Handmade men’s vintage style cardigan

One of my favorite things I ever made was a men’s cardigan, made with a ponte double knit fabric for structure. It’s an incredibly simple and quick garment to make, and I love that the ponte fabric is pretty wrinkle resistant. Here is a famous model in one of the cardigans. He’s quite tall so I customized them to his size.


Wait that’s not a cardigan model, that’s a baby wearing my hat!


Capsule Wardrobe: my finished embroidered Alabama Chanin tank top at Commissary at The Line

Alabama Chanin tank, GAP skirt from 2001, UO hearty leather sandals, gifted DogEared necklace

I love actually getting dressed and going into town to see old friends. I recently went to celebrate a good friend’s birthday and got tucked in by chef Roy Choi (of Kogi food truck fame) at Commissary at The Line Hotel and Break Room 86 which, hey Crystal, is just down the street from our old stomping grounds in K-Town! My, how things change. Oh, and by tucked in I mean we ate at his hotel restaurant.

Tracing the pattern
Tracing the pattern

Noemi (Yelp Elite) and The Other Helen Kim have a penchant for always knowing just the place to go to experience food and culture. Corban’s ironic cocktail came in a tupperware container so you know this place is the hip bee’s knees.

Walking to the super swank Break Room 86, I told Matthew and Corban about the time I was invited to a birthday party in Hollywood. I thought it was at someone’s apartment, so I dressed comfortably (we’re talking Midwest church outfit — loose khaki pants, loafers, and button down) and brought a large cheese platter on a stone board. I should’ve been the wiser once I saw that the “apartment” had a bouncer. I walked in to the dark room, and to my chagrin, HWood was a club with celebs and all the most beautiful people right in front of me, NOT wearing khaki pants and sweater vests I might add. I panicked and stashed my cheese platter in a corner and nonchalantly went to join my friends. I’m surprised the bouncer didn’t see my platter and point me to the service entrance.

Well, enough about swanky places that are too cool for my blood. I wore my finished Alabama Chanin tank top!!! I love it so much, I wear it every week. It’s comfortable, upcycled, handmade, and a little piece of fashion art. I didn’t finish embroidering the whole thing, but from time to time will work on it while we’re watching a movie, on a roadtrip, etc. I wore the top with a crocheted mini skirt (old) and some new grey clog-like sandals I hemmed and hawed over but love now (Kenneth Cole past season.)

Climbing Daisy stencil
Climbing Daisy stencil, Cretan stitch for the arms and neckline

Here are the items I needed to make the tank:

  • The sewing pattern from my Alabama Chanin Sewing Studio + Design book
  • Sky blue Gutermann hand quilting thread to sew it together and embroider it
  • Peach embroidery thread
  • Climbing Daisy stencil from the book.
  • An old men’s t-shirt size large to make a size medium women’s tank top. You’ll need the leftover scraps for the arm and neck binding.
  • 5mm cotton tape (embroidery ribbon) from Alabama Chanin (I haven’t purchased this yet)
  • alabama_chanin_climbing_daisy

I had SO much fun making this. I loved bringing it with me in my project bag to ballgames and constructing a garment without sitting by my lonesome in front of a sewing machine. My favorite part was sewing the felled flat seams to sew the entire top together… by hand, say what?! Sewing the tank top is really quick. Making the stencil, transferring the stencil, embroidering the arm and neck holes, and embroidering the flowers is a long process, but very meditative. It’s like knitting since it takes forever, but it’s something fun to do while you’re also doing something else like hollering at Nori Aoki at Angel Stadium.

original: Getty Images
original: Getty Images


The only thing I would change is make sure the arm holes fit just right. I think I may have stretched it out a bit before sewing it all together. The amazing thing about Alabama Chanin-style clothing is the style is so classic, like your favorite delicately embroidered cardigan. It transcends trends, so even though it’s not a plain t-shirt, you can still style the pieces with so many things. This is a key piece in my Capsule Wardrobe Experiment. I love you, new blue shirt.

Have you filled out the short Capsule Wardrobe sheet to assess your closet yet and make your life a lot simpler?

Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise Girls in Bridal Photo Shoot by Valerie Denise Photos

Check out Iowa/ Cali girl Valerie Denise Photos, shooting this beautiful Taylor Swift-inspired bridal photo shoot. This girl has talent, loves Jesus, and has the most fun, effervescent personality. Check out her work on Us Weekly!

Photo credit: Valerie Denise Photos
Photo credit: Valerie Denise Photos

My capsule wardrobe experiment. Sustainable fashion, Unfancy free download.

I woke up like this.

Did you catch my article I wrote for the Yellow Conference about rifts in friendships?


Guess what ladies and gents?! I’ve decided to start a personal capsule wardrobe! I started off by downloading Unfancy’s free worksheet to help me figure out how to edit my closet. I’m in the middle of putting together outfits from what I have, and the next step will be buying (or making) fall pieces to fill in the gaps. I’m super excited!! Why a capsule wardrobe you ask?

  1. I have been feeling like I never have anything new to wear, and that I’m always wearing the same type of thing.
  2. I don’t have much closet space.
  3. I want to steer clear of the pathetic emptiness of a meaningless consumer-driven life. (Quote from one of my favorite movies- name it!)
  4. I’m tired of buying a piece of clothing/shoes mainly because it was on sale, and then never wearing it, or wearing it and feeling weird all day.
  5. Having a capsule wardrobe will be easier on the environment and my pocketbook.


I knew a few pieces I needed were some comfortable edgy booties, comfortable flat boots, sturdy leather sandals, a chiffon kimono (I’ve been working on making one for way too long), and a couple of slouch tees that I have a sewing pattern for.

Well, it seems a bit ridiculous, but I bought 5 pairs of shoes within a week. I promise it is the result of careful planning (mostly) and will contribute to my easier way of life!

One of the first things I need to do is assess my closet. This outfit (pictured) was the result of the beginnings of that. Swedish Hasbeen Super High clogs with Just Fab red crop jeans, and A.N.A. top. Necklace- found or blessed charms. Fabric and leather bag- handmade by me (the fabric I bought in the fabric district the same day Matthew proposed!) The jeans and top are maybe 5 years old.

I’m taking photos of all of my outfits I’m putting together, complete with different hairstyles and accessories, and saving them to my Shutterfly app so that I can refer back to them. Well, here we go! I’m super excited. Do you think you’d benefit from creating a capsule wardrobe?



Fashion girls rocking it in SoCal! Goldsheep sewing like mad for Miss Teen USA

It’s been exciting seeing the progression on Keri Wilson’s Facebook from concept to final Miss Teen USA product. In such a short time, Keri of Goldsheep, in partnership with Tapout, handmade 320 pieces in 2 weeks for the Miss Teen USA swimsuit-turned-athleticwear competition. Go Keri! She’s such a hard worker- so inspiring! Read more about it here.


Pattern review McCall’s summer halter dress M7405 – and bloopers

Here’s my fashion tip of the week: when your mom wears jeggings that have a fake zipper placket on the front, remind her to not put them on backwards. I saw this humorous sight the other day at the store and I just had to laugh because someday that will be me.


I finally made a dress for myself that I love! This summer I tried making a kimono dress, then I tried making a shiny structured dress, but those were mostly failures. Well, I am almost done with my Alabama Chanin tank top, and I love that as well as my super comfy pajama pants.

The pattern I used is McCall’s M7405. It’s a cute halter dress that I’ve wanted to make for years. I finally did it because, well, JoJo on the Bachelorette kept wearing halters and she looked so darn cute!


I bought 2.5 yards of 45″ rayon challis floral fabric. Challis “art silk” can get super wrinkly but I love how it drapes and it’s so breathable. I used pattern A, but wanted it longer, so I added 7.5 inches to the length since that’s what my 2.5 yards of fabric gave me.

I’m normally a size small, but I went up to a medium because that’s what the measurements on the package told me to use. I ended up taking it in so much that it was a size XS. Pattern A didn’t come with a belt, so I used my satin robe’s belt just to see what it would look like. I loved the look so much I decided to just use that with the dress!

This dress took me about 3 hours to make, minus washing and ironing the fabric. It’s such a quick sew because there are only 3 pieces in the pattern! Some tweaks I made to the pattern are adding a keyhole in the front. I just cut down the front until just above my cleavage area. It’s not perfect enough that you should use that technique to sell clothes, but it works for me. I also made the side slit higher up on the leg to above the knee.

I just love this pattern and will definitely be making a couple more of these at some point in a floor-length version and a handkerchief hem version! I saw a handkerchief hem halter dress on Rent The Runway and I just have to have it.

Here are some more views of the dress as well as some bloopers to go along with it, because you gotta laugh at yourself sometimes!

mccalls_halter2 mccalls_halter3 mccalls_halter1

I opened up this family’s tent, and you’ll never believe what I saw… (Independence Day, Alabama Chanin, Mount Hood)

Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood

Well, Independence Day weekend came and went. We are back home from our family reunion trip to Bend, Oregon, and we are tired and full of chicken and cole slaw. I smiled for a gajillion photos and blew bubbles until I almost passed out while a 3 year old growled and danced before all the bubbles. Grandpa G. showed us the wood shop he built and told us some jokes. One of my favorites:

Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack came down and broke $10 and I got a buck twenty-five.

And we heard variations of this knock knock joke for ten minutes straight from 3-year-old Lucy:

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Banana. Banana who?

Don’t worry, we’re going in a banana!

Knock Knock. Who’s there? Purple banana. Purple banana who?

Don’t worry, we’re going in a purple banana!


So the title of this post is poking fun at click bait. But I guess it literally is click bait, sorry. Well, I’ll tell you what I saw that left me shocked for the next hour or so.

So there I was, walking with little Lucy to their tent to get her toy. She opened up the tent, and this is what I saw. I just stared at it, not fully hearing Lucy’s questions to me. Could this be? I wanted to believe it but didn’t want to get my hopes up. We walked back to where everyone was lounging and I asked my new sister-in-law Lorraine, “So, is Alabama Chanin in your tent?” She laughed and said, yes, she’s making a dress, and has almost all of their books.



*photos taken with permission from hand-sewing goddess

I previously wrote about my obsession for Alabama Chanin here. And… my freakout starts again- THEY HAVE A NEW COLLECTION!! Instagram, you let me down. How did I not know this?

The Antheia skirt… words cannot express how much I love and need this skirt. But at $3,240, you can see why Natalie Chanin publishes books teaching people how to make their own!

Antheia Skirt Alabama Chanin
Antheia hand-sewn, hand-appliquéd organic cotton skirt Alabama Chanin

Back to Lorraine’s creation: The hanging pieces are panels on her dress that are two pieces (one red, one black) of jersey fabric put together and then embroidered and appliquéd, like a lovely handmade quilt, but for clothing! A few tricks Lorraine has to making the stencils is to get a special craft swivel stencil X-acto knife. She also uses fabric spray paint for the stencils instead of paint-and-sponge since it both dries quickly and can be applied quickly. I loved that while a bunch of us played mini-golf in the backyard, she followed us, appliquéing away.

The thing I love about us youngins hand-making, hand-appliquéing our own clothing is we are carrying forth the traditions that our grandmas/aunts/mothers had. If I were a journalist I would love to chronicle all of the quilts Grandma G. handmade for all of her grandchildren. And I do mean entirely sewn by hand, in her lap, and hand-quilted. Later this week I’ll share the amazing quilt that was hanging in our guest bedroom in Bend, Oregon.

Tomorrow’s post I’ll show some photos from our family reunion during Independence weekend.


Reducing My Footprint: How I get designer brands at sample sale prices (And Trouves Top Four!)

If you’re looking for our wedding post, here it is.


Reducing My Footprint

In order to be friendly to the earth and people as well as not dress the same as everyone else, I love living simply and shopping secondhand. I had to share this amazing jacket from the GAP that I saw on Thredup. I have one that I “made” a few years ago- I had this dark denim motorcycle jacket sitting in my closet for the longest time- I just never felt like it went with anything. Then, I had the inspiration to bleach it. I put a little bleach in a bucket with I think ten parts water, and all of the dye came off in a few minutes. It looked just like this jacket that is only $24 at Thredup right now! I wear it so often that it’s one of the few jackets I took with me to California when I moved.



Thredup is an online consignment shop that has gently worn or new-with-tags clothing and accessories. I got some cute heels from Thredup recently but then I decided to change the wedding outfit I was wearing, so I ended up just wearing my Swedish Hasbeens. Matthew just loves his play on words and uses it whenever he can, that I am wearing my Swedish Hasbeens while walking with my Swedish husband. emoticon

I also love my local Salvation Army and another thrift store that I cannot tell you about because it’s just too good! I got the cutest shoes at Salvation Army for $3- Like-new red vintage leather low heels and some like-new Seychelles wedges! I about died when I saw them. I try to either not shop, or I’ll try to shop for gently-worn items, but this past weekend I thought, you know, I just need to know what all the Kate Spade fuss is about. I only got one purse and you know what? I love it!

Respect and Kindness

Tonight we had pretty slow service at a fast food restaurant. We just wanted ice cream but it took ten times longer than it should have. We patiently waited and whiled away the time thinking about things in our brain. Then a man said to me something about the horrible service and I said I understood, I used to work in fast food. When he got his food and said something rude to the counter person, who struggled for words, I lost it. I said stuff about not being rude, and just being nice while my husband patted my shoulder to settle down. He said “I’m not talking to you.” Are we ten? “Just be nice.” It’s not hard. It took a few minutes for my nostrils to stop flaring. I think because I was bullied as a kid, I stick up for people whenever I can.

This is why I think everyone should work in food service at some point in their lives because you will get the rudest customers, but you develop empathy for the rest of your life because of it.

Companies I Love

On a sad note, Oh Hello Friend in Fullerton closed! You can read more about it on Danni’s blog. On a happier note, Found moved in and will be carrying some of the same items Oh Hello Friend carried. I first heard about this home design and wedding rental company a couple of months ago and was impressed with their designs. If you live in the area, make sure to stop in!


How to be a Great Speaker

I watched this Ted Talk the other day and it was really inspiring. Take a peek!

My Faves from MET Gala & My New Sewing Book from Alabama Chanin

Now that my dress drooling is over, here are my favorites of the dresses I’ve seen from the MET gala, Manus x Machina. It makes me want to build an eclectic dress and find a fancy event to attend. Well, I do have a few weddings to go to this year so instead of going out and buying something, I am planning on embroidering/appliquéing a dress- an upcycled jersey from t-shirts. For my birthday I got the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and I LOVE it. It has around ten patterns in it, with instructions on how they stencil and embroider on their clothing at Alabama Chanin. We will see how my dress turns out!


Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace. Screws holding her dress together.


Karolina Kurkova wearing Marchesa


Emma Watson by Calvin Klein and Eco Age in a recycled plastic dress




Selena Gomez – love the pairing of the fitted leather vest over billowy chiffon.


Trouvés Top Five! Highlights from this week to make life a little sweeter.

I always feel the need to share what amazing discoveries I happen upon to make life a little easier. Brought to you by Trouvés Top Five!

Echo Park birthdays, you know
Echo Park birthdays, you know


The hair tie bracelet is a thing of pure genius. Patent pending.



I found a new workout series to do called “Train Like an Angel.” It’s, um, workouts by Victoria’s Secret Angels.  It’s crazy how doing a few slow ballet poses makes you sweat really quickly. You can find the videos on Youtube. I’ve been doing more yoga and ballet workouts as I used to have to lift a lot of weights back in the day, so my body is a little bulkier than I would prefer. The ballet workouts help lengthen my muscles. I’m doing an okay job at working out, but the main reason I have been trying to get my heart rate up 3 times a week is because I’ve been having some health issues that they say would’ve not manifested had I been getting enough sleep and exercise and taking my vitamins. So ladies and gents, this is my plea to you to get movin! Even if it’s a workout video starring supermodels that most of us don’t and won’t look like… but hey they’re beautiful, you’re beautiful.

Healthy Eating

One thing I love in the summer is iced tea. I’ve started cold brewing some orange apple cinnamon iced tea in the fridge so that I’ll drink that instead of reaching for a sugary juice or a cookie. You just place some tea bags in a pitcher with water and stick it in the fridge for two hours to brew, or half an hour at room temperature, and voilá! An easy and healthy treat. (Side note: drinking/eating too many cold foods wreaks havoc on our bodies, so I actually try to drink room-temperature and hot liquids more often than not.)

Living with Grace

One thing I’ve been really mindful of lately is how I am not portraying myself on social media. A mom-friend of mine said I lived a charmed life, while in some cases was true, I made sure to tell her about our struggles. I didn’t want to contribute to the culture of not-enough, of deceiving others by displaying a pristine, elevated life instead of joining in solidarity with my sisters. I think it’s important we are all mindful of being honest about our lives, without feeling like we need to bear our souls on the internet.

It’s interesting that I happened upon the last copy of For the Love by Jen Hatmaker at this pop-up book fair in the lobby of the Social Security building. Really enjoying reading it so far.

from thebloominghydrangea.com
from thebloominghydrangea.com

Taylor Swift

I didn’t know Taylor Swift could sing like that. I just read her interview in the latest issue of Vogue. Really good.