english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Handmade Christmas Stockings

Handmade Christmas Stocking
I’ve been meaning to make Christmas stockings for a few years but for some reason – given that they are a pretty quick make – have never gotten around to it. This year I finally made a pair for myself and Phil.

I made the pattern for the stockings myself (e.g. I drew a large sock shape and cut the fabric around that to ensure the sizing was consistent).
Handmade Christmas Stocking
I purchased the rather amazing fabric and the ribbon from Guthrie and Ghani. The fabric is Hip Holidays by Josephine Kimberling. I love that it isn’t immediately obvious that it is a Christmas print – it takes a second glance to realise. I actually purchased it at the Guthrie & Ghani Christmas Party. The shop had been decked out for Christmas and looked great, and Lauren wore a very cute elf outfit!

The stockings are backed with a thicker fabric to keep their shape and the top of the stockings is covered with some bias binding I made from the front fabric. Each stocking has a nice big bell in the top corner next to a ribbon bow.
Handmade Christmas Stocking
To personalise the stockings I printed our names on the front of the stockings using a stamp pad that can be used on paper or fabric.
Handmade Christmas Stocking

Handmade Christmas Stocking
This week I also finally got around to making some Christmas cards for family. These were made by cutting shapes out of leftover felt.
Handmade Felt Christmas Cards


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Craft Fair Makes

I had my last craft fair of the year last Sunday at the MAC. I lucked out as I got a nice pitch which came with its own bench (good for wrapping items on as well as sitting) & was in the perfect position for watching what was happening in the centre.

Craft Fair Stall at MAC Christmas 2013
I made a few new items especially for the stall. I had a few items left over and finally managed to time it right to get enough natural light to take some photos today. The worst thing about winter is definitely the limited opportunities for getting enough natural light to take photos!

Small Mouse Lavender Bag:
The little mouse design on this lavender bag was printed using a small stamp I carved in lino. I stuffed it with a combination of lavender & polyester stuffing to get a nice shape.
Lino Printed Mouse Lavender Bag
Lino Printed Mouse Lavender Bag

Tweed Door Stop:
I used the same little mouse design to decorate door stops I made up in a lovely pink tweed fabric.
Door Stop with Lino Printed Mouse
Door Stop with Lino Printed Mouse

And as it was a Christmas craft fair I had to make some Christmas items!

Robin Stamp:
These little stamps are carved out of lino & then attached to a plastic base.
Handmade Robin Lino Stamp
Handmade Robin Lino Stamp

Heart Bauble with Robin Design:
I used one of the robin stamps myself to decorate these heart-shaped baubles, made in cotton & decorated with a Christmas ribbon.
Lino Printed Robin Heart Bauble
Lino Printed Robin Heart Bauble


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Christmas Craft Stall

Phew! I’ve had a busy few weeks. Amongst other things I’ve travelled abroad for work, prepared stock for the two Christmas craft fair stalls I have booked, and am currently on holiday in Spain. The day before me and Phil left for our holiday was the first of the Christmas craft fairs where I have a stall booked. Here’s my stall, looking busy!

Christmas Craft Fair November 2013

I tried to broaden my repertoire a little for this fair, so amongst the items I regularly sell on Etsy (such as panda toys & door mats) were…

Fabric baubles with a lino printed robin design (printed by hand)

Christmas Craft Fair November 2013

Handmade lino stamps featuring the same robin design

Christmas Craft Fair November 2013

Handmade doorstops in a lovely pink tweed fabric. The doorstop on the left features a mouse design printed from a lino stamp I made.

Christmas Craft Fair November 2013

Mini sewing kits including handmade pin-cushions and handmade clay buttons

Christmas Craft Fair November 2013

And some cloud cushions.

Christmas Craft Fair November 2013

P.S. If you’re ever in Seville make sure to visit Calle Francos (not far from the ‘Flying Waffle’) which has a number of fabric shops (both expensive & very reasonable). I picked up the fabric below on sale for 2 euros per metre from Almacenes Velasco.

Fabric - From Seville


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Linen Mathilde

Linen Check Handmade Mathilde Blouse

I feel like I’ve been waiting to make the Mathilde Blouse, by Tilly and the Buttons, for ages! I knew I’d love it as it’s totally my style – big sleeves, buttons down the back, high neckline. I bought the pattern weeks ago, cut the fabric out and then it sat around for a while, but last weekend I finally sat down and got sewing. It’s a pretty simple make especially with the online instructions available from Tilly’s site. It does take a good few hours though, or at least it did for me. I started machine sewing in earnest last Saturday evening and next thing I knew it was 1am and there was still lots to do! That’s what happens when you’re busy sewing – time passes faster!

Linen Check Handmade Mathilde Blouse

Being too lazy to make a muslin, I did at least go with a reasonably priced linen-blend (about £5 per metre) instead of the Liberty fabric I picked initially. Now that I know it fits me (I cut size 2 with no alterations) I’m planning to pop back for some of that Liberty fabric for version two. Although this was a first attempt I didn’t skimp on my finishes. I used French seams absolutely everywhere and bound the edges of the facing and sleeves. Look how neat the inside looks:)

Linen Check Handmade Mathilde Blouse

You’ll notice the blouse looks a little creased, but I had just cycled to a local park. For a linen it doesn’t crease too badly. The buttons I used down the back are handmade oak buttons by Against the Grain. I bought these from Sue, the artist who makes them, at a craft fair where we both had a stall back in August. I think they’re a great match for the checked fabric.

Linen Check Handmade Mathilde Blouse

Linen Check Handmade Mathilde Blouse

Linen Check Handmade Mathilde Blouse


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Time For Tea (Dress)

Handmade Tea Dress
This week the new Library of Birmingham and the refurbished Rep theatre opened. I had a family trip to the theatre with my family to see the new Alan Bennett play People so got to have a little look around. It was really busy (there was a queue to get in, which can’t happen very often in a library!) so I’m planning to pop back for a better look around soon.

Speaking of libraries, I borrowed The Great British Sewing Bee book from Coventry City Council’s Main Library (having previously borrowed it from my Mom to make a blouse with peter pan collar!). This time I decided to make the tea dress pattern from the book. This was a pretty simple make. In fact the most difficult thing was deciding which size to cut. According to the size guide in the book I fell between a size 12 and 14. I was a little suspicious of that sizing. I know that RTW sizing is inaccurate and minimised but a size 12-14 sounded quite large, particularly as the patterns in the book only go up to a size 16. I was also suspicious because I made the blouse pattern from the book in a size 8 (as I didn’t check the size guide that time & just assumed an 8 based on what I typically fit in RTW, oops!). However, the tea dress was a slightly more fitted make than the blouse so I was concerned about cutting too small. Obviously what I should have done was cut a muslin, but being lazy I decided to cut the dress out in a size 12 and then size down as required. The fabric was a relatively cheap floral cotton from Barry’s Fabric (purchased during the Birmingham blogger meet-up) so I didn’t feel too bad basically making a wearable muslin. I pinned the dress pieces on and found that the size 12 was way too big, no surprise! I wonder if the size guide in the book is actually misprinted as it’s miles off. I trimmed the pieces down to the size 10. The dress is still quite loose so I think the size 8 was probably a better fit but by cutting the larger size I avoiding adding a zip. Yippee!
Handmade Tea Dress
It’s quite a sweet simple dress and I like the capped sleeves so I might make it up again in a smaller size, perhaps altering the neckline slightly as personally I prefer a slightly higher neckline in front and back.
Handmade Tea Dress
I’m off to Istanbul tomorrow for a business trip – my very first outside the UK! I’m planning to pack some hand sewing for when I’m sat in the hotel. I’d like to do some fabric shopping too but I’ll have to see if there’s time.

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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


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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


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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!


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Handmade Cards for Phil

Yesterday morning I had to pop to the doctor’s before work for a regular blood-pressure check. I was wearing the brooch I made at the Made in the Middle Craft Taster day and the doctor asked me about it. Well, that quickly led to a discussion about craft and sewing. The doctor was getting into craft (she’d just bought her first issue of Making magazine and a sewing machine) and I attempted to provide some tips on taking up her curtains and easy starter sewing patterns. I’m not sure if it’s a sign of how popular craft has become or just a sign that I’m so obsessed I manage to bring every conversation (even a medical consultation!) around to sewing… anyway it wasn’t a bad start to the day.

I spotted a couple of interesting links out and about on the web today:

  • I spotted an interesting post on Craftsy about independent sewing pattern designers.
  • Colette patterns have posted the short listed entries to the Laurel contest. Luckily they are asking readers to vote for 5 entries, there’s no way I could pick just one!

Now for the real subject of this post, the handmade birthday cards I made for Phil over the last few years. I only just rediscovered these in a box under our bed recently so haven’t posted pictures of any of these before. A couple are looking a little worse for wear for being squashed under the bed…

Shamefully I made all of these before me and Phil moved in together. Since we bought our house I’ve not made him a decent card. The excuse for this is that it’s difficult to secretly make him a card when we’re both in the house. Truthfully though I could sneak up stairs for an hour or so. I’ll try to ensure I make the effort this year.

Home Made Card

Home Made Card
Two Doraemon cards – one in felt and one in paper

Home Made Card
Superman card

Home Made Card
KISS Paul Stanley card

Home Made Card
This is the piece de résistance, a recreation of a famous anti-drugs Green Lantern/Green Arrow cover. I continued the comic theme on the inside with speech bubble text boxes.

Home Made Card