• Collage

    My husband and I were both sick last week so I haven't really done anything productive lately. By Thursday I was at the point where I was sick of doing nothing, but still not really up to doing anything useful. When I was at uni, my favourite way to de-stress was to sit on the floor in front of the tv with a pile of magazines, scissors and glue (see this old post). 

    I haven't bought any magazines since moving here so all I had to play with was an old issue of Frankie and a Philippines Esquire that someone left out in the hall, which led to some pretty random collages. They don't really mean anything, but I had fun.

  • "I have no idea what kind of wedding dress I want!" - Where to start

    Despite the stereotype that girls spend every minute of their childhoods dreaming about their future wedding, a lot of brides feel overwhelmed at the amount of decisions to make after getting engaged. When it comes to choosing a wedding dress, sometimes it's really hard to pin down what you want. I've prepared some questions to get you thinking.

    Do you want to wear a dress?

    You don't have to. You could wear a suit, a pretty skirt and top, pants, a mermaid costume, whatever you like. There's no requirement that the bride has to turn up in a fancy wedding dress - although it certainly is fun!

    What do you usually like to wear?

    Go through your wardrobe, or look through pictures of yourself to work out what your favourite dresses are. Which ones make you look and feel amazing? They don't have to be formal dresses. Maybe there's one neckline you always favour, or a specific length that you know looks good on you. Identify these features and put them on a list of things to look for in a wedding dress. If you never wear strapless dresses in real life, it's probably because you don't like wearing them - so why wear one on your wedding day?

    What's the day going to involve?

    Is your wedding outside or inside? What season will it be? What is the reception venue like?

    People tend to throw practicality out the window when it comes to wedding dresses, and I'm not really sure why. Think about wearing one dress all day. It will be a LONG day. There will be a lot of hugging. There will be photos. There will be dancing. There will be sitting down and standing up and walking around and possibly a car ride or two. You need to be able to walk across a room holding a piece of cake and a glass of champagne without tripping over your dress. Picture YOUR wedding day from beginning to end. Did you think of any more requirements? Add them to the list.

    What kind of fabric or embellishments do you like?

    This is where most people shrug and say 'I don't knooooooww!'
    Pinterest is your friend here. Open up the weddings board (or have a look at mine!) and go through the pictures. Try and make quick snap decisions for every picture - 'No... yes... no... hell no... too shiny... too many ruffles... OOH SPARKLES... not enough sparkles...'
    Seriously, just spend half an hour on Pinterest (ha! everyone knows you can't JUST spend half an hour on Pinterest) and you'll be an expert at what you like and don't like. Make your own wedding dress board - that's what Pinterest is for! After awhile you'll notice similarities between the dresses you like. Maybe most of them have lace, or none of them do. They might all have tulle layers or heavy beading. You might have been drawn to anything that wasn't pure white. It doesn't matter if you don't know the exact names for things, just as long as you've learned to recognise what you like.

    Ok, I've got my impossibly long list of wedding dress requirements, where do I find this magical unicorn dress?

    Email me your list and I'll design some options for you! You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?

  • My favourite podcasts for working from home

    I love podcasts. For me, they're the perfect thing to listen to while working, because they keep my brain occupied while my hands work. It helps the time goes faster, keeps me focused, and I can learn things along the way. It also helps to not go crazy if you work by yourself. I'm basically like the stereotypical lonely old lady who listens to talkback radio all day.

    Here are some of my favourites.

    Dr Karl on triple j

    You can listen to this live on Thursday mornings, or on the podcast whenever you like. If you're Australian you'll already be familiar with this one, but for those who aren't, listeners call in with science questions and Dr Karl does his best to answer them. Entertaining AND educational!

    Answer Me This

    Kind of similar concept to Dr Karl, but the questions can be about anything in the world and the hosts aren't doctors. They're just Helen and Olly (and Martin the soundman), and they do their best to answer whatever questions people throw at them. Hilarity ensues.

    The Sporkful

    "It's not for foodies, it's for eaters". Dan Pashman explores a different type of food each episode and discusses it in great detail. He is obsessive about figuring out the best ways to eat different foods, which I totally get. So if you also care about subjects like optimum felafel shape, sauce to meat ratio and bite consistency vs bite variety, check it out. I like him so much I even kept listening after he said he doesn't like vinegar on chips. 


    For hardcore Harry Potter fans. It's a group re-read of the entire series, like a book club - only they spend an hour and a half (sometimes more) discussing each chapter. In depth. My husband shakes his head in disbelief, but obviously I freaking LOVE IT. They just finished Goblet of Fire, so join in for Order of the Phoenix!

    Also - if you're a Harry Potter fan, listen to this BBC Radio 4 Bookclub podcast episode with JK Rowling. It was recorded in 1999, with an audience of children discussing The Philosopher's Stone. This was before the movies came out and before many adults started to really notice the series. Jo is so open and thoughtful, and slightly less guarded than she usually is in interviews. The children ask really intelligent questions (and sometimes funny questions) and show a level of insight that reminded me why these books are so important for people of all ages to read. 

    Graham Norton

    I love Graham Norton's tv show. But did you know he has a radio show too? His guests are often authors or theatre people, which I love, and he also does a 'Grill Graham' segment where he and his co-host Maria try to solve people's problems for them. It's a great lighthearted show and full of Graham giggling which always makes me giggle too.

    Disney Story Origins

    This is a fairly new podcast but I like what he's doing so far. The host takes one Disney movie per episode and researches where the original story came from, then compares other versions of the story to Disney's version. He's a Disney fan, but not so much that he's at a 'Disney can do no wrong' type level, so you'll enjoy it no matter how you feel about Disney. 

    How Stuff Works 

    There are LOTS of podcasts by, and they're all done very well. My favourites are the history podcast (Stuff You Missed in History Class) and Stuff Mom Never Told You, which is kind of loosely based around feminism and women's studies, but they cover a pretty wide range of entertaining topics (as women tend to do). I also used to love PopStuff - they don't record new episodes anymore, but it's worth going through the archives.

    Radio National

    ABC Radio National is the main public broadcast station in Australia, and their podcasts are awesome. There are a huge amount to choose from but my favourites are By Design and Hindsight. Or just listen live online and see what you end up with!

    These are just a few of the podcasts I listen to (I also enjoy ABC Perth's gardening show, Melbourne in Fashion, the Culture Squad, and many more - I like variety). I am always on the lookout for more, so let me know if you have any favourites! 

  • Japan - Tokyo & Kyoto

    We had a really great two weeks in Japan. The seasons were changing which meant we got a bit of everything while we were there - grey drizzly days, warm glorious sunshine, crisp clear cold days and even a couple of days of snow.

    The spring blossoms were just starting to come out, so I followed the local example and took photos of every blossom I saw. I took photos of some other stuff too.

  • A day at Bell Street

    8am: The studio gets lovely golden light early in the morning. I hide in the living room with a cup of tea.

    9am: I've been trying to remember to take outfit photos so that when I feel like doing illustration practice, I have something to reference. About once a year I get in an outfit-documenting mood (see?) and it usually lasts a couple of weeks. We'll see how long I last this time. I made these shorts last week from some fabric my mum made.

    10am: sorting out what needs to be done for a bridal project.

    11am: Patternmaking some bridesmaid dresses

    12pm: Practicing quick illustrations for this post

    1pm: Adding colour

    1.30pm: Lunch time! sometimes I have soup, sometimes I get fancy. This was a fancy day - toasted focaccia, homemade beetroot relish, feta cheese, poached egg.

    1.45pm: There's a very long list of favourite foods I can't get in Manila, but being able to buy crazy cheap mangoes all year round makes up for it. Sometimes.

    1.45pm: Big Bang Theory on my lunch break.

    2pm: Wondering why my neighbours STILL haven't taken their freaking christmas decorations down... and taking an accidental bauble selfie.

    After lunch I went to the shops to get fabric and stuff. I forgot to take any pictures because I was trying to get in and out as quickly as possible - the fabric shops I go to are in a big mall and it can be a major time suck if you're not careful!

    3.30pm: Back with lots of pretty new things.

    4.15pm: Hanging out the washing on the roof. 30 stories high!

    4.45pm: bit of blogging work.

    5.30pm: Back to patternmaking for the evening.

    6pm: Just remembered to get the washing in before the sun went down. That building with the cranes on top (closest) was only four stories high when we moved in... oh yeah, and it's a 6 days a week, 24-hour work site. There's another one directly next to our building on the other side. And one across the road. It's very noisy here.

    6.15pm: Time for a cuppa tea!

    7pm: Toile-ing by twinkle light

    7.30pm: Time to call it a night.

    I enjoyed taking photos all day, it actually helped to keep me on task! As you can see I like to mix up my day a lot rather than work on one thing for longer periods of time. It keeps me interested.

  • Illustration practice: 10 great movie wedding dresses

    A place in the Sun (above)

    This was just going to be a post of my favourite movie weddings, but in looking for photos to include in the post I learned that a) there are already a million posts like that on the internet and b) it's really hard to find good quality movie stills online. So I decided to take the opportunity to do some illustration practice. I want to get better at quick sketches so I set a timer for each of these and didn't allow myself any do-overs.

    I still can't draw faces so they're kind of hilariously bad. I was going to do something about it in photoshop, but aren't there enough people dedicated to making hollywood actresses look better? A bit of uglifying treatment by my pen won't hurt their careers. 

    Funny Face

    Audrey Hepburn wears this dress at the end of the movie while dancing around an artificial creek with way too many swans and fake flowers. It's magical.

    The Sound of Music

    For a long time, I thought this movie ended with the wedding. My mum used to turn it off as Maria was walking down the aisle because she thought the movie was long enough, and it's kind of hard to explain nazis to a four year old. I always thought the giant train and long veil was so cool.

    The Phantom of the Opera

    Okay, she's only wearing the wedding dress because her psychopathic singing teacher forced her to put it on, but it sure is pretty. And maybe if society hadn't been so mean to the Phantom for looking different, he wouldn't be so socially awkward. I love this musical.

    The Boat that Rocked (released as Pirate Radio in the US)

    When this movie came out, almost everyone I know asked me if I'd seen it, because they knew I would love it. It's everything I love in one movie. Unfortunately hardly anyone else liked it and it turned out to be a major flop. Oh well. The wedding scene is totally perfect.

    Father of the Bride

    Classic nineties, but it's aged well. The top looks remarkably like the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress.

    Moulin Rouge

    I'm sorry Nicole Kidman, you didn't deserve this. But when you're crying and singing at the same time it's kind of hard for me to draw you without making you look demonic. Love the dress though.

    Runaway Bride

    I almost didn't include this one because while the dress is cute, it was a really boring one to draw in this style. But the face is the closest I got to drawing something that looked like an actual human face so after that Moulin Rouge disaster, I'm keeping it in. Who cares if it doesn't look anything like Julia Roberts.

    Mamma Mia

    The dress itself isn't really my style but I loved the overall look of Sophie's wedding, and she looked super cute. Not in the drawing, though.

    Coming to America

    Yeah, I saved the best til last. This movie seems to always be on TV in Australia and I love watching it. It's so funny and ridiculous and just when you think it can't get any sillier, we get this dress. Awesome.

  • The Rolling Stones in Macau

    Rolling Stones Live in Macau

    It was our first wedding anniversary on Monday. Conveniently, The Rolling Stones were playing a show in Macau on Sunday night. Perfect way to celebrate!

    We'd actually originally thought we might see them in Tokyo, because they were there when we planned to be in Japan. We soon realised that it's very difficult and very expensive to get Japanese concert tickets when you don't live in Japan. Luckily the Macau date worked out even better for us, coinciding with our anniversary and being a perfect stop on the way home from Japan (Macau is only an hour and a half flight from Manila). It was also a much smaller venue than any of the others  on the tour, and the tickets were significantly cheaper than in Sydney or Tokyo. It really was perfect!

    Mick Jagger in Macau

    I was very excited to see them. They're my favourite band apart from The Who, but they are such different bands that I think I can give them equal favourite status now. 

    Ronnie Wood in Macau

    Seeing the show made me realise how freaking cool Ronnie Wood is. From where we were sitting, the way he was dressed, and the way he was leaping around the place - the guy looks like a teenager. Ok, his face gives him away, but he's a pretty heavy smoker (he smoked a lot during the show which was kind of funny to watch). So, don't smoke. And wear sunscreen. Ok?

    Keith came up to the mike and said "Hello Macau... It's good to be here... it's good to be anywhere..."

    Good point, Keef. 

    Mick is skinnier than I'll ever be and has way more energy. Maybe the secret to youth & vitality is to be a rock star for fifty years? I'd better start soon.

    I'd heard over and over that "they've still got it" but I really had to see it for myself to truly believe it. They sound just as amazing as they always have and work the stage and the crowd perfectly. You can really see that they absolutely love performing and as long as Mick keeps up the crazy dance moves, I think they'll keep going as long as they can. Yay for us!

  • This week's links

    Here's another IFB link roundup I was included in. Enjoy!


    Love, Life & The Latest Thing

    This week NYFW hit the runways strutting everything we'll be coveting over the next six months, but it's also a time to think about love as Valentine's Day closes out the week. Will you be celebrating? Some will, others will roll their eyes, but either way, it's certainly fun to think about what we'll be wearing.

    Links à la Mode: February 13

    SPONSOR: East Dane RtA, Evleo, P&J Sister, Quiksilver, Alasdair, Blossom Box, Our Legacy, Ingelmo, Chrldr, Furla

  • Making my own wedding dress, Part 2

    Short polka dot wedding dress with sleeves

    Read part one about how I designed my own wedding dress here

    Quick timeline for anyone new to the blog: We got engaged in September. James started his job in Manila in October. I joined him in November. We got married in March. So, I had a month by myself in Sydney while James was in Manila. I used this time to do all the wedding planning, and start work on my dress.

    Perfecting the fit

    I started as I always do with a calico toile.

    calico toile

    I then moved onto a second toile in the real fabric, which was frustratingly re-made over and over again in an effort to get the sleeves right.

    tulle sleeve fitting

    toile fitting

    Sourcing materials

    Anyone who sews usually has a lot of fabric lying around their studio. I had lots of ivory satin already, so with that and the tulle I'd bought when I was 15, I didn't need to buy any new fabric for my dress. I did want to get something to accentuate the polka dots and continue the pattern onto the solid part of the dress. I wanted something exactly like the little ivory beads on this old t-shirt:

    beaded t-shirtNow, before you think I'm a total cheapskate, I tried to find something similar to buy. I looked in bead shops. I looked online. I found nothing, and decided that I was happy to sacrifice a $4 second hand top for my wedding dress. So I unpicked the beads from the top. If you're keeping count, that's $6 for the tulle fabric and $4 for the beads. Total cost so far: $10.

    polka dot beaded wedding dress progress

    Putting the dress together

    I got the top finished first, because it had the most hand sewing and it's better to work on the hand sewing parts before you attach the skirt and it all gets too big to handle. I watched a lot of tv while doing this.


    top of my wedding dress with sheer sleeves and binding
    From there, it was pretty easy to finish the rest. I used lining fabric I already had, and I found some white silk covered buttons to put down the back. I dunked them in tea to make them ivory. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that I didn't have an ivory invisible zipper to use! I actually had to go out and buy one. It would have been incredibly satisfying to have made my wedding dress entirely out of stuff I had lying around the house, but I suppose only having to buy a $1 zip is ok. At least I bought new shoes!

    pinning wedding dress hemAt the time when I finished my dress, I didn't really know anyone in Manila except James - the one person I couldn't show the dress to! So I took some pictures with my self timer.

    short a-line wedding dress with sleeves and petticoat

    I wish I'd taken a picture of the petticoat before I put it in. It was lots of layers of polka dot tulle, all flared rather than gathered, because I didn't want it to be too bulky. It also had some flower cut outs from my grandma's wedding dress sewn on.

    wedding photos on playground swing set

    It was the perfect dress - comfortable and not too hot and easy to move around in. I had a lot of fun wearing it!

    You can see more of our wedding here or look at more wedding dresses that I've made here. Or email me if you want a custom made dress of your own!