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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A Week in Paris

I spent a week in Paris back in September but it’s taken me until now to get around to going through the photos. I recently wrote a blog post for The Foldline about shopping in Paris so won’t talk too much about shops, but I did want to share a couple of favourite purchases and some photos of the trip.

On this holiday I visited Malhia Kent for the first time. It’s located on the Viaduc des Arts near embroidery specialist Bonheur des Dames. Malhia Kent weave fabric for pret-a-porter and couture, but also sell their unique fabrics direct. Cut from the bolt fabrics are approximately €30 per metre, but coupons are a much more reasonable €10 per metre and they have a lot of coupons in the shop (if I hadn’t been on my way to catch a train I would have been in the shop for ages).

Malhia Kent, Paris

Malhia Kent, Paris

I came away with the two larger coupons (I think about half a metre each) below, as well as two smaller pieces I am hoping to piece into garments.

Malhia Kent Fabric from Paris

Malhia Kent Fabric from Paris

I had good company for fabric shopping on the Saturday, when I met up with Lisa, Carmen, Sabine and Olivier. We shopped in the Saint-Pierre area, and had particular luck in Sacrés Coupons.

Sewing Meet-Up, Paris

By chance, I was in Paris for Journées du Patrimoine, an annual event where historical monuments (including some that are normally inaccessible)  are open to the public and museums organise special events. I wouldn’t even have realised it was taking place if Carmen and Sabine hadn’t given me the heads up. Based on their recommendations me and Phil took the opportunity to visit La Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent for free.

The foundation can be visited on a guided tour which takes in a reception room, meeting room, Pierre Bergé’s office and one studio room. The studio space was unsurprisingly my favourite since it contains a rail of toiles and some examples of YSL originals. We attended a tour in French, I started off ok when Yves Saint Laurent’s life and career were being described since I’m already familiar with the details, but then totally failed to understand some of the later sections of the tour. If your French is as poor as mine, they run the tour in English once per month.

La Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent

We also saw Wool War One by artist Delit Maille, which Sabine had participated in the knitting of. The exhibition contains 780 soldiers knitted by hand by over 500 participants internationally, to commemorate soldiers killed in northern France during WWI.

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Wool War One, Paris

Me and Phil spent quite a bit of the week in various museums and galleries, many of which contained textiles for me to admire. A few photos of these are below.

Palais de la Porte Dorée, which contains Paris’ History of Immigration Museum and a beautiful old aquarium, was exhibiting amazing hats inspired by Paris landmarks (the red one at the front below is inspired by Notre-Dame) and inventors, with hats inspired by their inventions (see below traffic light, saxophone, football boot).

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris

Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris

We took a train to visit Château de Fontainebleau, which contains a selection of historical textiles linked to royalty and to Napoleon and his family.

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

Centre Pompidou had an exhibition of Palestinian embroidery on display. The pieces, which showcase traditional techniques, are created by Inaash, an NGO.

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Also on display at Pompidou, a Mona Hatoum piece woven with hair.

Centre Pompidou, Paris

The permanent collection of the Musée du Quai Branly, one of my favorite galleries in Paris, contains a huge range of textiles from around the world.

Musée du Quai Branly

Musée du Quai Branly

Musée du Quai Branly

And finally, Les Invalides has a huge permanent collection of uniforms and other textiles related to WWI and WWII. I have to admit to being a total sucker for an epaulet, they make me think of toy soldiers and those little plastic epaulets that came with every Lego soldier.

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris


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Fashion at Berlin’s Museum of Decorative Arts

Berlin

A final post about my recent trip to Berlin, before it seems like a distant memory. One of the many museums we visited, and top of my list, was the Museum of Decorative Arts (Kunstgewerbemuseum). The museum has an extensive fashion collection, mostly housed in a dedicated Fashion Gallery, but with some pieces jotted around the rest of the museum.

The collection includes garments, accessories, shoes and lingerie. I photographed quite a few of these – photos below.

Berlin
Ball gown with stripes, England/France, 1865

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin
White summer outfit, France/England, 1866

Berlin
Walking Dress in silk taffeta with black velvet, England, 1855

Berlin

Berlin
Two piece evening gown, Madame Gres, Paris, 1973

Berlin
Cocktail dress ‘Ribcage’, Pierre Cardin, Paris, 1969 (front) / Hotpants, Paco Rabanne, Paris, 1974 (back)

Berlin

Berlin
Micro dress ‘Ready Made’, Paco Rabanne, Paris, 1970 (front) / Hotpants, Paco Rabanne, Paris, 1974 (back)

Berlin
Blue suit with blouse, Chanel, Paris, 1965 (right) / Dress suit Escale, Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, Paris, 1958, owned by Olivia de Havilland (left)

Berlin
Cocktail dress in trapezoid line, Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, Paris, 1958

Berlin
Evening gown of gold lame and beads, Jean Patou, Paris, 1937

Berlin

Berlin
Pistachio green evening dress, bias cut, Captain Edward Molyneux, Paris, 1932

Berlin
Evening gown with horse motif, Madeleine Vionnet, France/USE, 1921-4

Berlin
Dance gown with ray motif, embroidered with tambour work, sequins made of bakelite, France, 1925

Shoes

Berlin
England, 1821

Berlin
England, 1840

Berlin
England, 1820-40

Berlin
Printed ladies slippers, England, 1795

Berlin

Berlin
Shoes in Chinese style, England, 1785

Berlin
Shoes with paste brooch, France, 1770

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin
England, 1900

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Accessories

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin

Berlin
Bust improver, 1910

Berlin

Berlin

Other museums in Berlin with some textile element which I visited:

Berlin’s Film and TV Museum (Museum für Film und Fernsehen) has a permanent Marlene Dietrich exhibition, including a number of her clothes.

Berlin

The Bauhaus Archive is fascinating, and includes a number of Bauhaus weavings and textiles.

Berlin

The DDR Museum is good fun, and includes a fashion section, including examples of East Berlin sewing pattern magazines.

Berlin

And, not at all craft related, but I really enjoyed the Computer Games Museum (Computerspielemuseum Berlin).

Berlin


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Vintage Fashion at the Herbert Museum

Inspired by Chronically Vintage’s review of 1940s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook, I recently treated myself to an earlier volume in the series 1920s Fashion  and have been admiring the many, many (it has 600 pages) lovely illustrations this week. So I was in the perfect mood to visit the new exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars.

Herbert Art Gallery Flyer

The exhibition displays clothing and accessories from 1900 until the 1950s. It’s only a small exhibition but it contains a nice mixture of outfits, from day dresses and uniforms to evening and wedding dresses. For a number of the outfits information about the owner is displayed alongside. Obviously the evening and wedding dresses are the most exciting:) There are some nice accessories too, including a cloche hat and some very cool shoes – no pictures as they were behind glass.

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars


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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