english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Sewing Blog of the Year Nomination

craft awards 2018 vote for me

I’m lucky to have been shortlisted for ‘Sewing Blog of the Year’ at the Immediate Media British Craft Award for the second year in a row.

My lovely fellow bloggers shortlisted are as follows:

https://thefoldline.com/
https://didyoumakethat.com/
http://www.makery.uk/
http://gingerthreadgirl.co.uk/
https://seekatesew.com/
http://houseofpinheiro.com/
http://www.astitchingodyssey.com/
http://www.thecraftypinup.co.uk/
http://www.handmadejane.co.uk/

Voting is open until Sunday 17th December, and you can vote in one or more of the following categories: Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Quilting, Cross Stitch and Papercraft.

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Love Sewing & Sew Now Articles

Sew Now Magazine

I’m late posting, since the newer issues are now out, but I had articles in the issues of Love Sewing and Sew Now published during January.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

My article for Sew Now was a review of the the Billie Collection, the first pattern from Tribe Patterns, and a collaboration between The Fold Line and Rachel Pinheiro. I sewed this at the same time as my knit version, and, as with that version, it suffers from being a bit loose in the bust (as it’s drafted for a C cup, and I’m a B). The fabric is a gorgeous Geese Flock Cotton Lawn in ochre from Fabric Godmother.

Sew Now Magazine

My article for Love Sewing was a brief history of British Lace Making, with a focus on the Nottingham lace industry and Cluny Lace, who I have blogged about previously.

Love Sewing Magazine

Love Sewing Magazine


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Sewing Community Article in Sewing World

Sewing World Magazine

I have an article in the current issue of Sewing World Magazine, exploring the sewing community and how to get involved.

The full article includes practical tips for participating in the sewing community, but I thought I would share the introductory paragraphs here, which explore my own feelings about being part of this community:

I can honestly say that being part of the sewing community has changed my life. Growing up I always had good friends, but they were a select group – now I have friendships and connections with a huge, worldwide, community. The current age has been called the age of loneliness, due to our increased social isolation, but online communities – like the sewing community – create a connectness, which crosses boundaries of geography, age, and – to a lesser extent – language, gender and socioeconomics.

Sewing World Magazine

The opportunity to communicate with a diverse community of (mainly) women, in an atmosphere that is supportive and inspiring, has made me more confident. Like many bloggers, I began reluctant to take or post photos of myself online. Now I’m posting photos and videos regularly, because I’m inspired by others who are doing that and enjoy joining in. Plus, company is important to creativity. Without the opportunity to share what I make with others, and be inspired by them in return, I would have less motivation to create, and to try new things and keep challenging myself. I’d definitely still be sewing, but I doubt I’d be pushing myself to sew jeans, or lingerie. Seeing the beautiful projects fellow bloggers are making motivates me to have a go too.

Sewing World Magazine

Of course sewing is just the start – it’s the something in common to bring together a diverse community. It’s the thing we can draw around, which is representative of much more we have in common – creativity, a love of textiles, a desire to make things with our hands, and to understand how they are made.


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British Craft Awards Nomination & Elsewhere

I heard today that I have been nominated for Sewing Blog of the Year in the 2017 British Craft Awards, ‘Sewing’ category!

My blog has never been shortlisted for anything similar before, so it’s very nice to be included and there are some great blogs in the list.

Voting is now open at www.britishcraftawards.com (with a prize draw to win one of 5 x £100 Amazon vouchers), until 20th December 2016.

Elsewhere

♥ I’ve booked a ticket for The Dressmakers Ball in Leicester next May – it sounds like it’s going to be a great night, and a great excuse to sew up an impractical frock.

♥ I love these natural dyeing themed postcards from Pompom Quarterly.

♥ I have a few knitting projects on the needles, but I’m looking forward to making a start on Ella Gordon’s Hap Cowl very soon.

♥ People Tree are crowdfunding to upskill partners to produce Tencel in a closed loop process, and ethically produce garments from the fabric. Interesting stuff.

♥  shiftWorks exhibition at the National Centre for Craft and Design (12 Nov-08 Jan), twelve textile artists celebrate the shift dress.

♥  ‘Luxury brands feed demand for return of UK’s cotton and knitwear mills‘ in the Guardian.


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Behind the Scenes at the RSC Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

I have an article included in the October issue of Seamwork, which was released yesterday.

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

The article is a profile of the in-house costume department at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon. The RSC is one of a small number of UK theatre companies with a dedicated costume department (others include the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Welsh National Opera, and Scottish Opera). The costume department works on every production at the RSC, across six departments: menswear, womenswear, hats and jewelry, painting and dyeing, costume props, and footwear and armory.

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

You can read the full article here, or download the magazine (for free) from the Seamwork website.

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department


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Sewing World Natural Dyeing Article

Sewing World Nation Dyeing Feature

Just a quick post to let you know that, thanks to the lovely Kerry, I’m featured in the September issue of Sewing World magazine (which has been on sale since mid-August, I’m late posting…).

Kerry writes a regular article for the magazine, with the September issue’s on the topic of natural dyeing. I’m featured alongside Folk Fibres and The Modern Natural Dyer.

I haven’t managed to post on the blog about natural dyeing much lately, but have projects to share when I get chance – plus a pile of silver birch branches in the garden, which Phil pruned from our tree, waiting for me to try dyeing with.

Sewing World can also be found on Facebook & Twitter.

Sewing World Nation Dyeing Feature


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The Seamworker’s Guide to Fashion Museums

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

I have an article in the August issue of Seamwork, released today.

The article is a guide to some of the best fashion and textile museums around the world. I’ve visited some of these museums in person; others are on my to-see list. I did my best to squeeze in as many museums as I could within the article word count!

You can read the full article here, or download the magazine (for free) from the Seamwork website.

One of the museums included is the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, which is one of my favourites. Below are a few photos of their recent Liberty in Fashion exhibition which I visited back in January. I’m especially looking forward to their upcoming Jazz Age fashion and photography exhibition (23 September 2016 – 15 January 2017).

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum


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Spinning Your Own Yarn

Creating yarn

I have an article in the April issue of Seamwork, released today.

The article is a guide on creating your own yarn, and includes stages from buying and washing a fleece, carding and spinning fibre, plying spun singles, and washing your yarn.

That’s a lot of information to squeeze in. If anything is unclear in the article let me know. I’m only a beginner, but I’ll try to help.

Creating yarn

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

Oh, and I also pop up in another article in this month’s Seamwork! Nicki has written a great article about her #oneyearoneoutfit project, & I’m included as one of the participants.

Creating yarn

Creating yarn

Creating yarn

Creating yarn

Creating yarn

Creating yarn

Creating yarn


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A Love Story about Scissors

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

The current issue of Love Sewing Magazine (issue 25, on sale now until late April) features my profile of Ernest Wright & Son. The article discusses the company and the steps involved in making their scissors (plus there’s an opportunity to win a pair of dressmaking shears), but I also wanted to talk about my visit here.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

I proposed the article to Love Sewing and – having received a positive response – took a day off work and visited Ernest Wright & Son during January at their Sheffield factory.

If you’re unfamiliar with the company, they have been making scissors in Sheffield since 1902. Sewing/craft is one of the company’s specialisms (the other major one being kitchen scissors).

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

The factory has a small shop which is open to the public and is well worth a visit. Not only can you select a pair of their scissors in person, the shop also contains a display about the company’s history, and a window onto the factory floor where you can see the scissors being made.

Due to visiting on behalf of Love Sewing, I had the opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ to see the full process of making a pair of their scissors, and meet the team.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

I’ve had the opportunity to visit and interview a few companies recently (mainly on behalf of Seamwork), and absolutely love getting the chance to mooch around factories and see things being made. But very few companies are as welcoming and as generous with their time as Ernest Wright & Son. I knew I was on to a winner when they made me a tea moments after I walked through the door;)

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Despite the fact that I am not a journalist or photographer (my full-time job is as a project manager at a University), the team at Ernest Wright demonstrated the full process of making a pair of scissors for me – including turning on the very noisy ‘rumbler’ and dryer machines which are used to clean and dry scissors, and painting the handles of their dressmaking shears so I could photograph them hanging to dry. (P.S. if you’ve assumed from the images online that the Colours range have coloured plastic handles, they don’t, they are metal handles which are painted by hand).

I left the factory totally in love with this company and their products. Partly, of course, because of the heritage they represent, as a fifth-generation family-owned company  which is one of the last remaining examples of a historically thriving industry. But most of all because of the great people who work there and their enthusiasm for the products they produce.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

As a small independent business, the company face issues around cash-flow and seasonality of demand, as well as wider issues caused by the decline of the local steel industry and competition from cheaper machine-made imports. Given that their products are guaranteed for life, limited repeat business is also an issue for the firm.

If you are able to support the company (from buying their scissors, to following their social media accounts), they are a company who truly appreciate the support. And if you get a chance to visit them in Sheffield or at a craft show (they typically attend the Knitting & Stitching Show, & the Handmade Fair), do, and I suspect you’ll fall for the company too.

For more information see:

Love Sewing Magazine, issue 25

Two short films about the company: The Putter by Shaun Bloodworth, and Disappearing Art for the BBC

Ernest Wright & Son Website

Ernest Wright & Son on Instagram

The factory:

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Scissor painting in progress:

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield


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British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

My second article for Seamwork magazine was published in their December issue.

The article is a profile of Cluny Lace, the only remaining company in the UK making leaver’s lace using traditional leavers and jacquard machinery, which was also designed and built in Nottingham.

Cluny Lace is a family-run business, and has been in the family for 9 generations. Cluny are based in Ilkeston, near Nottingham where lace-making was historically the dominant industry, employing a third of the city’s working population.

Lace produced by Cluny Lace is frequently used by couture and pret-a-porter design houses, and the company regularly post examples to their Facebook page.

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

I was very lucky to be provided with some pieces of lace by Cluny following my visit.

British Made Lace by Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

British Made Lace by Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

I finally bit the bullet and cut into the lace, plus some organic British silk from Majestic Textiles, to make the Savannah Camisole from Seamwork.

Madder Dyeing

Prior to constructing the camisole I dyed both the (cotton) lace and silk using madder. Before dyeing, both textiles had been pre-mordanted using the methods previously described in this post, although mordanting isn’t strictly necessary with madder. I used a madder extract purchased from Wild Colours, and also followed their instructions for using the extract (one of a number of natural dye recipes on their website). Madder extract is very easy to use; following the Wild Colours guide I simply made a paste with 10g of powdered madder and added this to a pan of water on the hob. After adding my pre-wetted textiles I raised the temperature to 60° C and kept it there for 60 minutes. I left the textiles in the pan overnight, before rinsing and then washing them in the washing machine on a low heat.

Madder Dyeing

I decided to make the Savannah camisole mainly based on Sarai’s gorgeous version and because the pattern features lace.

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

I made up a test version in cotton before cutting into my silk and got a good fit by grading between a 0 at the bust and 2 at the waist and hips. However, I think I stretched out the neckline through handling this silk version as it ended up too wide; I addressed the issue by gathering the neckline to achieve the required width.

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

I sewed the sides of the cami on my machine using french-seams, but sewed everything else by hand. The only changes I made to the pattern were cutting the shoulder straps to the required length (as opposed to creating adjustable straps using bra rings and sliders) and slightly altering the application of the lace due to the width of the lace I used.
British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

The cami is one of my #1year1outfit projects. It’s not strictly 100% British, but I’d say it is close enough;) The lace is made with Egyptian cotton and is finished (washed / dyed) in France, but is woven in the UK. I also used standard Gutterman thread to make it – I do have some Irish linen thread, but I didn’t have any in an appropriate colour. The silk is from Majestic Textiles, a silk farm in Hertfordshire. I ordered the silk direct but they mainly sell by the bolt so a shorter length incurs a cutting charge, as well as a standard UP postage charge of £11. With those costs added on the silk worked out at £17.50 per metre. Botanical Inks stock a couple of styles of silk produced by Majestic Textiles and allow online ordering.

The silk handles well during sewing and doesn’t mind being washed in the machine, but you can see it seriously holds a crease.

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole

Cluny Lace mainly sell direct to design houses, but you can purchase small quantities of their lace via a number of UK stockists, who mainly stock lace trims. Magic Round About Vintage clearly state which of their lace trims and fabrics are produced by Cluny in the UK. Little Trimmings and The Ribbon Girl are also stockists, but their website are less clear which laces are made in the UK. You can also buy direct from Blue Riband in Kent or Kleins in London.

A few photos of the Cluny Lace factory which weren’t included in the Seamwork article are below.

P.S. let me know if you have some suggestions for great patterns for the rest of my Cluny Lace. I’m thinking the wider lace would look great on the Papercut Clover dress bust panel.

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston

Cluny Lace, Ilkeston