english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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


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Knit Billie Dress

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Hi all, I’ve been quiet online lately, but haven’t been totally absent from this sewing community of ours! Last Saturday, I attended a meet-up organised by Crafty Sew & So in Leicester (blogged by Crafty Sew & So and by Sew Positivity), I’m planning my next moneta for the Moneta Party, and I’m popping to my parents’ house today to check the fit of a toile dog jacket on my brother’s dog, Rupert, before cutting into a tweed to make Rupert a jacket for my brother’s wedding.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

This is one of the dress variations from the Billie Collection, the first pattern from Tribe Patterns, and a collaboration between The Fold Line and Rachel Pinheiro. The pattern contains dress (with and without contrast at the shoulders), top and skirt variations. The Dress includes some lovely features, including open ended fish-eye darts to create the skirt pleats, and squared shoulders and neckline.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

The Bille Dress is closely fitted across the bust (via bust darts, plus fish-eye darts at the front and back) so this is a pattern where getting the fit right really impacts the finished garment. The pattern is designed for a cup size C; as someone with a B cup, I should have attempted a small bust adjustment, but decided to (be lazy and) try the dress in a knit fabric for a slightly more relaxed fit. The fit is still off at the bust, and next time I ought to be good and adjust the pattern.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Although the pattern is designed for wovens, I’d definitely recommend trying it in a stable knit fabric for a comfy casual dress. Thanks to the wide neckline, I’m able to pull this dress on and off over my head, so skipped the back zip; bonus! I purchased this medium-weight knit fabric from a market stall during my recent trip to Istanbul, at Çarşamba (Wednesday) market in Kirmasti, Fatih. I used the wrong side of the fabric for the contrast shoulder panels.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

If you’re wary about fitting the Billie Collection dress, the skirt variation would be a nice easy project, and the top would be easier to perfect fitting adjustments on before moving on to the dress.

Right, I’m off to fit in some sewing before it’s time for a puppy fitting session!

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress


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British Fabrics Haul Vlog

British Fabrics

For the latest vlog, I’ve filmed a guide to sources of British-made fabrics. It was a perfect excuse to order lots of swatches!

You can view the vlog here:

For more info on British-made fabrics, see my list of British fibres, fabrics & haberdashery supplies.

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics

British Fabrics


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Wharf Street Pullover

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

I’ve got a jumper to share today that has been some time in the knitting.

I’m a huge fan of Hannah Fettig’s knitwear designs. I knit two projects from her book Home and Away at the end of last year / start of this (Lesley and Hancock), and have two projects from Knitbot Linen on the needles (I failed to finish them in time for last summer; maybe I’ll manage for this spring/summer). So, unsurprisingly, I’m really excited about Hannah’s brand-spanking-new book, Texture.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

I was also really excited when Hannah asked if I would like to be a test knitter for a project from Texture back in the summer. However, I entirely overestimated both my knitting ability and speed, and available time. I selected the Wharf Street Pullover, a bottom-up pullover featuring honeycomb cables, and raglan three-quarter sleeves (ahem, more on these below).

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Feedback was due back with Hannah in the autumn; I finished knitting the pullover this week… So apologies to Hannah for being a useless test knitter, but I have ended up with a lovely jumper! I have also ended up with a jumper which is quite different from Hannah’s design, which is intended to be quite a bit shorter in the body and sleeves. I may yet go back and alter it to be a closer match to Hannah’s design, but I do quite like this alternative slouchy version. I attribute the added length to my gauge being off, and possibly also to wearing it for these photos (and for some hours before) while it was damp, following  its first wash, which I suspect resulted in some stretching which blocking should reduce. It possibly also resulted in me temporarily smelling a little bit like a wet sheep…

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

The honeycomb stitch which makes up the bulk of the Wharf Street Pullover is straightforward, if relatively time consuming. I made some mistakes when attempting to maintain the pattern on increase/decrease rows, particularly on the sleeves, but I was working from the test pattern, and the final version may do more hand-holding on these sections.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

In contrast to my usual contrariness, I knit this using the suggested yarn, Quince & Co’s Owl (worsted 50% American wool, 50% alpaca, which is spun and dyed in USA) in the ‘mesa’ colourway. The yarn showcases the honeycomb cable beautifully and is suitably sheepy and warm.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

The Wharf Street Pullover is one of 13 designs included in Texture, which features a mix of garment and accessory patterns using cables and textured stitches, designed in Quince yarns. As with Home and Away, the book contains a number of tutorials – I haven’t seen these yet, but the tutorials in Home & Away were excellent, so I’m expecting similar. Plus, the photography is gorgeous.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Other favourites from Texture, are this jacket (which should be a quick knit) and these cardigans 1 /2. Oh, and if you pre-order the book, you receive this rather lovely cowl pattern.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Right, I’m off to plan what I can knit next, and hopefully finish in time to wear this winter!

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

P.S. it’s worn here with Stork Scissors by Birmingham-based Frilly Industries, and People Tree’s Hesper Stripe Skirt.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig


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In Conclusion, My 2016

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

Since I started this blog over a Christmas holiday, back in 2011, Christmas always feels like an anniversary, and a good opportunity to look back, just a little.

During 2016, inspired by fellow vloggers, particularly Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line, I started a vlog. You can see all my videos here. Before I started this blog, I was quite self conscious about having my photo taken, but posing for blog photos soon saw to that (although I’m still more comfortable with Phil behind the camera than anyone else). Similarly, until recently I wouldn’t have contemplated filming myself but I’m really enjoying creating – and particularly editing – the vlogs, and have lots more planned.

The Sewing Weekender, August 2016

I have a bit of an addiction to organising things! During 2016, I organised the third annual SewBrum meet-up, which was attended by over 100 sewists and raised £465 for The Eve Appeal. I also teamed up with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line, to organise the Sewing Weekender, sewing holiday, which brought together 59 sewists for a weekend break in Cambridge. I really enjoyed working with Kate and Rachel to plan the event – I’m not sure I would have had the nerves, or capacity, to organise a similar event alone, and planning as a team is so much more enjoyable.

I took part in the Big Vintage Sew-along blogger tour, the Christmas Linden Swap, the World Book Day blog tour, and pattern testing of Capital Chic Patterns Sangia and Cuba Libre, Megan Nielsen’s Sudley blouse/dress, and Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

I had a number of sewing related magazine articles published; a profile of the RSC Costume Department, a guide to some of the best fashion and textile museums around the world, and to creating your own yarn, all for Seamwork. I also had a profile of Ernest Wright & Son published in Love Sewing and an interview about natural dyeing in Sewing World. Visiting Ernest Wright & Son in Sheffield for the Love Sewing article was a particular highlight, I had the most fun day and totally fell in love with the factory and company.

I got more involved with the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, taking on the (voluntary) role of creating and managing Association Instagram and Twitter accounts (both with the username guildswsd) and producing a monthly newsletter for Guild members.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Phil and I visited Cornwall, Reykjavik, New York, Boston, Amsterdam, Paris, and Istanbul. While in New York and Boston, I got the chance to shop for fabric and natter with fellow sewists, and I finally (on my 21st visit) tracked down where to buy fabric in Istanbul!

Oh, and I was nominated for Sewing Blog of the Year in the 2017 British Craft Awards, ‘Sewing’ category.

Finally, during 2016 I managed to complete all of the sewing and knitting projects pictured below. I had planned to undertake / blog more natural dyeing projects (all of my previous posts can be found here), and a series on British textile history (I managed a single, solitary post, about Birmingham), but there’s always next year!

And on a non sewing/blog note, I feel (at the grand old age of 33) more confident and comfortable in my own skin than I ever have. It wasn’t that I was previously especially aware of feeling self-conscious or awkward (I remember being really shocked as a small child to be told by a teacher that I was shy), but I feel in the last year I’ve reached a level of confidence in my self and my opinions, and – in the nicest possible way – stopped caring about other people’s opinions of me, which makes me more outgoing, happier, and hopefully more fun to be around. I think sewing – and, in particular, being part of the sewing community – has contributed to this, in addition to being in a good place work-wise, and being surrounded by great people at home and work.

Linden Swap Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt      By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet      Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt      Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland      Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn      Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt      Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress      Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey      Fancy Tiger Craft Adventure Tank & Marilla Walker Ilsley Skirt, at the Château de Maisons, Maisons-Laffitte      Fancy Tiger Craft Adventure Tank & Marilla Walker Ilsley Skirt, at the Château de Chantilly

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress      V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress      Mustard Crepe Lou Lou Dress      Aime Comme Magellan Blouse      Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress Top Hack

Hemlock Tee      Megan Nielsen Sudley      Megan Nielsen Sudley      Seamwork Magazine Manila Leggings      Seamwork Magazine Kenedy Dress

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style      Paprika Pattern Zircon Sweater at Cloisters, New York      Megan Nielsen Sudley Blouse in Liberty Lawn      Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland      Marilla Walker Roberts Collection View C

Doraemon Emery Dress      Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan      Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan      Naturally Dyed Silk Dress for #1year1outfit      British Cluny Lace & Silk Savannah Camisole