Class of 2012

Ack. End of the year already? I’ve been doing a stash and pattern stocktake to try and document what I have so I actually know what I have. And whilst I was at it, I thought I’d share who (or more appropriately – ‘what’) rose to the top of the class, and who just didn’t make the grade.

Patterns Owned vs Items Made
Dresses 37 vs 5
Tops 13 vs 8
Blazers/Jackets 5 vs 2
Coats 5 vs 1
Skirts 8 vs 5
Pants 4 vs 2
Shorts 3 vs 1
Other Patterns 17 vs 0

A total of 24 garments vs 92 patterns – numbers befitting a prolific pattern purchaser rather than the prolific sewist I thought I was! 

After tallying my patterns, I did a fabric stocktake. I now have a spreadsheet with every single piece of fabric I own, it’s dimensions and fibre details – which totals 82.6m of fabric, not including scraps and calico. It will be my goal in 2013 to get this as close to 50m as possible! As I was counting and measuring – I noticed something very interesting. The fabric I sew with is the fabric I buy in a physical shop, where I’ve had the tactile experience before purchasing. Nearly all the fabric I’ve got left over is from online shopping. Whilst the majority of the fabric I buy is bought with a pattern in mind, it would seem my online purchases are taking longer to materialise into finished garments. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this realisation!

But firstly lets look at the sewing Class of 2013:

THE DUX: V8739
Also known as – The Vogue Suit. Specifically – the jacket. Sure, the matching skirt gets a fair bit of wear too, but I find myself reaching for that jacket without even really thinking whether it be for the office or weekends in jeans. The wool is soft and malleable, the colour suits almost everything I own, and I just find the design generally very flattering on me. I’m tempted to make it again this coming winter just because of that… but I’m not sure on that yet.

V8739 and V8543 9

The Appropriately Floral Peony. I’ve worn this so much recently that I should probably introduce some kind of regulation around wearing vs washing. Meh. This dress rocks. 


My Baby It’s Cold Outside Coat would easily come third in this most-worn-during-2012 contest. The reasons are obvious enough that I won’t state them here. Those curved welt pockets nearly did get the better of me though – if only I had seen Sham’s tutorial on them before I started out!


Happy to go about its everyday business without much in the way of accolades, we have the loversandhaters tee. Worn excessively all throughout my South America travels, and pulled out regularly since. It’s been around and it knows exactly what went down.

NL6735 4

THE SURVIVOR: Pattern Runway’s Sweet Shorts
Named thus mainly because I spent the entire 6 days in the Galapagos puking my guts up as well as wearing these shorts. Like Amy Blunt said – “I’m just one stomach flu away from my ideal weight”. Surely it’s perverse that I’m looking at that photo and admiring how flat my stomach is. Maybe one day I’ll be free of the pressure to confirm to societies ideal, but I’m not there yet. Baby steps people, baby steps. 


So what didn’t work, and why? Two things pop into mind – the first being my Caramel Slice Marfy. Don’t get me wrong, I love this top. But I chose the wrong fabric for it – IRL the crumple-factor and general stiffness of the stretch cotton I used doesn’t suit it. Gah. To rub salt in the wounds, it even photographs beautifully. Shame, because I really love the fagotting and pleats at the front!

F2465 Marfy Top 26

The second miss is my Crewel drop Vintage Top. I’m entirely to blame here – a lesson learning in making sure you stay-stitch curved edges so they don’t stretch out. You can kinda see it just above the stitching – but the angle in this photo distorts it a little (for the better). Probably doesn’t look like much, but it’s permanently in my peripheral vision and it annoys the living daylights out of me.

M6125 1

It’s gotta be my Anniversaire Amour Dress. I love this dress.

Unfortunately, so did the chocolate cake Mr poppykettle ate at his Christmas party, because he dropped it on me. This precious number is currently at the dry cleaners and I’m too terrified to pick it up to find out whether or not it’s made it to the other side, or if Mr poppykettle owes me another pleated skirt.

On that note, what the hell is it with me and food and the clothing I make? You must think I’m some kind of grovelling grot. Not so – we just love our food!


In other exciting news, I’ll be moving house in the first week of 2013!! It’s super crazy exciting because it means I WILL HAVE A SEWING ROOM. We’re going to rent out our unit and become tenants again, and I’m so over the moon I’ve already bought a proper sewing machine table thing and am currently hunting down a dress form. It’s like all my Christmases have come at once :)

And on that note, I’ll leave you all be until the New Year. Take Care :)


117-08-2009 Serenageo’s Blouse


Today I’m going to blab on about how much I love the sewing blogosphere. Everyone is just so awesome. Case in point – when serenageo of Burdastyle posted this gorgeous, floaty top from the August 2009 issue of Burda mag, I commented that I loved it so much that I was going to try and track that issue down. Turns out that issue is coveted by many a sewing-enthusiast, so my extended bouts of online searching went mostly in vain. When I logged back in a few days later, she replied to say she’d be happy to send me a copy of the pattern. Cue ginormous grin!



A little while later, I received a package from Romania. Not only had she traced the pattern for me, but also written me a lovely letter and included a super gorgeous crocheted collar (which I’m planning to include in another top at a later date. It’s taken me nearly six months to get around to making this though, so don’t hold your breath!). 

My initial muslin for this was a bit of a joke. Besides having bucketloads of ease, clothing in general that is straight up and down just doesn’t suit me. Unless you like the bag of potatoes look. So I took in a lot of ease, added a bit of shaping to the seams, a dart above the bust and cut back the ‘sleeves’ for a more flattering fit. The top itself was a breeze to put together – I even found two perfectly matching buttons to go at the front so had the added indecision of deciding which one to go for. From Buttonmania, naturally.

I finished the armscye with some self-fabric bias tape, but it ended up stretching and just generally looking a bit lame. So that got tucked under and sewn up:

BEFORE                                       AFTER  .
I made it with a cotton voile called ‘Then Smell the Mauve‘ from Tessuti. The fabulous thing about this fabric is its so light and breezy – but it’s almost impossible to tell the wrong side from the right side – perfect because the frill detail is single sided. I made this plus bias binding for around the frill edges.

All this from a meter of fabric – another meter is soon to be on its way to Romania for serenageo, so I hope she likes it as much as I do. So thanks Geo, you’re one totally awesome dudette!

The original Burdastyle photo:


The Stats:
00:00  Pattern Preparation (all thanks to Geo!)
07:30  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:50  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing)
03:55  Sewing
12:15  hours

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone – hope you all have a wonderful, safe and happy break!

Melanie xo

G32001: Moss Mini Skirt


After a over 4 weeks of not being able to sew, I’m finally back in action and have made Grainline’s Moss Mini Skirt. The above photo courtersy of TJ from The Perfect Nose, post a frenetic morning of Christmas shopping, humidity and an hour or so sitting in the car (turns out the fabric I used likes to crumple. *sigh*).

But before we get down to business – the consumables need to be thanked. I’d like to take a quick moment to think about all of the now bent pins, snapped needles and bobbin thread snags’n’snowballs that sacrificed themselves in order for me to complete this project.

Because my deep-seated need to own and wear something in a bottom weight army green canvas fabric was stronger than the stab of fright I got when the upholstery topstitching thread I’ve become such a fan of chewed up yet another bobbin. I should have taken photos of the three occasions this occured… but I felt guilty for my poor feather weight Janome so they got removed asap.


The fabric is a cotton canvas, from Tessuti, similar to the canvas I made my Baby It’s Cold Outside coat from, and the facing and pocket linings are leftover Liberty lovelyness from my Freddie Vest. The only thing I actually bought to make this was the pattern, matching thread, topstitching thread and a zipper – a total score for my fabric diet, which I’ve been on since mid-September. I’m on a mission to sew up stuff with what I already have, and barring the seriously freaking awesome Tessuti Silk Stash giveaway I won (whoohooo!!!), not a single scrap of fabric has crossed the chez poppykettle threshold since well before my birthday back in September (Kat, that fabric you ‘gave’ me is still sitting in the car – on purpose I might add! :P). I would like to claim responsibility for this, but really, my work & personal life has just been so NUTS recently that enjoyable things like drooling over fabric and then buying said fabric (maybe even a bit of sewing with said fabric?) have been pushed out of the schedule.

Call me a skank, but I totally shortened this mini-skirt. By a good 3 inches! I gave the skirt some little splits at the side for ease of getting in and out of the car and the like.
I did my own shank button hammering, too – a first! I bought a huge pack of these off ebay when I was making my Turquoise Terror Jeans, but hadn’t had the guts to try. Like all things I’m scared about that are sewing related, I more than quickly realised I was being stupid. Really stupid. I want to hammer more shank metal buttons! 

Lisa from Notes from a Mad Housewife totally inspired me to go a bright red button hole after seeing her winter coat creation. I’d say the honeymoon period with my Janome’s automatic button hole attachment is over though – it really struggled with the thick layers of fabric, and I’m still a bit miffed that this was the best result I got:


It’s a great little pattern, but I do have one major gripe. I get that the reason we love independant pattern company’s is because they do things differently to the big 4. That’s cool. But it’s not cool when you’re being different just to be annoying. Like, having 1/2 inch seam allowances? Come on guys – we have standards for a really good reason. I’m sure that 1/2 an inch is fine when you’re sewing up one of those lovely Tiny Pocket Tank‘s, but when you’re sewing up a pattern designed for denim, I automatically think “yeah, flat felled seams would be nice!”. You can do flat felled seams with a 1.5cm (5/8″) seam allowance – just. You can’t do flat felled seams with 1/2 inch seams. It doesnt even convert into metric measurements nicely. Luckily our good old friend Unnecessary Ease came to the party, so I was able to save the day and end up with 2cm seam allowances – the ideal amount for flat felled when sewing with a thicker fabric like canvas or denim, methinks.

Oh yeah, and that little square you use on printed out patterns to check the scale? It’s printed across two pages. Might wanna fix that up, Grainline!

**UPDATE – The lovely Jen from Grainline Studios has advised me that this has been fixed up :) Oh, and they will soon be offering printed patterns. Yay!


I managed to squeeze in an hour or two with TJ on Saturday who shared with me what she thinks is quite possibly the only copy of these books in this Great Southern Land. You heard it from me that they even smelt amazing. 

Thanks to her University Library access priviledges, a copyright past its use by date and a super high-tech scanning system (couldn’t help myself TJ!), we should be able to convert this into a digital copy for our use. I use the term  ‘we’ loosely because my role in this is simply supplying a piece of glass. She’s going to be an absolute champ and do all the grunt work. 

yay, TJ!

In other news – I’ve decided to start keeping a record of how long it takes me to complete the various ‘stages’ of sewing for each garment I make. Kinda like how some people record the cost of a finished item… but for me this will be a bit more scary than the $! So each finished thing I make will be accompanied by this little table – proof of how slow the process is I am!

The Stats:
00:45  Pattern Preparation
00:00  Toile (cutting/sewing/fitting)
00:50  Fabric Preparation (cutting/interfacing)
09:10  Sewing
10:45  hours