english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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In The Folds Jumpsuit

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

It’s been a weekend of staring at computer screens, but I wanted to squeeze in a quick blog post before the weekend is out.

I was in the office Saturday and Sunday this weekend for a software upgrade – not as bad as it sounds as the team are lovely, we had a suitable supply of chocolate and cake (kinder eggs included), and ordered in lunch. I have however been robbed of my weekly lie-ins, so we’ll see how I’m feeling by next Friday when I’ve done twelve consecutive 6am starts.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

I recently started studying an undergraduate degree in IT one day per week, in the hope of being less bamboozled by my colleagues in future. For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to try to fix an EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING log-in page issue, which has been bugging me for a week, on my return home from work this evening. I’m still at that stage where I understand so little that I quickly feel overwhelmed and slightly panicky, but I guess I’ll get to the stage where it all becomes a little clearer, and where I waste less time going around in circles, eventually.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

I thought it best to end the week with something much more familiar; blogging about sewing. This is the (free) Jumpsuit pattern by In the Folds, in collaboration with Peppermint Magazine, in size B.

Like everyone else I was inspired by the pattern sample, and picked a similar fabric, a green chambray from Guthrie & Ghani, which my Mom treated me to during last year’s SewBrum meet-up. The fabric is very soft and has a lovely sheen. It is a little prone to creasing, which is exacerbated in these photos by the fact they were taken when I was hot and sweaty in Vietnam.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

This jumpsuit is a suitably loose and comfy garment for travelling in. I like the contrast of the relatively-fitted bodice with the loose trousers, and the deep v of the back neckline. I decided part-way through the holiday that I much prefer the belt tied at the back.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

I’m going to close the laptop and treat myself to an early night. See below for how quickly my blog photos degenerate when I have a boat practically to myself and baggy trousers to hop around in.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

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Sangria Dress in Bamboo & Cotton Jersey

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

It’s taken me ages to get around to sharing this dress, which is a Capital Chic Patterns Sangria. As someone who rarely sews a pattern multiple times, you know I love this pattern when I tell you I have made three (version 1 here), and will definitely make more. (I still need to blog my second Sangria, which was sewn in a metallic, pink, snakeskin-print jersey and consequently doesn’t get worn much, but was still totally worth it!).

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

The pattern recommends using scuba jersey, but I especially like it in softer jerseys; it’s comfy, and has the added benefit that you can skip the centre back zip, making it a very quick sew. This version is sewn in a Combstooth Bamboo Organic Cotton Jersey from Offset Warehouse, purchased in-person at the Sewing Bee Live. It’s a lovely soft french terry, smooth on the right-side, with a soft texture on the reverse. It has enough body and recovery to work for a bodycon dress, whilst also being very comfortable.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

The only danger of sewing such a fitted dress in a very stretchy fabric is that I’ve twice popped the hem stitches being over zealous. The dress is currently waiting for me to resew the hem (must do it, and not delay a five minute task for six months!).

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I think this is a great all-year dress, it works with tights and a cardigan in the winter, and with ballet pumps in the summer. I want to return to my other favourite from the same Capital Chic Patterns collection, the Cuba Libre shirt, again this year.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

These photos were taken during a recent-ish holiday to Majorca. I suspect it was whilst exploring the castle ramparts that I forgot how fitted my dress was and popped the hem stitches for the second time.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I’ve had a sewing-focused day today, which has included catching up on sewing blogs, vlogs and podcasts, sewing a top (Simplicity 8593), and writing this blog post. I’m going to see if I can squeeze in cutting out my next sewing project before heading to bed feeling very smug.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress


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The Sewing Weekender 2018 (Plus Vlog)

sewing weekender banner

The Sewing Weekender will be returning for a third year!

What:A sewing weekend break in Cambridge, UK

When:Saturday 25th – Sunday 26th August 2018

Tickets will go on sale on the morning of Thursday 31st May at 7am (BST). Full information on The Fold Line: https://thefoldline.com/the-sewing-weekender/

I’ve finally vlogged about last year’s event, including clips of attendees, of our lovely speakers and prefects, and of the preparations before everyone arrives on Saturday morning (at speed!).

As in previous years, our venue, Murray Edwards College in Cambridge, will be transformed into a sewing room for the weekend. Attendees can get stuck into a sewing project, chat to friends, drink plenty of tea, and participate in talks and workshops from fellow sewing bloggers and independent business owners.

The key differences this year, are that we have increased capacity (by hiring an additional room) and that we’ll be having lunch on Saturday in the College canteen. We are hoping that lots of you will want to join us again this year, and that the additional tickets will mean less people end up disappointed at not being able to buy a ticket (last year, the tickets went on sale as I boarded the train to work, and were sold out before I got off the train, 20 minutes later). We’ve decided to include lunch, because last year the heavens opened exactly when we all left the College to walk into town for lunch and we got drenched! It also makes it much easier to sit down for lunch as a group.

One thing I wanted to note before tickets go on sale on Thursday, is that the tickets are more expensive this year. Ever since the first Sewing Weekender two years ago, we’ve kept ticket prices as low as possible (we pay ourselves very little for our time). The increased cost of tickets is due to increased costs of organising the event, plus the fact that we are reliant on sponsorship to keep ticket prices down. I always think it’s difficult to estimate the actual cost of an event unless you are involved in organising something similar, and I thought it was worth stating that this increase to the ticket price isn’t about us benefiting from the event’s previous popularity (which I think would be justified, as a lot of work goes into the preparation), it’s about us realistically covering costs.

If you’re considering attending and want more information, you can read: my wrap-up of the 2017 event / attendee reviews of the 2017 event / my wrap-up of the 2016 eventattendee reviews of the 2016 event


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Fashion Revolution Jane Tee

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

To celebrate this year’s Fashion Revolution Week (which took place 22 – 28 April) I decided I wanted to make a garment which lived up to the ethics and ideals of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to order fabric and sew a garment, so I thought I’d keep it simple with a slogan tee.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The fabric for this tee was a Cream Marl Viscose Blend Jersey from Offset Warehouse. Offset Warehouse describe it as made from sustainable fibres (40% Cotton, 30% Viscose and 30% Polyester) and reclaimed from a high end manufacturer in the UK and stopped from heading to landfill.

The jersey is very fine and soft, with a subtle marl effect. It’s slightly transparent, so I am wearing a slip underneath in these photos.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The pattern is the Seamwork Jane tee, which is a great loose fitting crew neck t-shirt pattern, and a perfect blank canvas for screenprinting (no darts). My measurements put me between an XS and S, but I cut a straight XS as there’s plenty of ease.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

For the text, I printed the ‘I made my clothes’ A4 poster from the Fashion Revolution website free resources section. To create a more stable stencil, I placed an A4 acetate sheet over the poster and cut out the lettering with a craft knife (I have a lifetime supply of acetate sheets as I took a box home from work many years ago, since they were gathering dust following overhead projectors being removed from classrooms). I screen-printed the text using black ink onto the pre-cut t-shirt front; I always use Permaset Supercover screen printing ink to print on fabric and find it really reliable, Fred Aldous stock it in the UK. If you fancy trying screen-printing you’ll need a screen, a squeegee (sized for the screen) & ink (if you want to print on fabric make sure the ink is suitable).

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

These pictures were taken in Vietnam, predominantly in the Botanical Gardens and Zoo in Ho Chi Minh City. I hadn’t realised in advance that the gardens and zoo were one and the same – we were aiming for the gardens. The planting is frequently beautiful, but as a whole – as you can see in these photos – it’s somewhat run down and in need of investment. Great for some dramatic blog photo backdrops, but not great for the resident animals. I suspect it suffers the same fate as Vietnam’s museums, which also – on the whole – appear to be underfunded and, as a result, dusty and in varying states of neglect.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

P.S. my all time favourite zoo story, was that we were once in a zoo somewhere in Europe (I have forgotten which), and a huge crowd gathered to watch and photograph a sole red squirrel which was living (wild) in the zoo. That little squirrel managed to steal all the attention from the huge (caged) animals which were metres away.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt


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Bombshell Swimsuit by the Seaside

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Phil and I have just arrived home from a couple of weeks in Vietnam. I packed a few new garments, which I’ll blog soon, and bought some fabric which I’ll blog too. I also packed some old favourites, including this Bombshell Swimsuit which I made (unbelievably to me, it feels like no time at all) four years ago.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

As noted on my original blog post about this swimsuit, I struggled a little when making it. I think those four years since have made all the difference to my sewing skills, and I suspect making my next swimsuit (probably the Closet Case Patterns Sophie) will go a lot smoother.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I don’t swim very often and I think this is the first time my Bombshell has been for a swim in the sea, so I thought it was fitting to take some photos. In addition to my sewing skills, my blog photography (and also my hair!) has improved since 2014, which seemed like another good reason to take some new photos. Plus I think it’s good to celebrate those garments which stay in our wardrobes long-term (as well as new makes) here on our blogs.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Enjoy the weekend. I’m going to go back to very slowly unpacking, and generally being lazy after a couple of busy weeks travelling and sightseeing.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit


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Pink Velvet, Zigzag & Ruffle Freya Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I do try to avoid buying fabric if I can’t immediately think of a project I want to make with it. This fabric, however, was one of the occasions when that logic went out of the window. On a whim (partly because it was cheap), I bought a large off-cut of this fabric from Birmingham Rag Market – a pink velvet knit with a large scale zigzag. The fabric has sat in my stash every since as I had no idea what on earth to do with it.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I only have a relatively small amount of knit fabrics, and this was one of my few dress length options, so I decided to give it a try in order to sew a Freya Dress (From Tilly & the Button’s Stretch) from stash fabric. I actually think it turned out pretty well, even though it looks somewhat circus themed, an impression the ruffle definitely adds to.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I graded between sizes 2 and 3, but will size up to a 3 throughout next time as I have limited ease at the bust and upper arms despite sewing a narrow seam allowance. I’m definitely going to sew the Freya Dress again (including that adorable ruffle) in an office appropriate fabric. For reference, I cut the fabric strip for my ruffle 74cm long (Tilly explains how to measure your preferred length rather than specifying a measurement).

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

These photos are the first blog photos I’ve ever taken myself (using my phone as a remote) as opposed to asking Phil to take them. They turned out ok, but I found it really hard not to frown with concentration, and it took so much longer. I’ll suspect I’ll go back to bothering Phil next time.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress


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Bibi Pinafore

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Before Tilly’s new book Stretch was released I decided that I wasn’t going to buy it, because:

  1. I have an addiction to buying sewing books, and I’m trying to reduce my purchasing frequency, since I rarely sew from them;
  2. I’m trying to mainly sew from stash since listing my existing fabric on the Cora app and realising that I do in fact normally have a suitable fabric for my next project. However, that stash is only 17% knit fabrics (thanks Cora app stats!).

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Inevitably, however, once I saw the patterns from Stretch being shared online by Tilly (namely the Bibi Pinafore & Freya Dress with ruffle) I quickly put in an order. I’m glad I did as it’s an excellent book and the projects are so satisfyingly quick to sew. This is absolutely the book I would recommend to an total  beginner, as there’s very little barrier to entry and the success rate of projects sewn from it is likely to be high.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

This is my first project from the book, the Bibi Pinafore in a stash fabric, a cable knit jersey from Higgs & Higgs. This jersey has a bit of body which is great for Bibi, although it has just enough stretch, i.e. it’s a slight squeeze to get on and off.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

There photos were taken yesterday in Digbeth, Birmingham. At the same time that a racist march was taking place elsewhere in the city (kudos to those who protested against it), the Independent Birmingham festival – a celebration of Birmingham’s independent and creative scene – was taking place in Digbeth.

Phil and I ate two main courses each from the street food vendors participating, and took fancy doughnuts home for afters.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

I love the diversity and – increasing – vibrancy of this city, and it was good to be at an event which celebrated that, and which was generally a fun place to be, at a time when a few idiots who feel threatened by it were promoting hate.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress