english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Pilatus Swimsuit on Holiday

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

Pattern: Opian Pilatus

Time taken (excluding cutting out): 6 hours

Fabric: Liberty ‘Santa Monica Brighton Swim Regenerated Nylon’

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

August and September have been a busy couple of months for me with a week’s weaving course, The Sewing Weekender, jeans making and ply split braiding workshops, and a holiday to Croatia. Today I’m finally having a quiet Saturday at home with time for video gaming (I bought myself Untitled Goose Game this morning), blogging, and – later on with any luck – some sewing. I might make a start on the Alice & Co Mary Quant-inspired Georgie Dress if I have a suitable fabric in my stash.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

After my weaving course and the Sewing Weekender, Phil suggested that perhaps we should go on holiday together for a change! I put in a request for somewhere sunny and near the sea as I fancied another go at sewing a swimsuit, specifically the Opian Pilatus sewing pattern.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

My Pilatus was inspired by the lovely versions by Katie and Linda in particular. I love the cut-outs, the high waist and that front tie. It is a really straightforward pattern to put together – the bodice is self-lined meaning that it’s not even necessary to attach elastic in the top, just at the edges of the bottoms. Following a couple of projects which seemed to take forever (but probably didn’t, just lots of short sewing sessions) I’ve started timing how long my sewing projects are taking for my own interest. Excluding cutting out, this project took me six hours, which I think is pretty reasonable for a swimsuit.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

This is the second swimsuit I have sewn, following a Bombshell Swimsuit in 2014. My sewing skills have increased enormously since 2014 (I only started garment sewing in earnest in 2013) – as have my blog pictures, check out those original Bombshell swimsuit pics in the garden. My Bombshell turned out perfectly wearable, and I still wear it, but I did struggle with getting a good fit. This time around I found swimsuit sewing straightforward. I cut a size 2/4, grading between sizes at the waist, with no changes to the pattern.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

The fabric is a Liberty swim-suiting fabric in print ‘Santa Monica’ and fabric type ‘Brighton Swim’. I bought it in a half-price sale (it’s still available if you’re quick) from the Liberty website. I’m really impressed by the quality of the fabric, it’s opaque, a good weight, and dries quickly once out of the water. The fabric I used for my Bombshell wasn’t really a swimsuiting fabric – I think it was probably intended for leotards or dance costumes. It works ok for a swimsuit but it takes ages to dry. This Liberty fabric feels so professional in comparison, which makes a huge difference to making my Pilatus feel well made.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

Excuse the number of pictures. I wore this swimsuit in Croatia to swim in the hotel pool, the ocean, and a salt lake on Lokrum Island. All of the locations were so beautiful that I couldn’t resist requesting a few more pictures (from Phil) each time.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric
Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric
Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric
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Holiday Snaps & Meandering Thoughts

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

Phil and I dragged out the Christmas holiday as long as possible, spending a few days in Alicante before returning to work this week.

These pictures, of garments I’ve previously blogged, were taken while we were away (Malachi Vest / In the Folds Jumpsuit / Tamarack Jacket). I didn’t spend a lot of time sewing over Christmas, but did start the process of making two coats (one for me and one for Phil). I’m taking my time attaching interfacing and canvas, resisting the impulse to rush ahead to construction, in order to create coats which should look, and last, all the better for it.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

I wanted to thank everyone who read, or got in touch about, my recent post regarding my experience with my previous employer. A few people who commented used the word ‘proud’ which led me to recall a memory from the time which I thought was worth sharing, and which I didn’t touch on in my previous post, since I kept that largely to a blow-by-blow account.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

At my lowest point working for that employer I spent one week off work, and in bed, recovering from a combination of stress and anaemia. Amongst the many emotions I felt at that time, I realised that I felt ashamed.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Ashamed because, in a work context, I had come to view myself as a ‘strong’ person, and this had become central to my concept of – and what I valued about – myself. Certainly my concept of what constituted strength in this context (including being willing and able to work as long and hard as anyone, to take on more work and work out of hours without complaint and without getting stressed) was promoted by my employer (in my first interview for the organisation, when I was hired, I was asked about my willingness to work over and above my hours. I told them it wasn’t an issue, and meant it). However, my employer can’t take all the blame, they had simply built on an existing prejudice I held.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

How I felt at that time, physically and emotionally weak, but without a physical cause to attribute my symptoms to in order to ‘justify’ them to myself and to my employer, was incompatible with my own (and my employer’s) prejudice about what it was to be a strong person.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

Initially I was ashamed because my view of what I valued in myself was challenged, but once I had time to dwell on it I was ashamed that I’d been judging people (predominantly myself, but inevitably, if unconsciously, my colleagues too) against a practically feudal concept. It took being physically weak to teach me that my concept of a ‘strong’ person was a nonsense, and that by judging myself against it I had set myself up to fail.

It was a humbling lesson, but in learning it I hope to be kinder to myself and others in future.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit


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Cats & Flowers Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Before these pictures no longer look seasonal, here is my Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket, photographed during the brief period of snowy weather we had here in Birmingham in December.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

I’ve been planning to make a Tamarack Jacket for some time, but was waiting to find a pre-quilted fabric, which I haven’t seen on sale very often in the UK. I suspected I would have more luck in Japan, and, sure enough, during a trip to Tokyo last year I found that the large Tomato store in the Nippori Fabric District has a wide selection of pre-quilted fabric (and pretty much everything else too). I picked this dark floral print, which has hidden black cats (see below). I would note that the downside of bringing 4 metres of pre-quilted fabric back from a holiday is that it takes up a lot of case space! For reference, I have found Miss Matatabi the best place to order pre-quilted fabrics online, and their recent sale included a few pre-quilted fabrics.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

I must have looked at the fabric requirements for a non-pre-quilted fabric, as when I came to cut out a Tamarack Jacket I realised I had (just) enough for two. As it happened, I was planning to make my Mom a Tamarack as a present for her birthday in November; I had purchased a different fabric for my Mom’s jacket, but decided instead to make us matching Tamaracks.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Having skipped the quilting stage, I assumed this would be quite a quick sew, but the volume of bias binding to be attached (not a favourite task of mine) and the welt pockets mean that these jackets took me quite a bit longer than anticipated (ahem, my Mom’s birthday present may have been delivered a few weeks late).

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Here’s how me and my Mom looked in our matching Tamaracks on Christmas Day. I have some more pre-quilted fabric to sew, and am currently debating between another Tamarack or a quilted bomber jacket – TBC!

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket


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Fabric Shopping in Tokyo

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I’ve finally vlogged footage from a trip to Tokyo with Phil, back in April.

My latest vlog contains a few clips from the holiday: sightseeing, plus fabric shopping in the Nippori Fabric District, and in Tokyo Hands.

The vlog also features a few me-made garments which I wore regularly during the trip; my Doraemon Emery Dress (it had to be done), Tilly & the Buttons Cleo dungarees, and By Hand London Victoria Blazer.

The following are great guides to fabric shopping in Tokyo:

♥ Tilly & the Buttons

♥ Cashmerette

♥ Seamwork

A few photos from the holiday are below:

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Fabric Shopping and Sightseeing in Seoul

Dorasan Station, Seoul

In April, Phil and I spent a week on holiday in Seoul.

My latest vlog contains a few clips from the holiday: sightseeing, plus fabric shopping in Dongdaemun and Gwangjang Markets. It also features a few me-made garments which I wore regularly during the trip; my Tilly & the Buttons Cleo dungarees, Named Inari Tee Dress, and By Hand London Victoria Blazer.

You can view the vlog here:

Dongdaemun Market is an enormous building housing a huge number of separate fabric and haberdashery stalls and shops over seven stories. I’d highly recommend Marie’s blog post, and the information Marie links to, if you plan to visit. The stalls in Dongdaemun appeared to have unusual and high quality fabrics, especially knits. However, the vast majority of stalls don’t have bolts of fabric ready to cut from; instead the stalls have samples on display, and fulfill your orders from their warehouses for collection at the market or delivery to your hotel.

I wimped out of buying fabric from Dongdaemun, but did treat myself to a linen fabric from Gwangjang Market. Gwangjang is a maze-like covered market, almost entirely dedicated to fabrics and haberdashery. Gwangjang is more home-sewer friendly than Dongdaemun, with stalls selling fabric from the bolt and pre-cut lengths, although I did find Gwangjang to have much less unusual fabrics than Dongdaemun. I spotted a few sewing-related services on offer in Gwangjang, such as scissor sharpening and seamstresses. Not too far away, in the area surrounding Euljiro 4(sa)-ga Station (exist 3 and 4), we wandered across an area specialising in sewing machine shops.

Finally, we tried Namdaemun Market because I’d read online that fabric was available, however, after a good look around and checking with the tourist information, we found that there was just one stall selling a very basic selection of cottons. Namdaemun is worth visiting for the food stalls, but no good if you’re in the mood to fabric shop.

A few photos of textile and haberdashery items in Seoul palace museums are below.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Ironing boards, sewing box and scissors:

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul


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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.