english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Comic Art Sudley Printed with Contrado

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Contrado are a London-based company who offer fabric printing on demand. I talk about my experience designing and printing a fabric with them in my latest vlog, which you can view here:

As mentioned in the vlog, my design was inspired by a comic-print, black and white Prada skirt, which I eyeballed in a shop window. My design features some personal favourite comic characters / artists.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

The design was printed on Contrado’s Crepe de France fabric. The fabric is light/medium weight, with lots of drape.  The image print quality is very high, with even small details printed clearly. The colour didn’t run when I washed the fabric, but I did get some colour/image transfer when I ironed this dress on a high heat (following one wash). The fabric is slightly see-through; I lined the bodice and will wear a slip underneath.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I used my fabric to make a Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress, with the skirt extended to floor length. I thought Sudley would be a good pattern to show off the fabric, due to the lack of fastenings or darts. As in my previous Sudley, I cinched in the waist of the dress by attaching elastic around the waistband.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I’m looking forward to wearing this out – although slightly wary about how dirty the hem may be by the time I get home!

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Disclaimer: I was provided with two metres of fabric in exchange for blogging about it, all opinions expressed are my own.


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Slow Stitch: A Book Review

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

I recently received a copy of Claire Wellesley-Smith’s beautiful new book Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art. It’s an absolutely gorgeous book from outside in, with a suitably tactile cover. Given the synergy of the book with Slotober, I thought it’d post a short review and some pictures before the month is up.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Claire is a textile artist based in Bradford and the book contains images of her own textile work, the community projects she has been involved in, and her thoughts and reflections on the slow movement and it’s relevance to her work.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Alongside her own projects, Claire celebrates textile arts and hand stitching by profiling a number of contemporary textile artists whose work is in keeping with the slow textiles movement. Each artist profile includes photos and a description of one work by the artist. A section entitled cross-cultural activity profiles a number of textile traditions, such as boro, kantha and mending, illustrated by beautiful examples of each tradition.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

The book is not structured in the format of many craft books, where a large section of the book is dedicated to projects. Instead a more thematic structure is adopted, but with project ideas jotted throughout. There are a number of relatively detailed tutorials included in the book, including solar dyeing threads, log cabin piecing, and creating and maintaining a stitch diary. Alongside the detailed tutorials, the book contains lots of suggestions for techniques readers may wish to explore such as allowing textiles to weather outside, reusing textiles from past projects, sun bleaching, and collecting and reusing locally sourced materials to create a record of a time and place.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Anyone who is interested in slow textiles, natural dyeing and hand sewing will enjoy this book. The book doesn’t contain a large number of tutorials, so don’t buy this book expecting to be taught how to employ all of the techniques it covers, such as mending, boro, hand-stitching, etc. Instead the book aims to inspire readers to engage with the slow textile movement and explore some of the techniques covered for themselves.

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith

Although I’ve been closely following Slotober, I haven’t actively been participating. I have however been plotting and, inspired by Slow Stitch, I am planning to naturally dye some linen thread which was made in Ireland (pictured above). Once I have a few different colours of thread i’m hoping to attempt some hand stitching, which I plan to incorporate in a #1year1outfit garment. That project will take me well beyond October, but in the short term I’m also planning some mending. I have a lovely British wool jumper, purchased from a vintage kilo sale recently, which is full of holes that I can’t wait to darn!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Slow Stitch in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own.


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My Little Urban Pony Exhibition Entry

Urban Pony Exhibition Entry - Plush Pony

I found out about the Urban Pony Exhibition taking place at Art Space Dudley just in time to get a submission made and submitted. Each of the artists participating was invited to create or customise a retro My Little Pony based on their own artistic practise. There is a sneak peek of some of the other ponies being exhibited on the Facebook page and it looks like the entries include glass, wax and pottery.

Since printing and sewing are the techniques I use most frequently I decided to screen print a pony image onto fabric and then create a plush pony by sewing the fabric together and adding some wool hair. I originally intended to make a pink pony and went into Birmingham to buy pink fabric especially. However, I picked the fabric for it’s colour and didn’t think enough about the fabric type (which seemed to be a linen-like synthetic fabric), and found when I started printing onto it that the fabric didn’t hold ink very well leading to some ‘bleed’.

Urban Pony Exhibition Prep

Urban Pony Exhibition Prep

By this point I couldn’t face the thought of having to go back into Birmingham for more fabric so decided to raid my stash. I had a few vaguely suitable fabrics but when I spotted the blue felt it was the obvious choice, being suitably pastel-coloured, & child friendly. My pony will be on show as part of the exhibition from Friday 24th May in Art Space Dudley.

Urban Pony Exhibition Entry - Plush Pony

Urban Pony Exhibition Entry - Plush Pony

Urban Pony Exhibition Entry - Plush Pony


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Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Today Phil and I attended a Made in the Middle ‘craft taster day’ at Bilston Craft Gallery.
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Made in the Middle is a touring exhibition which I previously blogged about while it was showing at MAC. Made in the Middle is currently on at Bilston, and today’s taster day was a related event with five of the artists with work in the exhibition demonstrating their techniques and allowing visitors to have a go.

Clare Willard allowed visitors to create a version of her laser cut brooches. The brooches me and Phil created are pictured below. Phil’s is the neater one (on the right). Clare provided the laser cut pieces which we stuck together based on a pattern provided. The reverse of the brooches were specially made up with the text ‘Bilston 2013’ which was a lovely touch. I’m pictured modelling mine below (and pulling an awkward face as is my habit when photographed) in the park surrounding Birmingham Cathedral.

Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

Me wearing my Clare Willard brooch from Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

We also spent time with sculptor Ruth Spaak who creates sculptures from glass and found/recycled objects. Ruth talked about how she visits car boot sales to find objects to recycle into works of art or for her pupils to recycle into works of art at the various classes she teaches.

In the session with Ruth we threaded beads, buttons and other interesting bits and bobs onto crocodile ties to create the objects pictured below. As you may be able to guess Phil’s is the one on the right (browns & greys) and mine is on the left (pinks and purples)!

Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day
Made in the Middle Craft Taster Day

We also got chance to talk to Charlotte Clark about her process for creating glass sculptures. Charlotte is participating in a very cool upcoming Urban Pony Exhibition, taking place at Art Space Dudley from 24th May, where various artists will customise a vintage My Little Pony in a way which reflects their own artistic practice. There are workshops taking place as part of the exhibition where participants will have the chance to customise a pony. I’ve definitely got to attend one of those!


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Renegade Craft Fair in London

Renegade Craft Fair London 2012
This Saturday, me and Phil popped to London to visit Renegade Craft Fair. It was the second Renegade fair in London, but my first. The fair took place at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, conveniently located right by Brick Lane market which also features some cool craft makers.

I love the flyer produced to advertise the fair:

Renegade Craft Fair London 2012

Of the makers selling at the fair, I particularly liked Lovely Pigeon. I treated myself to a Mr Pigeon Badge (pictured below) as well as some other goodies. I also loved MANOLO’s beautiful engraved wooden brooches (I might ask for one for Christmas), Debbie Greenaway’s illustrated badges and cards, and Custom Made.

Mr Pigeon Badge by Lovely Pigeon

While at Renegade me and Phil also made friendship bracelets with the Make Lounge (I got told off for later re-braiding Phil’s).

Outside of Renegade, in Brick Lane market I spotted a couple of interesting artists, definitely worth checking out.

Hormazd Narielwalla is a collage artist who creates new works of art from tailoring patterns. I really liked his prints on acetate.

Tsomo is a Korean artist in paint, textiles, and clay. I picked up a card featuring one of her paintings, but also loved her little pottery dolls and cats.

Below are a few pictures of Renegade and Brick Lane.

Renegade Craft Fair London 2012
Renegade Craft Fair London 2012
Vintage Clothing Market, Brick Lane, London
Graffiti Brick Lane London


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If You Don’t Already Love Luke Drozd’s Art You Will Soon

I’m indebted to Luke Drozd for supplying some amazing prints for the charity event me and colleagues organised recently. I was particularly excited to receive donations from Luke as I’m a huge fan. Not only is Luke generous he also produces some truly lovely screen prints.

Judging by recent updates to his blog & Facebook page, he’s also very busy at the moment. He has an exhibition of fine art at York College Gallery, he’s just published a book of comic strips, Dark Days and Other Tales (complete with button badge),  and he’s created some lovely screen printed band posters, including gorgeous festival posters for New Order & Graham Coxon (pictured below – images courtesy of Luke Drozd).

Luke posts on various social media sites so you can follow what he’s up to & get your debit card at the ready when a new poster is released. Why not like him on Facebook  or Twitter right now. He happens to be pretty damn funny as well so you can’t go wrong.


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Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives

While in St Ives, me and Phil visited Barbara Hepworth’s former studio. Hepworth worked in the studio and it’s garden from 1949 until her death in 1975. It’s only a small museum as the studio itself was based in a small building, but it’s stunning – especially on a sunny day. The studio and garden contain a selection of Hepworth’s sculptures in wood, stone and bronze – with a number of the bronzes in the garden in the positions in which Hepworth placed them.

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall

Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall


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Made in the Middle

Last Tuesday me and Phil went to the MAC after work for a valentine’s day screening of Brief Encounter. Prior to the film we visited the Made in the Middle craft exhibition which is currently located at the MAC prior to going on tour. Going to a craft exhibition after work isn’t Phil’s first choice for an evening out but as it was valentines day he couldn’t really say no:) Plus he had a film screening afterwards to make up for it.

The Made in the Middle exhibition features work by regional artists working in various crafty mediums, which this year included paper, textile, jewellery, and pottery. My absolute favourite pieces were by Clare Willard who creates amazing images which have a print-like quality and boldness by laser cutting and laminating wood:
Made in the Middle at MAC, Birmingham UK

One of the key themes of the exhibition was the background of the artists and how they had gotten into craft careers. It was really fascinating to see the number of artists who had moved into artistic careers through evening courses.

Below are a handful of images of pieces from the exhibition.

by Madana Thompson:
Made in the Middle at MAC, Birmingham UK

English Hedgerow by Andrew Tanner and Unanico:

Made in the Middle at MAC, Birmingham UK

Made in the Middle at MAC, Birmingham UK
Made in the Middle at MAC, Birmingham UK

Disembowelled White Goods by Laura McCafferty:
Made in the Middle at MAC, Birmingham UK