english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Istanbul Fabric Shopping & Sightseeing Vlog

Istanbul

Back in November, Phil and I spent a week in Istanbul. I filmed some footage of our holiday, which you can see in my latest vlog:

As mentioned in the vlog, I used to travel regularly to Istanbul for work, but never had much success fabric shopping. I’d heard that the (mostly weekday) markets were the best place to shop for fabrics, but never managed to explore any due to work commitments.

On this trip, I found lots of fabric stalls at Çarşamba (Wednesday) market in Kirmasti, Fatih, which is featured in the vlog. I also visited Kadiköy market, but there wasn’t any fabric on sale on the day we visited (possibly due to season or time of day, as we arrived quite late).

A few photos of Çarşamba market, followed by some other photos from the trip, are below:

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul


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Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

When I tested the Sangria dress from the Winter 2016 pattern collection from Capital Chic Patterns, I also asked Sally if I could test the Cuba Libre shirt. Before I began regularly sewing garments, a good proportion of my wardrobe was made up of RTW shirts, but I haven’t actually sewn many shirts (just one Archer), partly because I already have lots in the wardrobe, and partly because I have a tendency to pick quicker projects. However, I though Cuba Libre would be the perfect opportunity to add some me-made shirts to the wardrobe.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

I’m afraid I was a useless pattern tester and didn’t finish this shirt before Sally’s feedback deadline – but she let me off the hook! In fact, I still haven’t quite finished the Cuba Libre shirt shown here. I didn’t manage to add buttonholes or buttons before our holiday to Istanbul, but packed the shirt anyway, and I sewed myself in (plackets & cuffs) so I could wear it for a trip to Topkapi Palace, where these photos were taken. Sewing blogger problems, huh?

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

I also hand sewed the hem in our hotel room the same morning – which is actually standard for me, as I often hem garments by hand using a slip-stitch. In these photos it looks like the shirt has a hidden button placket – but that’s just because I haven’t attached buttons as yet (I will, I have no intention of regularly sewing myself in)!

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

This is a really great pattern with lots of lovely shirt details: yoke, collar with stand, cuffs and cuff plackets, patch pockets with flaps. I was working from the tester version, but Sally’s instructions are great and if even you’re not familiar with shirt making it’s nice and straightforward.

Cuba Libre is intended to be oversized – in a thicker fabric, as here, it results in quite a casual look, but in a more luxurious fabric (as in Sally’s sample photos) it can look very glam.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

My fabric was a remnant I picked up from the sale table at a local Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, It’s medium weight but very drapey, and very synthetic. I’ll definitely be making more Cuba Libre shirts – the pattern also includes two lengths of shirt dress, and I love a shirt dress as much as I love a shirt, so will be attempting all variations at some point. Some of the lovely details are a bit lost in this print, so I think I’ll make it in a solid (or, as a lover of print, perhaps a very small scale print…) next time.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

As noted above, these photos were taken in Topkapi Palace during my recent trip to Istanbul. If you’re not familiar, Topkapi Palace was a residence of the Sultans until its conversion into a museum under the Republic. The Palace is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a visit (although make sure to visit Dolmabahçe also), especially on a sunny day when it’s lovely strolling between buildings. The Palace has a fascinating history which it’s worth reading up on before you visit, time permitting; as is often the case with palaces, it was a beautiful prison for an awful lot of its residents.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

A personal favorite fact about Topkapi Palace is that it had a dedicated confectionery kitchen which employed up to one hundred confectioners – proof, if needed, of how seriously Turkish people take their puddings! A Turkish colleague told me previously that I was well suited to working in Turkey, due to having such a sweet tooth. Well, when in Rome.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt


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Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I’m currently on holiday in Istanbul, hence the backdrop of Hagia Sophia in these photos. Before heading off on holiday, I was thrilled to be involved in testing the new Winter 2016 pattern collection by Sally (of both Capital Chic Patterns and Charity Shop Chic). I love all of the patterns in the collection but, due to lack of time, Sangria – which is my far the quickest sew – was the only pattern I tested.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

This is the first version of Sangria I made, using some mystery fabric from Birmingham Rag Market (I think it’s a mid-weight jersey). The pattern is designed for scuba jersey, to achieve a smooth line over the body (i.e. avoid visible panty line). I have tried it in three different fabrics now (pictures to follow), and found it works well in jerseys, as well as scuba jerseys, particularly if they are medium weight. I fancy placing a Girl Charlee order and seeing how it sews up in a selection of their fabrics. As an added bonus, in a stretchy knit you can skip the back zip, making this an even quicker sew.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

This version was sewn using the test pattern. I graded between sizes 10 (bust) and 12 (waist/hips), and sewed a narrow seam allowance on the sleeves, which felt a little tight (a reasonably common adjustment for me). As this fabric has quite a bit of stretch, I used a shorter zip than recommended, just to allow me to get the collar over my head. I do get a bit of pooling of fabric at my lower back, which I ought to sort for future versions, and which I only recently noticed, since I don’t see my back that often!

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I absolutely love this pattern for work dresses, and have also made a party version in a shiny snakeskin print which I’m hoping to rock this weekend!

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

Right, I’m off sightseeing. Hope you also have good weeks planned!


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Istanbul Sorbetto

Colette Sorbetto Top with Turkish Cotton
I’m currently in Istanbul for work so I thought it was the perfect location to get some photos of this Sorbetto – made with fabric I purchased in Istanbul on a previous work trip.
Colette Sorbetto Top with Turkish Cotton
I haven’t had that much luck so far fabric shopping in Istanbul. On a previous visit I decided I NEEDED to do some fabric shopping so tried the Grand Bazaar and came away with this thick cotton. The quality & colour is lovely, but the fabric clearly wasn’t intended for dressmaking as the width was ridiculously narrow. I decided to make a Soretto as I needed a project with minimal fabric requirements – even so the fabric was so narrow that I couldn’t cut the front & back on the fold as the pattern suggests, but instead had to cut four separate pieces (adding a narrow seam allowance when cutting out) & then sew 2 front and 2 back pieces together. I also had to sacrifice the front box pleat. My Sorbetto is looking a bit creased in these photos having traveled in my suitcase and then been worn all day in around 35c heat.
Colette Sorbetto Top with Turkish Cotton
Colette Sorbetto Top with Turkish Cotton
These photos were taken in Yildiz Park. Like lots of public parks Yildiz was previously private property. It was actually once part of the Sultan’s hunting grounds and palace gardens. I was actually visiting Yildiz on my way to somewhere else – Ortakoy.
Colette Sorbetto Top with Turkish Cotton
Ortakoy is one of my favourite spots in the city – It’s located on the Bosphorus & is crammed full of places to eat & drink. It’s also the best place to eat Kumpir – jacket potatoes stuffed with a ton of fillings. Seriously they are huge & so good!
Ortakoy, Istanbul
Ortaköy Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge


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Hotel Room Victoria Blazer

Pink Victoria Blazer By Hand London
I made my first blazer – using By Hand London’s Victoria blazer pattern. I love blazers & jackets – especially the slouchy kind – so this pattern was perfect for me. I went for a wool-blend, but I could see this looking great in a stretchy knit, or even a heavy weight knit similar to the fabric Rachel used for her first Coco dress. The sun was shining today so me and Phil cycled to the park for an ice cream, which gave me  a chance to give my Victoria blazer a first airing.
Pink Victoria Blazer By Hand London
I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time away from home for work recently. I begrudge time away from my hobbies and as this trip was going to include the weekend I packed my mini sewing machine for some hotel room sewing. Along with my sewing machine I packed the Victoria blazer pattern & some fabric I’d previously picked out. The outer fabric is a pink wool-blend from Barry’s Fabrics and the lining is a bright pink floral cotton from Birmingham market.
Hotel room sewing in Istanbul
Hotel room sewing – Netflix, sewing machine, tea!

Apart from pressing and some final tidying up which I did when I got home, I made the jacket entirely in my hotel room. My mini sewing machine does a pretty good job, but I did miss my ‘real’ sewing machine as the mini version is awfully slow. And noisy – I felt sorry for whoever was in the room next to me, god knows what they thought was happening next door.
Hotel room sewing in Istanbul
The only think I forgot to pack was tracing paper and I hate having to cut up sewing patterns. However a quick trip to a local supermarket later I had located some Turkish baking paper and was able to trace my pattern pieces after all! It was a good job as I did have to make one adjustment. I initially cut a straight size 8, but found that the sleeves once made up were going to be really tight (I’m claiming it’s due to muscle;)). I didn’t fancy a blazer with straitjacket sleeves so I re cut the sleeves and cuffs in a size 12 and they fit fine.
Pink Victoria Blazer By Hand London
I find the By Hand London patterns beautifully simple and the paper instructions and online sew-alongs are easy to follow. This is definitely an ideal first blazer pattern.
Pink Victoria Blazer By Hand London
I went for all-over pink with this jacket. I picked the wool-blend outer fabric first, in a purple-pink colour. I thought I ought to use some stash fabric for the lining so picked out this ultra-pink floral cotton which was originally going to be a dress but instead got forgotten under my bed.
Pink Victoria Blazer By Hand London
Just to prove I didn’t spend all of last weekend sat in my hotel room here’s a photo of the book market in Istanbul from one of my trips out. I did also manage to buy some fabric, an overpriced cotton from Grand Bazaar which I need to decide on a project for (I’m sure there are good, cheap fabric shops in Istanbul but I’m yet to find them).
Istanbul Book Market
And, while we’re on the subject of By Hand London have you invested in their Kickstarter campaign yet? I backed them yesterday and cannot wait for them to start printing fabric on demand. I’ve already started thinking about some designs I want to get printed. So exciting!
Pink Victoria Blazer By Hand London


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Travel Sewing

Travel Sewing
I’ve been in Istanbul for work recently. I made sure to do some sightseeing over the weekend but I also packed lots of supplies so that I had things to do if I felt more like staying in.
Travel Sewing
Phil treated me to a smallish sewing machine for Christmas which would fit in my case. It’s also bright pink:) I cut all the pieces for an Anna dress before I left and made a start on making it up. I would have gotten it finished but it was a very busy trip! I also packed my current (and first!) knitting project (a fox shaped draft excluder).
Istanbul
Istanbul is a great city but I was very glad to get home. Without me here the plants were looking dried out, the housework needed doing, there was lots of tv to catch up with on the Sky+ & catching up with Phil to do.
Istanbul, Turkey
P.S. Does anyone know of any sewing bloggers based in Istanbul? I’m going to be visiting fairly regularly so It would be great to get some advice on the best places to shop.


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No Sew

Rupert, Miniature Dachshund

Phew, things have been busy lately, there’s been no time to be crafty. It started with a work trip to Istanbul, followed by a tooth infection which kept me from getting on with any sewing last weekend, and then a busy weekend this week completing chores which had already been put off too long.

While in Istanbul, I did manage to locate a fabric and notions district just outside the Grand Bazaar. It was a rather whistle-stop shopping trip but I managed to have a quick mooch. The various shops selling notions – tending to specialise in a certain type such as notions or lace – had overwhelming volumes of stock.

Fabric Shopping in Istanbul, Turkey
Fabric Shopping in Istanbul, Turkey

I’m hoping for a nice quiet week ahead with time to sew. I have the pieces for a blouse cut out ready to go as soon as I get an opportunity. I’ve also started planning a little dog jacket for the new member of the family pictured above, Rupert, my brother and his partner’s miniature dachshund puppy.