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Happy Fourth of July Weekend, Fellow Americans!!!! Hope you have a wonderful holiday tomorrow and hopefully you have today off to enjoy doing whatever pleases you. We have a friend in town this weekend who is staying with us tonight and then with another friend tomorrow. We have a lot of eating planned this weekend as we take him to our favorite restaurants. My current plant-based diet will be on Holiday this weekend. But I gotta say, I haven't been missing meat or desserts this week and this is coming from someone who is probably addicted to sugar (candy). My husband told me about some ridiculous dessert he had the other night and I was like, "meh....not interested, that shit's so bad for you."

Here are some articles and fun tidbits I read this week. Enjoy!

1. I always think it's odd when Eastern Cultures build structures that are so Western looking, and vice-versa. So I was totally weirded out when I came across this article that highlighted some global cities, like Beijing, that are copying the suburban master planning model currently employed in suburbs in the US, such as Orange County, CA. The 'Burbs of Beijing? Weird.

{Suburbia Goes Global // The City Fix}

2. I don't have any good "America" links, but I about died when I read these Canadian Slang Terms. Then I emailed the article to my former boss, who is Canadian and he replied with a great response using a bunch of the terms. I was worried he would think I was making fun of him, but he got a good laugh out them too. "Hang a Larry", eh?. Oh man, never change, Canada.

{35 Canadian Slang Terms// Business Insider}

3. I love watching good documentaries, so I'll be on the lookout for "Straight/Curve" (a doc on the plus-size modeling industry), which is slated to be released in 2016.
{Plus-Size Modeling Documentary // Glamour}

4. Has anyone been following the recent J. Crew saga? That apparently one of their sweaters, the Tilly, has been such a dud that critics are crediting it with J. Crew's under-performance? This article dissects the sweater and points out all of its alleged flaws. The funny thing to me is that any sewer/ist knows this sweater could easily be recreated. In fact I have some merino wool that is just calling out to be made into a Tilly-esque sweater (but one that fits properly) ;)

{Anatomy of the J. Crew Tilly Sweater // EDITD}

5. If any of you are flying this Holiday weekend, you may want to check out AirHelp if you run into any issues. Apparently they help you track down money you may be owed from airlines due to long delays or overbooking. Pretty cool and definitely something I'll keep in mind the next time I run into problems while flying.

{Airlines owe fliers $10 billion // CNN Money}

Well that's it. Have a safe and fun 4th of July Weekend!
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I almost declined testing Heather's newest pattern for Closet Case Files, the Sallie Jumpsuit/Maxi, because it looked sooooooo farrrrrrrr outside my comfort zone. Jumpsuit? Excuse me, what? Long, flowy dress? Hmmm, don't think I've ever spotted one in my closet.

{CCF} Sallie Maxi Dress

But I took a chance and accepted. It wasn't that I didn't like the line drawings or concept. It just it didn't seem like me. And it didn't seem like me because I had always, always, always stayed away from those styles. But if what if they were for me?

As I contemplated what to respond to Heather, I put myself in my private fantasy version of "What Not to Wear". I could hear myself telling Stacy and Clinton, "but I never wear maxi dresses! I'm short, I can't wear them." I could almost feel Stacy rolling her eyes as she forced several maxi styles in my hands and pushed me into the dressing room. Out I appeared in a long, flowy and ridiculously comfortable knit maxi dress. Stacy throws up her arms in victory, turns, and walks away, silently proclaiming "I fucking told you so!" and Clinton stands there with one hand cupping his jaw, delicately grinning with approval.

Yes, maybe these styles are for me. I accepted the challenge to make myself a maxi dress or jumpsuit because it was like the sewing Gods were telling me to take a chance. And let's be honest, I love testing patterns! I've said it before, how can I get a job as a professional pattern tester?

{CCF} Sallie Maxi Dress

The other reason I accepted to test this pattern is because I'm heading to a European wedding this year and one of the events is a 70s/disco-themed party. My friend had some inspiration photos and there were all these jumpsuits! There's also going to be a pool party as well before the late-night party so basically this pattern will serve as my European vacation wardrobe builder.

While I really wanted to test the jumpsuit, and I even made an inspiration board (for the first time ever), I unfortunately couldn't find the right fabric in the short time frame. I want a fabric with a little bit of body and a print that will help camouflage my hips and bum. I decided to make the maxi in a fabric that was already in my stash: this beautiful fuchsia and white print, lightweight jersey from The Fabric Store. I bought it during the LA Sewist meet-up with intentions of making a wrap dress, but I was always concerned it was too lightweight. However, the bodice of the Sallie Maxi dress is self-lined, so this fabric seemed to be just perfect for it.

Even though I'm writing about the tester version, Heather mentioned she didn't make too many changes to the final version. One noticeable difference is the hem of the skirt, which is now more of a curve.

{CCF} Sallie Maxi Dress

One thing to remember about CCF patterns is that Heather is conscious of suggesting just the right amount of fabric for her patterns. Sometimes I like to cheat with my yardage because I know I'll have to shorten hems (and I did shorten the skirt to accommodate my 4'11" stature), but I BARELY fit this dress on 2 yards of 60" wide fabric. The suggested yardage was 2.25 yards (now upped to 2.5 yards) and I would highly, highly recommend you do not buy less than that. I had to do some finagling to get everything to fit, including placing the print in opposite directions on the front and back skirt panels. I thought I had a non-directional print, but if you look closely, you can tell that the pattern isn't quite symmetrical.....but thankfully it's not noticeable from afar.

The pockets aren't very deep so you don't have to worry about large pocket bags getting in the way and contributing to unsightly bulge. Usually I don't actually put stuff in pockets of my dresses or skirts, but I really like having them there to put my hands or even just the tips of my fingers in (that sounds so weird, but you know what mean, right?).

{CCF} Sallie Maxi Dress

There is elastic casing at the bottom of the bodice (just above the waist seam), which helps prevent any ballooning of the dress. I tried attaching the elastic in a different method and it DID NOT WORK, so I would advise you to follow the instructions because they do work! Fancy how that worked out ;)

I made a straight Size 6 (except for all that shortening of the skirt) because it matched my measurements and everything fit really well. I told Heather that I thought the skirt portion was perfect around my hips and bum, but I thought the bodice could have been a bit more snug. However, she said the dress is designed to be a bit looser on top, so take that into consideration when you pick your size. I'm a way more conservative dresser, so having low cut tops that are on the looser side will take some getting used to on my end.

{CCF} Sallie Maxi Dress Slit

The slits aren't revealing at all, but rather provide extra movement and some sexiness! I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what I thought when I first tried on this dress. I was worried I looked frumpy in it and that the top was too loose. But after twirling around on my patio taking photos I really warmed up to it. I came back inside and realized just how comfortable I was in it. Not once was I worried about the top being too revealing or my bum looking dowdy. In fact I felt the opposite. I told Heather she has a way of designing patterns that bring out the sexiness in women.

Now for that jumpsuit version. Maybe instead of a printed fabric for the entire jumpsuit, I could do a color block version. A lighter colored silk or rayon jersey on top, maybe convert the kimono tee to a wrap bodice, and then dark colored jersey or ITY on bottom. What do you think of the Sallie Jumpsuit/Maxi pattern? The possibilities are endless! Thanks again, Heather, for letting me test your pattern!
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Hello, hello, Happy Monday ;) How was your weekend? I meant to do a lot of cleaning since we have a friend arriving this coming Friday, but of course that didn't happen. Instead I did a lot of fun me-stuff. The highlight of my weekend was that I had my first volunteer shift with Found Animals,  at one of their adoption/retail locations. My first shift was a training session with their on-site kitten foster program. Apparently it's "kitten season" right now so there are tons of kittens that need taking care of so they can eventually get up to "adoption-ready" status. And then I got home and couldn't believe how enormous my own cat is!

I decided to do a mid-year check-in of the goals I set for myself this year. I enjoy doing a mid-year check-in so I can remember what I've done so far and what I need to "work" (or rather, focus) on. If you recall my 2015 Goals, (I sure don't so I doubt you do; here's the link to that blog post), I had some real broad goals so as not to micromanage myself.

1. Continuing Education - CHECK!
I signed up for an Intro to Letterpress class at the Otis Design School. It was a 10-week class held once a week on Wednesday evenings from 7pm-10pm. I absolutely LOVED it! Not gonna lie though, those Wednesdays were long and I did feel drained the second half of the week, but it was all worth it.

I finally printed my word this week in my Letterpress class. It's amazing how much prep is needed before you print and then how quickly printing takes.

Letterpress, with only type, none of that polymer digital stuff, is no joke, real hands-on, time-consuming work. I went a little overboard on my final project and spent hours setting type (see the first photo for a portion of it). I think my teacher thought I was insane because she certainly knew how much work it was. But that's how I am. Always starting with the most difficult stuff and then racing to meet the deadline.

I was *this* close to signing up for the next level during the summer session, which is the digital letterpress class and is held on Saturdays, but I don't know how to use Illustrator so I should really learn that first. Also, the class isn't cheap and my bank account was begging for a break. If I can focus on learning Illustrator this summer, then I'll definitely consider signing up for the Fall session.

2. Wardrobe Architect - in-progress
I started the Wardrobe Architect, but stalled when it was time to look for inspiration pieces. I don't subscribe to any magazines and I didn't want to buy any. I recently re-activated my Pinterest account, so I'll finally have an easy way to create inspiration boards. Even though I have a lot of ideas in my head, getting it down on paper (in Pinterest) will really help lay out the framework.

3. Sell Something - no progress
I saved a couple boxes so I could ship out shoes in case I ever do sell them on ebay. Baby steps...

I'm still on the fence with the whole "should I sell something handmade" thing. I do have a quilt top I pieced several years ago. I think I even have batting and enough fabric for a simple back. I dunno though; selling quilts seems like a losing money proposition unless you're an "artist quilter".

4. Make a Bag - no progress
I think I just need to buy a bag pattern and make it so I can have a better idea of exactly what type of custom bag I want to make. Anyone have any bag patterns they'd recommend?

5. Travel - CHECK!
This year is definitely the year of traveling.
Kencho-ji Temple

My husband and I went to Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New Orleans in April. We had an absolute blast and everything went so smoothly so it was thankfully stress-free (except for the power outage in New was a like a sign that it was time to go home). We're heading to Italy later this year for a wedding and I cannot wait. I think this year feels like it's flying by because of all the planning and traveling. I wish I could do this much traveling every year.

All in all, not too bad I think. This post is already pretty long so I'll end it here. I'll be back later this week with a look at all the stuff I sewed this year, most of which I haven't blogged about (of course)! How has your year been going??
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This photo was taken a couple years ago. I came across this little guy chilling on the corner directly outside my apartment, when I went out to go for a walk. I quickly ran inside to get my camera because I didn't think anyone was going to believe me that a raccoon was just quietly sitting in the gutter in Hollywood! Several months later I almost came face to face with another raccoon when I was walking to the bus stop early one morning. I quickly ran across the street and was so paranoid the raccoon was going to chase me. Can I outrun a raccoon? I never want to find out.

1. I bring up my Hollywood Raccoon Stories because this week I came across an Instagram account of a PET RACCOON!!!!! I couldn't stop watching every single video clip. My husband was less than enthused when I kept texting him links to the videos. His exact quote:

"This lady is teaching her 'pet' basically everything it'll need to survive after it kills her and eats her face".

Well, yeah. But, look at the raccoon! It can open water bottles! It can sweep the floors! It can ride a fucking bike!! MIND. BLOWN! {Melanie the Raccoon //Instagram}

2. One time I took a tour at the Getty and the tour guide was an older lady. I couldn't take her seriously because she mentioned several times doing a Google search for facts. That experience seems a bit tame compared to these 'docents gone wild moments'. {Rogue Docents // Wall Street Journal}

3. I finally caved today and re-activated my Pinterest account. I can't remember the last time I used it so the stuff I currently have pinned is kinda old and random. My plan is to use it mainly for sewing/wardrobe building and cooking inspiration. What do you use Pinterest for? {My Pinterest Account}

4. This week I read an article about plant-based diets and now I'm super into trying it. I spent hours this week looking up enticing recipes. I highly doubt I'll ever be strictly vegetarian (or completely give up dairy.....I LOVE cheese!!) but I can see myself reducing my meat intake significantly. {Forks over Knives}

5. This isn't really a link, but I finally got around to buying and reading Mindy Kaling's book, 'Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me'? It was a quick read (2 days tops, maybe) and it made me miss my friends from college. I don't live close to any of my close friends from college and since I'm terrible at talking on the phone, we don't keep in touch nearly that often. I definitely need to set up a phone date with one of my friends. We're much better at texting and emailing each other silly cat photos and videos. By the way, if anyone in the US is interested in having this book, email me your address and I'll mail it to you via media mail (aka the absolute slowest, but cheapest, delivery option). You don't need to pay me back, just promise that you'll give it to someone when you're done!

Have a great weekend everyone! One more week until the Holiday weekend!
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My Garden 6/2105

After my initial attempt to spruce up my patio with succulents, I decided to go all out and start growing vegetables. I've been enamored for years with the gardens Pookie and Schnookie of Interchangeable Parts grow year after year. They're so lucky to have so much open land on their property! Let's see if I can have even a tenth of their success.

Here's what I've planted so far. Everything, except for the basil and "curry" plants, was started from seeds. Most of the plants were started in a little Jiffy "Greenhouse" kit, but a couple things were planted directly in pots or the garden bed.

The tomato plants have been growing the best so far. I think you're technically only supposed to have one plant per pot, but ehhhhhh....

Tomato Plant 6/2015

Next up are green onions. They look so feeble. I'm always concerned about knocking over those teeny tiny stalks whenever I water. I don't have high hopes for them so wish them luck!

Green Onion Plant 6/2015

The sweet bell peppers were late bloomers. These took forever to sprout. The seed packet I bought is a mix, so I'm excited to see what colors eventually grow. For comparison, I planted (sowed?) the tomato, green onion, and bell pepper seeds at the same time so you can see how fast the tomatoes grow.

Bell Pepper Plants 6/2015

Soooo.....I planted cauliflower and two varieties of squash on the same day and forgot to label them so I have no idea which is which. A friend told me that zucchini grows very easily. I'm assuming the plant in the photo below is a squash variety because it took no time at all the sprout. I left one in the pot and the rest are in the garden bed.

Squash (?) 6/2015

In case you're wondering, my garden bed frame is from Greenes Fence Company. There are various sized frame kits available on Amazon, but all of them are too big for my "yard". I needed a 3'x4' max frame so I ended up buying the pieces individually from the company's website. I almost didn't buy it because shipping directly from the company's website cost $15! I didn't even buy the corner "tops" that look so nice because I was being cheap. In the end, I don't regret the purchase, even if it was a lot more than I wanted to pay, because the quality looks good, shipping was fast, and all the pieces fit together really easily (you just slide the boards into the corner posts, no drilling needed!).

The Potted Bunch 6/2015

I have no idea what to do about keeping the pests at bay. I have noticed more flies around my patio, which has me a little concerned. And I swear, the very next day after I took these photos, the leaves on the cauliflower plants (there are a couple in the pot in the above photo) were completely riddled with holes. Either something is having a lavish feast or they have some disease, which is a bit disheartening. Anyone have any newbie-gardening tips? And by tips, I mean really, really simple tips. I've read all this stuff online about pesticides, bugs, netting, blah blah blah blah blah my brain hurts, so I'm trying to keep it simple.

I don't have too many crazy plans for fertilizing and keeping the pests at bay, but I assume I'll figure shit out as it's needed. I have noticed more flies around my patio, which has me a little concerned. Anyone have any newbie-gardening tips? And by tips, I mean really, really simple tips.

And what's your favorite vegetable to grow? I'm already looking forward to what I can plant in the Fall!

And in case you're wondering, yes, I'll get back to sewing eventually! It's just a lot easier to take photos of my plants than of myself.
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Treat Yo Self 2015

We did it you guys! Another workweek down! :)))))) June is my second favorite month of the year because it's my Birthday month and the start of summer. Here are a handful of things that caught me eye this week.

1. I read the NY Times Part 1 expose on nail salons when it first came out, but I only just read Part 2 this week. Then I fell down the rabbit hole of nail salon articles. Then I started wondering if my current nail polish is slowly killing me. {Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers // NY Times}
{Where to Get an Ethical Manicure in NYC // Racked}

2. I'm not much of a "let's recreate vintage everything" person, but this line of vintage make-up available at Sephora has such stunning packaging. I'm tempted to buy lipstick or a compact from the line just so I can carry something that pretty in my purse. {Besame Cosmetics // Sephora}

3. Honey and cream iced espresso drink recipe. I made it the other evening as soon as I got home from work and it was De-lish-ous. {milk and honey iced coffee // Pinch of Yum}

4. Well, of course, watching cat videos is good for your mental health. If your spirits aren't instantly lifted after watching a cat do something ridiculously adorable, then I'm sorry to tell you, but you're a monster. {Cat Videos are Good for Your Health // Quartz}

5. Did you see Badskirt Amy's unfinished pile of quilting projects she posted this week? I can't remember how long I've been following her blog so some of the items were new to me, but others, like the Cirrus Plaid block, I remember reading about when she first made them. I know a lot of garment sewers talk about their UFO pile, but I don't think many quilters do. Have a look inside Amy's UFO pile. She has a way of using colors and prints to create designs and blocks that are distinctly "Badskirt Amy". I've never admitted this before, but I definitely have a "quilting crush" on Badskirt Amy. ;) {The UFO Admission // Badskirt}

I never made it to Yogurtland last weekend, but I'm definitely making a stop tomorrow! You know, a day after eating a Princess Cake topped with purple cocoa powder (as seen in the photo above). And maybe the beach too because it's finally warming up over here. Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!
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Weekly Links!! Argh, I haven't done one in so long. I used to try and do them on Sunday nights, but let's try Friday evenings, so you can have something to read during the weekend.

1. I first learned about this story via the Start-Up Podcast (which is FANTASTIC, by the way). Listen to the podcast or read the article and then you decide: is it 'Sexual Harassment'? My opinion? Hells Yes! {Is it Sexual Harassment? // CNN Money}

2. This article highlights exactly why I have been so reluctant to take any "boutique" fitness class.
While broadcasting your salary is still taboo, boutique fitness is an almost stealth way to display one’s conspicuous consumption.
I'm fearful that I'll feel like I *have* to keep going and I can't afford to have that kind of habit. {Why Fitness Classes are Making you Broke // Racked}

3. Good on Melissa McCarthy for attempting to bring larger sizes to regular stores where they can be sold side-by-side with all the other sizes. {How Melissa McCarthy Plans to Change the Way Clothing is Sold // Inc}

4. This may only interest folks who live in LA, but I always love looking at before and after images. Downtown LA is currently going through a crazy construction boom and it's amazing how much things have changed. {Before and After Images of Los Angeles // Rent Cafe}

5. Earlier this year I signed up for an annual Birchbox subscription because it comes out to less than $10/month for fun little beauty samples. The June box featured a "bonus item" which is a hair tie. I rolled my eyes when I saw the company tagline: "Made in LA with imported fabric"

I've been trying not to be critical or make fun of people/things online, but c'mon!! You tied a f***ing knot and you're calling that "made"????? Any good sewer will know that it's just fold over lingerie elastic tied in a knot.

And it's not even good as a hair tie; it barely stays in my ponytail because I can only tie it around twice and I really need it to go around three times to hold up my hair. *end rant. I'll go back to being positive now*

Hope all of you enjoy your weekend. Last Friday I rewarded myself for getting through another work week by having pre-dinner dessert at Yogurtland. I got away with it because my husband was out of town. This week, I, Yogurtland before dinner. But maybe I'll sneak in a visit this weekend ;)

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What's your definition of "Work Appropriate" when it comes to dresses? Of course, one's work environment will determine the definition of "work appropriate" so it's not necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation. I started drafting this post before I read Charlotte's recent post about dressing for work and loved reading her post and the discussion in the comments.

Sewaholic Davie LBD Keyhole

Personally, I work in a fairly conservative industry. I'm an engineer, I work in an office, and when I go to client meetings, project interviews, public outreach meetings, and professional work events, the guys are in suits (mostly with ties) and the women are in similar attire (suits, pencil skirts w/ nice blouse, sheath or fit-and-flare dresses).

Go to Banana Republic or Ann Taylor's website and check out the work styles. That's my "work appropriate" attire.

Apparently my husband severely disagrees. And I found out we had drastically different opinions regarding the work appropriateness of dresses after I made the Sewaholic Davie Dress in a black knit ponte that is both so wonderful to sew and wear.

Sewaholic Davie LBD

We argued for awhile about what is "work appropriate". I actually pulled up dresses online that are classified as "Work" on Ann Taylor and Banana Republic and he proceeded to disagree with some of the selections, which mind you, look very similar to the Davie Dress in concept.

I'm not sure he'll ever come to my side. He works in a very casual environment. I told him to ask some of his female coworkers for their opinions, but I'm not sure he will. He wants to be right. I want to be right. So we'll agree to disagree

So let's talk about the Sewaholic Davie Dress. I almost didn't buy this pattern because there are hardly any reviews online. Have people not been making this dress? Or is everyone as terrible a sewing blogger as I am? Once I realized how few reviews there were I was determined to blog about it so other people who may be on the fence will have more feedback.

One useful review of the Davie Dress I found was this one by 'Veronica Darling'. It looks like the exact opposite of mine, so at least you can see how the pattern can be transformed greatly depending on fabric and print. There were a couple others I found and most had issues with a low armhole on the cap sleeve version and fabric pooling in the lower back. I made the sleeveless version in order to avoid the low armhole issue with the sleeve and I took a chance by not making a swayback adjustment, praying that it would be ok on me.

Sewaholic Davie LBD

I used this beautiful ponte that I bought at Mood in LA. I can't remember the contents exactly, but if I recall correctly it's a polyester, rayon, spandex blend. (Seriously, get thee some, it's delightful to cut, sew, and wear!) I was specifically looking for something with spandex so it would recover well. I don't know the exact stretch %, but it seems to be enough for this dress. Although, I specifically was looking for a stretch fabric that was more on the stable side.

I first sewed a straight 6 because I looked at the finished measurements and saw that it aligned with a 34" bust (my bust size!). After I put the whole damn thing together and tried it on I realized that "HELLO, IT'S A KNIT DRESS! WHY DIDN'T I SIZE DOWN???" Thankfully I hadn't yet finished the armholes or neckline so I could still make some modifications fairly easily.

The Size 6 was ridiculously large on me. Since I had topstitched the center and side panels (and I was not going to undo all of that), I had to do hasty fitting modifications.
  • Took in the shoulder seams by 1" (to raise the armhole)
  • Took in the side seams by 1.25" at the underarm, grading to 0" at the waist and then back in again by 1" at the hem.
  • Closed the keyhole 1" at the bottom
  • Shorten skirt hem by at least 1"

{Sewaholic Davie Dress} Shoulder Modification

The armholes were really low on me, which is why I raised them by taking in the shoulder seams. This isn't the ideal fix, but it sorta works, although the neckline is much higher. Next time I'll have to shorten the bodice at some point between the shoulder and bust to raise the armhole.

Next time I'll also do a small swayback adjustment as there's some fabric pooling in my lower back, but it's not too bad. Overall, I really like this pattern. It's really quick to cut and sew. The most time consuming part was the top-stitching. If I use a lighterweight fabric next time I may just serge the whole thing and omit the top-stitching. That would make for a ridiculously quick make. Also, I created my own bias binding and used it for the armholes and neckline so that added some time to finish.

{Sewaholic Davie Dress} Side Seam Adjustment

The only thing that had me scratching my head was the skirt length. I pinned up the hem evenly all around the skirt then tried it on. The skirt was noticeably higher at the sides than at the center front and back. I measured the side panel pattern pieces along the side seam from the approximate waistline to the hem and found out the side seam was almost 2" shorter than the center front and back skirt pieces.

Was this intentional? Would you really want the skirt higher at the sides than the center? It didn't make sense to me.....I ultimately decided to hem the dress so the skirt pieces would be the same length all around when measured from my waist to the hem.  Have you made this dress? Is your hem even all around? Have you made a skirt before where it was shorter at the sides than in the centers? It was really late at night when I was putting the final touches on this dress, so it's possible I was doing something wrong or measured incorrectly.

Sewaholic Davie LBD Fabric Pooling

And in terms of style, do you think this dress is work appropriate? Or is too fancy and should only be worn at cocktail hour or at a wedding? I've actually already worn it to work. I was in charge of planning a luncheon for a professional organization and they always bring up the person in charge at the end of the event to thank the speakers so I wanted to look nice in front of 200+ people. The ladies who attend usually always look so nice in dresses and I was getting tired of always wearing pants suits. By the way, how did I end up planning events while being in the engineering industry???? I thought I left those days behind me in college :)

Sewaholic Davie LBD

Have you made the Davie Dress yet? What modifications did you make? I'm thinking of going down a size or two and then grading out at the waist since I know a Size 6 waist is just perfecto on me. Now I'm wondering, how can make minor changes to this pattern so I can make 10 more but not make it obvious I'm wearing the same dress?
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There was hardly anything I knew about Hong Kong before visiting. So when I asked my friend who lives there what we should do in HK, and the suggestion "Get a custom suit made for your husband" was on the list, I immediately disregarded it. I sorta thought she was just being funny. Custom suit? What? Why? That's ridiculous!

I mistakenly left that item on the list when I forwarded her email to my husband. Naturally, he replied saying we should most definitely get him a custom suit. {Dammit, the idea had been planted!}

{Custom} Real Buttonholes

Then, to my surprise, when I told other people about my upcoming trip several of them also asked if my husband was going to get a custom suit. Little did I know, but apparently Hong Kong is well known for its custom clothing because it is significantly cheaper than getting custom-made clothes in the States. While I didn't think it was necessary for my husband to get a custom suit, and I would have preferred to use the time we spent going to the tailor doing something else, I knew my husband really, really, really wanted one. Getting a custom suit was pretty much the only thing he requested/suggested we do, so I would have been a total B**** if I shot it down.

He wanted to get a custom suit made in HK for several reasons. First, of course, is cost. A custom men's suit in HK can easily cost about the same as an off-the-rack/RTW men's suit in the States. At least I think that's what my husband's suit cost. However, the fit is spot on, which is another reason he wanted it and pretty much why anyone would get something custom-made.

{Custom} Lapel and Pocket Detail

On more than one occasion, my husband has bought a suit at Macy's or Calvin Klein's or wherever the heck he buys them and then taken it to a tailor to get it fitting better. And then there's quality. He has bought stuff from Jos A. Bank with abhorrent hemlines that I would never find acceptable in my own self-made wardrobe. Time will only tell how well his custom suit survives over the years so I can't vouch for the quality just yet. Although a nice touch was included in the inside of his custom suit; the tailor embroidered "Made specifically for [his name]" and also included his account number so he could (we assume) easily re-order since they have his measurements on file. {And when I say "file" I mean hard copy files. As in, a huge book with everything handwritten with fabric swatches attached to each customer's paper. I don't think there was a single computer in that store.}

{Custom} Suit Jacket

Now, as someone who sews her own clothes, I had (and still have) some reservations about the ethics of getting a custom suit made in Hong Kong, which is one reason why I didn't get anything made. The other reason is that RTW women's suits are much more affordable than men's suits, at least in my experience so I didn't get anything made.

So you wanna get a custom suit made in Hong Kong. Here's what you can expect (based on our experience):

Day 1 - 10AM
Arrive at tailor (Sam's Tailor), pick fabric and style, and get measured. This took about 15-20 minutes. I was surprised by how quickly this took. Also, his measurements were done in inches. I totally expected it to be in centimeters.

Day 1 - 6PM
Return to tailor for first fitting.

DID YOU CATCH THAT? Just under EIGHT HOURS et voila, the suit is partially made, constructed enough for a fitting. The pants were constructed, but without the fly zipper and waistband. The jacket only had one sleeve and did not include the collar. They checked for overall fit, pants length, sleeve length, and neckline. My husband also ordered a shirt, but that was not available at this fitting.

Day 3 - 4PM
Return to tailor for second fitting of completed garments.

Everything was completely finished: pants, jacket and shirt. The jacket was perfect, but the waist in the pants was too loose. The shirt was too fitted and needed to be let out a bit. He got a fitted shirt, which had darts, so I assume they could let out the darts, otherwise I don't know what they would have done.

Also, please note: When watching your husband get fitted, don't open your stoopid mouth, like me. When he tried on the shirt it was bunching up under his arms and I was like, 'what the hell is wrong with this? Is there too much fabric at the armscye?' Of course then "Sam" came over and was like, 'who the hell do you think you are? Of course, it's fine.' Later I realized that since the shirt was too tight around the bodice, the shirt wasn't hanging properly and instead was bunching up under the arms. Should have just kept my mouth shut......{And no, those aren't exact quotes, just approximations based on tone.}

Day 3 - 7PM
Return to tailor to pick up completed garments. The shirt and pants were altered and everything was ready to take home.

Mind you, when we first got to Sam's and placed the order, the guy helping us asked how long we would be in town and assured us the suit would be finished before we left. I have heard of other people having their items shipped back to the States, but we didn't need to worry about that!

{Custom} Inside Detail

So, this whole time I kept in the world are all of these suits getting made so quickly and for relatively so cheap?? Obviously, I didn't ask any questions so I don't have any answers. The economics of working and living in Hong Kong are vastly different than in the States. For example, I know that daycare and hired help is considerably cheaper in HK than in the States. I don't know the exact reasons behind it, but from what I gather it has something to do with HK's agreement with other countries regarding immigrant workers. Does this also apply to the fashion/tailoring business?

Not everyone is going to make their own clothes. I certainly don't make all of my own clothes. Not everyone is going to shop ethically for their clothes. Not everyone may be able to afford to do so. Not everyone may "buy into" the need or make the effort to shop ethically. I know I don't make an effort to shop ethically. Instead I buy whatever fits best and is in my price range. Thinking about the logistics of all these tailors in HK made me wonder if my BR or Ann Taylor suits were made in any better conditions. I don't know, so I probably shouldn't judge. If I'm not making such a big effort changing my own shopping habits than why was I having all these feelings about getting a suit made in HK on the cheaps?

{Custom} Under Collar Detail

I don't know exactly why, but it just felt odd. Maybe it's because I perceive a custom suit as a luxurious item that isn't necessary. Or because the big retailers are no longer in the picture and instead we, the customer/consumer, are so much closer to the garment makers. Or because I know how long it takes me to make a garment and there's no effing way I'd be able to make a suit that looks that good in such a short amount of time. I'd like to think these tailors have blocks, special cutting mechanisms, and/or other systems in place to streamline the whole process since they've been in business for so long. They obviously have a lot of experience, so I probably shouldn't compare myself to a professional tailoring business.

{Custom} Lining Sleeve Detail

Overall Thoughts
Sam's Tailor is located in a really small store with walls that are lined with bolts of fabric. There are also a whole bunch of fabric swatch books so you can see and feel the type of fabric you want. There's a really old Asian man (Chinese, I presume) who does all the measurements and several "sales" guys who take the orders and show fabric swatches. Every time we were in the store, there were at least 3-4 customers placing orders, getting fitted, and/or picking up clothes. One guy picked up at least 5 custom shirts. One lady came in hoping to get an existing jacket copied. Most of the customers were men ordering custom suits.

{Custom} Inside Armhole Detail

If you ever find yourself in Hong Kong and want to get a custom suit made, my husband did have a very good experience at Sam's Tailor. It's easily accessible on the Tsuen Wan MTR train line at the Tsim Sha Tsui Station. Exit the station at Exit B1 and go right. It should be a block up the street along Nathan Road. There are a bunch of tailors on this road vying for business, but Sam's Tailor received a good recommendation from the guidebook I bought, which is why we went there. We received excellent customer service from all the employees we interacted with. They even dole out light (very light) beers to customers who are waiting so really, how could you not like them?

What do you think....would you have gotten a custom suit?
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One of the things I obsessed over while planning my trip to Tokyo was train travel. I knew we could sight-see all over Tokyo by just using the train, but how exactly would we do it? What tickets did we need? How much were the fares? What lines to take? I consulted with my brother (who lived there for a couple years in the 2000s, my mom (who was born and raised in Japan and lived there till her mid-20s and has gone back every now and then over the years), and friends. I also read a lot of blogs and websites scouring for info.

If you're traveling to Tokyo and only staying in Tokyo, which is what we did, then here are some train travel tips to save you some headaches. Do note that I'm notoriously frugal, but in some cases I'm not always suggesting the cheapest option. Sometimes, it's worth paying a few extra yen to save time and travel easier.

1. Choose a Hotel Near the JR Yamanote Line
My #1 suggestion for visiting Tokyo, is book a hotel near one of the stations along the JR Yamanote Train Line.
Soure: Tokyo Moob 

Taking a taxi is in Japan is $$$$$ so you'll want to have easy access to the train everyday to save money. The hotel's distance from the train station should depend on your comfort level walking to/from the train station with luggage. A 10 minute walk is my max distance, but you may think that's too long or you may be willing to walk longer WITH luggage. For reference, we stayed at the Celestine Hotel in Minato, about an 8-10 minute walk from the Tamachi Station on the JR Yamanote Line.

Also think about what time of day you may be leaving and arriving. We ended up arriving around 10:30pm and I'm glad our walk wasn't any longer. The Tamachi Station is about a 10 minute train ride from Tokyo Station (which really isn't that long) and only 1 stop away from Shinagawa Station, which is another big station where you can transfer to other major lines.

2. Traveling to/from Narita Airport
Check out Tokyo Cheapo's post on all of your options traveling to/from Narita Airport into/out of Tokyo. Most likely you will choose either the train or bus and will be dropped off at Tokyo Station.

I opted to take the Access Narita bus because we arrived at night and the bus came every 20 minutes, it's only 1,000 yen per ticket, and you pay when you board. The website has a lot of info and it's super easy to board. The bus was like a coach travel bus that you take on tours. The seats reclined, the bus was very clean, and the ride was comfortable.

The most popular train option seems to be the Narita Express. I decided not to take the train because it's 3x more expensive (3,000 yen per person), you have to buy a reserved ticket before boarding, the trains came about every 30 minutes, and the train is only a little faster than the bus by about 10 or 15 minutes. Saving 10-15 minutes wasn't worth it to me considering we probably would have spent even more time trying to buy the ticket and then waiting for the train.

3. Suica or Pasmo Card; Just Pick One
Most train systems around the world have a card or ticket that you can recharge with additional fare. In LA we have the TAP card, in NYC there is the Metro paper card, and I think Chicago has something similar. Tokyo's versions are the Suica Card and Pasmo Card, which from what I could gather, are pretty much the same thing.

Instead of buying a ticket every time you ride the train, you just purchase a Suica Card at a ticket vending machine and load it with as much money as you think you'll need. Then every time you ride the train, you just tap your Suica card at the fare gate to gain access into the station area, then tap again as you exit, and the system will deduct the appropriate fare.

If you don't have enough money on your Suica card, then when you try to exit, the fare gate will blink red and then you have to find a ticket vending machine in the station and load more money on it.

The website The Japan Guy has a great post about how to purchase a Suica card with photos of the fare vending machine screens. Every machine we used had a button for "english" so you don't need to know Japanese in order to use it. The English translations didn't always make complete sense, but you always have the option to cancel at any moment in case you need to start over.

The Suica card can be used on the all subway lines and JR lines (Yamanote Line that circles around Tokyo and the Yokosuke Line that takes you to Kamakura), so it's a really easy way to ride the train without worrying about buying one ticket for the exact fare for one train ride. You'll likely be taking multiple train rides throughout the day so just tapping your Suica card is super easy.

Additionally, you can also use your Suica card at regular vending machines to purchase drinks! You may also be able to use it at convenience stores, but I can't remember.

4. Tokyo Subway vs. Toiei Subway: Just Buy the Combined One-Day Pass
If you look at a subway or train map for Tokyo, chances are the map will include both the lines from the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway, which are two different agencies.

I did not realize this until I tried to buy a one-day Subway pass. As of Spring 2015, the fares for one-day tickets are as follows:

Sure, it may be possible to ride just one line for the day and save 300-400 yen, but it is so much easier to buy the combined subway pass that allows you unlimited rides for both train lines for one day. The one-day pass is separate from your Suica card. You'll get a paper ticket that you have to insert into the fare gate every time you enter and exit.

Fares on the subways range from 160-220 yen per ride so at 1,000 yen per one-day combined subway ticket, if you plan on taking 4-5 rides, you'll break even. We bought a one-day combined pass twice because a couple days we were riding all over Tokyo.

Remember, the Tokyo Subway and Toei Subway Trains are separate from the JR lines (the Yamanote Line in particular). Whenever we had a one-day subway pass, we only took the subway lines. It was pretty easy to access Tokyo by only the subway lines in case you want to save a couple hundred yen by avoiding the JR Train on days you buy a one-day subway pass.

5. Need Help? Find the Green Window (Midori No Madoguchi)

We never actually went to the green window, but my mom kept telling me to go to the green window if we ever needed help. The only problem is, the one time I did need help (the first night we arrived and I couldn't find the right ticket vending machine to get a Suica card), the window was closed. We ended up walking around Tokyo Station until we found the right ticket machine. So, as long as you need help during normal business hours, just look for the green window if you're desperately in need of help.

7. Have Fun!
Riding the train in Tokyo is so much fun! If you get lost, who cares, just get on the next train! Everything is generally really easy to use. The lines are all color coded so you'll eventually get used to just looking for colors. (The JR Yamanote line is designated on signs in neon green.) If you think you did something wrong, then just find someone who works there and ask for help. Chances are someone else has made that mistake too and you're not the only one so don't feel embarrassed.
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