Fabric and Yarn Resources: My Favourites

As noted in my previous post, for the last week of Slow Fashion October, I want to gather my favorite fabric and yarn stores. As already mentioned in my introduction, I am making clothes on a tight student budget, so I can’t always afford what I want and I especially can’t afford overseas shipping. So I want to show you my favorite places to shop! All these shops are physically and mostly online available in Germany (and neighboring countries):

Berlin, Germany

Siebenblau Organic Fabrics

This online shop with a small physical store in the heart of Berlin offers a wide arrange of eco-certified, fair-trade and recycled fabrics, as far as I know it is by far the best address for ecological fabrics in Germany, at a fair price.

Stoff und Stil

Stoff und Stil is a danish chain of giant fabric stores in Scandinavia and Germany. I really like the very affordable and large choice that this store offers. On their website they say their fabric is produced in Denmark, but I am really not sure about it. The carry a line of ecologically certified fabrics as well as their own line of sewing patterns. I buy most of my fabric there, as they offer the nicest design and color choice.

Volksfaden

This store offers a great choice of beautiful cotton and linen designer prints. They carry Atelier Brunette fabrics and a selection of Japanese prints.

Knopf Paul

This is probably the last shop in Berlin specialized in buttons of all sorts. This fascinating shop is run by an original Berliner, Paul, who is great at finding the perfect button for your jacket, but you should bring some time, the button choice is a serious business! There is no online store.

Vienna, Austria

Guate Stoffe

Guate Stoffe (good fabric) offers a unique choice of fair trade and hand woven fabrics from Guatemala, as well as hammocks and other homewares.

Komolka

Komolka fabrics is the must-see for fabric lovers in Vienna. This fabric store is the (self-proclaimed) biggest in Europe and offers an amazing choice from designer fabric to traditional Austrian fabrics. The customer come from all over Europe and rich Austrians buy the fabric for their fancy ballgowns there.

Tübingen, Germany

Der Webstuhl

This tiny yarn store is from another time, it doesn’t have a website and I couldn’t find any photos of it online… It has, however a great selection of local and plant-dyed yarns. It is definitely worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in Tübingen, in the south of Germany.

 

 

 

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Travels: an Estonian Wool Mill

dsc03057Last summer I was so lucky as to travel with my Estonian friend Liis around her home island, Hiiumaa. Hiiumaa is the second largest island of Estonia and a beautiful place to visit. There is not much Tourism going on, and the general atmosphere is quiet and relaxed. Fishermen’s villages, Lighthouses, a Baltic German manor house and the yearly weekend of open cafés are the main attractions here. It is easy to visit in two days, and one of the most interesting (at least for knitters!) is the wool mill Hiiu Vill. The family run company is running since the late 19th century, and the original polish machines are still running.

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The wool is from robust local sheep that are running everywhere on the island and the wool is not quite soft, but sturdy. Visitors can enter the mill and watch the process, there is a small shop where the wool and some sweaters and socks are sold. Sadly as we arrived in August, most of the hand knit sweaters and socks were already sold out to summer tourists. I bought socks and yarn to make some slippers, like the Simple House Slippers by Temple of Knit. I am happy to report, that this is the first clothing project where I will have seen the entire process, from the sheep to my feet!

Quite well fitting for Slow Fashion October and the topic for the fourth and last week: Known Origins. Most of the DIY blogs that I follow are from the US, and for this reason most of the locally produced yarn that I read about is from the US also, obviously. Even if I could afford these wonderful yarns that everyone seems to knit with, there is always shipping and taxes to add, and the whole idea of knitting your sweater with locally produced, low impact yarn is kind of lost. For this reason, I will try to round up a list of european yarn and fabric suppliers that I know of for later this week. But first: some more impressions from Hiiu Vill and Estonia!

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Homemade: The Perfect Travel Sweater

I made this super simple sweater earlier this year, but never found the time to write about it, but it seems to fit so well with the ideas that came up during this week of Slow Fashion October. I really like the idea of using the term „homemade“ instead of „handmade“, it’s a nice way of reclaiming the word that carries connotations of clothes that are not deemed chic or stylish enough. Also, because all my clothes are homemade – I sadly don’t have a nice studio or even a corner in the living room to make my stuff. Living in a shared flat means everything happens in my room (at least I have a sewing table now!).

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seems like a butterfly sneaked into the picture! right on my elbow…

I bought the beautiful rust colored fabric for this sweater on a trip to Vienna, at Komolka, which is really worth a visit if you happen to be there. I just bought one meter, so that meant I had to be creative, if I wanted to make a sweater out of it. The pattern is my own design, and I am really happy how it turned out! It is slightly cropped and boxy, just perfect for layering more clothes underneath which makes it perfect for traveling. It is light enough to be stuffed in my backpack when I don’t need it and warm enough if it gets fresh. The center seam in the front made it possible to make this sweater out of just one meter of fabric, but I really like it as a little detail.

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another one just because the fall view of Harz mountains was so beautiful…

The sweater served me really well with my travels this year, and seems to coordinate really well with the landscapes…

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this time the sweater is serving me very well in Tallinn

Guest Post: How a piece of clothing changed my life

Exciting times! This is the first time someone else than me is writing on my blog! Eve asked me to write about her favorite jacket, so here we go:

Really honored to be a guest writer, thank you Clara, for giving me the chance to write about my best clothes experience of 2016!

For years I was looking for a jean jacket, but couldn’t find THE ONE. Too big, too short, the blue is too dark, the fabric is not nice, it is too expensive… As you can see, I was picky, but one day the perfect jean jacket crossed my way and since then we are inseparable.

Helsinki, July 2016. On an empty street, shortly before catching the ferry, stood a second hand shop. This is where I fell for what became MY jean jacket.

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One day wearing it and I wondered what I did all these years without it. I discovered the joy – yes the joy – of stuffing my money and my Opinel in the front-right pocket, and my keys in the front-left one. I can even put my smartphone in the pocket inside and still use my side pockets to put my hands when I don’t know what to do with them.

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All of that and still looking stylish!

This is truly a revolution for me, a woman who grew up in a society where fashion is constantly disabling women. Countless pants and jackets without pockets (or worst: with fake ones), sweaters too short and too thin so that women can be cute, but cold the whole Winter. Shoes not made for walking and so on.

BUT time of carrying wallet and keys in a bag is O-V-E-R! I feel independent and free in public space by simply having everything I need at hand. The fear of pick-pocket in the subway is also over. If I have to run for my life, I don’t have to worry for my bag anymore.

AND I slowly learn to take the strict necessary: money-keys-phone, the three winners in a good old jean jacket!

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all photos by Eve Jégou

Slow Fashion October: A Refashioned Skirt

As I was writing in my post for the second week of Slow Fashion October, my main source of great vintage fabrics are full, midi to maxi length vintage skirts. Last year I got some great ones in the sale of my local second hand shop.

If you want to try this yourself, my recommendation is to go for long and full skirts, the fuller, the better. Pay close attention to the seams, the less seams the skirt has the better. Go for the ones that have a seam in the center back for the zipper and side seams. Skirts that have multiple panels or set in parts are not as suitable for refashioning.

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I found this big skirt for 1€ in the sales, I didn’t want to wear it like that, but could well imagine it as a sleeveless summer shirt. It just had seams at the sides and the center back, and when I cut off the waistband I was happy to see the fabric opened up to a perfect rectangle:

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I made a sleeveless Grainline Studio Archer Button-Up with a mandarin collar from the fabric, and even had some left over! I followed the excellent tutorials for the mandarin collar and the sleeveless version, and it worked out perfectly. I made this shirt for my girlfriend, thanks for modeling, Eve!

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Project Summary:

Pattern (Grainline Studio Archer Button-Up): In my stash
Fabric (Vintage Skirt): 1€
Buttons: In my stash

Total: 1€

 

Slow Fashion October: Long Worn

This weeks theme of Slow Fashion October is Long Worn, and how we can make most of the clothes we own, store bought or handmade. I like mending and I love altering clothes that I don’t like anymore and for this post I collected some ideas on how to give the stuff we own another life.

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This skirt is SO ready for its new life!

Dye it!

This is maybe one of my favorites and to be honest I am not even getting very creative here. I always dye clothes black in the washing machine (there is a goth hiding inside me…). The faded out black basic t-shirts and pants get some fresh color and some pants in a weird blue get wearable and fit in my wardrobe. The only tricky part with this is that most store-bought clothing has seams made of polyester thread which doesn’t take the dye, so be aware of that when you dye something bright.

Mend it!

I wrote about mending socks with giant holes, but I also mend tiny holes, ripped seams, moth holes in sweaters and all sorts of other damages.

Refashion it!

I admit: All shorts I own were long jeans once. It is not perfect, as most pants are a bit too tight around the legs, but they will do. I actually have a jeans waiting right now in my to-do-basket to be cut into shorts!

Refashioning vintage skirts into tops is another favorite of mine. If you happen to catch a sales day at your local thrift store you can get fabric for a summer top for one euro! On top of it you have the endless choice of excellent vintage prints.

Too short or ill-fitting t-shirts make great underwear, by the way.

Unravel it!

Last winter I unraveled a sweater I bought on the flea market, it’s a very slow but satisfying process. I still didn’t figure out what to do with the yarn, but inspiration will come. I tend to be quite radical with things I knit as well: If they don’t fit me, I prefer to unravel weeks and weeks of work than leaving a sweater in the corner because it is too short. I love knitting for the fact that you can make and remake something over and over again, until you find the perfect garment. The material is minimally cut and can take all sorts of new shapes. Making is not only about the finished product in the end.

My First Socks

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Yesterday I finished my first pair of socks using the hand dyed yarn that I made earlier this summer. I am quite proud! I used the Seamed Socks pattern by Purl Soho, it’s available for free and really easy to knit and understand – perfect for sock knitting beginners. It is nice to be able to work the socks flat, as I am not a big fan of knitting in the round with tiny needles. I am super happy how the color of the yarn turned out, it is perfectly speckled. I will definitely dye more yarn this way!

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Project summary:

Pattern (Purl Soho): free
Yarn (Drops): 4,50€
Dye: 2€

Total: 6,50€

 

Inspiration: Nina Leen’s LIFE Magazine Photographs

I don’t remember where I first saw Nina Leen’s photographs of artists of the 60s, published in the LIFE Magazine under the headline „Old Crafts Find New Hands“ in 1966. Leen was born in Russia, studied painting in Berlin and emigrated – as so many – to the USA in the 30s. Like many of her female colleagues she was never included as a staff photographer at LIFE, but nevertheless provided countless covers and images to the magazine. In this series, she portrays the artists of the folk art revival of the 60s in the US.

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Artist Francesca Tyrnauer

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The article that accompanies the photographs is an interesting read and, as always, history seems to repeat itself.

The whole movement runs startlingly counter to the drift of our times. Working with the simplest of tools (no electronics), using the oldest materials (no plastics), tending all the work himself from design through execution, the American craftsman today is busier and more highly regarded than he has been in almost a century. A revival of pottery, weaving, woodworking and metalworking is taking place everywhere throughout the U.S.

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Artist Alice Kagawa Parrott

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I love the atmosphere of the muted colors and her way of creating scenes that are filled with strong primary colors, mostly blues, reds and purples. The artists seem totally immersed in their work, always surrounded by signs of daily life, cats, children and random supplies.

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Artist Leonore Tawney

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The rich texture of the rugs and tapestries immediately makes me want to start weaving or knitting, explore the history of arts and crafts and the artists portrayed…

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all images Nina Leen/LIFE magazine

 

Slow Fashion October: Introductions

Last year I read and followed the articles and publications surrounding Slow Fashion October and this year I will participate! I plan on following Karen Templer’s outline and have some things planned for each week. This is also a little commitment for me to get back to writing after a long summer break and a move, and also a commitment to write and post more. So here we go! This weeks theme is „introductions“, so I will start right away introducing myself. I never really did that here and just recently updated my about page, so it’s time.

I am a general DIY enthusiast and all crafts related to fiber interest me a lot. I am mainly sewing and knitting and started to do so more than ten years ago. In the „day job“ part of my life i am writing my master thesis in Gender Studies and working at Humboldt University here in Berlin. I make time for sewing and knitting here and there, and as making things is very important to me this works quite well.

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I moved to a new shared flat some weeks ago and my new room is finally big enough for a designated sewing corner! These are my sewing machines, a brother serger and an elna, plus a tiny part of my tools and some partly finished knitting projects.

As you can read in my post about my first sweater, what brought me to making my own clothes (and what is still my main motivation), is a passion for making and the challenge to make something that I couldn’t afford otherwise. Especially being a student with a part-time job, this is a very important point for me. This also means that I can’t afford nice fabrics from Japan, beautiful French yarn or all the nice project bags and notions out there. The consequence for me is working with what I’ve got: Buying affordable (but not necessarily traceable or ethically produced) fabric and yarn from natural materials most of the times and sometimes getting something fancy. I think it over and over before I buy a sewing or knitting pattern, and if I am sure I will use it over and over, I buy one. With patterns, I prefer indie ones over Burda, so there is the added bonus of supporting small (mostly) women-owned and run businesses. For the last week of SFO, I have a list of my favorite stores and resources planned.

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Slow fashion means for me being able to control at least one part of the clothes production process: the sewing or knitting. But it also means to me not having to rely on trends and what is deemed fashionable for the season. Another VERY important part for me is that when I make my own clothes I also don’t have to follow the norms of the fashion industry on feminine clothing or clothes for women. Before I made my first Archer shirt for example, I was wearing ill-fitting men’s shirts, because women’s shirts always have some silly ruffles or extra darts or are simply too short to be warm enough.

My most important points or goals with regards to slow fashion, conscious clothing or an ethical wardrobe are the following:

  • Make as many clothes for myself as I can.
  • Buy second hand clothing.
  • Repair as much as I can.
  • Refashion things that I don’t want anymore or refashion second hand clothes.
  • Give away things that I don’t wear anymore.
  • Accept clothes from people, if they don’t want them anymore.
  • Buy ethically when possible and if not, buy something exciting!

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