english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Christmas Making

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

Happy Christmas all; I hope you’ve had some time at home relaxing. I’ve been doing quite a bit of gift making over the last week or so, and am now planning to get back to selfish sewing/knitting. I’ve already made a decent start on a Lesley sweater & I have a load of sewing patterns printed.

I actually finished the last of my Christmas gift making this morning. I was planning to make my Dad a tie but ran out of time before Christmas. I showed him the pattern pieces on Christmas Day (as proof a tie was in progress!) and finished making the tie today.

Handmade Tie using Purl Soho free pattern

I used the free Purl Soho tie pattern and fabric from Guthrie & Ghani, with scraps of Liberty fabric for the lining. This was my first attempt making a tie and I really enjoyed it – It’s all pressing and hand-sewing, so quite an enjoyable project while watching a movie.

Handmade Tie using Purl Soho free pattern

Handmade Tie using Purl Soho free pattern

The other gift sewing I did, was making a copse of Sewaholic Stanley Trees, another great free pattern. I made one tree using the larger version, and five using the smaller version of the pattern.

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

I found that I needed less fabric than is listed in the pattern. I managed to make one large, and three small trees from two metres of fabric. All of the Christmas fabric I used was also purchased from Guthrie & Ghani.

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

I thought the trees would be really quick to make, but they took longer than I expected as they involved quite a bit of hand (as well as machine) sewing, to seal the underside and attach any decorations. For decorations I made bows from ribbon in my stash, and attached either bells or tiny baubles from Ikea.

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

The most involved gift project this year was a scarf for my Mom. I used the Pianissimo scarf pattern by Thien-Kieu Lam from the Autumn edition of Pom Pom Quarterly (which is a brilliant issue). I made Version Two of the pattern (I’ve also made Version One for myself), shortening it slightly since – as written – it would be very long. The pattern uses an easily memorised cable pattern to create a really interesting effect.

Pianissimo Scarf

The photos don’t do the pattern or yarn justice. I used West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious DK yarn in the Garnet colourway. The yarn is 70% Falkland Wool and 30% British Alpaca. It was lovely to knit with and resulted in a really drapey scarf.

Pianissimo Scarf

The other gift I knitted was a little decoration as part of the #Christmasdecswap2015 organised by Marilla Walker. I was swapping with Ingrid and made her a Tiny Sweater using the free pattern by Malia Mather. A bit like my Dad’s tie, I finished it very late, but Ingrid can hopefully put it on the tree next year!

Tiny Sweater for #Christmasdecswap2015

I’ve made Christmas cards for a few years (some previous years here: 2014 / 2012 / 2012), so got the lino printing supplies out from under the bed and created an angel lino block for this year’s cards. Multi-colour prints are time consuming to create, so I used metallic pens to add colour.

Lino Print Handmade Christmas Card

Lino Print Handmade Christmas Card

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Vintage Postcard Christmas Cards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

While in Paris recently, I picked up a selection of vintage French holiday postcards for €1 each from Marché aux Puces, Saint-Ouen. I made them into Christmas cards for my family by cutting slits in the corners of blank cards (rather messily, with a pair of scissors I might add…) and slotting the postcards in. Super simple:)

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards


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Handmade Cards for Phil

Yesterday morning I had to pop to the doctor’s before work for a regular blood-pressure check. I was wearing the brooch I made at the Made in the Middle Craft Taster day and the doctor asked me about it. Well, that quickly led to a discussion about craft and sewing. The doctor was getting into craft (she’d just bought her first issue of Making magazine and a sewing machine) and I attempted to provide some tips on taking up her curtains and easy starter sewing patterns. I’m not sure if it’s a sign of how popular craft has become or just a sign that I’m so obsessed I manage to bring every conversation (even a medical consultation!) around to sewing… anyway it wasn’t a bad start to the day.

I spotted a couple of interesting links out and about on the web today:

  • I spotted an interesting post on Craftsy about independent sewing pattern designers.
  • Colette patterns have posted the short listed entries to the Laurel contest. Luckily they are asking readers to vote for 5 entries, there’s no way I could pick just one!

Now for the real subject of this post, the handmade birthday cards I made for Phil over the last few years. I only just rediscovered these in a box under our bed recently so haven’t posted pictures of any of these before. A couple are looking a little worse for wear for being squashed under the bed…

Shamefully I made all of these before me and Phil moved in together. Since we bought our house I’ve not made him a decent card. The excuse for this is that it’s difficult to secretly make him a card when we’re both in the house. Truthfully though I could sneak up stairs for an hour or so. I’ll try to ensure I make the effort this year.

Home Made Card

Home Made Card
Two Doraemon cards – one in felt and one in paper

Home Made Card
Superman card

Home Made Card
KISS Paul Stanley card

Home Made Card
This is the piece de résistance, a recreation of a famous anti-drugs Green Lantern/Green Arrow cover. I continued the comic theme on the inside with speech bubble text boxes.

Home Made Card


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Fritillaria Easter Card

I was a bit slow making Easter cards this year, but finally got around to making some – just in time! I opted for a fritillaria design. The fritillaria image is a linocut print, which I’ve tidied up & added text to in Adobe Illustrator.
Home-made Fritillaria Easter Card


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Hand Stamped Christmas Cards

Robin Linocut Stamp

Although my Christmas cards this year are handmade I didn’t make each one individually by hand in the same way I have in previous years, instead I created the design in Illustrator and printed them from the PC. To give them a more hand-crafted feel I decided to create a stamp from lino & use it to stamp each card and envelope. I decided on a nice simple robin and holly design in red ink. He’s pictured above tidied up in Illustrator, and below as he looked when stamped by hand on the inside of each card and outside of each envelope. That kept me busy for some time!

Robin Linocut Stamp

Robin Linocut Stamp