english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Dior Bar Suit – Hat Refashion

Bar Suit for The Refashioners 2018

This is my third and final blog post about my outfit for the Refashioners 2018, which was inspired by Dior’s Bar suit, focusing on the process of refashioning a hat.

A number of hats were paired with the Bar suit when it was shown in the 50s, and in photographs since, but I wanted to recreate the hat from the photo which inspired this refashion (more info in my original blog post).

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

The inspiration hat was made of straw, and seemingly had a flat circular area at the top, and a wide, slightly curved brim. Given the ‘basket’ style of the hat, I decided that my best bet for a second hand material for refashioning was a woven bowl.

I spotted the bowl above in the window of a charity shop while on holiday with my family in Dorset and decided to give it a try. You can see from the images above that the original bowl was too large, flat, multi-coloured, and also far, far too heavy, to be used as a hat without refashioning.

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

Once home from Dorset, I took a stitch-unpicker to the bowl. A stitch-unpicker was the ideal tool, but due to the thickness of the material I did break at least five before I finished unravelling it. The trick to not breaking the stitch-unpicker was to keep it as flat as possible against the side of the bowl, but it was easy to forget, lift it up slightly and snap the blade.

As you can see in the photos above and below, the bowl consisted of long strands (of straw or similar) which were bound into a bowl shape with lots of small curls of raffia (or similar material). I cut through and removed the curls, released the long strands and loosely tied these together, until I reached a point where I had a small circular base remaining which I thought would serve as the top of the hat.

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

With the bowl sufficiently deconstructed, I bound the long strands with garden twine to give structure and create a long curved material which would form my hat. I then threaded more twine through a knitters needle and used it to sew (through the existing twine) the hat together.

After that, it was just a matter of trying the hat on and altering accordingly; I made a number of tweaks before I was happy with it, including reducing the circumference of the flat circular top of the hat, and removing quite a bit of depth from the bottom.

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

The Refashioners 2018 Outfit in Progress

Now that we’re back from photographing the outfit in Paris (photos below), I have put the hat back to work as a bowl (which it still works as, thanks to the flat base)! The jacket and skirt fit into my daily wardrobe, and the shoes and petticoat will also be worn although less frequently. I’m pleased that I was able to make a dramatic outfit, but also that it consisted of components which will get regular use.

Thanks again to Portia for inspiring and challenging us through the Refashioners series

Bar Suit for The Refashioners 2018

Bar Suit for The Refashioners 2018

Bar Suit for The Refashioners 2018

Bar Suit for The Refashioners 2018

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British & Icelandic Karusellen Hat

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

As you’ll know if you follow me on instagram (I may have gotten carried away posting photos!), I’ve just returned from a holiday in Reykjavik, New York and Boston.

I made four new items for the holiday (one of which I was hemming as we waited for the cab to the airport…) – Closet Case Files Clare Coat, Paprika Patterns Zircon Sweater, a Karusellen hat, and Cecelia Cowl.

I’m going to talk about the knitted items in this post, and follow up with a separate post about my Clare Coat, but it’s also pictured in the images below, all of which were taken in Reykjavik.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

My hat is the Karusellen pattern by Erica Knits from Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015, which was a particularly awesome issue of the magazine. I used stash yarn – the white is a leftover skein of John Arbon Textiles’ organic Falklands Merino from my Lesley sweater, and the mustard is Ístex Álafoss Lopi in Golden Heather which I bought when I visited Sweden last year. That yarn combination means that I made a British and Icelandic yarn hat for my trip to Iceland – could not resist;)

The pom pom wasn’t from my stash; I treated myself to an alpaca fur pom pom when I visited TOFT recently to attend a crochet workshop.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

The hat pattern includes two sizes; I selected the larger size based on my head measurement but it’s actually a little bit big. I have the brim folded double here in order to fit, but it does mean that the horses hooves are slightly hidden.

I was worried about my knitting ending up too tight as a result of the colourwork so kept my colour floats quite loose, which may be the cause of it ending up slightly big.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

The cowl is the Cecelia Cowl by Rachel Atkinson for Loop London. The pattern is designed to use one ball of Freia Ombré Super Bulky. I chose to use the Amaranth colourway as I thought it would complement my coat, without being too close a colour match.

The yarn isn’t cheap, but given that only one ball is required for the project I decided it was justifiable. I’ve already managed to leave this cowl behind in a cafe in Boston, but was able to go back and retrieve it the next day, so I hope I don’t lose it too soon (never is probably too much to hope I think!).

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

The cowl is a really quick knit; I stated it on the flight from Birmingham to Reykjavik, and had completed and was wearing it when I got off the plane.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

As you can see in these photos, Reykjavik is beautiful. It’s very expensive, but happily yarn is cheap! I bought yarn to knit the Stopover sweater, from the Handknitting Association of Iceland store in the city centre. The store stocks a wide range of Istex lopi yarns, including colourways unique to the store, and the Love Story lace-weight yarn by Hélène Magnússon. I ran out of time to visit the Alafoss Mill store but it’s easily accessible via bus and has even cheaper prices.

Reykjavic, Iceland

Reykjavic, Iceland

We spent one day on a golden circle tour which we really enjoyed – particularly watching the geysers erupt at Geysir, something they’ve been doing 10,000 years. The tour ended at Laugarvatn Fontana spa, which was very nice on a particularly cold day.

Reykjavic, Iceland

Reykjavic, Iceland

In town we particularly enjoyed the National Museum (which includes historic embroidery, and spindles), the Tjornin Park which is a great place for swan stalking, and the Mikkeller bar as a perfect spot to spend the evening.

Reykjavic, Iceland

Info on my Clare Coat, and on our trip to New York and Boston next!

Reykjavic, Iceland

Reykjavic, Iceland


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Luca Pom Hat

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

I’m definitely a year-round knitter, I made this hat back in May and have been waiting since then to get it out of the drawer and start wearing it.

This is the Luca Pom Hat by Stitch & Story. I won the kit to make this hat via a competition on Stitch & Story’s social media. I very rarely buy knitting kits, partly because I rarely use the recommended yarn, but it was nice to be able to open the parcel and begin knitting. The Stitch & Story kits are beautifully presented and contain everything you’ll need to finish the project: yarn, knitting pattern, needles for sewing in ends, knitting needles.

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

The instructions provided in the kit are step-by-step and super easy to follow. In addition to pattern instructions, the kit includes a small fold-up booklet of basic stitches to support beginners (or anyone who needs a reminder). The hat itself is knit flat which is also nice and simple for beginners.

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

The wool included in the kit is Stitch & Story’s own Chunky Wool. The wool is 100% merino (spun and dyed  in Italy, although I can’t see on the website where it is originally sourced). It’s a super soft wool, definitely the softest I have ever knit with. I’m not sure that such a soft wool is really necessary for a hat, but it would make a lovely squishy scarf.

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

The hat is a really quick knit due to a combination of chunky wool and large needles. I finished the hat the same day the kit arrived in the post. Admittedly, I was attending my Weavers, Spinners, & Dyers guild that day, so had more hours sat knitting than on an average day.

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

If you aren’t aware of them, Stitch & Story are a UK brand who run workshops in London and offer a selection of knitting kits for accessories, garments and homeware. I haven’t tried any of their other kits due to currently restricting my knitting almost entirely to British wool, but I think they would make lovely gifts for any new / relatively new knitters.

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

It’s awful weather here today and I’m planning to attend one of the local winter/Christmas markets so I’ll be putting my hat (plus knitted scarf, gloves and probably woolly socks) to use.

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit

Stitch & Story Luca Pom Hat Kit