english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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SewBrum Raffle Prizes!

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes

As in previous years, we’ll be holding a raffle at the SewBrum meet-up this Saturday! Raffle tickets are only on sale to attendees on the day of the meet-up and the raffle will be drawn in the afternoon at Guthrie & Ghani.

All money raised by the raffle, along with donations in exchange for tea and cake at Guthrie & Ghani, will be donated to the Eve Appeal.

Lots of lovely companies have generously donated raffle prizes. I’m demoing a lot of the prizes in this video, or see the full list and photos below. (P.S. I mispronounced a couple of things in the video, but only had a limited window of sunlight yesterday evening after getting home from work, so no retakes!).

The full list of prizes:

♥ Sew Essential have donated an Adjustoform Supafit Standard Dress Form. The dress form comes in four sizes so the winner will be able to select their preferred size.

Minerva Crafts have donated a big fabric bundle worth £100.

The Sewing Directory have donated two beautiful FQ packs: Lewis & Irene Under the Sea and Heather Ross Mendocino.

Prym have donated sewing boxes filled with a range of sewing supplies.

Pavilion are donating five of their recent sewing books: Merchant & Mills WorkbookFreehand Fashion by Chinelo Bally, Cutting & Draping Party and Eveningwear by Dawn Cloake, Ultimate Sewing Bible by Marie Clayton, and The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making by Jane Brocket.

Crafty Sew & So have donated a £25 voucher for their online or bricks & mortar shop, based in Leicester.

♥ The Crafty Mastermind have donated a kit to make Tilly & the Button’s Coco, with plenty of fabric for a dress or top version.

♥ Sew Crafty have donated a selection of goodies including pin badges, crafty pencils, and crafty notebook.

Create Escape have donated a four fat quarter bundle of Lotta Jansdotter’s latest fabric collection.

Remnant Kings have donated a tote bag containing a selection of haberdashery goodies.

♥ Fabric Godmother have donated a beautiful £100 fabric bundle, with a mix of knits and wovens.

♥ Plush Addict have donated an 11 reels selection of Gutermann sew-all thread, and a 9 FQ pack from the Tilda Spring Diaries Collection.

♥ The Draper’s Daughter have donated a lovely Tote Bag kit.

♥ FabricHQ have donated a £20 gift voucher.

♥ Abakhan have donated two Liberty fabric bundles.

♥ Fabrics Galore have donated a £20 gift voucher.

♥  Dragonfly Fabrics have donated a Katha Tunic sewing kit, with all required supplies to sew a tunic in a lovely Japanese cotton.

♥ Bloomsbury Square have donated a fabric bundle, containing 2 metres of crepe, and 1.5 metres of cotton.

♥ FabricPunk have donated a FQ bundle of six Dashwood Studio fabrics.

♥ Village Haberdashery have donated a voucher for their online and bricks-and-mortar store.

♥ Girl Charlee have donated a fabric bundle worth £100 in one of their tote bags. Two metres of each of the following fabrics ar included: Quatrefoil Oxford Blue Cotton Jersey Blend Knit FabricCoral Blue & Red Diamond Floral Geo Jersey Rayon Spandex KnitPlum Grey Rose Floral on Taupe Cotton Jersey Knit FabricHeather Burnt Orange Solid Baby Cotton Jersey Knit FabricFawn Silhouette on Rose Cotton Jersey Blend Knit Fabric.

♥ Adam Ross Fabrics have donated a £35 voucher for their (Birmingham-based) online store.

Plus, Simplicity have donated pattern which I’ll be giving away in the morning at the Edwardian Tea Rooms (first come first served), and Crafty Sew & So have given me some flyers for a very exciting event they are planning…

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Abakhan Liberty Fabric bundles

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Crafty Mastermind Coco Kit

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Simplicity Patterns

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Dragonfly Fabrics Tunic Kit

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Fabric Godmother fabric bundle

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
The Sewing Directory FQ packs (Lewis & Irene Under the Sea and Heather Ross Mendocino)

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Girl Charlee fabric bundle

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Fabric Punk Dashwood Studio FQ selection

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Bloomsbury Square fabric bundle

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Create Escape Lotta Jansdotter FQ pack

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Sew Crafty goodies

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Minerva Crafts fabric bundle

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Remnant Kings Goodie Bag

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
The Draper’s Daughter Tote Bag Kit

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Books from Pavilion

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
Quilting Book and FQ packs from EQS

#SewBrum Raffle Prizes
FabricHQ voucher


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A Tour of Birmingham City Centre

Birmingham, England

With SewBrum coming up next week, I thought I’d share a personal guide to Birmingham city centre, taking in my favourite places to eat/shop/meander.

I’m deeply biased; not only have I lived in the suburbs of Birmingham for my whole life, I have also visited the city centre every week or so since I was a kid. I love to travel, but arriving back in Birmingham always feels like being home.

Birmingham, England

Birmingham’s weakness for many years was that it lacked independent businesses in the city centre, but in the last few years Birmingham has developed a really exciting community of independents. Currently, it feels like there are always new businesses opening, and events taking place.

If you’re interested in keeping up to date with the latest news I’d highly recommend the mailing lists/social media accounts of the following:
Independent Birmingham / I Choose Birmingham / Flatpack

Birmingham, England

If you visit Birmingham and stick to the shopping centres you’ll miss what makes it special. Below is my personal tour around the city.

Hurst Street

The area around Hurst Street contains Birmingham’s Chinese and gay quarters, and a lot of good restaurants. I love to eat at MinMin (Hong Kong noodle cafe), Toppoki (Korean), Jacky’s Kitchen (Northern Chinese), and Cafe Soya (there are two branches but stick to the little one inside the Arcadian). There are three Chinese bakeries in this area, two inside the Arcadian (Wah Kee & Cafe Chino), and one inside the entrance to China Court restaurant; I highly recommend the walnut cookies and sponge at Wah Kee. I struggle to walk past without getting an ice tea at Happy Lemon.

Birmingham, England

Birmingham has a thriving street food scene (focused in Digbeth) and now has a permanent Hawker Yarn, located next to the Arcadian centre.

Birmingham, England

The (National Trust owned) Back-to-Backs are located on Hurst Street (the last surviving court of back-to-back houses in Birmingham) – if you don’t fancy taking the tour you can always visit the sweet shop situated in one of the houses. The UK’s oldest working cinema, The Electric is nearby.

Birmingham, England

The shop where I have spent more money than any other (by a looong way), Nostalgia and Comics, is located close by. I have a comic standing order there – although my comics are often to be found in the debtors box, because I haven’t been in to collect them for a few weeks…

Birmingham, England

Fabric Shops

From Hurst Street, it’s approximately a five minute walk to Birmingham Indoor and Rag markets which are the best place to shop for cheaper fabrics, trims and haberdashery supplies. In the markets, fabric typically costs between £1-£8 per metre. On your way there you might spot Annatomix’s Bowie graffiti.

Birmingham, England

Directly opposite the market is Fancy Silk Store, which is spread over four floors. Barry’s Fabric Superstore, which is my personal favourite, is a 5-10 minute walk away (and just around the corner from Barry’s is EU Fabrics, but I haven’t had chance to visit yet to see what it’s like). House of Fraser and John Lewis also have haberdashery sections.

Birmingham, England

Digbeth

From the market it’s a short walk to Digbeth, which hosts the ever excellent Digbeth Dining Club on Friday nights. Seasonal Markets, which take place quarterly at The Bond, are also always worth attending. The Custard Factory is most fun when there is an event on (antique fair, etc.) as the shop occupants change quite regularly (so clearly struggle), but Clink bottle shop is worth visiting and Cow Vintage is located nearby. One of the most fun things in Digbeth is the frequently excellent graffiti (particular following the City of Colours festival).

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress

The Centre

Tilt bar serves a great range of indie beers and loose leaf teas, and has a large and regularly changing selection of pinball machines (I love the Adams Family & Medieval Madness). They have good cake too, and lovely signage by local sign painter Seven 9 Signs (I’m looking for an excuse to commission something from him).

Birmingham, England

Right by New Street Station, 4023 serves super cheap and delicious Mediterranean food and is next door to All Greek delicatessen, and a few steps down from York’s Bakery Cafe. Opposite, the Piccadilly Arcade contains a number of indie businesses and is rather lovely to look at.

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is close by in Victorian Square and always worth a visit, including their Birmingham History Gallery and Edwardian Tea Room. While in Victorian Square, also check out Pure Bar for food and drinks.

Birmingham, England

Birmingham, England

Canal

From Victoria Square, you’ll pass the Library of Birmingham and Birmingham Rep (who are very affordable & put on some great productions) on your way to the canal. It’s worth seeing what is on at the (free to visit) Ikon Gallery, and popping into their shop and/or restaurant. The walk along the canal path between Brindley Place and the Mailbox is lovely on a sunny day, and Gas Street Social in the Mailbox does a popular all-day brunch. The Craven Arms must be one of Birmingham’s most attractive pubs (The Pig and Tail in the Jewellery Quarter is another) and has a good beer selection.

Birmingham, England

Snow Hill

St Philip’s Cathedral (set in a park known locally as Pigeon Park) contains stained glass by Edward Burne-Jones, is one of the smallest cathedrals in the UK, and occasionally hosts movie screenings as part of Flatpack Festival. Neighbouring Great Western Arcade is beautiful and home to a number of indie businesses. The Coffin Works (factory museum who produced accessories for coffins) is nearby.

Birmingham, England

Moor Street

Probably the best burger in Birmingham is available from Original Patty Men’s restaurant located in an arch under Moor Street Station. Nearby you’ll find veggie restaurant The Warehouse Cafe and Polish restaurant The Karczma. Eastside City Park, the first park built in the city in 130 years is close by.

Birmingham, England

Jewellery Quarter

I was really excited by the extension of the tram line into the city centre as it’s now extremely easy to pop to the Jewellery Quarter (catch the tram from outside New Street Station, a ticket to the JQ is £1 one-way). The Jewellery Quarter is a lovely place to walk around as it’s peaceful and the architecture is really interesting. It also contains two well regarded museums, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and the Pen Museum. More places to eat and drink are popping up in the Jewellery Quarter, the Pig and Tail and 1000 Trades are my favourites, and The Button Factory – as the name suggests – is located in a former button factory building.

If you’re interested in Birmingham’s textile-related history see my post here.

Birmingham, England


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Sewing World Natural Dyeing Article

Sewing World Nation Dyeing Feature

Just a quick post to let you know that, thanks to the lovely Kerry, I’m featured in the September issue of Sewing World magazine (which has been on sale since mid-August, I’m late posting…).

Kerry writes a regular article for the magazine, with the September issue’s on the topic of natural dyeing. I’m featured alongside Folk Fibres and The Modern Natural Dyer.

I haven’t managed to post on the blog about natural dyeing much lately, but have projects to share when I get chance – plus a pile of silver birch branches in the garden, which Phil pruned from our tree, waiting for me to try dyeing with.

Sewing World can also be found on Facebook & Twitter.

Sewing World Nation Dyeing Feature


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B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

I haven’t found as much time to blog recently as I would have liked. I don’t get hung up about it – despite (or perhaps because of) working as a project manager, I prefer to be fairly unorganised in my own time and don’t like to plan ahead very far. However, I do really enjoy blogging and miss it, as with sewing or knitting, when I’m not finding the time. I’ve always enjoyed writing; when I was younger I wrote stories, plays, diaries. Currently I only write this blog, and while writing dressmaking blog posts is pretty far from working on a story or play, I think for me, it satisfies the same urge.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

I did think about starting to keep a diary again, but decided that if Phil kept a diary (not going to happen, but still) I would be seriously, seriously tempted to read it, despite that basically being beyond the pale. I couldn’t keep a diary if I thought there was any chance of anyone else reading it, as I have to feel totally free to express myself in a way that otherwise only takes place inside my own head (I have previously destroyed diaries after finishing with them, as I don’t even want to read them back myself). I decided that if I would be tempted to read Phil’s (imaginary) diary, maybe he would be tempted to read mine – so have decided to abstain. This is despite the fact that I suspect Phil wouldn’t actually have the slightest bit of curiosity, as shown by the fact that he never, ever reads this blog – even though he is mentioned in it.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Anyhow, that was a very long winded route to informing you that I am only just blogging these photos taken during our holiday to Amsterdam back in July. Sticking with the theme of delayed blog posts, I sewed this wrap dress as part of the Wrap Dress Sewalong McCall’s hosted in February 2015, I actually finished the dress during the sewalong time frame but it’s taken me a year and a half to blog it.

This is Butterick B5030, Version E with collar, long sleeves and cuffs. The size of the collar and cuffs gives this a vintage (70s) vibe.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

I remember practically nothing about the construction of this dress, but can report back on wearability. It’s quite low cut on me, so I typically pin it closed (I have been planning to add a hidden button, but it’s unlikely to ever actually happen). The wrap skirt gives pretty good coverage, although it does need an underskirt on a breezy day – which could also be resolved by a hidden button, if I didn’t find those kind of useful sewing tasks boring. The fit is pretty good on me straight out of the packet and it’s extremely comfy to wear.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

This fabric is a jersey I purchased from Stitch at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC. I used the leftover fabric to make a blouse.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

And now to bed, as I’m off to London early tomorrow morning.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress


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The Sewing Weekender Attendee Blog Posts & Vlogs

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

Following my own wrap-up post about The Sewing Weekender, I wanted to share the vlogs and blog posts published by attendees. I really enjoyed watching the footage, and seeing everyone’s photos and thoughts. Enjoy!

♥ Vlogs ♥

♥ Blog Posts ♥

Jen at The Gingerthread Girl

Melissa at Fehr Trade

Susan at Susan Young Sewing

Pippa at The Fabric Wrangler

Rachel at Rach Against the Sewing Machine

Corrine at What Corrine Did Next

Grace at Beyond Measure

Emma at The Crafty Clyde

Megan at Pigeon Wishes

Lucy at Sew Essential

Amy at Almond Rock


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The Sewing Weekender Wrap-Up

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

We (Kate, Rachel & I) first began plotting The Sewing Weekender at the end of April, and last weekend our UK sewing holiday took place at Murray Edwards College in Cambridge. There were 59 of us in total (50 attendees, plus 9 organisers/prefects/speakers), over 25 sewing machines (as quite a few attendees brought along their own), 2 overlockers, 3 ironing boards & irons, and goodie bags and tea for everyone .

The (lovely) College porters seemed pretty amused by the arrival of 27 sewing machines, and 59 sewists. With the students away for the summer, we had the Murray Edwards campus practically to ourselves. The rest of the campus was sleepy, but our venue was a hive of activity. I failed to sew (or knit) a single stitch over the weekend – I’m not entirely sure what I did do, other than chat and drink tea, but I enjoyed every minute. Unlike me, other attendees were extremely efficient and dedicated – with newly finished garments being modelled on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

On Sunday, our lovely prefects and speakers each spoke to us on a different topic – with a common theme their willingness to be bold and try new things – whether in sewing, or design, or business. There were some nerves beforehand but they were such a bunch of pros once they started speaking.

Around the sewing, some of us strolled to nearby shops along the river to buy lunch at Fitzbillies (I chipped a tooth on one of their sandwiches – the fault is with my tooth rather than the sandwich – and it was still worth it), we took over one floor at a local pub on Saturday night, with some of us staying until (admittedly early) kicking out time, and of course we had a huge pattern and fabric swap.

I believe that meet-ups, in all shapes and forms, are important to our sewing community, and a perfect compliment to discussion online. I hope everyone who attended had chance to catch up with existing friends and to meet others for the first time. I first met fellow organiser Rachel at the 2014 London meet-up organised by Rachel Pinheiro; without which we might never have organised the Sewing Weekender.

If you’re planning to organise or create something new, I highly recommend doing it with people you love spending time with. Working with Kate and Rachel to organise the Sewing Weekender meant it always felt easy – and fun. Alone, I suspect it would have felt like work. And everyone who attended too – I’d like to spend a weekend with them every month, if there wasn’t quite so much planning and travel involved! Speaking of travel, the little map below gives an indication of where attendees travelled from – we had contingents from London & Birmingham (woo!), but also from further afield.

SWattendees

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016


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V2401 for the Big Vintage Sew-along

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

I’m very excited to be sharing my contribution to the Big Vintage Sew-along blogger tour today. Are you taking part? McCall’s have selected twenty McCall’s/Vogue/Butterick vintage patterns, and are donating money from the sale of those patterns to The Eve Appeal gynaecological cancer charity. There’s also a series of events taking place, including an afternoon tea at the Knitting & Stitching Show in October.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

The pattern I chose to sew for the blog tour is Vogue 2401, which (as you can probably tell from the silhouette) is a 1950s’ pattern. I decided on 2401 as I thought it had an unusual (coat dress like) silhouette, and I loved the line drawings (although not the modelled product photo – which is rather naff). I made Version A, the only difference between versions being the sleeve length.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

Inspired by the coat dress look, I chose to use a medium-weight fabric. I ordered lots of swatches and took ages making up my mind, but finally decided on this Black and White Graffiti Sateen from The Splendid Stitch. The fabric handled beautifully; I unpicked and re-sewed the bodice multiple times and the fabric handled it like a champ and didn’t fray.

A medium-weight fabric was a good match for the full skirt and structured collar. The only section which would have worked better in a lighter weight fabric are the ties at the front – I’ve tied them in a double knot as otherwise the ends stick up and look a bit unruly. I actually think the tie sections (which wrap from the side of the bodice to the front of the dress) would look great in a contrast fabric – so a lighter-weight, contrast fabric would be perfect for those two pattern pieces. I also think this pattern might work really well in a structured knit fabric.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

Some of the design details of this pattern are obscured by my fabric choice, and I’m not sure they are particularly obvious from the (quite long) description on the pattern envelope. This is a wrap dress; the dress is tight fitting (there are a lot of darts!) on the arms and top of the bodice, but then opens up with a slit along the sides of the bodice (covered by the bodice wrap section) and the skirt. The skirt is constructed separately from the bodice in multiple panels, with the back/side skirt panels overlapping the front skirt panel. The skirt suffers from a common wrap-dress issue; the skirt panels don’t overlap by very much. I wore this dress on it’s first outing to the park (Cannon Hill Park, a local favourite) to take these photos and I was flashing quite a bit of leg. I’m planning to either secure the panels to one another or add some additional width to the skirt to address this, otherwise every time I wear it I’ll be constantly checking and adjusting the skirt.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

I fall between a 10-12 on the pattern sizing chart; because the paper pattern contains a subset of sizes (e.g. 6-10, or 12-16, etc.), I actually fall between two separate paper patterns. I went with the smaller size (to match my bust measurement), and then roughly graded out at the waist / hips. However, with this dress you actually only need to worry about your bust measurement, as the wrap provides ease at the waist and hips.

One thing to note – because this dress is very fitted at the arms and upper body, I actually found that to get it on/off, I really needed to drop/lift it over my head with arms raised, rather than putting it on one arm at a time. As such, it’s one of those dresses that is much easier to put on with assistance!

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

The bodice has quite an unusual construction method, which reminded me how accustomed I have become to detailed (indie pattern) instructions. I spent ages puzzling over (and repeating) one step, but I think the step which tripped me up is actually very simple. For anyone else sewing the dress, at the final step on Page 2 of the instructions (attaching the front and side front bodice), I believe that the correct construction requires you to cut into the front bodice up to the marker. However, because the instructions don’t explicitly state this, I tried various alternative methods to make the pieces match up.

The only changes I made were to skip the inside belt, which I didn’t think would add much, and interfacing, which the weight of my fabric made unnecessary.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

I’m hoping to try a few more patterns from the Big Vintage Sew-along selection before the end of the year. I already have 1940s pattern B5209 cut-out ready to sew, and I’m planning to make 1930s pattern McCalls 7154 to wear to my brother’s wedding in February next year.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

Next up on the blogger tour is the lovely Gabby in one week’s time! The previous projects on the blog tour are all pictured here, and the following bloggers are still to come:

26/08/16   Gabby at Gabberdashery
02/09/16   Rachel at House of Pinheiro
09/09/16   Elena at Randomly Happy
16/09/16   Wendy at Butterick
23/09/16   Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time
30/09/16   Rachel at The Fold Line