english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Faux Fur Tamarack

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Pattern: Tamarack Jacket by Grainline Studio

Sewing time taken (excluding cutting out): 4 hours

Fabric: Faux fur from Samuel Taylors / Sew Up North 2018

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

This faux fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket was a long time coming. I first decided to make a Tamarack in faux fur in November 2015, after seeing a RTW faux fur jacket in a similar shape. It then took me until 2018 to spot a faux fur fabric I liked enough to buy it – in Samuel Taylors, Leeds during the 2018 Sew Up North meet-up.

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

I cut out all of the pattern pieces for this jacket (including interfacing and lining) last winter but didn’t find the time to sew it. A few weeks ago I plucked the pattern pieces out of my unfinished objects basket and after around four hours sewing time I finally had a finished jacket. Further evidence that sewing only makes up a small part of many sewing projects!

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Despite having planned this jacket since 2015, the high street is full of faux fur jackets in similar styles this winter, so it feels very on-trend. I had fabric left over after finishing the jacket (I still do, but I’m not sure I need any more matching accessories) so I decided to make matching earmuffs, by covering a pair I already owned. I cut two circles of fabric to cover each ear, sewed them right-sides together and pulled them over each side of the ear muffs, finally I hand-sewed the top of each side closed around the headband.

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

For the jacket, I didn’t want to finish the edges with bias binding – as per the pattern instructions – as I thought it would flatten the faux fur. Instead I cut a lining (using the standard pattern pieces with a slightly trimmed seam allowance to prevent the lining peeking out) and sewed the main and lining jackets together at all seams except the centre front. The lining fabric is a Liberty cotton lawn bought from Birmingham Rag Market (specifically The Little World of Fabric, also known as ‘The Liberty Man’).

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

I fancied a zip closure (see also: Meg and Katie’s versions with zips) but was a bit worried about the faux fur getting caught in the zipper teeth. In the end I decided to go for it, and fitted a 22″ zip (a 21″ zip would have been preferable but they didn’t have that in the shop). I attached the zip with a generous seam allowance to give it a little distance from the faux fur and I haven’t had any issues with the fabric getting caught.

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

The Tamarack pattern is a great simple shape for hacking and I’ve been wearing this version loads since finishing it so I’m glad I finally brought it to fruition!

Faux Fur Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket


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Alice & Co Patterns Georgie Dress

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

Pattern:  Georgie Dress (free) by Alice & Co Patterns

Time taken (excluding cutting out): 20 hours (including lots of alterations)

Fabric: Masson Mills cotton

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

When Alice & Co Patterns announced they would be releasing a free pattern based on Mary Quant’s Georgie Dress, to coincide with the recent Mary Quant exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, I got excited. I got even more excited to make my own version of the Georgie Dress when I realised that I had a fabric in my stash which was a reasonable approximation for the fabric used in the original dress held in the V&A’s collection.

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

My fabric is a cotton woven at Masson Mill in Matlock Bath. Mason Mill was a working cotton mill from 1783 until 1991 and now houses a museum (amongst other things) which produces a small quantity of fabric for demonstration and sale purposes. The fabric is sold very cheaply (a few pounds per metre) as offcuts or cut from the bolt. It’s narrow width due to being woven on traditional mechanised looms, but I managed to make this dress from three offcuts of the striped fabric (all 1 metre+) and a small amount of a purple cotton, also from Masson Mill, for the ruffles. The bodice is as per the pattern but I had to reduce the volume of fabric used in the skirt.

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

Although I rarely sew vintage, it was vintage patterns which first got me interested in garment sewing before I discovered indie designers. I still find vintage (and vintage inspired) designs visually really appealing, but often find them less appealing to actually sew. The construction of this dress took 20 hours (due to me making various alterations to fit and style), which is by far the longest I’ve spent on a sewing project since I started timing myself a couple of months ago, and by the end I just wanted it finished.

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

I started by cutting a size 12, but after basting together and trying on the bodice in my lining fabric (as helpfully recommended in the pattern instructions) I decided it was too big and trimmed my bodice pieces down to a size 10, grading to a 12 at the waist. I think I could have gone down a size again in the bodice, so suspect the pattern contains a reasonable amount of ease but it’s probably also the result of using a loosely woven cotton fabric.

My fabric choice wasn’t the easiest to work with. The striped fabric is loosely woven, slightly shiny (meaning it really shows any fit issues), and very lightweight. The purple fabric I used for the ruffles is slightly heavier weight which caused them to droop and pull on the bodice, which I mitigated by sewing them in place along the neckline seam. I was aiming for a retro look, but when I first tried this dress on the pattern and fabric combination looked very frumpy. Reducing the length of the skirt made a huge difference to making it look more 60s and less Victorian.

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

A sign to myself that I had moved beyond being a beginner sewer was when I became confident making alterations to sewing projects I wasn’t completely happy with. Before that point I would finish construction as per the pattern instructions, hang the offending garment in my wardrobe and then rarely wear it. I’m still going back to those previous sewing projects and fixing the aspects which annoy me, now that I’m better able to guess what it is I don’t like and how to fix it. I’ve actually been making small alterations this evening to two garments which I do wear but which annoy me a little bit every time. I started tap dancing classes recently, I’m really bad at tap and it makes me appreciate all the more having a hobby (sewing) where I do feel like I know what I’m doing and never feel completely at a loss – even if some projects do take more effort than anticipated.

Alice & Co Patterns Mary Quant Georgie Dress

I’m glad I got this dress to a point where I am happy wearing it, and if I make the pattern again I’ll try it in a more modern fabric for a completely different look.


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Starry Sirocco Jumpsuit

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ve been getting lots of time for sewing recently, which means I have been trying patterns quite soon after their release rather than a year or so later, as is my usual habit.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

That includes having sewn two Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuits since the release of the pattern in April. The jumpsuit pictured is my second Sirocco. I made both my Siroccos in fabric purchased during the Paris Sewcial meet-up from Bennytex fabric warehouse on the outskirts of Paris.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I made the first Sirocco in a lightweight grey knit fabric grading between sizes 38/40. After a couple of wears I decided that the crotch was too low for me to be comfortable wearing the jumpsuit, so for my second version I still cut a size 38/40 except for the seams at the top of the trousers and bottom of the bodice, where I graded down to size 34 (the smallest size in the pattern). This worked perfectly to raise the crotch without impacting the construction of the pattern (including attaching the pockets to the trousers at the waist seam which I was worried would be affected by a more major alteration). I want to go back and make the same alteration to my original Sirocco in time to get lots of wear out of it this summer.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

This second version was made in a medium weight knit fabric with a gold stars print. This is a sweat-shirting-type fabric, with a soft wrong-side. I really like this jumpsuit in a slightly weightier fabric, and I’m loving white clothes this summer. I suspect this fabric might get marked or start pilling relatively quickly, but I’m going to make the most of wearing it for as long as I can.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

These pictures are a mixture of photos taken in our local park, and pictures taken during a family holiday to Derbyshire, including to visit a nearby well dressing in Cressbrook, inspired by a visit by Karen a few days before.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I always associate holidays with taking lots of nice blog photos. I filled my suitcase with summery clothes I wanted to photograph – and then it was wet and cold all week. We still managed some nice pictures between showers, and the summery outfits worked out fine for exploring Derbyshire paired with some boots, a jacket and an umbrella. We even managed a brief dip in the outside pool in Hathersage while we were there.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ll leave you with the obligatory jumping in a jumpsuit picture as I return to binge watching series 17 of Project Runway with a final cup of tea before bed.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit


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Maven Patterns Rochester Dress at the Confetti Fields

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

Recently, my mom told me about the Confetti Fields in Pershore, part of a farm which grows and sells dried flower petal confetti. For 10 days each year some of the fields are open to the public, and they have pop-up stalls selling cake and tea, and bouquets of the flowers. Clearly this was an irresistible blog photo opportunity, so when my mom and dad visited last weekend, me and Phil tagged along.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

In my enthusiasm to visit the fields I didn’t actually stop to think that Phil – who has severe hay fever – might not be so keen to walk through fields full of flowers, until he reminded me. He did get severe hay fever and it was not his favourite place, but he still took some rather nice photos of my new dress in between sneezes.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

This is the Rochester Dress from Maven Patterns. I bought the pattern direct from Maven Patterns at the Sewing for Pleasure show at Birmingham NEC in March, and picked this fabric to make it with, also at the show, from Higgs & Higgs. The fabric was in the bargain bin and was a total steal, I assume it’s a cotton but it has a linen-like ability to wrinkle seemingly two seconds after emerging from under the iron.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

The Rochester is a deceptively simple pattern, as it actually has a number of carefully designed details. I was assuming I would whip this dress up, but following the instructions and taking my time to sew neatly (I’m getting really good at actually taking care with my sewing now!), it took a couple of longish sittings.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

The first of the interesting features of the dress is the long curved hem, with side split and modest high-low hem. In addition to hem facing pieces, the pattern includes a template for top-stitching the hem, which I used and which resulted in very neat top stitching if I do say so myself. The pattern also intends for the sleeves to be finished with top stitching, and it looks great on the pattern but I couldn’t see any way to top stitch after the sleeves had been constructed with my fabric / machine, as I couldn’t easily have reached that far up the sleeve with the machine. I slip stitched my sleeve facing by hand, but the effect isn’t as interesting as the intended top stitching.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

The other main feature of the dress is the neckline. There are two neckline options included in the pattern, and I had intended to use the alternative (which is a simpler single row of elastic directly at the neckline) due to loving the effect on the pattern cover. I decided, however, that I ought to try the more unusual option and I’m really pleased with the result, which was very easy to achieve with a couple of rows of stitching and a small off-cut of elastic. There’s also a pleat at the back of the dress although it’s not very well shown off in these photos, or in this crease-loving fabric.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

I’d definitely like to make another Rochester dress in a crepe or viscose at some point, and I do think the details of this dress would be shown off to great effect in a solid colour.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

I’m really glad that I finally got around to sewing one of the Maven Patterns. I’ve seen some beautiful versions of the French Dart Pattern (including Susan Young’s) so that might be the next pattern I try, and I also fancy making myself an apron I’m happy to wear out to workshops (i.e. one which isn’t covered in stains from years of wear in the kitchen) using their Maria Apron pattern.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress


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Velvet Floral Floreat Dress

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

Me and Phil are back at home this weekend after a few days holiday with family in the Peak District. We had a fun few days but one thing I am glad to return home to is decent Wi-Fi! I spent hours yesterday catching up with emails, and thought this evening would be the perfect opportunity to write a blog post. I have also left the house a few times in between, and finished a small embroidery project, so the weekend hasn’t been solely spent in front of a screen.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

I managed to dodge the rain long enough to get some photos of recent makes while we were away, but the photos here predate the most recent holiday, and were mostly taken in Paris when we were there for #ParisSewcial.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

This pattern is the Floreat Dress from Megan Nielsen. The pattern includes a whole host of variations and I was especially drawn to the knit dress version, so made my floreat in this stretch floral velvet from Like Sew Amazing which I purchased with a voucher I was kindly gifted by Sarah for second prize in the Refashioners 2018. I love a velvet, and this is quite an unusual fabric as the florals are smooth and shiny, with velvet in-between.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

I didn’t love this dress as much as I expected on completion. After a couple of wears I have determined that the long length, long sleeves, and busy fabric combine to feel a bit overwhelming. Lately I have committed to making sure that I love (and wear) all of the garments in my wardrobe – and I have been altering (or giving away) those I’m not happy with. I worked through a good chunk of my alterations pile during Me-Made-May, and am planning to keep up the momentum now May is over. For this dress, I’ve trimmed the sleeves to a short length and I have a feeling that the new and improved version will be in regular rotation in my wardrobe.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress
Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress


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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


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In Conclusion, My 2018

With 2018 drawing to a close, I wanted to write a round-up of what I’ve been up to in the last year.

National Exhibition 2018 of the Association of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

I’ve continued volunteering for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, managing their social media channels and monthly newsletter. It’s an organisation I love being part of, despite personally doing minimal weaving, spinning or dyeing. In the same way that being part of the sewing community introduces me to a wider community of women, being part of the Association allows me to be part of a different community of fascinating, talented women, I otherwise wouldn’t interact with. This year I attended the Association’s biannual National Exhibition for the first time, next year I will be attending the summer school (my first-choice is a week-long course in weaving tweed and tartan), and in 2020 I plan to submit a small (un-juried) piece to the next National Exhibition.

The Sewing Weekender 2018

I (jointly) organised the third Sewing Weekender (with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line), and the fifth SewBrum (with Lauren Guthrie) in 2018. Both events were the biggest yet, and it’s really positive that people continue to want to attend, that this community continues to grow and that it continues to be supportive despite that growth. For the first time ever I even managed to make a new dress to wear to each of the events! I was adamant that I wasn’t going to let being busy stop me from attending other events in the sewing community this year, and I made it along to (and thoroughly enjoyed myself at) Sew Up North, the Sewcialist Soiree, and Birmingham-based meet-ups including Brummie Yarn Social.

Bar Suit for The Refashioners 2018

I participated in the Refashioners for the second time (the first time was in 2015), and won the runner-up prize for an outfit inspired by Dior’s Bar Suit, which was my most involved sewing project to date. Phil and I visited Paris to get photos based on my inspiration image (we also holidayed in Vietnam, Majorca, Lulworth Cove and Skegness this year). My entry for Tilly & the Button’s Sew a Xmas Sweater Competition was also based on an inspiration image, Vera Ellen’s dress at the end of White Christmas. Back in April, I celebrated Fashion Revolution Week by making a screen-printed tee, which was one of my favourite garments this summer. Finally, in December I participated in two Christmas swaps (Bombazine Mitt Swap & Sewing Secret Santa).

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

In December 2017 I started using the Cora App to catalogue my fabric and I’ve kept it up all year (with a few gaps where some retrospective cataloguing was required). Cataloguing my fabric inspired me to take part in MakeNine for the first time in 2018, and to finally sew with patterns and fabric I’ve had in mind for ages. I’ve only made a smallish dent in my MakeNine plans so far (simply because I don’t sew as fast as I plan), but the intention to not forget patterns released (and fabric purchased) in previous years remains, and I did sew with my stash of Mahlia Kent remnants, built up over a couple of previous trips to Paris.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

I’ve had limited success with my knitting this year (I’ve done less knitting, and the projects I have finished have had fitting issues), but in the last couple of months Christmas has inspired me to pick up my (circular) needles more regularly, and I’ve finished knitted baubles for our Christmas tree, and a scarf for my mom’s Christmas present. I’m hoping to stay inspired and to successfully complete a larger project for myself in the new year.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Without me really noticing it was occurring, I’ve become more confident in my sewing ability in the last year or so. My ability to complete my Refashioners’ project was a sure sign to myself that I’m no longer reliant on instructions, or thrown when something doesn’t immediately work as expected. I’ve become more confident altering garments which I’m not happy with, and this year that included significantly altering a knitted garment for the first time, taking the scissors to my Wharf Street Pullover to remove length from the hem and sleeves.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

My blog photography has also improved (credit to Phil for this one), and I took the opportunity this year to get better photos of my Bombshell swimsuit, on a beach as opposed to in my garden. I enjoy celebrating garments which have been successes by re-blogging them, like last year when I took the opportunity to do so for my Victoria Blazer, which is still undoubtedly my most-worn handmade garment.

Vlog November Sewing Zine

I kept up my vlog in 2018, including a monthly ‘zine’ which I started in September as a way of sharing sewing and knitting related things which interest me, plus a little on my own creative plans. I’ve also kept up a more regular schedule on my blog recently, and I think the blog and vlog complement each other well, with the blog for finished garment and longer posts (such as this), and the vlog for shorter chit chat and recommendations.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I tend to think that I don’t sew patterns multiple times, but my love for the Sangria, Linden, and Grace patterns continued unabated this year. More unusually, I am sewing a garment for Phil for only the second time ever, making him a coat while I’m off work over Christmas using the Free Sewing Carlton Coat pattern.

I also bought myself a sewing machine for the first time this year (the previous have all been gifts). There’s a story behind the purchase which I’ll save for a second wrap-up post about my personal/work life, as this post is long enough already.

Thank you for reading the blog and Happy Christmas and New Year!