english girl at home

A Crafty Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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TOFT Profile in September Seamwork Magazine

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

Woo hoo, my first article for Seamwork is included in the September issue, which is released today.

The article is a profile of TOFT, a British knitting company who produce alpaca and wool yarns, and knitting and crochet patterns.

TOFT yarns are produced in the UK using British fibres, and the business is based on an alpaca farm in Warwickshire, not too far from where I live. Taking part in #1year1outfit has made me really conscious about trying to use locally produced fibres, so it’s great to have such a fantastic business close to home. I also had the best possible day when I visited the farm to interview owner Kerry for the article. In order to photograph the alpaca I was allowed into the pens for some close-ups, so I spent a blissful afternoon climbing into pens and being surrounded by young, curious alpaca.

You can read the full article here, or download the magazine from the Seamwork website.

A few photos that weren’t included in the Seamwork article are below.

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm


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AGWSD Trade Fair, Where I May Have Bought My First Fleece

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

As I’ve mentioned previously, I recently joined the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Last week the Association of Guilds held their annual summer school. I didn’t attend the summer school, but I did attend the open day held last Saturday, where visitors could drop-in to shop at the trade fair and to view the work of summer school attendees.

The work on display included work by students on the Certificate of Achievement, which has been run by the Association since 1989, the syllabus of which includes weaving, tapestry weaving, spinning, natural dyeing, and synthetic dyeing.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

Work by students of the summer school courses was also on display; the results of the shibori class are pictured below. I love the shibori cat lavender bags.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

There were even more gorgeous things on display at the trade fair, and I did arrive home with a full shopping bag. I’ve listed a few of the vendors whose stalls I photographed below.

Beautiful weaving yarns from Weavers Bazaar

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

Garments and covered buttons woven by the three UK Saori weaving studios. Saori is a Japanese style of free-form weaving which I’d love to try.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

Beautiful fibre, ready for spinning, from Hilltop Cloud.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

Natural dye supplies and felt and slate buttons at Fiery Felts. I bought some ground madder which I’m looking forward to trying out for the first time soon.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

Ceramic and wooden buttons and beads by Stitchwort Handmade, which is run by a member of my guild. I bought some white and blue ceramic buttons, which I have already put to use on my refashioners2015 project;)

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

Wool, fleece and knitted socks from the wonderful John Arbon Textiles, who operate out of a mill in Devon.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

Textile Traders, based in Shropshire, who specialise in handmade fabrics from Asia. I bought a couple of small pieces of fabric which I’m planning to use to embellish garments – perhaps as a yoke or sleeves.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The Nepalese Textile Trust were selling textiles woven from the Himalayan giant nettle.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

In addition to the main trade fair was a fleece fair run by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, where I bought 1.5 kg of Blue Faced Leicester fleece.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

My fleece is pictured below. It was recommended to me as a good choice for a newbie to carding and spinning. It could be a very long term project, but I’m excited about working through the various steps to turn this fleece into a finished garment. I’m not thinking about what finished garment it might become at this stage, as I want to see how I get on and how much usable yarn I can produce.

Blue Faced Leicester Fleece

In order to turn this fleece into yarn there are quite a few steps that I need work through: washing, carding, spinning, dyeing (optional, I fancy dyeing it, but I’m also interested in seeing the natural blended colour I can achieve through carding and spinning ), and finally knitting. I’ll be blogging my progress as I go along.

Blue Faced Leicester Fleece

I’ve made an initial start on washing the fleece. It’s not obligatory to wash a fleece before carding, but I didn’t fancy carding it without washing as I didn’t think it would be especially pleasant. The fleece was quite greasy (a mixture of lanolin and sweat), contained clumps of dirt (or worse…) and lots of twigs, and – unsurprisingly – smelled really strongly of sheep!

At the suggestion of a member of my Guild, I’ve tried a traditional method of washing fleece in rain water (known as the fermented suint method). The fleece needs to be left in rainwater in a covered contained for 5-7 days, ideally kept lukewarm. If the method works successfully a scum appears on the top of the bucket and it apparently smells very strongly of sheep. I’ve split my fleece between two buckets and popped them in the bottom of my grow-house, where they will hopefully get a bit of warmth. If I’ve had no luck in a week’s time (or if it comes out looking no cleaner than when it went in) I’ll try washing it with some gentle detergent instead, but I thought the traditional method was worth a try given how gloriously simple and natural it is. Wish me luck (and clean fleece)!

Blue Faced Leicester Fleece


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Nicki & Ute in London

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

I was very excited to meet Nicki and Ute (plus all of the other lovely sewists who attended) during their recent visit to London, and to talk #oneyearoneoutfit in person.

We visited Goldhawk Road, and only made it to a handful of shops because shopping as a group always takes ages (and shopping – even for fabric – is less essential than nattering) :)

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

Loop, where Nicki located all the lovely naturally dyed yarns.

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

Sew Over It, Islington, where Elle bought some amazing hot pink crepe.

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

We wandered the streets of London looking for pretty front doors and interesting door knockers.

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

Posed in front of the first white wall we found.

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

And ended up at the pub.

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015


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Floral and Lace Lou Lou Dress

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

I’ve worked lots of extra hours this week (including two 13.5 hour days during the week, plus working Sunday) so haven’t had the energy to get as much done as normal in the hours when I have been at home. I did manage to do a little sewing yesterday, but mostly I’ve sat around reading and relaxing. I didn’t even manage any knitting on the train journey to and from work today – instead I fell asleep both ways (I always wake up when I reach my station – so far at least!).

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good opportunity for a quick blog post sharing some photos of a version of my Lou Lou Dress pattern which I made and photographed last year. The final version of the pattern is slightly different from the test version shown here – in particular, in the final version, the shoulder straps are narrower and the armholes raised.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

This border-print fabric was purchased in Paris from Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre. I have no idea of the composition but it has a beautiful silky hand. I still have a small piece left, but haven’t decided what to make with it just yet.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

This dress is very similar to the version that was originally featured in The Monthly Stitch Project Indie competition. I whipped together the version for the Monthly Stitch deadline super fast and it was quite messy so I later went back and tidied it up, and the dress shown here is the result.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

I can’t believe it’s Monday tomorrow! Fingers crossed for a quieter week with lots of time for sewing.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home


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Pattern Queue or Pattern Scrum

Guthrie & Ghani Grand Opening

Sometimes stereotypes aren’t too wide of the mark. English people do take queuing very seriously.

If there is a line we’ll join the end, and we’ll proceed to the front in the order we joined. Anyone attempting to jump the rightful order of the queue will receive some very dirty looks. Unless they are over retirement age, then it’s ok.

With that in mind, I find it hard to describe my upcoming sewing projects as a queue. If it were a queue they would wait in line and each get sewn in the order they were added. What actually happens is that I have, in my head, a ‘huddle’ of patterns waiting to be sewn soon, not necessarily in any clear order. Even worse, newer patterns are liable to leap frog straight to the front, and some poor patterns wait for years before their turn comes.

A pattern scrum as it were, or, at least, not a very English type of pattern queue.


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Fashion at Berlin’s Museum of Decorative Arts

Berlin

A final post about my recent trip to Berlin, before it seems like a distant memory. One of the many museums we visited, and top of my list, was the Museum of Decorative Arts (Kunstgewerbemuseum). The museum has an extensive fashion collection, mostly housed in a dedicated Fashion Gallery, but with some pieces jotted around the rest of the museum.

The collection includes garments, accessories, shoes and lingerie. I photographed quite a few of these – photos below.

Berlin
Ball gown with stripes, England/France, 1865

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Berlin

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Berlin
White summer outfit, France/England, 1866

Berlin
Walking Dress in silk taffeta with black velvet, England, 1855

Berlin

Berlin
Two piece evening gown, Madame Gres, Paris, 1973

Berlin
Cocktail dress ‘Ribcage’, Pierre Cardin, Paris, 1969 (front) / Hotpants, Paco Rabanne, Paris, 1974 (back)

Berlin

Berlin
Micro dress ‘Ready Made’, Paco Rabanne, Paris, 1970 (front) / Hotpants, Paco Rabanne, Paris, 1974 (back)

Berlin
Blue suit with blouse, Chanel, Paris, 1965 (right) / Dress suit Escale, Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, Paris, 1958, owned by Olivia de Havilland (left)

Berlin
Cocktail dress in trapezoid line, Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, Paris, 1958

Berlin
Evening gown of gold lame and beads, Jean Patou, Paris, 1937

Berlin

Berlin
Pistachio green evening dress, bias cut, Captain Edward Molyneux, Paris, 1932

Berlin
Evening gown with horse motif, Madeleine Vionnet, France/USE, 1921-4

Berlin
Dance gown with ray motif, embroidered with tambour work, sequins made of bakelite, France, 1925

Shoes

Berlin
England, 1821

Berlin
England, 1840

Berlin
England, 1820-40

Berlin
Printed ladies slippers, England, 1795

Berlin

Berlin
Shoes in Chinese style, England, 1785

Berlin
Shoes with paste brooch, France, 1770

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin
England, 1900

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Berlin

Berlin

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Berlin

Accessories

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Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

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Bust improver, 1910

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Berlin

Other museums in Berlin with some textile element which I visited:

Berlin’s Film and TV Museum (Museum für Film und Fernsehen) has a permanent Marlene Dietrich exhibition, including a number of her clothes.

Berlin

The Bauhaus Archive is fascinating, and includes a number of Bauhaus weavings and textiles.

Berlin

The DDR Museum is good fun, and includes a fashion section, including examples of East Berlin sewing pattern magazines.

Berlin

And, not at all craft related, but I really enjoyed the Computer Games Museum (Computerspielemuseum Berlin).

Berlin


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Boudoir Blushes PJs

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Encouraged by Lingerie Sewing Month, I finally sewed a project from The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie by Katherine Sheers and Laura Stanford. This is the Boudoir Blushes camisole and french knickers set, made as pjs in a cotton blend fabric purchased in Berlin’s Turkish Market.

My review of the book and more about the making of this set is featured on the Sewcialists blog today.

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

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