Sew Colette - Guest post from Oona Balloona


I'm kind of weird in that when I am reading it can take a lot for me to crack a smile, let alone laugh, when something is funny. That being said, it means something when I say that Oona is HILARIOUS! I love reading her blog for the following reasons: she has incredible style and an eye for prints, she is a skilled seamstress, her stories crack me up (see: Oona in the sky with deadbeats), and I know she wouldn't judge me for drinking alcohol as I type this :) How cool is it that this funny and talented lady is willing to do a write up on her sewing experience with the Taffy blouse? SO cool! Thanks, Oona!

i was so glad when sarah and erin asked me to share my experience with the taffy blouse, since i never really posted about the making of it in the first place! (true to form, i paired a Jazz Concert with a Me-Made, and the perplexing tether that connects events in my brain called it A Blog Post.)

so!  le blouse du taffy.  i scored this gorgeous material during our big new york meetup last fall.  i swear, every piece of material bought that day was anointed in holy sewist water.  (where would one get that?  possibly from the first ever steam iron?  its vessel is always mysteriously full; it resides in a secret room in the labyrinth under chanel.)   during those glorious sunny hours, i played co-host, and sternly told myself: no fabrics.  i would be too busy co-hosting.   ten minutes into our first stop, i had four bolts out.  total haul: around twenty pounds of fabric, and not one piece has failed me.  

that said, i have no idea what most of the fabric from that haul IS.  i've pored over sarah and erin's posts on taffy fabric choices, hoping to recognize mine, but really... no idea.  perhaps one of you might sleuth this material? if i had a scrap in my possession, i'd do a burn test, but the silvery remnants are in new york, and the blouse itself was left languishing there as well, in favor of a californian summer palette.  i do remember the fabric having little to no stretch, with a lovely burnout pattern.  i think you call this burnout... again, i'm no expert on fabric.  is there such a thing as burn in?

after tracing off my size, i began my usual pattern adjustments.  first and foremost: raising the waist.  this time i took it up a good two inches.  this affected that fascinating bust dart that juts out of the pattern piece like italy's boot.  so, i closed up the dart, folded it down just as i would have if i were using fabric, and added a bit more paper to the edges to make the side seam behave as it should.  now.  speaking of boob darts.  being a smaller cupped gal, i've had issues with colette patterns, sized for the C cupped woman.  lotsa gaping going on for this this wee B.  to solve this problem i just traced the smallest dart, the size zero, so the apex would be as high as possible.   questionable pattern alteration?  yes indeedy.  but let's face it, if i'm not making a muslin, knowing i have to adjust for high waist / small bust / square linebacker shoulders / erect back, do you really think i'll be rotating any darts? no, i get way too excited about the glorious material in front of me to do it right. 

and, there's something equally exciting about having to make it work when it goes wrong.  HOW WILL I EVER FIX THIS ONE, i'll often think, geekily knowing inside i will indeed fix it and then have the right to feel Incredibly Smarmy About It.  it's flawed logic, i know.  shhhhhh.

still, i try to be smart about this half baked way of thinking.  i always use a basting stitch and fit as i go.  here's my path: sew bodice darts, hold it up to mirror.  check.  baste side seams, pin shoulders and try again.  check.  only, this method doesn't work with sleeved garments.  OOPS.  i shrugged my square shoulders and serged everything together.

lo and behold, when i threw it on, the neck was so wide it was a bad attempt at a flashdance costume.   if the Costumer had put jennifer beals in a top that fell off the shoulder TO HER ANKLES.  not exactly the colette asthetic.   really, a fail.  

a fail?!  a chance to make it work!  HUZZAH!  i pinched the fabric, looking for where it wanted to go... it wanted darts at the front and back necklines.  so i gave it what it wanted.  i'm benevolent like that.  and instant karma for my generosity:  i LOVED the weird extra darts!  in my head, they play with the sheer fabric quite well.

mission accomplished, i moved on to the raw edges of the neck, arm, and hem.  self made bias tape wasn't going to happen with my wee bit of yardage, and anyways at the time, i was all PHOOEY ON SELF MADE BIAS.  Future California Oona was most certainly laughing and shaking her head at Past New York Oona's ignorance.  yes, Future Oona giggled mightily poolside, drink in hand, extra sharp needle in the other, stitching her fifth garment finished off with self made bias tape, you just wait.   Present Oona has indeed wised up, i'm addicted to the stuff now, and i adore sarai's method of attaching it front to back.  i like to blindstitch the backside of it, while sipping a cocktail.  no, truly, i do.  all Oonas are in total agreement on this point.

but for this go, Past Oona was all uppity.  i dug into my drawer of trim and found this wee floral crocheted stuff.  i serged the neck, sleeve and hem edges in one circular swoop (they had been raw and handled carefully to prevent fraying the whole time--i don't like to overlock each pattern piece before sewing when using dainty stuff like this, i find it much harder to get a clean finish on circular edges when they've already got threads in them), then pinned this trim on the neck and straight stitched it right down the middle.  i left the hem and sleeve edges serged, thinking too much of these little flowers would be... too much.

i'm constantly playing hide the ties with anything wrap-like in my closet, so i decided to omit them.  i prefer a belted look-- belts are like candy to me, and i have a knack for finding dollar waist goodies in every color.  

i was so happy with this top, i wore it immediately.  that's unusual for me.  when i make something because i want to wear it IMMEDIATELY (like in 4 hours from when i start the garment) i usually end up wearing something else while the garment gets a cooling off period in the closet.   its probationary sentence is used to coax myself into forgetting any shooting-myself-in-the-foot activity that might've occurred.  but even with my refusal to do things the proper way, the pattern was impossible to mess up TOO much.  so, to a holiday celebration it went, that very night.

so that's my oonafied version of sarai's indestructible taffy.  actually, as i wrote this post, i was alarmed to recall my path.  i realized i've been getting more and more thoughtful in my sewing.  it would seem California Oona has learned a few tricks, a little patience, a few new cocktails... come on over and see me sometime if you'd like proof. 
thanks erin and sarah for having me... i'm excited to see ALL of your perfect taffys, you colette challengers, i'm positive there will be much teeth gnashing in kalkatroona!  


  1. I have numerous sewing personalities too! And I am so impressed by Oona's method and how it leads to such perfect results. It's kooky but it works! (Mine is just as kooky but less fun, somehow.)

  2. miss creepy, i would judge you if you WEREN'T drinking and typing!!! :)

    thanks megalicious & k line (do you ever think you have a rapper name? it could totally be one of your personalities.)

  3. Hooray! So fun to hear more about your process!

  4. Love this pretty Taffy - and love that you broke all the rules while making it as well... now I don't feel so bad that I'm not the only one! heheh....