Archive | September, 2010

Burda 6/09 Sunburst Pleat Front Dress

24 Sep

I first read about Burda magazines in some sewing blog and was fascinated by the concept of a fashion magazine with real patterns. Since then I always kept a lookout for it at newsagents-not all stock them. Borders carried them till recently. I ‘ve been hunting for back issues to read and found that the Payneham library carried them-so I bacame a member (despite already being able to borrow from 5 libraries.)

For those unfamiliar with it, Burda is a monthly German dress pattern magazine that has over 40 patterns in it which you can trace out and make. I don’t usually buy it-to date I’ve  only bought three issues. It’s about $15.90 per mag and is good value for money if you make at least one garment from  it every month. It has pictures of models wearing the designs, a page with line drawings, and an insert of patterns in various colours  which you trace out. I like looking at the line drawings more than the pictures for the design ideas it inspires me to.

Of the 6 mags I borrowed, the June 09  issue had an interesting dress.

Burda 06/10

Pleat front jersey dress 102 Burda Jun 09

101 Burda 06/09 Pleat Front Dress

This is a clearer line drawing of it.

102 Line Drawing

I love the sunburst pleats and the pretty folds on the front. I formed an idea of a white dress with a black lace belt in this design and couldn’t wait to  get to  it.

This is the instruction sheet in the magazine.

Instruction sheet

This is the pattern sheet. Each sheet is labelled alphabetically with patterns pieces printed on it. One sheet may have several garment patterns on it, and the patterns for different garments are  differentiated with a different colour.

Pattern sheet

I trace out my pattern with sew-in interfacing, which is see-through and cheap. The Burda patterns do not have seam allowances added on to it, so here I am tracing around the patterns with a tracing tool-

Double pencils with a 5/8-inch spacer

-which I got at Lincraft.

I traced a size 38 all over, but I was actually a size 42 at the waist, and 40 at the hips. I was too lazy to grade up or  down according the markings-it was hard  to see and too tedious. I figured that since this is a stretch fabric, I’ll just pin fit the sides later. Also, the patterns were drafted for an “average” person-but who is? I’m very short waisted, so you’ll see in my pattern pieces below I’ve made a length adjustment by shortening  it by 2cms.

Pattern pieces cut and altered.

There are no construction photos-it was very quick to put together. The whole thing was sewn on my overlocker. The only thing that took some time was the  front pleats.

The instructions said to baste the pleats together, and sew it onto the front lining piece and treat as one, and not to press the pleats. I was too lazy to baste and just sewed the pleats on permanently and pressed it anyway. But the effect aren’t the soft folds as  in the picture, which I do regret not following.

The instructions for the dress was for a zipper to be installed in the back. However, instead of cutting 2 back pieces, I cut it on the fold, so I decided to put an invisible zipper in the side seam.

One thing I found was  that despite choosing the size 38, the whole dress was  huge on me. I had to remove 2 inches on each side seam from top to  bottom.

This is my finished dress.

Sunburst Pleated Dress

Back view

The lace belt is removable and this is what it looks like without it.

Dress plain.

I wanted to be able to wear it casually, as well as to more dressy functions.

It didn’t look so when the model wore it, but the neckline plunged too low for me. So I made a removable lace modesty panel.

Removable lace modesty panel

Here is a closeup of the lace belt, which is almost the favourite part of the dress for me. I wanted it to look like galoon lace, which I couldn’t find at Spotlight, so I made do with what I had in my stash.

Lace belt

The belt was the hardest to do, as this is the first time I’ve dealt with lace in this context. This was actually a small fat quarter piece of lace that was given to me with one scalloped border. I decided to cut it down along a motif, baste it to a white sew-in interfacing (to show off the black lace), and then backed again with black knit fusible interfacing. The edges have been finished with an overcasting stitch through all three layers.

Here is a parting shot.

Front view

I really, REALLY like this dress, especially with the lace belt. Which one do you prefer?

A Vintage Rabbit Fur

16 Sep

I’ve recently amassed a collection of  vintage coats. Living in a temperate climate, I feel quite justified in doing so. Coats are such necessities in winter. Everything that you wear next to your body remains unseen save for your coat. A beautiful coat and a pair of beautiful boots are absolutely indispensable for a lady. And because that’s what most people will see of you in winter, that’s all the excuse a lady needs to have more than just one.

A recent audit brings my coat count to 6 coats-all vintage or preloved save one, which came from Malaysia, bought before I first moved here. My most recent acquisition came from the Adelaide Vintage Fair last week. I found this beautiful vintage rabbit fur coat on a rack and tried it on…and loved it!

Vintage Rabbit Fur

The previous owner told me it belonged to her mother-in-law and was made in the 50s, but despite that it is in beautiful condition inside and out. The fur doesn’t even need to be dry-cleaned-it smells beautifully fresh. The lining has no tears or holes in it, and it fits perfectly. It’s very hard to get real fur nowadays, and they are up in the thousands of dollars. I kept stroking it and tried it on and Wyld Man said I should get it. So I did. I felt so glamorous when I tried it on. But it’s such a pity the whether is warming up now and I won’t have an excuse to put it on!

Here’s a back view.

Back view

When I first touched it I could feel the difference between it and an acrylic fur-it’s beautifully silky and warms you up immediately when it’s on. And real fur almost always has piecing because you don’t really get large hides from small animals. So this really was the genuine article.

I also came across a genuine Louis Vuiton bag in good condition for $50, but decided against getting it. There was a lady across the table who had been ignoring the bag, but started looking at it when I picked it up, and the minute I put it down, she snatched it up and bought it. I think she might have been afraid that I would pick it up again. I don’t know if carrying a monogrammed portmanteau is really my style, even if I could have gotten a good bargain, so it wasn’t a great loss for me.

The North Adelaide Vintage Fair is held fortnightly on the second and fourth Sunday each month from 9am to 4pm at the Estonion House on Jeffcott St, North Adelaide.  Lot’s of interesting things there to see and buy.

Vanilla Slice

2 Sep

Some time ago my lovely friend Bethany came for dinner and brought dessert. It was the beginning of an era-of vanilla slice. It was so delicious I stole 3 slices out of the fridge everyday while it lasted. And then I dreamed about it. And then I asked her for the recipe. I would have given a kingdom for that recipe. I worked up the courage to make it after a week or two of holding back-fearing it would not compare to hers. But made it I did, and several times over several weeks. And it was amazingly good.  The original recipe called for 1/3 cup of custard powder-however, I was concerned about the food colouring, so I made some changes. I substituted the custard powder for cornflour and egg yolks. The only difference between the two is that the recipe with custard powder produces a custard that sets more firmly. But this one still tastes pretty darned good. Below is a photo tutorial of how I make it.


  • 2 cups milk (500ml)
  • 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks (700g egg)
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 1 sachet/2 tablespoons gelatine powder
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 2 puff pastry sheets
  • icing sugar
  • desiccated coconut
  • baking paper
  • 9 x 13 x 1 inch jelly roll pan
  • 2 baking trays

Makes 8-10 serves and for one jelly roll pan.

First preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and line the pans and the baking trays with baking paper.

Line the pans with baking paper

Make sure that the paper is longer on the sides of the jelly roll pan-you don’t want the custard to flow under the paper.

Put the pastry sheets on the lined baking tray and prick well with fork.

Lay the pastry sheets and prick with a fork

This ensures that the pastry does not get too puffed up-you want it relatively flat.

Cook in the oven for 10 minutes-do not burn. You want it cooked but still pale  golden and not brown.

While the pastry is cooking, we’ll make the custard.

Measure out 1/2 cup of caster sugar

Then add…

1/2 cornflour

Now the…

2 cups of milk

Whisk the mixture over low heat.

Whisk whisk

Stir constantly. You’ll know it’s starting to cook once you meet some resistance. When it starts to gently bubble, keep cooking for 1 minute, then turn the heat off and continue to whisk till smooth.

Stir in the sachet of gelatine into 1/3 cup of boiling water till dissolved.

Stirring the gelatine into the custard

Make sure the gelatine is evenly distributed into the custard.

Now we add the vanilla extract.

Stir one tablespoon of vanilla extract into the custard. Very thoroughly.

I loooooooove vanilla.

Separate the yolks and beat. And then…

Stir the beaten yolks into the custard

Beat briskly.  Your custard will start looking like the store-bought one. Like this. However, be careful not to beat in the egg yolks while the custard is still hot-you don’t want the eggs to curdle.  Drip the yolks in bit by bit and whisk constantly.

Custard is nearly ready

Tastes delish at this point. People will start licking the stirring spoon at this point. Do not let it out of your sight! And don’t finish it by yourself!

Time to add the heavy cream.

Stir in the heavy cream.

I think it is possible to omit the cream if you don’t want it too heavy. Your custard will probably set a lot better and not be too squishy. But I haven’t tried it yet. I like decadence. In the form of heavy cream. Low-fat be damned!

It’s time to get back to the pastry sheets. Trim them to fit the pan, and put one layer in. Like this.

One down. One more to go.

Pour in the custard over the pastry.

Yummy custard filling

And then put the other pastry sheet, trimmed of course, over the custard.

Sprinkle LIBERALLY with icing sugar and desiccated coconut.

It's done! It's done!


Chill overnight in the fridge. But I like to cheat. I put it in the freezer for 3-4 hours. This sets it hard enough to cut into slices.

And tada!!!

Food for the gods

I love vanilla slice. And so does Wyld Man. Thanks Bethany!

Vanilla Slice Recipe

  • 2 cups milk (500ml)
  • 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks (700g egg)
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 1 sachet/2 tablespoons gelatine powder
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 2 puff pastry sheets
  • icing sugar
  • desiccated coconut
  • baking paper
  • 9 x 13 x 1 inch jelly roll pan
  • 2 baking trays


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Lay pastry sheets on and prick well with fork. Cook for 10 minutes till lightly golden. Remove and let cool.
  2. Mix caster sugar, milk and cornflour thoroughly over low heat, stir constantly till it bubbles slightly. Cook for 1 minute then remove and continue stirring till cool.
  3. In another bowl, dissolve the gelatine in 1/3 cup of boiling water, and stir thoroughly into custard.
  4. Stir vanilla extract into custard, whisking briskly.
  5. Separate the yolks, beat, and stir into cooled custard.
  6. Trim the pastry sheets to fit the lined jelly roll pan and pour custard over one layer. Cover with the remaining pastry sheet.
  7. Sprinkly liberally with icing sugar and desiccated coconut.
  8. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 3-4 hours. Cut into slices and serve.

**Update: I’ve found that using 2/3 cup of cornflour, and beating the egg yolks gradually while the pot is still on the stove and hot helps it set better. And a tiny bit more gelatine too.