english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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The Sewing Weekender 2017

Sewing Weekender banner

The Sewing Weekender will be returning for a second year!

What: A sewing weekend break in Cambridge, sponsored by (Birmingham-based) Adam Ross Fabrics.

When: Saturday 05th – Sunday 06th August 2017

Our venue, Murray Edwards College in Cambridge, will be transformed into a sewing room for the weekend; bring along a sewing project, or two, and sew while chatting to friends and drinking plenty of tea.

Over the weekend, we’ll have a series of informal talks and hands-on workshops from fellow sewing bloggers and independent business owners.

Tickets will go on sale on the morning of Thursday 25th May. Tickets to the event will cost £65; optional accommodation will cost an additional £95 (single room) or £145 (twin room).

Full details here.

Read my thoughts on last year’s Sewing Weekender here, and those of attendees here.


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Wardrobe & Identity

Me

I always enjoy blog posts which reveal a little about the writer, and have been meaning to write something a bit more reflective for a while now. I’m interested in the role clothing can play in expressing identity, and thought I’d share a few examples from personal experience:

Clothing has always been important to me.

I had two obsessions while at junior school; I desperately wanted a dog, and I desperately wanted to wake up one day as a boy.

I don’t analyse the second of those obsessions, where it came from and why it left me as I approached finishing junior school; I think there is a danger of devaluing and explaining away the emotions in the process of analysing them. I suspect, in part at least, I had subconsciously assimilated a limiting view of what is was to be a woman, and was attempting to circumvent it. I read a lot of Enid Blyton (actually obsessively – I had hundreds of her books and a picture of her in my room) and books of that era, where the only girls who did anything of interest wanted to be boys.

Joe, Char & Steven

While awaiting my overnight transformation, I nagged my mom to have my hair cut short, and only buy me boy’s clothes. She consented to both, with the exception of underwear; boxer shorts were a step too far. It was important to me that the garments weren’t simply not explicitly feminine, but that they were purchased from the boy’s section of the clothes store. I had a zealous commitment to my dress code, which speaks of my desire to prove my seriousness to others, and to myself.

Joe, Char & Steven

In my experience, while young children are extremely accepting of difference, teenagers are pack animals; during secondary school, clothing was important as a means of fitting in. I remember a few occasions where friends and I bought the same t-shirt, which involved making a solemn pact never to wear them at the same time. Even in school, where we wore a uniform, it was important to be aware of the current tweaks to that uniform required to fit in; for example, this week, you might need to wear your tie backwards and extra short.

Me

As a teenager, clothing was also about declaring our musical affiliations. I was an indie-kid, and Damon Albarn was my style icon (as well as my main celebrity crush). A treasured possession was a grey Kappa jacket, the closest I could find (pre internet shopping) to a blue jacket which Damon was photographed in. I wore a silver identity bracelet because Damon did, and would have killed for the jacket he wore in the Parklife video.

Family Photo
A rare photo of the Kappa jacket

Towards the end of secondary school, and through sixth form, my friends and I expressed our lack of interest in fitting in, by adopting wardrobes of the least flattering and most ill fitting clothing possible. Thankfully, our fleeces and jeans era was short lived, and minimal photographic evidence of that period survives.


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Old Favourites

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

I’ve just returned home from two weeks away in Seoul and Tokyo, and am having a lazy weekend before getting back into routine next week.

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Normally, before a holiday, I sew a number of new garments – partly because I’m excited about the holiday and like to sew new garments for events I’m excited about, and partly because a holiday is a great opportunity for blog photos.

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

I’ve been busy lately, so only had a couple of recent makes to pack (to be blogged shortly). I did, however, pack a few old favourite me-made garments. Normally I don’t take photos of garments which I’ve previously blogged, but it actually makes sense to show them styled differently, and to show that they are still going strong. Since this week is Fashion Revolution Week, it also ties in with Fashion Revolution’s focus on long-term relationships with our clothing, and wearing garments more than 30 times.

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer

So without further ado, in these photos I’m wearing one of my most worn me-mades. This is a By Hand London Victoria Blazer, which I made in a hotel room in Istanbul while travelling for work back in 2014.  It’s paired in some of the photos with a Christine Haynes Emery Dress I made in 2016, plus a couple of favourite RTW pieces – a scarf from Sancho’s Dress, a Megan Nielsen Maker Tee, and Community Clothing jeans, made in the UK.

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer

Christine Haynes Doraemon Emery Dress & By Hand London Victoria Blazer


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Blue Velvet Moneta Dress for #MonetaParty

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Long time no see, guys! I’ve been finding slightly less time to sew and knit lately, but even less to blog. I’m off on holiday to Seoul and Tokyo next week, and have a few recent projects to photograph, so no doubt I’ll have a few garments (and probably some holiday fabric shopping…) to blog in the next few weeks.

Before that, as I’m sure you’re well aware, back in February ElleRachel and Abigail hosted an online Moneta Party. I had sewn Moneta once before, but wanted to make a new version for the party.

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

I whipped this version of Moneta up quickly the weekend of the party, in a blue stretch velvet from Barry’s Fabrics. I added the Tie Collar from the free Moneta extras pack, and made a belt to wear over the dress, using a trim purchased from Birmingham Rag Market. To make the belt I just added a stiff backing fabric to the trim, and hook and eyes to fasten it.

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

The dress looks ok in these photos, but I’m afraid there were actually a few issues with my fabric choice which mean it hasn’t survived! The stretch velvet I chose clung unflatteringly in the bodice, and having constructed the dress I noticed a flaw in the fabric right under the bust… After taking these photos the dress was cast aside for a few days, after which I removed the bodice and fitted a waistband to make a simple gathered skirt.

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

These photos were taken quickly in our front room, to make the Moneta Party photo deadline. Phil was making fun of my modelling skills, which resulted in the following…

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet


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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