tutorial: romper with room!

oonaballoona romper tutorial simple simon

The last time I wrote a tutorial, I took two rectangles of fabric and tried to make Advanced Calculus out of them...AND I AM NOT THAT MATHY.  This time, I'm going to try and explain things easily and visually, as really this romper is just a marriage of rectangle and triangle, with two baby foothole curves thrown in.  Also, Proper Use Of Capitalization For Better Ease Of Tutorial Reading!

(Disclaimer: Use at your own risk, this obviously ain't no couture technique tutorial.)

oonaballoona romper tutorial simple simon

We'll talk dimensions in a minute, but I think it's easier to look at this jammy in shapes first.  The top portion is a rectangle, the bottom portion is an equilateral triangle, the footholes are small gentle curves. Erase the intersections and you have this:

oonaballoona romper tutorial simple simon

You are going to cut out two of this new shape, on the fold, one for front and one for back.  Fold is CF and CB.  (If you're playing with slippery fabric, or detailed print placement, you might want to make a whole pattern piece.) 

Ok, dimensions!  Tres important, and completely ambiguous here.  Well, not completely.  This thing can only go on by way of your hips, so let's start there...

The width of the rectangle must be as wide as your widest measurement, or you'll end up with a wadder.  Or a one legged skirt.  On me, that's my hips.  If your bust is wider than your hips, then the width must fit your bust.  Whichever measurement is larger!  The shirring will help hold it up, but you may find you need straps if you're a busty gal.

The length of the rectangle depends on where you want the waist to hit.  I wanted an empire waist feel, so my rectangle dimensions were 10 1/2" wide on the fold  (21" wide flat measurement, 40" wide tube after sewing it all up) and 7" long.  Remember to account for seam allowance, and any ease you might want!!

The length of the "skirt" portion is up to you-- but I find the longer the drop, the skirt-ier the crotch, ie less "man-junk-on-woman" effect that Ruggy so dearly abhors. If you intend on wearing the garment both as romper and skirt (by pulling the shirred section down to your waist) then the side seam should only extend to about mid calf, so that your garment doesn't drag on the ground when you wear it as a skirt.  If you're intending to wear it only as a romper, the side seam can go on down to about 4" above your ankle.

The bottom seam of the fabric should be as wide as your fabric allows, really, for maximum flowiness. Totally couture term.  My finished bottom seam is 40" wide from foothole to foothole.

oonaballoona romper tutorial simple simon

Footholes for your footsies! At the bottom corner of my triangle, I marked 4" in on the bottom seam, and 6" up on side seam, then connected those marks with a nice gentle curve.  The curve needs to morph into a straight line just at the seam allowance (there's a better way to say that, i'm sure) otherwise you'll have a weird extra piece of curvy fabric you'll have to cut off later when making the foothole hem.  Which is no biggie, again, easy-peasy-loosey-goosey-this-ain't-no-couture-tutorial.

oonaballoona romper tutorial simple simon

Time to sew it up.  On both pieces, at the top of your rectangle (the "bodice") turn under 1/4" and again 1/4" and stitch to form the neckline. You have to do this before shirring, doing it after will cause you Brain Pain.  Then shir each rectangular portion with 1/4" spacing (the tighter the spacing, the snugger the bodice).  I won't go into how to shir here, there is a landslide of tutorials out there, but I will say I don't recommend that you mess with your bobbin case tension to get your machine to shir. Some machines just don't want to shir, and I don't blame them.  I used my Featherweight.

Now sew your side seams from bottom to top (I always sew seams from wide to narrow ever since reading a Threads article by Susan "The Godmother" Khalje), in whatever fashion you choose, neatening up your seams if you're not using a serger or french seams.  Sew your bottom "hem line" seam, again, finishing the raw edges.  All that's left is to turn your "footholes" under, 1/4" and 1/4" just as you did the top neckline, stitch, and BAM.  YOU'RE DONE.  Try it on and dance around!  Do a high kick with no fear of showing the world yo lady parts!

Phew.  I hope this made some kind of sense.  The shirring takes time, but I've worn my jumper about eight bajillion times, so that's like two nanoseconds worth of shirring per wear.  Good exchange rate.

And iffin ya didn't know, this tutorial is my small, weird contribution to Simple Simon's Skirting the Issue!  Many lovely sewists have contributed tutorials, with the hope that sewists will donate skirts made from these tutes to girls living in foster care-- for example, fabulous Faye has contributed adorable items for multiple girls!  (Of course you can use any pattern you like, you don't have to use a tutorial.) You can donate skirts all the way up till August 15th, and there are prizes to be won (on top of the good feelings you'll get by simply donating a skirt). Elizabeth and liZ have a beautiful post up today about how it all started.

I think this romper would be more suited for teens, and it's the sort of thing that you can make up in a loose range of XS-XL sizes.  And hey, if you try it in a teen size to be donated first, you've had a nice practice run for a you-sized romper!  Bringing selfless back to selfish, kalkatroonaan style!

(And let's just skim over the fact that I was supposed to come up with a "skirt" tutorial.  I assume at this point Elizabeth and liZ know my brain functions on a different set of definitions.  Tee hee, and tra la.)  

ALRIGHT! I'm off! Do tell me if you try it!


southern lovin

do you feel it?  it couldn't be more summer-time if it tried.  people in the city are drunk on summer. people in the country are drunk on summer.  people in blogland are drunk on summer.  we barely have a minute to holler out a comment because THERE IS SO MUCH SUMMER.*

(*unless you are on the flip side of the world, in which case, happy winter.  i love you, southern hemisphere.)

summer means dresses for me.  actually, i guess every season means dresses for me.  i've grown accustomed to feeling over-dress-ed, literally.

proof: even when my hot li'l summer hands possess a perfect li'l empire waist button up top pattern, what do i do?

i go on and extend it to dress length.

although said "length" was very much in flux.  i thought i had enough of this cotton voile (a michael levine prize from project sewn!) to go maxi, but midi was all she wrote.  mini was pinned into the mix for a hot minute, and i think it may still be in the cards....

but i landed on midi.  yet somehow midi makes this more of a "doing the chores" dress, don't you think?  shall i dissect?

here, i am giving you "did that brick really just crumble when i leaned against the wall" face.

this was a delight to sew up, even with my hackerings.  she is skinny bitch curvy chick's empire waist blouse, a line sized for petites of ALL sizes, for real, XXS-3X.  i've actually worn her out more times than i can count.  i was just waiting to holler about her, as betsy is in the process of reformatting her PDFs.  this blouse got the first makeover-- lemme say, the pattern is beautifully drafted, but when i bought it, the PDF tiling was... advanced.  she's on sale right now to celebrate said fixin'!

alright, people of all seasons, i know you're busy summering and sewing.  go do stuff.  make this top, or sign up for carolyn's tried n true class tomorrow, or go to the charles james exhibit, or drink some hot cocoa.  

cause i love you, southern hemisphere.


early morning hollering

ETA THE SECOND: guess who really shouldn't write a post at 6:47 AM after a sleepless allergy filled night?  THIS GIRL.  you have a full week to sign up for the amazing carolyn's seminar...if you'd like to know how carolyn uses her TNT patterns to fit fresh-out-of-the-envelope patterns, go sign on the dotted line for her webinar at burdastyle!  it starts at 11am EST today next thursday july 24, but if you can't view the goodies in real time, you'll get a recording of the whole shebang (so long as you've already signed up.)  and only twenty dollas, as angie would say.

and my girls maddie and jennifer are teaching you how to make bras & racerback tanks (respectively) this november in the sewing party, also a virtual treat so everyone can join!  forty smackeroos.

ETA (the first) eeeeeeeeeehhhh and woot woot the curvy sewing collective is here!  i knew i forgot something, damn sleepless nights and coffee starved brain...


lastly, thankya thankya for the romper love.  i must admit, i never know if people check back to see if i've thanked them in the comments, and sometimes i feel like a dork typing out multiple thanks (really oona?  maybe people have better things to do then check back and see if you've hunted & pecked out a gracias?) so i'll say it here: thankya! and yes, tutorial by the end of the month...


romper with room

oonaballoona self drafted romper

last week we housed 5 adults and 2 children for 24 hours.  


one of said adults, the six-foot-fifty-eight one, was sporting a fabulous, flowy, silky pants-thing that had holes for your footsies and shirring at the top.  this dame, let's call her The Diva, wore them because she knew i would specifically be fascinated by them.  indeed i was.  i made her take them off that evening so's i could study 'em.  

with two screaming nutjobs in the house in various states of undress, it wasn't weird at all.

oonaballoona self drafted romper

come the morning, the happy horde left in a hot rush, and my reward was deciphering this design on a mysterious-but-famous designer silk crepe de chine panel print from mood fabrics.  this birdcage yardage had been sitting on my table since spring-- after failing miserably on an anna sui print, i didn't want to ruin it more prettiness.

so of course i took a whack at it while my brain was still intoxicated by wining and wailing.

hours later, i threw open the bathroom door, revealing a towel clad ruggy (what is it about this tale and states of undress?) and shouted I DID IT!  arms thrust high in the air over my head, goooooooal!!! my glee turned to absolute euphoria as ruggy slowly raised his eyebrows and declared.... i like it.

oonaballoona self drafted romper


apparently, a lot of men like them.  i get the most intriguing catcalls in these.  older gentleman look at me with an appreciative, respectful eye.  younger, not-so-gentle-men bring their remarks down to a hushed tone: GOTDAMM I LOVE YOU, said one as i walked in search of a quiet spot to shoot.  a truck tooted his horn with the lightest of taps, three times, as i strode across the crosswalk.  toot?  toot toot?

hey man, you know what?  sometimes it's nice to get a whistle or two-- especially when one has dressed 80% of one's body in voluminous drapey folds.

that said, there is some saran wrap going on in the form of shirring, about 20 or so lines of 1/4 inch shirring, to be exact.  THAT TAKES FOREVER.  this is the part that makes it possible to wear it as a romper or as a "skirt."  


oonaballoona self drafted romper

the eternity of which you can experience yourself at the end of the month when i'll be sharing a tutorial for these! once you get past the shirring, it's three seams, yo.  seriously, no flaking on this promise, as it'll be part of simple simon's lovely skirting the issue tutorial hop.   i've worn the two i've made more times than i can count-- breezy and cool, and you can lounge around in them with no fear of showing yo' lady parts in a gust of summer BBQ wind.

because sometimes it's good to be dressed.

this breezy, silky, wear-it-all-the-time thingy was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the Mood Sewing Network.


on being in the spotlight + diminishing yourself

True And Strange Confession Time: i don't like the spotlight.

that is to say, i like the spotlight, i actively seek out and enjoy the spotlight, i mean seriously, I'M AN ACTRESS, i LOVE the spotlight... but i don't like the spotlight.  it's definitely an I Love You So I Don't Have To Like You relationship. i've always been at odds with it, mainly because i never want anyone to feel as though their spotlight is diminished by my spotlight.  and vice versa!  growing up female does that to you, doesn't it?  (the world cup announcers have influenced me, i have taken a fancy to the british way of asking someone if they share your opinion by tacking a leading question onto the end.  it's a wonderfully polite way of saying I AM RIGHT AGREE WITH ME, isn't it?)

ahem.  diminished spotlight.  growing up female does that to you, doesn't it?  we are taught that if someone else is beautiful, smart, or talented, we are therefore not as beautiful, smart, or talented. because there is a finite amount of those qualities to go around.  although i cry major bullshit on that, i apparently also believe it wholeheartedly, as the prompt for this post was my personal cringefest over an absolutely lovely and extremely flattering oonapalooza question and answer from gillian to ginger.  no seriously, just now, i had to pull away from the computer and rub my ear in a nervous fury before i typed that sentence.  as bratty as i am, i should have been primping and preening with my tiara (i do have several) whilst reciting the sunshower of praise out loud to the cat.  but no!  i felt awkward reading it!  i felt nervous!  indeed, i felt like a Supreme Brat! (that brat part goes both ways.)   because if i'm called great... maybe others feel there's less great to go around.

i'd like to once and for all stuff that wretched feeling into a bag marked INSANITY and incinerate it.   am i diminished by your greatness?  NO.  am i inspired out the wazoo by your greatness?  YES!  i revel in each beautiful new creation and each beautiful new lady (or gentleman!) i "meet" in this community, and i sincerely mean every compliment i type out on the web, or holler out in person.  and i know you mean it, too.  so why the fear?  why shouldn't we have oonapalooza and sew dolly clackett and pattern testing and blog tours and liebster awards and me made months? why shouldn't we embrace our wonderful aspects in every aspect of life?  why should i feel like i need to diminish myself because some really awesome people have decided to put me in a spotlight?

maybe we are all in the same awkward boat on the receiving end, but sailing a great big giant cruise ship of love on the giving end. 

so i'm going to do what ruggy has forever admonished me to do when receiving a compliment after a performance (i'm really super crazy cringe-y bad at that): i'm going to say thank you.  and mean it from the bottom of my technicolored heart, without any caveats or quantification.  all of you wonderful people participating in oonapalooza are blowing my mind, and i've created a pinterest board of the amazing looks i've found so far (please holler at me if i've missed you, and i know there are many WIPs & eyepoppers on instagram waiting to be blogged, holy cow wait till you see --ETA and see the first roundup also here on the sewcialists blog).

and what's marvelous is: none of these creations are carbon copies, or sewists creating garments they would not actually wear-- no, each and every one is individually stamped, but inspired by a kalkatroonaan love for color, or print, or stepping out of the comfort zone, or, as stitches and ditches put it, use of Extreme Determination.  i inspire you, and you inspire me.  (that sounds big headed, like godzilla sized big headed, but i'm going to exercise Extreme Determination and leave that bit in. surprise of all surprises, this oona-inspired challenge is bringing me out of my comfort zone.)

thank you.  i love seeing what you create.  you are beautiful, and smart, and talented, and isn't it wonderful: there are infinite quantities to go around.  


seamer songstress

you unfold your fabric.  you gently iron it, pressing out the creases from the wash.  you pick your pattern, thinking about the sewists who have maybe interpreted it before you.  you look at the parts, deciding which rules to follow and which rules to break, what embellishments you might add.   you choose where you want the pieces to lie, placing your wisps of tissue on the grain. 

you take a deep breath for the first cut, and hold your breath for the reveal.

you open up your music books.  you flip through, thinking of the singers that have interpreted the songs before you. you pick your tune, pressing out the creases in the dogeared pages.  you learn the notes by the rules, and decide which you want to include, which you might break, what embellishments you might add.  you choose where you want the key to lie, placing it in a meter.

you take a deep breath for the long notes, and hold your breath for the reveal.

one of the most beautiful performances i've ever seen happened at 54 below last night.  if it comes back, and i believe it will, don't miss it.   it reminded me how much joy there is in song.  and how much i miss it.


there was a little girl...

oonaballoona | draped maxi dress | marcy harriell

...who had a little curl
right in the middle of her forehead
and when she was good, she was very very good
and when she was bad, she was HORRID

i laughed like hell when mommaballoona recited that mother goose rhyme to me whilst we were out to brunch.  we were all decked out in oona-mades... all, that is, except ruggy.  horrid little girl, that oona. 

to add insult to injury, directly after brunch, i made the rugster take pictures of my july installment for the mood sewing network.  and lookit this!  The Finger Of Blame!  IT POINTS TO ME! 

you get outta that hole, Finger.  the contractor possessing the digit came out from behind the door shortly thereafter, said i looked great, and suggested ruggy get the posted building plans in the shot.

oonaballoona | draped maxi dress | marcy harriell

yay for light and shadows giving me bullet bra!  pinky swear, this is not part of the design.  no, this draped dress came out of my brian exsqueeze me, brain, took 4 yards, and includes 5 skirt panels, 6 bodice pieces, gathered straps, and no pointy bits.  and the print placement!  this exquisite cotton print is crazy, y'all, and i went nuts over placement!  but ya canna tell from the shots, can ya?  

ruggy!  i said.  are you getting any detail?

babe, he replied,  i'm trying to get the cool blue in the frame.   

oonaballoona | draped maxi dress | marcy harriell

admittedly, the swath of blue, she is super cool.  

and i guess maybe my photographer is not as appreciative of the sewing details when i sew zilch for him.  look man, it's super boring to sew the types of fabrics ruggy goes for.  but hey!  lookit what parental balloonas get!

i am a very very good daughter to oblige my technicolor inclined parents, non?  (please disregard the terrible understitching circa oona 2013, thanks.)  this was the view at brunch!  however, on our side of the table, my other half was in an Old Navy pullover.  again, HORRID.

but unlike the curly haired girl in the rhyme, i'm being rewarded for misbehaving.  do you spy that new little badge in the current events section?  the sewcialists, who sew a themed color every month, have declared july oonapalooza sewalong month!  WHAT?!  in sweet gillian's extremely flattering words:

"Here’s the goal: Oona is known for her bold use of colours and prints, saucy silhouettes, and sense of exuberance. So make anything you want – but let it be loud and joyous, either in terms of colour, shape, or improvisation! Myself, I’m going to imagine that Oona is the voice urging me to be more adventurous as I sew. 'Hmmm… I wonder if I could just change this neckline a bit…'  Yesssss. 'Should I put a thigh-high slit in?' Yesssss. 'These two prints are both kinda crazy – Should I combine them?' YESSSSS! (Does that make Oona the good angel on my shoulder, the wee devil, or both?)"


truly, i blush.  i blush like a fine rosé.  i've been giggling gleefully ever since this event (which falls ever so nicely in the month leading up to my birthday) was cooked up on twitter.  ruggy has even concocted a special cocktail in my honor, the Bazooka Balloona (really, i must sew something for him) and i'm cobbling together a prize package for the oona-est contibution to the month, details on that imminent! so go grab some fabric that makes you grin like a fool, pour something delicious, and start hammering! 

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