Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Year in Review

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far!  Sometimes it's hard to believe that the year is nearly over.  It's been a pretty full year for us as a family.  If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share some of my personal highlights.  :)

Favorite DIYs:
I cut down on buying clothing (1% vs. 4% last year) and focused more on making my own.  This year, I tried my hand at making more complex items like coats:

I also played around with different details on maxi dresses:

And experimented with more dress / skirt tutorials:

Favorite Eats:
My family and I spent a good deal of the year exploring different eateries :)
  • Gochi in Mountain View / Cupertino
  • Hakka in San Francisco
  • Mango Medley in San Francisco
  • Everything in Hong Kong (1, 2, and 3)

Favorite Moments / Events:
  • Food and fabric exploration adventures in SF, LA (1 and 2), and Hong Kong
  • Mommy moments
    • Toddler affection - when E asks for a "huck" (hug), or "I want to kiss your nose", or says "I wuv you" / "Hewwo Mom"
    • Preschooler accomplishments - V's utter excitement about reading / listening to bedtime stories / doing homework / learning Chinese (enrolled in bilingual preschool w/ nightly tutorials from my husband)
    • Building Lego castles with them and seeing their glee in knocking them down
    • Christmas morning squeals :)
  • Cycling with husband
    • Went from an exhausting 10 miles on our mountain bikes to 30 miles on our new hybrids 2x a week

Happy New Year to everyone!!  May 2014 bring you happiness and many blessings!
A GIANT thank you for visiting this blog and joining me in my sewing, dining, and shopping adventures!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Working On: Reversible Notched Shell DIY

I picked up some gorgeous heavy knit fabric at Fabrics R Us over the weekend and decided to do a fitted reversible shell.  To add a little visual interest, I decided to notch the neckline.  At the moment, I'm contemplating adding a removable peplum like my map skirt back here or handkerchief peplum dress here.  Thoughts?

Reversible Cobalt - Charcoal Notched Shell DIY

Tutorial to come!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Coat DIY Part 2

After 3 weeks of tinkering and taking breaks, I've finally finished my winter coat project (part 1 here)!

Winter Coat DIY w/ quilted faux leather sleeves and pocket flaps

What it looks like on me

Difficulty: Intermediate-ish.  I wouldn't say it's hard, per se, but it is very time-consuming

Time: ~12 hours off and on over a course of 3 weeks

Pattern: Simplicity 2508, adjusted using the recommended petite lengths built into the pattern.  Made smaller patch pockets and added faux leather pocket flaps.

  • 2 yards of gray blizzard fleece from Joann's (Since this was my first real foray into outerwear, I wanted to use a more forgiving, i.e. cheaper material, as a practice run.  For reference, I purchased my fleece on sale for $3 / yd and wool - even the cheaper, itchy stuff - is around $30 / yd.  The benefit to fleece is that it looks wool-esque from a distance.  )  
  • 3/4 yards quilted faux leather from Fabrix
  • 6 toggle buttons from Joann's

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.  I will be experimenting more before tackling using a wool or wool blend.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Easy J. Crew Inspired Jeweled Sweatshirt Tutorial

Jewels, jewels, everywhere.  I especially love the combination with a comfortable sweatshirt for a cozy yet luxe feel.  Inspired by the beautiful details on J. Crew Factory's Jeweled Raglan Sweatshirt (here, $98), I wanted to try making my own after finding this Target striped sweatshirt (here, $12).

Jeweled Raglan Sweatshirt DIY

Difficulty: Easy

Time: ~2 hours + let glue dry overnight if gluing only
           additional ~2 hours to reinforce with thread

  • Existing sweatshirt (raglan sleeves work well if you're going for a similar look)
  • Jewels / Gems / Baubles
    • I used sewable black gems in a variety of sizes (Joann's) and small silver spikes from a previous project (eBay)
    • Note: The prettiest, clearest gems are Swarovski, but those are $$.  If you're going for a cheaper gem (like me), I'd recommend an opaque color so you don't have to worry about "muddy" clarity or surface scratches.
  • Fabric glue
  • Optional: fusible interfacing for added stability.  My sweatshirt is very thin and I was afraid the added gems would make the material droop, so I added a rectangle of interfacing on the underside of the sleeve seams on the front.
  • Optional: needle and matching thread.  I didn't want to take the chance of any gems falling off so reinforced with stitching by hand.
    • I would recommend against invisible nylon thread if you plan on wearing the top without a camisole as the thread ends tend to feel plastic-like and irritate skin.

  1. If your sweatshirt material is thin, consider using the optional interfacing.  Simply cut interfacing in the size and shape of your general design.  Turn your sweatshirt inside out and iron the interfacing (nubby fusible side towards the sweatshirt) in your design area.
  2. Lay out gems in your desired configuration.  Use the seaming to help orient the gems symmetrically.
  3. One by one, add a small dab of glue to each gem and glue in place.  If you misalign one, simply pull it off and re-glue.
  4. Allow glue to dry overnight.
  5. Optionally, reinforce with hand stitching after glue has dried.

Detailed look

Finished Jeweled Sweatshirt DIY

Happy DIYing!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

DIYs in Progress: Winter Coat (cont'd) and Jeweled Sweatshirt

With the holidays, I've been a little slow on sewing and DIYs lately, but here are a couple that are getting close to completion:

Winter Coat DIY - *almost* complete
As expected, this is the most complex and time-consuming project I've tackled.  Just needs buttons and buttonholes!

DIY Jeweled Sweatshirt
To avoid crowds, I did most of my Black Friday shopping online, but did venture to Target once things calmed down to pick up some DVDs for the kids.  While there, I found this cute Merona sweatshirt for only $12 (40% off apparel in stores on Black Friday) and decided I would try to create my own version of J. Crew Factory's Jeweled Raglan Sweatshirt (pinned here).  I've glued down the gems for now and plan to reinforce it with some stitching.

Strawberry Kit Kat bars, Cookies 'n' Cream Kit Kat bars, Panda Pocky, and Matcha Pocky
(from Genki Crepes, Inner Richmond area)
On a side note, I found some new Asian goodies today in the city.  Of all the Kit Kat flavors, I think I like Green Tea or original best, but I will never tire of trying all of the varieties :)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mom's Kitchen: Baked Pork Chop Rice

My Mother is amazing and among her many talents, she is also a fantastic cook.  I learned to sew from her and now I'm hoping to expand my skills in the cooking arena.  Perhaps you'd be interested in joining me in this journey as well? :)

Baked Pork Chop Rice

Prep Time: 30 minutes + marinate overnight

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Due to the number of pictures, please see rest of the recipe after the jump.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Japanese Fusion: Sushirritos and More

We were in Chinatown for a haircut and Yelped for nearby restaurants.  Though we were planning on staying in Chinatown for some (duh) Chinese food, I saw a listing for Sushirrito close by in the Financial District.  Intrigued by the name and the concept of a Japanese / Latin flavor scheme, we checked it out.

Geisha's Kiss - Yellowfin Tuna (Hand-Line Caught), Tamago, Piquillo Peppers, Yuzu Tobiko, Lotus Chips, Namasu Cucumber, Butter Lettuce, Avocado, Green Onions Sesame White Soya
The most Yelped about menu item didn't disappoint.  I'm not usually a huge fan of tamago, but thought this married nicely with all of the other components.  The tuna was fresh and the proportion of rice was perfect.

Lava Nachos - Brown Rice Chips topped with Tuna Picante, Melted Pepper Jack Cheese, Avocado, Green Onions, Nori Strips Sriracha Aioli
The spectacular thing about this dish?  Even at the end of the meal, the chips never got soggy.  True to its name, the nachos had a nice kick to it that you could cool down with their avocado.  Very large portion of tuna!

Porkivore - Oven Roasted Pork Belly, Shaved Cabbage, Avocado, Cilantro, Green Onions, Red Radish Mustard Seed Mayo
My husband's pick reminded me of Chinese roasted pork (the crispy skin one - siu yook).  The flavors were good - especially the crunch of the cabbage - but I prefer fish to pork in my "sushi."

All in all, I'm glad we took a detour to give this a try.  I'm always up for novel combinations of food.  A bonus?  This place was very eco-friendly.  Almost every item was recyclable or compostable.

And I know I've talked about Gochi before, but I have better photos this time :)  This is easily one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area:
Sake Oyako Meshi Clay Pot Rice - grilled salmon and salmon roe
One of my favorite dishes ever.

Post mixing - you can see those delightful crispy rice bits

Mentaiko Pizza - spicy cod roe, snow crab, mushrooms & bacon
Thanks Emily for the recommendation!  This was SO good!  The crust was perfectly crisp with a good topping ratio and yummy savoriness.  The whole family enjoyed it - even our picky 4-year old  :)

Hope everyone has a great week!  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sewing: Winter Coat Project Part 1

I've played around with a couple of jackets here and here - both relatively simple in construction - and am now venturing into a more complex type of coat.  For this initial foray, I am experimenting with quilted faux leather and heather gray fleece.  At the moment, this is still a work in progress.  The edges are still raw, I haven't affixed the closures, and I haven't decided on what kind of pockets I want.  I initially thought leather patch pockets, but am wondering if that is too much contrast.  Maybe fleece patch pocket with a leather flap?  Decisions…  If you have any thoughts on the pockets, I'd love to hear!

Winter Coat DIY w/ Faux Leather Accents

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sewing 101: Self-drafted vs. Commercial Patterns

I personally approach patterns 2 ways: 1.) draft my own based on existing garments 2.) use commercial patterns.  Here are my personal views of when to use each if you are newer to sewing.

Drafting based on existing garments
  • Use for simple silhouettes like sleeveless blouse-y tops, shift dresses, OR freehand draft skirts based on rectangles (1, 2, 3)
  • Pros:
    • Nicely mimics the fit of something you are familiar with
    • Free
  • Cons:
    • Not always suitable for more complicated garments
Commercial Patterns
  • Use for complex garments like long-sleeved tops, darted bodices, intricate seaming, non-pajama type pants
  • Pros
    • Are essentially packaged tutorials with clear directions on construction, helpful tips, and patterns in multiple variations.  For example, one pattern will contain sizes 6 through 14.  This is fantastic for people (ahem, me) who have different sized tops than bottoms. 
    • The larger pattern companies like McCall's, Simplicity, and Butterick are often on sale at your local fabric store for ~$1
    • Want to go designer?  Vogue offers big name designs from famous names like Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Rebecca Taylor, and Badgley Mischka.  These are typically more expensive (~$5 on sale), but still a great way to tackle more complicated / innovative designs at home.
  • Cons
    • Despite providing measurements for fit, variations in individual bodies mean these still require adjustments and alterations.  For example, I have a narrower frame than average and need to adjust my patterns this way.
    • Basic garment types are easy to find, but you can't always find an exact match for what you're picturing.  In this case, I piece together several patterns or draft part of my own.
Basic Commercial Pattern (McCall's M5972) for a Bodice
Blue arrows indicate dart placements
Red boxes for details like measurements and where to lengthen or shorten

Examples of patterns from

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Homemade Halloween Pt. 2: Costumes for the Family

Continued from this post, I did wind up finishing character heads for the adults.  To make it faster, I glued the face pieces onto the fleece and then left the edges raw.  If I make costumes again next year, I think I'll glue the embellishments on and sew the foundational pieces.

A family of Yo Gabba Gabba-inspired characters
(Husband's photo is deliberately omitted here since I'm pretty sure he'd kill me for posting it publicly)

Foofa and Muno
Poor E's Foofa hood kept sliding until it slid completely off.  Awfully comical though :)

For all who celebrate, I hope you had a fantastic Halloween!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Just a short, fun post for throwback Thursday and Halloween :)

Cow riding his cow, being like Dad, a monkey and a lil love bug :)

SPG early years

Interested in winning a $100 gift card?  Check out my giveaway via Tide Pods and Blogher here - all you need to do is comment!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Homemade Halloween - Children's Costumes Part 1

People who know I sew in real life always ask if I sew Halloween costumes for our children.  In the past, I always shamefully replied, "no" and felt like a horrible mom consumed with sewing only for herself.  This year, I decided to be less horrible (:P) and attempt making their costumes.  I asked the kids what kinds of costumes they wanted and they promptly responded, "Yo Gabba Gabba!"

  • 1/4 yard black and white felt (character faces and embellishments)
  • 1.5 yards of pink and red fleece
  • Velcro, elastic, and thin layer of foam

Pattern: Simplicity 2070, lopped off the top of the hood and added the character heads

Difficulty: Easy, but time consuming

Time: 2 weeks for a total of probably 6-8 hours.  I should note that the sewing part went very quickly, but pondering the head construction and cutting the felt pieces for these characters plus the 2 my husband and I are supposed to be seemed to take an eternity.

Yo Gabba Gabba: Foofa and Muno DIY Costumes
I swear the costumes are cuter with children in them :)

What the Muno hat looks like on our son

The hats are stuffed with a thin layer of foam I had lying around from another project to help them stand up.

I still haven't made the hats for me or my husband, but I'm hoping I finish by Halloween!  Hope to be sharing photos of us in full garb in the next post :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Katniss Inspired Cowl Scarf DIY

Inspired by Katniss' modified cowl scarf here, I was about to fumble through trying to crochet my own when my AMAZING mother offered to knit one for me.  The result?  A scaled down version made with love. <3

Katniss Inspired Cowl Scarf (DIY by Mom)

UPDATE:  Lion's Brand yarn has 2 patterns (one knit and one crochet) HERE for the Katniss scarf.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sailboat Blouse DIY

I finally finished sewing costumes for the kids and, while pondering if I should make matching adult costumes (I am THAT cheesy), I decided to sew something just for me.  :)

Material: 1 yard 45" width cotton fabric

Pattern: Butterick 3383.  Needed to slim sleeves and body.  Narrowed neckline by 2" (see how here).

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

Time: ~2 hours

Sailboat Blouse DIY

I'm working on a sailboat dress for E (A-line, asymmetrical w/ ruffle), but she's been less than cooperative on getting fitted so this might be postponed for a while.  Kids can be so funny!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Buckled Cowl Top DIY

Inspired by this funnel coat, I decided to make a buckled cowl top.

Material: 1 yard white stretchy knit from Joann's, leather craft bracelet from Michael's

Pattern: Self-drafted based on existing sleeveless top (see tutorial here), leather bracelet is looped through a button hole at the base of the cowl

Difficulty: Easy/Intermediate

Time: ~2 hours

The top is tunic length to allow for layering over leggings or tucking into pants / skirts.  I find that a "bubbled tuck" shown here (I'm sure there's a term for this that I just don't know) is great for tummy hiding :)

Interested in winning a $100 gift card?  Check out my giveaway via Tide Pods and Blogher here - all you need to do is comment!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall DIY: Leopard Jacket

It took me 4 months to actually follow through on this project after making the graphic version here.  Inspired by Jean's Emerson Fry coat and Elle's Ann Taylor topper, I thought this would be a fun fall jacket.

Fabric: Joann's, 2 yards, home decor, 54", 100% cotton

PatternButterick 5500 (actually a shirt dress pattern that I'm using as a coat), narrowed pattern inwards at the shoulders down to the waist, added a slight a-line flare, and shortened sleeves to 3/4 length

Difficulty: Intermediate

Time: ~4 hours

Leopard Jacket DIY
(also wearing Kensie cowl neck dress and Target pumps)

Past leopard DIYs:

I have a little more leopard fabric left and am thinking of a pleated skirt :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Gals, Great Food

Great company and great food.  What more can you ask for?  These ladies are the kindest, sweetest people in the world and I feel so fortunate to call them friends :)

Jean, Ping, Me, E, Elle, and Cee
BIG thanks to Ping for organizing everything, introducing us to the most delicious foods, and making all the reservations!  You're the BEST!

E giving us the eye

 E with her new "jie jie" friends

Cee, Me, Aubs, and Sydney

 Adding a jump here because I want to share too many pics - see more below.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Baby" E Turns 2!!

E turns 2 today and I can't believe how much time has passed already!  We got her a bunch of balloons today - 2 giant 36" ones and then some normal 12" versions.  She became bored of them quite quickly, but I did snap a couple favorites before she moved on to her birthday presents :)

Photo idea from Pinterest

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

J. Crew Inspired Tweed-Front Merino DIY Tutorial

Continued from this post, I had fit issues with the J. Crew Tweed-Front Merino Sweater and decided to make my own version.  See details below on how to create your own.

Original J. Crew version here
and my DIY version

 Difficulty: Intermediate

Time: ~2-3 hrs (I wound up making 2, so it took me 5 hours total)

  • ~1/2 yard of tweed, 
  • ~1 yard of knit fabric (stretchier is better!)
  • Bias tape in a matching color to bind your collar
  • Existing raglan sleeve top that fits you well 
Due to the number of photos, please see the rest of the tutorial after the jump.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paisley Gown Black Tie DIY (Part 2)

After making this Black Tie DIY a few weeks ago and deciding it wasn't "right", I went back to the drawing board for a different fabric and bodice design.

Material: 4 yards polyester (feels almost like a taffeta - thin and papery) from Fabrics R Us

Pattern: Bodice from Butterick 5182, self-drafted skirt (120 x 45" rectangle)

Difficulty: Intermediate bodice, easy skirt

Time: ~8 hours over 3 days (had fit issues with bodice) and still need to insert the zipper

Paisley Gown DIY

My favorite part - the drapey effect of the top

Little pleats for the skirt

High back for full coverage

Butterick 5182
Though I loved the sleek look of this, I knew that every midsection bulge would show in this type of silhouette.  I also made the "keyhole" in the bodice much smaller in mine.

I'm planning on curling my hair and pulling it into a low side bun a la Carrie Underwood:

2 more weeks until the event!


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