gorgeous print dress to do it in style.  i eyed it jealously.  luckily, reana louise entered dancing with drink in hand and laundry basket on head, and i forgot my jealousy in fits of laughter.  i was too far gone to scold lisa for party fouling the shindig in solid colors, and the wine she quickly poured me served as the distraction she'd hoped it would.  (plus, those mustard colored tights were the BOMB.)

(10. lisette of what would nancy drew wear? 11. reana louise of curves patterns & pins, 12. lisa of small things)

lexi glided around the party in her aptly named dress, truly looking a magnificent and tres expensive yacht.  after midnight, she  poured everyone a little cava with a wink and a wiggle of her hips, toasting the actual Day Of My Birth.  (oh, were you confused?  it was saturday.  yes, i know, the whole week long celebration can be a bit confusing.  but so very awesome.)  full of bubbly, the guests bellowed out happy birthday in several different keys.  andrea ran to the door in her fabulous pumps to greet more party guests (i was occupied with the machinations of miss fish's infinity dress, and wondering how i could most easily abscond with it.)  oh! andrea exclaimed, and all heads turned to land on the officer in the doorway.  i'm sorry, she said in her most innocent voice,  are we too loud, officer.... MCNAUGHTY?

(13. lexi of after apple picking, 14. andrea of sew cupcake couture)

that girl brought a stripper to the party.  he wrote some citations,  jiggled his handcuffs, and then the nightstick came out.  let's leave it at that.

sobered after our run in with the po-lice, we were in sore need of some class.  enter daisy donut,  in a taffeta ballgown, complete with gloves, fan and feathers, mais oui, her maid by her side carrying the veuve cliquot and fresh bouquet.  when karen, decked out in retro roses, waltzed in and took a gander at the level of high fashion going on, she decided it wouldn't do to just mix the cocktails she brought.  no, she packed the lot of us onto a plane and flew us to her favorite new american bar in london, where a little imbibing, a little hanky panky, and a LOTTA serenading ensued.  (karen, what a melodious voice you have!)

(15. daisy of daisy donuts, 16. karen of did you make that?)

in honor of karen's most excellent treat, kirsty donned her london dress, though we were too wasted at that point to get a snapshot.  heads cut off, blurry, and the like.  someone did snag a picture of her clutch.  there was a cthulhu in there.  i don't know why.  or what, for that matter.  suspicious activity was afoot.  need further proof? elly showed up... in a cut out dress.  le hipster triangle!!! EGADS!!!  she spied my raised eyebrows and threw homemade cookies at me.  as i dove for the sweet treats, louise quietly yet unabashedly slugged from her wee pink flask, giggling in her chic, shimmery dress and wearing her sunglasses... at night.

(17. kirsty of the reel mccoy, 18. elly of adventures in refasioning, 19. louise of a view into my world)

karen of london mixed another cocktail and wondered where sarah had gotten off to... we assumed she'd been pinned down under a mass of lime green polka dots.  there are worse fates.  but oh, to have missed molly's psychedelic song of a dress!  did that dress really happen?  was it a drunken hallucination? truly, colors like that must be a figment of cabernet.

(20. sarah of rhinestones and telephones, 21. molly of toferet's empty bobbin)

lookee there, 21 peeps, my exact age, quelle kismet!  

hey wait just a goddamn minute.  no one got a picture of the birthday girl?!  I DECLARE PARTY FOUL!!!  y'all must have been jealous of my second bombshell dress.  that's okay, i understand.  it was drool inducing.  i'll just have to rectify that tomorrow.

eep, hold le phone!  a last minute guest arrives--- and the best kind, she's here to help me clean up!  shawnta's brought  a few of my favorite things in the form of a menagerie of jungle animals (how did you KNOW?!) and her very most favorite thing: her adorable daughter and fellow leo birthday girl, in a handmade outfit from mama. she looks tall enough to wield a broom, non?  wait, child, where are you going?

(22. shawnta's lioness daughter of peace love & namaste) 

want to see some fabulous outfits and hear the party guests' versions of the debauchery story?  just click on the links!

i thank you from the bottom of my empty wine glass for coming to my party, it was a blast to have you chez kalkatroona!  i am the happiest balloonian in the blogosphere!  



from your hosts, oona and ruggy, we're GIDDY over the party fabulousness flying in to our concrete jungle from around the globe!  well, i'm giddy, ruggy is quite manly.

we all sang happy birthday to party guest lisette, who celebrates today in a frock of many colors... there's already much drunken behavior going on.  a certain someone brought a teepee, another party hound (in a dress; NOT a frock) brought some seriously good vodka, and, erm, one chickie brought some felines.

to make matters worse, the band in a box is not behaving.  this could get wild.

i'm off to pour more drinks and welcome more guests!  this is an all nighter!


i haven't got a thing to wear!

good lord, party guests are on their way and i'm nowhere NEAR ready!  my skirt isn't even HEMMED!

it's all ruggy's fault.  he's become way too good at the birthday week.  tonight, he whisked me to moma to see the most-awesome-band-we-did-not-know-about ever, chico trujillo.  moma never had such a throwdown in their backyard.  the lead singer stomped about like he was at the most drunken party driven political rally in the world. and i'm talking about the good kind of party.  they had a horn section.  THEY HAD A HORN SECTION.  

i know i should be polishing the crystal and pressing my party frock, but i'm too full of wine and ska beats to get my ass in gear!

don't worry though, i'll catch my second wind.  this place will be lit up like the fourth of july for your arrival. you're coming from many corners of the globe, i hope, so please, don't feel the need to be right on time.  we allow for all manner of party guest chez kalkatroona-- night owls, early birds, and twelve hour time differences-- this is a BENDER, people!  i'll expect you anytime from friday morn till saturday night.  weekend house party baby...

just knock REALLY LOUD and let me know you've arrived, i wouldn't want to leave you out of sunday's "who's who" post!!!


hipper than hip

i am feeling like the most perfect birthday brat there ever was.

last night ruggy surprised me with tickets to death cab for cutie.  we found out about the concert after all the scalpers had bought up blocks of tickets, but ruggy waited patiently and on the day of, he pounced.  face value, peeps!  take that scalpers!

i wore my "new" flouncy pleated skirt.  this was a RTW dress, a dress sized for a pixie, and the zipper never even came close to fulfilling its life work.  i hacked off the bodice and voila!  new skirt.  by the by, my most recent oona does it! features a maxi denim version of this trickery.

the top is burdastyle's cap sleeve dress, bodice only.  well, let's face it, the bodice is all you get in this pattern.  if you've made this jammy (and a lot of peeps did, for sew weekly's kiss the cook challenge), you know there are hella fit issues.  i lowered the waistline, raised the neckline, and gathered the sleeves at the shoulder seams, which keeps them where they should be, rather than down around my elbows.  how unseemly.

and because it's made with le stretch jersey, no zipper.

do you listen to death cab?  when we arrived at the waterfront concert in brooklyn, there was a line of people snaked around ten blocks baking in the sun.  practically all of these people were under 18.  we often find ourselves in this time warp of age.  at the last peter gabriel concert we went to in jersey, everyone was of the over 60 set.  

ruggy spied a happy gentleman in a brooklyn brewery t shirt and asked him for the skinny.  what's on tap tonight?   we're thirsty.  brooklyn man grinned  (they all do; brooklyn brewery must be a very happy place to be) ipa, summer ale... lemme get you guys a wristband.  i'll just check her ID.

who, ME????  pshaw.

this little refashion comes complete with lining and taffeta flounce,  which indeed was its saving grace.  someone put a lot of work into this.  i couldn't abandon it on account of a tinkerbell sized bodice.

it's nice to be the big people at a concert like that.  the first thing we did was grab some alcohol and sit by the water, fuzzy bees getting drunk in the grass at our feet as we looked out at the manhattan skyline and shared a pork sausage sandwich.  we could hear the kiddies clamoring behind us to get close to the stage.  remember when we'd push to the front?  i chuckled. this is so much nicer.  

sixty seconds into ben gibbard's vocals, i grabbed ruggy's hand and pushed through the crowd like the teenaged fan i am.  admittedly, the proximity of hipsters did wear thin, and a few songs later we returned to a calmer spot, bouncing and smiling and occasionally turning to watch the sun set behind us.  

they were amazing.  ben gibbard didn't stop moving for two and a half hours, running back and forth to drums, keyboard and guitar, at one point banging away with the drummer, facing each other on two kits and looking like a couple of muppets.  every ten minutes, ben told the audience to turn around and look at your city NOW! like a giddy tourist.  they closed with this song, which goes from a couple of soft notes on a piano to a walloping chest thumping skyscraper of sound that makes you want to scream in joy.

the waistband of this skirt wasn't sturdy enough, having been dissected from its bodice appendage, so i threw some twill tape in there, sandwiching in some red circle-y dollar a yard trim, and then topstitched some triangles for good measure. 

egads, triangles.  do hipsters get a dress code mailed to them or something?  i lost count of the number of cut out dresses.  specifically ones with an isosceles triangle sliced out of the back of the dress, from waistband to bra closure.  these sharper edged cut out dresses make me think someone forgot a pattern piece.  they also make me think buffalo bill is lurking around waiting to make him a woman dress.

hey, what a great creepy segueway to say i'm THRILLED y'all are coming to my party!  i hope you're getting your dresses ready! 



firstly, thank you for puffing my big head up EVEN MORE in regards to my tiki tiki tavi bombshell dress!  i've responded to each of your lovely hollas in the comments section, because i am type A to the fifth power. (when i entered my exclamation pointed responses into the wee comment box, blogger wouldn't allow it, because it was like a 4,500 word comment.  i shit you not.)  and guess what?  my dress was a featured project today at burdastyle and a top 25 for july.  i must have just eeked in.  or it could be because it's my birthday week.

oh, did i not tell you that today marks the beginning of my birthday week?   i didn't?  IT DOES!!!  this morning ruggy woke me with the best coffee in the world and cherry scones.  and tonight we're having fried chicken.  he SO gets the birthday week.  and i'm doing my very best to wear something me-made every day.  a few weeks ago, i finally jumped on the coffee date dress bandwagon and whipped this up.  it's most definitely man made material, stretchy, and highly flammable.  it's a good thing i'm not blowing out any candles today. 

i did away with the ruffly bit, sliced here and there where i thought i should on the paper pattern (a little off the curved waist, a little off the neckline too square it up) and used this great twin needle technique at burdastyle to cover up the holey bits.  there are a few drunken bits, but i'm cool with it.  so i played dress up today.

speaking of dressing up, would you like to come over for a party?  i would so love to have you chez kalkatroona. it'll have to be a virtual party, cause let's face it, new york apartments are not large.  and who knows what sort of bunch you are in person.  surely debi would drink me out of house and home.  i imagine emilykate and karen especially could wreak much havoc, should they ever meet.  and don't even get me started on beangirl.

now, while i am quite enamored of birthday prizes, i don't want you shelling out all that hard earned imaginary virtual cash for an oonaesque trinket.  non, i would like instead for you to bring one of your favorite things to this shindig.

not catching my drift?  allow me to explain.  this past drunken weekend, i was regaled with tales of house parties my parents had, one most excellent birthday party in particular.  in their raucous hippie newlywed days, papa balloona asked all their friends over, and requested that in lieu of prizes, guests brought their favorite things. records, booze, sweets, what have you.  that was a blowout party, apparently.  you can imagine what sort of things big daddy's friends favored.

BRILLIANT idea, i thought.  then, upon reading amy's comment on my bombshell dress: i love that it's inspiring a glamorous game of dress-up with everyone!  the virtual party idea was born.

so!  this friday august 5th, if you like, post your very most fabulous/wild/outrageous/lovely party outfit on your blog (hand made, mais oui), and tell me what you're bringing to the fray!  holler at me here, and i'll link to every party guest in a tipsy post on sunday, the end of my birthday week.

be sure to strike a party pose...

won't you come on over?  i'd love to see you!