english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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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