english girl at home

A Crafty Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


Waxprint Maya Dress

Waxprint Maya Dress

I love this time of year, but Autumn/Winter is very inconvenient for bloggers. It’s dark when I leave and when I return home in the week so I had a few completed items I needed to photograph this weekend while I had the chance.

This is the Maya Dress, the first pattern release by Marilla Walker. This pattern includes lots of different options (top, tunic, dress, button-up front) so you get plenty of pattern for the purchase price. Prior to the SewBrum meet-up I had decided that I wasn’t going to try and make anything new to wear for the meet-up as I was really busy & didn’t need the stress of trying to rush a new outfit. Then the night before I changed my mind and decided to make a Maya dress! Given that my time was limited I went with the simple, plain front , dress variation despite being a massive fan of Marilla’s button-front versions. I cut a size 8, the smallest size.

Waxprint Maya Dress

Due to the limited time I had to make this dress, and (more so) wanting to finish it sat on the sofa in front of the tv, I skipped the facings and instead slip-stitched the neckline, sleeves and hem by hand. The pattern includes a sash belt but I instead paired it with this skinny belt which was my Nan’s, which she gifted to me. The Maya is designed for a loose fit but I might take a little out of the side seams next time to slightly reduce the excess fabric.

Waxprint Maya Dress

This fabric is a President Holland brand waxprint purchased from the Goldhawk Road. I bought this fabric as a pre-cut length and have already made an Anna dress out of it. I still have quite a bit left so It might be showing up for a third time!

This dress has already been getting quite a bit of wear. So much so that it was still drying on the airer on Saturday morning when I was about to take these photos – so I wore it slightly damp for the photos, urgh! I needed to get the pictures in the morning as me and Phil were then heading out to see the new TMNT movie – as a massive fan age 7-8, who used to wear a plastic shell & bandanna it had to be done.

So, I would totally recommend the Maya pattern as a lovely quick make, with loads of opportunity for customisation.  I would not recommend the new TMNT movie…

Waxprint Maya Dress

Waxprint Maya Dress


#SewBrum Meet-Up Wrap-Up

SewBrum Meet-Up

So, the SewBrum meet-up took place yesterday. Massive thanks to everyone who came along – I hope you all had a good time & managed to meet some new-to-you sewists.

We had people joining at different points during the day & I was rubbish at keeping count (whoops) but I think there were 56 of us in total by the time we reached Moseley in the afternoon. A list of attendees is provided below so you can keep in touch.

We started the day in Birmingham city centre with a trip to Barry’s Fabrics, followed by Fancy Silk Store and the Rag Market for those who didn’t spend too long / all their money in Barry’s! It was a bit of a wet start walking to Barry’s but luckily the weather improved so we didn’t get drenched while heading to catch the bus into Moseley (which took longer than it could have as I haven’t caught that bus in about 15 years and the stop had moved slightly – sorry!). When I was still at school / sixth form I used to catch the 50 bus every Saturday to go shopping in Birmingham with my friends – including my friend Michelle who came to the meet-up – but it’s been a long time! For anyone who couldn’t make the meet-up but would like to visit Guthrie & Ghani it’s a really quick bus trip from Birmingham city centre – you just need to catch the 50 bus which leaves from a stop by Moor Street Station / the Bullring Shopping Centre, & it takes 15 minutes to reach Moseley Village.

SewBrum Meet-Up

We arrived at Guthrie & Ghani in the afternoon. Lauren Guthrie had set-up the Studio space above the shop especially for the meet-up, with an adorable tea/coffee bar (manned by Lauren’s mom) & goodie bags.

SewBrum Meet-Up

Me, my mom, lovely friends Michelle & Helen & Rachel had baked a selection of cakes to feed attendees and raise some money for Parkinson’s UK.

SewBrum Meet-Up

We also held a raffle of sewing goodies to raise money for Parkinson’s UK & we raised £320 in total for the charity. Emma was the winner of our grand prize – a Singer sewing machine.

SewBrum Meet-Up

We finished the afternoon with a pattern/fabric swap which was obscenely large! Two tables worth.

SewBrum Meet-Up

It was lovely to meet / chat with everyone who came along. I will be keeping in touch!

I’d love to see everyone’s pictures / blog posts about the day – do post a link in the comments section below.

SewBrum Meet-Up


(If I’ve missed anyone, or you would like your blog/twitter info added contact me)

Alex / instagram: @little_blackheart
Alison / http://anotherlittlecraftycreation.wordpress.com / @Crafty_Alibobs
Amanda Stinton / instagram: @amandastinton
Amanda Wyatt / http://wearawyatt.blogspot.co.uk / @inspired2sew
Amy T / http://almondrock.co.uk / @almondrock_sews
Angie Nicholson
Ann Hebden / http://allmyownworkbyann.com / @amowby
Anne Bird
Anne Wagenhauser / http://bellemegan.wordpress.com / @mercuryhandmade
Becky Millard
Camilla / http://pootleandmake.wordpress.com/
Catharine Moreton
Catherine Howard
Char / http://dinoprincesschar.blogspot.co.uk / @dinoprincesschr
Charlie / http://thisblogisnotforyou.com / @tbinfy
Charlotte Forcer / @tracesofrock
Claire / http://www.iwanttobeaturtle.com / @iwanttobeturtle
Claire / http://www.sew-incidentally.com / @ClaireSews
Daniela / http://ela-sews.blogspot.co.uk / @ElaSews
Emma Thompson / http://www.emmasenchantedworld.wordpress.com
Helen Murray
Helen Siddonhttp://justsewtherapeutic.wordpress.com
Helena / http://www.libraknitsandsews.blogspot.com
Jade Sukhdeo
Janet Pheasant
Jill Hubbard
Jo Griffiths
Jo Norcup / @jonorcup
Joanna Gemmell
Judy Blurton
Julie Powell
Katie / http://www.whatkatiesews.net / @whatkatiedoes
Kelly Smith / http://makesewdo.wordpress.com / @makesewdo
Linda McGrath
Liz Hughes
Louise / http://notsewsimple.wordpress.com / @notsewsimple
Louise / http://thereshesews.wordpress.com / @LouiseBibbings
Lynn Clemson
Maria Clemson
Meg / http://mookaht.blogspot.co.uk / @MegMookaht
Michelle Lowe
Montana Howe / https://montanadesigns.wordpress.com / @myssmarsh
Nicole Needleshttp://nicoleneedles.blogspot.co.uk
Rachel Shaw / http://www.astudyinstitching.blogspot.com
Rachel Wain / http://rachagainstthesewingmachine.blogspot.co.uk / @rachel_wain
Sarah Ford / http://www.amilliondresses.com / @amilliondresses
Sue Lill
Susan Ward / http://wevebroughtthewrongbox.wordpress.com
Thea / http://www.theainsewingland.wordpress.com / @TheaSewingland
Vicky Warnes
Victoria Maus / http://www.littlesquish.co.uk/blog / @LittleSquishUK
Victoria Peat / http://www.littleblackduck.co.uk / @LBDuck


#SewBrum Meet-Up Tomorrow – Final Reminder

Street Art Birmingham UK
Just a final reminder that the SewBrum meet-up is taking place tomorrow, Saturday 04th October. Everyone who has registered should have received an email from me with the details – if not let me know.

The final itinerary for the day is:

10:00: Meet at Birmingham New Street Station opposite Starbucks (exit the platform area through the ticket barrier & look for the large group!)

10:30-13:00: Birmingham fabric store/s of your choice (Barry’s Fabric; Fancy Silk Store; Bull Ring Markets). Barry’s and Fancy Silk are expecting us & should be able to offer discounts on most fabrics – but check in store.

13:00: Reconvene opposite Fancy Silk Store, to travel to Moseley Village (Guthrie & Ghani) by bus. We’ll be catching the 50 Bus which leaves from a bus stop just around the corner from Fancy Silk Store every 5 minutes & takes 10-15 minutes to arrive in Moseley Village. The bus fare is £2.10 & they don’t give change so make sure you have some cash at the ready.

13:30 – 16:00: Guthrie & Ghani.

In addition to spending time in the shop we will be able to use the upstairs Studio space from 14:30. We’ll be holding a pattern & fabric swap (so bring anything you’d like to swap) and, in aid of Parkinson’s UK, a raffle & tea/coffee and cake sale.

I popped in to Guthrie & Ghani today to drop off supplies & it is looking amazing!

Looking forward to seeing everyone x
Guthrie & Ghani Grand Opening

P.S. There were a couple of prizes added to the raffle after my previous post which you might have missed. These are:


Charlie from This Blog is Not For You has recently launched her pattern company Audrey & Me Patterns, and has donated a set of her first PDF patterns under the label, the Hepburn Dress and Skirt.

Chambray Fabric & Maya Sewing Pattern

Marilla Walker has donated a copy of her brand spanking new Maya dress and top pattern. In fact this pattern is so new it’s not yet released:) Marilla has printed a copy of the PDF pattern for the winner & also provided some Merchant & Mills chambray to make a Maya with.


Sew Brum Meet-Up: Fancy Silk Store

There’s not long now until the SewBrum meet-up taking place on Saturday 04th October. One of the stores we’ll be visiting on the day is Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham city centre. Fancy Silk Store is located right next to Birmingham rag market & has three floors of fabric, all of which are packed to the rafters.

Alicia from the team at Fancy Silk Store found the time to answer a few questions:


Could you tell us a bit more about the store?

Fancy Silk Store is a family-run business set up in the early 1960s and has been around for over 50 years. We started off in Birmingham city centre next to the old Bull Ring complex but had to move to make way for the new Bull Ring shopping centre. We have been at our current location, nestled beside Birmingham’s focal shopping centre the Bull Ring and St Martin’s church, for 15 years. We are on the main route into the city centre for buses and a short walk away from Birmingham’s train stations. We are in a vibrant bustling location with plenty of amenities, and If you want to continue shopping in Birmingham, we’re happy to hold onto your purchases until you’re ready to leave.

We have three floors of fabric. The ground floor houses fashion and dressmaking fabrics such as suiting, cotton, and wool, as well as dance and theatre fabrics. The first floor houses evening wear and bridal fabrics, and the third floor is devoted to furnishing fabrics. We also have a fourth floor stock room which is stacked to the rafters with hundreds of fabrics.


Could you tell us about the shop team?

We are a family run business now into its third generation. The manager, Mr Rashid, has been with the business for over 40 years. As well as the family, there are three long-standing senior members of staff (one on each floor) who have been with the business for at least 20 years. They are very experienced, dedicated and more often than not can help you to find exactly what you are looking for and to purchase the right amount of fabric for your project.

You have a huge range of fabric! Could you tell us a bit more about what you have in stock?

We stock a small range of haberdashery items and patterns from Vogue, Butterick, McCalls and Simplicity. However, fabric is our main focus and we try to stock as wide a range of fabric as possible. We probably house one of the largest retail variety of fabrics under one roof in the UK.

The ground floor is a real mix where we stock a very large range of printed and plain cotton, polyester, interlining, felt, suiting, wool, fleece, faux suede, pvc, denim, corduroy, jersey and lycra.

On the first floor we have the fancier fabrics and bridal fabrics. We have chiffon, satin, silk, crepe, and plain, beaded and embroidered lace in a very wide range of colours.

On the third floor we have our furnishing and upholstery fabrics, towelling, hessian, sheeting, pvc, and a whole wall of faux furs.

In addition, we have fabric books from a range of brands that customers can order from in store.

The manager, Mr Rashid, is our main buyer and chooses what is stocked, based on a combination of feedback from staff and customer demand. He also takes into account the latest fashions in clothing and interiors. For example, florals have recently been a growing trend not only in fashion but also interiors and we have beautiful floral prints for both departments. Hat nets and jersey fabrics are a couple of examples where we have increased our range because of customer demand.


Do you have a good sense of what your customers want to buy?

In general we do have a good sense of what our customers buy. We have a lot of regular customers not only local but from all over the country and abroad. Our customers vary from home dressmakers, theatres, dance schools, art students, bridal parties, upholsterers and curtain makers, to people just wanting an odd piece of fabric to fix or make something.

We usually have something in stock that’s suitable or if not we can often source it. For example, last year we had a few people looking for neoprene (the fabric used for wetsuits) as it had started to appear on the catwalks and we managed to track down a supplier. It’s also lovely when we have mothers coming in with daughters to choose wedding dress fabric when, perhaps 30 years ago, they had come in with their own mothers to choose fabric for their own wedding dress.

Home sewing has definitely been having a revival and what’s been particularly nice over the last year has been the number of people who have come into the shop who want to sew something for the first time in years.

What are you excited about in the shop right now?

We have been increasing our range of lace fabrics and we have some beautiful laces which, as well as the traditional wedding ivory and white, come in vibrant colours.

With winter coming, we have a huge selection of fleeces, both plain and patterned, including a selection of animal print fleeces. We also have some stunning feather fabric and sequin fabric in time for the Christmas party season.

We’ve also recently had a delivery of beautiful cotton prints, wool worsteds and suiting as well as some good quality heavy-weight jerseys.

In the furnishing department, we’ve had some lovely quirky prints and check fabrics in. In addition to this we have a huge selection of plain and patterned faux fur, some of which is incredibly luxurious.


What are your all time best sellers?

I would say that the furnishing and bridal fabrics have always been good sellers.

In particular our bridal fabrics, especially the duchess satins where we have a very wide range of colours at a very competitive price. Our heavyweight crepe has always been a very popular fabric and we quite often get people coming back to buy it in multiple colours.

We also have lots of customers coming in for dance costumes and so we have a very wide variety of lycras which have always sold well.


Thanks Alicia. I will be perusing the neoprene and jersey selections on the 04th!


Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

I recently took part in Marilla Walker’s Hand Printed Fabric Swap. I was paired with the lovely Claire from Hoopes Park Studios. Claire correctly detected that I like bright colours and busy prints. I found a very generous 2 metres of this amazing print from Claire waiting for me when I returned from a work trip to Istanbul. I love getting home anyway but It’s even more exciting when there is fabric waiting!

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

As you can see, Claire printed a repeat motif of circles and triangles in green, black and yellow on a pink fabric. It must have taken ages to print by hand! Claire has posted about her printing process and how licorice was the inspiration for her colour scheme on her blog. The dress is my own Lou Lou Dress pattern. This is a simplified version – the dress is lined as standard but this is as unlined version. It was super quick to put together, just two pattern pieces. I slip stitched the hem and edges of the armholes & collar for a neat finish. This is a stiffer fabric than the Lou Lou is designed for; which I think results in a more retro silhouette.

I have finally finished tweaking the Lou Lou Dress Pattern and it’s going out to my lovely (patient) testers. If you haven’t already signed up to test and would be interested register using my pattern testing form.

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Lou Lou Dress

My contribution to the Hand Printed Fabric Swap looks a bit tame in comparison to Claire’s. I printed an irregular ladybird design on a light blue chambray.

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Ladybird Chambray

Hand Printed Fabric Swap Ladybird Chambray


Sew Over It (not) Silk Cami

Sew Over It Silk Cami

You know that misconception that people who don’t sew have that sewing your own clothes is really cheap? Well this is one of those examples where it is true! Sew Over It’s Silk Cami only uses a tiny amount of fabric so I managed to scrape this project out of the scraps left over from my recent Kimono project. I also received the pattern free with a recent issue of Mollie Makes magazine (issue 44), the magazine is still on sale if you get in quick or you can purchase the PDF pattern from Sew Over It. The fabric is a John Kaldor polyester so not a silk (as suggested by the pattern name) but it has the required drape to work with this pattern.

Sew Over It Silk Cami

I love quick and easy sewing projects. Due to not having enough fabric left to cut out facings I actually simplified this pattern even further, scrapping the facings in favour of rolling the edges of the neckline and armholes and hand-stitching in place. I’ve actually developed a bit of an addiction for hand-stitched hems lately, everything I make is getting a hand-stitched hem at the moment regardless of how necessary it is. I’m going to claim this is due to hand sewing being relaxing, but it may also be due to the fact that I can do my hand-sewing while sitting on the sofa in front of the TV as opposed to having to walk all the way upstairs to my sewing machine…

Sew Over It Silk Cami


Sew Brum Meet-Up: Raffle Prizes

During the SewBrum sewist meet-up taking place on Saturday 04th October we’ll be holding a raffle to raise money for Parkinson’s UK. The raffle will take place in the afternoon at Guthrie and Ghani in Moseley. Lots of lovely companies have generously donated prizes and I thought it was about time I showed them all off.

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

OK, so Singer have donated a sewing machine! This is the Singer Talent, model 3321.

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

Simplicity have donated three patterns (1755, 1696, 1873) and their Simply the Best Sewing Book. I’ve seen great versions of all three of these patterns online, including Amy’s version of 1755.

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

Quadrille have donated both Great British Sewing Bee books.

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

Have you been reading Love Sewing magazine? They have donated a subscription to the magazine which features lots of dressmaking patterns.

The magazine also features a certain meet-up in their current September issue!

#SewBrum Meet-Up in Love Sewing Magazine


Gather have donated a paper copy of their hot-off-the-press pattern the Buchanan dressing gown. I’m looking forward to seeing this pattern made up and I’m totally crazy about the artwork. (Image courtesy of Gather).

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

SewOverIt have donated two paper patterns, the Betty Dress and Ultimate Trousers. I’ve seen loads of great Ultimate Trousers popping up on blogs lately.


Hannah from Sinbad & Sailor has donated a Hepworth Dress PDF pattern. Have you seen Winnie’s lovely versions of the Hepworth? (Image courtesy of Sinbad & Sailor).


Craftsy have donated enrolment on a class of the winner’s choice. There are plenty of sewing classes to choose from – have you been reading Tasha’s recent reviews of a number of Craftsy classes?

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

Abby from Blue Ginger Doll has donated a paper copy of the glamorous Ava Jacket pattern. Andrea made a very cute red version when the pattern was released.

#SewBrum Raffle Prize
#SewBrum Raffle Prize
#SewBrum Raffle Prize

Clover have donated three sets of sewing supplies. Each set includes: Magnetic Pin Caddy, Seam Ripper, Wonder Clips, Flower Head Pins, Bobbin Tower, Thread Tower.

I really love the magnetic pin caddies, especially in pink. Maybe I’d leave less pins lying around for Phil to sit/step on with one of these!

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

Tuttle have donated two Japanese sewing books (in English) by Sato Watanabe. Basic Black which features a wide variety of patterns and Stylish Skirts which features a multitude of skirt patterns.


Lauren Dahl  has donated a course enrolment to Pattern Workshop. I’m a Pattern Workshop student and highly recommend it if you have any interest in designing sewing patterns.

#SewBrum Raffle Prize

Prym have donated a sewing box and whole host of sewing accessories to fill it with.


Pauline Alice has donated three sewing patterns of the winner’s choice. Perhaps a chance to try the new Turia Dungarees pattern? Pauline recently posted a round-up of some of the Turia’s that have shown up online so far.


Charlie from This Blog is Not For You has recently launched her pattern company Audrey & Me Patterns, and has donated a set of her first PDF patterns under the label, the Hepburn Dress and Skirt. Charlie has made some lovely versions of her patterns & I also love Daniela’s version of the Hepburn dress.

Chambray Fabric & Maya Sewing Pattern

Marilla Walker has donated a copy of her brand spanking new Maya dress and top pattern. In fact this pattern is so new it’s not yet released:) Marilla has printed a copy of the PDF pattern for the winner & also provided some Merchant & Mills chambray to make a Maya with.

Tickets for the raffle will be sold on the day at the SewBrum meet-up. To join us for the meet-up sign-up here.


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