english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Sleepy Cat & Proud Fox Doorstops

Handmade Plush Doorstop

Making the most of the last few days of my Christmas holiday I made a selection of doorstops. I made them in two designs, a sleepy cat and a rather proud looking fox. I screen printed the images in blue ink onto three different fabrics – a white, pale yellow and stripy Laura Ashley fabric. The doorstops were then backed with alternative fabrics in contrasting colours, and stuffed with toy stuffing, except the bases which were stuffed with gravel to give them sufficient weight to stand and serve as doorstops. They’re available in my Etsy store.

Handmade Plush Doorstop
Handmade Plush Doorstop


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Geeky Cartoon Brooches

I’m a bit obsessed with shrinky dinks at the moment, so I made a few plastic badges as presents this Christmas.

Phil received two badges amongst his presents, although they were a bit late as I hadn’t gotten around to affixing the badge backs! His badges feature characters from our two favourite cartoons at the moment, Regular Show & Adventure Time.

Handmade Rigby Regular Show Brooch
Handmade Jake Adventure Time Brooch


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Basket Weaving

Handmade Willow Basket
Handmade Willow Basket

Yesterday I attended a willow weaving course at Winterbourne, an Edwardian house museum in Birmingham. The course was led by Jonathan Ridgeon whose website features an article with instructions to make a basket very similar to the one I made, which is pictured here.

To achieve the two-tone effect we used a combination of willow without bark (the paler colour you can see on the base and edges of my basket) and with bark (the green colour used on the sides and handle of the basket).

I’d like another go as it took me a little while to get the hang of weaving so the base of the basket is a bit wonky, but It didn’t turn out too bad for a first attempt.

Handmade Willow Basket
Handmade Willow Basket


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Pottery at Jinney Ring Craft Centre

A couple of months ago, my team at work had an away-day at Jinney Ring craft centre in Hanbury. It’s a lovely little place with duck ponds in the garden and artisan workshops.

Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury

We were there for a pottery workshop. It was a mixture of hand building ceramic tiles and wheel work pots.

Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury

My thrown pots were a bit messy, but they did survive the kiln and make perfect cactus trays!

Cactus in hand-thrown pot

Cactus in hand-thrown pot

I also made a handful of tiles to be used as coasters. Some of these had images stamped into them, and I pressed branches and leaves into others. The leaves/branches burn away in the kiln resulting in a neat imprint.

Handmade Pottery Tile Coaster

Handmade Pottery Tile Coaster

Handmade Pottery Tile Coaster

Work in progress at Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury


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Ruan Lingyu (阮玲玉) Lino Print

Ruan Lingyu 阮凤根 Linocut Print
Ruan Lingyu 阮凤根 Linocut Print

This is my second film star lino cut print in a couple of weeks. This time the subject is Ruan Lingyu, 阮玲玉. Ruan was a big star of the Shanghai film industry in the 1930s. She has become an idol partly due to her suicide at the age of 24, which is attributed to a combination of abusive relationships with her lovers and pressure from the press.  I discovered Ruan through Liu Ye’s beautiful paintings of her, and then went on to watch her films and admire her work as an actress. Her films are fairly easy to get hold of, especially her most famous film The Goddess, and also check out the Stanley Kwan film about her Centre Stage featuring Maggie Cheung.


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Purple Felt Hair

I made the little doll below with the intention of selling her at the craft fair me and colleagues held a couple of weeks ago. However, she went unsold so she’s come home with me. She’s pictured below sat in our living room. She doesn’t have a mouth as I ran out of time to add one before the craft fair -however, I’ve decided to leave her like that as I think she looks quite cute without one. As you can see, she has purple felt hair and her dress is made with a lovely fabric I picked up cheaply at a market in the French town of Le Bugue, which I visited with my family this summer.

Handmade fabric doll
Handmade fabric doll
Handmade fabric doll


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Courtesan linocut print inspired by Harunobu

I’ve neglected the blog lately as there’s been so much going on at work and at home. Last Sunday, however, I managed to find some time to do some printing. Pictured below is the end result. It’s a four-colour linocut print, size 4″ x 6″. I’m new to working with multiple colours / layers so you’ll see that I missed the mark slightly in places!

The image is based on a woodblock print of the famous courtesan Shiratama by Harunobu.

Linocut print

Linocut print

Linocut print

In addition to the four-colour prints I also printed some monochrome greeting cards.

Linocut print

Linocut print


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Works in progress for a charity craft fair

I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit lately, but I haven’t neglected crafting. I’ve been busy making items for the charity craft, cake and plant fair that me and my colleagues are organising to raise funds for two cancer charities. I’ve also set up a second (temporary) blog for the craft fair to showcase the lovely donations we receive or make. You can find it here: uobcraftfair.wordpress.com

As well as ourselves and our colleagues making items to sell we’ll also be holding a raffle, and have been lucky enough to have some lovely items donated already and hopefully will have more to come. Some fabulous companies and independents including Lou Rota, From the Wilde, Famille Summerbelle, Teapigs, Emma Bridgewater, Fred Aldous and Cox & Cox have already been fabulous enough to donate.

I haven’t actually completed an item for the sale yet (oops) but I have started quite a few, including the two textile works in progress pictured below. Unfortunately these are currently on hold until I purchase the required craft supplies to complete them – so that’s a job for this weekend!

Felt Elephant Brooches - in progress!

Felt elephant brooches (work in progress)

Fabric Doll - in progress!

Fabric doll (work in progress)