english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Pincushions Galore

Having found this great, quick pincushion tutorial on Nel Whatmore’s blog (thanks to Rachel at House of Pinheiro posting it on Facebook). I decided to have a go and ended up making four!

Handmade Pincushion

I made these in some lovely fat quarts I had saved up for some small projects. The buttons were all purchased in Birmingham rag market.

The first two below were made with fabric I bought in Guthrie & Ghani. The first is in Shelburne Falls Willow Vine and Leaf designed by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit Fabrics. The second is a Sevenberry fabric, which I also used to make a blouse. The buttons used are a flower design, and a deco-style button which rises to a point in the centre.

Handmade Pincushion

Handmade Pincushion

The fabric for the next two pincushions was purchased during a trip to Paris earlier this year. I’m unsure of the designer of the first, as it wasn’t printed on the selvedge of the piece I bought. The blue/green fabric used on the second is Echo by Lotta Jansdotter. The buttons used here are a simple blue button & a lovely flapper-style face button.

Handmade Pincushion

Handmade Pincushion

I really enjoyed making these and it took no time at all. Very satisfying:)


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Found in Brighton – a Pink Pencil-Shaving Dress & Some Fabric Bargains

Brighton
A couple of weeks ago me and Phil spent a weekend in Brighton. Phil’s dad has recently started running a hotel in Brighton so we got to stay for free (yippee!).

Having not visited Brighton before we did the sights: Brighton Pavilion, the electric railway, the museum and art gallery, the pier, a walk into Hove, etc.

The small fashion section of the Museum & Art Galley is worth a trip. The highlights of their collection are a one-piece bathing suit with bloomer-style bottoms (1920), silk camiknickers with appliquéd ballet dancers (1940), a Schiaparelli dress in a gorgeous printed silk (1936), and a lovely Ossie Clark yellow shirt dress (1969-74). Very nice indeed.

Brighton
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is amazing for shopping. As sewing bloggers who have visited Brighton will know, there are a number of sewing and fabric shops.
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton
There are also loads of other great vintage (check out Snoopers Paradise), comic, homeware (Utility, Tiger), and charity shops.
Brighton

Brighton
Brighton
In an Oxfam shop I bought a great handmade dress. It’s in an amazing silky pink fabric, with a pencil shaving design. I love the thought of having a dress handmade by someone else. I’d love to know who made it.
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton
Brighton
However, the best find of the weekend was a couple of pieces of fabric which I picked up at a car boot sale which we stumbled upon in the car park of Brighton Marina. A stall at the far end of the sale had a huge pile of fabrics on the ground, with everything £1. I picked out a piece of patterned polyester (I think) which should work for a blouse.
Brighton
Even better was a great old curtain panel in a purple floral pattern. I’m planning to make some peg bags & other items for an upcoming craft fair, but if there’s enough fabric left I’ll also be making a skirt for myself from it.
Brighton
Phil was horrified when I picked up the curtain, which, admittedly, was truly filthy and smelt pretty bad but it’s washed up pretty well and I love it!

P.S. Me And Phil realised one day that we’d unintentionally dressed rocker and mod style, which seemed very suitable for Brighton.

Brighton
Brighton


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Anyone for Tennis?

The day after the Birmingham sewing blogger meet-up I bought yet more fabric! I had no excuse but when I spotted this tennis-themed retro fabric I couldn’t resist. I found it in the Sue Ryder charity shop in Kings Heath. Anyone living locally may want to check it out as they had a selection of old patterns, as well as some cool vintage tea towels and other interesting bits and bobs.

Retro Tennis Yellow & Green Fabric

I have around one metre of the fabric. I really ought to make something tennis themed – does anyone have any ideas? I’m thinking perhaps a short skirt or a tank / polo shirt.


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New Blouse & Crafty Short Film Screening

Yippee I’ve finished another project, a blouse with collar from the Great British Sewing Bee book. It’s a simple design with no fastenings and a false-collar (e.g. it’s just attached at the front of the blouse).

Handmade Blouse from The Great British Sewing Bee book

Keeping on a Sewing Bee theme, I made the blouse using a lovely Sevenberry printed cotton fabric which I bought from Guthrie & Ghani, the shop run by Sewing Bee’s Lauren.

Sevenberry Fabric

I’m relatively happy with the blouse, although given that it isn’t fitted a more clingy fabric would have resulted in a closer fit.

There’s one other issue with it, I messed up the underarm area where the sleeves join the body. It’s probably due to my limited sewing skills, but I found the instructions for attaching the bottom of the sleeves to the body quite vague. By the time I’d finished attaching them with French seams I couldn’t face reattaching – especially since I wasn’t entirely sure where I went wrong – so I’m going to live with the errors. As long as I don’t hold my arms up in the air no one will know!

P.S. the unironed look isn’t entirely my fault as I did iron the blouse before putting it on, however the fabric creases pretty quick.

Handmade Blouse from The Great British Sewing Bee book

Handmade Blouse from The Great British Sewing Bee book

Handmade Blouse from The Great British Sewing Bee book

Talking about Guthrie and Ghani, me and Phil attended a Kino 10 short film screening at the shop last night. If you live in Birmingham make sure you check out Kino 10, who run short-film screenings across the city in galleries, pubs, shops, etc.

Kino 10 Screening Guthrie and Ghani

Last night’s screening was on the theme of crafting, sewing and knitting. The best film shown was To Die By Your Side by Spike Jonze. It’s a stop motion animation in fabric. It’s also a love story set in a Parisian book shop. Check it out.

Knitting fans (and everyone else) may also enjoy another video we watched last night. The doozer’s Knitting Song from Fraggle Rock.

My own favourite sewing/clothing related shorts are the old newsreel footage clips, like the one below…


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My First Sewing Meet (and all the things I came home with…)

I’m a little bit slow posting about last Saturday’s Birmingham sewing meet and have been put to shame by many fellow attendees who have already reported back, but, better late than never, here’s my version of events.

I think I probably travelled the least distance of any attendee, having travelled about 15 minutes to arrive at the meet-up. Fellow attendees, however, had journeyed from far and wide to talk sewing and spend money in the Rag Market and Barry’s Fabric.

Birmingham meet-up June 2013

Armed with a name badge declaring our love of sewing and a handmade rosette we each spent a small fortune on fabric and notions. Our hosts MarieKat and Claire had negotiated a 10% discount for us in Barry’s Fabric, the first location on our trip.

Birmingham meet-up June 2013

Given that I could visit Birmingham at any time I had least excuse to spend lots of money, but I didn’t let that stop me!

From Barry’s Fabric, I purchased a lovely floral print cotton which I’m planning to make into a simple dress. I was thinking a tea dress but I’m keen to try out Colette’s Hawthorn as soon as possible so perhaps that is what it will become.

Birmingham Sewing Blogger meet-up June 2013

I also bought a lovely slinky floral fabric which I’m planning to make into a Colette Taffy Blouse from the Sewing Handbook

Birmingham Sewing Blogger meet-up June 2013Colette Sewing Hanbook

From the Rag Market I purchased possibly the pinkest fabric of all time. The photo doesn’t do justice to just how pink it is. I’m thinking this would make a cute, weekend (read short) dress or possibly blouse. I also purchased some notions from a favourite stall of mine where everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) seems to cost 10p.

Birmingham Sewing Blogger meet-up June 2013

Possibly even more exciting than the fabric shopping (if such a thing is possible) was the lunchtime swap. There were impressive selections of both fabric and patterns on offer.

Birmingham meet-up June 2013 swaps

Birmingham meet-up June 2013 swaps

At the swap, I was lucky enough to be gifted the amazing Stylish Dress Book. Thanks Sabs! I know not everyone is keen on the Japanese unfitted style but I love it. I’ve been thinking about buying this book for an age, and have been flicking through and looking lovingly at its contents since Saturday.

Stylish Dress Book

My favourite patterns from the book are Q, L, and Y (but especially Q). Clearly I’ll have to have another fabric shopping trip soon with these in mind…

Stylish Dress BookStylish Dress BookStylish Dress Book

I also picked up a couple of cute vintage patterns at the swap (thanks to Karen for donating the first of these & to whom so ever donated the second).

Birmingham Sewing Blogger meet-up June 2013Birmingham Sewing Blogger meet-up June 2013

However, possibly the most amazing of all the patterns included in the swap was this vintage knitting pattern for a farmyard themed jumper. I don’t think anyone owned up to bring this along. If it was you, you’ll have to let us know if it was ever put to use. Doesn’t it look perfect teamed up with a pipe.

Birmingham meet-up June 2013 swaps

Finally I will leave you with a couple of photos of the excellent map of the market which Marie and Kat created for the meet. I’m tempted to keep this in my handbag as a guide for future trips to the market since I always forget where the good stalls are located.

Birmingham Sewing Blogger meet-up June 2013

Birmingham Sewing Blogger meet-up June 2013


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Reclaiming My Side of the Sofa

When I spotted the bean bag pictured below in the March issue of Cloth (taken from The Liberty Book of Home Sewing) I knew straight away that I needed to make one. Phil is fairly tall and he likes to stretch out & put his feet up when sat on the sofa. However, we have a small living room and a small sofa, and I find that every time I get up to make a cup of tea he has his feet up on my side of the couch. I thought I’d see If I could wean him off my sofa cushion with a bean bag.

Cloth Magazine Image

On a trip to Ikea I spotted a suitable fabric for the project (Halleknopp). Although the fabric is a thick upholstery cotton – not a soft, stretchy fabric as is typical with bean bags – the finished pouffe is suitably comfy and you can squash your feet into it. This is thanks to the polystyrene balls which were used to fill it, and due to leaving some space inside the cover rather than filling it absolutely to the brim.

Halleknopp Fabric Ikea

To make the pouffe you need to create the basic shape twice; once in the exterior fabric and once in a lining fabric which holds the filling. Following the pattern, I filled the lining with polystyrene balls and then tried to insert it into the cover. Perhaps unsurprisingly that provided rather difficult and I had to part empty it, insert it inside the cover and then put the rest of the filling back in…

Handmade Bean Bag

I made only one minor change to the pattern. The pattern instructions included inserting  a zip on the bottom of the cover, allowing the liner to be inserted/removed. However, we have a wooden floor in our living room and I was worried there was a chance of a zip scratching the floor. Instead I simply left a gap in the bottom of the cover and stitched this up by hand once the liner had been inserted and filled.

Handmade Bean Bag

I especially liked the feature of two neat (although admittedly somewhat redundant) handles on either side. They add a bit of detail to what is otherwise a very simple design.

Handmade Bean Bag

Below is me testing it out on completion. I can report that it is both very comfy and has been successful in helping me to protect my side of the sofa.

P.S. Yes, I am watching Cartoon Network.

Handmade Bean Bag


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Retro Apron of Many Colours (McCall’s M4793)

Yippee! It’s a bank holiday weekend AND we actually have some sun here in the UK. However, having some sun does mean I’ve had to put the sewing/crafting to the side for a few hours to do a number of outdoor jobs (gardening/painting/cleaning the drive) before the sun goes away again. I’m so close to having a pair of pyjama bottoms & a bean bag finished, so I’m sure to be posting about those soon.

In the meantime, I finally got around to photographing an apron I made back when we first moved into our house 1 1/2 year ago.

Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

The pattern is McCall’s M4793, option A. It’s a very sweet little apron, with three roomy pockets. I really like the ric rac detail on this pattern option. As you can see, I went for a green wobbly ric rac.

Sewing Pattern

Sewing Pattern

The fabric I used for the apron was from Ikea. Although it looks like different fabrics have been used it’s actually all made from a single fabric – which had a patchwork effect. The fabric is dated 2008 and was deigned by Lotta Kuhlhorn who has designed a number of great fabrics for Ikea.

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

I actually bought this fabric while on holiday in Hong Kong. I had been meaning to visit Ikea to buy fabric for this apron before we went on holiday  but hadn’t gotten around to it, then while we were in Hong Kong we happened to stumble across an Ikea in a mall dedicated to home ware stores. Since it was right there it made sense to pick up some fabric and stop off in the cafe for Daim cake. If I remember correctly the Ikea we visited was located close to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, which is what we were actually in the area to visit.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong

P.S. elsewhere on the web I spotted the following interesting bits and bobs over the last few days:

  • The Patchwork Harmony blog featured a lovely tutorial to cover a silk lantern (from Craftsy magazine). If you don’t already read their 91 magazine make sure to check that out too, as it’s awesome

 

  • I just discovered the Thread Cult podcast, which features interviews with the sewing/textile world’s best & brightest. The most recent episode featured Sarai Mitnick from Colette patterns

 

  • A local-ish gallery to me, Bilston Craft Gallery, has a great wooden automaton of a mermaid in a pub by Wanda Sowry on display at the moment. I must go see!


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All the Cool Kids are Making it: My First Sorbetto Tank

Home Made Sorbetto Tank Top

I know, I know, I’m very late getting around to it but I’ve finally made my first Sorbetto tank by Colette Patterns. I haven’t sewn any clothes recently as since buying a first house two years ago I’ve been preoccupied with making things for the house (predominately lots of curtains!). However, watching Sewing Bee, as well as seeing all the lovely things other bloggers are making, reminded me how much I enjoy making clothes so I expect this to be the first of many clothing projects in the next few months.

I made my Sorbetto in a thin floral cotton, perfect for the summer. The fabric cost £2.50 per metre from Birmingham’s Indoor Market. Since the pattern was free, and I made the bias binding, the top only cost a total of £2.50. It was a perfect example of when sewing your own clothes can be cheaper than buying off the peg.

This was the first time I’d made bias binding and I was very glad I did as having matching bias binding gives such a lovely, professional looking finish. I was surprised by just how easy it is.

Home Made Sorbetto Tank Top

Home Made Bias Binding

Unfortunately, since making my Sorbetto we’ve not had much sunshine here in England so I’ve barely had a chance to wear it. This weekend the weather improved slightly so I managed to get a chance at last. As you can see below I was going casual, wearing the Sorbetto with jeans and hi tops, as me and Phil were off to look at potential bathroom tiles (the next decorating job on our to-list) and paint. Prior to our shopping trip, Phil got a couple of pictures of me in our garden while I pegged out some washing. The garden is looking a bit unruly as I’ve pretty much left it to it’s own devices so far this year. One weekend soon, however, I will drag myself away from crafting and spend a day or two getting the weeding and trimming done. Honest.

Handmade Sorbetto Tank

Handmade Sorbetto Tank


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Fabric Shopping in Ikea

Yesterday after work, me and Phil had a trip to Ikea. We were only going for fabric and Daim cake, but of course ended up spending lots more.

I did get some lovely fabric. The first was Halleknopp, a 100% cotton thick upholstery fabric. It has an amazing triangle & dot pattern designed by Anna Salander.

Halleknopp Fabric Ikea

Halleknopp Fabric Ikea

I’m going to make it into the handsome bean bag below, which was featured in the March issue of Cloth magazine, and taken from the Liberty Book of Home Sewing. It’s for Phil to put his feet up on while watching TV. At the moment he puts them up on my side of the sofa  every time I pop out of the room to make a cup of tea. I’m planning to get started on it this weekend.

Cloth Magazine Image

I also bought a light cotton and polyester mix called Smaborre, which has a satisfyingly spiky floral pattern designed by Edholm & Ullenius. I’m planning to make this into some pyjamas for myself. I’m thinking of making PJ trousers first, and if there’s enough fabric left might also make a top and shorts set (probably using the free Colette Sorbetto & Madeleine patterns).

Smaborre Ikea Fabric

Amongst our other purchases from Ikea was an LP frame for this groovy Joe Jackson LP which I pinched from my Dad’s record collection. It’s now in pride of place on the living room wall.

Joe Jackson 12"