english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Holiday Snaps & Meandering Thoughts

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

Phil and I dragged out the Christmas holiday as long as possible, spending a few days in Alicante before returning to work this week.

These pictures, of garments I’ve previously blogged, were taken while we were away (Malachi Vest / In the Folds Jumpsuit / Tamarack Jacket). I didn’t spend a lot of time sewing over Christmas, but did start the process of making two coats (one for me and one for Phil). I’m taking my time attaching interfacing and canvas, resisting the impulse to rush ahead to construction, in order to create coats which should look, and last, all the better for it.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

I wanted to thank everyone who read, or got in touch about, my recent post regarding my experience with my previous employer. A few people who commented used the word ‘proud’ which led me to recall a memory from the time which I thought was worth sharing, and which I didn’t touch on in my previous post, since I kept that largely to a blow-by-blow account.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

At my lowest point working for that employer I spent one week off work, and in bed, recovering from a combination of stress and anaemia. Amongst the many emotions I felt at that time, I realised that I felt ashamed.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Ashamed because, in a work context, I had come to view myself as a ‘strong’ person, and this had become central to my concept of – and what I valued about – myself. Certainly my concept of what constituted strength in this context (including being willing and able to work as long and hard as anyone, to take on more work and work out of hours without complaint and without getting stressed) was promoted by my employer (in my first interview for the organisation, when I was hired, I was asked about my willingness to work over and above my hours. I told them it wasn’t an issue, and meant it). However, my employer can’t take all the blame, they had simply built on an existing prejudice I held.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

How I felt at that time, physically and emotionally weak, but without a physical cause to attribute my symptoms to in order to ‘justify’ them to myself and to my employer, was incompatible with my own (and my employer’s) prejudice about what it was to be a strong person.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

Initially I was ashamed because my view of what I valued in myself was challenged, but once I had time to dwell on it I was ashamed that I’d been judging people (predominantly myself, but inevitably, if unconsciously, my colleagues too) against a practically feudal concept. It took being physically weak to teach me that my concept of a ‘strong’ person was a nonsense, and that by judging myself against it I had set myself up to fail.

It was a humbling lesson, but in learning it I hope to be kinder to myself and others in future.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

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Drapey Mustard Linden

Mustard Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Another week, another Linden!

This Linden features a very simple ‘hack’, and is my entry for the “Stitched with a Twist” Instagram challenge. I’ve been planning to make this Linden since last March when I spotted the sweatshirt below in an email from Uniqlo. I thought it would be easy to recreate using the Linden pattern with the simple addition of some gathering at the neckline (I also fancy recreating the dress on the right with Named’s Inari Dress).

The fabric is from Guthrie & Ghani, and was purchased during their Fifth Birthday Party back in April. I picked an especially drapey knit so that the neckline gathers wouldn’t be too stiff. The fabric feels lovely and has a great sheen to it.

Mustard Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I added 5 inches at the neckline of the pattern front to accommodate the gathering. To more closely imitate the inspiration image, I should have reduced the length at the hem and widened the neckband, but I didn’t think about that until after it was constructed.

Mustard Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

We’ve been to a comic con today, and managed to capture some pictures outside, just in time, as it was getting dark. Birmingham was hectic, so I’m now recovering in my pyjamas, with a mulled drink, and a trashy Christmas film on Netflix. I might even get back to bauble knitting shortly for full Christmassy atmosphere.

Mustard Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Mustard Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Mustard Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt


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Zigzag Linden at the Ikon Gallery

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

Autumn is here and with it new Grainline Studio Lindens are entering my wardrobe.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

I cut out and prepared (pinned all initial seams) two Linden sweatshirts during evenings this week, and then sewed both sweatshirts today. I managed to sew the first – pictured here – in a couple of hours this morning, meaning that I was able to wear it during a trip into Birmingham city centre this afternoon.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

It’s pictured here at Ikon Gallery where we caught the final day of an exhibition of recent work by Polly Apfelbaum. I must admit that half of the incentive for visiting was seeing the exhibition before it closed, and the other half was getting blog photos in such a great space!

The exhibition was very accessible and interactive, with visitors invited to walk over the woven rugs included in the exhibition on the condition you removed your shoes.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

This particular Linden is made with fabric purchased as an offcut from Birmingham Rag Market, and was the remaining metre of fabric I had left after making a Freya Dress.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

I had a go at making Named’s Talvikki sweater earlier this week, and am not convinced by how it looks on. I’m having a break before returning to try altering it, but it was very satisfying to return to a pattern I know well.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

As a reminder (if only for myself), I make the Linden in size 2 in thicker fabrics, but in a size 0 in thinner fabrics – including this one. I also always cut the neckband one size larger, to avoid pulling, and have found it to make all the difference.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

My Linden is pictured here paired with a Seamwork Oslo Cardigan which I made for myself in 2014 when it was released with the very first issue of Seamwork. The weather has been very mild here in the UK for the last few weeks, and this kind of casual jacket is currently perfect outerwear. By the time it gets cold I might have all the supplies ready and be prepared to sew coats.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery


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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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A Linden in Trajan’s Market

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

This would have been my contribution for the Sewcialists TNT month, but I missed the month (November)!

This is my ninth blogged Linden. I was listening to the Love to Sew podcast episode about sewing patterns recently (episode 17), and discussion of the pluses/minuses for PDF and printed patterns. For me, my use of the Linden pattern demonstrates the benefits of PDF patterns; I have now made the pattern for eight different people (including three Linden Swap recipients), in three different sizes, and have made alterations to the pattern for a number of hacks (including dress length and fleecy sleeves). In that time, I’ve re-printed the pattern – in full or in part – as required, and as a relatively small pattern it prints and assembles quickly each time.

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I’ve recently completed my project for this year’s Linden Swap and sent it off to the recipient. I’ve received my Linden Swap parcel, but am showing restraint and waiting until Christmas day to open it and see what my Sewing Secret Santa has made for me. I didn’t participate in many online challenges and swaps this year, so am glad I managed one more before the year is out.

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The fabric for this Linden was selected from my stash and I now have no idea where I bought it. In my last blog post, I wrote about my work/life balance new year resolutions; I have another resolution, which is to keep a record of the fabric I buy so that I can remember how much I have, where I bought it from and what I had in mind to sew with it!

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

These photos were taken in Trajan’s Market in Rome. I highly recommend it as a blog photo location, we had the entire place to ourselves when we visited, with the exception (added bonus) of a few cats.

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt


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Linden Swap

Linden Swap Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Just a quick post to share this amazing Linden which I received as part of the Linden Swap organised by the extraordinarily lovely Victoria (@sewmyown on Instagram).

Linden Swap Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I received this Linden from Elinor (@el_pepperell on Instagram), and in turn made a Linden for another participant (I was really late so they won’t have received it yet, sorry!)

Linden Swap Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

Elinor can’t have known it, but I have a total addiction to turtle neck jumpers! It has made me laugh recently to see that turtle necks are fashionable – well I was years ahead of the curve because I get them out every winter!

Linden Swap Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

As you can see, Linden makes a really nice top in a lighter weight jersey, and minus the cuffs and waist band.Thanks so much Elinor – love it!

Linden Swap Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt


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The Smiths Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

This is my latest Linden Sweatshirt (number seven blogged). It’s View A, Size 0 – although in this fabric I should probably have sized up to a 2 as it has limited stretch.

The original inspiration for this jumper were the excellent British wool band jumpers which Hades released earlier in the year. The Hades jumpers were limited edition and I missed the chance to buy a The Smiths jumper, so I thought I’d make my own. I’d love to knit something closer to the Hades original, but am a bit wary about tackling knitted lettering without a pattern, unless anyone can recommend something similar??

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

For this version, I cut a stencil of the lettering in acetate (more stable than paper and also reusable) and screen-printed the text using black ink onto the pre-cut Linden sweatshirt front. For reference, I always use Permaset Supercover screen printing ink to print on fabric and find it really reliable, Fred Aldous stock it in the UK.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I found it difficult to gauge the best size and placement of lettering while the sweatshirt was in pieces. If I make another, I will increase the size of the lettering, and move it closer to the neckline.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The fabric is a loop-back jersey purchased at Guthrie & Ghani during SewBrum. This pale pink is great for letting the text stand out, but does also get grubby easy.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I also made my scarf. This is TOFT’s Block-Colour Filet Scarf crocheted in their (British) yarn, in a natural (stone) for the main colour, with yellow for the accents. I’m pretty sure this is the same pattern (knitted in a solid colour) available from TOFT’s free pattern section. I’m not great at crochet, but this is a nice easy pattern and a relatively quick project.

My jeans are not me-made, but were made in the UK by Community Clothing.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

These photos were taken in Hagia Irene, near Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, which was the first Byzantine cathedral built in Istanbul, and is now a museum. Like all Byzantine religious buildings in Istanbul, this has had a varied history, including earthquakes and acting as an armory. We had the building entirely to ourselves on our visit, and it makes for a pretty atmospheric backdrop.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

P.S. in a similar vein, I previously blogged a screen-printed Morrissey tee.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt