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The PVC Skirt Part II

So remember that PVC skirt I talked about making way back in November? No? Well, I don't blame you. It was sooo long ago. It just shows how lazy I can get when it comes to creating something totally new and that not all designs become reality. Honestly, I think I was all sewn out from the Banana suit haha.

Anyway, I've had the PVC sitting on my couch for about 3 months now. It wasn't until the beginning of the week when I daydreaming about the outfit I want to wear for this weekend that I realised I didn't have the skirt I needed. Of course, there's nothing more to do than to make it.The biggest change I've made so far is turning the original circle skirt idea to a knife pleat skirt. The skirt still flares out a little on the sides to create an A-line shape. For some reason since I'd drawn that picture I could never quite visualise the skirt made from the PVC. I could never believe it would give the steady swing and twirl a circle skirt should give. The other major reason for the change was  due to the creases on the fabric from being folded and shipped for 3 weeks. Again, my laziness stopped me from shipping it back for an exchange.

Cutting out this fabric was a little easier than the leather where I had to be extra careful not to mark the hide. I came up with the great idea of using Blu Tac to stick my pattern pieces to the plastic side of the PVC. It worked a treat along with the bull dog clips to prevent the any double folded areas from slipping.

All my pattern pieces including the lining and waistband. Plus the metal zipper I ripped
out of an old skirt
If you are interested in how I created the pleats to this pattern, I've already done a tutorial on it here. Sewing the skirt together was the trickiest process for this skirt. Because the plastic does not stay folded on its on and I couldn't pin it, the pleats kept sliding into different positions. My tips are to sew slowly while grasping the pleats tightly in your fingers to hold them in place as they pass through the feed dog. Also, baby powder everything up! It makes your stitches so much neater and smoother as your machine won't stick to the plastic. I also did an exposed zipper for this skirt to add more detail to the grungey style. This was the most difficult part and I haven't figured out the correct technique yet. Once I do, I will post a tutorial about it.

Sewing with bull dog clips... it ain't easy
Overall, I am rather pleased with the outcome. It did turn out a little short due to the voluminous pleats that flare out. I'll just have to remember not to bend over at all! I'm glad I have chosen a very unusual material to make this interesting piece. This is going to be a difficult skirt to wear, due to fetish/skanky factor, but I believe that paired with the right top and accessories it will be a bit of a show stopper. I'll post my outfit later on in the week and let you guys be the judge :)

Back with the exposed zipper

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Valentine's Tuesday

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. It seems like the world was split between two groups, the loved up romantic dreamers and the disgruntled singles who believed that any V'day gesture was unnecessary. I'm stuck somewhere in the middle. As much as I don't like all the roses and over the top gestures, I still like having a reason to celebrate... especially on my day off.
So the day started with breakfast at Lady Marmalade at Stones Corner. This breakfast cafe was opened by two contestants of last year's My Kitchen Rules. The decor is quirky and eclectic with a very warm local atmosphere. The tables and chairs which are all a little different from each other are mostly arranged outside in the cool breeze. Their all day breakfasts options include lots of fresh locally sourced produce done in a classic way. I love that there were many vegetarian options to choose from. Inside, their deli cabinet also offers a range of sandwiches, pies and desserts to choose from. I had the baked eggs with house beans and warm soldiers, while Pham had the brioche with herb butter roasted mushrooms and goats cheese. For drinks I had a Saigon (Vietnamese) iced coffee and Pham had an organic soda. I think what we both enjoyed about our little breakfast was that although we've had all these flavours before, we could taste the freshness in the produce and there's nothing better than a well cooked satisfying breakfast.
White Chocolate Raspberry Tart that Pham had. I don't like white chocolate so I didn't try any but he said it was delicious. I could've eaten the vanilla bean cream by itself.... :\
We spent the rest of the afternoon by first delivering my Valentine's Day Truffles to my lovely friends then searching for places to play with my camera. Which, by the way, I am in love with! I still haven't mastered the art of casually posing infront of the camera, it just feels so unnatural to me! I'll get there eventually. Later in the afternoon, Pham (who is a car enthusiast) took me to my first track day at Queensland Raceway. It was pretty exciting being allowed to go as fast as we wanted. Maybe one day when I conquer my fear of driving I'll be able to be behind the wheel on the track. But for now, I'm pretty content just being the squealing passenger. I mostly just enjoyed taking photos in the car as the other cars sped on by and I captured some pretty cool shots of the sunset.
Playsuit by ASOS, Necklace from Sabo Skirt, Platforms by Tony Bianco

To finish the night we had Thai at our favourite little Thai place in the Valley. When I came home, there were two little parcels waiting for me. Food, camera play time, spending time with friends, an adrenaline rush followed by more food and then the arrival of my Etsy orders... what more could I ask for on a Tuesday?

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DIY Valentines Day Truffles

Valentine's Day is just around the corner so I thought I'd squeeze this little idea in, better late than never! I'm not one who really celebrates Valentine's Day. I really really don't like all the cheesy teddy bears, gift cards and roses that all the shops make you believe you should be given. But I do appreciate the idea of having a day to celebrate love and the fact you have met someone that can share your life with you. For all of us single guys and gals out there, we should just celebrate our love for our dearest friends and family.

I saw this recipe while I was scrolling through bloglovin' the other day and it instantly became my Valentine's Day gift idea. I followed the Rosemary and Vanilla recipe then took a little inspiration from the page and made my own Macadamia ones as well. I've already changed all the amounts into metric to save you guys the effort. The truffles themselves didn't take long at all, it was the painting of the boxes that took forever. You can definately chose a MUCH simpler gift box design to save you time. (I just like to complicate things for myself.)

All the delicious ingredients
Each recipe makes around 40 to 50 truffles depending on size

Rosemary Vanilla Bean Truffles

  • 340g dark chocolate (don’t use baking chips or baking chocolate, as these often contain a bit of wax, which could upset the viscosity and mouth feel)
  • 57g milk chocolate
  • 283g heavy cream
  • 85g glucose syrup
  • 57g. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • several small sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • rich cocoa powder (for dusting)
1. If not already in chips, chop the chocolate into tiny bits and combine it with the butter in a medium to large glass bowl; a steel bowl is also fine. Wash your rosemary and add with the seeded vanilla bean to the heavy cream and glucose syrup, bringing to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

2. After 15 minutes, bring the cream to a second boil and immediately pour through a strainer over the chocolate mixture, gently agitating until all the chocolate is in contact with the hot cream. Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Next, whisk the mixture (ganache) vigorously until it’s smooth and well combined. If any lumps remain, you can put the ganache in the microwave for short 10-second intervals, stirring gently between, until the ganache is completely smooth. If you don’t have a microwave, have a small pot of simmering hot, steaming water ready to use as a double boiler. Careful not to overheat!

3. Once all is right in your ganache world and you’re left with a smooth, velvety chocolate mixture, pour the contents into a clean, non-porous container and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic directly onto the surface of the ganache. Place the container in the refrigerator until firm and set. This step could take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on your environment.

4. Sift cocoa powder into a large square dish and ready your melon baller! The ones with releasing scoops are preferred, or if you’re looking for a nontraditional-looking truffle, you can just scoop them out with anything from a spoon to your fingers.

5. Scoop your ganache, roll it any way you see fit and drop it in the cocoa powder. Every dozen or so, give the pan a little shake and let the truffles roll around in the powder until completely covered and set aside. Repeat until all truffles are ready to go. At this point, you should have many, many lovely looking bites for you and your friends, and you can either serve them right on the spot or put them in a sealed container and keep them in the fridge for up to two months!

Macadamia Truffles

  • 283g dark chocolate
  • 113g milk chocolate
  • 283g. heavy cream
  • 57g glucose syrup
  • 57g. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, pulsed in the food processer into a course rubble
Preparation is the same as above. Instead of rolling the truffles in cocoa powder, place the crushed nuts in a dish and coat each truffle in macadamia nuts.

Gift Boxes
  • paper mache gift boxes
  • acrylic paint
  • paint brushes
  • tape
  • pencil
  • eraser
  • ruler

1. Draw your design onto the box with pencil. My design took almost half a day to paint, so chose a simpler one if you don't want to spend as much time.

2. Paint your design. Use tape to create sharp geometric edges. I always press the tape onto my skin a few times to remove some of the stickiness so it doesn't tear the paper. Once you're done painting, remove the tape immediately.

To present the truffles, line each box with a bit of tissue paper and fill it with truffles. I sprinkled a few rosemary leaves into the box just to add more fragrance. Refridgerate the boxes of truffles until you're ready to give them away as they melt pretty easily.

Hope you guys have a wonderful V'day and enjoy your truffles, I'm going to have a hard time not eating all of these until I share them with my friends. They're just little mouthfuls of smooth velvety heaven!

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First Leather Project

Last Tuesday I had my first taste of sewing with leather. My friend Joel had recieved 2 beautiful soft leather hides from his friends who had recently travelled through Europe. Knowing that I'm always up for a challenge and that I love to make things for friends and family, he asked me to use the leather to make him a laptop bag and a cross body bag. I decided to make the laptop bag first as I needed Joel's laptop to fit around and he needed it back as soon as possible.

Lots of different tools are needed for leather
This was actually the more difficult project as we wanted to create an folded envelope feel to it. Trying to figure out the pattern was hard as I couldn't pin the leather together because it makes little holes in the hide. Instead I used a clips to hold things together and a white-out pen to dot mark the sewing line. If you HAVE to pin, make sure you pin on the sewing line. I also sprinkled some talcum powder on the feed dog of the sewing machine to help the leather slide over the machine.

Figuring out the pattern was all a bit of trial and error

Playing around with the leather to find my favourite shape...
Joel and I had decided to use the jagged edge of the hide as a design detail. We wanted it to look as though a piece of leather was haphazardly wrapped around the laptop. We both agreed this look was very much his aesthetic and made it a very rugged masculine laptop bag.

Having sewn PVC before, I knew that I couldn't make a mistake with the leather or I would end up with tracks of holes. But, inevitably, I did make a few. Luckily, Joel nodded with me, when I said it only added character to the bag and it didn't look like a mistake. He also said that when the leather starts to wear the holes will slowly be disguised. Phew!

One more thing, I had originally made the bag too big. Later on when I was cutting the top flap in a jagged manner to fit with the rest of the bag, I accidently took out a huge chunk and you could see the laptop inside. I almost died when I thought I had ruined the bag! But because I had originally made the bag too big, I had plenty of space to fix the problem. I had to thank my lucky stars! So the moral of the story is - Whenever in doubt, always make your item a little larger to allow for mistakes!

Ta-daaaa! almost done. Just needs a closure and some better camera lighting.
The bag is not quite finished yet, we're still looking for some buttons to create a closure. It looks pretty good right? The camera doesn't do it any justice, just wait til I take a few shots with my new DSLR. I love that it's not your average laptop bag, it's definately unique and very GQ. Most of all, it's got Joelie written all over it!

Remember to check back to see the finished result and to see the cross body bag I'm also making.
Next Post - DIY Valentines Day Truffles... will be posted in a few hours :)

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DIY Gyoza!

For a long time my Australian friends (the ones who can't make asian food) have been obsessed with gyoza. In Taiwan, we call them dumplings or (the fried ones are) pot stickers. They are really all the same thing. A few months ago Harajuku Gyoza opened up in the Valley. When Pham and I went to try them, sure enough they were tasty and yes it was a hilariously fun experience, but $120 later... c'mon my mum's being making them forever for about 1/5 of the price! (Admittedly, we drank alot of sake.) So for Australia Day this year, I made everyone gyoza. It was also a reminder of the multi-culturalism we Australians are so proud of. 170 gyozas later, they were definately a hit! 

So today I'm going to show you how to make your very own gyoza! I'll even show you two different flavours, two different cooking methods and two different dipping sauces! They are incredibly cheap to make, all my ingredients including all new bottles of condiments and sauces cost around $35. This recipe which includes 1 kg of mince will make approximately 170 small gyoza or 90 large gyoza depending on the size of your dumpling wrappers. This may seem excessive, but it takes about 8 gyozas to fill me up. Once frozen, they are a quick and impressive meal aaand, they store for ages! They are also pretty healthy depending on what fillings you put in them.

Here are a few tips - 
  • I prefer the dumpling wrappers that are only made from flour and water. I find the ones with egg make the pastry too tough.
  • Try a variety of different meats and vegetables. You can try prawns and even tofu!
  • Yamaki dashi is a Japanese seasoning that is made from dried kelp and katsuobushi. It is like a soup stock and forms the base for miso soup and other clear broths. It has a umami taste. It can be found in most good Asian grocery stores, but if you can't find it good old stock powder will do.
  • I like to shred my vegetables so there's still a bit of texture to the filling, but for children or adults who don't enjoy vegetables you can pulse the vegetables in a food processor so they're almost undetectable when cooked.
  • Have a few trays/plates ready to freeze your dumplings. I have about 4 or 5 on rotation. Once you get back to the first tray the first layer of gyoza should be firm enough for you to stack on another layer.

Poached Pork Gyoza

Pork Gyoza
You will need -
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1/4 head sugarloaf cabbage (shredded)
  • 25g minced ginger
  • 2 sprigs spring onion (sliced finely)
  • 500g dumpling wrappers
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Yamaki dashi
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine
  • 1/2 tbs sesame oil
  • plain flour to dust
  • a small dish of water
  • cling wrap
  • a few large baking trays/plates

  1. Mix all your meat, vegetables and condiments in a large bowl.
  2.  Start wrapping!

    This is the first method of wrapping your gyoza. I like to use different designs to mark the flavours of the gyoza. This one pleats both sides. Firstly put a small spoonful of filling in the centre of the pastry and spread it out in an oblong shape. Dip your finger into the dish of water and wet down the edges of the pastry. Fold the pastry in half and pinch the centre together. While holding the centre with one hand, use your index finger and them to push the edges of the pastry together and towards the centre to form the pleats. You should be able to fit 2-3 pleats on each side. Press the seam of the gyoza together quite firmly.

  3. Dust the bottom of your tray with flour. Continue wrapping and filling up your tray leaving a bit of space between each gyoza to prevent them from sticking. Once you've filled your tray give the dumplings a light dusting of flour and cover with cling wrap and put them into the freezer.
As you start to stack layers on top of each other, make sure you give the cling wrap a good dusting of flour to prevent sticking.

Pan-fried Chicken Gyoza

Chicken Gyoza
  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1/4 head sugarloaf cabbage (shredded)
  • 25g minced ginger
  • 2 cloves mincced garlic
  • 2 carrots (grated)
  • 1/3 bunch chives (finely chopped)
  • 500g dumpling wrappers
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Yamaki dashi
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine
  • 1/2 tbs sesame oil
  • plain flour to dust
  • a small dish of water
  • cling wrap
  • a few large baking trays/plates
I know it looks like a fetus.. ahhh creepy!

I prefer this wrapping design better and I also find it easier to do. This only creates pleats on one side and curves the gyoza. Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of the pastry and wet down the edges with water. Fold it in half and pinch the centre together. While holding the centre of the gyoza with one hand, use the other hand's index and thumb to pleat one side of the gyoza and press it towards the centre. Repeat on the other side, you should be able to fit 4-6 pleats altogether. Press the seam of the gyoza together firmly.

Poaching is a less popular way of eating gyoza, but its delicious, less fattening and the pastry has a lovely texture. Bring a large pot of water to rapid boil and place your gyoza in. Stir the water for a few seconds to prevent them from sticking to the pot. For fresh gyoza, once the gyoza floats to the top and the water is rapidly boiling again, they're ready. For frozen gyoza, once the gyoza floats, pour in a cup of cold water into the pot. Once the water is rapidly boiling again, then you're sure they're cooked through!

This is  the most popular way of eating gyoza because of the crunchy base it creates. Heat oil in a pan on medium high. Once the oil is quite hot, place your gyoza in. When the bases get a golden colour, pour in enough cold water to fill about 1cm of the pan (a little more if the gyoza is frozen). Immediately put a lid over the pan. When you start to hear loud sizzling the water is drying up. Once all the water is gone, remove the lid to reveal your ready to eat gyoza!

Dipping sauces
You can make up your own, but here are my two favourites.
  • Equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add chilli oil to taste
  • Soy sauce, minced garlic and sesame oil - adjust to your taste
I know this is a long post, but when you've made these once you'll agree with me on how easy and great these are. I hope you guys enjoy your fresh home made gyozas!

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