Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sewing Tips for Your Body Type

As with purchasing clothing, understanding your body type when sewing is an important factor.  After all, if you're going through the trouble of sewing it yourself, it should be custom fit to you.  Through trial and error, 30+ years of dressing myself, and getting fit education tips gleaned from the petite blogger community (thanks gals - see blogroll), I feel like I'm much better equipped now than when I first started.

Areas to consider:
  • Measuring yourself
    • All you need is a soft measuring tape!
  • Frame
    • One frame "classification" may not work for your whole body.  For example, I'm narrow at the shoulders, chest, and maybe ribs, but I'm average at the waist, hips, and legs.  I like to adjust my patterns using this method.
  • Proportion and size
    • Torso length, leg length, and where the waist and hips fall are all areas for adjustment.  I have a long torso and short legs, but my waist sits high.  In my case, I typically raise the waist 1/2" and lengthen tops.
    • I don't currently sew pants (tried once and failed miserably), but the knee placement is important.  I can't tell you how many pants I've purchased where the bottom of the thigh portion sits at my knee and makes the fit look off / sloppy.
  • Figure flattery (my opinion only)
    • Hem length
      • From a personal standpoint, my stance is that fuller skirts = shorter length and vice versa.  I like my fluffy pleated skirts to hit ~2" above the knee and pencil skirts to graze my knee cap.  In contrast, when hemming pants, fuller legs = longer length.  I used to hem bootcut pants too short and looked ridiculous when trying to wear heels with them.
      • For maxi dresses, I like the length to hit just above the floor.  I can't say that's always practical though!
      • Jean had an excellent post on skirt lengths here
    • Masking problem areas (like mine)
      • Got a tummy?  Fit and flare dresses, pleated / gathered skirts, and peplums are great ways to hide it :)
      • Self-conscious about your arms?  3/4 length sleeves are my favorite!
      • Self-conscious about your legs?  I either hide them with maxis or make the most of them using the skirt length tips above :)  
I hope this (wordy) post was helpful!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reversible Wrap Maxi Dress DIY: Stripes & Chains

I originally planned to bring this DIY to Hawaii, but didn't finish in time.  Now that it's sunny again and warmer, I finished it up for pairing with cardigans.  Using 2 of my favorite prints, I modified my last wrap dress into a reversible version.

Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate

Time: ~3 hours

Pattern:  McCall M6024 A (minus the ruffles), drafted my own skirt using a simple rectangle (44x56") and gathering it, cut the bodice "V" more modestly

Materials: ~2 yards of each fabric - I used a lightweight striped knit from Michael Levine's in LA and chain print knit from Joann's

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A-Line Winter Coat DIY

I started this coat more than a month ago and abandoned it for warm weather projects.  Now that the temps are a little cool and the skies are cloudy, I decided to revive it.  For this particular coat, I wanted to try an A-line silhouette and shortened the hem to give it a little balance on my short stature.  If you are a longtime reader, you may recognize this fabric from the capelet DIY :)

A-Line Coat DIY

Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate

Time: ~3 hours

Pattern:  Butterick B5822 B (minus the funnel neck, but still contemplating if I should add it - thoughts?), narrowed frame, took up the length, snap closure

Materials: 2 yards of fabric - heavy woven from Joann's

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mom's Kitchen: Easy Lo Mai Fan (Chinese Sticky Rice)

As mentioned before, I'm trying to learn how to cook my favorite childhood meals from my amazing mother.  Today, I'll be sharing Mom's Lo Mai Fan (Chinese Sticky Rice).

Mom's Lo Mai Fan 

Per Mom, there are 2 main ways you can cook this.  1.) Toss raw rice into a wok and stir constantly until cooked or 2.) Soak rice overnight prior to cooking.  Mom, always looking for ways to simplify things, does it a 3rd (fast and easy) way - cooking the rice in a rice cooker before stir frying it with other ingredients.  This may sound obvious, but sticky rice is strangely temperamental.  Cooking it on its own usually results in either a goopy mess or partially raw rice.  The trick is to mix regular rice along with it to get the perfect level of "doneness."

Prep Time: 40 minutes 

Cook Time: 15 minutes

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

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beautiful Sights from Big Island, Hawaii

We went to the Big Island last week for our family vacation and saw some amazing views - the most beautiful I've seen in real life.  If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share some snaps with you :)

The beach outside our hotel in Kona

Kahalu'u Beach - best snorkeling!  Shallow, clear waters with so many fish!  Will talk more about this in a future post.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach

Looks so beautiful with the contrast of the blue sky and lush, green plant life

Scenic view along the Kona coast

Turquoise Waters of Kua Beach

Akaka Falls

Waipio Valley Lookout - the most breathtaking view of the trip

And the most important?  Happy babies :)

All photos unedited (I'm lazy) - everything was gorgeous.  Thanks for letting me share and hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SF Eats: Dim Sum Crazy

By this time, you're probably thinking, "this woman is obsessed with food...," and you would be 100% accurate.  Living out here has only made it worse because there are SO MANY options to explore.  This week, I'd like to wax poetic about 2 very different dim sum eateries.

First up, Hong Kong Lounge (a Ping pick).  HK Lounge has an intense wait so I would highly recommend arriving right when it opens (or maybe a little before).  It's not a typical push-cart dim sum place - highly suppressing my "impulse buys"- but this also means your food is freshly prepared instead of possibly languishing on a cart.

Stuffed Crab Claws
A personal favorite of mine.  I love the combination of shrimp paste and crab meat flash fried into crunchy goodness.  Gotta say that HKL does a great job with this dish!

Char Siu Bao - Roasted Pork Bun
BUT HKL truly shines in their Char Siu Bao.  My husband, the expert, proclaimed that this was one of the best he's ever had in the US and even rivals many in Hong Kong.  That's high praise coming from him.  Though I'm no expert, I do have to say that the filling was delicious with a perfect proportion of tender meat and flavorful sauce.

Lai Wong Bao - Egg Custard Bun
My son's favorite dim sum dish is the Lai Wong Bao.  Filled with sweet custard and steamed to perfection - this was a fantastic rendition with a more lava-y filling than the one at Koi Palace.

Siu Mai 
A dim sum staple, this pork and shrimp dumpling is often mixed with Chinese black mushrooms and topped with roe.  Nice savory flavor and a gigantic shrimp at the center.

Based off of a coworker's reco, we also checked out Tomi Sushi and Seafood Buffet for their dim sum and Chinese BBQ.  I will say that I tend to be a little biased against buffet food (except Indian buffets because I love nonstop Chai and Chicken Tikka Masala), especially given the plethora of choices out here, but my coworker had piqued my interest with their Chinese dishes.

Char Siu and Grilled Salmon Collar
Ignoring the meh sushi in the background, the char siu (tender, juicy, well-flavored) and grilled salmon collar (loved the bold flame-grilled flavor) were quite good.  I went back for seconds, thirds, and fourths on the salmon.  

Dim Sum Sampling
I was quite impressed with the array of dim sum and sampled a little bit of everything.  The fried calamari and mini pineapple buns were very good.  Everything else was decent, but nothing to write home about.

Sushi Choices
Um, sushi was not their strong suit.  Most had a very fishy taste aside from "safe" bets like salmon and tuna.  Looked nice though.

Overall, for a traditional and delicious dim sum experience, I would highly recommend Hong Kong Lounge in SF and Koi Palace in Daly City / Dublin.  Tomi was a good value and had some surprising hits with the salmon collar & Chinese BBQ, but definitely not the best for dim sum / sushi.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Review: J. Crew Factory Scalloped Dress

I remember when J. Crew originally carried this dress and thought I'd give the Factory version a try:

Scalloped Dress, Sz 0, here
I think the intention of this dress is for it to be very A-line and body-skimming.  I don't have the chest required to fill that part out and so it seems overall a little schlumpy on me.  If you have a similar problem, I'd recommend trying one size down to see if the chest fits better.  It looks like 00 is available online, but I didn't see it in the store.  Good length for my 5'2" stature - hitting slightly above my knee.  I wonder if this would be too short for taller ladies?

Armholes run a tad low.  As with typical shift dresses, it is very big-lunch friendly.

If only the chest were cut a smidge smaller!
Verdict:  No, the scalloped details are darling, but this just doesn't fit me properly.

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!


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