Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Duct Tape Dress Form

One of the challenges with sewing is getting things to fit right. Here's a great idea from Etsy Labs about how to make your own dress form out of duct tape and an old t-shirt. The great thing about this project is that the resulting form is an exact replica of your shape. Can't wait to try to this out. Full tutorial available here. Here's the idea in brief:

Put on a large t-shirt that covers your bottom. Have a friend wrap duct tape around your body starting at the bottom of the t-shirt. You will probably need two rolls of duct tape. At the bust area you will need to do some special taping (see tutorial).

When the entire torso has been covered cut off the tape & t-shirt in a vertical line up the middle of the back. Remove the form and apply a layer of tape to the cut portion. Cover the arm hole and bottom opening and stuff.

Here's the final result. I'm going to look at mounting this on a broomstick with some sort of stand so I use it like a regular dress form.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Favorite Serial Killer

My sister kept insisting that I should check out the Showtime series Dexter. However, I didn't get around to watching any of it until this summer. It took a few episodes, but then I was hooked.

Michael C. Hall does an amazing job as a forensics blood spatter specialist who moonlights as a serial killer. He manages to make his character likable, funny and believable which is really the key to the succcess of this series. In general this series is very well acted and written and I love the fact that there are multiple story lines to follow.

Season 1 has been available on DVD ($22) and now Season 2 has just come out as well. Or, you can download individual episodes ($1.99) from either Amazon or iTunes. I'm not sure if this is available in all areas, but Comcast cable offers season 2 in their "On Demand" lineup. I'm still working through the season 2 episodes trying to drag them out until the next season starts.

The Season 3 premier is Sunday, September 28th at 9pm. The countdown begins!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great menswear inspired pieces for Fall

I have always loved the Hepburn inspired menswear look--slouchy trousers with a more feminine blouse. This season there are all kinds of great menswear trouser options. Pair them with an pair of high-heeled oxfords in purple, patent leather or even metallic versions. Here's a few of my personal favorites:

Rebecca Taylor

These slouchy wideleg trousers from Rebecca Tayler ($295) are wool with lycra/spandex to give them stretch. Love the deep chocolate brown. Wide waistband with buckles on side, one slit pocket on back. Available at Bloomingdales.

Alice & Olivia

Here's another great stretch wool pant, this one from Alice & Olivia ($275). Still feminine while clearly menswear inspired. In black with slant pockets at pleated front and welt pockets at back. Available at


The perfect compliment to the pleated trouser. These purple suede wingtip booties ($345) from Joie would be great with chocolate brown or grey. Available from

I love these brown patent leather oxfords ($169). Contrast pinked edges and perforations mimic menswear oxfords although this version comes with a 3 1/2" heel. Available at Nordstrom.

This "Zander" Oxford from MAXSTUDIO ($179.95) is a bit dressier. Love the covered platform and the seam detailing in the middle. Also available at Nordstrom.

Boyfriend Sweater
This long cashmere cardigan from Vince ($325) features an ombre pattern in shades of grey. Button front with a back yoke that gathers. Available at Bloomingdales.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ankle Boots

Ankle boots are one of my Fall must-have items. Here's a few styles on my wishlist right now.
Straight Laced
I'm a big fan of lacing, buckles and straps. Love the back detail on these dark brown leather ankle boots ($548) from Fiorentini & Baker. 2 3/4" covered heel. Leather sole with rubber heel. Available at Gimme Shoes.

Feathered Friends
These boots don't even have a price tag so they are probably more expensive than a car. However, they are pretty amazing. Love the cutouts. I'm wondering if the feather detail would get wet and ruined? LD Tuttle "The Pygmalion" boots available at Creatures of Comfort.

Buckle Up

Love the slightly punk esthetic of these bump toe buckle boots from Marc Jacobs ($940). Way out of my price range, but if I win the lotto I'm going to get them. Available from Shopbop.

Brass Buttons

More in my realm are these antiqued leather booties with brass buttons from Seychelles ($98). Available from Urban Outfitters.

Big Buckle

More on the casual side, this suede bootie from Dolce Vita ($250) has a subtle golden sparkle. Trimmed with a wide leather buckle that is laced around the front and buckles at the side. Available from (online only).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wall Candy

Going Bats!
I have to find a place to use this wallpaper from Flavor League. At first glance it looks like a typical flower motif, but on closer inspection you realize that it's a pattern of bats and venus flytraps. ($150 for a 27”×15’ roll.). This pattern comes in four different colors. I think I like the antique pink and cream the best, but the black and grey is also tempting.

Keep Calm

The WWII era slogan, "Keep Calm and Carry On" is a great personal mantra. Just saw a reproduction poster in the latest issue of Domino Magazine and I have to have one. Sfgirlbybay (who also has a great design blog) has a shop on Etsy with these posters in a rainbow of amazing colors ($25). I'm torn between the chartreuse green and the bright orange.

Romantic Art
This, "We Are So Good Together Poster" ($36) is a sweet reminder for a happy couple. Letter-pressed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. Available from Reform School.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Great Stores in L.A.

L.A. has so many great stores it's impossible to list them all, but here's a few of my old and new favorites (not including Planet Blue which I blogged about in a separate post):

Veronica M
This cute 3rd street boutique is right next door to the popular restaurant, Toast. A mother daughter team designs the clothing for this feminine and flattering line. I just happened to catch their sale and everything in the store was at least 50% off. I snagged a halter maxi dress similar to this one, but in shades of copper and brown. Normally $115, it was marked down to just $30! They also had shorter dresses and tunic tops, strapless styles in a variety of bold and colorful prints.

New Stone Age

Everything in this 3rd street store is amazing. A great place to come if you are looking for a gift for someone. New Stone Age carries jewelry, home decor, accessories and other things you never knew you needed. I picked up a great pair of woven straw flip-flops for $10. I also loved these Mao figurines although I did not get one.

Dave & Lil's

This store is right next to Crazy Fish sushi in a strip mall on Olympic Blvd. Definitely not in a prime shopping zone, but I always manage to find something at this hidden gem. They carry inexpensive versions of whatever the latest trend is. I picked up a great embroidered tunic top for $78, but was tempted by the gorgeous beaded indian blouses. They have a great selection of summer scarves and super cute shoes as well. Wish they had an online store!

9107 W Olympic Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 271-7858

Lisa Kline Men

Lisa Kline's original store on Robertson has expanded to include a separate large men's store and now a kid's clothing store as well. All of the stores are great, but the men's store in particular is worth a visit. Picked up one of these great vintage sport logo tee's ($55) for my boyfriend (not pictured here, but he looks just like this when he puts the shirt on). Definitely cooler than the standard sport logo-wear. Lisa Kline Men carries a great selection of jeans, graphic tee's, dress shirts, blazers and accessories and has an online store to boot!

Monday, August 18, 2008

L.A. with Dog

We were in L.A. this weekend with our dog, Otto, and since we couldn't really leave him in the hotel all day we had to tailor our plans to bring him with us. Here's a couple recommendations for doing L.A. with your fur-baby.

Figtree's Cafe

After walking Otto up and down the Venice Beach boardwalk we headed to the Figtree's Cafe for a late breakfast. I would recommend this cafe whether you have a dog or not--good strong coffee, omelettes with fresh, locally grown veggies and herbs, chicken apple sausage, amazing fruit bowls. They have a large patio with a view of the boardwalk and beach which is great for people-watching. Our server brought Otto a big bowl of water and sat us near the edge away from the crowds.

Figtree's Cafe
Open 8 to 6 daily
429 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA

Chateau Marmutt
Not to be confused with the fancy hotel in Hollywood (Chateau Marmont) the Chateau Marmutt is a dog-grooming and doggy day-care facility right in the midst of the hip 3rd street shopping area. Very friendly staff. We were able to drop Otto off for an oatmeal bath, teeth brushing and nail clip and had a few hours to do some shopping and strolling without the dog. He came back fluffy and soft and tired out which was great.

Toast Bakery Cafe

After Otto's day-o'-beauty we took him for a nice meal at Toast which has a sidewalk patio right in the midst of the hip 3rd street shopping area. Great place for people-watching and ducking out of the sun on a hot summer day. During peak hours there is always a wait, but we went around 3pm and were able to snag a table right away. The menu features, salads, sandwiches, burgers and breakfast fare and there are also great cupcakes and treats from the bakery. I had a turkey burger with grilled onion and avocado and amazing sweet potato fries. Loved the bottomless glasses of Lemonade and Passionfruit iced tea (they will even give you some to go!). Our server brought Otto a big bowl of water and we were able to keep him under our feet at one of the outside tables.

Toast Bakery Cafe
Open 7:30 to 11 daily
8221 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA

The Dog Lover's Companion

I bought a copy of the Dog Lover's Companion to Los Angeles for our trip. It definitely has a comprehensive list of parks that allow dogs. Was a little bit dissapointed in the dog-friendly restaurant listings, but definitely a handy reference and a good place to start.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Favorite Store of the Day

I'm in L.A. for the weekend and soaking the sun and shopping. Happened upon this great boutique on Main St in Venice/Santa Monica today called Planet Blue. Apparently it's been around since 1995 in Malibu, but it's new for me. They now have stores in Beverley Hills, Venice and Santa Monica, but what's even better is that some of the merchandise is on the Planet Blue online store!

Here are my favorite picks from the website (which doesn't even begin to cover all the merchandise in the store):

Lauren Conrad Valentine Dress

This kimono style dress ($295) is in a great shade of emerald green. Love the way it drapes and the fluid fabric. Could be dressed up or down.

Primp Embroidered Tee

I love the fact that this embroidered shirt from Primp ($131) is a soft knit rather than the usual stiff cotton. Even better that it's 100% bamboo!

Menswear Vest

This Bailey 44 Glenda Vest ($160) is black with thin grey stripes. Love the satin backing with bolder stripes in grey.

Mini Kaftan

I would wear this cotton mini-dress ($95) as a tunic over a pair of jeans or with some shorts. The back is open at the top to show a little skin. Love the sleeves and the fitted elastic waist.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

So Fierce!

Project Runway

Season 5 of the US version of Project Runway is underway right now. This is without a doubt my favorite show on tv. Each week a group of aspiring fashion designers designs an outfit based on a particular theme or challenge and the resulting designs are judged during a runway show.

I could not get the current episodes while I was in Canada, but luckily these are posted on YouTube within a few days of airing. The key to searching for episodes on YouTube is to use the format of S##E##. So, to view this season's episodes do a search on "project runway s05e01". I highly recommend you go back and watch season's 3 and 4 as well.

Project Runway Canada

There has been one season of Project Runway in Canada so far. This version is hosted by Iman, but is otherwise very similar. The great thing about the Canadian version is that all of the episodes are posted on the website. I definitely recommend watching season 1 online.
Where are They Now?

Christian Siriano, who was the winner of US Season 4 and brought the expression "fierce" into everyday vernacular, now has his line on BlueFly.
(Note: Christian was spotted during our stay in Montreal walking down the street. We managed not to yell out "Fierce!" as we drove by).

Jeffrey Sebilia, winner of Season 3, has a company called Cosa Nostra. His line is available at BlueBee and Revolve Clothing.

Don't Try this at Home

Inspired by Project Runway, I've decided to teach myself to sew this year. I've dabbled in sewing for years, making my daughter's Halloween costumes, and doing small projects like pillows or curtains. However, now I want to REALLY learn how to do things the right way.
I just picked up Diana Rupp's Sew Everything Workshop book and am going to try a few projects in there for my Fall wardrobe. This book really breaks down and explains terminology, how to read a pattern and all the basics of sewing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Coast to coast in 4 days

We just completed our 3rd road trip across the US, but this time the goal was making time over sightseeing. We managed to do it in 4 days without having to do any night-driving. The days were a little long, but overall the drive was pretty reasonable breaking it into 4 legs of about 11-12 hours each.

We managed to find a Whole Foods Market in every city we stopped at overnight--Cleveland, OH, Omaha, NE and Park City, UT. In fact, the Whole Foods in Cleveland and Omaha were super-sized. In Park City the Whole Foods was literally right next door to the Holiday Inn we were staying at.

Whole Foods has all kinds of high-quality prepared foods and salads. So, we were able to stock up and have food for breakfast lunch and dinner all 4 days (eliminating the need to stop!). I would definitely recommend checking out the list of stores on the Whole Foods website, before planning a trip like this.

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Even though time was of the essence we did manage to make a quick pit stop in Cheyenne, Wyoming to buy some Western Wear at The Wrangler. Housed in a big red brick building just off the freeway it's hard to miss. Great selection of western shirts, boots and hats.

The Wrangler
1518 Capitol Ave
Cheyenne, WY 82001
(307) 634-3048

At some point I would love to go back to Cheyenne for Frontier Days (July 18-26 2009) which is huge rodeo event there.