english girl at home

A Crafty Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Introducing the Lou Lou Dress, and a Giveaway

I’m very happy to announce that my first pattern, the Lou Lou Dress, is now available in my Etsy shop.

Lou Lou Dress Logo

Lou Lou is a short, sleeveless, A-line dress with a twist. The pattern is designed for light-weight woven fabrics with lots of drape, e.g. silk, rayon, polyester, lace, or light-weight cottons. The pattern comes in eight different sizes.

The PDF pattern includes a version for home printing on A4 or US letter paper, and a copy shop version that can be printed with a large format printer.

Variations

The dress is fully lined. Versions A and B feature a decorative band across the hem of the lining, which can be made in a contrast fabric, perfect for a small fragment of a precious fabric from your stash.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version A by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version A by English Girl at Home

Version B features an inverted box pleat at the front neckline, creating additional fullness.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B by English Girl at Home

Version C features a curved contrast panel on the front and back of the dress, ideal for colour blocking. On Version C, the decorative band is omitted from the lining hem, meaning that the lining is not visible when the dress is worn.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version C by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version C by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version C by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou is a relatively simple make, which can easily be made in an afternoon. Intermediate sewists will whip it up in no time. Beginners may need to take a little more time with the curved centre seam on Version C, and attaching the dress to the lining at the neckline and armholes.

Giveaway

I’ve been lucky enough to receive review copies of a couple of indie patterns recently and would love to return the favour, and see your Lou Lou dresses.

If you’d like a free copy of the pattern for review please leave a comment below letting me know that you’re interested. The only criteria for entering the giveaway are that you have a blog and agree to post an honest review of the Lou Lou Dress during 2015.

Leave your comment by midnight (UK time) Sunday 05th July, and I’ll choose approximately ten bloggers (dependent on level of interest) to receive the pattern. If your email address isn’t easily accessible by clicking through to your blog or profile, then please include it in your comment.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version C by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version C by English Girl at Home

More Info

You can read more about the file contents, dress sizing and fabric requirements on the product page.

I want to say a massive thank you to my pattern testers. Everyone’s help was hugely appreciated and made a big difference to the final pattern, but I must particularly thank Jana for her amazing feedback (check out her blog, including Jana’s project to sew garments from her huge collection of vintage Burda magazines). You may recall that the Lou Lou dress was originally submitted to the Monthly Stitch’s Project Indie competition last year, but it has gone through quite a bit of change since then.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B by English Girl at Home

The Lou Lou dresses pictured are all Size A, without modification.
Versions A and B are made in polyester. Version C is made in light-weight cotton from Ikea.

The pattern illustration is by Sarah Ray.

Get the pattern here.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version A by English Girl at Home


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Fabric Scraps Weaving & Elsewhere

Fabric Scraps Weaving

This is my first attempt at weaving, using a children’s loom kit and off-cuts from recent sewing projects, retrieved from my scraps bin. The children’s loom only allows for a small number of warp threads so I’ve made a larger loom and I’m planning a larger weaving with my naturally dyed yarns.

Fabric Scraps Weaving

Elsewhere

♥ Are you joining in with Heather’s Sundress Sew-along (01st July – 31st August)? You can sew any sundress, who could resist!

♥ I’m also planning to take part in the Sewcialists Lingerie Sewing Month during July.

♥ And… the International Anna Party taking place on Instagram (17th – 18th July). (P.S. Elle now has a blog – yay).

♥ I love the crafty merit badges released for Fancy Tiger Crafts’ 9-year anniversary.

♥ Oh wow, Yoshimi made parasols!

♥ Shenmue 3 is going to be made! I didn’t think it would ever happen. Show their Kickstarter campaign some love.

♥ Fringe Association have a 3rd hatalong, with a lovely free pattern Hermaness Worsted by Gudrun Johnston

♥ I’m still rewatching this retro Game of Thrones video game that never actually existed, Gamey Throne, via Ashens. I’m also playing the Telltale Games Game of Thrones game and loving it.

♥ Woolful is hosting a Knitalong for Hannah Fettig’s new book, Home and Away. My copy just arrived and I can’t wait to get started. I think I’m going to start with Hancock.

♥ Andi Satterlund’s new collection Quiet Days is beautiful. I love the Conservatory Cardigan and I didn’t know I needed a vest until I saw the Nosegay Vest.

Wool People 9 is out. Gyre is just lovely.

♥ Do you follow Harry on instagram? I love his illustrations so was very excited when he illustrated me. I’m wearing my Clemence Skirt, with cacti illustration.

Illustration by Harry.jpn
Illustration by Harry.jpn


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Vintage Knitting Spam

Vintage Knitting Pattern & Sewing Notions

A lazy post this evening, while watching some Orange is the New Black (and possibly Revenge of the Nerds). I picked up these vintage knitting patterns at a recent meeting of my Weavers, Spinners and Dyers guild. The sewing notions included in a couple of photos are courtesy of Maddie; I won them in a giveaway on her blog.

It’s dubious whether I’ll ever knit these patterns – I have a substantial Ravelry queue and am continually distracted by the newest indie release – but they are sooo nice to look at.

Vintage Knitting Pattern & Sewing Notions

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

And after all that glamour, here’s one pattern that’s not so glamorous…

Vintage Knitting Pattern


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Acid Dyed Self-Striping Sock Yarn

Naturally Dyed Yarn

At the most recent meeting of my Weavers, Spinners and Dyers guild, we tried out acid dyes in addition to the natural dyes I previously blogged about. Led by fellow WSD member Rachel, I took the opportunity to dye some white yarn to make self-striping sock yarn.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Acid dyes work with protein (animal) fibres and with nylon (as it’s also a polyamide), but not cellulose (plant) fibres. The yarn I was using was a wool and nylon blend. Acid dyes can be purchased with or without the acid already included. We used Kemtex and Colourcraft powdered dyes, and added white vinegar (citric acid is an alternative option) as our acid.

When mixing the powdered dye with the acid you only require 5 gram (approximately one tea spoon) per 100 gram of wool for a strong colour, so a tub of the powdered dye goes a long way. (Rachel recommended 1.5 – 2 gram of dye for medium colours, and 0.5 gram for pale colours).

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

In order to make a four colour self-striping sock yarn, we each started with 100 grams of white sock yarn, wound into a skein approximately 6.4 metres long, and secured with figures of eight ties every 50cm. (Rachel advised that, when knitted up, this would equate to approximately 2 row stripes of each colour at 64 stitch rows on 2mm needles).

While our skeins were soaking in a bowl of water, we prepared four dyes in separate containers (plastic cups in our case). As only 5 gram of dye is required per 100 gram of wool, we only needed one quarter that amount per dye colour (which equated to approximately one quarter of a teaspoon). One full teaspoon of white vinegar was added to each dye (it’s best to err on the side of too much rather than too little with the acid), and the cups were topped up with enough water to cover the wool.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Once the skeins were thoroughly wet, they were squeezed dry, and then divided equally between the four containers. With such a long skein it’s easy to mess this bit up, so it’s worth taking care to ensure that you have the colours in your preferred order and don’t splash the dye. You also need to make sure that you don’t end up with a white section of yarn at the ‘joins’ between the four colours.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

The skeins were left to soak in the dye for ten minutes, after which we carefully removed one quarter at a time from it’s container and wrapped it individually in clingfilm. Once all four sections had been individually wrapped in clingfilm, a final layer was wrapped around the whole skein.

In order to fix the colour, the skeins then had to be heated. We did this by placing the clingfilm wrapped skeins in a steamer on the hob for thirty minutes. This heating can also be done in the microwave or oven, but there’s a much greater chance of burning your wool…

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Once removed from the steamer, I left my skein to cool overnight before rinsing it in cool water and then giving it a wash with some wool soak. I didn’t getting any colour running when I washed it – which confirmed that the dye had taken – although there was a very strong smell of vinegar!

Acid Dyed Sock Yarn

Acid Dyed Sock Yarn

Finally, I wound the yarn into a ball. It’s now waiting for me to choose a suitable pattern and knit it up.

Acid Dyed Sock Yarn

Some guild members used an alternative method to dye fleece for spinning. They prepared the dye in the same way, but then applied it to their fleece using syringes or paint brushes. The fleece was wrapped in clingfilm and steamed in the same way to fix the dye. When dyeing fleece you don’t need to worry about leaving white patches, as these will blend in and lighten the yarn once it’s spun.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers


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A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe: Dyer’s Picnic

Naturally Dyed Yarn

Last month, I became a member of my local guild of the Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. The guild meet once a month, with the June meeting dedicated to a dyeing day at the home of Sarah, one of the guild members.

During the day we dyed yarn and fleece with both natural and acid dyes. This post contains the results of dyeing with nine different natural dyes, I’ll post separately about acid dyeing.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

All of the protein (animal-based) fibres I took to the dyeing day were pre-mordanted a few days in advance, with alum and cream of tartar (I’ll post the recipe on the blog soon). I also took along some skeins of cotton yarn and British aran wool (not mordanted in advance) to use with the substantive dyes. Unfortunately, all of the cotton yarn I dyed faded substantially once washed. Given that the dyes were substantive (e.g. indigo) I was surprised at the extent the colour did fade, so wonder if it was to do with how the yarn had been treated during production? I did dye a couple of squares of unbleached cotton fabric (also not mordanted in advance) and they retained their colour much more successfully, which suggests it is related to the treatment of the yarn.

The exact yarns I used were (from left to right below):

♥ 100% cotton (Rowan handknit cotton) (unmordanted)

♥ 75% merino / 20% silk / 5% cashmere DK (Sublime)

♥ 100% wool DK (TOFT Alpaca, in Oatmeal)

♥ 100% merino wool chunky (Rowan Big Wool)

♥ 100% wool aran (Jarol) (unmordanted) not pictured

I got especially excellent results with the chunky merino wool, so would definitely recommend that for future dye projects.

Yarn for Dyeing

In addition to lots of dyeing, everyone that attended the dyeing day brought along something for a shared buffet lunch, so there was endless food, tea and coffee to sustain us.

The dyeing itself took place in Sarah’s garden on three separate camping stoves, and in an assortment of metal bowls which included pet bowls.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

There were also some nice things to buy. I came home with a large pile of vintage knitting patterns and magazines, plus a small skien of yarn (below) hand dyed by Sarah Cage, whose home we were at for the dyeing day.

Hand dyed yarn by Sarah Cage

The nine natural dyes we tried are listed below, with photos of the colours I obtained.

Dyer’s Coreopsis 

Coreopsis typically produces a yellow dye, but we achieved a lovely yellow-brown.

With my yarns, the colour leaned towards yellow in the case of my chunky merino, and a dark brown with my merino, silk, and cashmere blend.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Walnut

Walnut is a substantive dye and produced a pale brown on my yarns. My aran wool (unmordanted) held it’s colour, but the cotton yarn faded once washed. I added a square of unbleached cotton fabric late, just before the pot was removed from the heat, so it didn’t get chance to take on much dye.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Walnut

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Walnut

Brazilwood

We achieved a lovely range of pinks using Brazilwood, and paler pinks with Woodruff.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Brazilwood

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Brazilwood

Woodruff

Woodruff (the roots are the section used for dye) was one of the plants we used for dyeing which was grown in Sarah’s garden, where the dyeing day was held. The plant was growing right alongside where we were stood.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Woodruff

Privet

I was really impressed with the bright yellows we achieved with privet. The privet we used has just been trimmed off a hedge in Sarah’s garden, so we put the offcuts to good use.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Privet

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Privet

Feverfew

We achieved a paler yellow with fresh feverfew.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Feverfew

Indigo

We achieved a pale blue using indigo extract, due to the volume of extract used and/or number of projects in the pot. My aran yarn (unmordanted) held it’s colour, unlike the cotton. The two aran yarns pictured below achieved slightly different shades of blue, as one spent slightly longer in the dye pot at a higher temperature.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Indigo

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Indigo

Lichen

Lichen produced a pale brown with my aran yarn (unmordanted), although the colour faded with my cotton yarn. There are ethical issues around using lichen for dyeing as they grow very slowly and may be protected species, so shouldn’t be foraged. However, the dryed lichen we were using had been in the possession of members of the guild for many years, and passed on to Sarah.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Lichen

Logwood

Perhaps my very favourite result was achieved with Logwood, which produced a range of purples with my wools and cotton. I was given the remaining logwood to bring home, so need to decide what I want to dye with it.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Logwood

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Logwood

After getting home from the dyeing day, and before photographing my yarns, I left them overnight to fully dry. The next morning I rinsed each yarn in cool water to remove any excess dye, and then washed them in warm water and wool soak.

Naturally Dyed Yarn

The dyeing day was a great opportunity to try a range of natural dyes, in good company. If you’re interested in natural dyeing, spinning and/or weaving I’d recommend the association as a good way to learn from others and at very little cost (after the membership fee, it’s £2 each session to cover unlimited tea and cake). There are guilds across the UK, and I’m sure there are similar organisations worldwide.

My collection of small dyed yarn oddments is growing – I’m thinking a weaving, but it’s still in the plotting stage at the moment.

The photos below show the yarns drying in my garden after being washed, along with my acid dyed yarn which I’ll post about soon.

Naturally Dyed Yarn

Naturally Dyed Yarn


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A Sunny #CCBloggers Meet-Up at Breadsall Priory

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Happily, I have a few crafty weekends lined up at the moment. Two weeks ago I met up with friends on Sunday for knit and natter, this weekend I’m going to a dyer’s picnic event with my WSD guild where we’ll try a range of natural and acic dyes, and last weekend I attended a Creative and Crafty Bloggers (#CCBloggers) meet-up.

This is the second #CCBloggers meet-up I’ve attended, and they are meticulously organised by Sam and Kat. Sam and Kat are based in Derby, so meet-ups are held in the Derby / Nottingham area. This meet-up was held in a really special venue, Breadsall Priory.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The original Breadsall Priory was a small Augustinian priory, established before 1266, which housed two or three priests. The current building, which is a Marriott Hotel, was originally built as a private home on the same site in the 16th century.

It’s a beautiful venue, surrounded by gardens and a golf course, and was an amazing place to spend a sunny Sunday. We were lucky enough to receive spa passes so I’ll be heading back in the near future.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The #CCBloggers meet-ups differ from other meet-ups I attend because they include local bloggers with a wide range of different craft interests and blogging styles. While I can never resist a chance to talk sewing (and now knitting) with other sewists, it’s also great to meet bloggers with different interests, and who are part of different online groups and circles.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Our chatting was facilitated by a lovely afternoon tea, accompanied by raspberry ginger beers and bellinis.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The #CCBloggers meet-ups focus on giving attendees time to chat and network, to take part in crafts, and to learn from others. The meet-up was part of the Etsy Craft Party global event, so we took part in a range of crafts inspired by the craft party theme: colour, kaleidoscope and paper.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

We also got the chance to try out products from organic beauty company Weleda, and paint company Polyvine, and to learn more about the Derby-based businesses/projects of two attendees, Lunar21, described as Derby’s ‘non-political think-tank’ and the Bless your Arts boutique.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Everyone went away with overflowing goody bags. Mine included aloe vera scented cotton yarn that I’m intrigued to try out. Apparently the scent is released as you knit, which sounds very soothing! The embroidery hoop contains my unfinished craft project from the day.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

Each attendee contributed a gift for a swap – the idea being that you provided a ‘kit’ to inspire the recipient to get crafting. I received an envelope of colourful paper supplies from Emma.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015

The event also raised £100 for Mollie Makes Crafternoon For Comic Relief. Roll-on the next meet-up!

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Breadsall Priory, June 2015


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Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

It’s the weekend and it’s actually sunny here, so I finally got chance to wear something summery and spent the afternoon eating ice cream in Henley-in-Arden, a historic market town local to me.

This is the Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada (originally published in Japan with the amazing title She has a Mannish Style). The book has been popping up quite a bit on sewing blogs, but I haven’t spotted anyone posting this blouse yet.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

The Pompom Blouse is a loose fitting tee designed to be made in a knit fabric (the book refers to this as T-cloth on the pattern page, although there is more information in the techniques section). The interesting features of the top are the inclusion of a strip of pompoms at the neckline, and the method used to bind the neckline and sleeve cuffs. In the book, the bias used at the neckline is in a contrast colour, but I made some matching bias binding as I thought my fabric was already pretty busy. I lengthened my blouse by a couple of inches as the blouse shown in the book looks quite cropped, and I added a separate hem band (approx 1 1/2″ long), rather than turning back the hem and securing with a row of double stitching as suggested in the book.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

This fabric is a jersey I purchased from Stitch at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC back in March. The pompoms were from my stash; I bought them years ago to make a pompom-edged cushion, but never got around it! This was a quick and easy make – I recently went on a family holiday with Phil’s family and made this using my ‘travel’ sewing machine (one of the John Lewis minis) while away.

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Like other Japanese sewing books, the book includes double-sided paper pattern sheets. Pattern pieces need to be traced and seam allowances added. The instructions for each pattern include a diagram showing where to add seam allowances.

Typically, written instructions are minimal, but diagrams are included for each step. This top was very straightforward, but some of the more complicated patterns in the book (jackets, coat) would be more suited to intermediate sewists who are comfortable with less detailed instructions.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

I love the ‘mannish’ style of the She Wears the Pants designs, and the grungy styling of the book. The only issue I have with the book is that the lighting in the photos is dark, and quite a few of the items are made in black fabric – making it difficult to see the details of the clothing. Detailed line drawings are included for each pattern so that you can confirm the details before choosing what to sew.

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

The patterns included in the book cover a wide range of garments for woven and knit fabrics, including trousers, dresses, tops, jackets, a skirt, and culottes. There’s even one knitting pattern included, for a rather unusual belt sole.

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

One thing to note is that the size range of the patterns in the book is quite limited. I made a size small and found the sizing accurate, although this top is quite loose fitting due to the boxy style. Other patterns in the book include less positive ease and match the sizing chart more closely. The book doesn’t provide any information on the finished size of garments so you’ll need to measure the pattern pieces if you want to check the ease allowed prior to cutting out your fabric.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

I’ve sewn another couple of garments from the book which I’ll post soon. In the meantime enjoy some of that mean and moody photography!

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of She Wears the Pants in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own. Post contains an affiliate link

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