slow and steady is the mood

well.  y'all had some excellent suggestions on getting the sewjo mojo back, many of which i implemented to get this dress past the "folded up and staring accusingly at me" stage.  in fact, there were so many great ideas i'll be doing a little credited wrap up on le blog later, a mojo-maker, if you will.  (oh now come on, if that isn't a cocktail waiting to be made i don't know what is.  must get ruggy on that.)

speaking of ruggy, my reluctant photographer was unavailable this weekend, so i had to go all self timer on these shots.  wanting some natural light, i turned to that old standby, the alley of my building.  you don't go teetering around manhattan by yourself and expect your camera perched several feet away to remain where you intended. or expect to be left alone in a snazzy getup like this.

speaking of get ups.  this is one of victory pattern's latest releases, the nicola dress.  I LOVE THIS PATTERN.  the pattern itself is as beautiful as the story behind it.  it's a deliciously forgiving wrap dress, with six darts at bodice front, two in the back, and simple tucks on the skirt portion.  if, say, you happened to grade from a 6 to an 8 at hips, and really should have cut a straight 8, well then, you could just rip a dart n' a tuck out and give yourself a little more wiggle room.  but of course one could avoid that problem by MAKING A MUSLIN.

if i'm not going to get behind a muslin when i'm working with fabric like this, i'm truly never going to get behind it. but i did tissue fit the pattern (read: hold it up to myself and call it good) and tried it on multiple times during the process.  the carnival spiral staircase in our apartment got a workout on this ride, our one full length mirror being below ground.

speaking of below ground.  at this point, i'm glancing up the alleyway stairwell at four men getting ready to move many large pieces of furniture directly onto my camera.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand in i go.  had to get a last shot of the back for you, i'm in love with it (and no, not just because i am a cheerleader for my badonaka booty).  behold: no center back seam!  mount crackatoa doesn't stand a chance!  smooth as a baby's bottom.  you'll forgive the pun.  

as for the precious yardage: i knew this fabric was not going to be a stroll in the park.  but i fell in love with it immediately.  in a previous post, i dubbed it burnout velvet, but i think it's a laser cut.  i think.  i really should listen more, because the lovely peeps at mood LA certainly told me what it was.  sheer as a moth's wing.  little furry velvet patches flecked with gold.  my floors look three hundred fairies went crazy with sparkly dust.  

i cut the fabric on my twenty dollar ikea low pile carpet to keep it from shifting around, magazines holding it in place.  look, when you don't have fancy pattern weights, you do what you gotta.  there were a few wonky cuts i had to deal with on the large skirt panels, but as it turned out i tapered the skirt in anyways.  this does not bode well for me, as really i need to just get some good pattern weights.  i don't need any more encouragement in the "do it wrong and make it right" department. 

but i'm learning.  just a few months ago i would have made this jammie up out of the sheer fashion fabric only, and thrown a slip on under it.  in fact i struggled with that decision here.  taking the time to do it right, instead of do it quick, is something i have to constantly pummel myself into.  i think that years of buying cheaply made, inexpensive RTW produces a need for immediate gratification.  why go for quick now, when i have control of the wheel?  i may want to cut a dress saturday morning and have it ready by happy hour, but i'm always happier with the outcome when i take a more leisurely drive.   

sunday driver oona won, and i decided to underline it with a satin i had in my stash.  but i did forgo a lining, since i didn't want to add any more bulk.  instead i serged the seams in a complimentary shade.  sleeves were left sheer, with a gold open weave ribbon as sleeve binding.  the bodice is attached to skirt at waist, snap closures.  i considered upping my sunday drive with buttonholes... but i'm a belt girl anyway. 

(and i do believe i will always be race car oona in the case of buttonholes.  but hey, i've been wrong before.)

how bout you?  speed racer, or sight see-er?

this velvety wrap was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the Mood Sewing Network.


three first world problems concerning mojo

it's been a month since i've sewn anything other than a baby hem and i'm feeling loooooooow. that's kind of a lie, i basted the blue basement dress together, even serged up her edges with ellie, and i swear, it's like she was made for me, but the funk i felt clearly pointed me to PUT THE SCISSORS DOWN and pour a glass of wine.

perhaps that was my mistake in the first place? my right hand is not complete without a glass of something delicious.  easily remedied.  but the real reasons for my missing mojo, not so much.


after being away from it for eight months, i was pretty excited to paw through it again.  it had been banished to some bags in a storage closet, to make room for other people's shite.  when i pulled it out, i thought, surely these are my scraps, man did i save a lot of scraps, and after another annoying hour of looking for it, i announced to ruggy: i had lost my stash.  GONE.  evaporated into thin air.  that, or our gentleman friend staying in our apartment suddenly got a hankering to sew up a very bright wardrobe.  it all looks crazy and fun on the screen.  in real life, it's chemical-tastic stuff that will most certainly go all pill-y or plain evaporate after one wash.

there were some gems, mostly from our debimegoonamena meetup last year, and some swap beauties.  the duds were picked with my very own hand.  a hand that was most certainly free of a delicious glass of something, as garment district shopping hours are a little early.

again, drinkless: maybe a mistake.


if you happen to live in a changing climate, you know the change in the air effects many parts of day to day life. shorts are exchanged for pants, tank tops for cardigans, chardonnay for shiraz.  but now i'm wondering if the seasonal shift affects sewing mojo.  especially for those of us who don't sew a season ahead of time. (WHATEVER, WARDROBE PLANNERS. AREN'T YOU SMART.)  when the days are not hot but not cool, i have no idea what to wear, and since i sew for the season i'm in, i therefore have no idea what to sew.

luckily there is always an appropriate alcohol.


this has always been true, but add to the list of brattiness: i hate my sewing space.  it kind of sucks.  i didn't think this before we spent several months in a bona fide house complete with stunt sewing pool.  at first i gave myself permission to use one of the four desks in the house.  then i decided the dining room shelves could hold a bit of fabric.  by the end of it, anything that wasn't sewing related was relegated to a spare bedroom, and i had control over a small country's worth of space.  how am i supposed to get my brain back into the postage stamp i have in reality?  my stash is ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE LIVING ROOM BEHIND CLOSED DOORS FOR GODSAKES.

and let's not get into the maniacal rattle of my ellie as i race through a seam.  i used to think it was so nice that ruggy and i worked right next to each other with our matching old school drafting desks.  now i realize i'm subjecting him to nonstop brain jarring noise.  and i'm not even sewing anything for him.


i've been delusional about my stash, spoiled in my sewing space, and my seasonal switches are shorted out. when i lose my mojo, i pour something stiff and cut into something pretty.  as the only Something Pretty i had on hand was the mood velvet deliciousness, i stopped by chic and paron and picked up some new pretty, in the form of three silks and two wovens.  and ruggy made me up a new cocktail (for now, dubbed the Autumn In New York. WHAT.  how else am i expected to cut into the velvet of awesomeness?)

what do you do to get your mojo back?


distracted explanations

Oh, the precious. The pretty, pretty precious.

I started to unpack, I really did, and then my hands fell on this yardage of velvet burnout, picked out at Mood's LA locale for my next network make. Which reminded me: in my excitement over all the announcing yesterday (seriously, my head almost flew off) I realized I didn't actually let you in on the details of the Mood Sewing Network. You see, I've been periodically (read: every 15 minutes) yelling at Rob I'M A MOOD SEWING NETWORK BLOGGER ever since the second I found out, so I do tend to forget that you haven't heard it from my rather large mouth until yesterday.

When Meg at mood (our Tim Gunn-- a Tim Gunn who sews her own fabulous stuff daily) contacted me about this new adventure, I responded within minutes. knowing it could look desperate, and not caring. Peeps who've been around here awhile know I'm a two dollar a yard mystery fabric sort of girl... but you also know a recent fateful trip to FIDM's designer section (with incorrectly marked dollar a yard prices) spoiled me completely. When Meg contacted me, I'd already been to Mood's LA locale, and surprised myself by falling swiftly in love with the staff, the remnants boxes, and the manageable size of the store. Before I ever knew I'd get a golden ticket, I was plunking down 25 bucks a yard for an Anna Sui print. (No, not that one. Miss Sui, she floats my boat.) Dude. It's nice to have nice fabric. It's nice to know what that nice fabric IS, and how to work with it. 

And it was a shock to be asked! So before they could realize the err of their ways, I immediately responded with a resounding YES, and waited with baited breath...

...and then I saw the company I'd keep. Holy cow. If you don't know them already, the lovely, talented ladies of the Mood Sewing Network are: Amanda's Adventures in Sewing, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, Erica B's DIY Style, Frabjous Couture, Ginger Makes, Goodbye Valentino, Miss Celie's Pants, and Sew Well. These are ladies I've admired from afar for quite some time.

(Yes, I photoshopped my pic background periwinkle. That house really needs to be periwinkle.)

Lest you think the lot of us are allowed to walk in the joint and rob the place, we get a set monthly allowance for fabric. No cashola. We're allowed to choose what we want, and make what we want, and we are meant to post our failures as well as our successes, whether it's due to the fabric or the sewist. (This could prove problematic for me, as I always succeed. What, you don't believe me?) Online shopping is encouraged as well, and necessary for a good portion of us spread across the country. I was lucky to still be in LA for my last mood make, and the crew was excited to hear the news. (You'll be meeting them soon, I went a little crazy with pictures. Swatch ain't got nuthin on Oscar.) But it won't be all Mood all the time here. I'll still be tromping in to Chic, and Paron, and forcing you to listen to jazz, and yelling about all manner of things. (And drinking. Oh yes, drinking.)

I am so honored to be a part of this uber-talented network. But for real, I'm honored to be part of the sewing blogisphere in its entirety. It's a supportive community of endless inspiration, and I hope we all continue to contribute to that.

Now. How do I distract myself from that lavender yardage long enough to unpack?


i'm in the mood to give some goodies away

what a weekend!  thank you for your comments on the blue basement find, i shall be responding when i'm out of unpacking all these boxes.  sheesh.  now, before i announce today's winners, i have another announcement!  i suddenly find myself part of a very talented group of nine sewists.  we are the mood sewing network!

SHABLAM.  that's right.  would you have ever thunk it?  you can see all the details here.  or just click on the shiny new button in the sidebar.  yes, i have a button.  SMELL ME.  apparently my newfound caviar yardage tastes are being made reality!  i need to start thinking on that lavender house and private jet, for real.  maybe i can just wish them into being.

and now i get to give away some goodies!  que happy monday!  okay.  some of you forgot that just leaving a comment gives you an entry, so i added those in.  some of you were anonymous commenters or repeat names so i clicked on your profiles and attached blogs to you... let's just say i got very OCD about the whole thing.  and as i'm old-school-gold-star pupil, i cut all the entries out and put them in a big ass container (never fear, i recycle). other rules i set for myself: 

1) once a name was drawn, it could not be drawn again.  
2) no peeking when pulling.  
3) never drink warm chardonnay.

first up!  DAUGHTER FISH!!!  whaaaAAAt?!  miss fish said:

Oh, wow Ms. Teacher's Pet! I didn't even see you on the Craftsy page, but it's a great pic, and I'm loving this give away. I just followed you on the sidebar, but I already follow you on Pinterest, Twitterfest, and I think Facebook (must check on that). I already signed up for the couture class and the jean-ius class. We should sit together for those!:)

second out of the can: angielo!  of no blog, but hopefully she'll send in pictures of her homework...

I'm totally inspired by your Bombshell dress and am so eager to try Gertie's :) I'm following you here, Pinterest, and Twitter = 4 entries yay!

third at bat: cloth cat, of cloth cat, who ain't afraid of the drink:

I have had my eye on Gerties bombshell dress class for a while now, but couture one looks interesting too. Would love to share a few drinks with you over them, though I suspect my results might be a bit messy ect after one too many *remembers back to the time I sewed both bodice and sleeves inside out*. Have liked/followed on Facebook, pinterest, twitter and in the sidebar thingie.

you're on, cloth cat.  and you know what?  i'm in such a good mood (HA! get it?!) i decided to give away a fourth class.  one for me is plenty.

what?  no, angielo, you may not have two classes.  please see paragraph the third.  you coy minx!

angielo, meet your surprise classmate: jennifer of the musings of a dedicated housefiancee!!!

Ooo ooo! I want to go to class too! Susan Khalje's please. Extra credit entries for me :) I already follow you on my reader and Twitter.

and go you shall, miss housefiancee.  classmates, please email me at oonaballoona of the gmail sort so i can get you your schedules.  

thank you all for playing, hope you stick around and enjoy the scenery...i have a feeling it's going to get quite pretty here fabric wise :)

in exchange for using a photo of my bombshell dress, Craftsy surprised me with five free classes. i'm happy to share and give three away!


the mystery of the blue basement dress.

i seriously hope i am about to blow your minds.  i don't know that anyone but fellow sewasuarus rexi will understand the enormity of this find.  and believe me, i've tested this story on the common man.  THE COMMON MAN DOES NOT GET IT.

on our second to last day in seattle, i found myself with a free hour.  ninety percent of the time, sixty minutes to spare equals fabric shopping.  i'd already tromped through the one enticing fabric store in town (more on that later), so i decided to search out a thrift store that cindy of cation designs offered up in an email exchange.

cindy, i owe you big time.

i had spent the better part of my free hour in an overpriced antiques market on stewart.  my second stop, yesterdaze in pike place market, had disappeared, and i stumbled upon a small, semi dismal thrifty joint by accident.  i don't remember if it even had a sign out front, but it was around shop number 315.  (that's the third floor of the market, though it seems you're in the basement.)  i made a beeline for the sewing section in the back, which consisted of several small shelves that i combed through like a CSI agent.  there had to be gold here.  HAD TO BE.  i would not leave seattle without a vintage prize!

sadly, the patterns didn't compare to my stash at home.  the vintage curtains would take up valuable packing space. and god knows i'm not in need of bra hooks.

but wait...carefully folded, tied up in green yarn...a lace bundle...with a mysteriously note in cursive..."cut pattern!  do not unwrap!"

this order, of course, was not meant for me.

i marched up to the gentleman behind the counter and announced that we would indeed be tearing into this bundle.  i am a professional, i assured him.  as long as you know how to put it back together, he replied with some trepidation.  and then....

you see before you eleven finished pattern pieces.  vintage lace.  fully underlined.  just waiting to be sewn up. 

oh HAI adorable sleeves.  in the store, all i got to was the back bodice and the front skirt panel before i knew: for eight bucks, i was IN.  later on, during a quick break at work, i unfurled my purchase.  a pick me up, if you will.  

that's the inside of the front bodice.  that's hair canvas interfacing, and crazy heavy satin tape reinforcement.


i feel i've used my caps locks ration up for this post, but THIS NECKLINE IS KILLING ME!!!!  i squealed in delight, instantly ducking my head out from my hidey hole to see if any co-workers noticed.  they didn't.  so i squealed louder and got their attention.  sadly, as referenced in the first paragraph, the common dinosaur does not get it.

but you do, don't you?  have you ever run across this sort of thrifting score?  yes, you'll find plenty of handmade dresses already done up and needing mending love... but a puzzle, waiting patiently to be put together?  for years?  those treasures go in the bin before ever making it to the shelves!  how many hands has this dress passed through?  was it made, and then taken apart?  there are stitching holes on unpicked darts, the hem and sleeve edges are already finished, perhaps pointing to a refashion (egads, could it be a muslin?) but the bottom pocket edges are open.  yet, the armhole edges are yellowed!  help me nancy drewasaurus rex!  

whatever its history, i'm giddy with excitement.  we arrived back home in NY in the wee hours of the morning.  am i unpacking the six suitcases?  no.  did i  carefully iron all eleven pieces of my prize so that i could show you immediately?  yes.  now: anyone out there recognize that neckline from a pattern?  that would be KILLER.

(don't forget to enter my craftsy course giveaway for a prize of your own, it endeth tomorrow at noon EST!)


pack it up, pack it in, let me begin

there's a bit of a backstory here before you scroll down to le photos.  it will not make sense without the backstory.  READ IT, YO.

if you were around these parts this summer, you might recall my trip to mood LA with the lovely miss clio of clio and phineas.  during our romp through the remnant boxes, we came upon some stripes of orange hue.  this was a problem, as we're both a bit psychotic for that particular shade.  not wanting to duke it out in the aisle, i calmly suggested we split the goods and share our makes via blog.

clio squinted her eyes, obviously wondering if she could take me down and get out the door before an agile employee tackled her.  perhaps, upon thinking over the godzilla sized almond croissant i'd had for lunch, she realized i was way too sugared up to make the odds good.  she agreed, and we sliced the stripes in half.

and then, there was this.  the beginnings of the most horrific thing i've ever made that was never made.  capri length harem pants, scrapped halfway through.  i decided to wing it into a mini dress.  but the fabric had already been irreparably scarred from its first iteration.  this ended up being the kind of project that you finish because THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE... and i finished this jammie to within an inch of its life.  even though it was quite clear, long before i installed the zipper, there was STILL no way in hell i'd ever wear it in public.  i'd wear it for our cross blog posts, and that would be that.

but i couldn't even muster up the will to put it on for a single shot.  the thought of it made me nauseous. defeated, i decided to make my excuses, clio's cheery ready to post! email ringing in my ears.  maybe she'll just forget, i hoped.  into the goodwill pile it went, as we prepared to get out of dodge on our last night in LA.

then, stunner came over for dinner.  you remember stunner?  stunner had her very own pile of get-out-of-dodge goodies.  what the hell, i thought.  she might as well try this abomination on.

and then my jaw dropped.  





if we aren't the poster children for proportion and how to make it work for you, i don't know who is.  now look, don't get all silly and tell me it looks good on me.  It.  Does.  NOT.  i am totally okay with that fact.  believe me, i think i'm hot as shit (which is a very strange expression) but in this i'm cold pizza, at best.  which just blows my mind that in the same dress, stunner is a refreshing summer fruit.  or a crispy pepperoni slice with fresh mozzarella and basil, if you want to keep the simile going.

obviously, it stayed with her.  and suddenly i know what i'm having for dinner tonight...

so clio!  what did you make, girl?  (EDIT: clio's is up and i'm JEALOUS.)  and what about y'all?  have you ever made a nightmare that looked like a dream on someone else?   


my love is like a flower, a flower called seattle

these buds were shot on my iphone the first day of our trip, in a sunny community garden.  it's been nonstop rays since then, really, seattle's been full of color and sun and some of the most warm, outgoing city folk i've ever met.  i lose track of the amount of times i get stopped on the street with a compliment about my hair or outfit (yesterday, six separate seattle strangers were informed with a happy skip that the dress they were complimenting was made by me.  this only added to their, and my, glee).

but!  all streaks must end.  today we woke up to a washed wall of gray cloud cover, and my mood was instantly affected.  i would assume seattilites have built up an immunity to this sort of weather, but i'm interested to see if loss of sun is reflected in the demeanor of the city.  if i could deal with the rain, i could see living here.

but not driving here, man.  WHAT IS UP WITH Y'ALL AND THE ROAD RAGE.  it is instantaneous and overpowering. there's an alien living in the chest of each citizen of this fair city, it comes screaming out through every orifice the nanosecond another driver stops to let a passenger out or slows to make a turn.  it is so foreign, really the only response is laughter.  in fact... it's entertaining.

seattle!  can you do no wrong?


**CLOSED**please have your number two pencils ready. it's giveaway time.

when it comes down to it, i'm a straight A student. i might go about my homework using unorthodox methods, i might have a whiskey neat by my side, but really in the end i want a gold star. boxes of them. and smiley faces. and prizes.

every september, i look with longing at the rows of toys: pencils, notebooks, zipper cases, trapper keepers... i remember carefully laying out my mall bought outfit and accessories, gleefully anticipating the stares i would garner, packing my jansport backpack with an arsenal of college ruled notebooks and marvy pens. i don't envy the pre-teen set much, but i do get a serious desire to go all undercover drew barrymore when the leaves start to change.

that wistful feeling is happily eased by sewing. i can still be the overachieving geek of my teenage career, but better. sewing notions are like, come on, THE BEST SCHOOL SUPPLIES IN THE WORLD. never ending! and my carefully assembled ensemble is now the very product of my homework. for which i still yearn for a grade. AN EXCELLENT GRADE. teacher's pet, baby. sure, we put our stitches out there for advice and opinions, but nothing beats a gold star. or five of them...

you may have seen my smug mug gracing the front page of craftsy recently. i was honored when they asked me to kick off their new contest: submit a photo of yourself (or a lucky loved one) in something handmade, and you could be frontpage news. i humbly accepted. (read: inner oona sticks her tongue out at popular girl and jock boyfriend two rows over). but wait! didn't i mention some stars for teacher's pet? oh yes... since this is a contest, complete with prizes, they surprised me with five free craftsy classes!

inner oona did a little dance of gleeful abandon! classes!! i would need supplies!! silk thread... interfacing... closures... perhaps some horsehair...

catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, i stopped in shock. who IS this overachiever, i thought. when i started sewing, i wanted it fast and easy. like a trip to the mall. two yards of jersey, a straight stitch, ikea scissors and i'm in a dress. i suppose it was my smoking in the girls room phase (oh wait, that's vicki).

if i had to pinpoint my desire to go all AP honor roll, it would be the day i started gertie's bombshell course on craftsy. up there at the top of this yarn, that's me on craftsy, in my underlined, interlined, boned, basted and padded tiki tiki dress. i never had any inkling i could make something so involved, so fitted- and enjoy the hell out of the process- until i took that class. you can read my original love song to the whole shebang here. from that class forward, the skills i learned stepped everything up. yes, i still sneak a cigarette every now and then (if by cigarette you mean skipping a prewash of fashion fabric), and i do on occasion sip some alkie-hol (if by on occasion you mean on the hour), but now i get giddy at the thought of hong kong seams and bias cut.

you too? I KNOW! we should take a class together, we can TOTALLY sit next to each other and pass notes... what? you don't feel like dropping 40 bucks on a class? okay then. i feel you. howz about i give away 3 of my class slots to 3 of you lovely peeps? maybe you've been eyeing susan's chic couture class... christine's adorable librarian blouse... kenneth's genius jeanius, or gertie's growing collection? maybe you're a knitter? a quilter? they've got you covered there, too. hell, you can even learn how to decorate a cake with fondant. jump in, yo. just leave a comment telling me what class your heart desires (this doesn't have to be your final choice, i'm just nosy), and your name is in the hat! but wait... you get more entries, one apiece, to be exact, for: liking me on facebook, following me on pinterest, twitter (@oonaballoona), and here in the sidebar! why? BECAUSE I WANT TO BE THE MOST POPULAR GIRL IN SCHOOL, THAT'S WHY.

that's five whole chances to win if you go hog wild. make it easy on a girl and let me know how many chances you've taken in one comment, won't you? gold stars if you do. and of course if you're already a follower at any of those options, you've got extra entries. because you're amazing and your taste level is beyond compare.

you'll need to sign up as a craftsy member if you win, which, wow, you should be already, i mean, everyone's doing it. since these are online classes, this is open to the world wide web. i'll announce the three winners monday september 17!

EDIT: closed!  i'll be back a bit later today to announce the winners... good luck!

Craftsy surprised me with five free classes. i'm happy to share and give three away!