english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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


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Bombshell Swimsuit by the Seaside

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Phil and I have just arrived home from a couple of weeks in Vietnam. I packed a few new garments, which I’ll blog soon, and bought some fabric which I’ll blog too. I also packed some old favourites, including this Bombshell Swimsuit which I made (unbelievably to me, it feels like no time at all) four years ago.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

As noted on my original blog post about this swimsuit, I struggled a little when making it. I think those four years since have made all the difference to my sewing skills, and I suspect making my next swimsuit (probably the Closet Case Patterns Sophie) will go a lot smoother.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I don’t swim very often and I think this is the first time my Bombshell has been for a swim in the sea, so I thought it was fitting to take some photos. In addition to my sewing skills, my blog photography (and also my hair!) has improved since 2014, which seemed like another good reason to take some new photos. Plus I think it’s good to celebrate those garments which stay in our wardrobes long-term (as well as new makes) here on our blogs.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Enjoy the weekend. I’m going to go back to very slowly unpacking, and generally being lazy after a couple of busy weeks travelling and sightseeing.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit


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Pink Velvet, Zigzag & Ruffle Freya Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I do try to avoid buying fabric if I can’t immediately think of a project I want to make with it. This fabric, however, was one of the occasions when that logic went out of the window. On a whim (partly because it was cheap), I bought a large off-cut of this fabric from Birmingham Rag Market – a pink velvet knit with a large scale zigzag. The fabric has sat in my stash every since as I had no idea what on earth to do with it.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I only have a relatively small amount of knit fabrics, and this was one of my few dress length options, so I decided to give it a try in order to sew a Freya Dress (From Tilly & the Button’s Stretch) from stash fabric. I actually think it turned out pretty well, even though it looks somewhat circus themed, an impression the ruffle definitely adds to.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I graded between sizes 2 and 3, but will size up to a 3 throughout next time as I have limited ease at the bust and upper arms despite sewing a narrow seam allowance. I’m definitely going to sew the Freya Dress again (including that adorable ruffle) in an office appropriate fabric. For reference, I cut the fabric strip for my ruffle 74cm long (Tilly explains how to measure your preferred length rather than specifying a measurement).

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

These photos are the first blog photos I’ve ever taken myself (using my phone as a remote) as opposed to asking Phil to take them. They turned out ok, but I found it really hard not to frown with concentration, and it took so much longer. I’ll suspect I’ll go back to bothering Phil next time.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress


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Bibi Pinafore

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Before Tilly’s new book Stretch was released I decided that I wasn’t going to buy it, because:

  1. I have an addiction to buying sewing books, and I’m trying to reduce my purchasing frequency, since I rarely sew from them;
  2. I’m trying to mainly sew from stash since listing my existing fabric on the Cora app and realising that I do in fact normally have a suitable fabric for my next project. However, that stash is only 17% knit fabrics (thanks Cora app stats!).

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Inevitably, however, once I saw the patterns from Stretch being shared online by Tilly (namely the Bibi Pinafore & Freya Dress with ruffle) I quickly put in an order. I’m glad I did as it’s an excellent book and the projects are so satisfyingly quick to sew. This is absolutely the book I would recommend to an total  beginner, as there’s very little barrier to entry and the success rate of projects sewn from it is likely to be high.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

This is my first project from the book, the Bibi Pinafore in a stash fabric, a cable knit jersey from Higgs & Higgs. This jersey has a bit of body which is great for Bibi, although it has just enough stretch, i.e. it’s a slight squeeze to get on and off.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

There photos were taken yesterday in Digbeth, Birmingham. At the same time that a racist march was taking place elsewhere in the city (kudos to those who protested against it), the Independent Birmingham festival – a celebration of Birmingham’s independent and creative scene – was taking place in Digbeth.

Phil and I ate two main courses each from the street food vendors participating, and took fancy doughnuts home for afters.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

I love the diversity and – increasing – vibrancy of this city, and it was good to be at an event which celebrated that, and which was generally a fun place to be, at a time when a few idiots who feel threatened by it were promoting hate.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress