Thursday, July 31, 2014

DIY Ruffled Hem Shirt Tutorial

When I saw Wendy wear this ruffled cami, I fell in love with the romantic cascade of fabric and decided to attempt my own.  I went for a more casual look with a shorter ruffle and stripes for visual interest under solid tops.  You can also certainly wear it on its own.  The concept is simply a peplum top with a dropped waist.  The peplum is also modified into a hi-lo type of hem.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~1.5 hrs


  • 1 yard knit fabric
A peplum is essentially composed of circles.  The outer circle is the peplum ruffle while the inner circle is cut out to fit your torso.

  • Use the Basic Tank Tutorial from above to create your top.  You may need to shorten the length to slightly below your belly button in order for your ruffle to hit where you want it.
  • Measure the hem of your top and divide it by 6.28 (this is essentially 2 * pi) to get your radius and then determine how long you want your peplum to be.
    • My radius was 6".  I wanted the longest part of my peplum to be 9" and the shortest to be 6".
  • Add your radius to your peplum length to get your circle size.  Mine was 15".  Using your measurement, cut out a square (mine was 15x15").
  • Fold your square in half and in half once more.  Using a ruler, measure out your desired radius from your center point (where all the folds connect) and mark with chalk all around until you get the semblance of a quarter circle.  Do the same thing for your peplum length.  Cut out the inner circle and outer circle.
  • If you were making a normal peplum, you'd be finished.  In order to create the hi-lo hem, you'll shorten the peplum length of one side.  To do this, fold your peplum in half once.  Using the same method as above, mark 6", 7",  and 8" to gradually meet back up to your 9" length.  Cut.

  •  You'll wind up with kind of an oblong donut:

  • Connect your peplum to the hem of your tank and then finish your edges.  I folded mine inwards and sewed.
Side view

You're finished!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Reviews: Birkenstock Gizeh & Taos Carousel

It's been a LONG time since I've done a review post, but I've been on the search for comfortable sandals and thought there'd be a chance some of you are as well.  Especially since summer day trips and vacations inevitably involve quite a bit of walking (and sometimes carrying a child here and there)! Online reviews led me to 1.) Birkenstock Gizeh and 2.) Taos Carousel:

Shoe Details: 
Birkenstock Gizeh in Insignia Blue Birko-Flor, Sz 39, $67 from Amazon (we finally signed up for Prime and I've been using it for EVERYTHING)

Materials: Synthetic upper, cork footbed

Aesthetics: The Birko Flor has a leather-like look and the Insignia Blue has a bit of a metallic sheen.  I can't say these are flattering shoes on me, but I do like the blue color.  

Comfort: When I first slipped this on, the comfort while standing was very good.  Mid-foot to heel was well supported by the cork footbed and the upper felt very soft against my foot.  When walking, the toe area with the built-in ridges felt very hard and made walking a little painful.  Knowing that Birkenstocks have quite the break-in period, I'm willing to give it a shot.  If you prefer straight-out-of-the-box-comfort, I wouldn't recommend these shoes.  But from what I've heard, the cork will mold to your feet and become your most comfortable pair of shoes.  Fingers crossed!

Next up, the Taos Carousel:

Shoe Details: 
Taos Carousel in Tawny Red, Sz 39, $90 from Amazon 

Materials: Leather upper, cork footbed

Aesthetics: The Tawny Red has a little bit of a mauve / purple hue to it and the wedge lends a little bit of height / slight leg-lengthening.

Comfort: Both the toe and ankle straps have velcro closures allowing for a high degree of adjustment.  Pretty comfortable right out of the box!  The only con is that my foot seems too wide for this shoe and my arch area falls over the edge of the cork.  I'd definitely keep this if that weren't an issue, but would recommend to comfort-seeking ladies with narrow to medium width feet.  I can see these being worn for long periods of time without getting sore feet.

If you have any comfortable footwear recommendations, I'd love to hear them!  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend :)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pin-spired: Striped Skirt w/ Lace Overlay DIY

Lately, I've been re-perusing my Pinterest inspiration board to get sewing ideas and came across 2 pins (Jean's lace dress and a sheer skirt overlay) that made me want to experiment with lace and stripes.

The result?

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~1.5 hrs

Pattern: See patterning instructions here, but used normal pleats instead of box pleats

  • 1 yard of lace + 1 yard of striped fabric
  • 9" invisible zipper
  • Optional interfacing (more info in this tutorial)
Excited to tackle more Pinterest projects in the future!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Draped Neck Maxi Dress DIY Tutorial

Maxi dresses top my list for summer weather.  I love the comfort / ease associated with them and thought the draped neck might be a good variation from ones I've made in the past.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~1.5 - 2 hours

  • ~2 yards knit fabric (56-60" width)
  • Existing sleeveless shirt that fits you well
Due to the length of the post and amount of photos, please see the rest of tutorial after the jump.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Biking Around the Bay

On any given weekend, this happens:

Sushi from Sushi Tomi in Mountain View
Watermelon Dessert from Dessert Republic in San Mateo
Imitation Shark Fin Soup from Venus Cafe in Cupertino (SO GOOD!)

As a result, both my husband and I (ok, just me.  He's always been active.  What a show-off.) have made an increased effort to exercise regularly.  Our go-to is cycling.  It's such a relaxing way to get moving and see the beauty of the Bay Area.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll spy some of the feral cats

Storks (?) along the trail 

And when we can't bike, we take a 3 mile stroll through the neighborhood.  I personally call it a hike given the long, steep hills (+900 ft per my Nike app), but then I get teased for being a wuss.

Have a great week!  It's almost time for Ramen Fest!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

DIY Gingham Circle Skirt

What seemed like ages ago, I pinned this gingham dress by Oscar de la Renta for a future sewing project and forgot about it.  It wasn't until I saw this pop up on Sarah Vickers' Instagram that I remembered that I already had the gingham fabric on hand.

DIY Gingham Circle Skirt

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~1.5 hrs

  • 1 yard of 56-60" wide fabric (I had 1.5 yds of 45" and I had to carefully piece out the back to match up the gingham squares.  While this is doable, it adds complexity to a project that should be easy)
  • 9" invisible zipper
  • Optional interfacing (more info in this tutorial)
I used this great tutorial for the skirt, but added a waistband (tutorial here) and zipper (tutorial here) instead of elastic.  I love the drape of a circle skirt - uber feminine.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

SF Bay Eats: A Mango Treat & Filipino Fusion

We like to eat out.  A lot.  During the 4th of July weekend, we essentially bounced around from place to place trying different things and tried to stay "healthy" by cycling or hiking everyday.  We went to a chili cook-off, tried a new hand-pulled noodles place, filled up on some fried pickles, and discovered 2 new places in San Mateo.

First up, dessert :)

Super Mango Dessert w/ Green Tea Ice Cream @ Dessert Republic
A scoop of green tea ice cream (usually comes with mango ice cream, but I think the green tea / mango combination tastes better!) on top of a frozen mango concoction filled with fresh mango bits and aloe. Mango was perfectly ripe and the cool dessert was very refreshing for a hot, summer day.  Bonus, the green tea ice cream was very mild and creamy.  I've had other versions that impart a bit of bitterness instead.

Second, Filipino Fusion food at Attic:
Grilled Edamame 
Salty and smoky, this was a great little snack

Sesame Cucumbers 
But this one was my favorite app!  I loved the crisp crunch and the savory, sesame flavors.

Crab 'Butter' Fried Rice w/ Fresh Dungeness Crab Meat
The "butter" is tomalley - the soft yellowish / green substance found in the crab cavity - and it lends a very rich crab taste to the rice.  The giant scoop of fresh crab meat was delicious.  Unfortunately, my husband thought so too and ate most of it while I was still eating the edamame.  

Adobo Wing Lollipops
Had a nice crisp layered with a sweet and tangy Adobo glaze.  I rather appreciated the lengths they went to make each wing a lollipop shape :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Striped Tulle Skirt DIY Tutorial

I fell in love with the striped tulle skirt on Jenny of CrazyStyleLove in last week's preview post and decided to make my own rendition.  If you'd like to make your own, please see tutorial below :)

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~1.5 - 2 hours

  • ~3/4 yard base fabric (the navy blue underskirt and waist band - I used satin for relative weight and stiffness to give me some volume)
  • ~1/3 yard contrast stripe fabric (teal stripes - also used satin) or less if you use more than 1 type of contrast like Jenny's skirt
    • I used one contrast since I couldn't find any other satin color that I wanted to incorporate
  • ~3/4 yard tulle fabric 
1. Cut out your pieces - all are easy rectangles.

  • Skirt Base = I went with a 1-seam skirt and used my desired length x fabric width for my skirt rectangle.  
    • In this case, 22 x 56"
  • Skirt Waistband = Use your waist size + 2" in your desired width * 2 + 0.5" for seam allowance. 
    • I like a 2" band, so my rectangle was 4.5 x 29"
  • Tulle Stripes = Depending on your # of stripes, your width will vary, but your length should be the same as your skirt base.  
    • I had 3 stripes.  Two stripes were 12 x 56" and the other was 2.5 x 56"
  • Contrast Stripes = As with the tulle, the width will vary on your # of stripes and desired end result.  The length will be the same as the skirt base.

2. Sew your stripes together by placing the right sides together (note: tulle is the same on both sides) and sew along the long side of each piece.

Another note on tulle, it stretches quite easily, so be sure not to pull it during sewing, otherwise your lengths will be mismatched.

3.  Due to the sheerness of the tulle, you'll see some unsightly stripe connections.  To mitigate, fold your contrast stripe inwards and topstitch it down.

4.  Place the right sides of your skirt base with your newly striped tulle panel and sew along the long side with a long stitch for gathering.

5.  Fold your skirt in half on the long side and mark the center point.  Fold in half again on the long side to mark your quarter points.  Do the same thing for your waistband.  Line up your marks and pin them right sides together.  These reference points will help you gather your skirt evenly.

6. Tug on your bobbin thread to gather between all of your markings so that the gathered length of your skirt now matches your waistband.  With the pins still in place, sew along the length.  This will join your base skirt and striped tulle overlay to your waistband.

7.  Insert zipper using this tutorial and hem the base skirt to your desired length.  The tulle does not need to be hemmed, so if you'd like it shorter, simply cut it to your desired length.  I kept mine longer than the base skirt for a little bit of a peek-a-boo effect.

You're finished!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SF Eats: "Bao" Around the Bay

Ah, Chinese buns...  My absolute favorites are Shanghai Juicy Dumplings (xiao long bao) and egg custard buns (lai wong bao - um, sorry for the inconsistent romanizations - some are Mandarin and some are Cantonese), but I've discovered many more to add to my list in the Bay Area.

1. Pan Fried Pork Buns (sheng jian bao)
In the olden days (i.e. when I lived in the boonies), pan fried pork buns were exactly what they sounded like.  A regular bun with pork filling and a pan fried bottom.  Out here, they burst with soup like the Shanghai Juicy Dumpling.  I initially thought I had found some kind of heavenly hybrid only to discover this is the traditional preparation and I had simply never had it before.

Where to get it: Shanghai Flavor Shop in Sunnyvale

2.  Chocolate Pineapple Buns
More chocolate than pineapple, this delicious bun makes me think of an Asian interpretation of the chocolate frosted donut.  Bonus, the sweetness is quite mild and therefore lulls you into thinking it might be healthier than the donut alternative ;)

Where to get it: Sheng Kee - multiple locations throughout the Bay

3.  Roti Buns
With the crispy, sweet crust, these look and taste like fun flavor variations on a Pineapple Bun.  Flavors include Plain, Yogurt Chip w/ Cream Cheese, and Chocolate Butter.  My favorite so far is the Chocolate Butter!

Where to get it: Honey Berry - multiple locations in the Bay Area

4.  Hedgehog Buns
Ok, so these are more cute than anything else, but they deserve a mention just for the aesthetics.  They also have really good Pork & Celery dumplings at this eatery.

Where to get it: Panda Dumpling in Redwood City

Not to leave out the staples, the best Shanghai Juicy Dumplings I've had so far are from Shanghai Dumpling King (more details here) (or Din Tai Fung if you're near one of their branches) and the best Egg Custard Buns from HK Lounge (more details here).

Got any bao recommendations?  Please do tell!


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