new season, new dresses, new mantras, new facts.

ARGH THIS DRESS TOOK FOREVER!  i seam ripped so long, my arms went all ghostie!  at one point, i told ruggy this might be the longest i've ever spent on a dress.  really, i'm not sure, because it was started in texas and finished in new york...travel plays tricks on the mind...

i ordered this delicious denim & velvet flocked yardage from mood fabrics back in late july, as part of my MSN allowance.  it seemed totally appropriate for the middle of texas summer.  that's sarcasm.  the fabric is amazing, it has a bit of stretch to it, and the velvet looks almost CGIed.  it was meant for a maxi dress, but then my eyes fell on butterick retro 5880, and for once my heart strayed from the land of floor length.

hello legs.  isn't it odd that we want to drape our bottom halves in yards of fabric in summer, and expose them when a chill hits the air?  i even took about 6 inches off altogether.  our super stumbled upon us mid photo shoot and said woooow, i like.  don't you have black shoes?  you need longer earrings.  have a white flower at your waist.  i think it should be shorter.  

i do think i'll be taking that flower suggestion, but more billie holiday than floral belt.  wouldn't a magnolia look amazing with this outfit?  OH HEY BY THE WAY.  can i give a big ups to you vintage ladies out there?  it took me like 30 minutes to tame my hair, till i finally cried uncle and called it DID.

i love the cutouts on this...they remind me of the neckline of the blue basement dress (which i have yet to finish). 

the weight of the denim was perfect for the angular neckline, in a maxi it would have sat stiffly.  but that said, it did have plenty of flow for the draped section!  real talk, this fabric is made of magic.

per ruggy's suggestion, i "lined" the edge of the drape-- the pattern calls for it to be fully lined in fashion fabric, but that would have been One. Heavy. Drape.  i was leaning towards leaving the raw edge exposed, but he thought a little trim would finish the dress off.   he was right.  so many opinionated men in my life!!!

after thirty minutes of fondling trim in daytona (heheh) i chose three yards of tiny chain link to sandwich the edge of the drape, and hand stitched it down on either side.  you might have caught me toiling away in metal and thread on my instagram.

and now, i present to you the guts.  HA!  IT'S A CIRCUS SHOW UP IN THERE!!!  this printed cotton was meant for the back bodice of the previously intended maxi dress.  sort of a surprise when you turn around.  now it's a surprise when you take it off.


maybe i'll just keep the lights dimmed when unzipping.

now here's the thing, i didn't do much unzipping, per se, of this jammie in texas.  but back with my man in NY, with the prospect of date nights quite real, did i want it to fit or did i want it to fit?  this was a mantra i repeated to myself every time i went back to the full length mirror and did the yoga zipper pose.    

speaking of new mantras, howsa bout a new little section at the end of these garment posts?  i know i tend to talk about everything but the sewing of the damn thing, so i thought it would be nice to share that with you sewists out there, whilst giving my non stitching pals the opportunity to jump over the foreign language.

the notes:

pattern: butterick retro 5880
sizing: i cut a straight size 12, shortening the pattern at both petite lines 1 inch. lopped 7 inhes off the pattern hem in the end, with a 1 inch hem allowance.  currently, i'm 35 1/2 - 28 1/2 - 39.
fabric: flocked denim & printed cotton from mood fabrics
notions: tiny chain link from daytona trimming, stash zipper
cocktails: southern gin & tonics followed by northern manhattans, garnished with ruggy's homemade soaked cherries
time: FOREVER.
pattern tips:

  • to get those Vs sharp,  i shortened the stitch length to teeny tiny on the points of the Vs, making it safer to cut as close as i could to the stitching line, and i understitched the lining as far as i could, everywhere i could.
  • if you need to shorten/lengthen the skirt, you'll need to do that on the drape as well...mais, there is no corresponding shorten/lengthen line on the drape.  BASTARDS.  i traced the drape out, matched drape notches up to the notches on the skirt, and added the line.  unfortunately, that line went right smack dab through the complicated pleat section.  so i traced out the pleats separately, and placed that tracing under the shortened drape, matching up with the top pleat and drawing them in from there.  you'll also have to take away from the bottom curve of the drape (or add to it, if you're lengthening).  it's a bit scary.  a manhattan helps, if you're of age.
  • want your skirt as pegged as mine? you won't get it straight out of the envelope.  i started by pegging the side seams 3 inches in and tapering 5 inches up, then pegged the three back seams a bit. rinse, rip, repeat, till you have it right.  i tacked the drape down just below the hip, and when i couldn't bear to rip out the skirt seams AGAIN, i added two small darts at front skirt hem.  i don't think i've ever heard of darts at the hem before, but those final cinches did the trick. 

for real, they did the trick.  ruggy took so many pictures, I finally asked HIM if we had enough.  let's hear it for the seam ripper!

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


summer's end

from the looks of my blogreader, today is the last day of summer states side.

summer, although you found me away from ruggy for FIFTY TWO FRIGGING DAYS, i did have some love for ya. 

beautiful music to sing.  new friends.  new gins.  a metric ton of late night sewing hours.  a nearby joann's with stupid crazy pattern sales, where i picked up vogue 1307 for $2.99.  

unable to bear my jealousy over kazz the spazz's fantastic jumpers any longer, i cut these pants out in jersey from my dangerous dallas garment district trip...

...and added two rectangles for the top.  elastic casings at tip & toe to cinch it all up, no zipper needed since there's plenty of stretch.  and by the by, PLENTY of ease, even in a woven: if you're making this pattern, sewist, beware.  my much-hacked-muslin only survives because it's black and gold. the Thong Song plays full blast whenever i sport those puppies.  hey man, fall finds me back with ruggy, and it's steelers season.  you do what you gotta.

ah well, a little ease is okay.  all the better for drinking gin and eating hot dogs.

and perfect for languishing in 108 degree texas heat.

bye, summer.  love you.  mean it.  welcome, fall.  it's grand to be back.


the real drape drape

the king asked if i'd like to review a couple more titles, and i said yes indeedy.  they sent me draping, the complete course, which will be released in october.  i'm crazy about draping, but my real knowledge of it is crazy limited.  i basically just throw fabric at the form and hope for the best.

so, i was anxious to learn a thing or twenty eight from author and professor karolyn kiisel.  this book was devoured front to back immediately upon arrival, over 300 pages, and although much of it is fantastic, i wanted more why.  MUST ALWAYS HAZ THE WHY

first of all, if you're going to take the plunge into this tome, you absolutely need a dressform.  the why on that should be pretty clear.  in fact, go get a dressform, yo.  having spent the summer without my mine, i was reminded daily of how much i love that gal.  i was chomping at the bit to get home and crack this book open next to my wolfie girl!

my exuberance is showing, no?  karolyn instructs moderation in pinning, as too many pins can spoil the balance, but i went bananas anyways, and started draping the first of the "dress" projects: the audrey hepburn "breakfast at tiffany's" dress.

(and yes, i did remove some of those pins to quiet those stress points.) 

it's still under construction, and i'm shocked to see that it's turning out okay.   truing up that muslin was not a pretty thing.

what is truing?  truing is a task, yo!  karolyn gently explains that it will be, via the wonderful video included with the book.  while the instructions on the page lean towards the technical side, her video demeanor is more like that of a breezy, i don't know, wedding planner... odd description, but i mean the perfect kind that only exists in dreamland, the kind that will fix every problem with a delicate wave of her manicured hand, making your day into a perfect 73 degree, cumulus cloud sky.  she makes this look soooooo easy.

i'm pretty sure every outfit she sported was draped.  even her luxurious curls are draped.

having that visual reference really changed the feel of the book for me.  i'd say watching the videos first, or at least alongside, is the way to go-- you absolutely need the video to support the book.  i took notes on almost all of the video chapters.  in hot pink.  naturally.

i expected the bulk of this book to be more about the principles of draping, but really, karolyn shows you how to jump right in with both feet (or rather, hands) with step by step instructions on how to drape specific pieces. you're actually getting patterns for draping, sans paper.  you create the paper patterns out of fabric. and i mean patternS... an absolute BOATLOAD of projects including pants, gowns, dresses, tops, jackets, and bustiers.  

yep, bustiers, you corset-crazed crowd!!!  like a metric ton of info on that!  

so, my tiffany's dress?  after truing the pattern, i was at odds with my verdict.  but today, after sewing up my muslin, i was happily surprised.  she fit!  she doesn't look exactly like karolyn's (on the video she does a little quick magical tug to peg the skirt on her absolute hoot of a model and i said out loud YES DO THAT, it was kind of amazing)... but she fit!  perhaps i can't learn everything there is to know about draping on my very first try.  

verdict?  i was lukewarm while truing up yesterday, because it looked like *what i like to think of as* MY BEAUTIFUL SELF-GRADED STRAIGHT A AVERAGE was going to get a red mark.  today, after my first draft of sewing, my grades are looking up...i'm starting to get a crush on this teacher.

if you're in the san fran area and want a firsthand look, britex is holding a pop up event this thursday, where karolyn will demonstrate how to drape the audrey hepburn dress.  if i had that teleportation device, i'd go for it.   

this book (and the frenzy of activity that ensued) was provided to me by Laurence King in exchange for an honest review.


anna to the infinite power

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

this labor day weekend, i did little else than labor on my msn round of anna.  in new york, if you don't get out of town for labor day, you get out of the way.  the people who stay behind on the last few free days of summer are always furious, for real.  so staying indoors and hammering away on bathroom and silk was just the ticket.

i lie.  THAT PART KINDA SUCKED.  it was nine hundred and eight degrees, power tools blared, and as each minute passed i became more and more certain i would never finish.  i was reminded very much why i hate sewing deadlines.  i composed mental emails of defeat to silk conquerors sonja and lauren, filled with home improvement excuses and plenty of swearing.  i took cocktail breaks with ruggy, he in his contractor's mask, me in various forms of underwear for easy access.  (to the anna. sweaty-and-unable-to-shower equals little time for that kind of play.)  but the french gimlet worked its magic.   oona, ruggy said, i would wake you up with a cocktail in the morning instead of a cup of coffee, if i didn't love you and your health so very much.

once, i even thought i might cry.


oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

especially since this is another out-of-the-park pattern by the fabulous creatures that are by hand london, but y'all know that very well by now.  this has been the summer of gloriously long annas and beautifully brief bombshells, hasn't it?  (that bombshell is next.)  

having been warned days before my homecoming that coming "home" was going to be a bit more stressful than expected, i really did plan on making this challenge simple.  i did a wearable muslin weeks ago, in the form of my sew weekly reunion dress, so all i needed was an easy silk, maybe a twill or a blend with pretty insides, and i'd whip this out in half a day!

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

but after a full saturday of putting out more home fires, i arrived at mood 15 minutes before closing time, and it was a race against the clock.  none of the online silks i'd pinned to my mood board were on the shelves, something to be said for the site-- there are finds that only exist online, so us store-bound birds don't have all the luck!  i flew through the aisles, and flew though my story to anyone who would listen.  i gotta get a silk for a mini MSN challenge helphelphelp!  kooan, full of energy and with his eyes on the prize, led me to the shelves that housed this whisper thin beauty.

i love it, i breathed, knowing it was one of the toughest silks i could possibly pick.  yeeeah!  kooan pumped his fist.  this could be soooo beautiful, you can underline in silk charmeuse and layer with taffeta-- my mind fritzed at underline.  kooan, that sounds AMAZING.  i am so not going to do that, i said with a shit eating grin.  he grinned right back as eric entered the aisle.  both men immediately draped themselves in bolts of silk.  my mind changed gears to the sexy see through version on by hand london's preview page.  whaddaya think? maxi dress, totally sheer!  male models audibly swallowed and raised their eyebrows in uncertainty.

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

three yards later, i skipped into the subway, off to find a bottle of mezcal and a pail of grout.  you couldn't bring me down with ANYTHING.  i had Fabric Of The Gods in my purse and an alcoholic errand on my mind.  and what was even better, at that point in time, the bathroom was promised to be 80% done that very night!

and there endeth the floaty happy part.

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

booooooy did i have to take my time on this, and booooooooooy was my time limited.  getting this stuff on grain was a bear, especially since the only cutting surface was a large piece of drywall.  the metallic stripes on the crossgrain were a great help.  going to home depot for more grout, twice in the same evening, was not.  

i french seamed every bit of it, and hand stitched the thigh high slit with invisible nylon thread.  that was after i ripped out all of my very visible cotton threaded blind stitching.  blind stitches on sheer fabric are not blind, big surprise.  i even did my first hand picked zipper…which will almost certainly be carefully removed in favor of a hundred tiny covered buttons and loops.  

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

even though i stay stitched the neckline, she still went droopy on me.  (closing up those pleats a bit more should help.)  many factors played into that, none of them pattern error.  this fabric is far too light for that zipper, and i knew that.  i knew it and did it anyway. BECAUSE I AM STUBBORN.  you know that bows out in the back, right?  YEAH RUGGY I DO.  YOU KNOW THE BATHROOM'S NOT DONE YET, RIGHT?  

the fact that my silk was left in front of a fan on high speed for three hours while we were out shopping for silicone caulk may have also had a hand in that. 

ah, home improvement.

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

minutes before embarking on photos, i lopped 4 inches off a blue silk slip, and slipstitched my thigh high split closed by another 2 inches.  apparently i was going for slut.  my wedded contractor, completely devastated at the state of things, was suddenly my very willing photographer.  he snapped 74 pictures.  that is simply unheard of. how long do you think i can ride that gravy train?

if you've jumped on the anna bandwagon and i haven't caught it, please do tell!  and if you aren't in an anna, what are you waiting for.  the gals at BHL are hosting a sewalong quite soon...but take it from me: choose a silk with a little meat on its bones.

this slip of a dress was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the Mood Sewing Network. and thank you, parental balloonas, for gifting me this BHL pattern for my birthday!


the sew weekly reunion: LATE AS USUAL

OH HAI!  guess who has a new photographer??  ruggy haz mad skillz, yo!  all it took was a delayed DIY bathroom renovation surprise to guilt him into this job, and now he is FOREVER chained to my canonG12! MUUUUUUUAAAAHAHHAhahahahahhHaHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

if you read between those lines, you'll understand why i'm late to the sew weekly reunion.  but it's totally par for the course with my track record there.  actually, this dress, the ever popular and completely awesome anna of by hand london, was completed over two weeks ago, in plenty of time. that was a sew weekly record for me. however, the distant due date found me slacking on pictures, and holy hell am i glad i did.  who woulda thunk ruggy would snap away in ten minutes flat what it takes me forty five minutes to hopefully accomplish. okayokay we're done,  i yammered after five minutes of clicking, hoping to avoid any stress.  wait babe, lemme try from back here.  the light is playing in a really cool way.

??!!!!!!  OKAY!

the facts:

fabric: a polyester from joanns from, egads, THE SUEDE SAYS COLLECTION.  wrong side of fabric was used for the front.  it's like playing a record backwards to reveal the voice of a demon, only the other way around.  suede scares me.

pattern: the bombalicious anna from by hand london

year: right now, baby, as tootie heath would say...

notions: invisible zipper, poly thread, universal sz 12 needle

time to complete: for cutting, sewing, and handsewing, under three hours.  even with french seams! unfortunately, i tinkered like hell with the pattern, part of which included raising the waist WAAAAAAY too much, that part took about four hours.  i blame it on my dallas hotel room and lack of ruggy.

first worn: august 2013, in the heart of texas, to model for tinkerbell in our dressing room.

wear again: now that i see ruggy's pictures, hell yes!

total cost: the pattern was a birthday prize, so just the fabric & notions, about $24.  joann's polyester is EXPENSIVE, yo.  suede says he needs a coupon.

for this reunion challenge, we were required to use pantone's fall colors.  i'm like, kind of colorblind, but i think these fit.  maybe they fit better on the right side of the fabric.

i'm so glad the fab four got the big band together again.   for those of you who don't know about the sew weekly, it was a online group of sewists who were challenged to sew one garment a week for an entire year.  each week was a new challenge.  i joined up in march of 2011, with this green pieced ponte knit dress.  later that year i met mena, and signed on to do oona does it! as a weekly feature, which very nearly had me throwing my iron right out the window every sunday. you can see those archives here, if you are so inclined.  

it is absolutely balls out crazy to make one garment a week.  i won't lie, a lot of those ended up wadders.  but the fab four, along with mistress mena, continually churned out amazing, envy inducing creations that always inspired.  anyone who played along with the sew weekly was certainly a little stressed, and definitely a better sewist by the end of it.  and a better friend.  to wit: the colossal new york meetup.  

although i shot myself in the foot overthinking pattern adjustments, i did need a couple of darts in the back bodice to solve some gaping.  i've noticed several ladies have made that adjustment...anyone have a method to share?  i just added 3 inch long, 1 inch wide darts, the center line following the center line of the pattern's waist dart.


happy labor day, and happy reunion, y'all!  thank you debi, adey, veronica and sarah for throwing this beautiful bash!  my photographer is placing dinner on the table, but do holler if you're playing, i'd love to peep over a digestif...

edit: hey guess what i did.  I FORGOT TO NAME IT!  so not sew weekly of me!  i'm thinking of going with "the psychedelic suede dress"... suggestions?