oonaballoona | a sewing blog | #unsungsewingbloghero

My husband is so good to me. Not only is he completely unthreatened by my new lover on my sewing desk...he happily painted this wall to match Gorgeous George's good looks for a little photo shoot this weekend! Thanks, Rugster!

Actually, the wall was already in this fortuitous configuration. But I wouldn't put it past him, considering he did brave 12 bags of New York City Summer Weekend Garbage, lurking about 12 inches from his face (DISCLAIMER: BECAUSE HE REFUSES TO STAND UP AND SHOOT). Oh, what a few days of 90 degree highs will do to the aroma of the city! Such a heady perfume! When I trotted over from my spot on the wall to change a camera setting for him, the stench almost knocked me over. 

RUGGY! I said. We can go somewhere else!

NO. Was his firm response. This is the right spot. Let's just do it.

RUGGY! I said. You can just shoot me straight on front-side-back and I'll get detail pics on my dressform!

NO. Was his firm response. I'm composing the shot. Don't bother me. 

Twenty pungent minutes later, as we strolled away from the odorous corner of 8th avenue, I clicked through the snaps at his request. 


OKAY. Was his firm response. And if you don't like these shots, babe, we'll just do them over. 

I MEAN. And what's a guy got to do to get a little sewing recompense? I have no less than 5 different prints in various stages of unmade shirts in the queue (read: the fabrics have been pre-washed). Methinks this is the week to crack into one. Ruggy does these shoots quite willingly ever since he got that unsolicited advice from a passing pro photographer. Pre-pro, it was OONA GODSAKES ARE WE DONE YET. Now, I'm asking him if we have enough shots to stop. Peeps, if you wanna flip the script, stage a little "chance" meeting with a pro and/or a family member willing to shower your photographer with compliments! DOES WONDERS!

Lori's tale of her unsung hero over at Frivolous At Last prompted this post, and her tagged man comes with some hilarious photos as well (seriously, go read it.) And tag your unsung hero(ine) if you have one!

(eta: sometimes i'm clear as mud... just to be clear-er, the credit for this tagalicious spark of genius goes to lori!)


painting party

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | painting party

The fabrics that come home with me are not treated delicately. Even when they are a digitally printed silk crepe de chine direct from Italy. Maybe this is because I began my sewing career with 2 dollar a yard mystery fabric, and had zero fear in ruining yardage that could be so cheaply replaced. Maybe this is because I am like a bull in a china shop no matter what the price.

Either way, I've been slapping paint on my birthday dress.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | painting party

This beauty from Mood Fabrics has been driving me wild for about two months (found in store, one leeeeetle bolt with barely 5 yards on it. Although I left 3 yards behind, I think it lasted 5 minutes). The colors!! The texture!!! THE GINORMOUS REPEATING WHITE ROSE THAT WREAKS HAVOC ON PRINT PLACEMENT! 

Here is the offending bud, before. The dress had been hanging out on my Wolfie at a dinner party, and all ladies present agreed that the watermelon sized ghost flower in the middle of the skirt had to go. I pinned a little plastic baggie underneath the fabric, directly on the form, and put a base of Jacquard textile paint on...

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | painting party

Then got to stippling with my beloved Zig markers.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | painting party

Occasionally I'd goof, shrug my shoulders, and throw some more color over the goofs. This dress is made to party, yo. There's no stress in partying! And with a fabric like this, there were plenty of colors that could join in and correct any party fouls.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | painting party

I heat set the colors with a silk organza pressing cloth on top, and cotton muslin underneath, to be sure none of the color came away during pressing. No one left the shindig!

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | painting party

She's painted in several places, actually-- here, there's some oona artwork in the left side of the shot, bust cup and below the waist. That bust cup was the first guest at this painting party.

I love fabric! I love knowing more about the world of beautiful yardage, and how to treat to properly, but man, I still love to beat it up. 

Are you a rough mistress, or a cautious lover? 


a poly party anna

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna

 Hey Oona, what's up with the Steven Tyler impression?

A. I'm wailing Happy Birthday to Elle of Laura Loves Pugs

B. I'm trying to get the camera to focus on my face

Answer: BOTH!

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna

Summer Birthdays! The best! (I might be biased.) At this very moment, there's a birthday celebration going on for Elle, a virtual party conjured up as a solution to the problem of three friends living miles apart. Elle met Ute (she of the most beautiful instagram shots ever) and Pips (she of sixteen Annas!!) via instagram, and it was Elle's wish that they celebrate her birthday together on the platform they met upon. It was also her wish that all party guests wear an Anna, of By Hand London fame

One must always obey birthday girl wishes. The birthday girl is much like a bride in that respect (yes, I take it that seriously. Weep for Ruggy). And yet! And yet! My gold metallic linen Anna, embarked upon for this very shindig... she sits in pieces still! Egads! Tardy to the party! THE DEVIL YOU SAY! I will not stand for it!  Luckily, I have myriad unblogged Annas in my closet and can dress appropriately! PARTY FOUL AVERTED!

This particular Anna was stitched last September, but has remained un-snapped for various reasons...

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna

Hey Oona, whatcha smirkin' at?

A. My self inflicted uber high waistline

b. Ruggy's idea of a close up shot

Answer: BOTH!

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna

Although I can say this floral frock was made well, she wasn't made wise. When I traced the pattern for a V neck version, I went a little too nutso on a short waist adjustment... the waistline sits right on my natural waist, not the sweet spot I've come to love of about 5/8ths below. Therefore, belt.

And let's talk about the hemline. A gathered rectangle with a romantic touch was what I wanted, but not so much what I got. You might not be able to spy it in the shots (see; question #2, answer B) but...

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna


oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna


Actually, looking at these shots, there's all kinds of wonk going on in that there hemline. I didn't consider the dip in the back at the bodice, or where the scallops would meet at side seam...really, I need to amputate and get in there with a level. Good god, woman.

Also, gathered waist, not so much my favorite on me. But I'm so attached to those scallops, I don't know what the fix is! Anyone?? 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna

Hey Oona, why the side eye?

A. Oh, just wondering if the photographer is shooting me straight-on... like I asked him to

B. Oh, just listening to the photographer barking some nonsense about these shots being "BORING AS HELL"

Answer: MOST DEFINITELY BOTH. Byproduct; permission granted for artsy shot...

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna

Okey dokey Ruggy.

(Actually that is pretty cool how he incorporated the wave of the hem into the wave of the wall. Mad props, Rugster. Thanks for finishing the bathroom.)

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | by hand london anna

Hey Oona, whatcha lookin at?


No, no, let me calm down, that's another twenty days away. Not that I'm keeping count or yelling about it on the hour or anything. Luckily for Ruggy I'll be distracted for a few days by all of Elle's party guests over on Instagram! Annas are about to blow up your feed, yo! Search #internationalannaparty, and if you're really feeling it, don an Anna and get in there. There's even party prizes to be had! (I'm taking my hat out of the ring for a prize, having both an embarrassment of hemline and riches going on at the moment.) The party officially starts at 6pm BST, which google tells me is 1pm EST. Thanks google, you rock.

Happy birthday Elle! And might I add, an equally stupendous birthday holler to Megalicious the Grand! I hope you're both eating cake and swathed in the yardage of your dreams! 


sui-za sui-za

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | anna sui mood fabrics | linen maxi skirt

Sometimes I daydream: I'm designing an outfit for Pretty Grievances' Wearable Wednesdays. Have you read her roundups? They're amazing, I cackle at the witty repartee as much as I covet each insane design. In fact, the wacky looks often send me running to my sewing machine.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | anna sui mood fabrics | linen maxi skirt

In this daydream, it's Oonaballoona Does Sui. SO MUCH SUI IN MY LEEETLE STASH! I had such great plans to go full on Wearable Wednesday with this yardage... I'd intended to make a matching crop tank top with the one flower I had left, but ran out of steam on the silk bias binding. 

I might still get around to it.... oooooh maybe if I do some witty gal out there will make my daydream come true! COMPLETE WITH COLORFUL AND/OR OFF-COLOR REMARKS! HUGE NUDGES AND WINKS AND OFFERS OF BRIBERY IN THE FORM OF LIBATIONS!!!

Of course, that would also require that I finish and/or begin ALL of the current Sui projects I have in mind.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | anna sui mood fabrics | linen maxi skirt

By the way, are you shocked to see me in blue? With a black tank top, no less?! Me too. A warm toned gal, I am I am, so obviously the wall needed to bend to my fiery will.

This blue bolt of luscious linen positively leapt out from the shelf at Mood NY and punched me in the heartstrings. Of course, an inspection of the selvedge revealed The Sui. Over at MSN, LalaSews suggested that Anna Sui might be my spirit animal.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | anna sui mood fabrics | linen maxi skirt


If memory serves, I grabbed 2 yards, and immediately kicked myself when I got home and got to thinking. I wanted a maxi skirt to make the most of the print, but didn’t consider all those lovely shapes and lines and buds– I had just enough for a skirt, but not enough to cut side seams and leave the print undisturbed.

That is, not enough to cut proper side seams…

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | anna sui mood fabrics | linen maxi skirt

Where are my side seams anyway?! Those white chevron-y arcs descending from my waist have a pleat in the center, where the side seam would normally fall. After pleating the skirt on my dress form, I cut right down mid-booty to create my front panel. So instead of side seams, I have mid-booty seams! There are two of them, one for each cheek.

(I suppose you could also call them princess seams, but let’s face it. I am no princess.)

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | anna sui mood fabrics | linen maxi skirt

I cut those mid-booty seams, then used the remaining fabric to make up the center back panels. Three seams in all, and two slits up to the backs of my knees– the skirt doesn’t have a large sweep, and I’ve learned the hard way that walking ease is actually important.

Eating ease could have been considered as well. That exposed zipper does indeed close, but not after delicious pizza. Them’s the breaks.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | anna sui mood fabrics | linen maxi skirt

Pizza and Anna Sui tho. Zipper fail. Life WIN.

this was made possible with my fabric "allowance" as part of the mood sewing network...enabling my sui obsession since 2012! yowza!!


what shaped your style?

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | alice & olivia storefront

I was weirdly drawn to these black and white prints on offer at Alice and Olivia, in a way that made a little voice inside me pipe up and scream: You like THAT? There isn't even any color in that! NooooOOOOOOoooo! Let's go find some crazy prints! CRA-ZEE PRINTS! CRA-ZEE PRINTS! CRA-ZEE PRINTS!

That voice belongs to a kid. When that kid sees black and white, that kid sees RED. That kid used to sit on a swingset on a cloudy day, decked out in a colorful print, and root with all her heart for the white clouds to win out over the black. Like any kid would. But she wasn't rooting against gray clouds, or the less common grey clouds, or rainy clouds, or dark, or swollen, or what have you. It was Black clouds. Battling White clouds.

That swingset was located in the backyard of my grandmother's house, the site of a handful of family gatherings, full of cousins, aunts and uncles of multiple and mixed races... none of which seemed to care for my nuclear family's special blend of color, all of which had no problem frankly expressing it. Now, there wasn't much White going on anywhere in that house, unless you counted Italian (us) and Irish (us and them, oddly enough), but it was the sort of setting where if you weren't Black enough, well, you weren't.

So after the obligatory greetings and salutations, I'd go out to the backyard and sit on the swingset, where there always seemed to be a mix of clouds fighting sunshine. And I would commence rooting. The kid wanted a sunny day, but any amateur shrink would agree: there was some symbolism going on there. Though it wasn't really about White versus Black--my parents (whom I am thankful to have been raised by every day) put a heavy dose of colorblindness into my edjumacation. The cloud fight wasn't about race, it was about "my family's label of me" versus "my family's label of themselves." A label of Black that did not include us, technically or no. I'm not ragging on my extended family, it was complicated...hell, my grandmother had to hide parts of her mix just to be legally married to my grandfather. Talk about real life struggle. She was lighter skinned than me, and up until my 20s we assumed she was Black, because that was the party line. With a history like that, I can't fault my extended family for their views. In fact I kind of thank them.

As kid morphed to teen, I'd still visit the swingset, because come on, IT'S A SWINGSET, but I also began to carefully choose my outfit for these family gatherings. It had to have a certain amount of shock value to make the grade. Vibrant clashing colors, lace, jewel toned paint on my cheek. I figured if they were going to judge my skin, I might as well adorn it appropriately. Give them some color atop my offending color.

I'd rock just about every color in the world to that house. But it hit me yesterday...damned if I still can't rock a little black dress! YES. THAT IS HOW I'M BRINGING THIS STORY BACK TO SEWING. For example: my BHL Georgia fringed jam, which I adore, has not been worn out (save for those very frigid, very wide, blog photos). Perhaps I should prescribe a little color therapy for myself and take it out for an Actual Life Event (and some better photographic evidence).

I realize that my disdain for somber hues on my own frame is not really about family racial relations. But I find it interesting to think about race as a factor in shaping my love for color.

What shaped your style? 


in your backyard...

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | in your backyard

Summersummersummer. It's flying by and stuck in slowmo at the same time. A rollercoaster knocking me for a wonderful loop. But it's knocked me straight out of the loop on hollering at your joints. Y'all stopped by and said such loverly things about my wackadoo bird dress (that I haven't had time to respond to...yet), and nary a peep from me in your neck of the woods. I'm visiting, to be sure, but instead of coming in for coffee, I'm lurking quietly outside your window and eyeing the path to your closets. Bookmarking your goods so that I can return at a later date and properly compliment you, presumably when I am coherent.... then silently creeping around your house some more. I MEAN. I have over 50 pages bookmarked for these "later visits"! I've had things bookmarked for a return trip since APRIL!!



No, I plan to get a handle on things (ish) and visit properly. In my best frock. Bearing gifts of libations. I will probably speak in all caps though. It's hard not to speak in all caps when beautiful handmade garments are the subject of conversation. Which I hope you are off to engage in, over at these lovely joints!


put a bird on it and call it SUMMER.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics

Ruggy's back behind the lens, y'all, and wonder of wonders...he covets this insane fabric for himself! I AM FINALLY RUBBING OFF ON HIM!

How glorious is this print?! Everyone, but EVERYONE, at Mood Fabrics thought I'd already snagged this fabric. Maybe the NY staff is creeping into my dreams, because before I stumbled upon this linen rayon blend on the magical top floor, that's where it existed.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics

I snatched three yards from the delicious Kway, who did a burn test for me on the spot. (I mean…peeps, if your eyes ever need an afternoon pick me up, run on up to the top floor and have Kway do a burn test. You're welcome.) 

He posited that he'd already cut this print for me weeks ago, which led to our usual highly enjoyable banter ("What time of the day was it? Is it possible I'd had a cocktail at lunch?"). On the way down the stairs, three Mood peeps said they were "glad I was getting more of it." Diane greeted me at the counter, wonderful Diane, who loves fabric as much as we do, and she too was certain she'd previously bagged this for me.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics

Do I have a twin out there? Surely I would remember stomping home with this stuff! It has the most incredible silky hand, but not watery silky, more like windswept hay silky, know what I mean? No? When they invent the app for tactile screens, I'll update the post. Surely, in a world where this fabric can exist, that app is not too far off.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics

The birds, however. THE BIRDS. The birds were positively Hitchcockian in their efforts to wound me. Kway jokingly deemed them Vultures Of Death, and THERE MIGHT HAVE BEEN TRUTH IN THAT JEST. The fabric repeat made the pleated draped skirt a lesson in insanity. I actually painted a few of those yellow beaked parrots black down center front, under the box pleat, so that the wind wouldn't reveal a glitch in the matrix.

In the end I finally gave myself a pass on the repeat-- for some reason, summer sewing feels more enjoyable, less need for perfection, maybe? 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics

However, I went nutso on making perfect piping. Can you spy it round the cups & front waistband? My first crack at making it myself with actual cotton cording, and not whatever crazy neon round elastic I've got on hand. The proper material is more mushy. Fun and slightly dangerous. Self-made piping: Let's sew through a finger together! 

No, let's don't.

I used the reverse of the fabric for the piping, so it's barely noticeable, but I love what it does to the bodice, which is fully lined with fashion fabric-- thankfully so, since it gave me multiple cracks at which feathered breasts would rest on my own.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics

Some pattern info: I used Burdastyle's Danielle dress, bodice portion only, as a starting point, hacking the pattern until I had what I wanted, then draped the skirt on my dress form. Then, when I went a little too close for comfort on the fit, I abandoned the invisible zip and installed an exposed gold big toothed zipper. 

It's like I've got a mac daddy pimp on my back.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics

Speaking of mac daddy pimps, photographeur Ruggy got some good close ups, no? Truthfully, this wide angle shot is where he spent most of his time. RUGGY, I pleaded, YOU DO ACTUALLY NEED TO GET THE DRESS.

This is an often repeated cry, usually answered with a grunt and maybe a don't bother me I'm composing a shot. This time he let me in on his madness: But you're going to love this, you can tag the wall with OONA ROCKS.


oonaballoona | a sewing blog | linen rayon summer maxi dress | mood fabrics


How bout y'all? Do you loosen up the rules for summer stitching? Letting a bit of perfection go seems easier in the warmer months: relaxation is the rule...

this bird brained frock was made using my monthly fabric "allowance" as part of the mood sewing network.