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  • New FAQ and Services page

    I started out writing an FAQ page for how to order a custom wedding dress, and ended up with this big long informercial-type essay. What can I say, I was in the mood to promote myself! I usually hate doing that. So this will be on a separate page for new visitors to read, but I wanted to post it here so that blog readers see it as well.

    FAQ

    Do you only work with Sydney clients?

    No, of course not! Obviously if you are in Sydney or able to get to Sydney, it makes it a lot easier for us to meet in person and do fittings, but I work with international customers as well. I'll ask for lots of measurements, details and photos so I can get a really good idea of your size, and if you're still not sure, I can post a calico toile for you to try on before I start work on your dress.

    What the hell is a toile?

    It's a quick version of a dress made in cheaper fabric. I make these for various reasons: to test that the pattern pieces fit together properly; to work out sizing issues before I start on the main dress; and to give you an idea of how the style will look on you. Most wedding dresses require at least two toiles, sometimes three or four. This is all included in the final price of your dress. 

    Who does the pattern making/cutting/sewing/beading/embroidery work?

    I do all of that. It really is just little ol' me in the studio and your dress is designed and made from start to finish by me, right here in Sydney. OK, sometimes my mum helps with veil orders. 

    Can I write about you on my blog?

    Yes! I get most of my business through word of mouth so I LOVE it when people share what I'm doing with their friends & followers. Feel free to use anything you find on my site (as long as it links back to here) or email me for hi res photos and/or extra information.

    Can I come and visit you to try on samples?

    Sure! I'm still a few years off opening a proper shop front but you're welcome to come to my home studio to try things on or chat about a custom order. Just email me and we'll set something up.

    What if I freak out and change my mind after ordering a wedding dress?

    Email me straight away and see where I'm up to with it. Chances are it won't be too late to change the design, although it might cost you a bit more for the extra time or if I need to buy more fabric.

    You're pretty new at this. Do you know what you're doing?

    I'm relatively new to the bridal business but I've been sewing and making clothes my whole life. I have a degree in fashion design and I've worked in the fashion industry. Don't worry, I've got this.

    How long does it take to make a dress?

    How long do we have? Basically, I'll get it finished and delivered to you a month before your wedding date. If that's a year away, then yay! We have heaps of time to really work on making your dress amazing. If it's two weeks away, well, I'd better sew quickly! I'll always let you know if what you want isn't possible in the timeframe available, but it doesn't hurt to ask. You might be surprised at how quickly I can make your dress dreams happen.

    OK, so if you can make a dress in a week, why do I have to wait till a month before the wedding to get my dress? I want it now!

    A lot of brides lose or gain weight leading up to the wedding - whether it's due to stress, dieting, exercise or too many pre-wedding dinners at the pub (me). It's best to do your final fitting close to the wedding date. That said, if you really want it by a certain date, I can make that happen for you.

    How much is this going to cost?

    I work with a wide range of budgets. Custom wedding dresses start from around $500 for a very basic style and can go up to $3000+ for more complicated designs. The prices are based on cost of materials and time spent working on the project. We will agree on the final cost early on in the project and I will stick to that budget - I would never turn around and tell you that you need to pay more, unless you wish to change the design halfway through.

    My ready-to-wear samples are cheaper as they are often made from surplus materials and are made to fit my mannequin (Australian size 10), which saves a lot of time on pattern making and fitting.

    I have a tiny budget and don't fit your sample size. Is there anything you can do for me?

    As much as I love coming up with new designs for every bride (it's my favourite thing about custom bridal!), it's easier and faster for me to recreate an existing design. So why not have a look at my past work and see if there's anything that interests you? I could make your own version in your size, and I can find a nice fabric that will keep the costs down for you. Beading can add a lot to the cost, but using lace or textured fabric can be a nice way to add interest to a design without getting too expensive.

    Do you make men's wedding attire?

    I make ties and bow-ties for men. I also have some basic training in tailoring, so I am able to make suits and shirts if you really want me to. Having said that, I respect that tailoring is an art which takes years to master, and is best done by those who specialise in it. 

    Do you only do vintage inspired stuff?

    Vintage and retro wedding dresses are my favourite thing to work on, but it's not all I do. I'm a highly skilled and experienced dressmaker with an open mind, so I'm happy to work on any project you can dream up. In fact, I even made a giant list of the things I'm willing & able to do:

    Services

    • I can design a custom wedding dress for you
    • Make the exact dress you've been dreaming of all your life
    • I make short wedding dresses
    • Wedding dresses with sleeves
    • Coloured wedding dresses
    • Wedding dresses in a rush 
    • Dresses for pregnant brides
    • Wedding dresses with cats on them
    • Wedding dresses with birds on them
    • Any kind of wedding dress you can dream up!
    • I can make a dress using your own vintage or heirloom fabric
    • Design bridesmaid dresses that go with your wedding dress and fit your bridesmaids' individual personalities
    • Replicate a vintage dress
    • Replicate your mother‘s wedding dress in a style that would suit you
    • Alter or redesign a vintage wedding dress
    • Use part of your mother's wedding dress on your own dress (and restore your mother's dress)
    • Make flower girl dresses
    • Make grooms and groomsmen ties - or bow ties! pocket squares too
    • Make a veil to match your dress 
    • Wedding clutches
    • Pretty robes to get ready in
    • Make a beaded sash to go with your wedding dress
    • Make your garter
    • Design and make cover ups for church ceremonies 
    • Recreate your favourite royal wedding dress or movie wedding dress - I'd love to do an accurate Disney princess wedding dress!
    • Design a convertible wedding dress - How about a long ceremony gown that converts into a cocktail dress for dancing?
    • Two brides? No problem - I'll work with you both to design your dream wedding outfits and make sure they won't clash - and that neither of you need to find out what the other is wearing before the big day!
    • Destination wedding or elopement? I can make a wedding dress that will travel well.
    • Winter wedding? let's talk about wedding capes and warm wedding dresses!

    So... why not just put your mind at ease and let me dress your whole wedding party?

    If you're detail oriented, I love that and am open to as much input as you want. If you can't make a decision to save your life, leave it with me and I'll sort out everything!

    What you get when you work with me: 

    • Online consultation - I love using Pinterest's secret boards feature, but if you're not into Pinterest, we can work in whichever way suits you
    • In person consultation - come on over and let's talk about wedding dresses! Look through my magazines and books, bring any pictures you have, try on my samples. If you've sent me pictures and measurements in advance, I can even have a toile ready for you to try on at your first consultation
    • All ideas considered. Nothing is too crazy. I love crazy!
    • Minimum three fittings for local customers - toile fit, second toile fit, and final fit. Depending on the dress style and time frame, extra fittings may be required.
    • All shopping done for you - I won't send you out to buy fabrics all by yourself. But if you want me to use fabric you already have, I can do that too
    • Constant open communication - email or text me at any time during the project with any questions you have. 
    • Total confidentiality - I love sharing what I'm working on on Instagram but I never show a whole wedding dress before the wedding. It's totally up to you how much I share of your project as it's happening.
    • Hand finishing - I want the inside of the dress to be just as beautiful as the outside
    • Personalised brand label with your names and wedding date
    • An exquisite, one of a kind, beautifully constructed wedding dress that has been made with love just for you.

    How do we make this happen?

    Email me at ali.dibley@gmail.com with three essential pieces of information - what you want, your budget, and your wedding  date. I can't wait to hear from you.

  • Trina - A short white lace wedding dress sample

    Just wanted to share my latest bridal sample with you! I've named it Trina after a character in the book I was reading while making it (it's this one, if you're wondering - an old favourite I've re-read many many times). 

    Trina is made from fresh white cotton lace and has a Peter Pan collar and gathered knee-length skirt. She'd suit any sort of casual summer wedding, particularly in a lovely garden setting!

    The strapless dress I'm wearing underneath in these photos is actually just a placeholder. I have a great fabric in mind to use here but it's in our shipment which still hasn't arrived from Manila, so I'll make the inner dress when that gets here.

    My shop isn't active at the moment (due to the whole waiting-for-the-shipment-to-arrive thing), so she's not up for sale yet but don't worry, I'll definitely let you know when the shop is back up and running.

  • Classic Weddings: Val & Jack's 1940s Elopement

    This is the second of my Classic Weddings posts (find the first one here). With the internet so full of modern wedding blogs, I thought it'd be nice to revisit some weddings that happened long before Pinterest came into our lives.

    This wedding is a special one, as I've heard the story so many times from Val (my great aunt), who loves reminiscing about her rebellious past. We caught up with Val on our way back from Adelaide a few months ago and I made her tell me the story again - but this time I took notes!

    When did you get married? 

    We eloped in 1949, just after my 21st birthday. Our dad told us (my sisters and I) that we weren't allowed to get married before we were 21. So really I wasn't breaking any rules...

    Where did you get married?

    We got married in secret at Canterbury registry office. Jack organised the marriage license and we took the tram into Central, then out to Canterbury. The person who conducted the ceremony was a lady! I still remember her name - Euphemia Wilson.

    When we arrived, they said "Where are your witnesses? You need two."

    Oops! didn't think of that. So we went out onto the street and waited until a nice looking young couple came along. We approached and asked if they would mind coming in to watch us get married - and they eagerly said yes. They'd only been married four months themselves. 

    What did you wear?

    I made my own wedding dress, sitting on my bedroom floor. My mum helped me cut it out - I didn't tell her she was cutting out my wedding dress. It was light blue, with a sweetheart neckline and lovely little split petal sleeves. The skirt was New Look style with big deep pleats - there was miles of fabric in it.

    I wore navy court shoes, carried a matching navy bag, and had a gorgeous navy straw picture hat with light blue flowers on it. I looked fantastic! 

    Did you have any sort of reception?

    Yes, after the wedding we felt like celebrating with our witnesses, so we went to the milk bar down the street from the registry office and had strawberry milkshakes. We had a lovely time! 

    Then on our 50th anniversary, we tracked those witnesses down. We got their name from the marriage certificate and called everyone with that name in the phone book saying "Hello, did you happen to witness an elopement in Canterbury in 1949?"... until finally someone said "Yes! We did!". We met up with them and had a great catchup - over strawberry milkshakes, of course.

    Did you go on a honeymoon?

    Yes - we went to stay at Jack's parents house in Cooma. But they didn't know it was our honeymoon, because we didn't want to tell them we'd just got married. So Jack had to sleep on the verandah and I was in a different room. There was a lot of sneaking around after dark! We finally thought we'd better tell them, so we wrote it in a letter, posted it and drove off straight away.

    We called my parents and said "We're coming for Easter - and we've got some news". They thought we'd got engaged! Well, we had, I suppose. We just didn't tell them at the time. After we told them we were married, Dad took Jack down to the garden for a 'talk' - I still don't know what was said. I was inside with Mum, while she made up the guest bed for us and fretted over what the neighbours would think.  

    So, where are the wedding photos?

    Oh, I forgot the camera! We'd organised to have a camera for the day and I left it at home. I had too much to think about! Then we couldn't find a street photographer, so unfortunately we don't have any wedding photos. But that's ok, I've got the whole thing in here (taps her head).

    Mum, Val and I.

    I'd love to make this into a regular feature but it all depends on how many people I find to interview! If you or anyone you know has been married for more than 20 years and would like to reminisce about their wedding, email me at ali.dibley@gmail.com with 'Classic Weddings' in the subject line.

  • In real life

    Sometimes, I just get so caught up enjoying what's going on in 'real life' that I forget to check in online. The two main things that have been occupying my world lately are two things that I have been looking forward to for years - we bought our first home, and adopted a dog. Yay! Life is good.

    Our place is a pretty typical 50s/60s era 2 bedroom apartment in a small brick building. They're very common in this part of Sydney. The point of difference that I love about our place is all the beautiful natural light. Our part of the building kind of sticks out from the stairwell so we have no common walls which means lots and lots of windows! It's beautiful. 

    My favourite room is the living room because it's also our library! We're total book collecting nerds so for this place, we gave away or repurposed all our old mismatched bookshelves and got matching low white shelves to line the walls in the living room and hallway. After lots of Pinterest research on how to make Billy bookshelves look like built-ins, nothing seemed quite like what I wanted so we came up with our own solution (keep in mind our shipment hasn't arrived from Manila yet, so the bookshelves are only half-full and there's a big space where the TV will go).

    Before:

    After:

    My dad and I made wooden countertops to fit to the tops of the shelves that wrapped around the front and sides. My mum stained them to make them fit in with our other wooden furniture. Everyone who comes over asks if they were already here when we bought the place, so I guess my goal of making the shelves look built in was achieved! Also visible in the above photo, we installed Artracks around the living room so that I can hang artwork and change things around as often as I like. I'm enjoying playing curator in my little private library gallery. 

    Another little DIY was this side table/magazine rack thing. It was a cheap impulse buy at an antiques centre a few years ago. It's always sat in the corner in various apartments because we've never really had a use for it. We started using it as a coffee table in this place and I fell in love with it all over again, but it just didn't go with the room. So, spray paint + leftover wood + leftover stain = new coffee table!

    I've also been planning to re-cover our old couch for a long time, and getting it out of storage really confirmed how old and faded the upholstry was. It's still a really comfy couch, so I bought some nice textured green fabric and made new covers. I love how it looks now. Our dog is a big fan too.

    Speaking of our dog, meet Teddy! He's a four year old mix of... something that we got from Sydney Animal Second Chance. Our best guesses at his breed so far have been Glen of Imaal Terrier/Silky Terrier, with maybe some Corgi or Shetland Sheepdog thrown in. Ok, clearly we have no idea what he is. But isn't he cute?!

    He follows me around all day and sleeps under the work table when I'm working. He's very well behaved and housetrained but we don't think anyone ever played with him as he doesnt seem to get the point of most games. So we've been having lots of fun trying to teach him how to play!

  • Pink, pleats and Peter Pan collars - Hannah's wedding dress

    Today I want to tell you a bit about the process behind my one of my favourite ever bridal projects - Hannah's pink dress.

    Hannah contacted me about a year ahead of her wedding wanting to talk about a custom wedding dress. She said the words I love to hear: "I don't know exactly what I want, but I know I don't want strapless". Yay! Nothing wrong with strapless. I just happen to specialise in non-strapless wedding dresses!

    I knew Hannah was a Pinterest fan so I suggested that we set up a secret Pinterest board where we could both pin ideas and photos.

    I quickly noticed some common themes - peter pan collars, short sleeves, flowy skirts, and the colour pink! I drew some ideas for her and shared them on our board so she could choose a final design. Her dress ended up being based on this idea:

    My first step in designing a new dress is to make a 'toile' - a mock-up dress out of cheap fabric. My toiles are usually pretty hastily constructed and far from what the end product will be, but that's ok. I just need something I can try on the customer to figure out any fitting and design issues.

    I was still living in the Philippines when I was working on this, but we were in Sydney over the Christmas break so I squeezed in a first fitting with Hannah on New Year's Day.

    I spent a lot of time getting the bodice fit right, and we talked about different design elements like collar size and sleeve length. 

    Then I headed back to the Philippines and made another toile based on what we'd talked about, using fabrics that were closer to the real thing, but still not expensive.

    I also dyed some silk fabric in different shades of pink for Hannah to choose from. 

    I packaged up the second toile and the silk samples and sent them to my mum, who did a second fitting with Hannah in Sydney.


    Once Hannah had chosen the exact pink she wanted, it was time to buy the 'real fabric' and get it the right colour. Dumping ten metres of expensive, delicate silk into a hot dyebath takes a certain amount of confidence.

    Then there's the question of how to dry the thing and keep it clean...

    It took a few days of dyeing and drying before I had the colours exactly right. I had to get the lace, silk georgette and silk lining all to the same colour, and they all dye differently. 

    Once I was happy with the colours, I started playing with beads for the bodice.

    I sent a sample of different beading styles to Hannah, and worked on the skirt while I waited for her decision.

    I then spent many, many hours beading while watching Netflix.

    After the beading was finished, the rest of the dress was pretty quick to come together.

    One final fit with Hannah to cut the hem, and we're all done!

    A big congratulations to Hannah and Ben on their wedding, it looked like a beautiful day! 

    Photographer James Goff posted some more photos from the wedding on his site here.


    If you're interested in a custom dress, email me and tell me about your ideas!

  • The best illustrators on the internet

    As you may have noticed, I’ve recently got really into painting and illustration. It started out as a desire to improve my fashion illustrations, but in my quest to master the art of watercolour I’ve ended up drawing everything but wedding dresses. Oh well. It’s all about just trying to practice as often as I can and hoping that I will eventually develop my own style. These ladies all have lovely individual styles and for that I am slightly envious.

    Katie Rodgers

    A New York-based artist who uses all manner of media to create dreamy dancers and fashionable ladies. She also taught me how to paint shoes (through her skillshare course). Find more from Katie here.

    Megan McKean

    Megan and her husband Josh run McKean Studio in Sydney. They create unique souvenirs of cities around the world which often feature Megan's illustrations. Find more from McKean Studio here.

    Caitlin Shearer

    Caitlin draws a wide range of subjects but illustrates lovely ladies particularly well. She often has her artwork made into printed textiles. Find more from Caitlin here.

    Grace Lee

    I can't help but like everything Grace posts on instagram. Originally from Sydney, based in Japan, Grace illustrates little bits of life around Tokyo in clean, colourful style. Find more from Grace here.

    Dawn Tan

    Dawn paints food, houses, and all sorts of fun things. While we were in Manila we missed our favourite Australian snacks so much that we bought a Red Rock Deli chips print. I love it so much. Find more from Dawn here.

    Alexandra Nea

    Alexandra's work has a level of precision and detail that I will never achieve, but will always admire. She has a lovely vintage style and creates custom bridal portraits to order. Find more from Alexandra here.

    In real life

    We bought our first home and are getting the keys today. Yay! but you know what that means - no internet for awhile. I always have time for instagram, though.

  • 8 little things you can do to make sure your wedding photos look amazing

    The internet is full of advice on how to get great wedding photos - but most of that advice involves telling your photographer how to do their job. There are a few little things you can do yourself that will make a big difference to your final photos.

     

    1. Tidy up the space where you’ll be getting ready - hide any mess, clutter or distracting paintings and get some fresh flowers to put around the room (or use your wedding flowers!).

    2. Get a special ‘getting ready’ robe that matches your wedding colours. I’ll make one for you!

    3. If there's room, get your photographer to travel with you in the car. It's a good chance to get some bridal portraits while your make-up and hair still look fresh (and don't say "but we're not getting fancy wedding cars" - this photo was taken in the back of an ordinary Sydney taxi).

    4. Has anyone ever told you not to fidget? Forget that. When you're about to take a photo, check that your jewellery, hair and dress are all doing what they're supposed to be doing. Rings facing out, necklace clasps at the back, dress smoothed out, etc. It makes a difference.

    5. Remember to hold your bouquet at waist or hip level, not up in front of your chest. You’ll look less nervous and show more of the details on your dress.

    6. Stand with your feet together! My mum has to remind me this pretty much every time she takes a picture. Oh, and stand up straight.

    7. When getting photos with other people, if they're standing on your right, hold the bouquet in your left hand (and vice versa). Your body language will look ‘closed’ if you hold it in the other hand.

    8. Think of something fun to do at the beginning of the photo session. If you're lucky, you'll get some great candid shots. At the very least, it'll loosen you up for the rest of the session.

    Most importantly, don't worry too much about The Photos. The invention of wedding blogs and Pinterest has made wedding photos seem far more important than they actually are - after all, what's the point of getting married if the internet doesnt see it? (um... being married. That's the point).

    Take the time to get some nice pictures, but don't let it disrupt your day. Do what you want and enjoy your party! In a couple of weeks I'm going to post a story about a very special wedding that'll make you see why photos aren't so important. Stick around!

  • A dressmaker's tool kit DIY

    I mostly work from home, but sometimes I need to do customer fittings at a different location. Right before a fitting I’m always running around trying to think about what I need and finding something I can use to carry everything safely. So, the inspiration for this project came partly from recognising a need, and partly from wanting to play with my brother’s laser cutter.

    We used sheets of regular craft foam (like these) and traced around the edges of my tools, then scanned and created a vector file from the outlines. The laser cutter followed those lines to cut out the shapes (you could use a Stanley knife if you wanted to do something similar). We glued the layers together with superglue, making a rainbow pattern with the different coloured foam.  

    I like how the 'pin tin' can be opened and used without taking it out of its space.

    I also requested a slot for my shiny new business cards so I always have enough to give out.

    We left room at the top for my notebook and any fabric samples I need to take to the fitting.

    I’m really happy with my custom box! The shapes mean I won’t forget any essentials and I love that the tools won’t be clattering against each other and scratching or shredding everything in my handbag. 

  • Sketchbook catch up

    It's been far too long since my last blog post. As you may know, I have now left Manila and am back in Australia, living with my parents until James gets back in October. I haven't found a lot of time to work on the blog but I have been doing lots of painting, so I can show you that. The picture above is my sketch of the view from our balcony in Manila. It's a bit of a contrast to the small town I'm staying in now!

    I bought this sketchbook shortly before leaving Manila, and this picture of my scissors is the first thing I did in it. I like how the metal blades worked out.

    Immediately after arriving in Sydney, I turned around and went straight to Fiji with my mum and cousins. On the first morning, some horses appeared on the beach near us while mum and I were painting. I quickly discovered that I can't draw horses but the other side of the page looks nice.

    We found lots of lovely flowers to paint!

    Found some shells too (much prefer painting flowers).

    This was one of the pools at our resort in Fiji. I spent a lot of time sitting here, reading and painting.

    I read this funny Swedish book and relied on my giant scarf and sunscreen to protect me from the sun (I'm really not a beachy-tropical-holiday type person... but I still loved Fiji).

    Before we knew it, it was time to head home. Mum has been trying to teach me how to paint sky.

    The weather was a bit different when we got home! My parents live in the Snowy Mountains and August is the end of the ski season. This was the view from our house one cold foggy morning.

    Given that it has been pretty cold outside, I've mostly been painting things I find around the house.

    This is a tiny kiddie-sized chair that we now use for sitting and warming up by the heater.

    I got some new paints for my birthday and made a quick colour chart to try them out.

    Then I went to Sydney and found an apartment for us to buy! This isn't it, obviously. This is a cute little library nearby.

    When I got home from Sydney, the weather had warmed up and there were Spring flowers and blossoms all over the place. I picked some wattle to try painting.

    Not a painting, but still on the artsy theme - I found my old flower press from when I was little. I used to love collecting flowers to see what they would look like squished flat and dried out. I then lost interest at some point and these flowers have sat in between layers of paper for twenty years! I arranged them behind a frame as artwork for our new apartment.

  • Our Makati

    My mum suggested this project, and I thought it was a good idea: a hand drawn, hand painted map of our neighbourhood (Makati) with our favourite spots marked. I decided to do a bit of an informal Manila guide while I'm at it.

    Greenbelt

    Let's start at Greenbelt, because everyone starts there. It's a big shopping centre with beautiful gardens and lots of great places to eat.

    Simply Thai is good for... simple Thai food (funny that) and People's Palace is the place to go for fancy Thai food and cocktails. Mr Jones is a 50s style American diner. Cyma has nice Greek food, and Burger Bar serves up infinite combinations of deliciously messy burgers. Draft has a great menu (lots of different options, all good) and plenty of good beer to choose from.

    Cerveseria is the usual after work bar when it's not too hot outside, and Dillingers is where we head in the warmer months (they have really good air conditioning!). Sala has a lovely dinner menu and a great value brunch, and we like going to Motorino's for pizza, Nanbantei for Japanese and Gilak for anything mediterranean. 

    We do our bookshopping at Fully Booked, our groceries at Landmark (hating every minute of it) and get our dentist-ing done at GAOC dental. I forgot to put it on the map but I get my hair cut at Piandre.

    Glorietta

    Glorietta is right next to Greenbelt. I go here for sewing stuff - Fabric Warehouse for most fabrics, Carolina's for lace and trims, Buttons 'n' Wrap for notions. I often stop at Army Navy for some quick tacos for lunch, then maybe a detour to Uniqlo for fun.

    Ayala Triangle

    The biggest park in Makati and site of the original airport. They have an amazing Christmas Lights show during November & December, and a strip of restaurants and cafes. Our favourite is Poco Deli for the sausage and cheese platters and German beer.

    Legaspi Village

    Our 'hood. The Curator is probably our favourite place in Manila, for coffee in the mornings and cocktails at night. Mondo has great sandwiches and juice and Swagat is our regular Indian restaurant... we have eaten a lot of delicious chicken korma at that place! Balcony and Plantation are both good pub-like options.

    Legaspi Market is our regular Sunday market, just at the end of our street. We go there every week for fruit, vegetables, bread and yummy pulled pork tacos.

    Salcedo Village

    We stayed here when we first arrived and didn't have a kitchen so we explored the restaurant options pretty thoroughly back then! Chocolate Fire is a chocolate shop owned by an Australian where they also have nice sandwiches and pastas and things. Apartment 1B has good breakfasts, and 'comfort food' for lunch and dinner. Bugsy's, Bowler and Rue Bourbon are all fun themed bars (1940s gangsters, London pub and New Orleans respectively). Wildflour, Toby's Estate and Hooch have all opened up recently - head to Wildflour for a great bakery breakfast, Toby's for Australian coffee and cafe food, and Hooch for drinks and Charlie Chaplin movies. Salcedo Markets on a Saturday has food, produce, plants and souvenirs.

    Burgos

    The area around Burgos St is sort of a red light district so it can be a bit overwhelming to newcomers but there are some fun places to go around here. A big favourite with our friends is El Chupacabra, usually just referred to as just 'tacoooooos!'. Street tacos with a bit of a Filipino twist, served in plastic baskets out on the street. It's great. We go to Howzat sports bar for trivia on the first Tuesday of each month.

    We also discovered two more great places in the area in the last week (after I finished the map) - Farfalla for lovely Italian food and handmade pasta, and Beers Paradise for a huge selection of beers, comfy armchairs and dead quiet 'atmosphere'. 

    I'm all finished with Manila now, I'm writing this from my friend's apartment in Sydney and will be going to Fiji next week with my mum and some cousins. Follow along on instagram!