english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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My 2019

Happy new year everyone! I’ve been writing this blog for eight years now and always enjoy looking back at the end of the year.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I started a new job just over a year ago. It has turned out to be not very exciting, but it has meant that all of my free time is my own which has meant plenty of time for sewing. That’s allowed me to sew some of the new pattern releases this year straight away (including Deer and Doe’s Sirocco, CocoWawa’s Raspberry, Alice & Co’s Georgie, Tilly’s Indigo, and Closet Case Patterns’ Pietra).

CocoWawa Raspberry Jumpsuit

It has also allowed me to pick up and complete quite a few projects from my unfinished-objects basket. Including a Yates Coat and faux-fur Tamarack Jacket which I cut out last winter, and a Trend Patterns’ 70s Dress which I cut out for a Christmas party two years ago.

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

In addition to having more time to sew this year, I also began taking more care over my sewing. I really noticed an improvement in my sewing this year – an increased ability to understand how to construct a garment, and to respond to fitting or other issues as they occur. It felt like a sudden change, but it’s of course the accumulation of several years of regular garment sewing. This increased proficiency made me want to take more care, and I’ve not only being putting more care into the garments I made this year, but also revisiting past projects to address small issues with fit or finish which I’ve never been completely happy with.

The Sewing Weekender 2019

Alongside sewing, I continued to organise sewing events. I (jointly) organised the fourth Sewing Weekender (with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line), and the sixth SewBrum (with Lauren Guthrie), plus the the first Paris Sewcial with Carmen Bouchard. Thanks so much to everyone who attends each event and makes them fun to organise and to attend. Thank you so much also to the sponsors and charity raffle prize donors. In the six years it has been running, SewBrum has raised £3,690 for six charities which is a lovely bonus of organising an event I started because I wanted to attend it!

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

I made sure to make time to attend other events in the sewing community. I get a lot of enjoyment out of organising events, but attending an event you haven’t organised is completely different, and you are able to fully relax and enjoy the event in a way you can’t at an event you have organised. I travelled to New York to attend Male Pattern Boldness day, Leicester for the Dressmakers’ Ball, Leeds for Sew Up North, and Bristol for the Like Sew Amazing shop launch. I’m also a regular attendee at the excellent relaxed monthly meet-up Brummie Yarn Social (thanks so much to @sewsuehandmade for organising us).

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress

Online, I participated in two sewing swaps, the #ogdenidaswap and #secretsewingswap. Inspired by the Love to Sew podcast, I set up a dedicated Instagram account @sewcialevents for sharing and curating sewing challenges and events in a single place, and have remained pretty good at keeping it updated.

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

I continued to try new sewing techniques and pattern types, including sewing my first ever pair of shorts, first pair of jeans, and second ever swimsuit. I also had a go at making earmuffs to match my Tamarack Jacket and a hairband to match my Indigo Dress.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

Outside of sewing, I listened to 31 audio books (including 14 Agatha Christie books for free via Birmingham Library). I studied English Literature and Librarianship for my undergraduate and masters degrees respectively, which is a pretty good indicator that I used to read a lot. The amount of books I read (as opposed to magazines, blogs, etc. which has remained pretty healthy) has slipped to next to nothing in the last couple of years so I’ve really enjoyed getting back into reading via audiobooks, and it also satisfies my desire to feel like I’m multi-tasking. I was intending to use my audiobook subscription as an opportunity to keep up with new releases and instead have largely been listening to classics and old favourites, but that’s ok too.

Handwoven tartan scarf

I continued volunteering for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers; running the newsletter and social media for the Association, and taking on the role of (joint) Programme Secretary for Birmingham Guild. I attended my first Association Summer School (they run for a week every two years) and spent a week weaving tweed and tartan near York. I really enjoyed it, but also felt like it ‘clicked’ for me and could become a serious hobby. I treated myself to a loom just before Christmas and I am planning to set it up during January and start experimenting with weaving my own fabric.

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

During 2019, I tried out other crafts by attending workshops in ply-split braiding, sign painting, foiling, monoprinting, bargello, and hoop earring making. I also attended two terms of tap dancing class. Unlike weaving, I don’t think tap dancing will ever ‘click’ for me, but I enjoyed being challenged, being part of a lovely group, and observing the contrast with the level of comfort and proficiency I feel with sewing.

Thank you so much for reading my blog this year. I still enjoy reading blogs and I still enjoy writing a blog, so have no intention to stop and have lots planned to share in 2020.


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Paris Sewcial

Last weekend was the Paris Sewcial / Paris Coud meet-up, organised by myself and Carmen Bouchard.

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019

Back in 2014, I attended a Paris meet-up organised by Carmen, and this January I decided it was time for another large meet-up in Paris. Carmen agreed to organise it with me and took on the tasks of arranging our meals, as well as recommending lots of great shops and the Musée Yves Saint Laurent (thanks Carmen!).

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019

Around 50 of us met near the Sacré-Cœur on Saturday morning to visit Montmartre’s fabric shops. We had lots of attendees joining us from the UK and France, but also from Belgium, Germany, Canada and America. Phil was roped into taking a group photo in front of the Sacré-Cœur before departing to do his own thing for the day.

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019

We split into smaller groups as people moved to find lunch and explore further afield, but almost everyone made it to the dp Studio pop-up shop. By coincidence, the pattern company were holding a pop-up to sell their patterns and leftover fabric from previous samples and collections for one day only on the Saturday. The fabric was priced at €5 per metre (although they were generous at rounding down) and we all enjoyed a good rummage. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try one of their patterns for the first time, and picked the Le 600 Blouse which is well represented on Instagram.

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019

By this point we were well into the afternoon. Paris’ fabric shops are open quite late (until around 7pm) so lots of the group visited one more shop before heading back to hotels to drop off fabric and prepare for dinner. Carmen had arranged a three-course meal, plus musical accompaniment, for us, after which everyone was ready to fall into bed.

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019

On Sunday, a group of us met for brunch before visiting the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, located in the building where the couture house was based in Paris and where Yves Saint Laurent worked. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the last women standing travelled slightly out of town (by metro and bus) to visit Bennytex Fabric Warehouse. Bennytex made us very welcome, staying open until we finished shopping, and giving each of us a small coffee on arrival and a free metre or so of jersey fabric before we left.

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us over the weekend. As always, it was lovely to catch-up with old friends and to meet new ones. As someone who has never lived outside of Birmingham, it’s brilliant to be part of an international community online and – sometimes – in person.

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019

I’ve published a short vlog with some footage of the weekend, and of my purchases, which you can view here:

Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019
Paris Sewcial Meet-Up May 2019