english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


3 Comments

I Made Buttons!

Handmade Clay Buttons

Tomorrow I have a stall at a craft fair for the first time. It’s at the contemporary craft fair at Midland Art Centre, which is based in the lovely Cannon Hill Park. I’ve made up a number of the items I sell through my Etsy shop, but I thought I better expand my range to ensure I have enough variety on the stall. One of the things I made for the first time was buttons. These were made in white polymer clay, and then painted with a number of different designs. I made quite a few with Breton stripes, some with green sprouts, and some more abstract designs. I think I’m going to make some buttons up for my next sewing projects.

Handmade Clay Buttons
Handmade Clay Buttons
Handmade Clay Buttons


Leave a comment

Reclaiming My Side of the Sofa

When I spotted the bean bag pictured below in the March issue of Cloth (taken from The Liberty Book of Home Sewing) I knew straight away that I needed to make one. Phil is fairly tall and he likes to stretch out & put his feet up when sat on the sofa. However, we have a small living room and a small sofa, and I find that every time I get up to make a cup of tea he has his feet up on my side of the couch. I thought I’d see If I could wean him off my sofa cushion with a bean bag.

Cloth Magazine Image

On a trip to Ikea I spotted a suitable fabric for the project (Halleknopp). Although the fabric is a thick upholstery cotton – not a soft, stretchy fabric as is typical with bean bags – the finished pouffe is suitably comfy and you can squash your feet into it. This is thanks to the polystyrene balls which were used to fill it, and due to leaving some space inside the cover rather than filling it absolutely to the brim.

Halleknopp Fabric Ikea

To make the pouffe you need to create the basic shape twice; once in the exterior fabric and once in a lining fabric which holds the filling. Following the pattern, I filled the lining with polystyrene balls and then tried to insert it into the cover. Perhaps unsurprisingly that provided rather difficult and I had to part empty it, insert it inside the cover and then put the rest of the filling back in…

Handmade Bean Bag

I made only one minor change to the pattern. The pattern instructions included inserting  a zip on the bottom of the cover, allowing the liner to be inserted/removed. However, we have a wooden floor in our living room and I was worried there was a chance of a zip scratching the floor. Instead I simply left a gap in the bottom of the cover and stitched this up by hand once the liner had been inserted and filled.

Handmade Bean Bag

I especially liked the feature of two neat (although admittedly somewhat redundant) handles on either side. They add a bit of detail to what is otherwise a very simple design.

Handmade Bean Bag

Below is me testing it out on completion. I can report that it is both very comfy and has been successful in helping me to protect my side of the sofa.

P.S. Yes, I am watching Cartoon Network.

Handmade Bean Bag


1 Comment

New Pyjamas & Crochet Mitts

This week I finished a new pair of pyjama trousers.

Handmade Pyjama Trousers

I made these using a pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee book. My mom couldn’t resist buying the book and getting it signed when we visited the opening of Guthrie and Ghani. Being a lovely mom she leant it to me before getting chance to make anything herself;) I’ve got my eye on a few patterns but started with the pyjamas trousers after spotting some soft cotton fabric in Ikea (Smaborre) that I thought would be perfect.

Smaborre Ikea Fabric

The pattern was straightforward and the Sewing Bee book contains quite detailed instructions. However, due to the pattern being unisex (and me being short) the pattern/trousers needed quite a bit of alteration to fit. In particular, the width of the leg and height of the waist area in the small pattern size seemed far too large even for a small man. My brother fits a men’s small and there’s no way he would have been broad or tall enough for these. I needed to remove 9 cm from the bottom of each trouser leg and 5 cm from the waist of the trousers in order to achieve a reasonable fit. I should really have also taken in the side seams but couldn’t be bothered thought that I could get away with a loose fit on pyjamas. It seemed a shame that quite so much alteration was required, given that a lot of people new to sewing are likely to buy the book and may get put off if they find it difficult to get a good fit on one of the simpler patterns, but you can’t have everything and I guess it’s somewhat inevitable with a unisex multi-sized pattern.

Handmade Pyjama Trousers
(Slacking in the living room with my handmade Jake)

Having previously cut out the fabric, I made the trousers one evening after work. By the point I finished I was obviously past my best as I managed to sew two pins inside the hem at the bottom of a trouser leg and had to cut my stitches to release them… I did however finish them in time to wear them to bed so it was worth it.

Given that I have a lot of clothing sewing projects on the go / planned I’ve been trying to buy less clothes lately. However I did make an exception for this amazing pair of cycling gloves with crochet backs. Aren’t they gorgeous? They are made by the Altura cycling brand.

Crochet Cycling Gloves

Having bought them I though I’d better put them to use so cycled to my favourite local park (Cannon Hill) with Phil on Thursday and Friday evening after work. We may have treated ourselves to a 99 or two as well…

Crochet Cycling Gloves


Leave a comment

Retro Apron of Many Colours (McCall’s M4793)

Yippee! It’s a bank holiday weekend AND we actually have some sun here in the UK. However, having some sun does mean I’ve had to put the sewing/crafting to the side for a few hours to do a number of outdoor jobs (gardening/painting/cleaning the drive) before the sun goes away again. I’m so close to having a pair of pyjama bottoms & a bean bag finished, so I’m sure to be posting about those soon.

In the meantime, I finally got around to photographing an apron I made back when we first moved into our house 1 1/2 year ago.

Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

The pattern is McCall’s M4793, option A. It’s a very sweet little apron, with three roomy pockets. I really like the ric rac detail on this pattern option. As you can see, I went for a green wobbly ric rac.

Sewing Pattern

Sewing Pattern

The fabric I used for the apron was from Ikea. Although it looks like different fabrics have been used it’s actually all made from a single fabric – which had a patchwork effect. The fabric is dated 2008 and was deigned by Lotta Kuhlhorn who has designed a number of great fabrics for Ikea.

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

I actually bought this fabric while on holiday in Hong Kong. I had been meaning to visit Ikea to buy fabric for this apron before we went on holiday  but hadn’t gotten around to it, then while we were in Hong Kong we happened to stumble across an Ikea in a mall dedicated to home ware stores. Since it was right there it made sense to pick up some fabric and stop off in the cafe for Daim cake. If I remember correctly the Ikea we visited was located close to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, which is what we were actually in the area to visit.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong

P.S. elsewhere on the web I spotted the following interesting bits and bobs over the last few days:

  • The Patchwork Harmony blog featured a lovely tutorial to cover a silk lantern (from Craftsy magazine). If you don’t already read their 91 magazine make sure to check that out too, as it’s awesome

 

  • I just discovered the Thread Cult podcast, which features interviews with the sewing/textile world’s best & brightest. The most recent episode featured Sarai Mitnick from Colette patterns

 

  • A local-ish gallery to me, Bilston Craft Gallery, has a great wooden automaton of a mermaid in a pub by Wanda Sowry on display at the moment. I must go see!


5 Comments

All the Cool Kids are Making it: My First Sorbetto Tank

Home Made Sorbetto Tank Top

I know, I know, I’m very late getting around to it but I’ve finally made my first Sorbetto tank by Colette Patterns. I haven’t sewn any clothes recently as since buying a first house two years ago I’ve been preoccupied with making things for the house (predominately lots of curtains!). However, watching Sewing Bee, as well as seeing all the lovely things other bloggers are making, reminded me how much I enjoy making clothes so I expect this to be the first of many clothing projects in the next few months.

I made my Sorbetto in a thin floral cotton, perfect for the summer. The fabric cost £2.50 per metre from Birmingham’s Indoor Market. Since the pattern was free, and I made the bias binding, the top only cost a total of £2.50. It was a perfect example of when sewing your own clothes can be cheaper than buying off the peg.

This was the first time I’d made bias binding and I was very glad I did as having matching bias binding gives such a lovely, professional looking finish. I was surprised by just how easy it is.

Home Made Sorbetto Tank Top

Home Made Bias Binding

Unfortunately, since making my Sorbetto we’ve not had much sunshine here in England so I’ve barely had a chance to wear it. This weekend the weather improved slightly so I managed to get a chance at last. As you can see below I was going casual, wearing the Sorbetto with jeans and hi tops, as me and Phil were off to look at potential bathroom tiles (the next decorating job on our to-list) and paint. Prior to our shopping trip, Phil got a couple of pictures of me in our garden while I pegged out some washing. The garden is looking a bit unruly as I’ve pretty much left it to it’s own devices so far this year. One weekend soon, however, I will drag myself away from crafting and spend a day or two getting the weeding and trimming done. Honest.

Handmade Sorbetto Tank

Handmade Sorbetto Tank


Leave a comment

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


1 Comment

Geek Chic Panda

Homemade Plush Panda

I really enjoy making toys. I try to make more sensible items, but I always get drawn back because toys are definitely the most fun thing to make & to share.

I had a sudden urge to make pandas so came up with the two designs pictured. A panda sporting glasses and another with a bow tie. They have screen printed faces and were sewn by hand.

They’re available from my Etsy shop.

Homemade Plush Panda
Homemade Plush Panda
Homemade Plush Panda


1 Comment

Homemade Floral (and Other!) Brooch Selection

Over Christmas I designed and made a selection of brooches, many of which were designed as presents for family and friends. Pictures of some of the brooches are included below. Quite a few of the brooches were on a floral or natural theme (flowers, leaves), but I also  created some other badges too, including a little Olympic Trip camera and umbrella ghost. These are also available from my Etsy shop. Each badge is a printed Shrinky Dink which has been embossed to achieve a nice glossy finish and make the brooch waterproof.

Handmade Cosmos Plastic Brooch
Umbrella Ghost Handmade Plastic Brooch
Handmade Plastic Olympus Trip Retro Camera Brooch
Handmade Narcissus Plastic Brooch
Handmade Maple Leaf Brooch