Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mixed Leopard Scarf DIY & Mini Tutorial

I saw this soft cotton material at Fabrics R Us in San Jose and fell in love with the mix of patterns and colors.  If you sew and live in the area, I highly recommend FRU - their selection is massive and the prices are fantastic.

I've been on a bit of a scarf kick lately and this is a fast / easy project - great for any beginner sew-ers!

Project Difficulty: Easy
Time: ~20 min

Mixed Leopard Scarf DIY

What You Need:
  • 2 yards of a lightweight fabric - cottons or chiffons work well.  It's best to look for a fabric whose front and back are either the same or look very similar.  You can make 2-3 scarves out of this material depending on how wide you'd like it.  

What I did: 
  • Since my fabric was thin and drape-y, I decided to cut it as a wide rectangle (28 x 72") in order to get a little volume.
  • For those with sergers, you can just run it through your machine using either rolled or narrow hemming features (I used narrow for this scarf).  For those with a regular sewing machine, I've heard that you can buy a narrow hemming foot to finish the edges.

Serger Instructions for Rolled Hemming and Narrow Hemming 
(either can be used for a scarf)
  • And that's it!  You basically just cut a rectangle (or square if you prefer) and sew along the edges to prevent it from fraying.

Adds a little interest to an otherwise normal ensemble

Speaking of scarves, there's a few days left before my scarf giveaway is over!
Easiest giveaway ever - just click and enter a comment - that's it!

To all those who have entered and offered feedback, thank you so much!  You've given me many great ideas for future posts!  Special thanks to Rosie H. for the idea to add a difficulty scale to projects and Ronke / Cdang / Hongru for suggesting a mini tutorial on making scarves. :)

Stay tuned for more suggestions-turned-posts including one on fabric selection and figuring out which fabrics work best for which projects!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kate Spade Carolyn Inspired Dress DIY

I first saw this dress on Blair of Atlantic Pacific and pinned it as a future project.  When I saw P of Phiphi's blog wear it, I knew it had to be my very next DIY :)  I just couldn't help myself, it looks so gorgeous on these ladies and this really satisfies my stripe obsession.

Fabric: Fabrics R Us in San Jose, 2 yards of ~55" satin

Pattern: Bodice via McCall M5972 (modified this way) with a self-drafted skirt

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

Kate Spade Carolyn Inspired Dress DIY
I made the dress a little more "me" with pleats instead of gathers and a narrow navy waistband combined with the narrow white stripe above for some visual interest.  I also matched the stripes the best I could at the sides for continuity. 

Kate Spade Hinge Bangle, Blue
Hermes Clic H, Red (see my shopping research for it here)
Coldwater Creek Chandelier Necklace

The hardest part of making this dress was finding a wide-striped fabric.  You really wouldn't think it would be so hard considering what a classic "print" it is.  But, I finally did in a shiny / satin-y fabric.  I usually avoid shiny fabrics like the plague - they tend to show every little pucker / imperfection.  I figured I'd cross my fingers and hope it wasn't too noticeable.  It mostly behaved, but you can see some little puckers on the waistband.  I'm thankful for warm CA weather because I can wear this dress now :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Banana Republic Fitting Room Reviews

I actually tried these on a few weeks ago when shopping with Ping and Karen, but everything is still available online and probably in stores as well.

Striped Cardigan, Ranger Red, XS, (here)
Stripes?  Check.  Navy & red (my current fave color combo other than navy & green)? Check.  Seems to give the illusion that I'm thinner? Awesome, I'm sold.  Soft and not at all itchy, this cardigan is a great combination of being comfortable while giving a flattering shape (not tight either!).  Bonus is that cardigans have the versatility of wearing buttoned up or open.
Verdict: Bought

Printed Peplum Top, 0, (here)
This top looked super cute and flattering in person (I swear!  Even Ping and Karen gave it the thumbs up), but not so great in the photo.  It seemed to fit great, but the picture shows that it makes my torso look short and wide.  The peplum piece looks a little too long for my frame and my waist isn't nipped in enough to balance it.
Verdict: No

Print Fold Neck Top, 0, (here)
I rather liked this graphic diamond pattern.  The interesting thing about this top is that the zipper separates at the bottom and extends all the way from neck to hem.  This gives you an overall better fit (I feel) because they don't have to make extra slack allowances to pull-over, but it's also a little bit of a pain to fumble around trying to match the zipper together in the back.
Verdict: Cute print and decent fit, will wait for sale or possibly DIY one

Heidi Stripe Tee, XS, (here)
This tee is super soft and I love the color scheme of red and navy, but I felt like it had several fit issues. 1. The v-neck is cut rather wide and low.  2. I'm not a big fan of the dropped sleeve in this particular style because the proportion of it doesn't look quite right.  Just winds up looking like I have webbing connecting my underarms to upper arm.  3. Awkward sleeve length and baggy torso
Verdict: A resounding no.  The overall combination of neck / sleeve / torso makes me look larger than normal and frumpier too.

I still love to shop, but I find that I don't buy as much as I used to.  I think it's because I'd rather spend my money on all the yummy food in SF :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Food: "Hong Kong" in SF

In the midwest, getting Chinese food meant Americanized Chinese of the Chow Mein variety (not knocking it, I grew up on AC fare at my family's restaurant).  In SF, you have the luxury of getting really specific - Hong Kong, Sichuan, Shanghai, Hunan, Shandong, Hakka, etc.  At the moment, Hong Kong-style Cha Chaan Teng eateries are in our heavy dining rotation.  Hong Kong born and a semi-frequent visitor (not as of late though), my family and I used to patronize these tea diners in HK during every visit.  My favorite items were the bevy of drink options (mango, coconut & sago - yum!) and the various baked rice / spaghetti options.  I am thankful that you can find these marvelous restaurants in nearly every corner of the Bay.

SF City:
HK-style breakfast @ Tak Kee Lee
$5.25 gets you 2 meat options, a side, a noodle base, toast, and a drink.

I opted for bacon, satay beef, and a fried egg over ramen plus a cup of their amazing HK milk tea.
The broth was nice and flavorful - not like my bouillon cube concoction at home :)

Trying not to cry over spilt milk (tea) - I savor every drop.

South Bay: Cafe Tam in Cupertino
Crab & Corn Soup
A big creamy bowl of soup enough for 2-3 people.

Baked Cod in Cream Sauce over Spaghetti
My favorite!  Tons of carbs, but oh well.

Hubby's #1 Special Dai Gou Dai
Baked rice with half tomato sauce and half cream sauce layered with a pork chop, chicken wing, and egg.

Complimentary coconut sago dessert
I love this place!  Friendly service, great food, and massive portions.

East Bay:
More Baked Cod over Spaghetti + HK Milk Tea at Koi Palace Express
This is definitely the place to go if you're in the East Bay.  The food is city-quality and burb-convenient  - Koi is more expensive than most though.

Baked Pork Chop over Spaghetti @ Snowflake
This one was quite pretty, but not as tasty as the others.

I heart Yelp and rely heavily upon it, but sometimes the star ratings really throw me off.  I don't know if I'm naive or jaded, but I don't expect good service in most Asian eateries.  I find that many focus on food / efficiency rather than grinning hospitality and they get reamed on Yelp for it.  Case in point, Koi had meh ratings, but the food is very good (and they've always been friendly when we've gone).

Speaking of tea, I also found some goodies this weekend:
Milk Tea & Green Tea Chocolates
Whoops on not orienting this prior to uploading - sorry!

Fresh Milk Tea Cream Puffs @ Beard Papa's

Dark Brick Milk Tea @ Cafe Verde

And finally, the trees are blossoming here: so pretty!

So yeah, I heart SF and I never want to leave!  :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Spike It! Easy Shoe DIY

Instagram folks already saw my spike-y shoe DIY, but I wanted to share a little bit of the process and aftermath on the blog.

Spiked Shoes DIY

What I used:
  • $15 flats from Target
  • ~130 spikes (purchased on eBay for $5 per 100 shipped)
  • E-6000 glue (dries completely clear without any lumpy glue globs)
What I did:
Started on the edge where the shoe met the foot.  Glued first spike right in the center and then spread out to the sides.

Glued subsequent spikes in front of the foundational spikes from the above photo

Briefly considered stopping here, but decided a whole-shoe look would look better

On the first day of wear, I lost 3 spikes all along the edges of my toes (had no idea I accidentally kicked so many things throughout the day).  I wound up just pulling off all the toe edge spikes to even it out.  I liked the look of the edge spikes, but being clumsy just means they will keep falling off.  I was worried that the glue would blemish the shoe, but there is absolutely no residue on it.  Go E6000 for that!

On day 2, only 1 spike fell off.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results!

Helpful tips:
  • Non-permanently marked where I wanted to place my spikes prior to gluing them down.  One shoe has slightly more spaced out spikes than the other and this would have been mitigated by better planning on my part.
  • Wiped my shoes down before gluing.  I'm wondering if any shoe residue would make the glue not stick as well.
Are you a spiked accessory fan?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Prabal Gurung for Target & Amazon Price Matching

I was drawn to the beautiful prints of the Prabal Gurung for Target collection and decided to check out the fit in store (which seems to vary from collection to collection).  I got there around 8:15 am, and though many of the smaller sizes and some in-demand items were gone, they still had plenty of larger sizes in a variety of items.

 Sleeveless Tee in First Date Print, XS, $26.99 (here)
Aside from the Floral Crush Dress, I thought this item had a lot potential when I first saw it.  I love the mirror print and the sheer top portion (similar to the Jason Wu floral top that I bought via kind-hearted Jean).  I thought the fit was pretty good and the price was decent, but the deal-breaker was the super-itchy inner stitching along the edges of the mesh.  I only had this on for a few minutes and was dying to get it off. 
Verdict: No, due to skin irritation

Beware of the itchy stitching and the large-ish armholes.

Dress with Full Skirt, 2, $49.99, (here)
I tried this solid version to gauge how the Floral Crush Dress would have fit me.  The size 2 fit well in the shoulders / ribs, but was a little tight at the bust (for reference is 34") as indicated by the pulling.  The waist is cut very high and is really at my ribs.  My hand is placed at my actual waist to show the difference (~2-3" lower).  A very cute dress in concept (love those black waist insets for a slimming effect!), but it just doesn't work on my body type.
Verdict: No, due to fit issues and would have preferred the floral print

The red version is 100% polyester, has a ribbed texture (like a grosgrain ribbon) and a slight sheen.  The size 4 is about an inch bigger through the torso, but the waist is still too high for me.

Short Sleeve Dress in First Date Print, 4, $39.99, (here)
This dress was adorable on the hanger, but when I put it on, I thought that maybe the print + contrast would have worked better on a fitted sheath dress silhouette than this flirty skirt one.  Size 4 is a little too big as evidenced by the floppy excess fabric in the chest and torso.
Verdict: No, not in my size and not into the silhouette for this look

Sleeveless Blouse in First Date Print, XS, $26.99, (here)
The fit on this one seemed a little billowy for me and the armholes are cut a little low.  The details are cute though!  
Verdict: No, fit is meh on me and it seems a bit "young" for the old mommy in me :P

Amazon Price Matching Experiment
I read on Twitter (I think from Kimmie?) that Target was price-matching and decided to give it a try.  I brought 5 items (2 x Tylenol, Listerine, ant gel, and shampoo) with me to Guest Services  and asked how the Amazon price matching worked.  The associate looked at me and asked, "All of these?"  A little judgmental there, but she was nice otherwise.  The process took a total of 10 minutes (plus 5 minutes of waiting for my turn).  They busted out their iPad (which did not have the Amazon app for scanning and thus had to hand-type each item and then search for the correct size) double-checked with me to make sure the price they showed matched what I had found, and then charged me those prices.  I saved ~$14 which accounted to more than 50% of my bill.

Would I do it again?  I would for large savings, but would probably stick to 2-3 items early in the morning when there isn't a crowd.

Have you tried price-matching?  If so, would you do it again?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Got Pillowcases? DIY a Shift Dress!

I didn't have much luck with the leopard shifts at J. Crew or LOFT, so decided to make my own when I saw this $5 set of pillowcases at Walmart.  Similar fabrics I've seen have been at least double the price and, in the event of an error, I wouldn't be ruining anything expensive.

$5 pillowcases + kicky lilac zipper = DIY Leopard Sheath

I wound up using Simplicity 3833 (link) as my pattern (it's a retro pattern and it fit well in the shoulders / chest / sleeves without any alterations) and modifying the skirt flare to be more straight. I would highly recommend any current / future sew-ers to look at less conventional sources (I love those unconventional challenges on Project Runway!) for fabrics - bedding, drapery, home decor fabrics, etc.  You may find a cute print or a good deal that fits your needs.  For reference, I simply seam-ripped the pillow cuffs, side seam, and top seam to get 2 flat sheets of fabric.  From there, I cut out my pattern pieces as if it were a normal piece of fabric.

Paired with some stripe-y tights & a view of it on the dress form

Random story - my fight or flight instinct doesn't work.  While hiking the foothills (I sure thought those were mountains when we moved here), my husband and I accidentally veered into the path of a not-so-happy bull.  I froze and tried to look inconspicuous.  My husband yelled, "run" and took off (his instinct apparently intact, lol).  The bull wandered off and neither of us got hurt, but it sure did get our hearts pounding!  Not sure if this is something anyone really encounters, but what are you supposed to do in this situation?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Closed - GIVEAWAY: Chain Print Sample Scarf

It's time for another sample giveaway!  I am practicing narrow and rolled hems on my serger these days so am giving away a scarf to one of you lovelies out there.

I've been finding such pretty chain prints lately.  The navy is a chiffon with gold chains that I've also used for a blouse.  The red is a soft and silky poly with chains, pearls, anchors, and gems (I was actually surprised they could put so many items on it!).  Please note that I'm still practicing, so please be forgiving :)

Giveaway Guidelines:
  1. I appreciate every single GFC (click follow on left sidebar) and Bloglovin' follow.  What can I say?  It makes a gal feel good about herself.  BUT you do not have to follow to win.
  2. To enter, simply leave a comment below.
  3. For a bonus entry, leave a separate comment on what you'd like to see on the blog.  Could be a DIY / tutorial project or any feedback you may have.
  4. I will randomly select a winner on March 3rd.  The winner will have 48 hours to contact me to claim the prize (choice of navy or red).  If unclaimed, I will draw another winner.  
  5. This giveaway is open to all readers in the US or international.
Good luck!


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