english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


5 Comments

Resurrected Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

This is the Simple Sew Patterns Grace Dress, which was a freebie with a previous issue of Love Sewing Magazine.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I’m currently very fond of this dress for a few reasons. Firstly, I made it using a yellow and white cotton/polyester brocade which I won in a little giveaway on Madalynne’s blog. The piece I won was leftover from an adorable two piece set Madalynne made, and which she recently revised in a blog post.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Secondly, I made it especially for a fun little overnight trip to London some months back, and wore it out to party. In typical fashion, I decided to make it for the trip at the last minute, and – from memory – sewed it mostly in one evening. Which leads me on to…

Cannon Hill Park

Thirdly, this dress was brought back from the brink, and given a second chance to live a fulfilling garmenty life. I didn’t realise until I had almost finished making this dress, that the fabric is quite delicate and frays significantly. My overlocker happened to be playing up at the time, and I was attempting to finish it quick to wear out, so I make the decision to wear it out and that afterwards I would hand wash it and overlock the seams.

That plan would have been fine, however I didn’t let Phil in on it, and he threw the dress in the washing machine. My poor dress emerged from the machine ripped in a number of places along both sides of the waistband.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I allowed sufficient time to sulk, then went back, unpicked the zip and bodice lining, and overlocked the bodice and skirt to the waistband. During the surgery I was attempting to lose as little fabric as possible, which has left the waistband somewhat wonky, and messed up the skirt gathers, but it’s meant this dress has made it past it’s first wear!

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I get a bit of gaping at the front of the armholes which I’ll need to address if making it again, but this is a cute simple party dress, and works really well in a stiffer fabric like this brocade.

It’s pictured in a couple of these photos with a new favourite lace cardigan from People Tree, in 100% cotton, hand knitted in Nepal.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress


6 Comments

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

 


13 Comments

A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe: Biden

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

Last weekend I got the chance to try dyeing with one of the dye plants I grew from seed in  my garden. Of the plants I chose to grow, my biden and marigold plants have done really well. The teasel plants are looking very healthy (the leaves are huge), but don’t yet have any seed heads, which are the section required for dyeing. I’ve had no luck at all with my bee balm and woad plants (only one tiny woad plant survived) so I’ll try again next year and see if I get better results.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

The biden flower heads are the section used for dyeing, so I harvested all the current flower heads, leaving the flower buds for future dyeing / pollinators. I followed the biden dyeing recipe from Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess. The recipe recommends a weight ration of 1:1, e.g. the same weight in flower heads as in fibre. I didn’t have enough flower heads to match the weight of the fibre I wanted to dye, so used approximately 25 grams of biden flowers for just over 100 grams of fibre. As a result, I didn’t achieve as deep an orange as I have seen other dyers achieve, but I was still pretty impressed by the results.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

To create the dye, I placed the biden flowers in a large stainless steel pan with enough water to cover my fibre, and slowly brought the water to approximately 70-80ºC over a one hour period. While the pan was heating up, I placed the fibre I planned to dye in a bucket of cold water, so that it was suitably wet through before being added to the dye pan.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

Because natural dyeing can be smelly and messy, I’ve been doing my dyeing outside using a small portable stove.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

After an hour, the water in my pan had taken on a orange colour. At this point the plant matter can be strained out, but I left it in the pan, as I wasn’t too concerned about plant matter getting tangled in my fibre.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

I then reduced the heat to 50-70ºC and added my pre-wetted fibre, maintaining the temperature for approximately an hour. After an hour my fibre had clearly taken on the dye so I removed it from the pan and hung it on the line for around thirty minutes before rinsing the yarn and washing the fabric.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

You can see that the water in the pan was a much lighter shade once the fibre had been dyed and removed.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

In addition to a selection of yarns, I used the biden to dye my Paprika Patterns’ Onyx Shirt; made in a cotton double gauze purchased online from Etsy shop Fabric Treasury. I previously dyed the Shirt with paprika, but hadn’t mordanted the fabric in advance of dyeing it, and after a few washes the colour had completely faded.

This time I mordanted the shirt in advance of dyeing using an alum and washing soda recipe from The Craft of Natural Dyeing by Jenny Dean. I dyed some cotton yarn at the same time (the two palest yarns shown on the right in the photos below). To mordant the cotton (which weighed approximately 100g) I dissolved 25g of alum into a large pan of hot water, and then slowly added 6g of washing soda dissolved in water. I added my (pre-wetted) cotton and slowly heated the pan to 82-88ºC over approximately one hour. I then removed the pan from the heat and left the cotton to soak overnight. I gave the cotton a good rinse in cold water before adding it to the dye pan.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

I also dyed three wool yarns, shown from left to right:

♥ 100% wool DK (TOFT Alpaca, in Oatmeal)
♥ 100% merino wool chunky (Rowan Big Wool)
♥ 75% merino / 20% silk / 5% cashmere DK (Sublime)

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

I mordanted the wool yarns using a recipe shared by my guild. I prepared small skeins, tied with figure-of-eight ties in several places, and soaked these overnight. I dissolved 8g of alum and 7g cream of tartar (available in the baking section of supermarkets) for every 100g of fibre in a pan with a small amount of warm water. I topped up the pan with enough water to cover my fibre and added the yarn. I put the pan on a low heat so that it reached simmering (approximately 82-88ºC) over an hour, and then maintained this heat for a further hour. I then removed the pan from the heat and left the yarn to soak overnight. I rinsed the yarn in cold water before adding it to the dye pan.

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

Natural Dyeing with Bidens

Paprika Patterns Onyx Shirt, Double Gauze Dyed with Biden Flowers

Paprika Patterns Onyx Shirt, Double Gauze Dyed with Biden Flowers

Paprika Patterns Onyx Shirt, Double Gauze Dyed with Biden Flowers

Paprika Patterns Onyx Shirt, Double Gauze Dyed with Biden Flowers


6 Comments

A Naturally Dyed Wardrobe: Turmeric

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

I recently dyed a range of yarns, some cotton, and my recently completed knitted socks, with turmeric.

In preparation, I tied the loops of yarns in a number of places, and then soaked the yarn, fabric and socks in cold water so that they would take the dye better.

I made a paste with a full jar of ground turmeric from the supermarket (approx 45g), and placed this and my yarn and cotton in a large stainless steel pot with enough water to cover everything.

Turmeric dyeing in progress

I heated the pan on the hob on a low temperature for one hour. As I was more cautious about my socks I added these for the last 30 minutes only.

I did stir the pan occasionally to try and ensure the colour would be even, but didn’t stir excessively as I was wary about the wool items felting.

After an hour I turned off the heat, but left the items in the pan for another couple of hours, after which I rinsed the items with a mild wool wash, and left them to dry.

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

The yarns I started with were all white or off-white. The yarns used (shown from left to right below) were:

♥ 40% Polyester, 33% Acrylic, 27% Cotton, containing glitter and sequins (Sirdar Soukie DK, in Gold Dust)

♥ 100% cotton (Rowan handknit cotton)

♥ 75% merino / 20% silk / 5% cashmere DK (Sublime)

♥ 100% wool DK (TOFT Alpaca, in Oatmeal)

♥ 100% merino wool chunky (Rowan Big Wool)

Yarn prepared for dyeing

You can see the range of yellows I achieved below. The cotton fabric and yarn (on the left) are the lightest, the synthetic yarn (top) and merino/silk/cashmere blend (centre) are a medium shade, and the 100% wool yarns and socks achieved the darkest shades.

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

Turmeric is a substantive dye, so I dyed these without mordanting my yarn / fabric. However, turmeric is reported to fade easily, so if you’re dyeing something that you plan to wash, it would be best to mordant. I wasn’t concerned because I’m planning to use the yarn in a weaving, and if the colour of the socks fades I’ll redye them.

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

Turmeric Dyes Wool Socks

Turmeric Dyed Yarns

Turmeric Dyed Yarns


2 Comments

Anyone for Tennis?

The day after the Birmingham sewing blogger meet-up I bought yet more fabric! I had no excuse but when I spotted this tennis-themed retro fabric I couldn’t resist. I found it in the Sue Ryder charity shop in Kings Heath. Anyone living locally may want to check it out as they had a selection of old patterns, as well as some cool vintage tea towels and other interesting bits and bobs.

Retro Tennis Yellow & Green Fabric

I have around one metre of the fabric. I really ought to make something tennis themed – does anyone have any ideas? I’m thinking perhaps a short skirt or a tank / polo shirt.