she's crafty (and she's just my type)

pfaff 1171 oona oonaballoona

there's a new girl on my drafting desk, ricky's been eyeing her since sunday.  (oh yes! ricky is back, though that's another story.)  i'm not jealous, in fact i may even be considering switching to the other team for this dame.

she is a pfaff 1171, and all of kalkatroona is in love with her.  even ellie has graciously welcomed her (especially since i treated that formerly mean girl to elna specific serger needles).  the desk is a bit crowded, four square feet of sewing space and all, so that's to be sussed out... 

pfaff 1171 oona oonaballoona

found her last sunday on craigslist, listed just as a pfaff (which is apparently pronounced with a long A, like faaahf, not like the A in cat, you can even put a little plosive of a p in there, but who's counting*), and from the picture i could tell she was an 1171.  during my rabbit hole of machine research, this was one of the gems!  a trip to bedstuy and a hundy later, she was mine.  a fabulous seven foot tall drink of water informed me she was moving to west africa and selling most of her (super chic, completely fabulous) stuff.  oh and i found a few feet in the case, she mentioned, offhand.  YEAH YOU DID. YOU FOUND ALL OF THE FEET!!!  Leggy Laday even had the original bottle of oil and needle packet (which i'm keeping for posterity).  the machine had been in her closet for five years-- she was the second owner, and never touched her after sewing up a children's dress (surely, that killed her sewing career right there.  Must Always Sew First Garment For OneSelf, Especially When One Is As Fabulous As Leggy Laday).

*EDIT: i'll admit it,i'm countingladies and gentleman, and i quote from le anon comment: "She is a beaut! But you've been had on with the pronunciation. Before this catches on and everybody starts saying Faaaaaf and making a donkey of themselves, let me tell you as a German: it's a short a and a clear P. Say "Pfuff". Easy. You're welcome." here's a li'l mp3 too.

pfaff 1171 oona oonaballoona

she ran nicely at first go, but the presser foot came down as if on a hydraulic system... sort of a slow release that reminded me of a battlestar galactica viper coming in for a landing.  cool! i thought.  this must have something to do with the IDT system!  a quick post on the pattern review boards revealed that no, it was not, so i got to opening and cleaning.   i suppose five years of sitting idle will yield seized oil, even on the manual's boasted sintered metal.

wouldja like to see what this little gal looks like with her clothes off?  naughty.  i always knew y'all were pervs.

nope, you're not supposed to remove the covers and such, that's for the mechanic, but tinkering is in my DNA.  big daddy has been (among many other things) a mechanic, in fact he taught me how an internal combustion engine worked from A to Z for my fifth grade class presentation (i got an A: hand drawn schematics, verbal with no notes, yo) so yeah.  i found the users and service manual online and i was ALL IN.

i went for the needle bar area first.  it's always scary to self tinker, there is the very real possibility that you'll end up doing more harm than good, but after giving the equivalent of a tartar buildup cleaning, removing the yellow, seized oil, the presser foot release moved beautifully.  this seemed a good thing to me, so i was off to the races. diluted denautred alcohol on the plastic housing (really, i should have taken a before and after, she had dirt splotches the size of denmark) and tri flow oil on metal innards. the service manual instructs the mechanic to oil the entire machine (the user, only a dot in the bobbin casing), so i went for it.  and also:  tri flow is AWESOME.

LEAVE ASIDE THE FACT THAT I UNSCREWED THE ONE SCREW YOU SHOULD NEVER UNSCREW.  JUST LEAVE IT ASIDE.  just realized i still had the caps lock on-- but you know what?  LEAVE IT IN CAPS.  NEVER TOUCH THE SCREW TO THE RIGHT OF THE BOBBIN WINDER. it has a washer underneath, which will produced a most unsettling, clinking, falling sound at 12:45AM when you go a bit too far, leaving you in a state of shock and slight denial.  at that bewitching hour of the morning, the top cover, which was proving to be resistant,  had to come off. as ginger would say, not gonna lie... the top cover is a real bitch to work off that first time. she was coy, needed coaxing.  now she's been topless three or four times since then, with ease.

but that first go at second base is a doozy.

by gently tilting her head over heels, i was able to produce the washer.  i think i said ohthankyou out loud to the general vicinity (which at that point was my kitchen counter, my toolbox, and the cat).  the service manual does instruct you to loosen or tighten that screw to adjust the bobbin winder tension, but people.  TEENY, TINY, INFINITESIMAL ADJUSTING THERE.  (and one does not need to remove that screw in order to remove the top.   that's what got me to scarytown in the first place.)

still, i'm even glad i dropped the damn washer, it made me get inside the hood and discover a couple of thread snarls.  all in all, about fifteen hours of work on a vintage machine (that was already running nicely) and now.  and NOW.  I HAZ BUTTONHOLES.

and many other things, obviously, but the first trial was adding buttonholes to my new burdastyle bella jeans.  she runs beautifully.   and even better with a cocktail, naturally.

pfaff 1171 oona oonaballoona

speaking of cocktails!  let's discuss her name (my point will become clear momentarily).  she is definitely a she, i knew it when i saw her.  the surname tiptronic puts 90s rap firmly into my head.  i immediately exclaimed over the little ball used to change the needle.  ricky likes her.  lucille ball... nicknamed tipsy for tiptronic...theme song, the beastie boys' tune "she's crafty," specific lines: "i think her name is lucy but they all call her loose"...her bare top reveals the number 8499 "i think i thought i seen her on eighth and forty deuce" (so close!) and also, she likes to work with a cocktail.  naturally.

long and winding road, yes.  not sure the destination to nameville is right, but that's what i'm working with.

parting shot: she came with all original accessories, right down to the li'l bottle of unopened oil and the needle packet (which i'm keeping for posterity).  so!  any 1171 lovers out there?  I AM IN LOVE WITH THE IDT SYSTEM! any tips?  do tell!


springtime blues

from the looks of my latest garments, it would seem i'm in a blue mood lately, but actually i'm quite happy to show you this dress, the giselle, from kate and rose patterns.

when kati asked if i'd like to test this pattern, to be honest, i hesitated.  testing takes time, more time actually than it takes to make a garment (and we all know that.  shit.  takes.  time) so i'm careful about what i say yes to.  i ask myself many questions: do i have time?  do i have fabric?  is it my style?

that last one gave me pause.  my higher self noted the silence, and attacked:  oona.  HEY OONA. PAY ATTENTION. is that your style? or is that the style you WANT to be? OONA YOU LISTEN TO ME WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU DAMMIT.

beaten into submission by higheroona, i had to admit: with the giselle, it was the latter.  y'all, i love that willowy romantic hippie free people look like nobody's business.  I LOVE IT.  i want to be a sun kissed 5'8 loungey lass with a mane of highlights kissed by fuschia and ocean blue tips chalked on by hand.  

no, higheroona.  i am not that girl.  BUT I SAID YES ANYWAYS. 

and oh!  in this dress!  i swan about with a subtle smile caressing my cheeks like i'm wafting through town in my own private bubble of vintage love.  and people look at me like i'm bananas.


i made two versions of the bodice, one in a straight up size M, which, although i fall into those measurements, was a bit big for my liking.  years of standing in front of dance class mirrors will do that to you.  on this go, i went with a size S, empire waist version with sleeves, and was pleased as punch. being short waisted, the empire sits lower than intended, which is exactly what i was hopin' for.  the only thing i changed was to interface the front yoke, as the fabric i chose is quite soft and drapey (some mystery blend of lightweight cotton from my frenemy janky store). i'm not sure if this suggestion made it into the final pattern, but it's something to consider depending on fabric.   

this dress was the knee length version at first, and it gave me a sad face.  the face that caused higheroona to say TOLDJASO.  but then i added another rectangle of skirt, à la the maxi version (but different proportions-- the skirt is comprised of two gathered rectangles so you can play with that easily) and VOILA HIGHER SELF TAKE THAT!

the neckline (and armsyce, if you go sleeveless) is finished as directed with bias tape-- my favorite method.  good lord i hate facings.  the sleeves are finished with elastic casing... (edit! the pattern calls for pretty cuffs, i went for elastic on my own)

...and there should be some elastic across the back bodice as well, but if you use up all your elastic on the sleeves and don't feel like going out to buy more, ahem, the ties (enclosed in side seams) give ample cinch.

do i love this pattern?  yes.  do i recommend it?  hells yes.  oh hey, lemme climb up on my soapbox for a moment.  it's an appropriate sidebar, considering it's indie pattern month, but it's gonna take a minute, that's a lotta skirt.

i test indie patterns because i enjoy it.  yes, it is an investment of my time and energy, and because it's a test, there's no guarantee i'll come away with a wearable garment.  so i choose the patterns i test carefully.  and i give my honest feedback directly to the indies i test for.  i have to, because that's what they need, and want, in order to release a worthy product.  some think there's monetary gain to be had here: there isn't.  some think i'm crazy to do this for free: i am.  but it's a crazy i enjoy.  i like to sew, and i like to support those who are courageous and talented enough to make their passion their business.

and though i am a critical tester, i'm not paid to be a public critic.  in this scenario, i'm not paid at all. moreover, i'm not interested in being a public critic.  you see a lot of indie patterns here that i praise, because i love the finished product, and because the product is worthy.  if you hear me shouting from the rooftops about my love for something, it's real.  i'm not going to prop something up that isn't deserving.  there are plenty of indie patterns i've tried (both purchased and tested) that i don't like.  plenty of books i've read that never make it to the blog.  would it validate my praise if you heard about those as well?  maybe.  but honestly, i don't feel like it.  those same books that don't float my boat are cherished by others, those same un-oonaable patterns exist elsewhere, looking beautiful or not, on many happy ladies.  and more power to them.  

and more power to you if you enjoy being a critic, for real.  but you don't hear about the un-oonaables here because i'd rather spend my time propping up than putting down.  there's enough putting down in the world.   i'm not interested in having my corner of the interwebs contribute to that.

well!  time for a course correction, mr sulu!  in the interest of HAPPY, kati has offered to give a paper copy of the giselle pattern away to one of y'all, no matter where in the world you live, and in the interest of keeping ME happy, she's taking care of the shipping!  Y'ALL I'M PRETTY SURE I AM ALLERGIC TO THE POST OFFICE.  to enter, just leave a comment on this post.  (i imagine, even hope, the few paragraphs above will spark a bit of conversation, so do mention if you're not throwing your hat into the giveaway.  winner announced june 1st!)

edit: giveaway now closed! i will indeed announce the winner, heheh, just a day late.  blame it on the sunshine, blame it on the moonlight, the good times and the boogie.  see you tomorrow!

and furthermore,edit: congratulations juliana!  a giselle pattern is winging its way to brazil.  comments are back open now, but this giveaway is over n out! 


twofer tuesday

oona oonaballoona simplicity 1804

tuesday was belated items day: a dress made two years ago, worn for a two day late celebration du mommaballoona.  pizza!  wine!  treats!  torte!  YELLING! 

i get excited when we have people over, and i get insanely excited when the people are my parents.  i go into hyperdrive, rocketing around the house, driving the cat into hiding.  

barreling into whole foods for last minute supplies, i was chastised for being TOO SPEEDY! apparently the sweep of my maxi dress brushed the hem of someone's jeans.  this someone was juggling two backpacks, arm in a splint, finagling self serve coffee one handed, sandwiched between two double wide strollers, wo-manned by two blinking ladies who could not figure out how to wo-maneuver around each other.

i dropped my basket, wo-manhandled the open stock boxes out of the way, cut though Double Wides, and made for the cheese.  Double Wide One found her legs and rolled her children into my cart.  TOO SPEEDY!  came the cry from the coffee kiosk, revealing The Juggler.  actually Double Wide hit me sooooooo super sorry for HER, i yelled happily over my shoulder, instantly reminded that i am a total hypocrite and loose all sense of The Gunn when i am in whole foods.  every time.  must not go Kors in Foods.  

oona oonaballoona simplicity 1804

in line with my treasures, i calmed myself down and greeted the cashier.  i love your dress.  there went the zen. THANKSIMADEIT!!! cashier to the right joined in, eyeing the goods maniacally.  lefty caught the stare.  damn girl you gonna steal that off her back or what?!

we all cackled our goodbyes.  i looked around for The Juggler, hoping to apologize--who knows? maybe i was too speedy!  but she was racing off with her multiple wares, faster than a speeding oona.

oona oonaballoona simplicity 1804

this is a perfect summer dress, and a great eatin' dress, especially when the eatin' is of kalkatroonaan proportions. made of super soft stretch jersey from michael levine's loft.  if you go for this pattern, make note: the armsyce is a bit low (you can spy my bra in the side close up) and the draped front panel is a bit too bulky-- i used one layer instead of the recommended double, and took about 2 inches of length off.  if i remember correctly, she has quite a bit of ease as well.

and the whole shebang was made on a straight stitch!  yep!  it can be done, especially on a frock like this that has a bit of added elastic in the back (to attach the elastic, i stitched a long double row of machine basting.  actually, i "twin needled" a lot of it).  i have no idea why it hasn't made an appearance on the blog before now, but it's lasted me over two years.  proof is in the pudding, non?  

just be careful if you're whizzing around pretentious supermarkets.  that hem is dangerous.


mother's DUH

on mother's day...

during the first truly warm weekend of spring

do not go to central park to try and take pictures

you will not find a quiet people-free spot

oona oonaballoona sewaholic gabriola

you will instead find all of new york on the grass
and you will be asked repeatedly but you don't have children?
(which is not so much a question as an accusation)

oona oonaballoona sewaholic gabriola

instead, go home, set up the timer and photoshop the air conditioner out of the shot.  because that shit is fugly.

skirt: the amazing, the i-want-one-in-every-fabric, sewaholic gabriola.  what took me so long to try sewaholic?! and what possessed me to ask ruggy to shoot it yesterday?!!  these are questions for the ages. 

a very happy mother's day to all of you mothers of all shapes, sizes and forms, i hope it was lovely!


fixin up the joint

the fact that i have no machines (no machines that i like) has produced untold amounts of amateur web design round these parts!  BEHOLD THE SIDEBAR!  THE SIDEBAR OF AMAZINGNESS!!! MY APPEARANCES IN LOFTY REALMS!  MY STORY! MY CLOSET! PEEP MY ENTIRE CLOSET! THE LINKS!!!!! godsakes people THE LINKS ARE BACK! THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE HEIGHTS OF MY HTML DIY-DOM! I AM THE KING OF THE FOREST!!! THE UNDISPUTED KING!!!!!!!!!!

whatever with the queen crap, we all know kings have the power.  so i'll be a king, thankyaverrrrymuch.  i'm certainly acting the part.  speaking of, just last week, in my other line of work, a 57 year old man, a quite powerful 57 year old man, hid from me.  saw me coming, and actually DUCKED behind his dinner date.  from little ol' 5 foot 2 and three quarters me.  

it was delicious.

so, my dear and royal friends, what say you?  do you like my webby hammerings?  any problems? actually, i think it might be loading pretty slow and the colors won't switch on my post titles no matter what i do and the post font isn't playing either and Every Single Link on the site opens in a new page which might be super annoying.  FEH!  still! the emperor's new clothes, and all.  do tell, either way! for you, the king is as always in a very receptive mood...


put her in a pumpkin shell

oona by marcy harriell cotton voile pants oonaballoona

do i look skeptical?  i had one eyebrow permanently raised to skyscraper height the entire time i was stitching up these wrap pants.

oona by marcy harriell cotton voile pants oonaballoona

BUT I LOVE DEM CRAZYFACE BRITCHES!  i actually prepped this pattern (simplicity 4192) last summer in a hotel room in dallas, and never tried it out.  then, fellow MSN'er peter went on a streak of menswear that gave me haute couture hives each week.  suddenly, I HAD to have a pair of wrap pants.  it was like i had never seen a pair of wrap pants before.

i stalked mood fabric's shelves of voile, the same shelves Herr Peter frequents.  there sat the bolt of fireworks cotton!  there, the plaid!  i was inches away from a full on copy, but in a rare instance of appropriate behavior, i snagged this cotton voile instead.

AN' I LOVE THE WAY THOSE LEGS FLARE OUT!!  my left eyebrow settled back into its normal position once i put this outfit on for pics, and then lifted again in glee when the wind started picking up the voile.  i see more of these in my future (though i'll probably deduct the added waist height i so ...intriguingly inserted back in dallas.)

obviously, you can't have a House Of Boldness knockoff without a jacket.  in fact, one really has to go whole hog and make the whole dang outfit.  but i totally cheated & reworked my neoprene doubleface by hand london blazer... lapels & cuffs eighty-sixed.  now the neon flashes like a surprise! i love it when my clothes warn peeps to mooooooooooooooooove  G E T  O U T  T H E  WAY!

(intended black eyelet tank top never materialized.  again, cheater cheater pumpkin eater.  we can't all be peter.)

however... i did get some kalkatoonaan bling into the mix, in the form of another michal golan creation. when i couldn't decide between hamsas and hearts they surprised me with both picks!  OONABRATOONA!  ain't she pretty?  i knew she was meant for this voile, and she inspired me to add a little embellishment to the knickers...

glass beads from my trio of grandmothers' costume jewelry stash.  i truly no longer know what belonged to whom, i just love it all.

so, that's my may contribution to ye olde mood sewing network.  (y'all, doesn't may feel like a non stop me made party?  CAUSE A SEWIST PARTY LAST ALL MONTH.)

this ensemble, sans tank top, was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the Mood Sewing Network. the necklace was gifted to me by Michal Golan Studios.


sunday snap up: the first time ever i saw your face

Yeah so I met Michael Kors.

Let me back up. Last week, after my first night of real sleep in seven days, my eyes catapulted open, the battle cry LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE careening through my head. Stomp! Upstairs! Stomp! Kitchen! Coffee! Egg! Stomp! Shower! STOMP!


EH. The first day of Me Made May, and within four minutes of eyeing the goods I was seriously thinking of flaking. I sew for fun, and fun is not audition wear (except for the occasions I am asked to be a prostitute, hipster, or designer). But here's where the genius of my very plain pledge helped me...it didn't have to be an entire outfit. So I started with my BHL Victoria cropped blazer and went from there. I ended up in an outfit that I never would have known was in my closet.  

Stomp! Back upstairs! You look cute, babe. you should say hi to our commercial agents today. Stomp! Over to our desks! Inches away from my man's surprised face! REALLY? YOU LIKE IT?! OMYGAHINEVERTHOUGHTYOU'DLIKETHISCOMBOIJUSTCAMEUPWITHITLIKEWHOAHRIGHT 


Stomp! My man obliged me with an Instagram. I informed him he'd be obliging me all this merry month of may, and stomp! Out the door and off into the concrete jungle. People were smiling at me. A slow grin that would creep up and fully bloom as I happily bared my teeth in return. Say what you will about clothing, it sets a tone, and when you can get unsolicited smiles out of jaded NY commuters on their way to work, on 42nd and 5th for godsakes, then hell yeah fashion is important. We are our own briefcase.

And then, suddenly, as if manifested out of these thoughts, an icon of Important Fashion was walking up to me. Jeans: stomp. Black t shirt: Stomp. Black blazer: STOMP. Jet black sunglasses. STOMP. Brain sent a signal to Eyes: that's Michael Kors. Mouth, however, kept grinning, but did hold itself back from shouting hey Michael Kors I made this! Good thing, as the smile was ever so not returned. (Mouth could not help but breathe dick, but Brain was able to keep it under Breath.)

As always, when I see a celebrity/public figure, I'm reminded of how easy it is to ruin one's image in seconds... at least in the eyes of whomever is watching. I'm not really awestruck much, and wasn't in this situation, mostly it's just neat. However, awestruck or no, a figure can still be dashed to pieces or built up to the skies in a moment. It's probably too much to ask of someone to display a worthy image at all times, but when they've been in your home, having coffee, chatting away while you're cooking, even though you don't know them, you do. And when celebs are on your TV nightly, they're in your home. And you expect the people you know to be generally nice to you, don't you?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I saw Tim Gunn. Not on the same day, if I had, I would've taken it as a sign to bang on the doors of Project Runway stat. No, this was months ago, on a windy, cold, drizzly day, and I was dressed (quite sloppily) for the gym. The Gunn was enswathed in a suit that looked made of imposing clouds, and a wool great coat that swirled around him, moving at a quick purposeful pace to whatever great thing The Gunn is always moving to. I assessed the situation: I am in torn jersey pants and a too-tight hoodie. But he is wonderful, and I AM awestruck. SILENCE, BRAIN. MOUTH, PROCEED.

You're just wonderful!! I yelled over the howl of the cabs and the wind as I passed him. Not slowing his pace, he bent his head in that I'm giving you my full attention manner towards me, and projected a warm Well thank you, aren't you sweet!

Two glorious seconds. Skyscraper heights.

(post script: I'll be doing a weekend snap up all may, wrapping up my me-made-may contributions. 1: BHL blazer, RTW refashioned jeans & tank.  2: unblogged maxi skirt, refashioned RTW studded jeans jacket, tshirt, and cat butt.  3: gifted artisan tank top & BHL charlotte skirt.  daily snaps are on instagram--which by the way--I shall henceforth only use the official hashtag #mmmay14. I wish I could edit the first two snaps. SUCH CLUTTER! And does anyone remember when a hashtag was a pound sign?)