Airline Stewardess Dress

Little e picked out the fabric for this dress which for some reason, reminds people of an airline stewardess uniform.  It was meant to look retro and originally, I had planned for it to be a black dress with white collar.  I’ve actually been looking for short boots to go with it, and I think I found this pair from Toms that I like, but it’s a bit expensive for children’s shoes that they outgrow in about a year.  I may luck out and find it at the Nordstrom Rack or a Tom’s warehouse sale.  But I think I may want it badly enough to go purchase it, even at full price.  We’ll see.  I figure, I’ve stopped buying clothes for little e, so I guess it’s ok to splurge on shoes?


This is the first dress I  made that has sleeves, pockets, and a collar.  It is also fully lined because I find that the dress holds its shape better when there is a lining.  Sure it’s a little more work, but worth it for me.  It fits her quite well, I think.  I always make the dresses a bit longer so that there’s room for me to let it out when she grows taller.  That way, hopefully her dresses can last about 3 years.


My teacher and I made the pattern together based on a simple drawing I did.  It’s actually my favorite dress that I’ve made for little e to date.  It’s different than most dresses I’ve seen for girls, almost like an adult dress in miniature.  My mom thought it would “look too old” on her but I think it’s cute.


She’s happy with it though overall, she either likes floor length dresses or ones that she can twirl in.  She did wear it to the school musical so I’m satisfied that it got some use.

I wonder how long she’ll be happy to wear my handmade dresses.  Her friends wouldn’t believe that I made them because I guess sewing clothing is so rare these days.  ….To think that Laura Ingalls used to hand sew those long gowns.  That would drive me crazy!

My Friend’s Dining Room

It’s funny how most of my good friends are not into home decorating and find it incredibly stressful while I love doing it.  So, when my friend asked me for suggestions on how to redo her dining room, I happily agreed.  I told her that I’m no designer though, so I can’t make it a certain style, I can only do it the way I like if it were my dining room.

So, below is her dining room.  It’s currently traditional in style and I think a bit dark and serious.  I prefer it to look bright and happy, with nothing too precious as she has 4 kids that she home schools.


I scoured pinterest looking for inspiration and have come up with the following thoughts.

First, I would lighten the walls and paint it in a light gray/beige color.  I’ve recently used Behr Ground Fog which was a nice greige but the rooms were very bright whereas this room is not that bright during the day.  A few other options would be Benjamin Moore Gray Owl and Sherwin Williams Aloof Gray (the color  in my living room.)  It would be a good idea to try some swatches to see what works with the lighting in this room.

Next, I would add some white wainscoting like this:


And a new chandelier:


With these Target dining chairs:


For the buffet, I would DIY one using white IKEA cabinets like House Updated did below but to keep the wood tones more consistent, I would go with a darker wood top and legs to match the legs on the target dining chairs above.  I would probably also use shaker cabinet fronts so that it doesn’t look so modern as compared to the rest of her house.


Above the buffet my friend wants to put a framed vintage map poster and she wants to keep her dining table.

Below is a dining room designed by Studio McGee.  I love their work and though it doesn’t look much like what I put together for the dining room above, it was one of the early pictures I pinned as inspiration.  I think why I gravitated towards this look is because the room overall feels very light and bright even though the dining table and chairs are dark and traditional. I really like the built in shelves and have been staring at my friend’s dining room to figure out how to incorporate built ins.  I think built ins in the entire wall with two windows would look really nice.


Ok, so there you have it, what I would do with my friend’s dining room.

By the way, I did find a much more affordable chandelier from Cost Plus World Market, but I personally would splurge on the one above because I think it’s so much nicer, gives off more light with 9 bulbs, and is something that I would be willing to spend more on because it’s a more permanent fixture.


Let’s see what my friend does with her dining room.  Maybe she’ll have a picture to share when it’s done.




Los Angeles Brunch: LA Chapter Ace Hotel

The Ace Hotel was recently mentioned on my favorite design blog, Style by Emily Henderson for its amazing design, which reminded me of when we went to eat there last year.  Below are some pictures that E took of what we ate at the LA Chapter Ace Hotel.  Being that this was over a year ago, my memory is a bit faded of how the food actually tasted.  I told E that we need to start writing down our thoughts while we’re in the moment of eating the food from now on.


E ordered this Moroccan scramble with sausage, avocado, chickpeas, cilantro and peppers.  The favors were quite unique for a scramble and tasted good.  Different, but good.  For some reason, I have this recollection that it reminded us a bit of Vietnamese favors ( even though it’s Moroccan.)  Which is actually inspiring me to come up with some Vietnamese style omelet.


Little e and c ordered these ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter.  I remember thinking that these pancakes were very delicious, extraordinarily moist due to the ricotta and little e, being the butter lover that she is, LOVED the honeycomb butter.


My fried chicken sandwich was ok.  I remember being on this kick to find a good chicken sandwich and being disappointed by this one.  It was just too oily, and I guess who eats chicken sandwiches for breakfast?

Hawaiian Dress #2

As I mentioned in the previous Hawaiian Dress post, I’ve started buying fabric when I travel and it makes a great souvenir.  So, when we were in Maui, little e chose this fabric for herself.  However, there was some miscommunication and I did not realize that she wanted to make a dress herself with the fabric, so instead, I used the fabric to make a dress for her.  Oops!  Oh well, so I promised to take her to the fabric store to get a replacement. In the meantime, she’s happy with the dress I made and promised to wear it the next two Sundays to church.


This is a very simple dress pattern and is the same one I used to make the first dress I ever made for little e (which is still her favorite dress).  The fabric I bought from Tokyo and seems to catch people’s attention because this is the only dress that little e has worn where people have liked and asked where she’s got it from.  Then she happily tells them, “my mom made it.”  =)   It’s always nice when people actually think the dresses I made were store bought rather than home made, though as an aside, my dad seems to think every dress I wear I made.  I was wearing a Tory Burch dress one day and he asked me if I made it.  Ha ha, I wish.


Anyway, back to the Hawaiian dress.  Instead of making a lining, I wrapped the edge with bias tape.  I actually like it better with a lining (above dress) because I don’t like to see that stitching line on the outside (below) and I also feel the dress has less structure without a lining.  In fact, I think this bias bind was way more work as we had to make the bias tape.


I also ended up with the same problem as I did with the other Hawaiian dress which was that I only bought 1 yard and ran out of fabric.  The previous dress I made was way “pouf-ier” and I  just didn’t have enough fabric to add to the skirt.  Little e loved twirling around in that one so I will need to buy more fabric and make her a dress more similar to that first one (which she wore to a daddy/daughter dance, by the way.)


Still, she does like this one as she loves the fabric.  My thought was to take Hawaiian prints and use them to make more modern looking dresses, rather than the traditional Hawaiian dresses (like a mu mu) so that she could get more regular wear out of them, rather than having them look costume-y.


I think this worked.  To me, at least, it looks like an everyday wear dress, but still has a bit of that island feel.


I think little e has way too many dresses now.  I’m so addicted to sewing, though and can’t stop.  Good thing that our cousins are all having baby girls now.  I want to try my hand at sewing some baby clothes, soon.

The Checkered A-Line Dress

Little e picked out this fabric over a year ago and finally made a dress with it.  She calls it “The Checkered A-Line Dress.”  She designed it herself, starting with a drawing which her teacher helped her make into a pattern.  This dress has a yolk lining and the waist band is finished on both sides.


I’m so proud of her!  She put in her own zipper and lined up the waist band perfectly.  It even has darts on it.  The fit was originally a bit wide on her so I had to take it in under the arms 3/4 inch on each side but otherwise, the dress fit perfectly.


I’ve actually never made an A-line dress yet, so I learned something from looking at her dress construction.  See the hidden zipper?


Let’s hope little e keeps up with this.   E is waiting for her to sew him a suit.  Actually, she did design a purple suit for my dad with a pink polka dotted bow tie (yet to be made).  My dad said he’ll wear it to her wedding.


“I picked this fabric because I liked the color.  I got the A-line idea from a picture of an A-line skirt on my sewing machine.  It used to be long but mom said I should shorten it above my knees so it looks better now.  I’m very pleased with it. ”

little e

Alright, I’d better learn how to sew some of my own clothes now that little e is making her own.

Los Angeles Brunch Spot: Poppy + Rose

On Saturdays, my family likes to go to different restaurants for brunch.   A more recent favorite is Poppy + Rose which is located right in the Los Angeles Flower Mart. Parking in the deck of the Flower Mart has never been a problem for us (not difficult to find a space) and is only $4.   With validation at Poppy + Rose, it’s even cheaper, at only $2 for the entire day, I believe. You can’t find parking for that price anywhere in downtown LA.

Besides the delicious brunch food, which we’ll get to in a second, I get to pick up flowers from the Flower Mart, and then walk a quick few blocks over into the Fashion District where I go with little E to pick up fabric, notions, and beads.  It’s a win win for the entire family as E and little c can leisurely finish their brunch while little e and I go do our shopping.  After brunch, E and little c head right outside to the street market where they always buy our favorite Mexican fruit drink, Agua Fresca.  There are many flavors but we get the mango and passion fruit drinks, which are really good, and packed with fresh fruit.  It always tastes surprisingly natural to me when it looks like it could be artificial tasting.


Now, onto the Poppy + Rose menu.  Our all time favorite is this pulled pork hash on top of a potato patty topped with crème fraîche and two eggs cooked however you like, with some arugula.  This must have been little e’s order because she likes her eggs fried, while E would have liked it with runny eggs, sunny side up.  The pulled pork is BBQ flavored and cooked so that it’s perfectly tender and soft.  That potato patty is probably the best “hash brown” I’ve ever head, with great flavor and a wonderful crunchy exterior.


E ordered a short rib french dip sandwich off of the lunch menu.  …Very tasty and the meat was nice and juicy.  I usually order the rib tips breakfast burrito  which includes ribs, eggs, cheese, brick hash (same hash that I described above but cut in pieces), crème fraîche, BBQ sauce, and mixed greens.  Having BBQ ribs inside your breakfast burrito is a very nice touch.  I don’t have a picture, though, because I realize I rarely take pictures of my food.  E always likes to take pictures and post them on yelp, so I had to go through his phone to pull out old pictures.  I probably started eating too quickly for him to get a shot.  I’m always starving at meal times.


Lastly, we ordered steel cut oatmeal for little c.  I wanted to get him something healthier, and he tends to eat better when we can feed him things with a spoon (rather than having him pick up a sandwich, or a burrito).  Unfortunately, he was not a fan.  Nothing special about the oatmeal and the fruit was sour so he didn’t even want that (though he normally loves fruit.)  Oh well.

But otherwise, this is a great place, though the lines get long on the weekend.  However, if you have multiple people in the party, one person can wait while the others shop the flower mart.  There is so much to see!

Children’s Messenger Bag

One of the first bags I’ve ever sewn was this kid sized messenger bag.  The tutorial was very detailed and easy for a novice sewer to figure out and I was quite proud of my results. Below is my first attempt at the tutorial and is a present I gave to my god daughter.  I asked her what color she likes and she told me yellow so I used this mustard colored linen Japanese fabric for the outer flap and interior.  The instructions called for round stick on velcro tabs which were not good at all.  I’ve tried these velcro tabs twice and they just do not stick well.  I ended up hand sewing those tabs on to stabilize but they are still so flimsy and probably have already fallen off.


I next tried to make the same bag for little e.  I used a navy blue canvas for her and she chose the Liberty fabric I picked up in London.  I love perusing the Liberty for London Haberdashery section on the fourth floor.  One side is all fabrics and notions while the other side is full of Rowan yarns.  I used to go just for picking up yarn for my mom who loves knitting, but now, I also spend hours in the fabric section, debating which print to purchase as they are quite expensive compared to the other fabric I typically purchase. Little e has expensive taste, I guess, pulling out my most prized fabric from the stash.


This bag is actually the perfect size for a kid, I think.  It’s big enough to fit a hard covered book, some note pads and pens.  Little e carries this every Sunday to church and it fits her hard covered bible, some pens, and her little wallet.  I’m glad to see it getting good use.



It has no pockets or zippers on the inside, though.  I haven’t yet attempted a more complicated bag because I’ve since then got caught up with making clothes for little e. However, I have so many ideas of bags that I want to make.  I wish that there were more time in the day!

Princess “Lounge Wear”

I want to develop a line of pajamas for little girls that would make them feel like a princess, made with high quality, soft fabric, in a “non tacky” design.  The Disney princess pajamas are poor quality (almost costume-like) and in my opinion, rather tacky and uncomfortable.  I wanted to use the same material that is used to make those popular baby swaddles by aden + anis, a very soft muslin that is warm, but yet breathable.  Actually, my mom told me that’s what babies wear in Taiwan and I guess it’s just been made popular in the US by aden + anis.

However, the US has strict standards about children’s pajamas and the need to be fire retardant, or else, tight fitting.  The restriction apparently doesn’t apply to babies, which is why this material can be used for baby products, although don’t quote me on this.  I haven’t done enough research.  In my mind, having my kids wear pajamas sprayed with fire retardant  seems counter intuitive to all of the efforts I make trying to have the family eat organic, use non toxic shampoos, detergents, etc.  I assume not having them catch fire is more important but I wonder what the risk/probability of that is.  So, a friend suggested that I call these princess clothes, lounge wear rather than pajamas.


I found this muslin at the fabric store and it is not cheap.  The solid peach/pink fabric was $17 per yard and the white patterned fabric was $12 or $13 per yard, making the materials alone about $30.  That’s more than I would spend on pre-made pajamas but I couldn’t find anything like this anywhere (or maybe I just don’t shop that much.)

E took one look and said, ugh, it looks like Pride and Prejudice.  That is exactly the look I was going for!  I guess guys don’t appreciate this look because E vetoed me making one for myself.  Or maybe it’s just E.

I really like it, though, and plan to make some for my friends’ kids if time permits.  Maybe I’m the only one in the whole world that likes something like this which is why it isn’t currently commercially available.  That would make me really unique.  heh heh.  In any case, every time I see little e in it, which is every night, it makes me happy.  Maybe I WILL make one for myself.


“The dress is very comfortable.  I like the design because it’s got dandelions on it and it makes me feel dreamy because dandelions are supposed to grant wishes.  It’s fun to float around in it and act like a princess.”                                                                                                      –                                                                                                                                                   Little e

I should gather some more feedback from little e’s friends after I make a batch and see what they think.

ps. excuse the messy room.  We’re still working on little e’s cleaning habits.



The Ruffle Dress

I took up sewing to have something fun to do with little e.  So, I’m not the only sew-er in the house.  Little e likes to make dresses for herself and presents for the family.  She’s already busy thinking about Christmas presents for this year.

I thought I’d share something that little e made mostly on her own, with just a little help from me.  She picked the fabric herself, which came with the ruffles.   I had some pink fabric lying around, which I used for the lining, but it probably would have been much better with a darker fabric.  Also, she and I have since improved a bit on our sewing skills, so this looks a little rough, and was a project from last summer.  But I’m pretty proud that she came up with the design and sewed the dress herself.


It’s probably the proud mom in me speaking, but I actually think this looks similar to a dress that I saw a few years ago from crewcuts.  It was super easy to do and we finished it in a few hours one afternoon.  Little e doesn’t have much patience beyond that.


Our sewing teacher said some of her students have put themselves through college by doing alternations on the side.  I thought it would be a useful skill for little e to have and will definitely teach patience and how to sit still.  Plus, maybe by the time she’s 13, she can be on project runway junior.  heh heh.  Or, at least, she told me her goal was to make her own wedding dress.  We’ll see…  For now, we have fun sewing together in our studio.


Hawaiian Dress

We went to Maui this summer and stayed at the Westin Kaanapali Villas for a great price offered by Starwood.  I think they wanted us to buy a timeshare, but unlike the usual timeshare trips, we didn’t have to sit through a timeshare presentation, though we opted to sit through one for a free 1 hour private photo session.  It’s rare for us to get formal family portraits so it was worth it.  The villas were amazing, right on the beach, clean, and convenient with a kitchen and washer/dryer in each suite.  It was great to be able to cook and sit outside on our little porch for meals and there were some great pools that the kids enjoyed.  They also had some fun classes to take and little e did lei and soap making, and basket weaving.  It was a fun and relaxing family vacation.


I’m not a knick-knacks person so I tended not to buy any souvenirs when I traveled (besides clothes). However, over the years, I’ve learned to pick up some fun souvenirs that I didn’t mind keeping around the house.   One is buying a print, photograph, or painting wherever we go if we can find one that we like and fits the aesthetic of our house.  It’s fun to have people comment on our wall decor and for us to reminisce about the places where they were purchased.  Another is buying books.  Little e and c have children’s books from all over that E and I have picked up on our business trips.  Usually we find either local classics, or books about the location.  The challenge is sometimes finding something in English, but usually we can find at least a few to choose from.  Most recently, with my new sewing hobby, I’ve been buying fabric everywhere, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Taiwan, etc.  So, when little e wanted a souvenir, we hit up Sew Special, a local fabric store, to pick up some Hawaiian prints.

I picked up this Rayon print and wanted to make a casual and comfortable flow-y dress, something like a sarong.  So, this is what I came up with.


I have actually never sewed a dress from a pattern before.  My sewing instructor taught me how to make a block for little e, and everything else that I make is just a modification to that block, whether it’s to change the neckline, add different sleeves, skirts, etc.  I haven’t ventured into shorts, yet, but that will be coming soon.

It didn’t turn out quite as I envisioned, mainly because I completely ran out of fabric.  I’ve been buying 1 yard of fabric for the longest time, and now realizing that it’s not enough for little e to make a fuller dress.  I wanted 4 more panels on the bottom to make a fuller skirt and obviously I can’t go back to Maui to get more.


However, I think it actually looks okay on her.  Though, maybe I should have made a romper. That would have been cute.  I will have to try that next time.


Little e said I should call her “Valerie” on my blog post.  Hmmm, ok.

There you have it, a souvenir from Maui for Valerie, and fun for mom to make.