Tuesday, July 26, 2016

not so little black dress

Since I was *temporarily* kicked out from my family's kitchen, I poured out my grief in my sewing nook: organizing my fabric, remnants, notions, patterns and some actual sewing. 

I ticked off a project from my list: Cameron knit dress from StyleArc. I purchased the PDF copy of this pattern and the tiles are easy to assemble. The pattern includes seam and hem allowance and since the dress has a blouson design I didn't worry about the fit and simply went ahead with the sewing.

Darlene made this: Cameron Dress

I like this dress not just because it fits well but also because its black: it can be accessorized in many ways.I wore this early this month for an Iftar dinner and was adorn with a smaller version of Omani silver Hirz or Hijab necklace.

Omani Hirz Hijab Necklace

My only regret was that I should have worn a slip underneath because of the wrap skirt. I was really conscious of exposing more than I should. The problem is I don't own one since the material I always used are thick enough and my dresses or skirts are fully lined that I don't really need to wear extra underneath.

So I guess I need to make one and luckily this silk fabric has been sitting in my stash:

I'm sure I could squeezed in another project in my list.

See you in my next post!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

a repeat, new favorite, something new and grief

I spent the rest of the Holy Month of Ramadan cooking:

Darlene cooked this: Ramadan 2016 week 3


Day 14: Pad Thai
My brother cooked extra noodles for the Vietnamese Pho; he must had misunderstood my instruction I gave him. But instead of getting angry, I simply started to think on how to reuse it and Pad Thai came first thing into my mind. This is my first try: it actually a bit pink in color due to hot sauce I used (not naming the brand). It was a hit, except my dad didn't liked it - it was too sweet for him.

Day 15: Chicken Noodle Soup
This is the noodle soup of my childhood:  shredded chicken, noodles in creamy garlicky broth - no carrots no cabbage.

Day 16: Vegetable Spring roll
My sister didn't had enough last time a made this so I cooked another batch.

Day 17: Garlic Soup
There always a couple of bulb of roasted garlic sitting in my freezer. I usually make this soup whenever I'm having a cold or flu (yes, I still cook even if I'm sick). Though I wasn't sick when I made this; I just ran out of ideas!

Darlene cooked this: Ramadan 2016 week 4


Day 19: Pad Thai
My brother was leaving and my family requested Pad Thai for the send off dinner. We found a new favorite! I am also glad that one of the local grocers stocked some Sriracha and purchased a bottle. And this time, it wasn't too sweet and my dad kept refilling his plate.

Day 21: Mushroom Quiche
I remember the days when I treat myself with a few of hors d'oeuvre sized Mushroom Quiche and told myself: I should know how to make these. However, I didn't make hors d'oeuvre-size quiche - didn't have the time and patience for that!

Day 22: Ensaymada
This is a Filipino-style Brioche topped with butter, caster sugar, grated cheddar or Emmental cheese, and slices of preserved eggs. This is definitely not for the calorie or weight conscious person.

This was a very sad day to my family as one of our dog has died. We are all dealing with the loss in our way: dad spent hours doing carpentry, mom did the laundry ahead of schedule, my sister was always angry, my brother wasn't talking, and I kept on cooking. I was temporarily not allowed to cook for few days.

Since we were all grieving, our Eid celebration was very low key. I was finally allowed to cook. I decided not to post about it as there were others who were grieving too.

See you in my next post!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

empathy, gratitude, and celebration

Sorry, it's been a while since my last post. It's the Holy Month of Ramadan - a time when Muslims exercise in empathy for millions who are living under poverty by not eating any food or drink from sunrise till sunset, do charity work or do any form of aid to the needy. During this time, newspapers, magazines, even social media is filled with articles reminding Muslims its significance, fund raising campaigns and charity works.

However for me, I think of food alot more. I can't help myself not to: I smell food during late afternoons, I see ladies exchanging plateful of food, I see food advertisement on billboards, newspapers, I receive emails, SMS about food, read recipes shared by prominent personalities or chefs from famous restaurants, and food being wasted (which is an eyesore). So I make food almost everyday during Ramadan.

I tend to make soups almost every single day, though I also make something else or even try a new recipe:

Day 1: Mexican Chicken Soup (top left corner):
This is an Ina Garten recipe I tried sometime ago which I initially thought was a hit with my family but it turned out that it is only me and my dad who likes this alot.

Day 2: Filipino-style Chicken Noodle Soup (top middle)
I was really happy when one of the grocers regularly stocks fresh Chinese egg noodles making it possible for me to make this soup.

Day 3: Minestrone (bottom left corner):
This is one of my dad's favorite soup; the rest would drink this soup as long as there is croutons. I like to use pita or "lebnani"  bread for croutons instead sliced white bread. I chop 2 pita breads, toss some oil, season with salt and pepper and into preheated oven for few minutes.

Day 4: Lentil Soup (bottom middle):
This soup is almost a staple during Ramadan; at least to what I have noticed. I have come across with many recipes of lentil soup but I liked the version with potatoes the most. Just sauté onions with cumin, coriander, and turmeric, add lentils, water and chopped potatoes. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, then simmer till the potatoes are done. Let it cool, transfer to a food processor or use a hand blender, reheat, adjust the seasoning and serve.

Day 5: Churros (extreme right):
After 4 consecutive days of drinking soup, I craved for something fried. I made choux pastry long time ago so I wasn't so intimidated in making these. My pulled my brother as my sous chef: I piped the pastry to the hot oil, he fish it out once it reached golden brown color.

Day 6: Vegetable Spring Roll (top right corner)
This is known in my home country as "lumpiang prito"; I craved for something fried, crunchy and savory - and this is perfect. This is a spring roll filled with bean sprouts, shrimps, celery and chopped tofu. I placed a parsley leave as I wrap the spring roll for presentation.

Day 7: Crab and Corn Soup (top middle)
This must be the one of the easiest soups there is. However, I probably "murdered" this one by using butter - I have no regrets.

Day 9: Potato and Leek Soup (bottom left)

Day 12: Vietnamese Pho (bottom middle)
I never associate cinnamon with savory dishes and never really like anise seeds and yet, I took up a courage to make this one. The beef was tough that it sat in the simmering and aromatic broth for 6 hours but it was worth the wait. Though it made the broth cloudy it was very satisfying.

Day 13: Spaghetti Stroganoff (extreme right) 
It was only the night before when my brother reminded me it was Fathers' Day the following day. This is one of my go-to dish whenever there celebration in my family.

If you notice, Days 10 and 11  was skipped: I didn't cook on these days and my mom took over the cooking duties as usual.

See you in my next post!

Monday, May 23, 2016


I was on my way to meet Mr. F for our usual date night when he phone in saying he was running late. I didn't get upset at all; instead I decided to do a little window shopping in a district where there is 4-5 fabric stores just next to each other near to our meeting place. When I stepped in the last store and found myself as the lone shopper. I hate it when this happens: all the salesmen's attention were on me, watching my every move. Fortunately for me they are not annoying like in other stores while I, on the other hand have a face that can be easily remembered.

I really don't want any of these salesmen to make a mental note "she just look but doesn't buy" so I walked away with this:

Darlene's Vogue 8872: Construction Details

A metre of printed satin more than enough for Vogue 8872 in view B however, getting the coordinating fabric took me a while though and was acquired elsewhere. I settled with blush pink silk satin:

Darlene's Vogue 8872: Construction Details

Its not really the right shade so I cut the upper bodice pattern pieces where there is the cluster of the floral print.

Darlene's Vogue 8872

I did not sew any belt carriers as I have no intention of wearing this with a belt.

Darlene's Vogue 8872

Now for the construction details: The dress has organza interlining and lined with cream colored batiste cotton. I somehow regretted using batiste cotton, I should have use heavier fabric...

Darlene's Vogue 8872: Construction Details

I pickstitch part of the armhole which serve as the understitching. I added a bra strap holders; I prefer using 3/8" rayon ribbon over thread chain

Darlene's Vogue 8872: Construction Details

I didn't serge the seam allowances with a serger sewing machine instead I did overcasting stitch; catching few threads of the organza interlining to keep the seams flat.   

Darlene's Vogue 8872: Construction Details

Mr. F and I realized we are a mismatch and decided to go on our separate ways. 

At least I'm moving on with a nice dress ;)

See you in my next post!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

hot pink

I'm seeing a lot of silk trench coat recently and I thought, maybe I catch up with the fashion trend once in a while. I also took the opportunity to use one of my vintage pattern from my collection.

I bought this coat pattern last year . It is double breasted coat though it doesn't have the details of a trench coat but it did just fine with me. I made the coat in View C and did a rough tissue fitting instead of making a toile or a muslin. Luckily, I only need to shorten the hem and the sleeves by 2 inches.

The fabric is rayon or faux silk (not really sure); lightweight and has a lot of drape. I was hoping to get tan or a powder pink colored fabric but my options were very limited: purple, lavender, wine and hot pink. Wine was my first choice but there weren't enough yardage for the project so I ended up settling with the hot pink.

Darlene's Silk coat

Darlene's Silk Coat

I wore the coat with my Floral Princess Sheath Dress, first seen here. Now for the construction details:

Darlene's Silk Coat: construction details

I used light weight fusi-knit for the facing and the collar. The facing has a Hongkong finish; I must be lucky to have bias strips of the same color in my stash!

Darlene's Silk Coat: construction details

I used a medium weight fusible interfacing for the belt and though it wasn't called for, I added belt loops at the sides. I omitted the side inseam pockets and finish the sides with French seam. 

Darlene's Silk Coat: construction details

Also did a top stitching at lapels. I really liked how this coat turn out and I hope I could make another - maybe a linen version. 

Darlene's Silk Coat

See you in my next post!


Monday, May 2, 2016

insta-recap: April, 2016

Here's a little recap for April:

New dress and used the last of the clothing label for 2015:
Darlene made this: Burdastyle Geometric Dress

A work in progress; I usually bundle up cut up fabrics like so and put it in a small box or bag along with the notions that are needed for the project. It saves me time.

Work in progress

Last char-grilled food for the season: Chicken Tandoori.

Darlene's Chicken Tandoori

Ticked off a project from my list

Darlene's Ultimate Trousers

I had a pasta cravings last month. My mom always cook this for my birthday but since I learnt the recipe, I can cook this anytime.

Darlene's Spaghetti ala Stroganoff

Are you participating this year's Me Made May? I unfortunately have to pass but I am considering joining Self Stitch September instead.

See you in my next post!


Monday, April 18, 2016

it started with a kiss

Darlene's Ultimate Trousers

My first trousers ever!

I used Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers sewing pattern for this.  I tested the pattern by making a muslin first but I know it will be long so straight away I shortened it and raised the waistline following their tutorial. There were "smile" lines in the crotch area so I re-draw the shape of the curves.

Darlene's Ultimate Trousers

I used this blended wool pincheck-print material which reminds me of the uniforms of professional chefs!

There's nothing much to say about the construction of the trousers as it is very straight forward and everything is detailed in their sewalong.

Darlene's Ultimate Trousers

I wore these with my second Astoria (my first is here). I bought this fabric from Girl Charlee; part of their Valentine collection.

That is one project cross off my list!

See you on my next post!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

end of a chapter

Darlene's Minimalist Dress: the fabric

There was a fabric sale and as expected, my impulse buying was in full gear which basically means: buy-now-deal-with-it-later. Later seem to be an understatement; it took me nearly 10 years to finally make something with it.
Darlene's Minimalist Dress: Geometric Dress 104 08/2014

The fabric is a light weight textured jacquard in watermelon color. It doesn't have a drape so I was looking for a dress pattern that has structure. Then this came along. Perfect!

Darlene's Minimalist Dress: Geometric Dress 104 08/2014

I like the intricate design lines and to alter it to my measurement was a challenge. It was worth it: from a distance it looks like a very simple dress, but when you look close enough there's the texture and details that is not overwhelming. Although I have to admit, the pictures doesn't do justice...

Now for the construction details: because the fabric is light weight, all of the pattern pieces was block-fused with a light weight fusiknit to give it more body and a 3/8" rayon ribbon was sewn to the diagonal seam/design lines of the skirt for reinforcement:

Darlene's Minimalist Dress: Construction Details

The dress is fully lined. The lining is hand sewn to the shell fabric with tiny fell stitches. There is also pickstitch along the neckline to hold the lining in its place:

Darlene's Minimalist Dress: Construction Details

That's the last of my 2015 label. Woot! woot!

I'm off to my next ten garments...

Until then,


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

insta-recap: March, 2016

Without further ado, here's a little recap last month:

I have finalized my sewing plans for this year which I affectionately call "10 for 10":
Darlene's Sewing Plans for 2016

I was dandruff-free for more than 2 years with the help of a Japanese brand shampoo but when the dandruff came back, it came with vengeance. I discovered this company while I was searching for a new shampoo to try. Their Neem and Tea Tree Body and Hair Shampoo works wonders with my dandruff and body acne. They ran a little contest last month so this was my entry:

I am working on a sewing project which I'll be posting soon:

I do barbeque in my backyard nearly every Saturday since my dad's birthday. Here, I made Chicken Barbeque using my dad's recipe, Chargrilled Tilapia (my sister's fave):

We were told to anticipate a rainy weather so I cook a batch of Chicken Mami. Its a Filipino-style chicken noodle soup: fresh egg noodles, shredded chicken with a flavorful broth. Mine is topped with fried garlic, chopped chicken cracklings, green onions and fried crab-flavored balls. Yum!

See you in my next post!

Monday, March 14, 2016

my sewing plans

My recent hiccup concerning my health dampened my sewing mojo but, I did used the time to settle on the projects to sew for this year. Since I bought a set of 10 cloth labels, I have to make 10 garments so here it goes:

Darlene's sewing projects for 2016:Tops

I know Peplum tops was in the trend many moons ago so, why make it now? Exactly. This (1) Cyd Top  has interesting seam lines which is makes it more unique.  Second is the (2) Tuxedo Blouse from Burda Magazine January, 2008 issue. I've been searching high and low for this blouse and I am lucky enough to get a copy of the magazine. Both tops are versatile, both I could wear to work, I could wear the peplum top casually to meet friends, see the movie or if I have to go somewhere that calls for semi-formal attire, I could simply put on the tuxedo blouse, cigarette pants, statement necklace, wear a red lipstick and I'm off!

Darlene's sewing plan for 2016: Dresses

Left to right: This (3) Vogue 8872 reminds me of Black Halo Dress which definitely has to be in my wardrobe. Summer is coming so I need a pull over knit dress that is comfortable and chic and this (4) Cameron Dress fits the bill. Wedding season is also coming hence I need an (6) evening dress, I am planning to modify this New Look 6013 dress: lengthen the hem, add train, and add bead work at sleeves just like this one. I am also planning to use the same pattern to make a (7) cocktail dress; I'm thinking lace. I made a Burdastyle Princess Sheath Dress earlier; I liked it so much that I have to make another.

Darlene's sewing projects for 2016:Outerwear

I enjoyed making jacket last year hence I'll make another but this time using (8) Simplicity 2446. My wardrobe is desperately in need of long coat though it hardly gets cold here in Muscat but when it does, I usually wear my ever trusted and reliable long sweater. I hope this year I'll be looking a bit more polished with a (9) coat and I chose Lisette 6244: a fuss-free coat, no lining, no facing.

Sew Over it: The Ultimate Trousers

When I Komaried my wardrobe, I realized I have tons of skirts but no trousers so I decided to make Sew Over it (10) Ultimate Trousers. I've been living all these years without a trouser in my wardrobe but I have to learn something new besides, I need a pair of cigarette pants remember?

This is my plan: 10 labels for 10 garments. What's your sewing strategy for this year?

***Disclaimer: all images seen in this post are copyright to their respective owners***

Thursday, March 3, 2016

insta-recap, february 2016

I spent my February taking medication, KonMari-ng (if that's even considered a verb), celebrating and a little reading, here's a recap:

It's crab season here so I cooked "Crab Curry" using the recipe from 50 Great Curries of India
 Darlene Cooked this: Crab Curry

Its been a while since I made some cupcakes, so I made a batch of Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream:
Darlene cooked this: Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

 Celebrated Chinese New Year with Dumplings:

Darlene Cooked this: Chicken Dumpling

I treated myself with Matcha (Green Tea) Cake for Valentines' Day. In Chinese Tradition, you gift plum blossoms or sakura flowers to someone unmarried to wish him/her love for the New Year:
Darlene cooked this: Matcha Cake

I did some sewing but to be honest to this day it's still a working in progress:

Spaghetti with Meatballs:

Darlene cooked this: Spaghetti with Meatballs

A got a set of cloth labels for this year:


I got a copy of "Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up"  More tidying up for me in the coming weeks and more trips to the donation shop

Another new in my library: "Sew Many Dress, Sew Little Time: The Ultimate Dressmaking Guide". I do understand the concept of mix and match bodice and skirt pattern. I do this all the time like: strapless bodice with circular skirt, with long bias skirt, with long straight skirt and peplum, or a sweetheart bodice with drape details and long pleated skirt or trims yet, I still bought a copy of this book, solely due to the pattern featured on the cover. What's more exciting, at least for me, the dress  looks like the Christian Siriano gown seen recently on the red carpet.  

Lastly, my family celebrated my dad's birthday. You may have notice that I cook this quite often for one obvious reason: it's my family's favorite!

Darlene cooked this: Pansit Malabon with Pork BBQ

Till next time!