english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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!


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Floral Moneta

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

It’s been a super busy week! Admittedly, that’s how I like them – if there’s a gap in my week I’ll soon find a way to fill it. I’m off to London tomorrow morning for a friend’s birthday, followed by a trip to Yarnporium on Sunday.

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

A copy of Johnny Marr’s autobiography arrived yesterday so I’ll be making a start on it, on the train journey to London. Receiving it has sent me on a The Smiths/Morrissey binge (even more than normal, that is) – I’ve been watching endless YouTube videos. On that topic, this little clip is my all time favourite footage of The Smiths. They change periodically, but – currently at least – my favourite songs are Back to the Old House, Stretch Out and Wait, and Break Up the Family. The intro music on my vlog is an 8-bit-style version of Back to the Old House, which I created using some free software.

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

Ahem, on to sewing! This is Colette Patterns’ Moneta Dress in John Kaldor Portia Fabric; both pattern and fabric were kindly supplied by Sew Essential. I think this specific fabric is out-of-stock, as I’ve taken a while sewing this up, but Sew Essential have a selection of patterned jerseys.

Lucy from Sew Essential has recently blogged her own Moneta in one of their range of coloured wool jerseys, which looks great. The wool jerseys would also be perfect for an Emery or Sudley.

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

I cut out size XS at the bust, graded to S at the waist and hips. The collar is the Tie Collar from the free Moneta extras pack. I was tempted into adding this collar by Devon’s gorgeous Moneta, which is one of those blogged projects that has stayed with me ever since I read the blog post. These trousers by Jennifer Lauren are another example – absolutely perfect, and I’ve been meaning to copy them since the post was published, which apparently was three and a half years ago! It really is true that time seems to pass quicker the older you get. I can remember feeling days drag by as a teenager – almost certainly because I spent an awful lot of time doing absolutely nothing. I remember spending an awful lot of time napping…

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

These photos were taken in the lovely Cannon Hill Park; I’m also wearing my hand-knit Hancock Cardigan and a beret which I’ve had for so long I’ve forgot its provenance.

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

Enjoy the weekend – I hope you also have fun plans. And, for the sake of my bank balance, please cross your fingers for me to show some restraint at Yarnporium. I don’t have a huge amount of faith in myself…

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

Colette Patterns Moneta in John Kaldor Floral Jersey

Disclaimer: I was provided with the Moneta pattern and fabric by Sew Essential, all opinions expressed are my own.


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B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

I haven’t found as much time to blog recently as I would have liked. I don’t get hung up about it – despite (or perhaps because of) working as a project manager, I prefer to be fairly unorganised in my own time and don’t like to plan ahead very far. However, I do really enjoy blogging and miss it, as with sewing or knitting, when I’m not finding the time. I’ve always enjoyed writing; when I was younger I wrote stories, plays, diaries. Currently I only write this blog, and while writing dressmaking blog posts is pretty far from working on a story or play, I think for me, it satisfies the same urge.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

I did think about starting to keep a diary again, but decided that if Phil kept a diary (not going to happen, but still) I would be seriously, seriously tempted to read it, despite that basically being beyond the pale. I couldn’t keep a diary if I thought there was any chance of anyone else reading it, as I have to feel totally free to express myself in a way that otherwise only takes place inside my own head (I have previously destroyed diaries after finishing with them, as I don’t even want to read them back myself). I decided that if I would be tempted to read Phil’s (imaginary) diary, maybe he would be tempted to read mine – so have decided to abstain. This is despite the fact that I suspect Phil wouldn’t actually have the slightest bit of curiosity, as shown by the fact that he never, ever reads this blog – even though he is mentioned in it.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Anyhow, that was a very long winded route to informing you that I am only just blogging these photos taken during our holiday to Amsterdam back in July. Sticking with the theme of delayed blog posts, I sewed this wrap dress as part of the Wrap Dress Sewalong McCall’s hosted in February 2015, I actually finished the dress during the sewalong time frame but it’s taken me a year and a half to blog it.

This is Butterick B5030, Version E with collar, long sleeves and cuffs. The size of the collar and cuffs gives this a vintage (70s) vibe.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

I remember practically nothing about the construction of this dress, but can report back on wearability. It’s quite low cut on me, so I typically pin it closed (I have been planning to add a hidden button, but it’s unlikely to ever actually happen). The wrap skirt gives pretty good coverage, although it does need an underskirt on a breezy day – which could also be resolved by a hidden button, if I didn’t find those kind of useful sewing tasks boring. The fit is pretty good on me straight out of the packet and it’s extremely comfy to wear.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

This fabric is a jersey I purchased from Stitch at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC. I used the leftover fabric to make a blouse.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

And now to bed, as I’m off to London early tomorrow morning.

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress

Butterick B5030 Wrap Dress