english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


SewBrum 2016: Save the Date!

Sew Brum Meet-Up Logo 2016

Just a quick post to let you know that there will be a #SewBrum meet-up on Saturday 24th September 2016. This will be the third year running!

Like last year, the meet-up will start in Birmingham City Centre, before moving to Moseley Village to visit Guthrie & Ghani.

I’ll post details nearer the date, but I’m aiming for us to spread out a bit this year given that there were around 100 of us last time.

Everyone will be welcome. Hope you can make it x

In the meantime, read my wrap-up posts about the 2015 and 2014 meet-ups.

SewBrum logo by illustrator and sewing blogger Maike of Sew & Illustrate & on Tumblr.



Midlands Sewcialists – March & April Dates

Midlands Sewcialists Logo March April

Next two dates for local sewcialist meet-ups are: Wednesday 30th March, and Tuesday 26th April. Everyone is welcome (more information is available here).

I’ve booked a table in The Stable in Birmingham City Centre for Wednesday 30th, from 6pm.

In order for everyone to have an idea of roughly who/how many people can make it I’ve created a basic poll or let me know on social media. Add your name & tick the dates you’re planning to attend. If your plans change you can alter your selection. The poll can be found here: http://doodle.com/poll/eemuhrm2kkcuncbw


Doraemon Emery Dress

Doraemon Emery Dress

When Rebecca invited me to take part in the World Book Day Blog Tour, after saying YES!, the first decision was what children’s book would inspire my project.

As a child I was a voracious reader and, in particular, was seriously obsessed with Enid Blyton. Obsessed to the extent that I not only read every book of hers I could get my hands on (and as you may already know, there are an obscene amount of them), but also read her autobiography and had a picture of her in my room. Yeah, that obsessed! My mom always said I had a habit of becoming utterly obsessed with anything I became interested in – I’m making no comment here on whether that is now true of sewing and knitting…

Doraemon Emery Dress

Anyway, none of the books I loved as a kid immediately suggested a project to me. Instead I though of my favourite children’s book as an adult, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. I think I was a teenager when I first read The Little Prince, while on holiday with my family in France. Me and my brother both immediately loved it and I still read it regularly – my favourite section is the first couple of pages where the author describes his drawing of a boa constrictor eating an elephant, which every adult mistakes for a drawing of a hat.

So, I planned to embroider a garment with an image from The Little Prince (and may still get to that at some point), when I spotted a favourite series of manga in my bedroom – Doraemon – and remembered this fabric. This project is a prime example of how an online challenge can spur on sewing activity. I bought this fabric at the London meet-up organised by Rachel in 2014, immediately decided to make an Emery Dress with it and ordered the pattern. Both fabric and pattern have sat in my stash waiting to be made for the last two years.

Doraemon Emery Dress

Doraemon has been a staple of children’s TV and literature in Japan since the 70s. He’s well known around the world, but has never really taken off in the UK (or, I suspect, the US, since manga and anime available in the UK are usually produced in the US). As far as I know, the Doraemon manga has never been published in English – however, in both Japan and China, ten bilingual volumes of the manga are published as tools for learning English. When I visited China a few years ago I bought the full set.

Doraemon Emery Dress

The basic premise of the manga is that a lazy kid (Nobita) is visited by a robot cat from the future (Doraemon), who is sent back in time by Nobita’s descendants to improve his future by preventing him being lazy. What makes the manga so appealing are Nobita and Doraemon’s characters and the relationship between them. Despite the fact that Doraemon is a robot on a mission, he really just wants a quiet life and is easily pestered into assisting Nobita to be lazy/cheat/one-up school bullies, all of which eventually back fire, of course.

Doraemon Emery Dress

The dress is an Emery, graded between a 2 at the bust and 6 at the waist/hips. I’m really pleased with the fit and will be making more – it definitely needs a petticoat for full effect though. The only change I made was using a standard zip as opposed to concealed, which was because I asked Phil to buy it – he remembered that it needed to be pink and 22″, but forgot concealed. Close enough I reckon!

Doraemon Emery Dress

As a side note, my favourite random Doraemon facts are that he holds a position (anime ambassador) in Japan’s Foreign Ministry, and that the first versions of Doraemon published in Hong Kong were pirated and he was renamed Ding-Dong!

Doraemon Emery Dress

Rebecca has organised four giveaways as part of the blog tour, the full list of prizes and rafflecopter entry links can be found here.

The full list of bloggers participating in the tour is as follows:

Monday 29th February||  Dobbin’s Bobbins  |   While she was sleeping
Tuesday 1st March ||  Fairies, Bubbles & Co.  |  As It Seams
Wednesday 2nd March ||  Sewing With Kate  |  Call Ajaire
Thursday 3rd March ||  Sew Shelly Sew   |  Bel’Etoile
Friday 4th March  ||  Sewn In The Attic   |  Just Add Fabric
Saturday 5th March ||  English Girl At Home |  Made by Sara  |  Paisley Roots
Sunday 6th March ||  MinnieMie | Sew Country Chick  |  Dobbin’s Bobbins


Woven Opal in Kingsand

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

I’m off on holiday soon (to Reykjavik/New York/Boston), so work is busy at the moment as I try to wrap things up , and – of course – I’ve filled my evenings trying to make new garments/accessories for my holiday. I’ve knitted a new hat (I just have the pompom to attach) and have made good progress on a Clare Coat. I still have a long to-do list, but I find that as a holiday approaches the list items tend to look less and less essential! My main goal is not to be frantically making the finishing touches to my coat in the taxi to the airport.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

As it’s been a busy week and I should be heading to bed, this is just a quick post to note that there is a short post by me on the Paprika Patterns’ blog, on the subject of making the Opal Cardigan pattern in a woven fabric.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

I’ve already blogged my Opal Cardigans here, but couldn’t resist posting these photos taken during a recent weekend trip to Cornwall. These photos were taken in Cawsand and Kingsand, where my parents were renting a house for a week. This is actually close to where my brother will be getting married this time next year – expect lots of photos then!

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan



The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a big fan of Pom Pom Quarterly magazine and their podcast. The Autumn issue was my favourite from last year, but I also really enjoyed the winter issue. Each issue has a theme, and the theme of the winter issue was Biba.

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

I have a bit of a Biba obsession. I love the Biba aesthetic, both the clothing and Hulanicki’s illustrations. Hulanicki’s autobiography is a favourite of mine, I previously reviewed it here.

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

I haven’t included any pictures here from the Biba-inspired issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, since you can see all the patterns on Ravelry. Instead, pictures below are from three books about Biba I borrowed from the library at work (Welcome to Big Biba book by Thomas & Turner; The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel; The Biba Experience).

The Biba Experience book

From a start as a small mail-order clothing company, by the 70s Biba’s product range included not only clothing for women, men and children, but a whole range of other supplies including home furnishings and food.

The Biba Experience book

The Biba Experience book

The Biba Experience book

There are also some Biba-related sewing patterns. Barbara Hulanicki drew the cover art for some Le-Roy sewing patterns (e.g. le-roy 3150, 3051, 3056), and McCall’s released a handful of patterns based on popular Biba designs (e.g. McCall’s 2725, 2747). I’d love to track them down at some point.

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

The Biba Experience book

The Biba Years by Barbara Hulanicki & Martin Pel

The photos of Big Biba show a totally unique shop. Sadly it closed in 1975, although I believe the roof garden (now private) is still there.

The Biba Experience book

Welcome to Big Biba book, Thomas & Turner

Welcome to Big Biba book, Thomas & Turner

Welcome to Big Biba book, Thomas & Turner

One of these days I’ll get around to sewing a Biba-inspired outfit, and to knitting some of the patterns from the winter issue of Pom Pom. I might start with Nield, which is knit in a nice chunky worsted and has a lovely cable pattern.


2015 in One Blog Post

Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress in Liberty Silk at Musee Rodin
I’m lucky to be able to take two weeks off work over Christmas, but it always goes really quickly, so before I go back to work – and back to normal – tomorrow I thought it would be good to do a wrap-up of 2015.

During 2015 I managed to complete all of the sewing projects below, which are also listed on my My Makes page, plus a number of projects I am yet to blog.

Handmade Tie using Purl Soho free pattern      Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt      Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress      Linden Sweatshirt Dress in Liberty Fleece      Linden Sweatshirt in Bruges

Sew Over It Anderson Blouse in Spotty Crepe      Stylish Party Dresses V Mini Dress in Liberty Silk      Sew Over It Joan Dress in Mustard Crepe      Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress      Paprika Patterns Onyx Shirt, Double Gauze Dyed with Biden Flowers

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home      True Bias Southport Dress in Liberty fabric      Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book      Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam      Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version A by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B by English Girl at Home      Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version C by English Girl at Home      Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants      Homemade Espadrilles      Branson Top by Lily Sage & Co

Paprika Patterns Onyx Shirt, Double Gauze Dyed with Paprika      Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark      Customised Denim Skirt with Sashiko Style Stitches      #SewSolidarity Ilsley Skirt      Screenprinted Morrissey SBCC Tonic Tee

Goldstream Peacoat - Thread Theory      Linden Sweatshirt      Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas      Balloon Skirt from Stylish Skirts, Sato Watanabe      Floral Linden Sweatshirt

Linden Sweatshirt, Grainline Studio in Brussels, Belgium      Quilted Zip-up Jacket, from Basic Black by Sato Watanabe      Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

I learned to knit over Christmas 2013, but this year knitting became something I do daily (on my commute to work) for the first time. Because of this I now knit as often as I sew and love it (probably) equally. I also started to feel like a ‘knitter’ (e.g. like I knew what I was doing) for the first time, rather than a total beginner.

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin 4-Ply

A key interest for me in 2015 was my Naturally Dyed Wardrobe project, where I explored using natural dyes in my dressmaking. I loved experimenting with natural dyes and am planning to continue this year, both growing/foraging dye plants and using extracts. I only had limited successful growing dye plants in 2015 (my biden plants did brilliantly, but the woad was a total failure) so am planning to order seeds from Wild Colours and try again in 2016. All of my posts on the subject can be found here.

Naturally Dyed Yarn

My interest in natural dyeing led me to join the Birmingham branch of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, become interested in weaving and spinning, and purchase my first fleece – all things I’m looking forward to exploring further this year.  I’ve really enjoyed attending Guild meetings and learning loads from the other members. Birmingham also has Knitting & Crochet, and Embroiders’ guilds which I fancy joining, but may struggle to squeeze in.

The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Summer School 2015

The other key project I participated in this year was One Year One Outfit organised by Nicki. The aim for participants was to make an outfit from local sources, I chose to use British fibres, rather than limiting myself to a section of the country. It was fascinating to explore what is produced in the UK, and to generally learn more about production processes. All of my blogged #1year1outfit makes can be found here, and I’ll do a wrap up later this month as I have a couple more to share. I’m already signed up to participate in One Year One Outfit again in 2016 (sign-up is here), and, as a result of taking part, have generally become obsessed with British fibres in my sewing and knitting.

WestKnits Unicorn Parallelograms Scarf by Stephen West

I released my first sewing pattern, the Lou Lou Dress, and a Sewcialist necklace with local artist Working Clasp.

Lou Lou Dress Logo

I organised the second SewBrum meet-up which took place in October (on Halloween in fact), was attended by around 100 attendees, and raised £554 for the Made Up Initiative. I also got the chance to attend a couple of London meet-ups, including The Foldline launch party and meeting Nicki and Ute during their visit to the UK, and attended the latest #CCBloggers meet-up in Derby.

#nickiandutevisitlondon Meet-Up August 2015

Me and Phil travelled to Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Bruges, and Brussels, plus I briefly visited Amsterdam for work. We’ve booked to visit Reykjavik, New York and Boston in March 2016, which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve started planning the trip by reading Seamwork articles, blog posts and guidebooks, but if you have any recommendations or would be free to meet-up do let me know.

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

In 2015 I had two articles published in Seamwork Magazine, with two more already in the works for this year. In keeping with my interest in British fibres these were profiles of TOFT yarn company (article here) and Cluny Lace (article here). Photographing alpaca in the sun at TOFT was one of the most enjoyable days of the year.

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

In 2015 I also basically stopped buying RTW (although I still have plenty in my wardrobe as my clothes typically last me years, plus I received clothes off family as gifts). I never particularly made a conscious decision to do so, I’ve just reached the point where I feel capable of making most of the clothes I need. I still enjoy going clothes ‘shopping’ but now it’s more with an eye to future sewing projects, or for Phil as I’m never going to have time to sew his clothes too.

Huge thanks for reading, commenting & following. As much as I enjoy sewing/knitting/blogging for their own sakes I also do them because I love being part of this community. I follow over 400 blogs (I think – is it just me or it had to see the total number in Bloglovin’?) and even more instagram accounts & love seeing what everyone is making and doing. I’m not making any specific plans for 2016, as I prefer not to plan ahead too much when it comes to my hobbies (I do enough of that at work, as a project manager). But I’m hoping for an equally varied mix of projects – plus time for my other hobbies, which include gaming, comics, and old movies.

Charlotte x

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TOFT Cable Wristwarmers

In my last post about my Linden Sweatshirt dress, you may have spotted some knitted wrist warmers.

TOFT Cable Wristwarmers in Silver DK Wool

These are another knitting project which I finished during the summer, and that have been sat in a drawer waiting for winter. It’s pretty mild in the UK (at the moment) but I made good use of these during my recent holiday in Belgium. They are photographed in Brussels Park, where I previously photographed my first Linden last year.

TOFT Cable Wristwarmers in Silver DK Wool

The pattern is TOFT’s free Cable Wristwarmers pattern. This was my first attempt at cables and it’s a nice easy pattern to practice cables on if you haven’t attempted them before (spoiler for newbie knitters: cables are really easy). The pattern is knitted flat and seamed along one side, with a gap left for the thumb. They are a quick make if you’re still looking for fast Christmas gift knits.

TOFT Cable Wristwarmers in Silver DK Wool

I used the recommended yarn, TOFT’s DK yarn in Silver. I used approximately half to three quarters of a ball for these wristwarmers, so I have a little left over for a future project. I actually bought the yarn from TOFT’s farm shop when I was there interviewing owner Kerry for an article for Seamwork Magazine.

Having worn these a fair bit over the last few weeks (and also lugged them around in my handbag) they now have a slight fuzzy halo, which you can just make out in the photos. As a result they are likely to pill over time, due to being a very soft wool.

TOFT Cable Wristwarmers in Silver DK Wool

This is my second time using TOFT’s DK yarn (I previously made socks and later dyed them) and I’d strongly recommend it. It’s lovely to work with and is 100% British, being made with British wool, processed by the Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall, and ending up with the TOFT team in Rugby. As a result, these wrist warmers count as one of my one year one outfit makes.

TOFT Cable Wristwarmers in Silver DK Wool