Thursday, May 30, 2013

Going Graphic w/ a Coat DIY

As per my earlier Instagram, though summer is quickly approaching, all I can think about lately are sewing coats.  Cubicle land is chilly and I figured this jacket would be a nice alternative to my typical blazer / cardigan options.  I also wanted something frivolous and fun - something I wouldn't necessarily want to pay for - but have always wanted to have.

Fabric: Joann's, 2 yards, home decor, 45", 100% cotton

Pattern: Butterick 5500 (actually a shirt dress pattern that I'm using as a coat), narrowed frame (using this method) and sleeves, also shortened sleeves to 3/4 length

Difficulty: Intermediate

Time: 2 days, maybe ~5-6 hours total?

Graphic Coat DIY

This coat was made to be worn closed, but I feel like the print looks too overwhelming like that.  In general, I felt like the coat came out decently.  My biggest complaint is the back.  See that poof above my rear?  Eyesore.  I need to find a way to mitigate it or else try a different pattern next time.

My next coat (inspired by Jean's Emerson Fry coat) will be made from this fun leopard print

Also on deck will be a striped coat of some sort.  I'm enjoying the freedom of frivolity in sewing :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

7th Wedding Anniversary & SF City Exploration

My husband and I have a tendency to forget our anniversary every year until the day is actually upon us.  This year, we remembered a few days in advance (we are such romantics) and decided to explore San Francisco more sans children.

7 Years Ago

We spent the day hiking, sightseeing, and of course, eating:

 Sutro Baths & Lands End Trail 

 Palace of Fine Arts

Hong Kong Breakfast
Giant Bubble Teas (3, because we tend to overindulge)
Sashimi and Sushi

Via Yelp, we discovered Silvanas, a frozen Filipino cookie reminiscent to a macaron.  They are heavenly!  Only $12 for 14.

Flavors included Original Buttercream, Strawberry, Ube (a type of yam), Mango, Pandan, Mocha, and Chocolate

Mango, strawberry, and original were my favorites.

To everyone in the US, I hope you're having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  Endless admiration and gratitude to those who serve our country past and present.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

J. Crew Inspired Skirt DIY Tutorial

Inspired by J. Crew's Box Pleated Crepe Skirt from this post, I decided to make something similar with a longer length.

Fabric: Joann's, bottomweight, polyester, 1 yard

Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate

Time: 1.5-2 hrs


Interested in making one?  Here are the steps:

What You Need:

  • 1 yard of fabric
  • Interfacing optional
First, cut your waistband and 2 skirt panels:







Click here for how I insert an invisible zipper.

See here or here for great tutorials around the web. 

I know this might look a little daunting, but it honestly is not that bad when you actually do it!  

Want more tutorials?  Check out Jean's scalloped hem tutorial (with animated steps!) and her elastic waistband skirt tutorial.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Asymmetrical Leopard Maxi Dress DIY

I used to be animal-print-phobic and now I've made a full length dress out of it.  It's funny how tastes can change.

As mentioned in a previous post, I love maxi dresses for their comfort, but have a hard time finding a modest one.  Many have a tendency to be strapless or spaghetti-strapped so I added cap sleeves and raised the neckline to make this maxi more covered up.  I also aligned the darker ombre edges to my sides to create a visually slimming effect.

Asymmetrical Leopard Maxi Dress DIY

Asymmetrical Neckline

Fabric: Polyester (feels nice and silky) from Joann's, 2 yards

Time / Difficulty: 2 days, had issues with puckered seams (shakes fist), would be easy with a straightforward fabric like cotton.  This one was pretty, but aggravating.

Pattern: Butterick B5317 bodice and sleeves (slimmed bodice, modified neckline, added waistband), self-drafted skirt

With the leftover fabric, I made a little mini skirt for E :)

Do certain trends ever win you over after a period of time?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hong Kong Eats: Other Asian Cuisines

By virtue of having a big city atmosphere as well as its general proximity to other Asian nations, we decided to explore non-local cuisines while we were in Hong Kong as well.  See local / traditional eats post here.

First up, Malaysian cuisine at Hainan Shaoye:

They offered 2 varieties of crab - chili or peppercorn.  I meant to order chili, but ordered peppercorn by mistake.  I'm glad I did!  The sauce was incredibly flavorful without being too spicy and the sweet, tender crab soaked up the sauce wonderfully.  If you go, the crab needs to be ordered at least a day in advance.

When you see a drink named "Godzilla", how could you not order it?  The Milo was chocolate malt and Horlick was malted milk.  I think technically there was supposed to be a scoop of ice cream in there to make it "Godzilla".  Ours were topped with whipped cream only, so it should have been called "Dinosaur".  Such cool names!

Aside from the crab, I would also highly recommend the Black Truffle Egg Tofu.  Delightfully earthy flavors and super silky tofu with a crisp exterior.

Though we couldn't go to the original Din Tai Fung (pls excuse the misspelling below) in Taiwan, I was delighted they had a branch in HK.  I've been to the one in LA too, but HK had a much larger menu.

I need to find some Drunken Chicken in SF!

We had previously tried a Japanese all you can eat (AYCE) place in Toronto, but was unimpressed with both the offerings and slow service.  Despite that, Mom is a huge fan of buffets because she always feels she can get a good value.  I think she can as an individual, but we don't as a family since MIL is vegetarian and both kids were charged (USD $20 each child - this is ridiculous for a 1-year old, $30 each adult).  For the cost, we should have just gone to Kanizen (Japanese Crab restaurant) twice.

As with the AYCE in Toronto, service is slow (I'm assuming this is deliberate), but the ordering seems more efficient with massive stacks of ordering slips color coded by type of food and your table number.  The food was actually pretty good and they had a large range of options.  My favorite, by far, was the grilled sushi.  Net, if you are non-vegetarian adults, you can probably get your money's worth.  


Sushi Hiro was highly lauded online, but aside from the chirashi, I felt like it was meh.  Half of the nigiri tasted very fishy and some of the fish was also unintentionally chewy.  It made me question the freshness of the fish and the knife skills of the chef.  If you go, go for the chirashi.  Instead of lightly vinegared white rice, they added what tasted like a a generous dose of savory vinegar flavor and it married beautifully with the fish.


I love food window displays.  And they are even better when the restaurant happens to be closed at the time because then I can stare longingly at it without employees thinking I'm nuts.  At Toi Hokkaido, they serve pizza where the crust is composed of pan-seared(?) pressed rice.  I was fascinated and made my family go later that day.

The stars of the night were the Crab pasta - perfectly cooked crab, noodles infused with plenty of crab flavor, and generous amounts of roe sprinkled throughout, and Litchi Soda.  The pizza was interesting and I'm glad I got to try it, but I had envisioned a very crisp rice crust and there were some mushy areas.  

All in all, I would say about 90% of the food I had in HK was phenomenal and I can wait to go back again!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Eats & My Favorite Kiddo Moments

I meant to post this ON Mother's Day and wish everyone a happy holiday, but didn't get a chance to finish.  So I hope every mother had a wonderful day and every kid found a way to share their love with the mother figures in their lives.

Mother's Day will always have a special place in my heart because my son (and firstborn) was born on Mother's Day 2009.  I remember lamenting (I lamented A LOT when pregnant, I was one cranky preggo lady) in early May that since our son was due 5/28, I'd have to wait a whole year to actually be a mother on Mother's Day.  Well, my son had a special surprise for us.  My water broke at 7 am and at 3pm, he had arrived and I got to be a bonafide Mommy :)

My Mother's Day gifts: my babies (the BEST gift) and some lovely preschool artwork that I will proudly hang in my cube:

Top: Artwork and kiddos playing with water balloons & sidewalk chalk (why they're both looking down)
Bottom: "Flowers" from V and sibling love

We ate a dim sum breakfast, Korean lunch, and a masterfully prepared dinner by my Mother (this lady floors me everyday with how amazing she is.  We are SO LUCKY to have her living with us!):

Top: Lo Mai Gai, Surf & Turf dinner cooked with love by my mother (rib eye, crab stuffed clam, lobster tail)
Middle: Siu Mai, Lobster Congee
Bottom: A gigantic Bibimbap wrap and Bibimbap bowl

I am so blessed to be a mother.  These 2 little beings are our everything <3

My favorite kiddo moments this year:
Upon talking about cowboys and cowgirls, V declares that I am neither.  I am "Cowmommy"

When he wants a hug, he says "I want to love you Mommy" and opens his arms wide

V asked for the remote and I asked him, "What do you say when you want something?"  Baby E jumps up and said, "Please!" (sounded more like PEAS), but we all cracked up.  We had no idea that she had learned that from watching us interact with V.

Related to the above, E also learned "cheese" at the same time.  Whenever I want to take a picture of her, I tell her to go over there and say "cheese".  She gets quite a kick out of it and is turning into quite a ham with the camera.

Whenever we watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (which is ALL the time), Mickey asks, "Would you like to come inside my clubhouse?"  To which E always responds with a emphatic "NO."  That's right, E, avoid those strangers!!

I hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

DIY Projects in Progress

My creative side is a little scatterbrained and prone to flights of fancy.  It flits from project to project, sometimes finishing something, but more often going off to start something new.  At the moment, I am working on 4 skirts, 1 dress, 1 top, and a pair of pants.  It's a good thing I also have a rational side, otherwise I'd never be employable!

2 projects in progress - a leopard maxi and a peplum brocade top

I adore the ease and comfort of a maxi, but really wanted something with more coverage as many maxi dresses tend to be strapless or spaghetti-strapped.  I decided to add short sleeves, but as I pondered the dress on the far left, it seemed to skew on the side of being dowdy / old-fashioned.  To modernize it a little, I did a little snipping and gave the collar an angular, asymmetrical look.  It's a small change and it probably still doesn't exactly look youthful, but I like it much better.

My second project is a peplum brocade top.  Inspired by this Vera Wang dress, I fell in love with the notion of beading brocade.  It seems like such a deliciously luxurious idea.  I just recently finished putting the top together so I still need to lay out the bead design and then bead by hand.  

How do you tackle your projects? Do you finish one before starting another or do you start multiple ones as the mood strikes?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sweet Bow Dress DIY

A couple of weeks ago, I started on this dress with Baby E (instagram pic here) and decided to modify my go-to dress pattern with a contrast waist and a detachable bow.  I considered sewing the bow on, but was a little afraid of how that would fare in the washer.  At the moment, it's attached with a sewn-on pin backing, but depending on the angle, sometimes you can see the pin :/  I'm trying to figure out the best way to fix this.

Pattern:  My favorite bodice pattern McCall's M5972 (adjusted width this way, shortened torso to add the contrasting waist band), self-drafted skirt / bow

Fabric:  Joann's, 100% cotton, 45" home decor fabric, 1.5 yards (this was originally slated for a skirt, but I thankfully had just enough to squeak by with this dress)

Time:  2.5 hrs (over a few days)

Difficulty:  Intermediate

Bright Dress DIY w/ Removable Bow

I really, really love this shape and have made at least 5 of these types of dresses over the last year.  As a short gal with a rectangular torso and a leftover tummy pouch (thanks kids!), the nipped waist and pleated skirt helps mask areas that make me self-conscious.  It's also a relatively easy type of dress to sew!


If you have any bow attachment solution ideas, I'd love to hear them!  Thanks in advance and hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

J. Crew Inspired Jewel Collar DIY Mini Tutorial

How could I look at this J. Crew sweater (here) and not fall head over heels in love?  A DIY version is actually very easy!

Difficulty: Very Easy, no sewing necessary
Time: 5 min for existing items, 10 min to make your own
Materials: Collared shirt and earrings / pins / brooches

I bought some pretty earring multi-packs at F21 and poked them right through a regular collared shirt.  I love reversible DIYs:


Alternatively, you can make your own earrings / pins by gluing the appropriate backs to ornate beads or buttons:
Since my beads were so large, I opted to do only 2 right at the collar tips.

Easy right?  :)

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