on this gray and rainy day
this is just a note to say
i'll be joining me-made-may
but mainly on instagram.

instagram doesn't rhyme with much, does it?  at least, my brain isn't coming up with a match at the moment-- i've spent the day off, per doctor's orders, as i managed to catch my second cold-ish-ick-ish plague on the bolt bus.  a highly enjoyable day, however! the constant sideways rain outside our windows made it even easier to keep my ass put and create an archive of garments for the blog (coming soon!).  my lovely lady doc also said i was a healthy young woman  and saw no reason to irradiate me  because xrays can be inconclusive and antibiotics don't work half the time and anyway what you need is sleep and the best cough syrup is a tablespoon of honey and a shot of tequila.


(for those civilians who are wondering what the hell me-made-may is, and who will no doubt eye my instagram feed in confusion, basically it's a challenge to wear your handmade items out.  in the past i've signed up for three days a week, this year i'm going for something me-made on my person every day.  that's challenge enough for me as i never know who i'll have to be...)

are you in?


product placement

ever so many things are going wrong here.

my machines have been on full tilt revolt in kalkatroona, as you already might know if you follow me on instagram or twitter.  it has driven me to throwing fabric at my form in dangerous fashion.  it has made sewing very... stressful.  and we all know sewing is what we do to get happy.  

sewists, as sewists will, as they are the best people on earth, flew to my aid: peter offered me my pick of loaners from his menagerie.  carolyn is hell bent on letting me manhandle her high end janome (i am terrified).  sonja drove me ALL THE WAY OUT to queens to bring my ailing friends in for diagnosis, and test drive some berninas.

we had an amazing day at sew right, if you're in the market, get thee there.  harvey & co were just as delightful as they were on that thread cult podcast of yore-- the one in which harvey basically narrated my life as i tried my best to electrocute myself fixing my ricky.  we spent four hours test driving all manner of machine, and yes, i did possess a bernina 1008 for about thirty minutes, but it wasn't love. actually, the further i get from the initial bliss of those test drives, the more i think i might not be a bernina girl after all.  no offense, everyone has their favorite brand, right?  harvey had a juki straight stitch that was heaven.  the babylock jet air sergers were pure magic-- what about the babylock sewing jobs?  and i haven't even tried a pfaff, husky or elna yet.  um, and have you seen necchi's machines?  i do have a soft spot for italians.

my southern man, however, has no love in his heart for this work in progress.

then there's the vintage debate.  i've had six machines in seven years, and mostly it's been love: gimbles branded kenmore, singer featherweight, rocketeer, genie, elna lock pro dc 5, and finally my riccar superstretch 2600. combined, a total of $300.  the argument of course being, if i had a brand new machine with quadruple the price tag, i might say i've had one machine in seven years that i've totally loved.  one that might actually do professional buttonholes and solve tension on its own and such...

to my surprise, my riccar 2600 was pronounced by harvey to be the best model out there.  good thriftin eye!  yet, when i can buy another metal beast for less than the cost of service...it becomes somehow painful to keep him going.  especially when, in the years ahead, parts for my riccar will become obsolete.  as harvey said, although i scored the very best, there isn't a demand for vintage riccars.  no demand, no supply.

marcy harriell oona by oonaballoona silk lame mood fabrics
oh ricky. you handled this silk lame with no demands whatsoever.

my dad, also known as big daddy here on the blog, surprised me with a loan of his featherweight (read: jeans hemmer) that i bought him several years ago, so stitching is happening.  ploddingly.  for those thousands of you experiencing sleepless nights, clenching your teeth, pulling at your hair, wondering WHAT IS OONABALLOONA STITCHING ON GODSAKES I MUST KNOW, you can rest semi-easy.  myself, i am dreaming about machines nightly. that's not an exaggeration. i have... not nightmares, no, stressmares, in which i test drive machine after machine but always come out empty handed.  

product research stresses me clean out.  always has.  your advice is welcome, i'm mixing margaritas.

(speaking of stress, it has come to my attention that the oona drunken fat quarter challenge has produced unsafe levels of worry!  not on MY watch.  like i said, sewing is for happy times.  the deadline is hereby extended to may 20, aaaaaaaaaand the contestants are hereby allowed to stitch whatever their hearts' desire.  accessories! bikinis! placemats!  TODDLERWEAR! and what man doesn't want a unicorn pocket square!  have at, ladies!)


a closer look

Years ago, there was a tiny boutique on Ninth Avenue that sold beauty. The walls, the tables, the floor, every available inch of surface was occupied by loveliness, covered in things, objects whose sole purpose in existence was to make your eyes smile. The kind of place where you knew the owners, and where you were happy to open up your wallet for them. During the wintry holiday season, this magical place held special shopping nights for friends and neighbors in hell's kitchen, and after work, in the eleven o'clock hour, I trudged out of my theater, past snowy bars and restaurants filled with revelers to the one shop window still warmly gleaming, where I was greeted with a glass of wine, welcomed in the hopes that I would complete my shopping list by midnight, and stay for another drink. 

The last season I shopped there was the year of the towers. The year that gift giving needed to be balm more than bounty. My favorite object was a delicate, tiny, bejeweled hamsa hand on a thin silvery necklace. I'd been introduced to the hamsa several months before at my very first seder (another night of beauty). I fell in love with this charm, a hand that reached across not only Judaism, but also Christianity and Islam. It was all I wanted to fill my basket with. I didn't care what religion my friends and coworkers ascribed to, whether they celebrated Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or the Winter Gleaming Moon...it was my intention to buy every tiny hand I could afford, and decorate as many necks as I could with this small piece of great good luck. 

Some loved it, some didn't. No, maybe that's not the best way to put it...some loved it, some were confused by it. A hamsa hand for Christmas? Religion is a wide thing to me.  I grew up Roman Catholic, I was an altar girl in fact, but as the years went by, there seemed to be too much wonder out there for any one belief to be THE be-all-and-end-all. There's a truth in everything, there is something to learn from everything. So the gift made perfect sense to me. 

As much as I loved those benevolent baubles, I never bought one for myself. Though I stared longingly at the little boxes until they left for their new homes, holidays are for giving, non? Later, life found us in LA, escaping from the financial gray skies looming over the city, and when we returned, I found my favorite little store didn't weather that storm. Cyberspace was taking over. 

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Michal Golan studios that read just as warmly as the welcome in that beloved brick and mortar shop. They'd seen my blog-- really seen it, to the point of applauding my Haphazard Use Of Capitalization-- and wondered if I'd like a pair of earrings, specifically to go with my version of Rachel's brasilia dress, which they admired. (Heads up, retailers hoping to create relationships: that's how ya do it.) 

Sadly, that stretch cotton went the way of the dodo, so I was invited to browse their website. On my couch, but still! with a glass of wine.   

When my eyes fell on this necklace, my heart skipped several beats. As beautiful as that long ago gifted bauble, but even better...this tiny swavorski encrusted, beaded hamsa was attached to a rosary. WHAT GENIUS CROSS POLLINATION. I've worn it almost every day since it landed on my doorstep--it was part of the inspiration for my duster coat. It feels like so much more than a pretty trinket. It feels like the best parts of all the religions around my neck.

Am I waxing poetical? Let me climb down off my pulpit, no offense to trinkets, I like trinkets ever so much!! The abundance of holi-days this past weekend seemed the right time to share this story. If you'd like to see more, trinkets and holy art both, do hop over to Michal's place. There's all kinds of beauty there. I suggest a glass of rosé as your companion... especially if your religion of the moment is welcoming spring.

this necklace (and the wonderful memories that came with it) was gifted to me by Michal Golan Studios.


coat of safety cone orange colors

in search of a quiet place where i could act like an idiot in peace, i stumbled upon a seemingly barren parking lot.

complete with john deere tractor.

it wasn't as empty as it seemed... soon, i had a crew of city housing workers with whom i had a delightful time.  a woman in overalls possessing a beautifully infectious laugh came charging out.  you seen that coat?  that's straight outta the seventies!!  you got a whole seventies thing goin on, i like that! EEEYYYYY JIMMY!  'member when you usedta dress like that?  AHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA

listen! a sweet man named ralphie ordered...you be careful out here now! dese people throw things outta dese windows and we can't do NUTHIN ta stop them.  what's wrong wit' people?! lookit alla that broken glass!  ey, you made that coat?  well that's just GREAT.  i expect ta see you in vogue one day, young lady!

ralphie was my favorite.

this yardage, part of my mood fabrics MSN allowance, is certainly crazy enough for those hallowed pages.  and finicky enough.  i realized i'd have to handstitch every seam if i wanted a pretty finish-- you can see the difference side by side in the bottom half of this collage.  no contest, yes?  and so a-handstitching i went...

i think it paid off, as it created sort of a padded look to the seams. 

a great amount of crossing my fingers went into the pattern hackery of simplicity 2812...it included taping coat bodice pieces to bottom mates and evening out seams to erase a waistline seam...it was definitely one of those AAAAAAH LET'S JUST SEE WHAT HAPPENS makes.  the collar brought this baby to a suddenly fluffy bunny cute place, i took one look in the mirror and cooed ooooo hai my name is oona don't you want to come play tiddlywinks with me?  the cat gave me a weary look, he's used to me barking at myself, and i went with triple overlocking the neck edge instead.

ah, overlocking.  ah, machines that work.  i remember machines that work...to be honest, it's been a irritating week sewing wise, working out the technicalities, that is, of accomplishing sewing, and i'm looking forward to a weekend out of town where i can put THE GREAT SEWING MACHINE CONUNDRUM OF 2014 out of my mind. hope you're looking forward to a lovely long weekend as well!

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


so sexy, except when it's not.

last week, both of my machines broke.  called it quits.  my ricky was serious, and that hateful elna was semi-serious (she will now move at a snail's pace under fear of decapitation.  mine, not hers).  many sewists came to my aid, there was a trip to the amazing sew-right in queens (with an equally amazing sale going on RIGHT NOW, get thee to the magnificent harvey & co if you've got the urge)... but i remain machineless. more on alllllla that, including that terrific trip, later this week.  but for now, let's talk about sewing sexy, shall we?  OH YES LET'S DO.

this ensemble is the one that broke my ricky.  maybe it was too sexy for him.  or maybe, like most men, he does not find crop tops and baggy pants sexy and called it quits in protest?  ah, but ricky!  ALL WOMEN LOVE A LOOSE CROP TOP AND BAGGY PANTS!

especially when it makes them feel like MC hammer.


this outfit was totally inspired, ripped off, stolen, from one of the co-hosts of this bootylicious blog party, nettie. completely.  not even gonna sugarcoat that.  the pants are simplicity 2477, and the top is the (free!) polly top from my girlfriends at by hand london.  

are you beginning to think i sew exclusively BHL?  you would be beginning to think right.  i just can't get enough of them.  i can do whatever the hell i want to their patterns, and they just.  don't.  crack.  for my polly, i did away with the front insert and made the side seamline on the front a little less angled to compensate for my hackery... instant swingy crop top.

but you know i love my blue envelopes too.  cuffs!  pleats!  totally disguised by the crazyface rayon print from chic fabrics!  these guys are way too much fun to be paired with anything other than yellow suede wedge sneakers, dontcha think?

this was a quick make, meant to be carefree and casual, which in my book is super sexy.  as it was my first go at a true fly-front zip (i did okay, i'd give myself, oh, a b+) i sort of treated it like a wearable muslin.  so, yeah, i wasn't as obsessive as i usually am about pattern placement.  what could go wrong? 

oh here, would you like to see all of the angles?

from left to right:

side view: pretty good! 

front view: that stem across the fly, unexpected bonus!

back view:


still happy with it though.  no really, i'm not beating myself up about it or anything like that.  that's a different kind of sexy.


come sew with me!


wouldja like to sew up a li'l sexy chic slouchy dolman top with me?  wouldja like to have a drink after and gab with sewists and swap fabrics and patterns and make general merriment? WELL COME ON THEN!

jennifer of workroom social is hosting a special manhattan pop up event, this may 2-4, and saturday boasts not one, not two, but three classes dedicated to sewing knits.

knits get a bad rap.  i fell in love with jersey before anyone could tell me "oooh that's hard to work with."  it's super NOT!  this wonder material and i have had affairs on straight stitch machines (yes it can be done) on zig zags (where it can be done even more so) and of course with ye olde serger (where it can be done once you wanna drop a dime or two).  all three machines can produce great results, so long as you play with jersey the way it wants to be played with.  then it'll take all the fondling you can give.

in this two hour class, we'll be working with a zig zag, and the pop up studio will be filled with all the tools and equipment we'll need. you'll be supplied with oak tag paper patterns and a class guide chock full of resources and fabric suggestions.  the class is small: 6 seats, plenty of attention, and the end of class will find you in a brand new me-made ultra comfy super chic top, which of course you should wear to the party directly afterwards.

oh, did i mention, jennifer set my class up riiiiight before the cocktail party?  good thinkin, gal.  GOOD THINKIN.

here's the full line up:


again, that's saturday may 3rd.  together we shall sew up a warm weather wardrobe and positively FORCE spring to come out of hiding.  this vixen is in need of some coaxing.  come sweet talk that lass with me!


technicolor noise

technicolor noise | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | sewing with by hand london

There's a guy on a neon green crotch rocket who revs up directly in front of our home about three times a day. I think he's delivering soup.

 technicolor noise | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | sewing with by hand london

In the middle of shooting a garment (my betty drunken dress, to be exact), I teetered up the stairs behind me, and appeared out of 1952 (with a dash of 2012) to have a conversation with the lad.

technicolor noise | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | sewing with by hand london

Hellooooo, hellooo there I purred, and when the purr wasn't sufficient over the roar of the idling engine, I put a little Betty in it.  

technicolor noise | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | sewing with by hand london

It must have been an interesting sight, two people who probably had around a dozen races between them, one straddling 90s metal & chrome, one in 50s cotton & curls, one coaxing a friendly conversation out of the cautious other.  When you ride around on a rocket that needs ten minutes of idling to produce an inch of movement, you're gonna get some shade.  I know, I've seen my neighbors giving him the business these past months.  I was ready to throw my hat in that rude ring.  But ruggy thought my brand of sugar could be a better answer.

When I heard this suggestion, I squinted my eyes.  I am not the droid you're looking for.  But the day was warmish, and the outfit was ladylike. 

technicolor noise | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | sewing with by hand london

It worked. My Crotch Rocket Soup Guy promised to be quieter.  He was sorry he'd been so loud.  As I turned to go, I introduced myself.  Still slightly baffled by the friendly tone, he shook my hand.  I'm Ed, he said.  Nice to meet you Ed, I cooed. 

No.  Ahmed. 

technicolor noise | oonaballoona by marcy harriell | sewing with by hand london


(In fact, there he is right now!  He's trying his best to keep it to a soft rumble.  Ruggy tells me he is "choking the bike," and in his expert opinion, he truly is doing it as quietly as he can.  A for effort, but IT'S NOT THAT QUIET.  It's about at the level of chainsaw in resting mode.  Let's see if he's done by the time i hit publish.  This is minute one.)

I toddled back down the stairs and into this outfit, gotta take advantage of a warm day, no? OH YEAH THE OUTFIT!  Wanna know about it?  You may recognize the top from yesteryear: she is the by hand london elisalex dress with circle skirt.  I've been wanting to try the peplum-with-fitted-skirt trend since it started, so I hacked off the half circle skirt at the middle, and paired it with BHL's charlotte skirt! YEEEEAH INSTANT SEPARATES WIN! The charlotte skirt pattern is a lovely prize from the BHL ladies for project sewn, I just made it up two sizes smaller to account for making it up in a stretch jersey. This prize makes my collection of BHL patterns currently complete. 

(Hey! Three minutes, aaand he's off!)

(But he's now doing laps around the block.)


your love is like bad medicine

i've hyperventilated over this sequined silk more times than i care to count.  it was purchased, under extreme pressure, whilst romping round the garment district with compadres in couture.  throughout the course of the sunniest, loveliest day of last week, i would occasionally remember what was in my plastic bag (it seems a crime that something this exquisite would be placed in a plastic bag, but i don't bring tote bags to meetups, in the hopes that I WON'T BUY ANYTHING TO PUT IN THEM. this theory was discussed at length and disproved by the sheer amount of plastic bags in our mitts).

our gorgeous guest of honor told me i needed to chillax on the buyer's remorse.  she was right.  after all, she'd dropped the same amount of dough in chic fabrics, and her faaaaancy zippers coulda bought the sequined sexiness alone.  however, i was unable to swallow the pill at the time.  

returning home, after a cocktail or two, i came upon karen's beautiful post on spelling out sewing to civilians.  i was the one who needed justification, and karen was happy to enable provide it.  as the best of sewist friends do. this fabric was totally worth it!  REGRET NOT THE EMPTINESS OF YOUR WALLET!  it will be a material reminder of a very full, very awesome day spent with friends.  it won't be drunk away, or eaten and remembered wistfully.  i'll be able to put it on and smile, every time.  

THAT IS IF I DON'T RUINABALLOONA IT.  (thanks again ruggy for coining that gem.)  after counting my dollars, i went with one and a quarter yards, intending a bomber jacket.  some pale denim stretch had already been cut, and the peer pressure of how delicious a sequined bomber would look paired with 70s style high waist jeans sealed the deal.  

and now it's sunday, it's sunday funday, and the day is full of yardage and blue skies and everything one needs to rejuvenate and reset and awake on monday morning happy.  yeah.  worth it.  


in a draper world, it's always cocktail hour

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

happy april fool's day!  i'll tell you right now, i'm not good at this day.  i fall for everything, and my jokes are stupendously lame.  i give to you my april fool's: i made a mad men dress for julia bobbin's mad men challenge!

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona


i told you. lame.

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

actually, she was made for miss bobbin's challenge, circa 2012, as you can probably tell by the style. a self drafted pattern in the form of betty draper.  she was just never photographed.  (obviously not current day bets.  i'm not wholly sure what current day bets looks like, as i have some major mad men catching up to do.)  

once upon a time, 6 inches of a dotty white cotton lived 'round that hem, and though it made the look properly betty, it annoyed the bejesus out of me.  after a swift hacking on a gin fueled night, it became one of my very favorite dresses.

alcohol infused impetuousness.  how very betty of me!

oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

i applaud oona-past for her choice of stretch mesh bias binding 'round the neck and arms...

but i cry foul on the "invisible" zip insertion and the complete absence of hook and eye.  SERIOUSLY OONA HOW ARE YOU EVEN SMILING IN THIS SHOT.  ARE YOU TRYING TO DISTRACT THE JUDGES.

however, sewing-poolside-oona did a pretty good job on the guts.  blindstitched bias tape and faced hem, enclosed edges, teeny gathers... let's face it, the poor lass was equipped with only a straight stitch. she didn't even have the will to clip a stray thread.  THAT'S A TWO YEAR OLD DANGLING CHAD, YO.  i decided, that very summer, that no one should ever have to sew each seam three times, Every.  Time.  yes, that madness is sometimes necessary, but give this heathen a serged edge once in a while.
oona by marcy harriell oonaballoona

has betty's hemline walked north yet?  is she embracing the trend?  i'd rather like her to be collapsed on the floor of her walk-in closet, in a mountain of her floral frocks, several half empty choice bottles within arm's reach, refusing to accept the micro mini, swearing like a banshee.

and doing it all like a lady, of course.