The Flintoff Interviews: Who Made Your Clothes with Tom Van Deijnen

In the latest of our Fashion Revolution Day inspired ‘Who Made Your Clothes’ interviews, John-Paul Flintoff speaks to knitter, darner, maker and mender extraordinaire, Tom Van Deijnen, aka Tom of Holland.

Not only does Tom make his own clothes, but he takes on commissions, runs his own Visible Mending Programme and teaches others how to knit and darn. Being a maker himself, Tom recognises the value and skill that goes into making a garment, as he told John-Paul:

"I’ve always bought clothes with the view of wearing them for a long time, even if they were cheap I wanted to repair them as well...when I started to repair shop-bought clothes properly I also start to develop a relationship because I am putting something of myself into it. You want to look after it more.

I’ve realised from making my own clothes, is it’s actually quite difficult – you need to build up quite a lot of skill if you want to make your whole outfit, and these people - that made a t-shirt that cost £4 - they also have these skills, and you should actually look after those clothes because somebody has put in a lot of skill and effort."

We took a visit to Tom’s blog and here we share some of his work, which we hope will offer a little inspiration to anyone considering breaking out the knitting or darning needles. 

Tom of Holland's Appleton yarn, used to embellish a wool jumper

We all fall out of love with our clothes now and then, but before you take them to a charity shop or textiles recycling bank, follow Tom's lead and have a think about how a little TLC could give them a whole new lease of life:

‘Late last autumn I bought a jumper from a charity shop. It was a nice enough woollen jumper. But after wearing it a few times, I wasn’t feeling the love anymore. As I was keen to explore a technique I tried out on a cardigan last year, I indulged in ten skeins of Appleton’s crewel wool…It was time to say Bye Bye Boring Jumper, and Hello Amazing Jumper’.

Appleton crewel wool detail on second-hand wool jumper by Tom of Holland

Tom of Holland second-hand wool jumper, hand-embellished with Appleton crewel wool

This wedding cardigan was a commission that Tom took on last summer for Bride Rosemary. Tom used an Alice sock-weight yarn from Juno Fibre Arts, a blend of alpaca, silk, and cashmere which he explains ‘is very soft, has a nice drape and great stitch definition. The is called Oyster, which is very appropriate considering I found some mother-of-pearl buttons for the jacket.’

Hand-knitted wedding cardigan by Tom of Holland. Made of an alpaca, silk and cashmere blend, and vintage mother-of-pearl buttons.

As a maker, working directly with your client has other benefits: ‘Being a great believer in sustainable fashion and appreciating the clothes you have, I was so pleased to hear is that Rosemary has been wearing her cardigan many times since the wedding. What a great way to be reminded of a beautiful day.’

Rosemary wearing an alpaca, silk and cashmere blend cardigan, hand-knitted by Tom of Holland

Not many of us attempt to make our own trousers, especially if we are a total sewing novice, as Tom was when he set out to sew his own. He swapped skills with someone he knew, teaching them to darn in exchange for them teaching him to sew.

Wool trousers, made and hand-finished by Tom of Holland

Tom went the extra mile and hand-finished his bespoke woollen trousers:

‘I have been told by sewers that all that hand-finishing would completely put them off. But I feel differently about this: apart from actually enjoying hand-stitching, I’m not put off by something taking its time. I’m a hand-knitter, and I’m used to it. Yes, it did add an additional day before these trousers were ready, but I enjoy getting into the rhythm. I put some music on and soon I’m completely absorbed by the task at hand, making stitch after stitch, feeling at one with the object I’m making.’

We couldn't agree with you more Tom.

To find out more about Fashion Revolution Day visit:

All images: Tom Van Deijnan, except Rosemary's wedding photo: Emilie White.


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