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A La Mojo Photoshoot

Sometimes, you need a boost

I have recently had custom swimming togs and several clothes made for me by local sewists, and I didn’t want to sell their hard work short by not having them photographed properly – plus, I am making some big changes in my life, so this was a great time to take a second and celebrate.

Body positivity

My weight has fluctuated over the years, with all kinds of causes – medication, mental illness, sports injuries, and simple lack of time getting in the way of permanent progress. These are all reasons – I have the choice whether or not to also use them as excuses.

Looking like a stranger


On my way to the photoshoot


During the photoshoot


At the end of the shoot

It’s been a minute since the actual photoshoot – almost a year, actually, looking at the date I started to write this post – it took me a while to adjust to how I looked in the photos. As many of you probably know, I don’t really “do” hair and make-up, so it was a bit of a shock to see pictures of me made up and styled in a way that I would never have done myself – but that was very much the point!

The process

It took me a frustratingly long time to settle into being photographed – I am just not a good model. I get awkward, and start acting out in weird ways. Eventually, I settle into it, but that’s usually at the end of the photoshoot – as was the case here.
(((((awkward smile)))))
It’s weird – I am not self-conscious in the usual way – I have no issue with public costume changes, or anything other than the part where I am the sole focus of attention.

Mandi did her best to manage my issues, and we got quite a few nice photos. The location is gorgeous, and gives you the best possible opportunity to look and feel great. 

​Eventually, I figured out how to remember that my body was a vehicle for my designs, and calmed down. Well, mainly.

Click on the images below if you would like to purchase the fabric, or the shirt.

​I am wearing the black tri-blend tee in 2XL. 

I am absolutely incapable of blowing a bubble with gum.

The outfits

I worked with a local seamstress and designer, Kimble Designs, to try to turn my vision into clothes – some were more successful than others, but it was a great learning experience! 
I also finally got to debut my new togs by Swanwear, which were just awesome. 
Visit this blog post for more about the fabric designs and choices for this piece:
This dress features two of my most popular designs:
Blueberry Bushes, and Poppies.

The exact designs are below; click on the image to purchase the fabric.

These designs feature native birds on harakeke (NZ flax) and kōwhai; both can be found in my native birds collection.

​The exact designs are below; click on the image to purchase the fabric.

Infinity Scarves

Every one of my scarves is unique – I never do the exact same combination twice. Both of these are sold, although you can still purchase the fabric designs on Spoonflower.

​The exact designs are below; click on the image to purchase the fabric.
This scarf features poppies on one side, and butterflies on the other. 
This scarf has ​kererū on plaid on one side, and blueberries on the other.

The verdict?

Modelling is HARD. IF you want to get your products looking their best, get a professional model AND a professional photographer, and trust them – they know how to get the job done. It was an important and valuable experience for me – I really enjoy looking at these photos, with a bit of distance. 

Contact A La Mojo

The A La Mojo website spiel is definitely appropriate for this blog post! It was hard work, but Mandi and Craig got me there 🙂

“​Designed specifically for women and girls who struggle to feel comfortable in front of the camera.
We take the time necessary to peel back the emotional layers that end up ruining your photos.   The awkward mask of self-doubt…we blow that out of the water, and turn your inner beauty into Art.”

Click on the photo to visit their website!

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Quirk Test Dummy

Waaaay back to the beginning

A comparatively long time ago, in the scale of “the life of Copper Catkin”, I decided that I wanted to give big people a better selection of work apparel. Those who present male can generally find something suitable, but for women? Ugh. It’s really hard to find something that isn’t just a sack made of discount fabric, because we are more expensive, and more complicated, to cover.

I wanted to join the movement that empowered people to feel great about themselves, by wearing things that boosted their mood, regardless of their size, and I started to investigate plus-size clothing – that’s how I started designing all these fabrics!

Tangent time

Now, before I get into the clothing stuff, I need to talk about size and how it matters. It really is important to love yourself and accept your body, but it is also important to take care of yourself. I am not, and will not, support any behaviour that encourages people to harm themselves – whether it be bullying causing mental anguish over failure to be thin, or enabling behaviours that encourage people to stay overweight and unhappy, instead of working to get to a healthy weight. 
Every single person is on their own journey, and every one of us is battling things daily. Some people can;t stand to see themselves in the mirror. Some people can’t shut up the voice in their heads that tells them how inadequate they are. We don’t know each other’s struggle, but we can know this:

​Happier people tend to be healthier.

So that’s my target – I want to contribute to people’s happiness quotient, by providing workable quirks for all shapes and sizes. 

Making it work

My first obstacle was immediate, though – I simply didn’t know enough about textiles to design either the repeats or the scale, and I didn’t know enough about clothes to make the designs sit correctly. I was stuck.
I consulted pattern makers, sewists, Project Runway, my friends and audience – it looked like the only option was to start somewhere, and see where it went. ​I decided to use myself as a test subject, and began trying to find the right way to get my clothes out there. 
In the meantime, I designed hundreds and hundreds of repeats. Only the best made it onto my Spoonflower page, and not all of those have made it beyond there and into fat quarters, but after more than two years of designing and selling my fabrics, I have improved beyond all expectation.

Kimble Designs

A year ago, I decided to try to find a dressmaker who could help me develop my designs, and after posting several ISO posts on Facebook, found Kimble. We met up in November 2017, and started looking at all the things I want to make. I pulled out a few items of clothing that I liked, and a pair of pants that I had made, and over the next few months, we developed a versatile blouse pattern and a trouser pattern from them. 

Steampunk Market Jacket

As many of you will know, my husband George and I have a strong connection with the Steampunk aesthetic, even if we have no time to actually indulge it. We had a Steampunk wedding, and it’s a style that flatters both of our shapes. 
With that in mind, I decided that it was time to try making my own market outfit, and I launched into Simplicity 2172, which was, to be fair, really quite ambitious. 

Spoiler alert – it was too warm

So I love layers, but I also feel the heat. On a cloudy day at around eighteen degrees Celsius, I am at my most comfortable, especially with a bit of a breeze. Stonking hot outdoor markets with full summer sun and extra layers of heavy waistcoat jacket are not really compatible. Back to the drawing board!
​The appeal of this design was that it would be like a simple jacket that emphasised the design on my Redbubble shirt, and connected my to my stall with the fabrics used.
I had the waistcoat remade and edited to fit me better by Kimble Designs, and it’s much more practical. 

I used “Bees on grey stripe” in Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra

The blouses

A major problem for me when working in an office is the air conditioning/heating situation. Everyone feels temperature differently, but I am almost always too warm. So my workwear needs to be both professional and cool enough that I am not a melted puddle on the floor by the end of the day. 
I like my blouses to be able to sit loose or be cinched by a belt or a waistcoat, and I like interesting collars and bows.
I decided to use three of my newest designs for my new blouses, and ordered the fabric in performance knit (now retired in favour of Performance Piqué, I believe).
And here are the finished pieces:

The Makeover

Fit-and-flare is a winner for my figure, so I decided it was time to celebrate my new stall makeover with a new swing dress to match. I knew that I was using my “Orchid Stripe” (developed when I made my “Orchids and Onions” design), and I knew I was using turquoise for my displays. I also knew that turquoise was going to be a winner for my new “Poppies” design.
I tried out a few mock-ups to help others visualise and give me their opinions, and to give Kimble Designs her brief.

Kimble working her magic


Choosing the tulle to extend my underskirt

I love how vibrant these colours are! 
The skirt is heavy, and full, and made from Longleaf Sateen Grand – both the poppy and the polka-dot trim.
The belt is made from ​Retired Performance Knit, as is the bodice, so there’s a little more stretch.

Where to from here?

While it’s been fun having custom pieces made for me, the things that people really want are simple, comfy, and inexpensive in relation to their quality – which means that one-off, hand-made items are not going to be my direction for the future. 

My Redbubble shop is doing well, and there are lots of fun, print-on-demand options in there – we wear our t-shirts most days. My favourite is the tri-blend tee, and George’s favourite graphic tees have also been really popular.
Don’t worry, though – I will continue to make my ever-popular infinity scarves! keep an eye on the Facebook photo album – they are selling too fast to list. 
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Fancy new togs!


There’s no way around it. Shopping as a big girl is an exercise in depression management.

​Finding decent swimming togs is hard, in general, and finding nice togs that flatter, fit, and still allow you to actually swim? The STRUGGLE. Add in being a larger person, and it becomes a complete nightmare. 
So I decided to find someone who could make me the perfect pair of togs, using my own fabric designs.
That’s how I came across Swanwear again – in October last year – at the Underground Markets. I had seen the stall before, but just assumed it wasn’t going to have anything that fit. It’s a protective mechanism – if I assume nothing will fit, I won’t be hurt when yet another place considers a NZ size 14 “plus size”. And I am NOT a size 14.
I had a quick chat with Annemiek, and she said that she could help, and then, things being busy and money being tight, it went on the backburner for a few months, as tends to happen with our personal projects at Copper Catkin HQ.

A design is born

In January, we went blueberry picking for the first time, and it inspired me to make one of my favourite designs so far – my “Blueberry Bushes” design. Finally, I had the impetus to design the togs themselves. 

Design 1 – plain side panels


Design 2 – striped side panels

​I decided on the fabrics required, and mocked up my designs, then Annemiek made a mock-up of the costume, and I ordered fabric samples so we could see if the Spoonflower Sport Lycra fabric that I wanted to use was going to be suitable. 
(Spoiler alert – it was!)

The fabric designs I chose

Once the samples were approved, we ordered the fabric. As they are a print-to-order service, Spoonflower don’t offer partial yards, so I had to order more than I needed – but it will be used!
Be sure to consult with Swanwear before making your order, as the quantities may be different for your design choices!

1 yard of Sport Lycra


2 yards of Sports Lycra


2 yards of Sports Lycra

What with one thing and another, it actually took quite a while to get the togs themselves made – we were renovating bathrooms, and it wasn’t really swimming weather – but they finally came together in time for me to wear them for the first time in public on our trip to Portland, and for my very cool photoshoot with A La Mojo (more to come about that soon!).

Where to from here?

Well, I regularly get asked where I got my togs, and I tell people that they are printed from my own designs and made by Swanwear, which is met with interest. 
The new pattern that we developed for my togs is available for purchase, either in some of the fabrics that Annemiek has on hand, or in any of my designs!
I thought it might help to mock up a few other options to help people visualise what they could do.

Example – Ladybird Togs – DIY swimming costume design

I have started by gathering together a few designs in related colourways and subject matter. This is a great way to help triage a large list of choices. You can make your own albums (create a collection as if you’re making a fill-a-yard) on Spoonflower to help you out. Here’s mine for this post:
This design allows for up to three colour choices – the front feature panel, the sides and back panels, and the frills, straps, and trims. As you can see from the mock-up below, every variation can give a different feel – and all so quirky and fun! No one else will have the same look as you.
If you are still struggling with your choices, you can contact Swanwear for assistance as part of ordering your bespoke swimwear, or we can arrange a Copper Catkin design consultation (please note that this will not be free, as I do not receive any additional commission from Swanwear – only the small payment for the fabrics themselves from Spoonflower).

I hope you feel inspired and ready to tackle the big bad world of custom swimwear now!
Now, get out there, get in the water, and #WorkYourQuirk!