english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Quick Sewing for a Busy Month (Shirt No.1)

100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No.1

I haven’t had a lot of time for sewing lately; July-August is always the busiest time of the year for me at work, and there’s always lots going on at home too. Even more so this year, as there have been job interviews to prepare for, there’s a family wedding coming up (I’m just returned home from the hen-do), and the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, of which I’m a member of the GPC, has been busy hosting it’s biannual National Exhibition.

100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No.1

I have however been making time for those hobbies which are more naturally carried out in fits and starts, and while commuting. I recently picked back up a summer, linen yarn, cardigan which I started last year, and am making good progress – although possibly not good enough to actually wear it this year. I’ve also been reading lots of novels.

100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No.1

I was a very bookish child/teenager and studied English Literature at University, so I’ve always previously read large quantities of books. I also read quite quickly; I retain a feeling of self-satisfaction that, when I read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (I’ve only read it once), I read the three books within a week (admittedly, I was on holiday with my family at the time, and don’t think I did much else except eat and swim). These days, I tend to have periods where I devour books, interspersed by sometimes long periods where I stick to reading blogs and magazines.

Amongst the novels I have greedily devoured recently are Nancy Mitford’s (specifically The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate), which I am reading for the first time and enjoying every minute of. The little world they inhabit is completely un-PC, but also completely accepting and affectionate of human nature.

100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No.1

To accompany my ramblings, a quick sewing project for a busy month! This is the Shirt No.1 from 100 Acts of Sewing / Sonya Philip. Sewing projects don’t get much quicker than this – which consists of a single pattern piece – to prepare or sew. Unsurprisingly, this pattern works best in a drapey fabric, and I think the fabric used here (a linen-blend from Sew Me Something) probably has a tad too much body. I’m planning to sew a couple of these tops using some of the completely impractical but (to me) irresistible sequin fabrics I always get tempted by in Barry’s Fabrics; the simplicity of the design should be great for showcasing them, and limit the number of sequinned seams I have to sew.

P.S. Excuse the disheveled hair (humidity) and disheveled shirt (post-suitcase).

100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No.1

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Cats & Flowers Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Before these pictures no longer look seasonal, here is my Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket, photographed during the brief period of snowy weather we had here in Birmingham in December.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

I’ve been planning to make a Tamarack Jacket for some time, but was waiting to find a pre-quilted fabric, which I haven’t seen on sale very often in the UK. I suspected I would have more luck in Japan, and, sure enough, during a trip to Tokyo last year I found that the large Tomato store in the Nippori Fabric District has a wide selection of pre-quilted fabric (and pretty much everything else too). I picked this dark floral print, which has hidden black cats (see below). I would note that the downside of bringing 4 metres of pre-quilted fabric back from a holiday is that it takes up a lot of case space! For reference, I have found Miss Matatabi the best place to order pre-quilted fabrics online, and their recent sale included a few pre-quilted fabrics.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

I must have looked at the fabric requirements for a non-pre-quilted fabric, as when I came to cut out a Tamarack Jacket I realised I had (just) enough for two. As it happened, I was planning to make my Mom a Tamarack as a present for her birthday in November; I had purchased a different fabric for my Mom’s jacket, but decided instead to make us matching Tamaracks.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Having skipped the quilting stage, I assumed this would be quite a quick sew, but the volume of bias binding to be attached (not a favourite task of mine) and the welt pockets mean that these jackets took me quite a bit longer than anticipated (ahem, my Mom’s birthday present may have been delivered a few weeks late).

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Here’s how me and my Mom looked in our matching Tamaracks on Christmas Day. I have some more pre-quilted fabric to sew, and am currently debating between another Tamarack or a quilted bomber jacket – TBC!

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket


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Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

When I tested the Sangria dress from the Winter 2016 pattern collection from Capital Chic Patterns, I also asked Sally if I could test the Cuba Libre shirt. Before I began regularly sewing garments, a good proportion of my wardrobe was made up of RTW shirts, but I haven’t actually sewn many shirts (just one Archer), partly because I already have lots in the wardrobe, and partly because I have a tendency to pick quicker projects. However, I though Cuba Libre would be the perfect opportunity to add some me-made shirts to the wardrobe.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

I’m afraid I was a useless pattern tester and didn’t finish this shirt before Sally’s feedback deadline – but she let me off the hook! In fact, I still haven’t quite finished the Cuba Libre shirt shown here. I didn’t manage to add buttonholes or buttons before our holiday to Istanbul, but packed the shirt anyway, and I sewed myself in (plackets & cuffs) so I could wear it for a trip to Topkapi Palace, where these photos were taken. Sewing blogger problems, huh?

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

I also hand sewed the hem in our hotel room the same morning – which is actually standard for me, as I often hem garments by hand using a slip-stitch. In these photos it looks like the shirt has a hidden button placket – but that’s just because I haven’t attached buttons as yet (I will, I have no intention of regularly sewing myself in)!

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

This is a really great pattern with lots of lovely shirt details: yoke, collar with stand, cuffs and cuff plackets, patch pockets with flaps. I was working from the tester version, but Sally’s instructions are great and if even you’re not familiar with shirt making it’s nice and straightforward.

Cuba Libre is intended to be oversized – in a thicker fabric, as here, it results in quite a casual look, but in a more luxurious fabric (as in Sally’s sample photos) it can look very glam.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

My fabric was a remnant I picked up from the sale table at a local Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, It’s medium weight but very drapey, and very synthetic. I’ll definitely be making more Cuba Libre shirts – the pattern also includes two lengths of shirt dress, and I love a shirt dress as much as I love a shirt, so will be attempting all variations at some point. Some of the lovely details are a bit lost in this print, so I think I’ll make it in a solid (or, as a lover of print, perhaps a very small scale print…) next time.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

As noted above, these photos were taken in Topkapi Palace during my recent trip to Istanbul. If you’re not familiar, Topkapi Palace was a residence of the Sultans until its conversion into a museum under the Republic. The Palace is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a visit (although make sure to visit Dolmabahçe also), especially on a sunny day when it’s lovely strolling between buildings. The Palace has a fascinating history which it’s worth reading up on before you visit, time permitting; as is often the case with palaces, it was a beautiful prison for an awful lot of its residents.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

A personal favorite fact about Topkapi Palace is that it had a dedicated confectionery kitchen which employed up to one hundred confectioners – proof, if needed, of how seriously Turkish people take their puddings! A Turkish colleague told me previously that I was well suited to working in Turkey, due to having such a sweet tooth. Well, when in Rome.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt


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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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Liberty Linden Sweater Dress in Bruges

Linden Sweatshirt Dress in Liberty Fleece

Now that winter has returned, I’ve gone back to making Linden Sweatshirts! (Last year’s Lindens are here: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4).

Linden Sweatshirt Dress in Liberty Fleece

My mom bought me this Liberty fleece from SewBox at the Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts show in Birmingham during November, as a birthday gift. I didn’t have a particular plan for the fabric but thought I’d make a Linden rather than risk a new pattern with Liberty fabric. I only had one metre of fabric but this fleece is very wide and once I’d laid out the pattern pieces it was clear I had more than was needed for a sweatshirt.

Linden Sweatshirt Dress in Liberty Fleece

To make the dress I used View A of the Linden Sweatshirt (size 0), and simply extended down the full length of the fabric, shaping in slightly near the hem. I used the Linden View B length sleeves. As with my previous Lindens, I cut the neckline band approximately one size larger to ensure it would lie nice and flat.

Linden Sweatshirt Dress in Liberty Fleece

Due to the thickness of the fabric, I folded over once at the hem and bottom of the sleeves and sewed two rows of stitching to secure.

Linden Sweatshirt Dress in Liberty Fleece

These photos were taken during a recent long weekend in Bruges, down a quiet street. In fact the whole of Bruges was quiet like this (making it the perfect blog photo location!) – until Saturday when many more tourists descended. Ignore the creases in these photos, I’d been walking around in the dress all day, and had it screwed up under a coat and scarf – temporarily removed for blog photos.

Linden Sweatshirt Dress in Liberty Fleece

I’ve got another Linden to blog soon, but am planning to try out Paprika Pattern’s Zircon as an alternative sweater / sweater dress next.


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Floral Woven Linden & Snowdrops

It’s time for this week’s Linden! I will be posting makes from some different patterns soon, but still have a few Linden’s from a recent binge to show you. It’s probably a first for me, as I very rarely use patterns multiple times, but this pattern is so quick and easy (and so good) that I couldn’t resist. I normally struggle with OWOP, but I’m ready for this year’s now!

Floral Linden Sweatshirt

Last Sunday I visited a ‘snowdrop weekend’ at a (relatively) local church, St Leonard’s in Beoley, with my family. We walked around the grounds, which are currently scattered with snowdrops, and had tea and cake inside the church.

I wore my latest Linden, made in fabric from Barry’s. I have completely forgotten what the label on the bolt said about the composition of this fabric. It’s a heavy weight woven, with a slight one-way stretch. The right side of the fabric has a slight pile.

Floral Linden Sweatshirt

Construction wise, I actually made Version A with a few tweaks. I left of the bottom band, instead turning and hemming. I originally cut the full-length sleeves, but realised they were very tight and so cut a length off the bottom and hemmed them. I think they’ve ended up slightly longer than the sleeves from Version B. I also had to significantly lengthen the neck band (which is made from the main fabric); I originally cut the neckband one size larger than the body of my Linden (which I have done for all of my versions to prevent pulling at the neckline). However, in this fabric, with limited stretch, I couldn’t actually get the sweatshirt over my head… So I re-cut the neckband, estimating the extra length, and reattached. It now fits fine.

St Leonard’s Church Beoley

The one issue with making the Linen in a very stiff, non or limited stretch, fabric, is that you may have excess fabric sticking up at the back neckline. However, once I’d attached the neck band, I found that it pulled in the fabric effectively and that the neckline lies flat.

St Leonard’s Church Beoley

The fabric used has a large scale floral print. I centred the print on the front, but cut it at an angle on the back. I didn’t attempt print matching (as you can see), partly because I never do, and partly because I didn’t have enough fabric to attempt it with such a large-scale print. I would definitely get told off on Sewing Bee… (I’m loving this series by the way, although it seems to get harder every time).

Floral Linden Sweatshirt

The Linden is worn here with a beloved RTW skirt and shirt from Oasis, both of which I have had for many years (incidentally, both were gifts from my Nan). I take good care of my clothes so they tend to last a looong time.

Floral Linden Sweatshirt

My brother and his fiance’s miniature dachshund, Rupert, was with us at the church for a run around the grounds. Phil snapped him, as well as me, in his new threads.

Rupert the miniature Dachshund

Rupert the miniature Dachshund


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Floral Dolores Dress Visits Ghent

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

I was lucky enough to win a copy of the Dolores Batwing pattern by So Zo to review. I decided to make the dress version and went for this floral jersey, purchased in Barry’s Fabric during the SewBrum meet-up.

I made the dress up some time ago – but it’s taken me an age to blog about it because this was my third attempt to photograph the dress! I first tried to get some photos in our garden but this floral print blended into the background. I then tried to get some photos while visiting London on a trip to the Fashion & Textile Museum but managed to look excessively goofy in every shot. While on holiday last week I took the opportunity to get some more photos & it turned out third time lucky as you can see the dress in these photos and I don’t look any goofier than normal!

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

While staying in Brussels, me & Phil took the opportunity to catch the train to Ghent for a day trip, which is where these photos were taken. We visited on a day when the museums were closed, so I didn’t get to learn about Ghent’s history as a textile producer, but we got the chance to wander around, enjoy the views, and sit in cafes drinking Belgian beer (fruit beer for me, thanks). As a veggie, I was impressed to learn that Ghent has a meat-free day on Thursdays and supposedly, per capita, the world’s largest number of vegetarian restaurants. Pity I only had time to try one during this visit.

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

Back to the dress. This is such a quick make (and I’m increasingly realising that those are my favourite kind. I’m really excited by the Seamwork premise of patterns that only take a few hours to complete). The Dolores PDF only consists of 11 pages, so assembly is exceptionally pain free, and only one pattern piece is used for the front and back of the dress (or top, or tunic, as this pattern has a lot of options). I made this dress from start (printing the PDF) to finish in one afternoon and wore it out that evening. If you are a knit fabric newbie, Zoe’s instructions include detailed information on working with knits, as well as photographs of the construction process.

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

I cut a size 10 which, checking again now, is actually slightly smaller than my actual bust and waist measurements. As a result the dress fits fine but is clingier than some other versions I’ve seen popping up on blogs. Next time I’ll size up for a bit more ease, or, if I fancy a clingy fit, I’ll keep the same size for the body but go up one size for the sleeve pieces, which is where the dress is tightest (I’ve noticed a couple of other bloggers finding the sleeves slightly tight so you may want to double check the sleeve pieces before cutting out your fashion fabric).

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

So, this is another great all-rounder pattern & I’m looking forward to trying out the top version as well as a slouchier dress. I’ll leave you with a few photos of gorgeous Ghent.

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

The Dolores Batwing Dress, So Zo, in Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent, Belgium