english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Polo Shirt Dress

It’s my birthday today, and while Phil cooks me dinner I have just enough time for a quick post about this self-drafted polo shirt dress I made this summer.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

I’ve always loved polo shirts and polo shirt dresses, and have had one or two in my wardrobe since I was a teenager. However, my wardrobe has been without one for the last couple of years as I have pretty much stopped buying RTW and have never seen the right fabric (cotton pique) on sale before. So, when I spotted this fabric for sale on Goldhawk Road earlier this year I knew I needed to make myself a polo shirt dress.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

The dress is self drafted and is based on a RTW polo shirt dress, which I may have taken a few measurements from in the shop… As with all of the RTW polo shirt dresses I’ve owned it doesn’t feature any darts or shaping. I rushed the construction a little bit, so would like to get some more fabric and make a neater version at some point. I’d also like to create a short polo shirt (as opposed to dress) version.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

As you can see the construction is pretty simple, it’s a single piece at the front and back, with short set-in sleeves. I folded a strip of the fabric to create the cuffs. The RTW polo shirt examples I looked at had the collar as one piece, cut on a single layer of fabric. I kept a one piece collar but stitched two layers of fabric together to give it a bit more body. When I make another I’ll add a layer of interfacing too as it’s still a little floppy.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

I added a partial button placket. It was a pretty easy feature to figure out, but See Kate Sew has since posted a tutorial for one.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

These photos were taken in Paris during our holiday there in September, and were taken in the Saint-Pierre area very close to the fabric shops.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

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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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Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf at Centre Pompidou

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

After a lovely week’s holiday in Paris without wifi, I thought it was about time for a blog post! I’ve been waiting to write this post for a while, as I finished this knitting project back in June but it was too warm to pose for scarf photos. I was really excited about the weather turning a little colder and being able to pull this out the drawer!

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

The pattern is Stephen West’s Unicorn Parallelograms, which was released for this year’s WestKnits Spring Scarf KAL. I love the original version of the pattern which is knit using 20 different coloured Madelinetosh Tosh Unicorn Tails, but I wanted to stick to British yarn so instead selected five colours of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply, and limited my stripes to those five colours. I had quite a bit of yarn left over so probably could have gotten away with four colours (but clearly that’s not as fun!).

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

The pattern is a simple garter stitch with a crochet border, and was a good train knitting project. I still managed to make the occasional error but not too many! Despite the simplicity of the pattern it still took me a few weeks to knit due to the length and use of fingering weight wool.

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

It’s a perfect scarf for this time of year as it’s thick enough to keep the chill out but not super wintery. I’m thinking I need to knit up a second scarf for myself this year, so that I have a heavier weight scarf for after Christmas when it tends to get really cold.

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

These photos were taken in Paris at Centre Pompidou. I think the Centre makes a great match for the colour scheme of my scarf:) The scarf is an especially perfect match for Horizontal by Alexander Calder outside the Centre (above).

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

This scarf is one of my #1year1outfit projects as it is knit in British wool. Other participants have completed some major pieces (Sue and Carolyn in particular), I’ve started small with lots of accessories but I still have lots planned before the end of the year. I’m pretty confident I’ll have an outfit made with British fibres by the end of the year!

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West


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Spoolettes on Tour – the Paris Meet-Up

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Pretty much as soon as I heard about the Paris meet-up, courtesy of Twitter, I knew I had to go. What could be better than a sewing meet-up & in Paris! A quick tweet to Carmen & I was on the attendee list and making plans.

I was originally planning a day trip, but Phil told me there was no way I was getting a trip to Paris and he wasn’t (!), so we used it as an excuse for a week’s holiday:) Having already been to Paris once this year we decided to split our time between Brussels & Paris. This was my first trip to Brussels & I loved it – I would recommend it generally, and, for sewists, the Museum of Costume and Lace & Les Tissus du Chien Vert fabric store are most definitely worth a visit (blog post coming soon!)

Me and Phil arrived in Paris a couple of days prior to the meet-up to fit in some sightseeing & then, on the day of the meet-up, I left Phil to his own devices (fabric shopping is not his idea of fun) to meet up with the spoolettes at the Trocadero.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Carmen, our organiser extraordinaire, was waiting to greet us with exciting goodie bags full of lovely things. The bags featured a design from Carmen’s Cousu Main book and had been personalised on her machine so that we wouldn’t get them mixed up later:)

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

We had a pretty international group – attendees had travelled to Paris from elsewhere in France, England, Canada, Belgium, Finland, and Germany, and of course the reason the meet-up was organised was because Lauren was visiting us from the States.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Once we were all assembled we headed off to our first shopping location, the Sentier neighbourhood. I always think that an added benefit of meet-ups is learning the location of the best shops for future visits. I’d previously visited the fabric shops around the Sacre-Coeur, but I was totally unaware of the fabric shops in the Sentier, and there are loads! If you wander the streets between the Sentier and Bonne Nouvelle metro stations you’ll come across the shops. One thing to note is that – unlike the shops near the the Sacre-Coeur – many of the Sentier area shops are aimed at trade buyers and so require you to buy a larger than normal minimum length of fabric. We were lucky to have French / French-speaking spoolettes with us who checked at each shop. Some of the shops had a minimum of between 1-3 metres, but we went in one shop with a 10 metre minimum and another where the minimum was the whole bolt! I wouldn’t fancy trying to get that home on the train… The more retail-focused shops tend to have less fabric on display / have the bolts wrapped up so they aren’t too hard to spot.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014
On our way past the famous Rex cinema

I’m in a wintery / Christmassy mood currently so was drawn to the woollens / heavier weight fabrics. I came away with some great fabrics at very reasonable prices. The purple wool was 9 euros per metre from Les Etoffes du Sentier (they also had it in blue and grey). I also did well in a neighbouring store where I came away with a blue and black wool blend (7 euro per metre) and a patterned stretch (5 euro per metre).

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The (obvious) downside to my fabric choices was that I was now weighed down with a load of fabric and we’d barely started. Seriously, I’m not that wimpy & this stuff plus a handbag & camera bag weighed a ton! The upside was that I stopped spending at that point to avoid adding to the load so it saved my wallet from further pain.

After a couple of hours of shopping the group reconvened at Maison Sajou – a stunning haberdashery. The ladies in the shop spoiled us with goodie bags and cups of tea, before we set off to the Marche Saint-Pierre area for more fabric shopping.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The area around the Sacre-Coeur has some great fabric and wool shops but most of us – with the exception of a hardy few – were too tired to do them justice. I think most people who were still in Paris went back the next day for a mooch. I popped there briefly with Phil and bumped into quite a few spoolettes, it’s our natural habitat I guess:) The one shop we did all visit was the great Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre. The shop was having a sidewalk sale so was packed and everyone was very excited to see Carmen! As you may know, Carmen was the winner of Cousu Main, the French version of the Great British Sewing Bee. The rest of us got a little bit of the celebrity treatment due to being with her:) I picked up a brown/white wool blend which is destined to be a coat for Phil (the blue wool above was going to be but has been shot down as apparently unsuitable for a peacoat so will become something else!). Thanks to a meet-up discount this came to a mere 16 euros for 3 metres.

Finally we headed to the nearby Pink Flamingo restaurant for pizza, drinks and more nattering.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Carmen – thanks for a great day:)

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014


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A Week in Paris

Me and Phil recently spent a week in Paris. I’ve been travelling quite a bit for work lately so it was lovely to travel for pleasure instead:) While there we visited some sites we hadn’t explored on our  previous trips.

Unsurprisingly Paris has a number of fashion museums, and we managed to visit two of these while there.

I was particularly impressed by the Palais Galliera Museum of Fashion. The Museum holds extensive collections of clothing (18th century to contemporary), accessories, drawing and photography, but, due to the delicacy of these collections, the museum doesn’t have a permanent collection on display. The current temporary exhibition that we managed to catch was photography from Conde Nast magazines (e.g. Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour). The photographs included dated from 1918 to the present day, although I particularly liked the vintage images. Most excitingly, alongside the photography, the Museum displayed haute couture pieces from its collections – which included pieces by Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
Paris, April 2014
I didn’t pack too many me-made clothes for the trip to Paris, knowing that Me Made May was just around the corner, but I had to take my Coco dress to Paris! Here it is within sight of the Eiffel Tour, in the grounds of the Palais Galliera.
Paris, April 2014

We also visited the Museum of Decorative Arts which is housed in the same building as the Louvre, although a separate museum. The Museum has a varied mixture of collections (furniture, toys, etc.), including textile collections. Like the Palais Galliera, the Museum does not have a permanent textile collection on display, instead running regular temporary exhibitions. We caught an exhibition of work by the Belgian designer Dries Van Noten. As well an an extensive selection of pieces by Dries Van Noten, the exhibition included beautiful vintage pieces from the Museum’s own collection by designers including Schiaparelli and Dior. Gorgeous!
Paris, April 2014

Among the other museums we visited was the Musee des Arts et Metiers, where I admired some beautiful vintage sewing machines and looms.
Paris, April 2014Paris, April 2014

Of course, while in Paris I had to visit the fabric district in Place Saint-Pierre (right by the Sacré Cœur). I treated myself to two 3-meter off-cuts or ‘coupons’.
Paris, April 2014
I didn’t buy anything from Reine but popped in to admire the Liberty fabric, and the awful mini mannequins they have throughout the store. You have to wonder who makes the clothes for these (the mannequins aren’t full size so do they use children’s clothing sizes)?
Fabric Shop, Paris

Another spot we hadn’t visited previously that was AMAZING was the Puces de St-Ouen market area. The area contains around a dozen separate markets. I’d particularly recommend the Marche Serpette, which includes a number of vintage clothing, record and book shops, and one shop selling vintage sewing patterns, buttons, etc.
Paris, April 2014Paris, April 2014
Paris, April 2014Paris, April 2014
I wore my Victoria Blazer to the Puces de St-Ouen, as well as my gorgeous new bag. A very exciting Easter gift from my Nan.
Paris, April 2014

As movie lovers, me and Phil also visited two historic cinemas.

The Rex is a 1930s cinema, with art-deco style facade. It was designed to be ostentatious – the stage includes water jets, and when it was opened huge numbers of dancers used to perform before films started. It’s a working cinema and still regularly hosts movie premiers. They also run a backstage tour which I was very excited about, although admittedly hilarious, the cinema took a Disney-style approach to the tour so unfortunately you don’t get to hear much about the cinema’s history or see much of the real cinema behind the scenes (it’s all a bit phony).
Paris, April 2014
The Cinéma du Panthéon, originally opened in 1907, offers a total contrast to the Rex. It specialises in independent films, and has a stunning salon on the first floor, with an interior designed by Catherine Deneuve, as well as a very cool book shop.
Paris, April 2014
I could have spent all day in the beautiful Salon, but the prices meant we stuck to a cup of tea!
Paris, April 2014

Such a lovely week:) The weather meant we were also able to spend a lot of time sat in Paris’ parks eating cake!
Paris, April 2014

And… just to prove that I didn’t make Phil spend all his holiday visiting fabric shops and fashion museums (admittedly not his first choice of things to do), we also visited the Parc des Princes to see Paris Saint-Germain play.
Paris, April 2014

See also my post about the craft shops we visited during last year’s trip to Paris.


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Craft Shops Et cetera in Paris

Paris Navigo Card

(Our Paris Navigo travel cards)

Me and Phil spent last week in Paris. While we were there gay marriage was legalised, with France becoming the 14th country to legalise gay marriage.
French Newspaper Headline, April 2013

It was only the second time we’d visited Paris, so there was lots we wanted to see. Amongst the sites and galleries we managed to squeeze in some shopping. This post outlines some recommended shops and will be followed by a more general photo post showing some of the inspiring colours, patterns and shapes I photographed whilst in Paris.

Craft Shops

At the foot of Sacre-Coeur (near the funicular and off Bd Rochechouart) you’ll find Paris’ fabric shop district. Once you get near you can’t miss it as you’ll spot the colourful rolls of fabric lined up outside the multitude of fabric shops. The largest of these (and the largest fabric shop in Paris) is the Marche Saint-Pierre, which is visible from the steps of the Sacre-Coeur.

Paris

Marche Saint-Pierre Location

If you don’t find a suitable fabric in Marche Saint-Pierre, there are many similar shops located in the surrounding streets. In these stores you’ll find Liberty fabrics, as well as a wide selection of fabric types (printed cottons, felt, toile, lamé…).

Paris

Paris

For designer fabric brands (Michael Miller, Kokka, etc) and just for the pure joy of it, visit Moline Mercerie. Moline Mercerie is a truly lovely shop which stocks a full range of haberdashery supplies including lots of buttons, ribbons, books and patterns.

Paris

I was very good and restricted my shop to some offcuts of a couple of the lovely fabrics they stock.

Moline Mercerie Fabric

In the streets around Sacre-Coeur the focus is largely on fabric but you’ll also find shops stocking knitting and embroidery supplies, and cute boutique shops.

Paris

Paris

Embroidery fans should also visit Bonheur des Dames located in the Viaduc des Arts (near the Bastille and Gare de Lyon metro stations). The Viaduc des Arts is a row of beautiful glass fronted shops but the majority are only used as displays for artists and businesses so there isn’t much shopping to be done.

Paris

While in France don’t miss the chance to check out the wide selection of craft magazines available.

French Craft Magazines
(Craft magazines in a supermarket – you’ll find lots more in a decent newsagent)

I purchased two Burda magazines while there (also available in English and a number of other languages, but I couldn’t resist getting them while there to read on the metro).

Burda Magazine

If you haven’t bought one of these magazines before they are well worth a look. They contain a huge range of patterns so there is bound to be something you’ll like. The patterns inside range from easy (pyjama trousers) to mid-difficulty (reprinted vintage dress pattern).  A few pictures of the patterns on offer, and the instructions and pattern pieces are below.

Burda Magazine

Burda Magazine

Burda Magazine

Burda Magazine

Burda Magazine

Burda Magazine

Burda Magazine

I did eye up some other sewing magazines but they focused more on children’s clothes or some (like Simplicity) seemed aimed at an older audience.

Comics

I’ve long loved the Album comic store chain. As children/teenagers me and my brother used to look out for Album shops when holidaying in France with our parents. The very best place in Paris for comic shopping is on and around the Boulevard de Saint Germain (near Notre Dame) where there are three Album and two Pulp comic stores.

General

More generally, Faubourg St-Antoine, previously a furniture-maker district, (the end nearest to Opera National de la Bastille and Bastille metro) has a number of home ware stores (Habitat, Muji, Maisons de la Mode) as well as high street fashion (Petit Batou, Kookai, Gap, etc).
Petit Bateau Catalogue
Petit Bateau Catalogue
(Petit Batou catalogue)

The streets around Centre Pompidou (Rue Rambuteau, etc) are good for cheap eats and high street shopping, and it is generally a bustling neighbourhood with shops open late – no doubt influenced by the  Centre Pompidou’s late opening hours.