english girl at home

A Crafty Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


5 Comments

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Francoise Dress

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

Having decided that I wasn’t going to make Tilly and the Buttons’ Francoise in time for the #SewingFrancoise contest, I cracked at the last minute and whipped this up over Saturday night and Sunday morning; just in time to wear to my brother’s engagement party on Sunday afternoon. I snuck out of the party for a few minutes to take these photos in my mom and dad’s garden.

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

The dress is made in a purple-pink wool I bought while in Paris.The gold leather I used for the collar and tab was also from Paris – a pressie from Ma Petite Mercerie that was provided in our goodie bags. I thought the gold would be suitably festive:) The buttons are vintage, from a charity shop. The only downside of this wool is how much it creases – the dress was nicely pressed before I left home, but you can see it was creased by the time I reached my parent’s house!

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

I cut a straight size two and took it in slightly at the upper back. I actually fall between sizes, but I find Tilly’s patterns tend to have a bit of ease so I went with the smaller size and it’s a good fit. I cut the leather sections on a single layer as I didn’t think they would turn and press well if I doubled them up.

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

It was nice to enjoy a spot of selfish sewing this weekend; now to get back to making Christmas presents before I run out of time.


Leave a comment

Vintage Postcard Christmas Cards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

While in Paris recently, I picked up a selection of vintage French holiday postcards for €1 each from Marché aux Puces, Saint-Ouen. I made them into Christmas cards for my family by cutting slits in the corners of blank cards (rather messily, with a pair of scissors I might add…) and slotting the postcards in. Super simple:)

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards


7 Comments

Floral Dolores Dress Visits Ghent

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

I was lucky enough to win a copy of the Dolores Batwing pattern by So Zo to review. I decided to make the dress version and went for this floral jersey, purchased in Barry’s Fabric during the SewBrum meet-up.

I made the dress up some time ago – but it’s taken me an age to blog about it because this was my third attempt to photograph the dress! I first tried to get some photos in our garden but this floral print blended into the background. I then tried to get some photos while visiting London on a trip to the Fashion & Textile Museum but managed to look excessively goofy in every shot. While on holiday last week I took the opportunity to get some more photos & it turned out third time lucky as you can see the dress in these photos and I don’t look any goofier than normal!

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

While staying in Brussels, me & Phil took the opportunity to catch the train to Ghent for a day trip, which is where these photos were taken. We visited on a day when the museums were closed, so I didn’t get to learn about Ghent’s history as a textile producer, but we got the chance to wander around, enjoy the views, and sit in cafes drinking Belgian beer (fruit beer for me, thanks). As a veggie, I was impressed to learn that Ghent has a meat-free day on Thursdays and supposedly, per capita, the world’s largest number of vegetarian restaurants. Pity I only had time to try one during this visit.

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

Back to the dress. This is such a quick make (and I’m increasingly realising that those are my favourite kind. I’m really excited by the Seamwork premise of patterns that only take a few hours to complete). The Dolores PDF only consists of 11 pages, so assembly is exceptionally pain free, and only one pattern piece is used for the front and back of the dress (or top, or tunic, as this pattern has a lot of options). I made this dress from start (printing the PDF) to finish in one afternoon and wore it out that evening. If you are a knit fabric newbie, Zoe’s instructions include detailed information on working with knits, as well as photographs of the construction process.

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

I cut a size 10 which, checking again now, is actually slightly smaller than my actual bust and waist measurements. As a result the dress fits fine but is clingier than some other versions I’ve seen popping up on blogs. Next time I’ll size up for a bit more ease, or, if I fancy a clingy fit, I’ll keep the same size for the body but go up one size for the sleeve pieces, which is where the dress is tightest (I’ve noticed a couple of other bloggers finding the sleeves slightly tight so you may want to double check the sleeve pieces before cutting out your fashion fabric).

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

So, this is another great all-rounder pattern & I’m looking forward to trying out the top version as well as a slouchier dress. I’ll leave you with a few photos of gorgeous Ghent.

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium


10 Comments

Spoolettes on Tour – the Paris Meet-Up

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Pretty much as soon as I heard about the Paris meet-up, courtesy of Twitter, I knew I had to go. What could be better than a sewing meet-up & in Paris! A quick tweet to Carmen & I was on the attendee list and making plans.

I was originally planning a day trip, but Phil told me there was no way I was getting a trip to Paris and he wasn’t (!), so we used it as an excuse for a week’s holiday:) Having already been to Paris once this year we decided to split our time between Brussels & Paris. This was my first trip to Brussels & I loved it – I would recommend it generally, and, for sewists, the Museum of Costume and Lace & Les Tissus du Chien Vert fabric store are most definitely worth a visit (blog post coming soon!)

Me and Phil arrived in Paris a couple of days prior to the meet-up to fit in some sightseeing & then, on the day of the meet-up, I left Phil to his own devices (fabric shopping is not his idea of fun) to meet up with the spoolettes at the Trocadero.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Carmen, our organiser extraordinaire, was waiting to greet us with exciting goodie bags full of lovely things. The bags featured a design from Carmen’s Cousu Main book and had been personalised on her machine so that we wouldn’t get them mixed up later:)

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

We had a pretty international group – attendees had travelled to Paris from elsewhere in France, England, Canada, Belgium, Finland, and Germany, and of course the reason the meet-up was organised was because Lauren was visiting us from the States.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Once we were all assembled we headed off to our first shopping location, the Sentier neighbourhood. I always think that an added benefit of meet-ups is learning the location of the best shops for future visits. I’d previously visited the fabric shops around the Sacre-Coeur, but I was totally unaware of the fabric shops in the Sentier, and there are loads! If you wander the streets between the Sentier and Bonne Nouvelle metro stations you’ll come across the shops. One thing to note is that – unlike the shops near the the Sacre-Coeur – many of the Sentier area shops are aimed at trade buyers and so require you to buy a larger than normal minimum length of fabric. We were lucky to have French / French-speaking spoolettes with us who checked at each shop. Some of the shops had a minimum of between 1-3 metres, but we went in one shop with a 10 metre minimum and another where the minimum was the whole bolt! I wouldn’t fancy trying to get that home on the train… The more retail-focused shops tend to have less fabric on display / have the bolts wrapped up so they aren’t too hard to spot.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014
On our way past the famous Rex cinema

I’m in a wintery / Christmassy mood currently so was drawn to the woollens / heavier weight fabrics. I came away with some great fabrics at very reasonable prices. The purple wool was 9 euros per metre from Les Etoffes du Sentier (they also had it in blue and grey). I also did well in a neighbouring store where I came away with a blue and black wool blend (7 euro per metre) and a patterned stretch (5 euro per metre).

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The (obvious) downside to my fabric choices was that I was now weighed down with a load of fabric and we’d barely started. Seriously, I’m not that wimpy & this stuff plus a handbag & camera bag weighed a ton! The upside was that I stopped spending at that point to avoid adding to the load so it saved my wallet from further pain.

After a couple of hours of shopping the group reconvened at Maison Sajou – a stunning haberdashery. The ladies in the shop spoiled us with goodie bags and cups of tea, before we set off to the Marche Saint-Pierre area for more fabric shopping.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

The area around the Sacre-Coeur has some great fabric and wool shops but most of us – with the exception of a hardy few – were too tired to do them justice. I think most people who were still in Paris went back the next day for a mooch. I popped there briefly with Phil and bumped into quite a few spoolettes, it’s our natural habitat I guess:) The one shop we did all visit was the great Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre. The shop was having a sidewalk sale so was packed and everyone was very excited to see Carmen! As you may know, Carmen was the winner of Cousu Main, the French version of the Great British Sewing Bee. The rest of us got a little bit of the celebrity treatment due to being with her:) I picked up a brown/white wool blend which is destined to be a coat for Phil (the blue wool above was going to be but has been shot down as apparently unsuitable for a peacoat so will become something else!). Thanks to a meet-up discount this came to a mere 16 euros for 3 metres.

Finally we headed to the nearby Pink Flamingo restaurant for pizza, drinks and more nattering.

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014

Carmen – thanks for a great day:)

Paris Spoolette Meet-Up November 2014


Leave a comment

Casper & Wendy Full Circle Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics

I’m a big fan of staring at Japanese pattern books – the colours and layouts are just so satisfying. This bag is from a new English-language release from Tuttle Publishing, Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

This is the Full Circle Bag project from the book. This bag is reversible although there is no way I’m ever going to reverse it and hide that Casper & Wendy print! Peter recently asked on his blog whether sewists ever reverse their reversible makes – I know I don’t, I pick a favourite side from the start!

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

The bag is a large circle which is pulled in via 16 loops which the strap is threaded through.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

One of the distinguishing features of the book is that each project includes some element of hand sewing (and it is intended that the bags can be sewn wholly by hand if so chosen). For the project I made, the book suggested hand stitching a circular design on the bottom of the bag. I placed a circle of interfacing between the two layers of the bag and then machine stitched a circle design to help create a more sturdy base.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

I know this looks like a slightly overdue Halloween project but I actually bought this fabric from Abakhan in Manchester ages ago with no project in mind. When I was shopping my stash for a suitable fabric for the bag I decided to go with Casper and Wendy. I have loads of this fabric left so it will be making another appearance at some point.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

There’s a real mixture of bag projects in the book. There are 25 projects with customisations for 60 bags. The smallest are actually purses, the largest are totes.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

I’m intrigued by the Checkout Basket Bag. I’m not sure how useful it would really be but it’s certainly different and I love the styling used in the book.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

The Eco Bag is a nice simple design for a reusable bag and they would be quick to whip up as extra Xmas gifts.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

As a lover of a large handbag (I tend to carry around a lot of stuff…) a Large Tote or a Picnic Tote has been added to my list of future makes.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

At the back of the book there’s a nice ‘before you start’ section which includes advice on which type of interfacing and which bag accessories to use for each of the projects.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

The projects all appear relatively simple and each project has clear instructions with lots of diagrams. A pull out pattern sheet is provided at the back of the book although the larger pattern pieces are only provided in part (e.g. for the project I made, 1/4 of the pattern piece was provided, meaning it needed to be traced 4 times to create a full pattern piece). Seam allowances also need to be added to some of the pattern pieces (although it is clearly stated where these are required).

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

Do you ever sew bags? Planning to make any for gifts this Christmas?

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own.


1 Comment

#CCBloggers Derby Meet-Up

Last Saturday I attended a Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet in Derby. This was the first meet-up I’ve attended since SewBrum and it was very nice to just turn up & enjoy the day, with no organising to do! #ccbloggers is a Midlands-based group for creative bloggers, organised by Sam and Kat. Attendees at the Derby meet-up had pretty diverse interests and blogs, including quilting, jewellery, paper craft, party and event styling, textile product design, and – of course – sewing!

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Derby, November 2014

Sam and Kat had arranged some really interesting activities for the meet-up. After copious amounts of tea and toast at the very nice Bean Cafe, we were joined over lunch by social media guru Kaye who answered our many questions.

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Derby, November 2014

After lunch, we enjoyed a decopatch session and got in the Christmas spirit (I’m totally there) making tree decorations. We then visited the (brand new) studio of photographer Holly Booth. Holly was lovely & can do product photography via post as well as in person – most tempting…

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Derby, November 2014

At the end of the day we squeezed in a little shopping in some of Derby’s independent shops. I was really impressed by the gorgeous little indie shops we visited. I live in Birmingham and love Birmingham city centre, but Birmingham isn’t a great city for independent shops (although it does have amazing independent fabric shops luckily).

We all left with a very nice goodie bag of freebies!

Creative and Crafty Bloggers meet, Derby, November 2014

I’m looking forward to the next #CCBloggers meet-up and catching up with the bloggers below again soon.

Samantha Schofield – Crafternoon Tea Hostess

Kat Reekie – A Krafty Kat

Emma Peake – Lily Allsorts

Sally Williams – Sally Bee Makes

Caroline Gautrey – Putting Your Life In Order

Laura Beardmore –  Erimini Designs

Daire Paddy – Open Way Designs


8 Comments

Fashion and Textile Museum

London Fashion and Textile Museum, Made in Mexico

On two recent trips to London I’ve visited the Fashion and Textile Museum.

If you don’t know it, it’s a small museum linked to Newham College, which is located close to London Bridge and Borough Market (so you can combine a trip with lunch at the market).They host some really interesting exhibitions, although given the size of the gallery I find the exhibitions a little overpriced (compared to, say, an exhibition at the V&A). Most exciting are the workshops & lectures they hold, as they get some amazing teachers/speakers. London is a bit far for me to attend a workshop but if I lived closer I’d always be there!

The recent exhibitions I caught were Made in Mexico: the Rebozo in Art, Culture & Fashion, and Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood. The Knitwear exhibition runs until January so you can still catch it.

The Made in Mexico exhibition focused on the rebozo, a kind of shawl or scarf. The name rebozo is derived from the Spanish verb rebozar, meaning to ‘muffle up’. Rebozo were historically made on back strap looms – and still are today. The exhibition included both traditional examples and modern interpretations (such as the one below).

London Fashion and Textile Museum, Made in Mexico

London Fashion and Textile Museum, Made in Mexico

London Fashion and Textile Museum, Made in Mexico

London Fashion and Textile Museum, Made in Mexico

Photos weren’t permitted in the Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood exhibition. The pieces included in the exhibition are mainly taken from a private collection and the selection seemed a bit eclectic. It is organised by date; my favourite pieces were the vintage ones – particularly the selection of knitted bathing suits & preppy 1950s styles.

I do have pictures of a couple of pieces displayed in a separate gallery. These are by Yang Du and have the amazing names Mr Superman Sweater (the lion sweater dress) and Mr Elephant hat and Mr Elephant gloves. I’m quite tempted by a massive sweater dress – with or without giant lion face…

London Fashion and Textile Museum, Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood

London Fashion and Textile Museum, Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 549 other followers