english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Introducing the Barberry Jacket

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I am (nervous &) delighted to be able to release my first sewing pattern as Charlotte Emma Patterns, The Barberry Jacket. As a brand new company, and because this was my first pattern, there was lots to decide / develop to get to this point – everything from company name to the design of the pattern instructions (& I’m looking forward to creating some behind-the-scenes vlogs soon to talk a bit more about the process). As a result, this pattern feels long in the making, which always makes it even harder to let go of something and start sharing it, but it’s here and I really hope you like it.

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Barberry Jacket

The Barberry Jacket is a shaped slim-fitting jacket with a cinched waist and exaggerated hemline. As you’ll no doubt spot, this pattern is inspired by vintage fashion (Dior’s Bar jacket was a key inspiration for that hemline), but it’s designed to fit within a modern wardrobe and to be comfortable and easy to wear. That’s achieved by not making it too restrictive / building in ease at the bust and waist, and in the sleeves.

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Design Features

Barberry features a six-panel bodice, notched collar, two-piece sleeves, and a full lining. There’s lots of construction to get your teeth into with this pattern, including welt pockets, pocket flaps, and sleeve vents. The pattern is aimed at intermediate to advanced sewers, but comes with detailed step-by-step instructions & I’ll be sharing further video and photo resources over the next few weeks. It’s also possible to skip the most complicated steps (the welt pockets & sleeve vents) if you want to speed up the process or don’t want to tackle them, and the instructions include advice on which steps to skip.

Line-Drawings
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PDF Patterns in sizes 04 to 36

Barberry is available as a digital PDF pattern in sizes 04 to 36 and two cup sizes (B and D). You can find more information on sizing on the website, and specific sizing for the pattern (including the finished measurements) on the Barberry Jacket page in the shop.

The versions of the jacket pictured (photographed in the snow in our local park recently) are made in a size 10. The red version is made in a medium-weight wool fabric from Fabworks. The green version is made using a medium-heavy wool fabric from Guthrie & Ghani. The buttons on the front of both jackets are from Pigeon Wishes.

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My 2020

Moomin Scarf

Happy New Year everyone! I haven’t made time for blogging very often this year, but I always really enjoy taking the time to reflect on, and sum up, the year just gone here on the blog.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat

I feel like I’ve sewn very few completed garments this year, but – thanks to Instagram providing a record – I can see that I actually made twelve items for myself and two for Phil. Favourites amongst those include the FreeSewing Carlton Coat I made for Phil at the start of the year, and the 1983 inspired garments I made while participating in the Sewcialists Sew Your Birth Year mini-challenge.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

At the start of lock-down in March, I decided to tackle a couple of alterations projects and finally finished my Closet Core Ginger Jeans (originally made a size too small) and altered an old favourite dress which had become too small. Later in the year, I attended an online Celia Pym darning workshop and fixed a tear in a much loved RTW jumper, which I have worn nonstop since.

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My few months long obsession with Animal Crossing coincided with Me Made May, and I had loads of fun matching my outfit with my Animal Crossing character’s outfit each day in May. It quickly meant needing to recreate my wardrobe using the in-game design function, which was a really satisfying design challenge. I wouldn’t have managed to plan my outfits in that way, or to get a daylight photo each day, if I had been in the office, so it was one of the positives of lockdown for me.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

In addition to sewing, I finished 4 knitted accessories (hap, beret, scarf, cape), including tackling a too-big Halloween jumper I started a year before, finishing it as a cape so that I could wear it in time for Halloween. After many years of meaning to knit baubles for our Christmas tree, this year I took part in the Arne & Carlos advent calendar and knitted 12 (of 24) baubles. I’ll probably knit the remaining 12 baubles next winter now, but the 12 completed baubles look great on the tree and already do a pretty good job of covering it.

Bauble

I tried a few different crafts. Before lockdown, I attended a basket weaving course with Birmingham Guild, and during lockdown I had a go at bargello and punch needle. At the start of the year I set up a loom on my dining table, but failed to start weaving. I’m hoping to get the loom warped and make a start at learning to weave before I’m back at work in a week’s time!

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Phil and I were lucky to visit New York back in January, and we managed a holiday in Cornwall during the summer. The rest of the year we made a point of getting out of the house for a daily walk along the local canals. On some of those walks we collected elderflower (made into cordial, ‘champagne’, and ice cream) and blackberries (made into ice cream).

The events I (jointly) organise, the Sewing Weekender (with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line), and SewBrum (with Lauren Guthrie) still went ahead this year by moving online. The fifth Sewing Weekender and seventh SewBrum were the most well attended and successful yet! 1,941 sewists, from 37 countries, attended the Sewing Weekender, raising £23,610 for charity. 678 people signed up for SewBrum, with over 100 people joining a live bargello workshop led by Tina Francis, and £2,763 raised for charity. Thanks to the Sewing Weekender and SewBrum, I took part in a podcast for the first time, discussing the events in two episodes of the Sew Organised Style Podcast.

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

I continued volunteering for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, with my stint as newsletter editor due to finish in 2021 after five years! During 2020 I also volunteered as a Sewcialists temporary editor, getting particularly involved with the Sew Your Birth Year mini-challenge.

Finally, the biggest event for me has been preparing to launch my own sewing pattern company (and changing my social media accounts to Charlotte Emma Patterns to match). It really has taken me the whole year to get to this point, having taken the very first steps this time last year. I’m now working with a great pattern cutter and grader, and brilliant local designer, and am hoping to finally launch my first pattern this January. I have other patterns well underway so fingers crossed I will have a few releases under my belt by this time next year.

Thanks for reading & very best wishes for 2021!


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Festive Stitch Project Suggestions

I have finally made it back to my blog and vlog to share some suggestions of festive stitch projects (knitting, crochet, punch needle, bargello) you might enjoy in the run up to Christmas.

I’ve made a start on the bauble advent calendar mentioned. I’m really enjoying having a daily challenge and the variety of the different designs. Two baubles complete so far, and 22 left to go!

Access the vlog below or on my YouTube channel:

Things mentioned:

Arne & Carlos, Christmas Balls Advent Calendar

Whole Punching, Bauble Punch Needle Kit

Tina Francis, Bargello Banner – Festive Fun

Andi Satterlund, Julgran Sweater

Loop, Mistletoe Garland


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Lions & Tigers Inari Tee Dress

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

We’re currently in Cornwall for a few days holiday. I could have driven, but decided to get the train down so that I could use the time to knit. It was a very successful train journey as I read two magazines, finished knitting a scarf, and listened to an audiobook.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

During our first full day on holiday, yesterday, I wore this new-ish Inari Tee Dress to go for a long walk and to sit on the beach (where I added tassels to my scarf, and made a start on the second knitting project I packed). Wearing it reminded me that I ought to blog about it before winter is here.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

This fabric was one of three I purchased when we visited Japan in 2017. It’s a double gauze with a lion and tiger print made by Kokka and purchased in Tomato. I bought it with the intention of sewing this dress – Named’s Inari Tee Dress – and three years later I have.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

I haven’t sewn as many new outfits for myself this year, as I’ve been busy with test sewing for my forthcoming patterns, but I got the sudden urge to sew this dress one weekend last month. I knew I had sent the pattern for A0 printing sometime ago, but found the pattern pieces already cut out, and I made this dress in a day.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Past me had cut a straight size 38, but in future I might grade between sizes for more ease in the hips. It’s a really simple and satisfying sew. I used a tip I picked up recently – possibly from Threads Magazine – to start overlocking the bottom of the facing from the shoulder seam, rather than the centre back, so that it looks neater on the hanger.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Have a good week everyone. I’m off for a walk on the beach followed by a pasty for lunch.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress


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Pattern Testers Wanted

Test image saying 'pattern testers wanted'

Since the start of 2020, I’ve been preparing to launch an independent sewing pattern company.

My first pattern is almost ready for release (later this year), and I would HUGELY appreciate it if you’re able to volunteer to test the pattern, to help catch any issues with the instructions or the pattern which have been missed.

The first pattern is aimed at intermediate sewers and is an outerwear pattern for a shaped slim-fitting jacket (sneak peek at the design at the bottom of this post).

If you are interested in helping this test this, or other upcoming patterns, please do sign-up using my pattern testing form. Before each pattern release, I’ll contact the people signed up to this list to share more information about the pattern (description & line drawing) and the time-frame for testing, to confirm who is available & interested in testing that pattern.

If you are interested in testing but aren’t comfortable testing an intermediate design or aren’t interested in this specific pattern, do still sign up to test future patterns.

More details on the patterns and the testing process are provided below.

The Patterns:

  • The patterns are PDF only, and include A4/US Letter & A0 copy shop printing options.
  • The patterns include two size ranges (pictured below). The first is range 4-22 based on a B-cup block. The second is range 20-36 based on a D-cup block.
  • The patterns have been developed with a professional pattern cutter and grader, and with two fit models.
B-Cup size range image
B-Cup size range image

Pattern Testing:

  • Pattern testers will be given approximately one month to undertake testing.
  • Testers will receive a copy of the final pattern on its release, and I will send an A0 copy of the pattern to testers where preferred.
  • Pattern testers will be asked to sew the pattern and to provide feedback on the instructions (e.g. do you have the information you need, are the instructions easy to follow?) and on the pattern (labels, notches, etc.). 
  • There will be no requirement for pattern testers to promote the pattern or to provide photos for promotional purposes.
  • Everyone is very welcome (no need for a social media presence), although to keep it manageable I will manage the number of testers per pattern and size.
  • Pattern testers will be invited to contribute feedback (& chat to each other) via a Slack group, or can send feedback directly to me if preferable.
  • All feedback will be very much valued and responded to.

If you are able to help out, please sign-up as a tester here.

A sneak peek of the line drawing for my first upcoming pattern release is below:

Line drawing of a shaped slim fitting jacket


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SewBrum 2020 – Online

This year would have been the seventh SewBrum sewing meet-up, a free-to-attend sewing meet-up in Birmingham, UK.

I announced a date for this year’s SewBrum before we understood the full impact of coronavirus. After which, it became increasingly clear that a large meet-up wouldn’t be sensible or practically possible (the shops we visit all have social distancing measures in place), so we (me and co-host Lauren Guthrie) decided to take SewBrum online!

SewBrum will take place online on Saturday 17th October, and you can register to receive all of the details below or via the event page.

Full details will be shared with registered attendees as we approach the 17th October, but the day will include:

With no need to travel to Birmingham, we hope attendees will be able to join us from across the UK, and beyond.

International attendees – please note that the raffle, and kits for the bargello workshop, will be UK-only due to postage costs/delays. You are still welcome to join the bargello workshop, but will need to purchase supplies locally.

The finalised schedule for the day will be shared soon, but we will be starting with video (and written) messages from indie businesses in Birmingham and the Midlands, which will be shared via the event page and emailed to registered attendees.

Featured business will include SewBrum co-host Guthrie & Ghani, local fabric shops, and textile-artists and makers.

In the afternoon, attendees will get together online for a live bargello stitch workshop with Birmingham-based textile artist Tina Francis. The workshop will be free to attend, and attendees can purchase a supplies kit from Tina to participate (full details to follow).

In the meantime, follow Tina on Instagram and have a look at her recently published book, Modern Bargello.

We will also be hosting a raffle of sewing-themed prizes (a SewBrum favourite), with all money raised being donated to Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid & Birmingham Mind. Tickets will be sold online in advance via a JustGiving page (full details to follow). Raffle prize winners will be drawn live, following Tina’s workshop.

I hope SewBrum regulars can join us online, and if you haven’t been able to join us before perhaps this is the year!


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More Paper Bag Trousers & Holiday Pics

Simplicity 8605

Another weekend, another blog post featuring past holiday photos! A combination of not being able to go on holiday this year, and not having many recent projects to share, has led me to revisit a number of projects I photographed but never blogged – including these Simplicity 8605 paper bag waist trousers.

Simplicity 8605

This is my second pair of these trousers (first pair blogged here). They are really easy to make (5 pattern pieces including the belt), and to fit (loose fit and an elastic waist). They’re a great option to pack for a holiday as they are comfortable and easy to wear (and in the polyester version here, don’t wrinkle), but they’ve also been great for wearing around the house this summer. If you haven’t made any trousers before and want to give them a try, a simple design like this is a great place to start.

Simplicity 8605

In these pictures, the trousers are paired with another old make which hasn’t previously made it to the blog. The top above is also a Simplicity pattern, 8593 which is a re-released vintage top pattern. Simplicity refer to it as a poncho blouse, and it’s basically a rectangular design, with detail at the neckline and side-ties, which is wrapped over itself and tied at the front and back. I was interested in trying this different design, but in reality I found it irritating to wear. The side seams inevitably gape (Exhibit A, the picture above), so you need to wear something underneath, and the top moves about a lot while worn. I actually relegated this top to my fabric scraps tub before the top made it to the blog. The fabric – which is a lovely soft cotton from Cloth House – also faded quickly after a few washes.

Simplicity 8605

I haven’t mentioned it previously, but I’ve been working on developing some sewing patterns which I’m aiming to begin releasing later this year. All of the work involved in getting them ready for release has kept me really busy over the last few months – and meant that most of my recent sewing has been to test the patterns. It’s also meant that the various other craft projects which I got excited to begin during lock-down (new knitting project, bargello, shoe-making, weaving, etc.) haven’t gotten much further than buying supplies. If lock-down hadn’t removed most of my evening and weekend plans I don’t think I would ever have gotten them ready (and they aren’t there yet, so fingers crossed and head down).

Simplicity 8605

I feel like I’ve devoted quite a bit of this week to a thorough tidy and clean of the house (I can’t understand how it takes me as long as it does, but it consistently takes me FOREVER?), so I’m making the most of savouring it before the house reverts to its natural state of being messy and dirty again. I have a few ‘to-dos’ to complete today (including writing the overdue July newsletter for the Association of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, which will now be the July/August edition!) but then I’m hoping to pick up one of my abandoned craft projects to enjoy in the calm of my tidy living room (subject to how messy a craft project I choose).

Simplicity 8605

Have a good weekend everyone.

Simplicity 8605


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Unblogged Freya Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Weekend mornings are my favourite time to write blog posts, before the day begins in earnest, while the house and road still seem quiet. We are dropping our car off for an MOT in a couple of hours, probably followed by a long walk home, so I thought I’d make time before that to sit in my pyjamas and write about an old(ish) project which never made it to the blog.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Earlier this week, Susan Young posted a knit top on her Instagram account which she had managed to squeeze out of a remnant picked up from the Sewing Weekender fabric swap table. I recognised the fabric as one I had added to the swap table, and checked back on my blog for a picture of my project, and to remind myself where I bought the fabric, but I had never blogged about it.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I knew I had taken photos of this dress – a Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress, from the Stretch book – while on holiday in Vietnam, back in 2018. It took me a while to track down these photos, which had ended up stored on an external drive as I’ve swapped laptops in the meantime. These photos don’t do a brilliant job of showing off the dress (which is a bit washed out in the sunshine, and a bit overwhelmed by the amazing location, the temple ruins of My Son) but I’m glad it has finally made it to the blog.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Thanks to the Cora App, I was also able to confirm that this fabric was purchased from Birmingham Rag Market and I apparently only bought two metres. I think Sue and I did well to get a dress and top out of those two metres! I’m not able to use the Cora App since moving to an Android phone, but up until around 2018 I had all my fabric catalogued on the app, and I’ve held on to my old iPhone solely to retain access to that info.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

For info, I think this Freya was size 3 and I cut the fabric strip for my ruffle 74cm long. I have made two other Freya’s, a zigzag dress and White Christmas top. The only downside of the ruffle Freya in a lightweight knit like this, is that the ruffle loses all structure after washing and needs careful pressing to regain its pleats, which is a level of effort you wouldn’t normally expect (or want) for a simple jersey dress.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I’ve put on weight since these photos were taken, and this dress left my wardrobe in the last clear-out. While a knit garment doesn’t become as potentially uncomfortable and restrictive as a woven garment after a weight change, there’s also less opportunity to wear them with a button open or as a layering piece. I had a wool pencil skirt which I regularly wore with the zipper only half zipped for years and years.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I’m going to get dressed and deliver my car for it’s MOT on time. I might have to look at what other projects I have photographed but never gotten around to blogging soon.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress


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Long Time Coming Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

It’s been a busy few weeks, so today we got away from the to-do lists and visited a few local independent businesses when we knew they wouldn’t be too busy. It was a welcome change of scenery and included some in-person fabric shopping for the first time in months, which was very exciting. I was after some knits in solid colours and different weighs, so exactly the kind of fabric shopping that is best in person.

Yesterday, we also took a longer than normal walk along the canal, where I got Phil to take a few photos of these jeans. I was going to blog them last night, but I sat down after the walk (which was just under two hours) and was too tired to write a word! Given how long these have taken to reach the blog, another day is neither here nor there.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

I’ve been planning to make these jeans ever since Closet Case Patterns released the Ginger Jeans pattern (which, unbelievably, was in 2014), as I’ve always been a great lover of a skinny jean. My plans moved along slightly in 2016, when I ordered a jeans hardware kit from Closet Case Patterns, and this denim (10.5 Oz Cone Mills S-Gene Denim in Dark Indigo) from Threadbare Fabrics. I timed this denim order with our first trip to New York, and had the order sent to our hotel, to save on shipping costs. I did the same on our most recent trip to New York with an order of on-sale Vogue patterns, but they took so long to arrive that I almost missed them – they arrived on our last morning as we were checking out. In comparison, Threadbare were really helpful, and timed posting the denim to suit the dates of our stay.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

The supplies then sat in my stash for three years. I decided that the best way to motivate myself to get started on this more involved project was to book on a jeans making workshop last August. I did mostly sew these up on that workshop, but I cut out the wrong size and, when I tried them on at the end of the weekend, I couldn’t do them up.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

So back in the stash they went, until I had a thorough tidy at the start of lock down, and pulled these out of my UFOs basket. To make these jeans fit, I added in the difference between the size of the pattern I cut (6/8) and the size I actually am (10) at the side seams. I was able to work out the difference from the pattern, and had enough denim left to cut side panels, although I did have to piece the denim together to make panels long enough. You can see the side panels in the next couple of photos.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

In order to add the side panels, I had to remove the waistband and unpick the side seams and top-stitching. Unfortunately, while the waistband was off I thoughtlessly did up the zip, pulling the zip pull off the top. I couldn’t find any short cuts for getting a metal jeans zipper pull back on, but managed to manually close the zip with my fingers, which was slow and frustrating, but allowed me to get the zipper pull back on!

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

The designs on the back pockets are my favourite part. These were on a dress I bought from a charity shop. I cut away the original dress fabric from around the flower motifs, and then zig-zag stitched over the top of these to attach them to the pockets (using different coloured threads for different parts of the flowers). I also added a Modista made in isewlation woven label to the back of the jeans, since these are one of my social distancing sewing projects.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Six years on from the initial inspiration of the pattern release, I’m glad to say that these are now in rotation in my wardrobe. I need to revisit the UFOs basket to see what I can move from stash to wardrobe next.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans