english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Mustard Denim Cleo in Seoul

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

I must admit, when Tilly’s Cleo pattern was originally released I didn’t pay much attention. I already owned dungaree dress patterns and didn’t think I particularly needed another. However, as the highly contagious Cleo fever struck and spread across the sewing community, I inevitably became infected and immediately had to have my own Cleo!

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

In the grip of the fever, I dashed off to Guthrie & Ghani and bought all of the supplies for this Cleo (pattern, mustard denim and hardware). Apparently all of the other customers who had bought this mustard denim from G&G were also planning Cleos, so I’m sure I have a lot of Cleo twins! The buttons are the kind which don’t require pliers; they push together easily by hand and are secure once attached. Make sure to position them correctly, because they aren’t going anywhere.

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

As you already know, Cleo is quick to sew. I made this mini length Cleo in the evening before the CHSI Stitches trade show, and wore it to meet up with fellow sewists at the show. Based on my measurements, I cut a size 2 (bust), graded to a 3 (waist and hips), but ended up with quite a bit of gaping at the waist. For a quick fix, I took these in a few inches at either side, but would size down next time. I also think the bib would fit me better if it were slightly narrower.

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

All of these pictures were taken on my recent holiday to Seoul. My Cleo emerged from the case already quite creased and became more so as the holiday progressed, but I think a slightly crumpled look suits denim.

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

I’ll leave you with my Cleo Dress in a number of picturesque locations around Seoul .

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim


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Blue Velvet Moneta Dress for #MonetaParty

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Long time no see, guys! I’ve been finding slightly less time to sew and knit lately, but even less to blog. I’m off on holiday to Seoul and Tokyo next week, and have a few recent projects to photograph, so no doubt I’ll have a few garments (and probably some holiday fabric shopping…) to blog in the next few weeks.

Before that, as I’m sure you’re well aware, back in February ElleRachel and Abigail hosted an online Moneta Party. I had sewn Moneta once before, but wanted to make a new version for the party.

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

I whipped this version of Moneta up quickly the weekend of the party, in a blue stretch velvet from Barry’s Fabrics. I added the Tie Collar from the free Moneta extras pack, and made a belt to wear over the dress, using a trim purchased from Birmingham Rag Market. To make the belt I just added a stiff backing fabric to the trim, and hook and eyes to fasten it.

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

The dress looks ok in these photos, but I’m afraid there were actually a few issues with my fabric choice which mean it hasn’t survived! The stretch velvet I chose clung unflatteringly in the bodice, and having constructed the dress I noticed a flaw in the fabric right under the bust… After taking these photos the dress was cast aside for a few days, after which I removed the bodice and fitted a waistband to make a simple gathered skirt.

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

These photos were taken quickly in our front room, to make the Moneta Party photo deadline. Phil was making fun of my modelling skills, which resulted in the following…

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet

Colette Patterns #monetaparty Moneta in Blue Velvet


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Comic Art Sudley Printed with Contrado

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Contrado are a London-based company who offer fabric printing on demand. I talk about my experience designing and printing a fabric with them in my latest vlog, which you can view here:

As mentioned in the vlog, my design was inspired by a comic-print, black and white Prada skirt, which I eyeballed in a shop window. My design features some personal favourite comic characters / artists.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

The design was printed on Contrado’s Crepe de France fabric. The fabric is light/medium weight, with lots of drape.  The image print quality is very high, with even small details printed clearly. The colour didn’t run when I washed the fabric, but I did get some colour/image transfer when I ironed this dress on a high heat (following one wash). The fabric is slightly see-through; I lined the bodice and will wear a slip underneath.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I used my fabric to make a Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress, with the skirt extended to floor length. I thought Sudley would be a good pattern to show off the fabric, due to the lack of fastenings or darts. As in my previous Sudley, I cinched in the waist of the dress by attaching elastic around the waistband.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I’m looking forward to wearing this out – although slightly wary about how dirty the hem may be by the time I get home!

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Disclaimer: I was provided with two metres of fabric in exchange for blogging about it, all opinions expressed are my own.


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Floral Velvet Wedding M7154

M7154 in Floral Velvet

So here’s a dress that was long in the planning! Two years ago, my brother James announced his wedding. Not long before that, McCall’s had released M7154, a 1930s reproduction pattern. I loved M7154 on release and when the wedding was announced thought it was the perfect excuse to try the pattern.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Despite having two years advance warning (and the pattern in a drawer for that time), I, of course, waited until a few weeks before the wedding to make a start on my dress. I actually did the majority of the sewing in the week before the wedding, in the evenings after work. I finished the hem of the dress on the morning of the wedding, along with finishing touches to a wedding jacket for my brother and his wife’s dog, Rupert… I was staying at the venue, and had my bedroom set up as a sewing room, with machine and sewing supplies spread across the dressing table.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

The wedding venue was a fort on the Cornish coast, which you can spy in the background of my photos. It was a beautiful wedding and we had a lovely weekend, and even decent weather for February – with the exception of during the official photos, when it poured!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

My fabric is a floral velvet purchased from Barry’s Fabric. Barry’s have a small rack (near the till) which contains a selection of fabrics which are kept out back (mainly velvet and fake fur), presumably due to a combination of price and the space the bolts take up.

Phil was wearing a purple suit to the wedding, so I started off attempting to buy a purple or pink velvet for my dress. However, due to needing five metres, available options were limited – I had the staff in Barry’s back and forth checking pretty much every velvet on the rack… I love the fabric I did come away with though – and I have a little left to make something more casual, given the impracticality of this dress.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

I’m not a toile-girl, so I went straight into making the pattern ‘for real’, and adjusted as I went. I made quite a few adjustments to better fit the dress for my body, and to tweak the design:

  • The pattern has you continue the zip from the back of the skirt up to the top off the dress along the bodice lining. Based on the bodice construction, I could see this being fiddly, and I didn’t want the lining to be visible at the bodice back. Instead, I finished the zip at the skirt waistband and added a hook and eye at the waistband, as well as at the top of the bodice (as per the pattern);
  • Initially the bodice hung very low. I raised it by unpicking the bodice at the shoulder seams and trimming off approximately 2 inches from each of the four straps.
  • The bodice is intended to hang over the skirt, but I had a lot of excess fabric at the bodice back, which hung awkwardly. I suspect this was partially due to using a heavier-weight fabric than recommended. I unpicked the bodice back from the skirt as far as the side seams and reduced the bodice length – pinning and eyeballing until it looked right;
  • I cut approximately 4 inches off the length at the skirt hem.

I also found the instructions for sewing the neckline to the bodice at the front and shoulders unnecessary fiddly, and would recommend following your own common sense on those sections.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Photos of what you really want to see from the wedding, Rupert’s dog jacket, to follow!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet


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Knit Billie Dress

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Hi all, I’ve been quiet online lately, but haven’t been totally absent from this sewing community of ours! Last Saturday, I attended a meet-up organised by Crafty Sew & So in Leicester (blogged by Crafty Sew & So and by Sew Positivity), I’m planning my next moneta for the Moneta Party, and I’m popping to my parents’ house today to check the fit of a toile dog jacket on my brother’s dog, Rupert, before cutting into a tweed to make Rupert a jacket for my brother’s wedding.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

This is one of the dress variations from the Billie Collection, the first pattern from Tribe Patterns, and a collaboration between The Fold Line and Rachel Pinheiro. The pattern contains dress (with and without contrast at the shoulders), top and skirt variations. The Dress includes some lovely features, including open ended fish-eye darts to create the skirt pleats, and squared shoulders and neckline.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

The Bille Dress is closely fitted across the bust (via bust darts, plus fish-eye darts at the front and back) so this is a pattern where getting the fit right really impacts the finished garment. The pattern is designed for a cup size C; as someone with a B cup, I should have attempted a small bust adjustment, but decided to (be lazy and) try the dress in a knit fabric for a slightly more relaxed fit. The fit is still off at the bust, and next time I ought to be good and adjust the pattern.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Although the pattern is designed for wovens, I’d definitely recommend trying it in a stable knit fabric for a comfy casual dress. Thanks to the wide neckline, I’m able to pull this dress on and off over my head, so skipped the back zip; bonus! I purchased this medium-weight knit fabric from a market stall during my recent trip to Istanbul, at Çarşamba (Wednesday) market in Kirmasti, Fatih. I used the wrong side of the fabric for the contrast shoulder panels.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

If you’re wary about fitting the Billie Collection dress, the skirt variation would be a nice easy project, and the top would be easier to perfect fitting adjustments on before moving on to the dress.

Right, I’m off to fit in some sewing before it’s time for a puppy fitting session!

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress


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Christmas Party Alix Dress

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Happy Christmas everyone! Phil and I spent Christmas Eve with his family, and Christmas Day with my family. We’re having a lazy Boxing Day at home, and I’m intending to squeeze in lots of my favourite things – I read half of a new novel curled on the sofa with a tea this morning, and I’m planning to make a start on a couple of sewing projects, with a movie on in the background, later.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Life has been (happily) crazy for the last couple of weeks. I’m one of those people who really relishes Christmas and likes to slowly build into a festive mood, but this year Christmas was here before I knew it. I finally managed to watch White Christmas and Home Alone while wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, and I have time off work over the next couple of weeks, so plenty of chance to knit in front of Gone with the Wind and It’s a Wonderful Life.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Unlike the Christmas presents I was planning to make (total failure), I did manage to make myself a new Christmas party dress! I actually made this to wear at the unofficial/boozy Christmas party at work, and wore it again yesterday to visit family.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

This is the Alix Dress (version 2) by By Hand London. The pattern is designed for wovens but I made it up in a stretch velvet which I purchased from a market stall during my recent trip to Istanbul. Since the design is loose fitting it doesn’t really require a knit fabric, but it does make it very comfy. The only change I made to the pattern was to add an inch to the length, since Version 2 comes up quite short as drafted, and I wanted it to be suitable to wear into work on the day of our Christmas pub crawl.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

Since it’s Christmas, I also made a matching bow, which I sewed on to a headband. My team at work thought I should have gone bigger and more Madonna – so that’s the plan for next year!

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

As I was in a suitably stupid mood on Christmas morning, here’s a suitably ridiculous picture of said bow. Happy Boxing Day – hope you are also doing fun things.

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet

By Hand London Alix Dress in stretch velvet


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Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I’m currently on holiday in Istanbul, hence the backdrop of Hagia Sophia in these photos. Before heading off on holiday, I was thrilled to be involved in testing the new Winter 2016 pattern collection by Sally (of both Capital Chic Patterns and Charity Shop Chic). I love all of the patterns in the collection but, due to lack of time, Sangria – which is my far the quickest sew – was the only pattern I tested.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

This is the first version of Sangria I made, using some mystery fabric from Birmingham Rag Market (I think it’s a mid-weight jersey). The pattern is designed for scuba jersey, to achieve a smooth line over the body (i.e. avoid visible panty line). I have tried it in three different fabrics now (pictures to follow), and found it works well in jerseys, as well as scuba jerseys, particularly if they are medium weight. I fancy placing a Girl Charlee order and seeing how it sews up in a selection of their fabrics. As an added bonus, in a stretchy knit you can skip the back zip, making this an even quicker sew.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

This version was sewn using the test pattern. I graded between sizes 10 (bust) and 12 (waist/hips), and sewed a narrow seam allowance on the sleeves, which felt a little tight (a reasonably common adjustment for me). As this fabric has quite a bit of stretch, I used a shorter zip than recommended, just to allow me to get the collar over my head. I do get a bit of pooling of fabric at my lower back, which I ought to sort for future versions, and which I only recently noticed, since I don’t see my back that often!

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I absolutely love this pattern for work dresses, and have also made a party version in a shiny snakeskin print which I’m hoping to rock this weekend!

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Right, I’m off sightseeing. Hope you also have good weeks planned!