Month: September 2013

My love affair with John Smedley

John, ‘How I love thee, let me count the ways!’

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John Smedley and I go way back, in fact for the majority of my adult life!

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You could say he is the third wheel in my marriage!

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But don’t worry, my husband knows all about him and he loves him too!

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Of course I’m talking about the iconic British knitwear brand John Smedley.

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Smedley knits have formed the basis of my wardrobe and accompanied me through my life’s greatest moments, for the past twenty years.

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Meeting my husband, moving and working overseas, having my children – John was there for all of it. He has been one of the constants in my life

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These days as my sewing hobby builds momentum and I’m making more and more of my own clothes, John Smedley knitwear is probably one of the only ready-made items other than jeans and footwear, that I still go out and buy.

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The simple, clean lines of the pieces and the classic styles make this knitwear timeless and endlessly versatile and so it’s easy to use it as the backbone of my hand-made wardrobe.

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I would be hard-pushed to find a better outfit partner than John!

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Whatever new item of clothing I make, I can always find a Smedley knit to complement my look and create my own style, whether it be in sumptuous Sea Island cotton or fine Merino wool.

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It’s not only the versatility of the range that has kept me loyal over the decades though, it’s the brand’s dedication to only using the highest quality materials.

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As a mother of young children, I can say this with confidence because my Smedley knits are tested to the limit on a daily basis.

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They’re all machine-washable so they are low maintenance and they always manage to live to see another day! My oldest John Smedley jumper is a classic black rollneck that is a ripe twenty years old and it is still going strong! In fact it’s hard to tell which of my John Smedley knitwear collection is the most recent because it all still looks like new.

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Even more incredibly, John Smedley products are still made in the original mill that the brand was founded in well over two hundred years ago, in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside in Britain. I love this.

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I grew up in an era when there was a pride for things that were made in Britain. The high street was full of British made goods and this was seen as a mark of quality.

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Sadly many British clothing retailers have now turned to overseas production. So the fact that John Smedley have continued to produce in Britain and the company is thriving, is testament that this is a high quality brand in it for the long haul.

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Is it any wonder that I’ve stayed faithful to these woolies for all these years, they are truly investment pieces!

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BTW all the clothes shown in this post apart from the jeans, a t-shirt and John Smedley knitwear, were all made by me. Also I  am not sponsored by John Smedley, I just genuinely like their stuff.

Have you got any favourite brands or clothes that you couldn’t live without?

YoSaMi Guide to the Autumn Colour Trends 2013

I realise that the question on everybody’s lips right now is, ‘What are the key colour trends for the autumn 2013 season in the provinces of Southern Germany?’

So let me put you all out of your anxiety and offer you a YoSaMi breakdown of the colour impact on the mood of the autumn season in this European fashion hub.

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Balancing act

‘Deep red and yellow shades of compensate and counterbalance precisely embellish the surroundings with daring enthusiasm. Green and orange tones of integrate and accommodate expose a rich canvas. Shimmering pink accents add unadulterated gusto while epitomising obscurity. An act of grandiose proportions.’

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Strike a pose

‘Crimson shades of affectation uncover a landscape of undeniable pretense. Mauve and lilac tones join in perfect unison with green to display unprecedented certainty. Delicate and subtle pink concepts reveal hidden ingenuity. A lasting and desirable impression.’

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Light Touch 

‘Golden yellow tones of strike a chord distinguish the balance between delicacy and suppleness. Leaf textures evoke a deep notion of unconstrained delight.’

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Luxe so good 

Ostentatious shades of deep burgundy exude unflinching opulence on a backdrop of an elaborate wooden garden table of diversity. Lime hues of hedonistic majesty draw attention. Intense scarlet tones of lavish luxury complete the package. Sumptious and self indulgent.’

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Sole statement 

‘Vivid yellow shades of bona fide radiate with refinement on an ingenious palette of untainted invention. Fuchsia tones of genuine existence coalesce with flawlessness on a canvas of floral innovation. Fiery orange shades unify with elements of striking light purple to create a sensation of vivacity and vitality. Lime green tones of intrinsic origination inspire realistic visions of unique ingenuity. Substantive and sincere.’

What colours are trending in your corner of the world this season?

Anna dress sew-a-long and YoSaMi news.

A quick update of what’s going on here at YoSaMi.

First up, preparations are underway to join in with the Anna dress sew-along hosted by, By Hand London.

Here’s my little helper today, assisting with hand washing some silk twill fabric by Italian designer Etro that I snaffled up from the Anita Pavani Stoffe webshop, as soon as the new autumn designer collection hit the virtual shelves. It’s a lovely deep red colour and I really love it.

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I’m planning on making another midi-version of the Anna dress because I think that’ll get most wear. I’ve already got the pattern cut out but I think that I’ll reduce the seam allowances to only one centimetre this time just to give a bit more ease to the bodice of the dress – it’s a bit too snug for my liking! I’ll also make it a bit more autumn appropriate by adding three quarter length sleeves which are now a viable option thanks to the By Hand London sleeve drafting tutorial which has been included in the sew-along resources. I’m looking forward to trying this out.

I’m a bit late with my preparations because I’ve just returned from a family trip around Europe. We literally travelled far and wide and high and low and I did lots of research into European resources for the home sewer and textile designers.

Here’s just a taste of where we got to:

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From mountain peaks to world famous cities and relics of ancient cities, to lakeside towns to turquoise seas, we literally saw it all.

I also stopped by Munich Fabric Start, the international fashion industry fabric trade fair and caught up on the coming fashion fabric trends and talked with some interesting companies at the forefront of the European fashion industry..

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I visited a leading Italian textile design studio and interviewed the owner.

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I visited various fabric factory outlets and bought copious amounts of fabric and took a suitcase full of my recent makes so that I could photograph them. I’m hoping that the pretty backgrounds will distract you from my poor modeling!

I’ve collected some great resources and I’m looking forward to sharing it all here with you as soon as I’ve caught my breath!

Have a great week,

Christine

My first By Hand London Anna dress!

I say my first because this will definitely not be the last!  I love the Anna dress pattern! I feel like it was made just for me! The slash neck, the nipped in waist and gentle A-line skirt, all details that I love.

Unfortunately there are not many patterns that really flatter me. I have a natural ability to make most things hang unattractively like sacks. Clothes that look absolutely gorgeous on other sewers tend to look atrocious on me. So what a joy to find something that, dare-I-say-it, may actually suit me and fit me too!

So without further ado, I present to you my first and hopefully not my last Anna dress.

By Hand London Anna dress

Like others have said before me, I have so many more versions of this dress already planned. I’ll be joining the online sew along from By Hand London this month to make a silk version. I have a lovely silk twill from Italian designer Etro that I’ve just bought from the new autumn collection of Anita Pavani online (www.naturstoff.de) that is destined to become my next Anna.

back view of dress

For this dress, I used a black cotton eyelet batist fabric (also from Anita Pavani online) lined with a fine white cotton batist. I don’t tend to wear black and I’m probably the only woman not to have a little black dress in my wardrobe so I thought that that ‘LBD’ gap ought to be filled. I liked this eyelet batist as soon as I saw it and thought that if I underlined it with white it would lift if out of total blackness.

Anna dress - black cotton batist

To do the lining, I simply omitted the neck facings and cut all of the dress pieces out of the main black fabric and the white lining fabric and sewed them up as two seperate dresses and then sewed them together at the neck edge and then turned the while lining dress to the inside. From then on I treated the two dresses as one and hemmed both together.

hemming detail

I made my dress in size six with no alterations other that adding the lining. It’s really easy to make and sews up relatively quickly even though I did French seams on all seams.

French seams

This was the first By Hand London pattern that I’ve tried and I’m impressed by this new pattern company. The packaging of the pattern is so attractively done and I thought that the inclusion of the ‘By Hand London and Me’ made-by tag, that has been proudly sewn into the back of my dress, gives the final product a satisfyingly professional finish.

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I also loved the credit card sized fabric suggestions card. What a practical and thoughtful addition that is! You can slip that into your purse when you’re out shopping for fabric and away you go! No effort required and no need for scribbling on scrap bits of paper that get lost in your bag in amongst the nappies, the wetwipes, half-eaten apples and doggy bags. Not with By Hand London, you’re all efficient and organised with a card, explaining exactly what you need. I guess that’s what happens when you have women running a company! All details attended to!

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I’m really happy with my Anna dress and think it’s such a versatile and universally flattering pattern that everyone should make at least one of them!

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Am I the last person to make this dress? Are you joining me for the Sew-Along? I hope to see you there.

Innovative Mud – A European dirty little secret, that’s actually squeaky clean!

I don’t know about you but since I’ve been making my own clothes, I’ve become much more discerning about the stuff that I buy. I’m more conscious of the quality of the materials; who they were made by and where; and how long they will last.

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Jeans are something I’ll probably never make and whilst I’m not particularly brand conscious, I do prefer to give my money where possible, to companies that make products and follow business practices that are sustainable.

But we don’t live in an ideal world and it’s not always easy to find sustainable products at affordable prices. So when I was flicking through the latest copy of ‘Eve’, (a German free magazine available in my local grocery store that promotes organic products www.eve-magazin.de) and read their article about Mud Jeans, an innovative clothing brand from the Netherlands (www.mudjeans.eu), my attention was immediately grabbed!

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This company’s concept is so ‘right on’ that I just had to share it.

Mud Jeans have been making fair fashion ‘for people who care’ according to their strapline, since 2008. Their stuff is organic, ecologic, sustainable, climate neutral and Fairtrade! I haven’t even seen or touched their jeans in the denim as it were but I love them already! I’m just a sucker for innovative concepts and all things made in Europe.

And as if that wasn’t good enough, they’ve taken the sustainability of their business one step further by offering a new ‘Leasing Jeans’ concept. This award- winning business strategy is the first of its kind in the jeans market and what’s catapulted Mud Jeans into the limelight now.

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The idea to lease and not buy products is a win-win concept for consumer and producer. It makes an otherwise expensive item available to a wider variety of consumers because it’s now more affordable and it ensures that the materials remain the property of the company so they can then be recycled. Simple really!

It’s not a new idea though, just new to jeans. I first came across this when I was studying sustainability at Blekinge Institute in Sweden and we discussed a carpet company which switched to leasing as well as selling carpets to improve the sustainability of the company and its products. It’s encouraging to see this business practice being picked up by the fashion industry.

I wish this brand well and hope that this concept catches on and I’ll certainly be checking Mud Jeans out the next time I need some new jeans.

Has sewing your own clothes changed your buying habits? Have any ground-breaking brands caught your eye lately? Does the idea of leasing clothes appeal to you?

C

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