Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

I just finished reading Cee's and Elle's year in review posts and I felt inspired to write one of my own going over my favorite DIYs, purchases, and events of the year.

Favorite DIY Projects:
  • Peplum Mania
  • Going Nautical
  • Dresses, Dresses, and More Dresses

Favorite Purchases:
  • Red Blazers from H&M and J. Crew
  • Monogram Necklace (from Etsy) and F21 Pearl Necklace - I wear these necklaces all the time and always get compliments. 

Favorite Events:
  • Spending 8.5 months at home on an extended maternity leave and soaking up as much baby / toddler goodness as I could with my son and daughter.
  • Moving to San Francisco and opening us up to try so many different, delicious foods!  
  • Playing skirt designer selling my wares on Etsy thanks to Jean.
  • Getting to know some of my favorite bloggers better!  Cee, Elle, and P - thanks for filling in with your guest posts during my move!
What were some of your favorite events / things in 2012?

Happy New Year to everyone!  Here's to a wonderful 2013 :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

PFC #22: Cold Weather Shopping Clothes

This month's PFC (Petite Fashion Challenge) is hosted by A Preponderance of Fashion.  Be sure to check out her blog for other entries!

The Challenge: Cold Weather Shopping Clothes
"The weather outside is frightful, but indoor shopping is warm and delightful.  So, whether you have wind, rain, or snow, show me your clothes when shopping for friends or foes!"

In general, I like to dress lightly, comfortably, and warm when going clothes shopping in the winter.  My essentials include a crossbody bag to keep me hands-free and comfortable shoes that can be kicked off easily to try on clothes.  I usually try to wear a shoe with some kind of heel to mimic what I wear to work.  This helps me get a good idea of what the pants / skirt / dress would look like "in real life."

LOFT Striped Sweater
NY&Co Pants (DIY slimmed)
Ann Taylor Pumps
Coach Station Bag (a gift from the lovely Jean)
NY&Co Tortoiseshell Necklace

A better view:

Lately, especially since I'm still healing from minor foot surgery, my shopping outfits consist of rolled up denim plus boat shoes - very comfy!
eBay scarf, J. Crew coat, Kate Spade bag, Abercrombie jeans, Sperry shoes

What are your go-to shopping clothes?

Past PFC Entries:
  PFC #19: Trend Benders

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tutorial: Altering a Commercial Pattern for Petite Frames

I have the same problem with off-the-rack garments as I do with commercial patterns - the shoulders / neck are too wide and the waist often sits too low.  After some trial and error, I wanted to share a very easy (and non-permanent) modification you can make to your patterns to address these issues.

Trial and error sewing w/ commercial patterns

How to narrow the shoulders and raise the waist:
Just move the pattern inwards!  Rather than aligning the edge of the pattern to the fold, pull it over the edge.  I usually go for a little over an inch.

Cut the neck, shoulder, and armhole.  Stop.

Because my ribs and waist are not in proportion to my shoulders, I move the pattern back to the normal position of edge aligned to center front fold.  Resume cutting the armhole and then down the side.

I didn't take a picture of this, but to raise the waist, you do the same thing.  Simply slide your pattern up to the correct position and cut the bottom.  For me, I raise it 1/2".

Easy right?  Happy sewing!

P.S.  Yes, instead of pretty pattern weights, I use canned goods :)

On a personal note (because I have the best luck in the world) I am sick again.  That means I had 2 relatively healthy days this month, haha!  

Moms - how do / did you battle germs your kiddo brought home from school?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

DIY Animal Capelet & Toddler-isms

I don't really know how to word this part of the post.  I feel like I have a lot to say without having an eloquent way to convey it.  My heart goes out to everyone in Newtown and Henan.  Our children are our everything - I live, breathe, and look forward to each day because of them.


I spied a leopard Baby Gap capelet last year that I had on my list to purchase for E before she was even born.  When I decided to pull the trigger, it was sold out.  Super thoughtful Cee even sent an early birthday present to E in the form of a gift card for it (thanks again!).  Fast forward one year and I finally put one together.  Though this one is a giraffe print :)

DIY Animal Capelet
Simplicity Pattern 4434 (cut larger because I have a tall bean sprout)
Though I didn't intend to, it also fits me, BUT I am not the type that can pull this off ;)

Trying it on E
I bought her some black leggings for when she actually wears this in public

I'm going to end this post with some toddler-isms from my 3-year old son :)

(Driving to preschool and passing a traffic light)
V: Mom, red is "stop" and green is "go".
Me: What is yellow?
V: Yellow is "keep going."
Me: Yellow is "slow down."
V: No (with a little bit of attitude), yellow is "keep going."
Sigh.  This must be my husband's doing.

(At home)
V: Mom, I want to watch Disney Junior
I mindlessly turn on the TV and flip through until it lands on Disney 
V: That's not Disney Junior, that's Disney XD
The perils of a toddler who can semi-read

(Playing.  V sticks a candy cane in his sleeve)
V: Look Mom, I'm Captain Hook!

These kiddos make me laugh every single day. <3

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Buttons to Bejeweled Necklace Easy DIY Tutorial

I found these buttons at Britex (the same place as the buttons from Tutorial Part 1) and thought they were oh so pretty.  I'm still crushing on the color green and I loved how vibrant the stones were without that murky look that some rhinestones have.

What I Used:

  • Buttons
  • Chain (I used one from an old necklace)
  • Jump rings
  • Eye pins
  • Glue (E6000)


1.) Slip your eye pin through the button shank

2.) Trim your eye pin to size and loop the straight end.  Allow both loops to just peek out from the button's sides

3.) Add 2 dabs of glue to secure your eye pin

4.) Allow glue to dry and connect your eye pins together with a jump ring

5.) Voila!  Easy peasy.

On a side note, I'm so pleased that my Blogiversary post got published at the Lucky Mag community site!  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Buttons to Jewelry DIY Tutorial, Part 1

After meeting Ping the other week, I got to explore a 4-story fabric store in the city and found these gorgeous buttons.  I was originally planning on turning it into a pin, but decided on making a necklace instead.  I should also note that though these buttons were expensive, I'm guessing they are just very cute replica buttons.  The store didn't specify one way or the other and none of the buttons there are labeled with the designer.

What I Used:
  • Button
  • Pearls
  • Stringing material
  • Ribbon
  • Jump rings large enough to fit the ribbon
  • Crimp beads 


1.  Plan out your design by laying it out
I love this little design board - so handy!  I think mine was only $1.50 and you should be able to find it at any jewelry supply or craft store.

After playing around with it, I decided to forgo the all-around double pearl strand for an asymmetrical look.  Does this look off (below)?

2.  String it as planned above and loop your stringing material onto a jump ring.  Secure with a crimp bead.  Do this for each side.

3.  Knot a ribbon to each jump ring.  Add a small dollop of glue to ensure your knot doesn't unravel.

4.  I trimmed my ribbon ends at an angle and then sealed the ends with Fray Check.  Clear nail polish will also work.

5.  You're finished!  I love ribbons closures because they allow you to customize the length as you please.

Long option for wearing

Shorter option

Stay tuned for part 2 next week and a Black Friday recap later this week :)

Hope everyone in the US had a wonderful holiday weekend!  I ate SO much.  What did you eat - traditional turkey or something else?

We went out for pho & banh mi for lunch and then stayed home for hot pot.  Yum!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blogiversary, Being Thankful & Beyond

I fell into blogging a little haphazardly.  I had been following DIY and petite blogs with great interest and decided to start one of my own with a primary focus on sewing.  I wanted to name it SewInspired - chronicling my DIY inspirations and the way I went about making my own version.  My plans changed when I found out that name was already taken.  I decided to broaden my blog a little bit to incorporate the fitting room reviews I loved reading and thus SewPetiteGal was born.  (And in case anyone was curious, I didn't intend for "SewPetiteGal" to indicate I am "so petite."  I was aiming more for sewing + being short.  My husband bluntly pointed out that I'm not so little and obviously much larger than most of the petite blogging community.  My fault for the ill-conceived name!

Anyhoo, fast forward a little over 2 years and here we are.  Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to come visit my little blog.  Thanks x 100 to those who comment because I really do love hearing from you.  Your advice, pointers, and constructive criticism have helped me grow as a DIY'er.  I wanted to take a little time here to show some love to some special folks:
  • Jean - For being one of my first followers and welcoming me to the blogging community with kindness and advice.  And more recently, for offering to critique my prototype peplum skirt, giving me invaluable feedback, featuring it on her blog and making me feel like I could play "fashion designer" with my little Etsy store :)
  • Cee - for being my preppy / layering inspiration and wearing my scarf so well that a reader requested one in the middle of summer!
  • Aubrey - for sharing my love of all things nautical, answering all of my tedious Twitter requests for DIY input, and keeping me LOLing with your humor.  
  • Gigi - your blog is ridiculously awesome at keeping me up to date on one of my favorite subjects - shopping
And finally, this blog focuses on 2 of my hobbies: DIYs and shopping.  I'm thinking of pulling in a 3rd hobby, and quite possibly, my favorite one: food.  I started a little food blog on the side and am now pondering integrating it here or keeping it separate.  What do you think?

I'm ending this post with a picture of my precious little girl with a giant cup of bubble tea (Tiger Milk Tea specifically), because every post should have a picture of some sort :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

LOFT Inspired Bow & Rhinestone Sweater DIY Tutorial

I originally tried this on a few weeks ago and have still been thinking about it.  A clue to either buy it or DIY it.  I chose the cheaper route ;)

Inspiration and DIY'ed Version
LOFT Striped Bow Necklace 3/4 Sleeve Sweater (link)
I know I made the bow a little too big, but I'm hoping to also use this as a neck tie like this:

Asos top

Want to make one too?  See the full tutorial after the jump.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Black Tie DIY Part 2

On Sunday, I asked which of the 3 options here would be most appropriate for a black tie event and most were in favor of the plain with gathered shoulder.  I wound up making all 3 (more explanation below), but wore the gathered ruffle to the event.  (Sorry for more iPhone pics, I still can't find that darn camera remote.)

Full-length and up-close (w/ a shot of my attempted updo)

As Jessy correctly surmised, I made the ruffle detachable with options to wear as full length or gathered.  The detachable ruffle transforms to a gathered ruffle with a few well-placed snap buttons.  I always love when I see garments with multiple ways of wearing and I'm trying to adopt that into more of my DIYs.

One dress, 3 options to wear

Want to help plot future transformable garments?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Black Tie DIY Part 1 & New Sewing Room

Weeks ago, my husband told me we'd be going to a black-tie event the first weekend of November in SF.  At the time, I thought, "Eh, I can whip up a dress AND get everything unpacked."  I underestimated how much stuff we have, or more precisely, overestimated my organizational capabilities.  So I put everything on hold and set to work.  I knew I wanted to make a long gown in a fabric that I already had (to speed up the process) with some kind of interesting detail.  I decided on a one-shoulder top and pondered my options:

L to R: Plain w/ Gathered Shoulder, Ruffled, Gathered Ruffle

I did ultimately make a decision (will be posted later this week), but I'm curious on what you think.  Which option (or perhaps none of the above) would you choose for a black tie event?

And a peek into where all the pondering and sewing happens:

I have most of my fabrics folded up neatly and organized - 3 more boxes (eek) to go!

My sewing station: Janome Serger and Singer Heavy Duty 4423

I decided to merge our office and sewing area together.  In Ohio, my sewing area was the dinette in our kitchen which made set-up and take-down a pain in the butt.  I'm much happier with this new arrangement!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blogger Profile: P of Phiphi's Blog

P of Phiphi's Blog is a recent blog find of mine, but I fell in love with her beautiful and sophisticated pairings pretty much at first sight.  The fact that she was also a fellow mother pretty much cemented the deal.  Inspirational blogger at a similar life stage?  Yes please, I could definitely use the tips!

About You:
  • Tell us 5 random things about yourself:
1. I consider myself a big nerd and geek.
2. I eat only muffin tops.
3. I drink one coffee and one peppermint tea every day.
4. I can't type on an Ipad or Iphone properly to save my life.
5. I am always cold, no matter what.
  • Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies? 
Outside of blogging, I am an amateur wannabe cook and love to plot and plan meals and recipes. In the past year, I've also started doing a lot more photography.
  • What are you looking forward to in the next year? 
I'm looking forward to some quieter time at work, so that I can enjoy spending more time with my family.

Your Blog:
  • What inspired you to blog?
My husband encouraged me to blog and document my shopping and outfit adventures. My best friend, I, also encouraged me to blog more seriously. She doesn't live in the same city as I do, but before the blog, we often described our outfits of the day to eachother, or took blackberry pictures and sent them as a way to keep in the loop - it was our little way of staying in touch with each other. I wear the outfits you see on my blog in real life, it's like I'm documenting my day to day journey, so after a while it just became a "why email this to me, when you can blog it so other people can see it!". Blogging lets me be creative, too, so I started doing this more regularly in March 2012, and it's been a fun and fantastic journey since then.
  • Where did your blog name come from?
I feel like my blog name is so boring! LOL. I really just wanted something straight-forward, because everything I came up with was not creative or clever. I was looking to do a journal of sorts with this blog, and Phiphi is my nickname, so it just fit.
  • What is your favorite part of blogging?
Hands down, it is the lovely people I've met through blogging that has been my favourite thing. I love finding out where people live, and hearing about different things that are going on in their lives. It really means so much to me when someone comments on the blog or if they email me, too - it just makes my day.

Your Style:
  • What is currently on your wishlist? Would any items change if you won the lottery?
I know that i need a few more solid sweaters this season. I'd love a vacation, though. That's a big wishlist item, and the location would change if I won the lottery!
  • What are your top 5 wardrobe staples for fall? 
1. a nice and structured coat or trench 2. a tweed blazer 3. a wool sweater 4. a sturdy bag that can handle cold and rain 5. a good, fun pair of boots
  • What are your favorite purchases this year?
Hands down this year, I would have to say my Kelly bag. The bag is my milestone birthday gift to myself, and my "you're grown up now" bag.

  • And a random one - what was your style as a teenager? How (if applicable) has it changed today?
As a teenager, I was dorky and geeky. No fashionista wardrobe here, but my mom kept us pretty stylishly dressed. I lived in jeans and rugby shirts/sweatshirts back then.

Couldn't resist a shot of P in a SPG creation :)

So many pinnable looks, thanks P!
Big huge thank you to Cee, Elle, and P for answering my questions and filling in for me during our move!  You ladies are awesome!  If you missed any of these profiles, please click on the links in their names above :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blogger Profile: Elle of Fast Food & Fast Fashion

I fell in love with Elle of Fast Food & Fast Fashion's style a couple of years ago when I came across her WIFW (wear it five ways) posts.  I thought it was genius that she tested out remixes and could come up with SO many different and creative ways to wear a single item.  She can also review an item like nobody's business.  Extremely detailed, thoughtful, and well-written posts often comparing multiple sizes (and noting their measurements) so that we can all have a clear picture of what might or might not fit from the comfort of our homes.  Let's get to know Elle a bit better, shall we?  :)

Signature Elle - feminine and chic

About You:
  • Tell us 5 random things about yourself:
  1. I have unpierced ears (I am too pain-averse to have considered it) 
  2. studied Latin and Greek
  3. have been at my current height since about age 12
  4. love dogs but never actually owned one
  5. was a three-sport athlete in high school
  • Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies? 
I enjoy running and run nearly everyday. I also play lacrosse and toss the football with my boyfriend in the warmer months.
  • What are you looking forward to in the next year? 
My work responsibilities will probably change drastically in the latter part of next year and I will likely be traveling a lot more for work. I am at once excited and a little nervous about the challenge but look forward to that change of pace.

Absolute perfection = tweed + pearls + sparkle

Your Blog:
  • What inspired you to blog?
I started blogging in late 2010 after becoming loyal readers of several fashion blogs and was eager to develop and share my own style journey. I was also relatively new to a 9-5 job and desperately needed a creative outlet that allowed me to explore this part of my interest outside of work.
  • Where did your blog name come from?
I get asked this a lot but I don't have a great answer. I like fast fashion stores and love fast food even more - it made sense at the time but not a lot of thought was put forth in coming up with a more creative name.
Detailed review of the J. Crew Big-shot Dot Dress 
  • What is your favorite part of blogging?
The friendships I've forged with other bloggers and readers and the feedback that I've received - comments, good or bad, have made me a more mature person in learning to accept criticism instead of take offense to them.
  • What is the most surprising thing you've encountered while blogging? 
How small this world is! I sometimes recognize names and faces of people from my offline life on my "followers" list (and they have no idea I am me - I look pretty different without sunglasses on).

One of her amazing Wear it Five Ways (though 6 here) posts

Your Style:
  • What is currently on your wishlist? Would any items change if you won the lottery?
There are so many items on my wishlist (I have a sartorial bucket list on my blog that I update from time to time). I don't think those items would change if I were to win the lottery - I am a little superstitious and think that money which came so easily need to be spent incredibly sparingly.
  • What are your top 5 wardrobe staples for fall? 
A stone-colored trench, a pair of skinnies in a rich color, a pair of knee-high boots, a piece of statement jewelry, and a dress in an interesting fabric (tweed, leather, etc.)
  • What are your favorite purchases this year?
I've crossed several items off my wishlist this year but one of my favorites is a camel leather tote bag.
  • And a random one - what was your style as a teenager? How (if applicable) has it changed today?
My style as a teenager was chaotic - there was no rhyme or reason to my clothing choices at the time. It's changed a lot since then as I've started to develop a more cohesive style and made purchases that "make sense".

Looking beautiful in my Chevron Peplum Skirt

Thanks Elle - both for starting your blog and for being part of my blogger profiles :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blogger Profile: Cee of To Brighten My Day

I first discovered Cee of To Brighten My Day while reading PFC challenge entries and I remember being absolutely amazed by her styling and layering prowess.  Not only is she a master mixer and matcher, (check out below), she is also incredibly kind, helpful and sweet.  I am so happy to present her profile here and learn more about one of my favorite bloggers.  :)

Her beautiful wedding post

About You:
Tell us 5 random things about yourself:

1) I don't know how to change a tire. Every time the tire pressure indicator lights up, I freak out and rush to the nearest gas station to pump in more air. I know, it's not like that'd be of any help if I had a real flat.

2) I know DC by their metro stops. Oh, it's near F St. and 11th. *blank stare* You know, near Metro Center. Well, why didn't you just say so?

3) I sleep like the dead, anywhere, anytime (unless I've had too much caffeine). My first year college roommate likes to talk about the times she'd come into the room, turning on lights, talking to her friends, then realizing that I've slept like a baby through it all.

4) I managed to snag the coveted full_name with no random characters attached for my personal email. Sadly, I can't say the same for my Facebook ID.

5) I don't think I have a noticeable accent, but for some reason I have trouble pronouncing series. The word comes out sounding like SEE-WEES. And it's even worse when I try to say, sequences and series (any math nerds here?)

  • Aside from blogging, what are your hobbies? 

Through blogging I've come to appreciate and enjoy photography. Like with most things, there are initial hurdles to overcome, but the more I'm learning and (hopefully) improving, the more I find myself really liking it. I'm also an avid TV watcher. My current guilty pleasure is Big Brother. Every summer, DH and I spend three hours a week glued to the TV watching the houseguests' next move. We're going through withdrawal from this latest season (Dan was robbed!), so to tide us over until next summer, we're watching reruns from Seasons 2 and All Stars.

  • What are you looking forward to in the next year? 

Possibly starting to think about having a family? I would have to do a lot of growing up first though ;)

One of her amazing 30 for 30 posts

Your Blog:
  • What inspired you to blog?
Back in high school I taught myself the ins and outs of building websites from scratch. I really enjoyed both the designing and coding aspects, so much so that I kept it up throughout college. I made some money along the way and even maintained a personal website (full of gasp sans sunglasses headshots) for a few years. I stopped doing both post-graduation due to lack of time and found myself missing my creative outlet. I decided to give it another go but with a few changes. I turned to Blogger as a platform because I haven't kept up with the continually evolving world of programming languages. Another, I value my privacy much more now, so that includes sharing limited information and photos.
  • Where did your blog name come from?
At the time, I was going through an emo phase and needed some cheering up. I also wanted a generic enough name that could work with any topic I wanted to blog about. Brighten my day was already taken, so I resorted to adding a to in front. If I were to start over, I would've started blogging for a bit first before even attempting the name. That way, at least the name would be in line with the content instead of a random phrase.

One of my favorite posts - lace dress remixes 
  • What is your favorite part of blogging?
Hands down, it has to be the friendships with both bloggers and readers. I've met so many interesting people over time and value every one of them.
  • What is the most surprising thing you've encountered while blogging? 
There isn't one specific encounter per se, but through various interactions, I've come to learn a lot about myself. Things like ability (or lack thereof) to handle criticisms, or treating people the way I want to be treated. If I had known I'd be doing this much self-reflecting as a result of blogging, I'd have started much sooner.
  • How has your blog changed from day 1 to now?
For the most part, not much has changed. I still have trouble coming up with topics to write about, but do try to give my best effort. I still enjoy sharing outfit photos and have slowly progressed from indoor/poor lighting/shy photos to ignoring strangers' looks when it's me and my tripod outside. Blogging is (and hopefully will continue to be) a fun hobby. When it's no longer fun, that'll be my cue to stop.

That original PFC post that left me awe-struck

Your Style:
  • What is currently on your wishlist? Would any items change if you won the lottery?
I've checked off a good number of items from my wishlist this year. Some I've been wanting for awhile (riding boots) and some were more spur-of-the-moment (small crossbody bag). I'm still on the lookout for the perfect tweed jacket. If I won the lottery, I'd reach for the moon and buy a Chanel. Realistically, I'm coveting the blue Uniqueen Malang jacket as seen on Khatu/Jean/Wendy. I'm still kicking myself for passing it up to explore other options back when it was still available.
  • What are your top 5 wardrobe staples for fall? 
Jeans, tall boots, scarves, lightweight jacket, and crossbody bag.
  • What are your favorite purchases this year?
A striped maxi dress. I've stayed away from long dresses for so long because tripping over my own two feet is just embarrassing. Besides being uber comfortable, maxi dresses do make a person look taller. And who doesn't want that, right?
  • And a random one - what was your style as a teenager? How (if applicable) has it changed today?
Can unkempt be considered a style? I wore mostly tshirts/sweatshirts with jeans back then and still do so today. I do try to accessorize more now and switch up running shoes to something more fashionable. I like to keep things simple and casual, so the overall feel hasn't changed.

Even Baby E gets inspiration from Cee

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did :)  Stay tuned for more profiles and thanks for reading!


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