english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Rupert’s Tweed Wedding Jacket

Rupert at James & Keyla's Wedding

After James, my brother, announced his wedding, he asked if I would be willing to make him a three-piece suit to wear on the day, to which I – of course – said no! What I was willing to make, however, was a matching jacket for his dog, Rupert.

Rupert at James & Keyla's Wedding

James ordered a suit in a blue tweed, and with the help of the sewing community (who responded to a call for help on Twitter and Instagram with lots of suggestions) I was able to find a comparable Harris Tweed on ebay.

Rupert at James & Keyla's Wedding

I traced a RTW dog jacket for the pattern and tested a toile on Rupert before cutting into the tweed. Like my own dress for the wedding, I left this jacket until the last minute, cutting and sewing it the day before, and attaching the velcro to fasten it under the stomach on the morning of the wedding.

Rupert at James & Keyla's Wedding

I need to make Rupert some more of these, as – apart from hand sewing the velcro when my sewing machine refused to cooperate – the jacket  only took about thirty minutes to make. It’s lined with a cotton from John Lewis and padded with some thinsulate left over from my Clare Coat. The d-ring on the back allows a lead to be attached.

Rupert at James & Keyla's Wedding

Rupert was centre stage on the day, he was very fond of curling up in the train of the wedding dress (above), and at the start of the ceremony was stood with the groom awaiting the bride as she walked down the aisle (below).

Rupert at James & Keyla's Wedding


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Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

This garment is a good example of how my pattern queue often works. I purchased the Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit pattern on release, and picked up this medium-weight knit fabric from the Goldhawk Road (which is more green in real life) not long after. Despite having pattern and fabric paired ready to sew, they waited for over a year and half before making it to the front of the queue and the sewing machine.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

When I did finally decide to give Sallie my attention it was with typically spur of the moment urgency. I had leaving do drinks to attend at work and decided I urgently needed to wear this exact outfit. It’s actually a quick sew – I made this up in two or three evenings after work.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Because I was sewing at speed in the evenings with minimal light, I initially attached the bodice ‘inside out’; the bodice main and lining pieces are almost identical, but the lining side is slightly smaller so that the seam allowance rolls to the inside. In my case it was initially rolling to the outside, so I went back and fixed the issue – post work night out.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

This fabric has a tendency to show lumps, bumps and panty lines. Next time I’d reduce this by using a fabric which is thicker, patterned or drapeier, and I would probably also raise the front neckline. I fancy trying Sallie with a modified rounded neckline.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

These photos were taken the day after my brother’s wedding, on the roof of the venue. I think Sallie is a perfect lounging around outfit, since the knit fabric means it is super comfortable. Phil however thinks it looks like I’m en route to a 70s disco.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit


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Comic Art Sudley Printed with Contrado

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Contrado are a London-based company who offer fabric printing on demand. I talk about my experience designing and printing a fabric with them in my latest vlog, which you can view here:

As mentioned in the vlog, my design was inspired by a comic-print, black and white Prada skirt, which I eyeballed in a shop window. My design features some personal favourite comic characters / artists.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

The design was printed on Contrado’s Crepe de France fabric. The fabric is light/medium weight, with lots of drape.  The image print quality is very high, with even small details printed clearly. The colour didn’t run when I washed the fabric, but I did get some colour/image transfer when I ironed this dress on a high heat (following one wash). The fabric is slightly see-through; I lined the bodice and will wear a slip underneath.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I used my fabric to make a Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress, with the skirt extended to floor length. I thought Sudley would be a good pattern to show off the fabric, due to the lack of fastenings or darts. As in my previous Sudley, I cinched in the waist of the dress by attaching elastic around the waistband.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I’m looking forward to wearing this out – although slightly wary about how dirty the hem may be by the time I get home!

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Disclaimer: I was provided with two metres of fabric in exchange for blogging about it, all opinions expressed are my own.


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Love Sewing & Sew Now Articles

Sew Now Magazine

I’m late posting, since the newer issues are now out, but I had articles in the issues of Love Sewing and Sew Now published during January.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

My article for Sew Now was a review of the the Billie Collection, the first pattern from Tribe Patterns, and a collaboration between The Fold Line and Rachel Pinheiro. I sewed this at the same time as my knit version, and, as with that version, it suffers from being a bit loose in the bust (as it’s drafted for a C cup, and I’m a B). The fabric is a gorgeous Geese Flock Cotton Lawn in ochre from Fabric Godmother.

Sew Now Magazine

My article for Love Sewing was a brief history of British Lace Making, with a focus on the Nottingham lace industry and Cluny Lace, who I have blogged about previously.

Love Sewing Magazine

Love Sewing Magazine


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Floral Velvet Wedding M7154

M7154 in Floral Velvet

So here’s a dress that was long in the planning! Two years ago, my brother James announced his wedding. Not long before that, McCall’s had released M7154, a 1930s reproduction pattern. I loved M7154 on release and when the wedding was announced thought it was the perfect excuse to try the pattern.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Despite having two years advance warning (and the pattern in a drawer for that time), I, of course, waited until a few weeks before the wedding to make a start on my dress. I actually did the majority of the sewing in the week before the wedding, in the evenings after work. I finished the hem of the dress on the morning of the wedding, along with finishing touches to a wedding jacket for my brother and his wife’s dog, Rupert… I was staying at the venue, and had my bedroom set up as a sewing room, with machine and sewing supplies spread across the dressing table.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

The wedding venue was a fort on the Cornish coast, which you can spy in the background of my photos. It was a beautiful wedding and we had a lovely weekend, and even decent weather for February – with the exception of during the official photos, when it poured!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

My fabric is a floral velvet purchased from Barry’s Fabric. Barry’s have a small rack (near the till) which contains a selection of fabrics which are kept out back (mainly velvet and fake fur), presumably due to a combination of price and the space the bolts take up.

Phil was wearing a purple suit to the wedding, so I started off attempting to buy a purple or pink velvet for my dress. However, due to needing five metres, available options were limited – I had the staff in Barry’s back and forth checking pretty much every velvet on the rack… I love the fabric I did come away with though – and I have a little left to make something more casual, given the impracticality of this dress.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

I’m not a toile-girl, so I went straight into making the pattern ‘for real’, and adjusted as I went. I made quite a few adjustments to better fit the dress for my body, and to tweak the design:

  • The pattern has you continue the zip from the back of the skirt up to the top off the dress along the bodice lining. Based on the bodice construction, I could see this being fiddly, and I didn’t want the lining to be visible at the bodice back. Instead, I finished the zip at the skirt waistband and added a hook and eye at the waistband, as well as at the top of the bodice (as per the pattern);
  • Initially the bodice hung very low. I raised it by unpicking the bodice at the shoulder seams and trimming off approximately 2 inches from each of the four straps.
  • The bodice is intended to hang over the skirt, but I had a lot of excess fabric at the bodice back, which hung awkwardly. I suspect this was partially due to using a heavier-weight fabric than recommended. I unpicked the bodice back from the skirt as far as the side seams and reduced the bodice length – pinning and eyeballing until it looked right;
  • I cut approximately 4 inches off the length at the skirt hem.

I also found the instructions for sewing the neckline to the bodice at the front and shoulders unnecessary fiddly, and would recommend following your own common sense on those sections.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Photos of what you really want to see from the wedding, Rupert’s dog jacket, to follow!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet


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Sewing Community Article in Sewing World

Sewing World Magazine

I have an article in the current issue of Sewing World Magazine, exploring the sewing community and how to get involved.

The full article includes practical tips for participating in the sewing community, but I thought I would share the introductory paragraphs here, which explore my own feelings about being part of this community:

I can honestly say that being part of the sewing community has changed my life. Growing up I always had good friends, but they were a select group – now I have friendships and connections with a huge, worldwide, community. The current age has been called the age of loneliness, due to our increased social isolation, but online communities – like the sewing community – create a connectness, which crosses boundaries of geography, age, and – to a lesser extent – language, gender and socioeconomics.

Sewing World Magazine

The opportunity to communicate with a diverse community of (mainly) women, in an atmosphere that is supportive and inspiring, has made me more confident. Like many bloggers, I began reluctant to take or post photos of myself online. Now I’m posting photos and videos regularly, because I’m inspired by others who are doing that and enjoy joining in. Plus, company is important to creativity. Without the opportunity to share what I make with others, and be inspired by them in return, I would have less motivation to create, and to try new things and keep challenging myself. I’d definitely still be sewing, but I doubt I’d be pushing myself to sew jeans, or lingerie. Seeing the beautiful projects fellow bloggers are making motivates me to have a go too.

Sewing World Magazine

Of course sewing is just the start – it’s the something in common to bring together a diverse community. It’s the thing we can draw around, which is representative of much more we have in common – creativity, a love of textiles, a desire to make things with our hands, and to understand how they are made.


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Istanbul Fabric Shopping & Sightseeing Vlog

Istanbul

Back in November, Phil and I spent a week in Istanbul. I filmed some footage of our holiday, which you can see in my latest vlog:

As mentioned in the vlog, I used to travel regularly to Istanbul for work, but never had much success fabric shopping. I’d heard that the (mostly weekday) markets were the best place to shop for fabrics, but never managed to explore any due to work commitments.

On this trip, I found lots of fabric stalls at Çarşamba (Wednesday) market in Kirmasti, Fatih, which is featured in the vlog. I also visited Kadiköy market, but there wasn’t any fabric on sale on the day we visited (possibly due to season or time of day, as we arrived quite late).

A few photos of Çarşamba market, followed by some other photos from the trip, are below:

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul