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!


The Day I met James Caan: 13th Day of Christmas Trivia

Allow me this flashback in my little quiet life I lead. Here’s the answer to my Instagram question… “Which Elf stars did I have the pleasure of meeting?” And also, Happy Thirteenth Day of Christmas!!! I hope you didn’t take down your decorations yet because it’s still celebration time until Epiphany!

James Caan

Zooey Deschanel
To be honest, it was a bit anticlimactic since at that point in my life I hadn’t actually seen Elf or The Godfather, and New Girl was light years away.

I had checked “Mr. Jimmy Caan” as his friend called him, into a tournament, and I just smiled as his friend tried to name drop… er, I guess, person drop since he was standing right there. There you have it, pretty exciting, huh?

And I didn’t actually meet Zooey but here’s the story: I was working in West L.A., eating lunch with a filmmaker friend when he whispered, “I think that’s Zooey Deschanel.” She walked by us and walked into a Greek restaurant. Our coworker was obsessed with Zooey so we called him to come down. She actually finished eating before us and drove away in her black BMW. She was cute and petite. And that concludes Julia’s Magnificent 12th Day of Christmas Trivia. Tune in next week when I tackle the ubiquitous question where our other sock went post-laundry. Okay, I can’t wait. I have the answer. They get stuck inside sheets/tshirts/clothes and we don’t find them because we have too many clothes that we wear but once.


Quick One Day Striped Baby Quilt with Satin Binding Tutorial


Happy Friday all. As I write this post about baby quilts, I’ve heard twice now a conversation one of the neighbors is having.


Girl: You’re hurting me!

Different Guy: Let go of her, Frank, you’re hurting her.

(mumbling, cursing, yelling)

Guy: Why should I let go of her?!

Different Guy: *pause* Because I love her.

Then a round of applause and jazz music.

Apparently one of my neighbors is hosting a play in their apartment in the middle of the day? I was about to call the cops. Okay I just went and looked- There is some sort of garden party at the school park, and I’m sad I wasn’t invited.

Striped Baby Quilt

I have had this quilt in mind for a month or so, as my cousin had another baby and I wanted to make something special. Altogether this baby quilt takes about a full day for an intermediate sewer. Like any worthy project invested in, I don’t want to see it go, but it is going off to get loved.


Cotton batting (I used Warm & Natural 34×45 inches for a baby quilt)

Enough cotton quilt-weight fabric to make a 34×45″ quilt, prewashed

Cotton backing fabric 34×45″, prewashed

2.5″ wide binding 165″ long (I used satin bias binding)


baby quiltI tore up strips that were all 35 inches wide (1 inch wider than the batting for margin of error) and all various lengths until it measured a 46″ long quilt. I arranged the strips the way I wanted, then sewed at 1/4″. Make sure to start on the same side of the quilt top each time you sew a strip on.

Iron seams to one side.



Arrange the quilt back, cotton batting, and quilt top together, and safety pin it all together, starting in the middle. I put pins about 6″ apart.

I wanted to hand quilt with a running stitch the felled flat seam, but ain’t nobody got time for that (most of the time), so I machine quilted it together, sewing through the 1/4″ seam allowance of each quilt top strip. Make sure the edges of the backing is in place before you start sewing each section. I had one small part that had moved a little bit and caused me some trouble.

Trim the edges of the quilt.

Apply the binding. I couldn’t remember how to do it so I just watched a Fons video on Youtube. I actually did 2″ strips but 2.5″ would have been a lot easier to work with.

To finish it off, add a personalized cross-stitched label to the quilt, and voila! A beautiful handmade quilt for your loved ones made in just a day.


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?

Linen and flannel bird blanket sewing project: cool in summer, warm in winter

Happy Fall 2016 everyone! All-American girls, break out the Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Or save that $25/week ($1100/yr) latte habit to invest in a house, but you know, to each her own.

Today I’m sharing with you a linen blanket I just loved creating, but first, if you want to learn about an opportunity for you to donate items to our shipping container home development for veterans in Orange County, look at the comprehensive list of needed items here!

Cotton and linen throw prayer blanket

Linen and Flannel Birthday Throw Blanket

I was perusing Pinterest and saw the loveliest hearty linen throw blankets with mitered corners and had to make one for my friend Noemi’s birthday coming up. I think blankets are such a special gift, especially if they are quilts laboriously made by hand. I remember watching my mom making thick comforters for us. My grandmother-in-law also made a quilt for every one of her grandchildren. Before Matthew and I got married, it was the only blanket he had. Now he’s married into about ten blankets- a lot of blankets for a single gal. What can I say, I’m one of those blanket hoarders. The first throw blanket I ever bought with my own money was a yellow knit Martha Stewart throw from the Cherokee K-Mart when I was in high school. I was obsessed with Martha Stewart and I just had to have this one.

I got enough fabric to make a 40×50 blanket. I looked at all of the cotton flannel and was torn between a rustic plaid and the cutesy blue bird. I settled on the bird because she loves birds, and it’s a serene fabric for when you want to feel cozy with a cup of tea on the couch. I followed Sew Much Ado’s tutorial on how to do a mitered corner blanket. I also had to watch a few videos to get it down. What made it difficult was that my blanket wasn’t square, it was a rectangle, so I had to miter the corners in a different way — the Julia way.

Mitering corners
Mitering corners

The cotton flannel is a nice warm fabric for winter, and the naturally-antibacterial-linen is great for cool summer nights. I wanted to use hemp but since it is not readily available (you know, the whole illegal thing), linen is a wonderful alternative. Years ago I read in my book The French-Inspired Home by Kaari Meng (French General in Atwater Village) that hemp sheets are amazing to sleep with since they help regulate body temperature. No more tossing and turning! Linen has the same properties, and is a very agreeable alternative.



What is a prayer blanket you ask? Well, I prayed while I made the blanket, then I went over to the church and Father K graciously walked back to the office to bless it for me. The prayers go with the blanket to offer comfort. If you are in the Orange County area, let me know if you are in need of a blanket for someone who is ill, made possible through the prayer blanket ministry.

My Case for Natural Fibers- I threw the biggest fuss when I went camping for the first time as an adult in Yosemite. I realized too late that the sleeping bag was mostly polyester, and that’s why I felt damp all night. Our next camping trip, which will be in Death Valley, I am going to sew myself a linen sheet, and just wait for the R.E.M. dream fairies to come rushing in.

Our little Linus
Our little Linus

And here is our pretty little Linus at Commissary at The Line Hotel. We had a great time celebrating this spunky gal at a fun venue. Friends for life!

Violinist & Knitter-About-Town, Mia

Creative Women Profile: Violinist & Knitter-About-Town, Mia

“When I was two years old, growing up in Austin, Texas, I saw a mariachi band playing in Whole Foods. Later at home I played dress up with a mariachi hat I had and pretended to play violin with a wooden spoon and a chopstick.  Because of that my parents got me lessons on a real one and 20 years later I’m still playing.”11217951_876733299068568_448873870817528343_o
I love me some beautiful soul-stirring violin music (admit it- you cry listening to classical music too), and I also love knitters knitting. If you’re in the DC area, make sure to attend one of Mia’s orchestra’s concerts and tell ’em Trouvés sent ya!
Knitted mittens
Knitted mittens in the round
Yarns and Knitting: I’m a big fangirl for Quince and Co. and Madeline Tosh. I’ve heard amazing things about Looped Yarn Works (D.C.) that I’d love to visit soon.
For me, my experiences in NYC and LA represent two sides of the creative process — LA felt more relaxed and artistic, the flowering creativity part of art; NYC was more driven and ambitious, the gritty side of art that drives you to get things out there in the world.  I’m really grateful to have experienced both.  I’m in DC now and I miss NYC a lot but my plans are actually angling more towards the West Coast each day.
Mia’s favorite things in NY and DC:
Music and DIYing, which at first maybe seem like separate interests but I think they’re really the same thing – creating structure and aesthetic out of empty space.
Taszo Espresso Bar (Upper Manhattan Washington Heights) – It’s a locally owned coffee shop that’s become the heart of the community.  A lot of musicians live nearby and you can’t stop by without running into a friend hanging out or on their way to a gig.
Bin 1301 on U Street (D.C.) It’s a really cool wine bar with live jazz on Saturday nights.  My favorite thing there (other than the wine) is their halloumi cheese board.
Hand knit tank top
Hand knit tank top
Cross stitching a fox
Cross stitching a fox
Knitted hoodie
Knitted hoodie
Contact Mia:
Wedding music website: www.turtledovemusic.com

Before and After: A redecorated living room for a young family of four on a budget

Hey all! I’m just here munching on some Fritos, bringing you the latest Trouvés news!

First off, here is my PSA to humbly request your time and talents. I am working with American Family Housing to help decorate new shipping container homes for veterans in Midway City, California. We are in need of several donations in the form of fabric, window coverings, art, frames, furniture, pots/pans/kitchenthings, labor, etc. We will be completing everything THIS November/December 2016. Please contact me if you can partner with us in this endeavor!


Recently I helped a young family of four redecorate their living room. My friend is a stay-at-home mom, so she was tired of looking at her living room that had never been fully decorated the way they wanted. Two walls were pistachio and the other two were white. There was a semblance of the beginnings of decorating, but I wanted to help bring a point of view to this Southern California residence. I helped them create a new living room for a mere $140, and they love it! She said, “The other day we were just sitting, silent, just looking and enjoying.” Here are the before-and-afters!

Before: no color, venetian blinds
Before: no color, venetian blinds



We started off by painting the walls one color so that the small room wouldn’t look so disjointed. We used a light grey color match by Behr at Home Depot. Similar: London Fog by Sherwin Williams or PPG Swirling Smoke.

The couches definitely needed some fun, colorful pillows. I took four of their existing pillows and covered them with removable pillowcases made of utility duck cloth.

Budget tip: Upholstery fabric can be pretty pricey averaging $20/yard, and with family rooms, you definitely need a sturdy upholstery fabric. Since we were working with a tight budget, I got duck cloth at $7/yd and used Tulip Fabric Markers and fabric paint (tutorials to come) to create a textile design. Duck cloth comes in a variety of colors, but I love the unbleached natural cloth. I created textile designs that weren’t too loud so they wouldn’t tire of it too quickly. These fabric markers are great because it doesn’t need to be heat-set, it leaves the fabric with a smooth hand unlike sometimes when fabric paint is used, and it goes on quickly.

I made this drop cloth rug with the heavy cotton 8×10 drop cloth from Home Depot ($11) and a Tulip Fabric Marker. You’ll want a rug pad to go under it.

I rearranged the books on their bookcase and spray painted their plant pot white. Their 2-year-old had made this lovely piece of art that they had framed, so of course I put it up in this prominent position. We kept the venetian blinds for now, but with the curtains we added, it takes the focus off of the blinds.


One thing that was like at the end of Project Runway when Tim Gunn comes in and says the designers have to make another outfit in three hours is this camera crew decided to come and follow me around all day. “Can you do that a few more times, but slower?” All in all, we had a blast.

I layered the rugs, what do you think?
Before: How do we work with this huge heater?

I love this wall! The loveseat faces this wall, so I’m excited that now they have something lovely to look at besides this heater. I offered to handletter a quote, but my friend said she likes to do that type of stuff, so she both handlettered a beautiful quote as well as made some watercolor art. I’m glad that they have pieces they made around their home that they can be proud of.  The three of us collaborated on making this wall vase with some eucalyptus that I had bought from the farmer’s market and dried in glycerin.


I made some windowpane pillows and got the other three pillows at Big Lots: 2 blue suede and 1 chevron which I covered with a linen hand-painted pillow cover. Tip: I had linen so I made a pillow cover out of it, but word to the wise- linen is not an incredibly strong fabric like duck canvas is.


You won’t believe this- after we discussed redoing their living room, they found this dresser for free! We painted it white and made it their tv console. We used frames and tchotchkes they had around the house to decorate with. I gave them suggestions of what types of pottery and metal art they could buy to decorate the shelf with, moving forward.

There are a few more things in the room that I suggested they do to update it, but  we definitely got the room to look great and pulled-together for their everyday use.

I have a lot more things in the works that I’m really excited about… so y’all come back now, ya hear?!

Adorable handmade baby shower bunting, and hazing rituals

bunting and one of my first floral arrangements. Looks so cute and fresh in their new home.

Bunting roll call! Who’s made a bunting, raise your hand. Aren’t they easy and quick to make? They’re so cute and fun, great for decorating a bedroom or a party. Plus, you can use it as one of the only decorations at a party, it’s that fun. I make them with a package of bias binding and scrap fabric, making it super inexpensive compared to a vintage bunting I saw at a store that cost $50. More on that at the bottom of the post.


Life as We Know it

So, we live near a school, and at 11:30 last night I heard a bunch of male cheering, for half an hour straight. I thought, there’s no way they are watching the Olympics. Is there a summer game? No. Would it be a party? No way. Well, the next morning my brilliant husband had his guess- hazing! It was most definitely hazing/initiation, and it only stopped after I heard a police siren. Oh boy!

This weekend we are going to a wedding at Saddleback Church, so I get to break in my purple dress I just made, hurray! I think I’ll wear my uncomfortable magenta heels, then slip on my Sseko sandals once the going gets tough on my toesies.


I love watching track & field, gymnastics finals, all volleyball (men/women/beach/indoor), and some swim and diving. When I was in junior high and my early high school years, it was my dream to be an Olympic hurdler. Ever since I was little, I was always jumping over things, and I was good at it. I do remember my teacher my sophomore year saying that Olympians are usually taller, so it’s probably an unlikely dream for me. (A suggestion for adults: I think people figure out what they can’t do just by trying, so it’s not helpful to try to suggest what they think is probable.) In high school, the girls at Gehlen Catholic and Unity Christian would always beat us, but other than that we were unstoppable. Being able to run at Drake Stadium I think is Olympics enough for a high schooler. What are your favorite Olympic events to watch?

Sparking Joy in the Home

I’ve been Konmarie-ing and David Allen-ing my place which means I’m really getting organized! Blog post on that later.


Bunting Fun!

I had been thinking of making this bunting with the baby’s name on it for our friends’ shower but I had already made an orange and cream plain one, so I called it done. Matthew suggested that it would be fun to have one with Ethan’s name on it, and I agreed, so last minute I punched it out. It would’ve only taken 15 minutes if I had had a package of bias binding, but I had to make my own binding, and without this tool since I didn’t bring it to California with me.

I simply used a roller cutter and cutting mat to first cut out a strip of muslin fabric, then cut triangles out of it. I first used a pencil to make the letters, then Sharpied over it. I then sewed it to the inside of the binding. Note: Because you’re cutting the fabric at an angle to make the triangle, the fabric will not unravel. I love this bunting because they can use it to decorate Ethan’s room if they want, so it’s not just a throwaway decoration. So, now, let’s all go make some buntings!

Cupcakes by Gretchen the cupcake queen
Cupcakes by Gretchen the cupcake queen
Clover bias tape maker
Clover bias tape maker

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