english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

I haven’t had much time to sew or to blog lately. What I have been doing is plenty of knitting and podcast-listening, since I can do those on my daily commute. I’ve also had a lovely movie-watching evening today, and have managed to squeeze in four films – I’m considering film number five, but should probably go to bed instead…

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

This is my Lou Lou Dress pattern (View B) made in a mustard luxury crepe from Sew Over It, it’s actually the left-over fabric from when I pattern tested the Joan Dress. The contrast hem is in Atelier Brunette’s ‘twist’ print cotton – another left-over, this time from a Paprika Pattern Onyx Shirt.

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

These photos were taken last Saturday. It was Phil’s birthday and we spent the day mooching around Birmingham city centre, eventually ending up in Digbeth to try a new tap room / bottle shop which has opened in the Custard Factory (Clink Beer).

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

Digbeth has some great graffiti – I was hoping to feature some of my favourites, but taking blog photos is just about Phil’s least favourite thing so I was nice and didn’t pester him to take more photos than these on his birthday!

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

My shoes are Nina Z, purchased from Brooklyn Flea while I was visiting New York. I haven’t worn them in enough yet, as after several hours walking around town I had multiple blisters by the time I got home.

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

Elsewhere

♥ Great podcast interview with Nick Wright about running Ernest Wright & Son, and his relationship with his father; really sensitively done, and also very funny. Plus, their Kickstarter campaign is now over 300% funded – hooray!

♥ A really sweet free wrap knitting pattern from a Verb for Keeping Warm, and free tray and basket pattern from Noodlehead.

♥ Women’s Hour has featured some great interviews with favourites from the knitting and fashion worlds: Kate DaviesFelix Ford, Lara Clements, Livia Firth, & fashion historian Amber Butchart.

♥ While on the subject of audio, I’m OBSESSED with Malcolm Gladwell’s brilliant podcast Revisionist History. I feel like I’m getting an education every episode.

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

 

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Indigo & Logwood Dyed Silk Dress & One Year One Outfit Thoughts

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

I realised that I hadn’t written a wrap-up post about my experience of participating in #1year1outfit during 2015. It’s partly because using British fibres has seeped into my making (particularly my knitting) to such an extent that it doesn’t feel like there is an end point. However, I thought I should acknowledge the impact that Nicki’s project has had on my making and also highlight that One Year One Outfit is taking place again in 2016 if you’d like to participate.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

At the start of 2015 I was just beginning to explore British wools in my knitting and the use of natural dyes (as part of my own #naturallydyedwardrobe project), so One Year One Outfit tied in perfectly with my own growing interest in local fibres and materials. However, without One Year One Outfit I never would have fallen quite so fast and far down the rabbit hole.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

The project led me to really question and explore exactly what fabrics and fibres are produced in Britain; the results of that search – so far – are compiled here, and I’m continuing to add more resources as I discover them. Exploring currently available British textiles also led me to give greater consideration to the historic textile industry, both to celebrate the beautiful things produced and the skill required to produce them, but also to be aware of the conditions many of these textiles were produced under. In Britain that included child labour, serious health risks for workers, long hours for low pay, and exploitation of the Empire.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

As a result of participating in the project I’ve produced a number of knitted and sewn garments and accessories (you can see them all here), and it also inspired two articles I wrote for Seamwork magazine profiling British companies: TOFT and Cluny Lace. Most recently I visited the wonderful Ernest Wright & Son in Sheffield (I’m holding their pink 8″ scissors in some of these photos), who I’ll be blogging about soon.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

Not all of the garments I made as part of the project were 100% British (for example I used commercial thread), but the important thing to me is that it made me consciously think through what I was using and where it was produced; something I want to be increasingly true of all of my making.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

The dress is these photos is my latest One Year One Outfit make. It is made with British organic silk from Majestic Textiles. I dyed the top portion of the dress with logwood chips, which were gifted to me by a member of my Weavers, Spinners and Dyers’ Guild. The bottom portion of the dress is dyed with indigo from Fabric Treasury. The pattern is my own Lou Lou Dress, view C. I was rather lax cutting this slippery silk so the lines of the dress are a little wibbly, but I love it all the same.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

For anyone interested in exploring British fibres in their own making there is a huge variety of wool (and sheep, mills, dyers, farmers & designers) to explore. Regardless of your chosen craft (knitter, sewer, embroiderer, weaver, etc.) there are British wool products to try. But British fibres don’t stop with wool, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with British silk, lace, linen, and haberdashery supplies, including scissors, needles, pincushions, and buttons. I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can find in 2016.

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit

My list of British fibre, fabric & haberdashery suppliers is available here.

All of my #1year1outfit posts are available here.

In these photos I’m wearing the following items which meet my #1year1outfit pledge:

Dress: Lou Lou Dress in Organic British Silk naturally dyed with indigo and logwood
CardiganHancock in Blacker Yarns Lyonesse, in Rose Quartz
Socks: TOFT Bed Socks in TOFT DK, in Oatmeal (naturally dyed with turmeric)
ScarfPianissimo in John Arbon Textiles’ Viola Yarn, in Fern
Scissors: Ernest Wright & Son 8″ Scissors in pink
Brooch: Frilly Industries Spool of Thread Brooch

Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit


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Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

I recently took part in Marilla Walker’s Hand Printed Fabric Swap. I was paired with the lovely Claire from Hoopes Park Studios. Claire correctly detected that I like bright colours and busy prints. I found a very generous 2 metres of this amazing print from Claire waiting for me when I returned from a work trip to Istanbul. I love getting home anyway but It’s even more exciting when there is fabric waiting!

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

As you can see, Claire printed a repeat motif of circles and triangles in green, black and yellow on a pink fabric. It must have taken ages to print by hand! Claire has posted about her printing process and how licorice was the inspiration for her colour scheme on her blog. The dress is my own Lou Lou Dress pattern. This is a simplified version – the dress is lined as standard but this is as unlined version. It was super quick to put together, just two pattern pieces. I slip stitched the hem and edges of the armholes & collar for a neat finish. This is a stiffer fabric than the Lou Lou is designed for; which I think results in a more retro silhouette.

I have finally finished tweaking the Lou Lou Dress Pattern and it’s going out to my lovely (patient) testers. If you haven’t already signed up to test and would be interested register using my pattern testing form.

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

My contribution to the Hand Printed Fabric Swap looks a bit tame in comparison to Claire’s. I printed an irregular ladybird design on a light blue chambray.

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Ladybird Chambray

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Ladybird Chambray


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Lou Lou Dress at Project Indie

I’ve kept shtum on here until now, but I’ve recently been working on my first sewing pattern for release (eek!) which I submitted to the Monthly Stitch’s Project Indie competition. Me and my design were profiled on the Monthly Stitch this week – you can view the profile here. Make sure to also check out the other submitted designs by Helena and Lindsay. The winner will be selected based on the combined score from a panel review & a public vote – and you can VOTE NOW! If you like the pattern any votes would be greatly appreciated as the prize is something very valuable – the time & expertise of people who really know their stuff in relation to running an indie pattern company, branding, and pattern testing.
Lou Lou Dress Paper Dolls
My pattern – the Lou Lou Dress – is a short A-line dress with a twist. The dress is fully lined with a decorative band across the hem of the lining which can be made in a different fabric – perfect for a small fragment of a precious fabric. The dress is French seamed for neat insides and suitable for transparent or delicate fabrics. The dress has a very slightly dipped (modesty protecting) hem at the back.

The dress has two variations. Version B features a collar and a small pleat on either side of the front neckline which creates additional fullness in the dress for a trapeze effect.
Lou Lou Dress Line Drawings

The Lou Lou Dress has been graded and digitised but is yet to go through pattern testing. If you would be interested in being a pattern tester for the Lou Lou dress (and/or future patterns) please sign-up using this pattern testing form. If you have any feedback on the dress do let me know.

For info, the dress is named after Louise Brooks’ character in the Pabst film Pandora’s Box. Louise Brooks is one of my icons because she was such a talented actor, and also because she was uncompromising. It meant that she didn’t ‘fit in’ with the studio system in Hollywood at the time and as a result didn’t have the film career her talent deserved. I have a massive Pandora’s Box poster in my living room with ‘Lou Lou’ written in a huge font which may have been a big subconscious influence on the naming of the pattern.

Photos of Versions A and B of the dress are below.

Version A:
The main fabric is a patterned polyester with a bow design. The dress is lined using the same fabric with the decorative hem in a solid colour.
Lou Lou Dress Version A

Lou Lou Dress Version A

Lou Lou Dress Version A

Version B:
The main fabric is a gorgeous silky polyester purchased in Paris with a floral design. The collar and decorative hem are made in a spotty lace.
Lou Lou Dress Version B

Lou Lou Dress Version B

Lou Lou Dress Version B

Lou Lou Dress Version B