Things I’m sewing now I’m a Pregbot*.

Pregnancy is seeing me do things I would never normally do… like sewing with a plan. It’s refreshing to know that my loathing of shopping for clothes is ever so slightly stronger than my inclination to sew whatever I like whenever I like it. Whether or not I actually stick to the plan will be another story!

I’d love to hear from those of you that have been faced with curating a pregnancy wardrobe before – self-sewn or not – what worked? What didn’t? As I’m due in early-ish 2016, I’ll be dealing with a cold and windy Spring as it slooowly morphs into a Melbourne summer. Maybe we won’t even actually get that far? Come on, weather deities!

So, I started by pulling together patterns that make me smile.

MEGAN NEILSEN MATERNITY SURVIVAL PACK.
I feel a close affinity to Megan and her patterns, which is probably because we’re both West Australians. Ok, so she actually lives there and I merely claim that title by birthright, but still. She’s clearly the most go to pattern line for maternity clothing – I bought the survival pack and plan to sew up three of the four patterns it included – the Ruched Maternity Skirt (Erin), the Ruched Maternity Tee (Cara) and the Wrapped Maternity Top (Alissa). The pack had a leggings pattern too (Virginia) but I’m not really a leggings girl. Yet. Be prepared to get sick of me parading about in baby-con dress-hacks, tops and skirts, basically.

MN Maternity Survival Kit

BURDA MATERNITY PANTS 02/2012 #125
Initially I was hesitant to add pants into the mix. But… I bought this from the online Burdastyle – two others have made them up and they look both comfortable and practical, whilst still not appearing overly ugly. I’d heard rumours around the place that maternity jeans are notorious for slipping down – I’ve since bought a pair and can confirm that this is true, you just don’t get the same huggable fit. The pair I got have a similar stretch band over the mid-section to anchor them in place, so I’m hoping these will be just as comfortable as my RTW preggo jeans are. I’m also really grateful to past-Melanie for taking all that time to get my pants block up and functional. I won’t mention the fact that she was clearly too traumatised from that experience to then actually go and sew some pants. Poor past Melanie.

Burda Maternity Pants

Yeah, I wish my legs were this long!!! I’ll be chopping half of that length off, haha!

MARFY 9851 COWL TOP
An oldie, but a goodie – and still available on the mccalls site here. I have a wearable muslin thrown together from probably over two years ago that I found whilst cleaning out some boxes in my sewing room. Being already 90% complete, it will become an early 2nd trimester top that will ideally then morph into a post-partum/breastfeeding top, because the cowl is fabulously stretchy. Winning.

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STYLE ARC Harper Jacket
I’m delving into the world of unstructured garments here – totally uncharted territory for me. I originally had in mind the Nina Cardigan, with Harper being a runner up contender. I consulted with Lara – undoubtedly queen of the unstructured Style Arc pattern – her preference was Harper so that was that. The hope is that this knit outer layer will provide some warmth and match the majority of my co-ordinating maternity wardrobe during the early spring, and then be a staple post-partum also. I want it specifically in a pale grey (preferably marle) merino wool knit, but haven’t been able to find the exact right shade just yet.

Harper Jacket

DEUXIEME ARRONDISSEMENT Outerwear
I’ve developed a penchant for French sewing blogs in the last 9 months, and early this year stumbled across this pattern brand, which caters specifically for maternity. Whilst Megan Neilson covers all things stretch fabric in Maternity pattern land, 2nd District covers wovens for maternity. Now, I’ll admit I’m more team bodycon baby-con than team loose-and-flowy-maternity, but that’s because I’ve always felt really frumpy in shapeless clothing. But, I LOVE coats and jackets, so the fact that this pattern company has these triggered my clicking the buy button.

I’m suspicious of the drafting based on the photos I’m seeing though… and will most likely be altering sleeves and shoulders based on outerwear patterns I’ve already made and like (*cough* Marfy *cough*).

The 7H Manteau – looks like a really cosy winter coat:

Manteau 7H

And the 11H Veste – perfect as a blazer and I think would really lift a comfy knit outfit into ‘smart’ territory. It also looks like it would be pretty simple and quick to sew, making it even more ridiculously attractive. It’s terribly ill-fitting on the model around the shoulders, though.

Veste 11H

I also rather like the 10H Tunic too… but these patterns and postage are expensive ($46 aud at the time for the both of them), and not knowing anything about them or their drafting I’m already taking a risk. Not sure I’ll even get around to sewing the coat, but ah well.

BUTTERICK 6894
ahahahahaha…… yeah, nah.

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INSPIRATION
One word – Pinterest. Except I’d completely stopped using it ever since they brought about the ‘Picked for You’ pins, which clogged up my carefully curated feed with crap I cared nothing for. Until Urbandon posted about an html hack he found that allows you to hide the promoted pins. It does make your feed look a little bare, but this I can handle!

A particularly bare section of my feed after enabling the HTML hack:

pinterest

Now I’m right back into pinning pregnancy style ideas. It’s been the main source of my ideas for pulling together the colours and styles I want to be wearing over the next 6 or so months. Which naturally leads us to…

FABRIC
Upon investigation, my stash returned 5 pieces of knit fabric, three of which co-ordinate quite well together (a total of 6 actually, but the last one is a beloved Missoni knit and I’m not sure I’m ready to sacrifice it for Maternity sewing. I change my mind like the weather in Melbourne though, so who knows what will happen).

I’ve since bought two new ones online – and been gifted two others.

Also, a first at chez poppykettle – buying matching fabric together with the intent to sew a capsule wardrobe for work. I scored these at the 50% off sale The Fabric Store had a few weeks back – four garments for $80! and I’m starting to see how sewing for pregnancy is super cost effective.

The Fabric Store purchases

Top to bottom – a merino knit for a Vogue top I plan to adjust for maternity, a wool/poly blend for the Burda maternity pants, some cream DKNY knit – which you’ll soon see made up as a Megan Neilsen Ruched maternity skirt, and a cotton/lurex blend for the 11H Veste.

My hope is that by sticking to the same patterns and not being so anal-retentive about finishes (except where it counts) that I’ll be able to get all of this done (famous last words?). With that in mind, I have safely stored my bolt of organza away (won’t be needing that) and will be sticking a post-it note on my Janome reminding me to switch to lightning stitch instead of its default straight stitch. I’ve already started and finished on the DKNY knit so progress is great to date.

Now – I need to hear your stories and experiences about pulling together a pregnancy wardrobe!!

*Pregbot(n) – a personal joke that I find particularly humorous and which originated from my disgust of the (both Australian and American) far political right taking action to erode the basic human rights of women who also happen to be pregnant, in many instances reducing their status from human beings to mere incubators of foetuses. Not cool, dudes.

Hello, Strangers!

“Hi, my name is Melanie, and it’s been 6 months since I last posted”.

Yep, and about 5 of that have had zero chances to sew. But – our unlivable house is now moderately livable. Sort of. Still a lot of work to do! But the last month has had some productive sewing in it, culminating in a seasonally inappropriate top that is very different to my usual style. I do really love it though. Photos just as soon as I find my missing camera battery charger, and brave the cold! (Some sunshine might be nice too, but I wouldn’t want to be too demanding or anything…)

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Just a little seam matching perfection…

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I’ve also been working on the French Jacket for my mum. I originally thought having it done for her birthday in early May would has been SO achievable. But that didn’t quite work out, so the new delivery date has been set for early August. Better get my skates on…

Because I’ve also started sewing a new jacket (for me). Marfy 3022!

F3022 SS 2014-15 Jacket

The muslin for it is getting me very excited. Even with no adjustments I really love the proportions. Having been out of sewing practise for so long, and also because this pattern had a rather tricky looking dart/pocket configuration – I went to a lot more effort than I normally would in a muslin.

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But that’s all come to a screaming halt, because my usual size 46 is a little on the snug side. After many months of intensive renovating, with a non-functional kitchen and limited time – a continuous succession of bad dietary choices (and an underactive thyroid!) have left me about 6kg’s heavier than at the beginning of the year. So I’m deciding whether to buy the Size 48, or make it as the 46 as by the time I finish it, it will be Spring and I should be back to normal by then. Decisions…

Regardless, it’s so lovely to be back and sewing!!

 

Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion

A week after watching these videos, and I still can’t get them out of my head.

Watch the mental shift of 3 young Norwegian fashion bloggers who come to realise what life is really like for textile workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Ep 1   –   Ep 2   –   Ep 3   –   Ep 4   –   Ep 5

The trailer for this series is on YouTube, or you can watch each episode in the links above.

Dry Cleaner Says NO

Do you wash your self-made things separately to your RTW stuff? Hand wash them instead? Maybe it’s never even occurred to you to treat them differently?

I’m going to admit that I’m one of those people who is slightly-hippie-inclined when it comes to household chemicals. That’s probably putting it lightly, because I refuse point blank to go down the cleaning-product aisle at the supermarket. Instead, I have a cupboard full of bi-carb, vinegar, Neways and Enjo where most people have a delightful array of (for me, head-ache inducing and nasal-passage-burning) chemical products. I also have one of those hypocritical first-world double standards going on because I totally send my more-fancy self-made stuff off for dry cleaning.

I have a dry cleaner who knows I sew, so he asks for the fibre content of my fabrics instead of searching for the label. He’s lousy at getting things done within the agreed time frame, but he’s great at everything else. So when I took my wedding dress in to get sorted, he asked me to bring in a swatch of the lace so he could test if his solvents would, you know, dissolve my dress into a blob of bubbling mess. Turns out that lace survived neither of his solvents (!!), so he refused to clean my dress, and it has since been unceremoniously flopped over a coat hanger behind my bedroom door, awaiting the day I would attend to the patch where I somehow spilt gravy down my skirt during dinner. He even gave me a stack of acid-free paper to store it in. But it’s now been hanging up for over 8 months behind my bedroom door and I’ve been having a mini-guilt trip every time I see it, wondering if my continuous inactivity on the matter would render that gravy stain permanent, if it wasn’t already.

So what to do? I hadn’t pre washed the fabrics for my wedding dress, of course. But with some time off between Christmas and New Years, it was definitely time to tackle it.

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My poor hem facing was ripped off the skirt in several places. My shoes kept catching on it when I went down stairs!

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Part of a series of gravy splatters.

I thought maybe I would draw a grid on some scraps of the taffeta and the organza, wash them and see if they shrunk. But in the end I just washed it and if it shrank, too bad.

The gravy came out straight away with not even a scrap of elbow grease. And the hem is now clean! All that took less than ten minutes…

I still want to get a box of some sort so I can wrap it up in the acid free paper my dry cleaner gave me.

All in all, a pretty happy ending! And, it was really, really nice to see my wedding dress again…. *sigh*

So after my dry cleaner turned me away, and seeing as this whole dry cleaner thing was a massive double standard and all anyway, I went in search of products that were toxin free but still effective. The answer came from within my bathroom/laundry cabinet – The Laundress. I bought some of their cashmere wash a few years ago – I’d previously tried washing my cashmere knits normally by hand (this was pre-chemical-freakout days) then getting them dry cleaned – both which left them worse for wear. So the cashmere shampoo was an absolute revelation because it keeps them in great condition.

Then two long-ago friends that I used to play violin with in an orchestra during our high school days started up an online shop – The Natural Supply Co. I was browsing soon after they launched, as you do, and discovered that The Laundress don’t only make cashmere shampoo, but a whole bunch of other stuff too, all toxin free. So I bought some silk wash, and have been happily pre-washing all my silks since. This is what I used to clean my wedding dress.

Including, some uber pretty silk which is going to be my next make – a wedding guest dress. Here’s hoping I actually get it done during my Christmas break!

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If you’re precious or have got a certain habit when it comes to washing… I wanna hear about it ;)

A distraction from my lack of tangible sewing progress.

Today’s post will be a delightful distraction away from me not having anything currently worthwhile talking about when it comes to sewing.

Lisa, from Notes from a Mad Housewife nominated me for the blog hop that’s currently making its way around the online sewing space – I’m not actually sure where it started exactly but I’m in excellent company – Heather from Handmade by Heather, Leila from Three Dresses Project and soon – Morgan from Crab and Bee. They’re all ladies who have wonderful writing styles and whose sewing I really enjoy admiring!

what am I working on?

Recently I’ve been losing a lot of battles in the land of The Trouser, but I’m gearing up to win the war. In between pondering that, I’ve been working on my hybrid jacket, which is coming along really nicely!

poppykettle on instagram

I’m also just about to start basting together my mum’s jacket, as she’s popping down to Melbourne for my birthday next week so I want to squeeze in a fitting session :)

Otherwise, I’m trying really really hard not to start a fourth project. The only reason I haven’t is because I feel a little bit sewing-output-constipated right now. A lot in the pipeline… and well yeah – you get the analogy. So many things I want to sew!

why do I write?

Because I have to. Otherwise this blog wouldn’t be a blog, but a Tumblr, right? :)

I decided to start a blog when I was at the end of a my first year of sewing lessons, when I knew I wouldn’t be continuing on with that but wanted to maintain a connection to other people that sew. I had only just discovered the online world – Julia from Julia Bobbin had just started a blog and from hearing her talk about it and being inspired by her Tessuti Competition win, I decided maybe it would be something I would try, too. It took me a while to get used to the whole ‘writing’ thing!

Fast Forward a little and the fabulous Rachel from Boo Dog & Me organised a Melbourne meetup. I remember being pretty nervous rocking up to Tessuti where everyone was meeting, and I’m sure I did a lot of incoherent babbling (it’s a nervous thing) and Rachel didn’t even bat an eyelid (so polite!).

meetup

Since then I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful sewing enthusiasts overseas, had a few incredibly supportive and beautiful emails from people who read my ramblings, received unexpected fabric/pattern/care packages in the mail and made some wonderful friendships, as well as come into contact with people who I don’t necessarily get to spend much time with, but adore none the less. It’s kinda corny, but I feel that by writing I’m somehow giving a little something back in turn for all that I’ve received. That, and I love hearing from those of you who take the time to comment :) Commenting can be hard work, I know!

how does it differ from others of it’s genre?

my blog you mean? Um, I don’t know. And quite frankly, I don’t really care. This little space has given me so much more that I had ever anticipated – wonderful real life friends and the love of seeing what other people create, so I’m not really interested in getting all competitive about it all. I direct that energy into being the best I can be at doing this, and learning new sewing-related things. Everyone contributes towards the sewing blogosphere in their own way, and I think that’s what makes it so wonderful.

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And of course spending time with other sewing enthusiasts!! Myers Briggs classifies me as an introvert, but I’ve not yet been to a sewing meetup or social sewing day when I haven’t come away completely buzzed and on a high because there are just so many bloody fabulous people out there who sew. (Is that what it’s like to be an extrovert all the time? That must be exhausting!). So I’m super, super duper looking forward to the next Frocktails – which is this coming Saturday! I’m predicting that sequinned dresses are going to be all the rage…

how does my writing process work?

You know, back when I got a job with my current employer, it was all the rage to do psychometric testing. I had to do three tests – Maths, Problem Solving and Language. My result announced I sat in the 91st, 93rd and 23rd percentiles respectively. Of course, being an engineering/construction company, they hired me instantly. Ha! I recall having a little giggle with myself that I had at least managed to pick a profession that suited my abilities. No seriously, my geek high school friends and I used this integral expression as a joke that really, we no longer needed English classes:

Integral Expression of Life

Lame-osity aside, my blog writing process reminds me of writing a lab report – I stay focused on the technical process and outcomes. It’s also a really good challenge for me – writing a coherent post that flows. These days I usually start writing a post when I start making a garment – that way I can capture those ‘aha’ moments that I would otherwise forget about by the time I came to writing a post. It also means I remember to get decent WIP pictures, and that my post changes constantly up until the point I take photos, after which I proof read and then hit publish.

nominate!

I for one would love to know a little bit more about many people, but the two sewing bloggers I’m going to nominate here are Karen, from Fifty Dresses, and Leith from Sew Brunswick. Both sew and blog things that I really enjoy reading about! It’s a matter of writing about your writing process, by answering the questions I’ve got bolded in this post. Of course, this is totally non-obligatory thing :)

And I’ll be back soon with some real sewing stuff, promise!