english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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DPL Belted

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

Today I took some time out of the office to attend a student-led fashion conference on campus (I work at a University). Sustainability was a focus for many of the speakers and I came away with some ideas of what I could make to commemorate this year’s Fashion Revolution Week taking place 22 – 28 April. Last year I made a Fashion Revolution Tee, and I’d like to create or alter a garment again this year (potentially using my fabric scraps).

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

I also came away with a desire to try growing fabric! Kirie-Lea Cussen presented her project to grow a bacterial-cellulose fabric for garment making using a kombucha recipe, inspired by Suzanne Lee’s work. Suzanne Lee has shared her ‘recipe’ and process online. I just need to figure out where on earth I could store a large container of bacteria at a consistent temperature…

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

I was wearing this top today. It’s Digital Pattern Library’s Belted Sweater in a cotton spandex knit from Girl Charlee. This is a recent favourite which I’ve worn to quite a few meet-ups but am only just blogging. I love the shape of this, which can differ quite a bit depending on how you tie the belt. I tend to tie it at the front, as pictured here, and really like how the back hem fans out as a result. My other favourite feature is the wide neckband.

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

I really want to make another Belted Sweater in a thicker fabric for a more exaggerated silhouette, and I also think it would look quite elegant in a lighter weight and drapier fabric. Two more options for the future sewing queue!

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

All of those projects will need to wait in line though, as my next project is a ‘waspie’ corset to wear to visit the Dior exhibition at the V&A next Month. I’m planning to wear the New Look inspired outfit which was my contribution to The Refashioners 2018 to the exhibition, with the addition of a waspie corset underneath. I was inspired by Gertie’s B6643 release with Butterick, which I finally managed to get hold of in the UK today, to give a corset a try.

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

If you’re not familiar with Digital Pattern Library I’d highly recommend their Instagram account, and their most recent pattern the Ruffle Tee is very cool.

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater
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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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Half Metre Tops

Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress Top Hack

I’m not normally someone who manages to squeeze projects out of small pieces of fabric. In fact, I normally always buy ‘safe’ amounts of both fabric and yarn, and end up with some left sat in my stash once the planned project is completed.

However, lately I’ve started a few knitting projects where I’ve run out of yarn part-way through (due to using stash yarns, or just not buying enough), and a few sewing projects which have required some creative cutting.

Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress Top Hack

During a recent trip to London I treated myself to a visit to Cloth House in Soho (very close to Liberty). I wasn’t supposed to be buying any fabric but couldn’t resist these two fabrics from their knits section (housed downstairs). To keep my shopping to a minimum I bought a half metre of each, assuming I’d have enough for a small top. As you can see from the photos, I did have enough fabric – but only just, particularly as I complicated things by choosing two stripey fabrics.

Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress Top Hack

This top is made using dress pattern V, Mini Dress with Raglan Sleeves from Stylish Party Dresses by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I’ve previously made and blogged the dress here. For this top version, I placed the pattern pieces on top and cut to edge of the fabric – which worked out just the right length for a top.

Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress Top Hack

I really like the finished top but squeezing raglan sleeves (particularly pattern matched ones) out of only half a metre of fabric was tight, and one of the sleeves had to be pieced. The fabric is a very lightweight knit which feels lovely, but is extremely prone to creasing.

Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress Top Hack

For the second fabric, I thought I’d try Grainline Studio‘s free one-size Hemlock Tee. The only change I had to make to the pattern due to fabric limitations was reducing the length of the sleeves. If working with an even small piece of fabric the sleeve pieces could be skipped altogether.

Hemlock Tee

The fabric is a lovely weighty double knit, with raised texture on the white stripes. (I’m pretty sure Zoe used the same fabric for this tunic). The body of the fabric means that it emphasises the boxy shape of Hemlock, and I’d like to try Hemlock in something slinkier for a closer fit.

Hemlock Tee

I currently work in an IT department with mostly male colleagues. They aren’t always the best at compliments (one day when wearing a red dress and lipstick, I was told by one colleague I looked very red, and I’m pretty sure that was supposed to be complimentary). The first time I wore this Hemlock to work a different colleague told me it looked like two tea-towels sewn together!

Hemlock Tee

The next tee I fancy trying is Fancy Tiger Crafts’ Adventure Tank which definitely looks doable in 1/2 metre of fabric from my stash.

Hemlock Tee

Hemlock Tee


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Burda Style Waterfall Top

Today the Christmas/New Year holiday ended for me and I went back to work. The Christmas holiday is my absolute favourite time of the year. Partly because I’m crazy about Christmas (I watched the documentary about Liberty recently and their staff plan Christmas all year! Clearly I should be working there). Partly because I get a couple of weeks off work (the benefit of working at a university) so have two solid weeks to do whatever I want (e.g. sewing, crafting, gaming & watching loads of old movies!).
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top
Along with an Anna dress and Archer shirt, I made the Waterfall Top from the January issue of Burda Style. I made this right at the beginning of the holiday. I read the Paunnet review of the January edition of Burda one morning, went out shopping that day and picked up a copy, and had the top finished by the evening. I thought it would be a nice speedy sewing fix and it was.
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top
The only alteration I made to the pattern was to reduce the height of the waistband by half, as I found that my fabric wasn’t draping well with the very high waistband. The fabric is a 100% Viscose, purchased from Guthrie and Ghani. It’s perfect for this blouse, nice and drapey. As you can (kind of) see from the photo below it features a retro print.
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top
The January issue of Burda features a few other projects I fancy giving a go. If only I were still on holiday I could have them sewed up in no time!
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top