Nature in the Big City

Can you see the Hollywood sign?

Last weekend, we made a trip to Griffith park to visit the observatory and then down to the Palos Verdes rocky ocean side.

I’ve heard a lot about the crowded nature of Griffith park, and now I understand. We had to park a mile away from the observatory on the mountain roadside. At least enjoyed our mandatory walk.


I recommend going up to the Griffith Observatory. They have very interest exhibits that are interactive and explained very plainly. There is also no entrance fee! If you’re feeling adventurous, it is also open at night so you can look through their telescope.

While we were in Hollywood, I had to visit a garden center/nursery there, Mickey Hargitay Plants. They have some very interesting plants at good prices. I came here looking for a small pot of Ludisia discolor. They didn’t have a small pot, but there were larger pots, which I purchased.

And then to the PV coast…


We walked along the coast to the whaling museum, which was closed that day. But there were whale watchers; they keep track of all the sightings on a dry erase board that stands in an alcove of the small museum building.

If you ever visit Palos Verdes, it is also worth the trip to the beaches at reserves like abalone cove. They have some sand, but they also have really cool natural tide pools where you can find interesting creatures.


Spring is at the Getty Gardens


Recently, I visited the Getty with a friend. The Getty is not only an excellent museum that is free to the public (parking is not),  they have an excellent garden. Spring has definitely arrived, and the flowers are all in bloom!


They sell a book at the bookstore that talks about the making of the gardens and has all the identification of the plants with culture information. Plants in the Getty’s Central Garden.

The hardscape is also very interesting. This is the flower maze/hedge that sits in the pool that the waterfall empties into.


I especially like the bougainvilleas that they planted inside tree like trellises. They hang down at the top. They look like old specimens as the trunks are quite thick. They also have a side succulent garden that you don’t walk into, but you can see it from the balconies in the museum.



Overall, it’s a wonder place to visit if you ever make a trip to Los Angeles California.

Monday Clinic Field Trip


Our clinic went on a group field trip for some team happiness building. We were disappointed our clinic leader wasn’t there because she got called away for less fun business. We missed you, Dr. Berkowitz! We went to the South Coast Botanic Gardens. It’s a good time of the year because the flowers are all starting to bloom, and it was a very nice day out.


Currently, they have a special Legos exhibit, so there were garden themed Lego sculptures around the park

Some spring flowers…



Of special interest, the succulent garden…



Overall, it was a fun time. Although it was disappointing that the greenhouse closed at 3, 2 hours before the gardens closed, so we didn’t get to go in. After you get past the front part of the garden, there are lots of paths, but it isn’t as vibrant. I also wish they would label more plants and have more learning stations.

However, something I really enjoyed while there was the gift shop/plant shop. I will talk about that in the next post. In a few weeks, they will be hosting a succulent show and sale, so I will be back then.

I heard the Huntington Gardens are awesome. Someday I will make it out there, but it’s kind of expensive…


the making of my wedding dress PART III: Choosing your fabric

French Chantilly Lace over Vera Wang Georgette over blush pink silk.


Once you have decided on the design of your dress, you can decide on what fabrics you want. I splurged on french lace from Britex in San Francisco. Their store selection is more expansive than the online store. The bodice, I went with an ivory china silk, underlining of bastiste, corset of cotton, and lining of blush silk. The skirt, I used blush silk lining with ivory georgette.

Most of my silks, I got from Mood fabrics…Yes, the same Mood on Project Runway. Strangely, it is very affordable, and there is a great selection online of quality fabrics. They also get a lot of past season fabrics from big designers. For example, the ivory silk I got from my skirt was from Vera Wang!

A good place for findings aside from big fabric stores online or in person is Etsy. It can be cheaper than your brick and mortar store. I got my silk ribbon for my sash, my button loops, boning and horse hair braiding there. Other things, like zippers, twill tape, and thread can be bought at stores like Joanns. Get the nice cotton thread, it’s worth it.

Always buy more fabric than you think you need. You have no idea if something will go wrong.

my swatches from mood during my planning. 

If you are not able to be a physical store, always order swatches before you buy a shit ton of expensive fabric. It is never exactly like the picture online, and you will never know what fabrics will look like next to each other. Even after ordering a long list of different colors of china silk and chiffon, in the end, I got my lining (that showed through on the skirt) and my skirt georgette at the store while I was in town. Luckily, now I am always in town, but when I started the process, Dayton, Ohio didn’t offer a great selection of garment fabrics.

Some useful things about fabric I learned on the way:

  • Don’t be too cheap with your fabric choice. It is your wedding. Make a reasonable budget.
  • Bastiste is a very nice material for underlining. It will give your silk good structure but still look delicate. another plus is it will make sewing silk easier too.
  • If you don’t have a bunch of weight on your chantilly silk, it’s okay not to line with organza.
  • Even with >6 yards of skirt, your skirt will still not look as full as you think it will.
  • Always swatch
  • Before you cut into anything, MAKE A MUSLIN. You cant always get more of what you have.
  • Think before you sew, and take it slow. Picking out a seam on silk will kill you.
  • Use cotton thread for sewing your silk.
  • Use translucent thread for hand sewing lace. For the french seams, I used cotton.

What are you some helpful hints you have learned sewing a wedding dress or formal gown?


the making of a wedding dress PART II: planning your dress and gathering your tools


When you have an idea of what you want, gather your things!

At this point in my sewing career in general, I was ready for an upgrade. What better time than right before sewing my own wedding dress? I am extremely glad I did because it made the process so much easier.

The first thing I bought was my dress form. It is a professional dressform with collapsible shoulders from The Shop Company. I mostly sew for myself, so this has been very helpful in many projects. The Shop company had good reviews and also has very reasonable prices. Their price for a professional dress form is comparable to the adjustable ones sold at craft stores like Joanns. However, the shape is way more stable, the base is extremely stable and easy to adjust, and pinning is easy with linen wrapping and helpful seams. The shapes of the professional dress forms are also truer. Always buy your dress form smaller rather than bigger than you are. To change the dimensions a little, you can pad it.


The second thing I bought was a new sewing machinea Viking Opal 670. I used to have a computerized brother that I got for $125 at Costco. It served me very well, and I have even sewed silk on it. But after using the Viking, there is so much more control, silk is a breeze…and fast. This one is also computerized, but honestly, I only use the most common stitches. By some chance, that you are thinking of getting a Viking opal, the 670 has the thread cutter, which, I have to say, is the wonderfullest (a real word?) thing in the world when you have a giant piece of fabric jammed into the neck of your machine.

top: brain storm; mid left: brainstorm some more! mid right: (mostly) final design; bottom: buy lots of swatches

Think about the construction of your dress. There are different places you can get wedding dress patterns, such as prolific brands like McCall’s, Butterwick, Vogue, Simplicity, or Burda style, but there are also beautiful indie patterns for formal dresses. Be sure to look at the special occasion dresses too. I would encourage you to also try to ignore the bad styling some of the big companies have and imagine your dress using the line drawings, because there are definitely hidden gems.

Remember, you don’t have to use the whole pattern. It’s your dress, you can mix and match elements of different patterns!

Whatever you do, I recommend researching couture sewing techniques. Some dress patterns will make a very nice casual dress, but you want to pull out all the stops for your wedding dress. Make sure to research all the techniques that will make your dress stay on you comfortably, and elegant, with an attention to detail. From the research I did at this stage, the book that most people recommend for pure information is Bridal Couture by Susan Khalje. It is no longer in print, but you can borrow it at a library or she sells a PDF version. If there is any question on how techniques are done, usually it is easy enough to youtube it.  I found it extremely helpful because it is a step by step outline for all the different parts of your dress. Again, look past the vintage styling, the techniques are the same.

In future posts, I will talk through my thinking process and some of things that stumped me the most.

Have you made you own wedding dress/formal dress? Do you have any other hints?



the making of my wedding dress PART I: looking for inspiration

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to make my own wedding dress. I had only been sewing clothes for a year. I had just sewn a few winter coats over a particularly bad winter in the midwest, so I must have been feeling just full of myself.

Anyway, I decided to do it. I looked all over the internet to see how other people did it, but there actually wasn’t too many stories online, but what was out there was extremely helpful. So now I’m sharing my experience with some sewist out there who’s not sure of her/himself, but is too committed to back down.

The first thing to do is, of course, decide what you/some other bride will want wear.

Left and left bottom: Christos; upper left: J crew ; upper right: Veronica Sheaffer; Lower Left: Inside Weddings Magazine 3/2014

I looked on the internet. I bought a bridal magazine with all the new runway styles. I thought about what would look nice on me. If I were a more diligent bride to be, I would have gone to boutiques to try on different styles, which would have been a good idea. It’s good to know what styles will look good on you, not someone else

Some things I decided I wanted was a lace overlay bodice and sleeves. My small breasts would probably look best in a sweet heart neckline. I liked the scallops showing at the neck line and at the end of the sleeves. I like the peek-a-boo open back. And I REALLY wanted a soft chiffon-y slightly full, but not in your faces skirt.

Of course, while thinking of these things, THINK ABOUT YOUR SEWING CAPABILITIES! My dream dress, if I could spend what ever I wanted, would have been a Vera Wang dress…I studied medicine, not fashion. There was no way I could have made giant chiffon roses on my skirt and not have it look crazy. I am not saying “don’t push yourself,” but it will save you a lot of tears (and money) if you think about this before hand.