round up!

I caved. I didn't cave so far as to do Gillian's Top 5, which is brilliant, and only goes to further show what a motivating and inspiring teacher she must be for her lucky kiddos. I did try to do that round up, but well. I got as far as "hits" and threw my hands up in the air, because I AM TOO AMAZING TO PICK A MERE FIVE HITS. 

oonaballoona | 2014 on the sewing blog!

I used Aviary to create a wee collage of 2014, and went black n' white on the Misses & Reworks. 

First row: Devoid of color on screen and IRL, those two are in the basket for full on renovation. The first is already reborn into my quilted princely party dress, the second needs hacking on the sleeves and neckline. (You can see both at MSN...they never made it to these parts, which is telling.)

Second row: My BHL Flora dress needs a high lo hem, that length plus that drape is dowdsville on me!

Third row: A victim of rushing to meet a deadline, my ill fitted boucle BHL Charlotte skirt is a rework. Not a full on miss, because the Charlotte pattern is a TNT for me so if I don't fix it, it means it's my fault. AND I DO NOT CURRY TO TAKING THE BLAME.  Further in, my "sew sexy" was about as opposite of "sexy" as you can get. Reduced to girls-only loungewear.

Fourth row: Hey waistband! My Gabriola skirt was a dream until I wore it out to a meal. I'm not a fan of where it sits, and I think I'll change it to a petersham treatment that Dev and I discussed over pizza. Mmmmmm. Pizza. Pizza always trumps fashion.

oonaballoona | 2014 on the sewing blog!

Top row: Two perps taken in for indecent exposure. My draped maxi dress is sheer as the day is long. Something I didn't realize until a bolt of rebel sunshine found its way through the city skyscrapers and I was informed that my underwear was a major motion picture. I don't want to deal with lining her, but I'll have to find the will in order to wear. In my Nettie, the denim-look jersey shines like the skin of a jellyfish in the right light, especially on the curvy parts. A shame, because I wear that floral version of BHL's Charlotte skirt CONSTANTLY, like, I have to hold myself back, and she was a perfect partner.

Second row: SBCC maiden voyage, sunk by shitty material! This cotton voile feels like paper and only gets worse after washing. Sea worthy, she is not.

Third row: YEAH YEAH YEAH I know you like that Bronte Top, but even that shade of red cannot save it from my aversion to solid colors! She's excellent audition wear, but when something is tagged Audition Wear, it usually means Everyday Wear, which usually means Back Of The Closet. Because I live in Opposite World. A world where the Zac Posen circle skirt and brocade crop top are Everyday wear. They're grayed out for refashioning, and have become, happily: my New Year's Eve dress, and sadly: a saftey pinned shenanigan. Last in that row is another fabric fail: the floral vintage Simplicity explosion under my wooly houndstooth cape. The fabric has no recovery, the surface feels painted. I may hack her into a two piece setacular.

(Oh, and that last shot is the last make of 2014, Lord help me I succumbed to quilting cotton AND I LIKED IT. Soon to appear in these parts! You can always hop over to my closet and have a peek at any of these, complete with links to my original ramblings.)

A very Happy New Year to you, with my fondest wish: may your 2015 closet be everything you want it to be!


the view from up here

oonaballoona | new year's eve dress | zac posen silk brocade | simplicity 1803 

oonaballoona | john roberts coat | new year's eve dress | zac posen silk brocade | simplicity 1803

That's better. Oh so classy, oona, with your John-Baldwin-Made-Of-Magic-Coat, found at a favorite vintage haunt hidden in the southern hills! Seriously, there's no content label, so I'm assuming magic. Or a silk wool blend. Which has a sub-definition of Magic, obviously.

oonaballoona | john roberts coat | new year's eve dress | zac posen silk brocade | simplicity 1803

I mean check out that center back seam! On the coat, not so much on my dress-- although in real life, it lies nice and flat. You know, when I'm not shivering in a field hopping across cow patties in four inches of heels and three yards of silk brocade, cackling as Mama Ruggy shrieks in delight over silly poses, angling the camera a lá Baby Boy. 

Similar shooting style, Mama and Boy, but very different volume control. Actually, the ladies in this equation are both Quite Loud.

oonaballoona | new year's eve dress | zac posen silk brocade | simplicity 1803 
EYYYY RUDOLPH! Where did you really get that red nose?

Before we went all country, I set out to stitch up a New Year's Eve dress for another positively luscious lady. It suddenly dawned on me: I too would need a new dress! Neveryoumind that I haven't worn this one, this one, or, if you can believe it, this one out yet. Criminal! Tee hee, and tra la.

I spent 60 marvelously maniacal minutes refashioning this circle skirt, adding a (hacked) Simplicity 1803 bodice with the help of every precious scrap I saved, before returning to the task at hand. When we get back to The City That Never Shuts Its Face, I'll have a few scant hours to finish m'lady's party dress (almost done, I swear!) and fix the droopy neckline on this bad boy. 

Zacky Poo's bodice is lined in the same eye searing orange poly as the skirt. I think it might be fun to tack those right angles down with a couple of vintage buttons and have that pop of orange. Or, open up the handstitching and throw some horsehair in there? What say you, sewists? Possibly try out some embroidery stitches on my Pfaff?

oonaballoona | new year's eve dress | zac posen silk brocade | simplicity 1803

I just got a li'l homesick for the view from my Pfaff! But I'll tell you what. It's ever so nice to see sky...

What are you wearing New Year's Eve?


I'll Have A Quilted Christmas

oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics

This is the dress that Ruggy made.

No really. Although he didn’t stitch an inch of it, he was the full on Dictator Of This Here Dress. (And by the way, he has sewn, I keep threatening to show y'all evidence, I’m talking wooly welt pockets and silk skirts, but that’s a subject for another time.)

When I came home with this riot of peach and black batting-filled quilted poly organza, I laid it out on the floor and laughed and laughed. Its warmth surrounded me like an electric blanket. With U Got The Look on repeat in my head, I guffawed: RUGGY! THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST WINTER PROM DRESS EVER!

I took his bemused silence as total acceptance. However, as the dress progressed, he found his voice. Well, if I'm going to be completely honest about it, the sight on my Wolfie actually left him speechless for several days. Luckily, I was on my usual kick of working on multiple projects, and he had time to truly consider the view: A bodice made of peach embroidered cloud.

Him: Is that really what you want?

Me: ABSOLUTELY! It's a winter dress. I'm going to be TOTALLY warm!

Him: Yes. Yes you are. And totally lumpy.

Mmmmmmmm. LUUUUMPY. One lump or two? MY LOVELY LADY LUMPS! I could go all day.

oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics 
Convinced, I set about recutting the bodice.  And, altering the pattern (Vogue 8874) to allow for allll black boucle on top, allll quilty goodness on bottom. I had snagged everything left of this peachy stuff for my MSN December allowance, visions of a full length quilted ballgown dancing in my head. The change of direction meant I had to get creative on the top. Articles of clothing had to be sacrificed. I took two old MSN projects that suffered from maniacal overfitting (here, and here) and tried my best not to sausage myself this time. And there are plenty of pieces in this bodice to overfit! 

But, little open pleats over boobage allow for breathability...

oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics 
Gaze upon my little hook and eye that I ALWAYS COMPLETELY FORGET TO CLOSE...

oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics 
And a little neck gaping that I am TOTALLY FINE WITH. I SAID I'M FINE.

Happy with the new bodice, The Rugster approved a voluminous skirt, so long as it was knee length.

oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics

oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics 
oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics

In fact, Ruggy requested MOAR BOTTOM, “to really allow for that classic line,” (GET HIM) and I was ever so happy to oblige! Having abandoned ballgown length, I had ample yardage for a drop waist crinoline of sorts...even after he made me recut the front skirt panels.


The pattern calls for a seam right down center front. Against my better judgement, I did as I was told (really, what's going on with this story? Must've been the gin). After carefully gathering the giant five piece skirt to the new, underlined bodice, after pressing and binding and catchstitching seams…RuGunn entered the workroom and once again gave my dressform the side eye.  

Him: What's up with that seam down the front?  Do you really want a seam down the front?

Me: No. But the pattern calls for it.

Him, Pausing For Effect: You’re better than a pattern, babe.


oonaballoona | vintage holiday dress | vogue 8874 | mood fabrics

Now, I should have exacted my revenge by making him take the photographs, but Mama Ruggy came to the rescue. I LISTENED TO HIM AND LET HIM OFF THE HOOK FOR PICTURES. Ruggy must have been extra good this year, non?

A happy holiday, or reg'lar day to you, may your home and heart be as warm as a two tiered poly batted skirt!

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


I never get my shoes in the shot.

oonaballoona | vintage vogue dress | sewing blog

Two things this dress gives me: Bigger Mouth, and Bigger Boobs.

oonaballoona | vintage vogue dress | sewing blog

For real, look at the size of those things. I'm like a 48D version of Steven Tyler.

oonaballoona | vintage vogue dress | sewing blog

The front neckline was originally supersized as well. It had the refs throwing flags for intentional horse collar.

oonaballoona | vintage vogue dress | sewing blog

But they gave extra yardage for the bow. To go with the linebacker proportioned boobs and yapper. 

oonaballoona | vintage vogue dress | sewing blog

Luckily, I already had the appropriately voluminous derriere.

Pattern: Vintage Vogue 1084. Um. If you feel like sticking into something satisfying, grab a Vogue reprint at the next Joann's sale. I'm on my second envelope and am wildly eyeing my stash for ways to frankenstein bits and pieces into the required yardage for the handful of reprints I snagged at the last sale-- most of these eat up at least 4 yards. And that's pre-crinoline, which of course now, I must haz. (Hey vintage ladies, any good sources for cheap but decent RTW crinoline?)

Changes: Shortened the sleeves and lowered front neckline by about two inches. Used silk organza to reinforce the top bodice corner (as you would a gusset). Made an extra larger bow shape, layered with organza, and threaded it through the original bow. There was a little sagging in the back with just that one sad bow, and the added bow created a tighter backline! Bonus! There's no lining in this, which is...aggravating. Instructions let the exposed seams slide, so I ended up binding each and every seam.

Fabric: Both fabrics were Christmas booty circa 2013, snatched up at Mood, and HOLY IMPOSSIBILITY, both fabrics are still there. This never happens with my MSN posts, which I feel pretty bratty about ("hey I loved this fabric whoopsy daisies sorry it's all gone kaybyyyeee!") so leave it to me to make a non-MSN dress where the yardage is still in existence. Here's the main dress, and here's the contrast bow.

Photos: Flagrant Foul called for Overuse of the Surface Blur Option; to give a vintage feel, and make up for Revolting Injured Camera. Apologies. No dress was harmed in the 'shopping of these photos.

Have you got a holiday dress on your table? I'm on my fifth. HOLIDAY SUPERSIZE ME, YO.



On the train last night, there were six or seven cops at one of the doors, looking out at the tracks as the subway operator made a jerky way down the rails. The operator stopped too abruptly at the station, and one of the male officers fell forward. Ruggy immediately put his arm out to stop his fall, a knee jerk reaction of a gentleman, though it wasn't seen or needed by the cop. A female officer did notice it, and said Thankyou as the small group left the train.

Ruggy told me this story late last night after he got home. He'd been at a play, and I'd been at dance class, afterwards enjoying the (relative) quiet outside after the past week. We've had nightly nonstop helicopters and sirens since Tuesday, and of course you know why. So... it was, simply, nice. And Ruggy's story was also, simply, nice. But I did wonder aloud if his arm quickly extending out like that would have been taken as a threat if it were a different shade. 

I'm not getting into any facts, whole or half truths, or lies, in any of the recent events. I don't even think "event" is the right word. I don't have a word for this week. It just seems wrong to continue parading holiday dresses when the days bring more unnamable happenings. Yes, I'll be back with another dress on Monday, because we live, but I do feel the need to say something. 

We are, simply, trying our level best to spread joy. Protests, marches, arguments, we've tried those in the past. For us, they don't work, though much respect for those who choose that.  For us, walking down the city street together, holding hands that span a dozen races and twenty years together, is one of the most joyful acts, and peaceful protests, that we can think of. 

If you don't mind, I'll leave the comments off on this one. Sending much love and joy to you all.


running my mouth.

oonaballoona | by hand london kim dress

Okay so here's the thing. I'm sort of worded out at the moment. And I'd like to let the pictures do the talking for me, but my camera is imaged out at the moment. It no longer wants to play. It has taken its toys and it has gone home. This may have something to do with the fact that I dropped it from the top of a fully extended tripod height, popped the jammed lens out as one would a dislocated shoulder, and left it with a squinky eye that no longer closes.

oonaballoona | by hand london kim dress

(Sarah, recognize the story? This is exactly what I did to your camera.) 

oonaballoona | by hand london kim dress

But semi blurry pictures be damned, I MUST TELL YOU ABOUT THIS DRESS. This is my tester version of By Hand London's newest party girl, Kim. Normally I don't parade my test version until I've sewn it up again from the actual released pattern, but this gal was such a joy to stitch, I took maybe three notes on the test run. I've heard tell most testers had this experience, so I'm shouting now.

oonaballoona | by hand london kim dress

DO YOU LIKE THE CRAZYFACE LUREX?!!! I got it at Hancock's like 4 years ago. And the burnout velvet is a major 3 year old score from an unintentional LA sale! Both had been cut into and set aside when previous plans went wrong. I dug them back out for this.


I chose the sweetheart neckline with faux wrap skirt. Traced her up in a straight size 10/14, took 5/8s off the back shoulder to account for le back du sway, and pegged the skirt in 2 inches. I took another 5/8 off the back shoulder during sewing, and probably should do those extra eighths at the waist next time. 

I've been thinking about back length on me. The size and shape of my booty obviously creates a peak, right? So that peak makes my back measurement shorter. This is news to no one. Like I said, words.

oonaballoona | by hand london kim dress

Please do grab a magnifying glass and check the print matching on the center back zip. Camera was exacting its (justified) revenge on me, and this is the best back shot I gots, yo.

The skirt is underlined with a satiny burgundy viscose (not per pattern instructions; the velvet is sheer), and the bodice is lined (per instructions) with the viscose as well. Even with grading, that's a lotta bulk in that poor waistline seam. But the insides are purty.

oonaballoona | by hand london kim dress

At the last minute, right before cutting the skirt panels, I decided to take two inches of length out of the skirt. You know, accounting for the BHL temptresses being of tall stature and all. I SO DID NOT NEED TO. While the back hits the sweet spot...

oonaballoona | by hand london kim dress

The front, she is not made for a breeze. Of any sort. Like, a gnat could sneeze and it's R rated up in here. Since then I've added the inches back.

Well, listen. I wish I had a better story to share, and better pictures to boot, and I wish these things 'cause that's the kind of ship I prefer to sail around here, but the Kim dress is quickly reaching Anna heights on my sewing desk, and as the festive season is upon us, spreading the word trumps my self imposed post quality control.


'kay bye!