Hot! Oona Does It!: Oona’s Bird Brain

Oona-peacock  IMG_0571

i was thrilled when miss mena trott, sewist extraordinaire and all around rocking gal, asked me to contribute to the sew weekly.   she wanted a weekly mini "oona challenge", and i was game.  she sent me the inspiration for my first challenge days before my summer vacay, and i flew away without my material.


however, lady katza, a member here at sew weekly and at burdastyle, came to the rescue.  during my vacation, i wrote a cryptic update at burdastyle: a peacock is watching me sew.   lady latza quickly responded: that peacock wants you to use its feathers.


EEK and EGADS were my second and third responses.  my first being gales of laughter.  the peacock in question was a new acquisition of my husband's mom– mama ruggy, as i like to call her.  last week, when we visited her peaceful mountain top retreat, we were awakened at sunrise by the wind in the trees, delicate chimes, and the insane shrieks of a jurassic thing named romeo.  his silent partner, juliet, had about as much love for him as we did.  that bird owed me several hours of sleep.  the least he could do was give up some feathers.

but i really couldn't imagine working them into a garment.  plus, the first morning there, le bird hurled himself at our bedroom window in an attempt to either brain himself or attack me.  so i put it out of my mind… until i realized, this was the definition of an oona challenge.  something i was slightly afraid of… something a bit off… something that might require a drink or two while planning. thus, lady katza's fiendish response was born into the first "oona does it". 

so how'd i do it?  well, as i've said, there was no getting close to romeo.  he'd skittishly pick a blueberry out of my hand, but was out of plucking range a nanosecond later.  mama ruggy and i had to go hunting for stray feathers in the woods.  aw yeah, baby.  my kind of notions shopping.  we didn't find many, as romeo is only a year old and hasn't given up much.  my chardonnay doused schemes of enveloping the neck and waistline of a fifties style cocktail dress in iridescent down quickly changed.  in hindsight, for the better, as my first idea probably would have looked like i had chest hair.  chest hair made of peacock feathers.  star wars canteen, anyone?


instead, i turned eagerly to sarai's new (free!) colette pattern, the sorbetto top.  i've lusted after sew weekly member cathe's versions, and had been waiting for the right moment.  i found this printed rayon remnant at the local hancocks, and thought the eye shape was very fitting.  i wanted a swingy, light summer dress, so i just extended the bottom of the pattern to create an a-line.  i cut a size bigger than i needed, and used the excess width to make a wider center pleat.  next time i think i'd go even further.  (and there will most definitely be a next time… i am now officially on the colette bandwagon. she rocks bigtime.) 

the baby feathers were tucked under the pleat and stitched down, the rest of the pleat left loose.  the trim was chosen by ruggy (i always go to my man on the big decisions).  it's a twine-y sort of material, with yellow braid on either side.  he suggested folding under one strip of the yellow, to make it "more natural and contrast the color of the feathers without overpowering them."


tim gunn, watch out.

and the bird?  he exercised some caution of his own.  as we merrily grilled out on the deck one warm night, the combination of roasting turkey thighs and the increasingly inebriated glare i gave his tailfeathers was too much for his wee brain.  although the dress was "done", i could totally see lining each side of the pleat in feathers all the way down… suddenly, romeo and juliet were running through the dusky woods!  where do you think they're off to?   i innocently queried.

the last night of our trip, photos and dress officially completed, romeo returned.  sans juliet.  you be the judge.

Have a challenge for Oona? Want her to try to turn a really bad situation (pattern, fabric) into something Oonafied? Then send us an email with your request!



oonaballoona, from kalkatroona, first started visiting the sew weekly in 2011. since then she's made new clothes, new friends, and many many new drinks.


Comments are closed.

  1. Oh no! You beat me to it! I was going to turn the sorbetto pattern into a shift dress. Now my day is ruined. :P

  2. girl, you just need to make it a MAXI dress!

  3. OMG! This is AMAZING! I love you Oona and rest assured that David and I will have to sit here over a couple of glasses of wine to think of an amazingly awful (but fun) challenge for you to do!!! waaahhaaahhhaaa (rubbing hands together evilly) :) You ROCK!

  4. Love this dress! The fabric and feathers go so well together! Genius, truly.

  5. Pretty dress and a great story! Sewing is always more fun with an entertaining story!

  6. Oona, that dress looks fantastic on you–nicely done! I’ve been pondering the idea of a sorbetto tunic or dress, now you’ve clinched it for me. thanks for the inspiration, and entertainment!

  7. Go Oona! I loved this twisted Romeo and Juliet tale last week, and I’m digging this dress BIG TIME! Can next week’s challenge involve snakes? Keep these animal adventures coming! Can’t wait to see more!

  8. *cackles with glee* Awesome and well done.
    – Lady Katza

  9. What a fun surprise for my Monday. I love your take on the Sorbetto.

  10. hahaha! I love the new segment :)

  11. After reading all of the peacock sagas on your blog lately, it’s good to see that you were able to make that silly bird do something good for your wardrobe!

  12. It’s so unique, gorgeous and so Onna-fied! Well done babe!

  13. Yay Oona! This is super exciting that you get your own bit here. I can barely handle one piddly blog! Anyways, the dress is fabu of course. You really do need to start a boutique, my dear.

  14. LOL great job on the first challenge. Alas, I am challenged on the challenge front. All I can think of is “what would Oona do with a sari” since I have several I ‘really’ want to use but haven’t yet figured out what I want to do with them :)

  15. Ahhh a new twist on Sorbetto, which I love! Umm good yummy inspiration! Oh how I love the dress and Jack by your side! whoa!

  16. Love that fabric! What a fun post!

  17. hello!! fantastic dress and post Oona you really are a fab and very witty writer and putting both that and your brilliant sewing skills together is a winning combo congrats to you, I look forward to your next post…now what can I challenge Oona to make???? hmm.

  18. I had a similar situation with a huge turkey tom, only he didn’t just wake me up or attack the window; he drew blood on more than one occasion. I still have some light scars from his spurs, even.
    He’s also a very dead turkey now. I hope he was tasty.
    I have a whole stash of his feathers, and they have become everything from fascinators and headdresses (for my halloween costume) to cat toys.
    They tend to be very large, stiff feathers, so working them into an actual dress or something similar has been difficult so far. Maybe that’s a challenge you could take on.
    Your dress is beautiful!

  19. Okay, I’ve been following this whole Peacock saga on your blog, and I have to say, this is the best possible revenge. Peacocks SCREAM. And this dress screams awesome. That’s such a cool way to involve feathers in a garment that doesn’t scream Mummers parade or Ren Faire or auditioning for the cast of Chicago. I love your fearless use of bright colors and patterns, you inspire me. And I love this take on the Sorbetto Top, I swear, that Sarai is a genius. As are you!

  20. DEBI! you two are KILLING me! my only rule for your pow wows is that it must always be discussed over a bottle. or two.

  21. …and a shot of jack.

  22. you’re welcome, and thank you! it is so easy to morph this top into a dress, sarai’s patterns being so brilliant to begin with.

  23. yo fish!
    um, aw yeahz: snakes are on the list.

  24. heeeheeeeeee… and i didn’t even have to use the tranquilizer dart. though i pondered it just before he ran away. i’m telling you, that bird is telepathic.

  25. if i may brattilly say so (and i am practiced at the art of brat): mena made my monday too! i’m so glad you liked it :)

  26. he paid me back, when he returned the last day he wailed ALL NIGHT before our flight.

  27. oh for my boutique on main street… ever since cathe started that thread i’ve been telling everyone i know, i will have one some day….

  28. OH! a sari! i owned several in technicolor hues, years ago before i started to sew… then gave them all away… so much material… i’ll see what i can find!

  29. i had yours in mind, elegant cathe :)

  30. thanks elizabeth! i picked it up on a whim :)

  31. right back at you fab kazz! i’m still laughing over your total ascot post. and i KNOW you and the man will come up with a brilliant challenge.

  32. EEK! scars? and you didn’t even get to taste him? turkey drumsticks are the best!
    i’d be happy to work up a couple of your turkey feathers. i would beat them with my machine as revenge for you.

  33. leah, ren faire: that’s exactly what i was afraid of! i’m so glad you like it. thank you!

  34. Yay! So cute. I must admit I resist the temptation to use feathers in a lot of things, because I know I will destroy them shortly, but they are SOO lovely. And I actually love how understated your peacock usage is. Everyone uses the eyespots—this is much more creative.
    I have also been trying to resist the Sorbetto top for a while. I suspect I will give in soon enough… I love your widened front pleat.

  35. love the dress…perfect for summer! and a fun read too!

  36. ARGH, you’re too adorable and that green fabric is sooooooooo beautiful!

  37. He saw himself in the window. They are highly territorial. I love peacocks, too, like your mother-in-law. I enjoy their calls.

  38. thanks goddess! i love that you noticed which parts of the feathers i used– after our treasure hunt, mama ruggy & i were in the mall and saw about 50 “eye” feathers in a jewelry shop and had a total d’oh moment. but i’m glad i went with the real deal :)
    you cannot resist the power of the sorbetto, my friend…

  39. thank you! i’m ordering some flat sandals on sale & then this baby is going out on the town :)

  40. :))))))) as is YOUR green!

  41. ah, boocat, that is what mama ruggy said… but after i fed him a few blueberries, he never attacked the window again… he is quite the mysterious bird

  42. ah, boocat, that is what mama ruggy said… but after i fed him a few blueberries, he never attacked the window again… he is quite the mysterious bird

  43. Yes! love the dress… I can see it as a maxi, too. And notions-shopping in the woods! You are truly can-do-it–thanks for inspiring those of us who get stuck on details.

  44. this fabric is fabulou and I love the little details you added. The pattern was a great choice – you can’t go with something too intricate for prints like that! The neckline and little peacock feathers are such great details…great job !

  45. Oona! Wow! I have been away from the blogosphere for some time and trying to catch up a little! You have been enormously color genius and brilliant as ever! This dress though so simple I love it! And the story…oh, I can imagine you going through the woods shopping! :P
    P.S.: PIF?! I almost forgot about it! I am so so so looking forward for it! <3

  46. i WISH i got stuck on the details if that’s the secret behind your perfectly tailored garments…

  47. thanks josette! i’m just starting to get the hang of bold print = simple pattern :)

  48. nette! i’ve been playing catch up as well! it’s good to “see” you. every time i picture you now you’re in that fabulous cleaning outfit.