english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Modified Asymmetric Gather Dress

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

I originally made, and blogged, this dress (The Maker’s Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress) a year ago, but I was never happy with the fit on me. Apart from a couple of trial outings, this dress hung on my wardrobe door for a year waiting to be altered.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

After that long wait, it took me a single evening to alter the dress and add it into rotation in my wardrobe. The alterations I made were to remove 7 inches from the hem, reduce the width of the shoulders (I temporarily removed the sleeves and cut a crescent shaped section from each shoulder), remove the elastic from the sleeve hems, increase the waistline gathering, and generally improve the tidiness of my sewing.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

The dress is sewn in a crepe fabric from John Lewis and paired here with a matching lipstick and another pill box hat. The construction of the hat is as per my previous post, and the fabric is a pale pink pvc with a snakeskin print and texture, from Fancy Silk Store. I spotted this fabric the first time I visited Fancy Silk Store for hat making supplies; once I had a first pill box under my belt I went back to buy this fabric. These hats only use a tiny amount of fabric so I have plenty left and may use it to make a matching bag.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

Over the recent bank holiday weekend, Phil and I made the most of the sunshine and visited a couple of Birmingham Museums’ venues. It’s easy to forget to be curious about historic sites which are close to home, and we’re slowly working our way around some local sites, including Soho House (home of the industrialist Matthew Boulton) where these photos were taken.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

#memademay2019 is fast approaching. My pledge is to use the challenge to help me reach a point where I enjoy wearing everything in my wardrobe (me-made, second-hand, and ready-to-wear). That means getting rid of clothes which no longer fit or which I no longer enjoy wearing, altering me-made garments which I’m not completely happy with, and finishing my UFOs. This dress is one example of working towards that pledge, and I’m hoping to continue throughout May and beyond.

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Night and Day Dress for the Dressmakers’ Ball

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

For the first Dressmakers’ Ball, organised by the team at Crafty Sew & So in Leicester, back in 2017, I left making my dress until the very last minute and ended up sewing a knit dress the night before the ball.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

This year I was determined to be organised, and finished my dress with so much time to spare that I ended up making a matching belt, pill box hat, and bag (which collectively won me an award on the night for best accessory!).

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

The dress is Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress. I have the PDF version of the pattern (a gift from my parents for Christmas) and sent it for A0 printing as the pattern has many variations (including some very full skirts) so is enormous. I printed all of the pages as I’m keen to try some other variations in the near future. The version of the dress I made for the ball was actually decided by my fabric choice.

I was visiting New York – and attending Male Pattern Boldness Day – the month before the Ball, so decided to buy fabric for the dress at the meet-up. I was planning to get something drapey to make the bishop sleeved version of the Night & Day Dress, but once I spotted this double-sided metallic brocade in Metro Textiles I was sold.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

Having had pretty consistent body measurements since my twenties, if not before, I’ve increased a few inches in the bust and waist recently. On a few recent projects I’ve cut out on autopilot based on the size I’m used to cutting (and gotten away with it), but for this project I was determined that I wasn’t going to skimp on any steps to a well fitting dress. I measured myself and cut the correct size, only to find, when I tried the work-in-progress bodice on, that it was too large. I took the bodice apart and cut the pieces down a size (to a 4 in the bust and 6 in the waist to hips, the size I would have cut on autopilot) and the fit was just right. I’ve since bought Gertie’s new book, Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses, which uses the same sizes/block as Charm patterns, and Gertie notes in the introduction that the sizes are generous in the bust and hip.

I should say that I don’t bother with muslins/toiles, so although I always hope patterns will fit first go, I’m always expecting to need to make changes. Personally I prefer to make alterations to a sewing project as I go, in this way, and regularly do. I find that approach works much better for me, and I’m very rarely left with an unsalvagable project.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

After making the dress, I felt that the pattern needed breaking up at the waist so I made a matching belt, using the reverse side of the brocade. I couldn’t find any belt buckles for sale locally in Birmingham, and hadn’t left myself long enough to risk ordering one online. I popped into H&M in the hope of finding something suitable and found an ugly fake leather belt on sale for £3. I cut my fabric based on the width of the buckle (not the belt I removed, which was much wider & horribly bunched up), and punched through some Prym eyelets for belt holes.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

Next I started on a hat. I have a couple of hat making books I picked up cheaply years ago and hadn’t yet made anything from. This pill box hat was based on a design in Saturday Night Hat. The book instructions are based on using millinery supplies, but I walked to Fancy Silk Store one lunch break and asked for the closest they had to double buckram. The material I bought feels quite plasticky and is impossible to sew through, so it works to provide a firm structure but is more of a faff than an actual double buckram would be (I assume). The base of the hat is a circle (for the top) and a rectangle (for the sides) which I managed to attach together (the material also resisted all attempted to glue it) by punching holes along the edges of the top and sides, and sewing the pieces together through these holes. The hat is then covered in fabric pieces, which are sewn to each other. Finally, I punched Prym eyelets on either side and threaded elastic through. It’s worn behind my ears / under my hair.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

The hat pictured here isn’t actually the version worn at the ball. This is a replacement pill box, as the first was ‘stolen’! The day after the ball, Phil and I were having a wander around Leicester. I was carrying the pill box hat in a plastic bag (along with a cheap comb and a sewing kit) to avoid squashing it in our very full suitcase, and accidentally left the bag unattended for ten minutes in McDonalds. We dashed back to find it but it was already gone! This second version is better constructed than the first, so I’m thinking of the lost one as a rare (for me) toile!

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

Finally, the night before the ball, I decided to whip up a matching bag. This bag was based on a pattern included with a recent issue of Simply Sewing magazine (issue 54). I didn’t have time to create/order a strap, so borrowed one from one of my handbags, and I finished hand-sewing the inside of the bag on the train to the ball (in good company, travelling with the lovely Sue).

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

The Dressmakers’ Ball was a really fun evening and a great incentive to make a more glamorous dress and a plethora of accessories. I believe Crafty Sew & So are planning to hold the ball every other year, and I’m thinking next time I need to take the word ‘ball’ to heart and create something really dramatic.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress


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DPL Belted

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

Today I took some time out of the office to attend a student-led fashion conference on campus (I work at a University). Sustainability was a focus for many of the speakers and I came away with some ideas of what I could make to commemorate this year’s Fashion Revolution Week taking place 22 – 28 April. Last year I made a Fashion Revolution Tee, and I’d like to create or alter a garment again this year (potentially using my fabric scraps).

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

I also came away with a desire to try growing fabric! Kirie-Lea Cussen presented her project to grow a bacterial-cellulose fabric for garment making using a kombucha recipe, inspired by Suzanne Lee’s work. Suzanne Lee has shared her ‘recipe’ and process online. I just need to figure out where on earth I could store a large container of bacteria at a consistent temperature…

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

I was wearing this top today. It’s Digital Pattern Library’s Belted Sweater in a cotton spandex knit from Girl Charlee. This is a recent favourite which I’ve worn to quite a few meet-ups but am only just blogging. I love the shape of this, which can differ quite a bit depending on how you tie the belt. I tend to tie it at the front, as pictured here, and really like how the back hem fans out as a result. My other favourite feature is the wide neckband.

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

I really want to make another Belted Sweater in a thicker fabric for a more exaggerated silhouette, and I also think it would look quite elegant in a lighter weight and drapier fabric. Two more options for the future sewing queue!

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

All of those projects will need to wait in line though, as my next project is a ‘waspie’ corset to wear to visit the Dior exhibition at the V&A next Month. I’m planning to wear the New Look inspired outfit which was my contribution to The Refashioners 2018 to the exhibition, with the addition of a waspie corset underneath. I was inspired by Gertie’s B6643 release with Butterick, which I finally managed to get hold of in the UK today, to give a corset a try.

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater

If you’re not familiar with Digital Pattern Library I’d highly recommend their Instagram account, and their most recent pattern the Ruffle Tee is very cool.

Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater


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Coat Sewing

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

This may be the first ever time that I haven’t blogged in a while because I was too busy sewing.

Sewing and blogging are quite closely linked for me, and, typically, if I am quiet on the blog it’s because I’ve not had the time and/or energy to sew recently.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The community element is a big part of why I sew regularly. Before this blog, and before being conscious of the sewing community, I did sew, but without the inspiration of fellow sewers, and the added incentive of sharing my own projects and plans, it was intermittent, and just one of many hobbies.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The project which has kept me away from the blog this time is a coat for Phil. It isn’t the coat you can see in these pictures – which is the Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat I made for him back in 2015. Apparently I only make him coats, as this Peacoat was the first thing I sewed for him, and the current coat is the second.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The coat I’m currently working on is the Free Sewing Carlton Coat and I’m looking forward to sharing the coat, and lots of details about its construction, once ready. I was really hoping to have the coat ready for our holiday to New York last week; nothing like an arbitrary sewing deadline to keep you busy! I started the coat just after Christmas and thought a late February deadline would be realistic (ahem, I was actually aiming to make myself a coat too), but it has taken me many, many hours and I’m committed to getting it right.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

In the interim I took some photos of Phil in his Peacoat last week, in New York Botanical Garden. It was the first coat I sewed and I made various small errors during its construction, but the coat has worn really well despite them. The wool, from Barry’s Fabrics, has worn brilliantly with the occasional removal of bobbles from areas where he has carried a bag.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

I do like re-photographing and celebrating long-standing garments, and it was nice to get some updated photos of Phil in this coat, particularly as he looks so young to me in the previous blog post pictures now. Phil wasn’t quite so fond of being photographed – as demonstrated below!

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat


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In The Folds Jumpsuit

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

It’s been a weekend of staring at computer screens, but I wanted to squeeze in a quick blog post before the weekend is out.

I was in the office Saturday and Sunday this weekend for a software upgrade – not as bad as it sounds as the team are lovely, we had a suitable supply of chocolate and cake (kinder eggs included), and ordered in lunch. I have however been robbed of my weekly lie-ins, so we’ll see how I’m feeling by next Friday when I’ve done twelve consecutive 6am starts.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

I recently started studying an undergraduate degree in IT one day per week, in the hope of being less bamboozled by my colleagues in future. For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to try to fix an EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING log-in page issue, which has been bugging me for a week, on my return home from work this evening. I’m still at that stage where I understand so little that I quickly feel overwhelmed and slightly panicky, but I guess I’ll get to the stage where it all becomes a little clearer, and where I waste less time going around in circles, eventually.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

I thought it best to end the week with something much more familiar; blogging about sewing. This is the (free) Jumpsuit pattern by In the Folds, in collaboration with Peppermint Magazine, in size B.

Like everyone else I was inspired by the pattern sample, and picked a similar fabric, a green chambray from Guthrie & Ghani, which my Mom treated me to during last year’s SewBrum meet-up. The fabric is very soft and has a lovely sheen. It is a little prone to creasing, which is exacerbated in these photos by the fact they were taken when I was hot and sweaty in Vietnam.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

This jumpsuit is a suitably loose and comfy garment for travelling in. I like the contrast of the relatively-fitted bodice with the loose trousers, and the deep v of the back neckline. I decided part-way through the holiday that I much prefer the belt tied at the back.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

I’m going to close the laptop and treat myself to an early night. See below for how quickly my blog photos degenerate when I have a boat practically to myself and baggy trousers to hop around in.

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

In The Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit


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Sangria Dress in Bamboo & Cotton Jersey

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

It’s taken me ages to get around to sharing this dress, which is a Capital Chic Patterns Sangria. As someone who rarely sews a pattern multiple times, you know I love this pattern when I tell you I have made three (version 1 here), and will definitely make more. (I still need to blog my second Sangria, which was sewn in a metallic, pink, snakeskin-print jersey and consequently doesn’t get worn much, but was still totally worth it!).

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

The pattern recommends using scuba jersey, but I especially like it in softer jerseys; it’s comfy, and has the added benefit that you can skip the centre back zip, making it a very quick sew. This version is sewn in a Combstooth Bamboo Organic Cotton Jersey from Offset Warehouse, purchased in-person at the Sewing Bee Live. It’s a lovely soft french terry, smooth on the right-side, with a soft texture on the reverse. It has enough body and recovery to work for a bodycon dress, whilst also being very comfortable.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

The only danger of sewing such a fitted dress in a very stretchy fabric is that I’ve twice popped the hem stitches being over zealous. The dress is currently waiting for me to resew the hem (must do it, and not delay a five minute task for six months!).

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I think this is a great all-year dress, it works with tights and a cardigan in the winter, and with ballet pumps in the summer. I want to return to my other favourite from the same Capital Chic Patterns collection, the Cuba Libre shirt, again this year.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

These photos were taken during a recent-ish holiday to Majorca. I suspect it was whilst exploring the castle ramparts that I forgot how fitted my dress was and popped the hem stitches for the second time.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I’ve had a sewing-focused day today, which has included catching up on sewing blogs, vlogs and podcasts, sewing a top (Simplicity 8593), and writing this blog post. I’m going to see if I can squeeze in cutting out my next sewing project before heading to bed feeling very smug.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress


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Fashion Revolution Jane Tee

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

To celebrate this year’s Fashion Revolution Week (which took place 22 – 28 April) I decided I wanted to make a garment which lived up to the ethics and ideals of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to order fabric and sew a garment, so I thought I’d keep it simple with a slogan tee.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The fabric for this tee was a Cream Marl Viscose Blend Jersey from Offset Warehouse. Offset Warehouse describe it as made from sustainable fibres (40% Cotton, 30% Viscose and 30% Polyester) and reclaimed from a high end manufacturer in the UK and stopped from heading to landfill.

The jersey is very fine and soft, with a subtle marl effect. It’s slightly transparent, so I am wearing a slip underneath in these photos.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The pattern is the Seamwork Jane tee, which is a great loose fitting crew neck t-shirt pattern, and a perfect blank canvas for screenprinting (no darts). My measurements put me between an XS and S, but I cut a straight XS as there’s plenty of ease.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

For the text, I printed the ‘I made my clothes’ A4 poster from the Fashion Revolution website free resources section. To create a more stable stencil, I placed an A4 acetate sheet over the poster and cut out the lettering with a craft knife (I have a lifetime supply of acetate sheets as I took a box home from work many years ago, since they were gathering dust following overhead projectors being removed from classrooms). I screen-printed the text using black ink onto the pre-cut t-shirt front; I always use Permaset Supercover screen printing ink to print on fabric and find it really reliable, Fred Aldous stock it in the UK. If you fancy trying screen-printing you’ll need a screen, a squeegee (sized for the screen) & ink (if you want to print on fabric make sure the ink is suitable).

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

These pictures were taken in Vietnam, predominantly in the Botanical Gardens and Zoo in Ho Chi Minh City. I hadn’t realised in advance that the gardens and zoo were one and the same – we were aiming for the gardens. The planting is frequently beautiful, but as a whole – as you can see in these photos – it’s somewhat run down and in need of investment. Great for some dramatic blog photo backdrops, but not great for the resident animals. I suspect it suffers the same fate as Vietnam’s museums, which also – on the whole – appear to be underfunded and, as a result, dusty and in varying states of neglect.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

P.S. my all time favourite zoo story, was that we were once in a zoo somewhere in Europe (I have forgotten which), and a huge crowd gathered to watch and photograph a sole red squirrel which was living (wild) in the zoo. That little squirrel managed to steal all the attention from the huge (caged) animals which were metres away.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt