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The 50's/80's Dress Part 2

I spent most of last night sewing up a storm with Project Runway playing on my laptop. It really got me into the mood to sew faster and be a perfectionist just like in the show, haha. Sewing all the pieces of my 50's/80's dress together was actually a lot easier than I thought. Because there are quite a few pieces to this dress, it requires a little bit of planning before starting. I usually think through the steps in my head and jot it down in my notebook so I can stay on track.

The pattern I drew up using the Pattern Cutting book turned out REALLY well - I am really pleased! The only thing that didn't turn out exactly as planned was that the back bodice pieces of the dress were a little smaller than the skirt pieces. Luckily I gave all the back pieces a big 2cm seam allowance. I always do this, just incase something goes wrong... phew!

I am absolutely stoked at how good the bustier looks, finally! I can make my own bustier. I  love this style in tops. I added fusible lining to the bustier pieces to give it a bit of stiffness and it worked out great. The pleats that I drew up look really flirty and cute. They didn't add a too much volume to my waist, but gave a cute A-line look at the hem of the skirt - I think I love it.

The lining for the top
All I have to do now is put in the invisible zip. I'm comtemplating putting in some lining in the skirt just to add a nice finish to the dress. I'll let you guys know how it goes :)

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Pleats Tutorial

Like I promised in my last post about my 50's/80's dress, here is the slash and spread method I learnt years ago to create pleats. It works everytime and after you've done it once it all makes sense. You can use this method to create pleats anywhere on your pattern, I'm doing my pleats on my skirt pattern piece.

1. Make sure your pattern piece is ready with any pocket/yoke/straps notches already marked. Decide how deep you want your pleats, I went for 6cm. Because the pleat is folded in half, this means the pleat will go in 3cm then back out 3 cm. 

2. Mark on your pattern piece where you want the pleats to appear, then number your pieces to avoid any confusion and cut the pieces out.

3. On my pattern piece the hem is the straight edge. So I am going to use the hem as a guide to line up each piece. If it helps, you can rule out a line on the paper to use as a guide. Use a long piece of paper and glue down one piece from the furtherest side and square out a line from the hem.

4. Mark your pleat allowance from the edge of the pattern piece (6cm for me) and glue down your second piece. Find where half the pleat allowance is and mark the line, this is the pleat fold line.

5. Repeat for all the other pieces.

6. To cut out the pattern piece, I like to fold the pleats and then cut out the pieces. This way you will get the right shape around the pleats.

7. Remark your seam allowances and.... TA-DA!


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The 50's/80's Dress

As some of you guys may know, I went to Reverse Garbage a couple of weeks back and picked out a giant piece of 80's printed fabric for $10. The fabric is about 4m long in total so while I'm on a 2 week break from work at the moment, I thought I'd get started on using up some of the enormous amount of material. I've had my heart set on making a 50's style dress for a while. I always struggled with making a bustier without any instructions or patterns. So you can sense my joy when I found in my Pattern Cutting book, that there's a whole section on how to draft your own lingerie! Usually super girly and cutesy dresses just don't suit me, so I think pairing the feminine silhouette with a loud and fun print will give the dress a little more edge and bring it to the 21st century.

Drafting the pattern was pretty easy as I had already made all my block patterns earlier. I lowered the neckline of the entire bustier by about 2cm because I knew that the book was a little more conservative than I am. I made it out of some spare scrap fabric and to my surprise the front fit perfectly. The back was really loose on me and I had to cut off about 6cm in total off the back pattern piece. It makes life so much easier when things work out the first time, and now I can fashion the trial piece into a fun top. Win win!

Sewing, best done with a glass of wine

Before the back was fitted. Do you
guys like my super pink going-to-bed

After the back was fitted. Pretty good!

As for the skirt, I originally planned on doing a full gathered skirt. After some pondering, I decided that 1. I have done about a million gathered things 2. Gathering so high and full at the waist might make me look fat and 3. Pleats are so hot right now!

So pleats it is! I'm going to do the slash and spread method I learnt at TAFE years ago. I found this was the easiest and most logical way to do pleats. Watch this space for part 2, if you want to learn how to draft perfect pleats!

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The Skirt Block

Just so that everyone is aware, I have been a busy little bee over the last few days. I have taken off a much needed 2 weeks from work and my only goal is to RELAX! Oh my, how I've been counting down to this. For me, there is not better way to relax than to sleep well, eat well and sew sew sew! I have been meaning to finish my block patterns which I started making here. Two days ago, I finally finished the skirt blocks and also did some lingerie blocks which I needed for my next project. I was even fancy enough to laminate most of them. Pretty pro right?

Now to make this not very exciting update post a little bit more interesting, here's some pretty jewelry I bought the other day... yay! Can't wait to play dress ups with them.

And here's my poor little pup after he got two teeth pulled out. He was so groggy and dazed out afterwards  :(

Its the fluffy one who had the teeth pulled out, the chihuahua's
just lazy haha
Next up, my new sewing project!

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Fast Forward To Spring

Here's a quick inspiration post of photos that have wowed me this month, it makes me sooo eager to have some warmer weather.

That picture with the Indian headdress just makes me want one soooo bad! If only it were socially acceptable to parade around in one every day. Stay tuned for the newest sewing post up tonight. I'll keep you guys updated on my newest project :)

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Jam Jar

As I continue discovering new things in my lovely suburb of West end, I feel myself loving this place more and more. Finally, I think I've found a place that I feel completely comfortable in and has enough charm to keep me wanting to see more. One little gem that I was introduced to the other day was Jam Jar. Lovely Anna had been talking about this really cool restaurant she'd been to a little while ago. I had driven passed it for ages and the interior always intrigued me. So we went out on Friday night after a very stressful day of work and indulged ourselves to good food and good wine.

'I can't hear you...?'
As soon as I walked in I knew that we were going to have a great time. The place is only little, but it is so charismatic. When you enter you can see walls filled with art and atop an old piano are pretty vintage items.  As the friendly waiter takes us out to the back courtyard where the dining area is, it feels as though you're walking into your friend's quirky patio. There are both tables and booths to sit in and around you there's plenty of cool art on display. 

We ordered a bottle of Fox Gordon Princess Fiano to share, which was a nice change from the usual New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that I always have. For entree's we went a little cheese crazy and had a polenta cake with goats cheese puree and beetroot salt, buffalo feta profiteroles with sesame crust and wild mushroom and buffalo mozzarella arancini. The profiteroles and arancini were absolutely to die for! Anything that oozes out cheese ticks all the boxes for me! For mains I had pan seared ocean trout with carrot and herb linguine and slow poached baby beetroot. The dish was so light and fresh and the flavours were well balanced. Anna had roasted vegetable crumble with butternut pumpkin, smoked tomatoes and crispy artichokes. I had a little taste of hers and it was really flavoursome and tasty, especially for a vegetarian dish. We had a wonderful night there and maybe enjoyed ourselves a little too much because I think our loud laughing started to annoy our neighbouring tables. Oops! If your craving a more interesting night, Jam Jar does Theatre Tuesdays and has a resident pianist busting out tunes at the bar on Friday and Saturday nights from 6pm onwards. Check out their website for details.

Wonderfully cheesy

Vegetable Crumble

Pan-seared Ocean Trout

Our bill came in a little jam jar

My camera decided to spaz out, but I actually quite like these photos

Of course, it wouldnt have been a fantastic night if we didn't finish with a few cocktails at Lychee Lounge! I love trying out new cocktails everytime I'm there. And yes, I sure did have a hard time waking up for work on Saturday morning.... 

Should've known to stop drinking when my eyes started getting bloodshot....
Sorry for the dodgy looking photos. My camera takes especially crappy photos at night. I'm saving my pennies for fancy DSLR.

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Salmon with Basil and Peas 'Bonne Femme'

Pham is totally obsessed with Gordon Ramsay, so a few Christmases back I bought him Gordon Ramsay's book 'Sunday Lunches'. Its an excellent book full of mouth-watering and relatively easy recipes with ingredients that you can source locally. Some of the techniques that are shown in the book will make you feel like a really clever chef, but are really not that difficult. We had been meaning to try out some recipes for quite some time now, but as you know life gets busy and you push aside your little hobbies. On Monday night we decided that we shouldn't delay it any longer and we chose to do the Black Bream with Basil and Peas 'Bonne Femme'. Anything in French just sounds super gourmet!

The book says 'Black Bream has a delicate, slightly sweet flavour that really comes through when the fish is gently poached or steamed. French-style peas with little snippets of bacon and onion are the perfect base for the fish.' Of course, when we arrived at the supermarket we couldn't find any bream so we used salmon instead because we're both salmon enthusiasts. We also substituted pearl onions for shallots and the dish still came out extremely tasty.

This recipe serves 6.
You will need -
- 6 Black Bream fillets, skin on, about 175g each
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- small handful of basil leaves
- olive oil, to drizzle
Peas 'Bonne Femme'
- olive oil, for cooking
- 250g uncooked bacon lardons
- 150g pearl onions, peeled
- few thyme sprigs, leaves only
- 500g fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)

1. Check the fish for small bones removing any you find with tweezers. Score the skin at 1cm intervals. Season with salt and pepped and place a few basil leaves on the flesh side. Place each bream fillet on a large piece of cling film and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up to enclose the fillets in the cling film, twisting the ends tightly to seal.
2. For the peas, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon lardons for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Add the onion and thyme to the pan and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the onions are tender.
3. In the meantime, bring a large pan of water to the boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Add the wrapped bream fillets and gently poach for about 10 minutes until the fish is opaque and cooked through. If the centre is not cooked through poach for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the peas and bacon to the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until the peas are tender. Season well.
5. Divide the peas 'Bonne Femme' among six warm plates. Unwrap the bream fillets and place on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately.

mmm oily oniony goodness
Beautiful colours, you really do eat with your eyes first
Just a little bit fancy...

Tips - We decided to use two layers of cling wrap and knotted the ends to make sure no water got in. In hindsight, using a zip lock bag would've been a lot easier and stress free. Because we had some air bubbles trapped in the cling wrap, the fish kept floating to the top of the water. To keep it submerged, we placed a metal colander which was the same size of the pan inside and weighed it down with a mug. Because we used salmon fillets which are thicker than bream fillets, we cooked the fish for about 14-15 minutes and they turned out perfect.

I loved learning how to poach the fish with the technique. The fish was so tender and the flavours were light and fresh. I'll be whipping this up when I'm wanting to impress someone.

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