english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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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Fashion & Textile Exhibitions in New York & Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Ancient Egyptian Dress at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

As previously mentioned, while visiting New York and Boston in March, Phil and I managed to visit a number of textile-related exhibitions.

When I visit a new city, I always check for local fashion and textile exhibitions and put them near the top of my to-see list (to Phil’s chagrin).

Photos below from this trip.

American Quilts and Folk Art, at the Met

The Met, NYC

The Met, NYC

The Secret Life of Textiles: Plant Fibers, at the Met

The Met, NYC

The Met, NYC

The Women of Harper’s Bazaar, 1936–1958, at The Museum at FIT

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 027

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 029

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 030

Denim: Fashion’s Frontier, at The Museum at FIT

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 036

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 040

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 045

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 053

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 057

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-15 042

Fairy Tale Fashion, at The Museum at FIT

FIT, NYC

FIT, NYC

FIT, NYC

FIT, NYC

FIT, NYC

FIT, NYC

FIT, NYC

#techstyle, at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

New York Iceland holiday 2016-03-18 021

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Kenneth Paul Block Illustrations, at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


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A Year in Colour Exhibition

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

During 2015, my Guild ran a year-long natural dyeing project with Winterbourne House, a local museum.

Each month, the gardeners at Winterbourne provided plant material (flower heads, bark, leaves, etc.) which the guild tested for their natural dye properties.

To explore the varied colours that can be achieved through the use of mordants and modifiers, eights small skeins of wool were treated with each dye (the first seven of which were pre-mordanted with alum):

  1. basic colour;
  2. light fastness test (kept by a window after dyeing);
  3. acid modifier (vinegar);
  4. alkaline modifier (diluted washing soda);
  5. iron modifier (created by soaking rusty nails in water & distilled vinegar);
  6. Over-dyed with madder;
  7. Over-dyed with woad;
  8. copper mordant (in place of alum).

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

The results of the project are on display in the Coach House Gallery at Winterbourne until 25th April.

Alongside skeins showcasing the colours achieved from each plant material, the exhibition contains a selection of projects created by talented members of my Guild. These projects showcase weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting and felting – and the wool and silk used in the projects was also largely dyed with plants from Winterbourne garden.

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

I took part in a couple of the monthly dyeing sessions during 2015, and made a small contribution to the exhibition – a handful of knitted chamomile flowers included in the display below.

Winterbourne houses the national collection of anthemis (a genus which includes dyers chamomile). Yarn dyed with chamomile from the garden was used by Guild members to knit and crochet the flower heads below. The knitting and crochet patterns used were also designed by Guild members.

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

The exhibition is only small, but well worth a look if you’re local, and could be followed up with a visit to Winterbourne or to the neighboring Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which is a favourite of mine.

Carolyn, who led the project, blogged the results achieved each month on a dedicated blog.

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

P.S. If you live in the UK and are interested in trying weaving, spinning or dyeing, you can check if there’s a guild local to you using this online search.

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

A Year of Colour Exhibition by Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers


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Fashion & Fabric at Copenhagen Design Museum

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

While on holiday in Copenhagen, me and Phil visited the Danish Museum of Art & Design. Phil hadn’t realised beforehand that the museum has a permanent fashion and textiles exhibit;p

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

The exhibition includes an interesting mixture of clothing and accessories, from the 18th century to the present day, from the Museum’s permanent collection, with a focus on Danish fashion. I’ll leave you to enjoy some photos from the exhibition.

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark


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Small Stories Exhibition at the Museum of Childhood

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood

Before going back to work – and back to normal – this week, me and Phil spent a couple of days in London. We shopped the Christmas sale (Phil did very well in the Paul Smith sale shop), visited the Horst photography exhibition at the V&A, and visited the current exhibition at the Museum of Childhood (which is also part of the V&A): Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls’ House.

I had a dolls’ house as a kid and have always loved teeny-tiny furniture. Everything looks cuter in miniature.

The exhibition runs until 06th September 2015, and I would most definitely recommend it if you’ll have a chance to visit. The Museum generally is also worth a trip; they have a lot of 1980s toys that really appeal to me, as they provide a great opportunity to spot toys you forgot you used to own, or missed out on owning as a kid!

The Small Stories exhibition focuses on 12 dolls’ houses which cover a timespan of 300 years. I especially liked the modern houses, a large white villa from the 1930s (complete with swimming pool and tennis court), and an adorable high-rise from the 1960s.

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood

The most exciting part of the exhibition, for me, was the Dream House art installation. For Dream House, the Museum commissioned 20 contemporary designers from a variety of disciplines to decorate a small wooden box or room. The result is amazing! I got a few photos of some favourites, but do check them all out in person or on the Museum website.

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
Wilderness Dreams, by Orly Orbach

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
A Night in the Studio, by Ina Hyun K Shin

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
Home Is Bear the Heart Is, by Mister Peebles

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
Library (A Recent Plan), by Emma Mawston and Keighley Shepherdly, Liberty Art Fabric Interiors

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
Llama Dreams, by Donna Wilson

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
More Is More, by Jessica Hayman, Rosa and Clara Designs

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
Molly’s Favourite Things, by Molly Meg

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House, V&A Museum of Childhood
Offline Hideaway, by Dominic Wilcox

To finish, I’ll leave you with a few photos from the Museum’s permanent collection. It includes a number of sewing and knitting related toys.

V&A Museum of Childhood

V&A Museum of Childhood

Lots of very cool toys (me and my brother used to play with my dad’s toy fort as kids, and it was one of our favourites):

V&A Museum of Childhood

The collection includes some really creepy toys too, that must have given children nightmares..:

V&A Museum of Childhood


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The Glamorous 30s Exhibition, Brussels

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

While visiting Brussels during November, me and Phil visited the Glamorous 30s exhibition at the Costume and Lace Museum. As suggested by the title, the exhibition focuses mainly on glamorous women’s clothing – evening gowns, day dresses, underwear, swimwear and accessories. A small selection of children’s clothing is also included. The museum has a permanent collection of lace – a small selection of which is also permanently on view.

I especially loved the lounge and bed wear as it’s so pretty. I really fancy a pink padded house jacket now! A lot more glamorous than what I normally wear around the house.

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Chanel dress

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Modern dress inspired by the 1930s

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Hand-painted dress

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

The museum has a small children’s dress-up section where I tried on all the hats!

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Another favourite museum from our trip to Brussels was the Belgian Comic Strip Centre, where I got to visit a Smurf house!

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

We also tracked down quite a few of the comic inspired graffiti pieces around the city.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Finally, I’ll leave you with this cutie.

Brussels, Belgium


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The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier at the Barbican

Me and Phil spent the weekend in London recently. While there we visited The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier at the Barbican. The exhibition is wide ranging featuring Gaultier designs from the 1970s to the present. It’s one of the best fashion design exhibitions I’ve seen. Unlike a lot of exhibitions the pieces aren’t behind glass so you can get up close and admire the skill and meticulous finish. Focusing on a single designer means you get a much greater sense of the designer and their work, and how it has developed over time. It’s also a lot more fun than most fashion exhibitions – the curators have included lots of creative elements including video projection and a revolving catwalk – totally befitting the clothes being exhibited. The generous size of the exhibition and the time period covered mean that they have included pieces from Gaultier collections with many different themes – mermaids, religious imagery, folk, nautical, punk, animal skin/feathers. I love Gaultier’s work because it has such a great sense of humour – like the man himself. I’ve watched various interviews with Gaultier and he always seems absolutely lovely. There are lots of people I admire that I don’t like very much, but Gaultier is someone it is very easy to admire and to like. Having visited the exhibition I now HAVE to own the LP of Gaultier’s 1989 single Aow Tou Dou Zat. As you can see they allowed photographs, a few are below.
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, Barbican London 2014
We also visited The Glamour of Italian Fashion at the V&A, which told the story of Italian fashion from the end of the Second World War to the present day. This was also fascinating but was a relatively small exhibition and due to the scope of what the exhibition was trying to cover it felt like it was only scratching the surface. I would have also liked more early (1950s) pieces which were my favourite (with the exception of an amazing Miu Miu parrot print fabric that I wanted badly). Excitingly Fashionary had produced an exclusive design to accompany the exhibition so I treated myself to a copy. Gorgeous.
V&A Fashionary
While in London I also treated myself to a couple of metres of Liberty fabric from Shaukat and a Flamingo cardigan from a rather classy charity shop, both in South Kensington.
Liberty Cotton Fabric
Flamingo Cardigan


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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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Style Africa at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Recently me and Phil visited the Style Africa exhibition currently on at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Style Africa is an exhibition of contemporary West African textiles, and features a selection of beautifully printed fabrics. I won’t say any more than that, I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves.

Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham MuseumStyle Africa Exhibition Birmingham MuseumStyle Africa Exhibition Birmingham MuseumStyle Africa Exhibition Birmingham MuseumStyle Africa Exhibition Birmingham MuseumStyle Africa Exhibition Birmingham MuseumStyle Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum

Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum
Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum
Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum
Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum
Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum
Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum
Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum
Style Africa Exhibition Birmingham Museum