english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Seamwork Neenah Dress

Seamwork Neenah Dress

This is the Seamwork Neenah Dress one of my #makenine projects, made with a stash fabric of forgotten origin (thanks to the Cora App I won’t be forgetting where I bought fabric in future). Although I can’t remember where I bought this fabric, I do know I bought it with the intention of making Neenah – and a year or so later, here she is!

Seamwork Neenah Dress

Based on my measurements I graded between an XS and S. I cut the sleeves in size XS and initially found them too tight, so unpicked and sewed again with a very narrow seam allowance. I cut two inches off the length of the sleeves, but left the dress length as per the pattern.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I really like the fit of this dress. It skims the body nicely without being clingy. There’s a little bit of pooling at the back, but in a casual style like this I don’t think it’s worth worrying about. It’s worth noting that the turtleneck pattern piece is quite long (it’s folded double in these photos). I’m a big fan of a high neckline, but if you want a smaller turtleneck I’d recommend using a more lightweight fabric, or reducing the height of the pattern piece by up to half.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I whipped this dress up on Friday evening (having previously send the pattern for A0 printing), ready to wear to a sewing meet-up in Birmingham yesterday in celebration of the lovely Bianca returning to us for the weekend. It was a really fun day, lots of nattering and fabric shopping with sewing friends, followed by a Cecille Grey gig in Nottingham. I was absolutely knackered when I fell into bed that night, but it was definitely worth it, and I love making new clothes for special days.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been sticking to my New Year’s Resolution to keep my evenings for my hobbies, instead of allowing work to stretch out into them, and to attend more meet-ups. I’ve been attending the monthly Brummie Yarn Social organised by Sue and Ben in Moseley, and it’s been lovely to see the Birmingham sewists more regularly, as well as to catch-up with a bigger group yesterday.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

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A Malachi Vest & an Early New Year’s Resolution

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Hoorah, I finally made it back to my blog. A little more on that below, but first a finished knitted garment; the Malachi Vest from Purl Alpaca Designs.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

I bought the yarn and pattern for this vest as a kit from Purl Alpaca Designs at Yarnporium over a year ago. This make was a case of falling in love with the product photo. I still want to recreate the whole look, as the model looks sooo good. I used the recommended yarn, Purl Alpaca’s 100% pure alpaca medium yarn in colours Alpaca Earth and Champagne.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

In typical fashion I started knitting this last January, but didn’t finish it until April when it was too warm to wear. I was very happy to pack this vest for a recent trip to Rome and Paris, where I finally got chance to wear it, and where these photos were taken. I’m still figuring out what to wear it with, and (thanks to the product photo) I think I need a white shirt – something my wardrobe is currently missing, ever since I threw out the last RTW one I owned.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Knitting, along with sewing, blogging, and all of my other hobbies, had fallen by the wayside this year.

A little over six months ago I was asked to ‘act up’ at work and take on a raft of new responsibilities. Although ostensibly a change of role, in reality these responsibilities were on top of my existing job, since the existing work still needed to be delivered. In fact, over that six-month period the workload only continued to expand, and, as that happened, I made the decision to keep on top of the workload by increasingly extending my working days and retaining less and less time for my hobbies.

As an indication, I’ve published 1-2 blog posts per week for the last five years (an average of 64 –  86 per year), with 2017 the first year I didn’t manage that frequency of posts (or anything like it) since 2011.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Reducing time for my hobbies seemed a sensible decision; the best way to avoid them feeling like an additional task to tick off a to-do list. However, it also meant that I didn’t participate in things I’ve previously enjoyed (like pattern testing or community challenges) this year, and when the lure of a community challenge (like the Refashioners) or pattern test proved too great to resist, I invariably failed to complete by the deadline.

Those hobby-related activities which did have deadlines, like the Sewing Weekender or SewBrum, were less fun this year than previously. As organiser, half the fun of an event is in the preparation (as the event itself always whizzes by so fast), and if you have very little time for that preparation, and not enough to do as good a job as you would like, it takes away some of the enjoyment – and leads you to rely heavily on others (apologies to Kate, Rachel & Lauren!).

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Even trips like the holiday where these photos were taken became less appealing in advance, because when you’re working pretty much every evening you don’t have time to prepare yourself to go away, and are really keen to spend as much time as possible at home.

I was willing to commit time to work over my hobbies for one reason only – I have the best colleagues, who are some of my absolute favourite people, and I assumed by working hard I could make some positive changes which would benefit all of us.

In the last couple of weeks, my role at work changed in a way which meant that the workload (at least in the short-term) would continue, and likely increase, but my ability to actually make improvements to support my friends was further decreased. At the same time my body decided enough hours was enough and required a few days at home, resting and stocking up on vitamins.

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

As is often the case, a little distance helped me to see sense. If the one reason I was willing to take on a difficult role was removed, why was I continuing? I’ve returned to my previous role at work and I’ve committed to a New Year’s Resolution starting right away, in advance of the New Year. I’ll no longer be working excessive hours; I’m going to do as good a job as possible during my working hours, and then I’m going to head home and spend my time on my hobbies.

Expect to see a lot more of me in 2018.

Charlotte x

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest

Purl Alpaca Designs Malachi Vest


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Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

It’s taken a while for this dress to make it to the blog, since I made it to wear to The Dressmakers Ball, organised by the team at Crafty Sew & So, back in May.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

In time honoured fashion, I bought tickets to the ball as soon as they went on sale but left making my outfit until the last minute. I have a lousy memory, so details from May are lost to the mists of time, but I’m pretty sure I whipped this up the night before the ball.

As luck would have it, this dress is perfect for dancing in, the multi-paneled skirt adding lots of volume for twirling. Plus, due to being sewn in a knit fabric, it’s comfier than your average party dress.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

I think this fabric was a Guthrie & Ghani purchase, and was definitely bought with a Colette Wren in mind, but instead it became a Victory Patterns Jackie dress. It has a really nice weight and a subtle sparkle.

Despite the multiple panels, this dress is actually a fairly quick sew, and would make an excellent Christmas party dress.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

These pictures were taken in the grounds of a local Jacobean house museum, Aston Hall, during a food festival event Phil and I attended. The event was sold out and the grounds full of people, so I’m impressed at just how peaceful we’ve made it seem in these photos.

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress

Victory Patterns Jackie Dress


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Blacker Yarns Brushwork (and a cat!)

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Swatch

As during previous years, Blacker Yarns are releasing a lovely special edition birthday yarn! Brushwork launches on the Blacker Yarns website & in selected yarn shops this Thursday 28 September (£8.40 per 50g ball) and is guaranteed to sell out quickly.

Experts at showcasing the versatility and quality of British yarns, Blacker always take the special edition yarns as an opportunity to include unusual British fibres with limited availability. This year’s yarn, Brushwork, is no exception; a blend of Scottish Bowmont (70%), Castlemilk Moorit (10%), and British Alpaca (20%). The majority of Scottish Bowmont wool goes into luxury garment manufacturing, so it’s particularly rare in commercial yarn, and Castlemilk Moorit is a breed listed as ‘at risk’ by the RBST Watchlist with only around 1,000 of these sheep left in the UK.

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Yarn

I was given the opportunity to swatch with a sample of Brushwork (in the Impasto colourway) and I love it for garment knitting. It would be especially lovely for a knitted top or jumper as it’s drapey but with great stitch definition. I like that Blacker selected to release Brushwork in a Sport weight – which is a less commonly available weight in British yarns.

The colours of the yarn are also very thoughtful and have loads of character. Inspired by watercolours and ink, the colours were achieved by dyeing the fibres in the wool before spinning, and blending as little as possible to preserve flecks of individual colour. The attention to detail stretches to the ball bands, which reflect the watercolour theme, and are very cute.

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Swatch

I was attempting to photograph my swatch (the pattern is a detail from Jean by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne in PomPom Quarterly Issue 14) on Saturday and discovered that it is apparently exactly the right size for a (neighbour) cat to rest on.

Blacker Yarns Brushwork Swatch

Cat

Cat

Cat


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Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

I’ve been knitting less frequently since I started catching the train to work, with colleagues, because I’m now too busy nattering. However, recently I finally picked up and finished this project which I abandoned last summer.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

This is the Point of View Vest by Hannah Fettig from Knitbot Linen. I started this vest to use up leftover Blacker Yarns Lyonesse yarn from my Hancock cardigan (another Hannah Fettig pattern). I didn’t have quite enough Lyonesse to finish this vest, and by the time I realised, the colourway (Rose Quartz) had been discontinued. Luckily, the replacement colourway (Tourmaline) is close enough that the change in shade at the shoulders doesn’t look out of place.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

The Point of View pattern is designed for linen yarn; because I used a wool/linen blend, the edges of the vest inevitably curl up. I like how this looks at the front, but felt the bottom edge of the vest looked sloppy, so hand sewed ribbon along the edges to weigh them down and keep them flat.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

This is a fairly impractical garment since it doesn’t add much warmth or cover, but it does look quite cute paired here with a Megan Nielsen Maker Tee and favourite People Tree skirt, and with an Inari Tee Dress. These photos were taken on holiday at Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, and the Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest


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Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

This garment is a good example of how my pattern queue often works. I purchased the Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit pattern on release, and picked up this medium-weight knit fabric from the Goldhawk Road (which is more green in real life) not long after. Despite having pattern and fabric paired ready to sew, they waited for over a year and half before making it to the front of the queue and the sewing machine.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

When I did finally decide to give Sallie my attention it was with typically spur of the moment urgency. I had leaving do drinks to attend at work and decided I urgently needed to wear this exact outfit. It’s actually a quick sew – I made this up in two or three evenings after work.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Because I was sewing at speed in the evenings with minimal light, I initially attached the bodice ‘inside out’; the bodice main and lining pieces are almost identical, but the lining side is slightly smaller so that the seam allowance rolls to the inside. In my case it was initially rolling to the outside, so I went back and fixed the issue – post work night out.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

This fabric has a tendency to show lumps, bumps and panty lines. Next time I’d reduce this by using a fabric which is thicker, patterned or drapeier, and I would probably also raise the front neckline. I fancy trying Sallie with a modified rounded neckline.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

These photos were taken the day after my brother’s wedding, on the roof of the venue. I think Sallie is a perfect lounging around outfit, since the knit fabric means it is super comfortable. Phil however thinks it looks like I’m en route to a 70s disco.

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit

Closet Case Patterns Sallie Jumpsuit


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Knit Billie Dress

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Hi all, I’ve been quiet online lately, but haven’t been totally absent from this sewing community of ours! Last Saturday, I attended a meet-up organised by Crafty Sew & So in Leicester (blogged by Crafty Sew & So and by Sew Positivity), I’m planning my next moneta for the Moneta Party, and I’m popping to my parents’ house today to check the fit of a toile dog jacket on my brother’s dog, Rupert, before cutting into a tweed to make Rupert a jacket for my brother’s wedding.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

This is one of the dress variations from the Billie Collection, the first pattern from Tribe Patterns, and a collaboration between The Fold Line and Rachel Pinheiro. The pattern contains dress (with and without contrast at the shoulders), top and skirt variations. The Dress includes some lovely features, including open ended fish-eye darts to create the skirt pleats, and squared shoulders and neckline.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

The Bille Dress is closely fitted across the bust (via bust darts, plus fish-eye darts at the front and back) so this is a pattern where getting the fit right really impacts the finished garment. The pattern is designed for a cup size C; as someone with a B cup, I should have attempted a small bust adjustment, but decided to (be lazy and) try the dress in a knit fabric for a slightly more relaxed fit. The fit is still off at the bust, and next time I ought to be good and adjust the pattern.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

Although the pattern is designed for wovens, I’d definitely recommend trying it in a stable knit fabric for a comfy casual dress. Thanks to the wide neckline, I’m able to pull this dress on and off over my head, so skipped the back zip; bonus! I purchased this medium-weight knit fabric from a market stall during my recent trip to Istanbul, at Çarşamba (Wednesday) market in Kirmasti, Fatih. I used the wrong side of the fabric for the contrast shoulder panels.

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress

If you’re wary about fitting the Billie Collection dress, the skirt variation would be a nice easy project, and the top would be easier to perfect fitting adjustments on before moving on to the dress.

Right, I’m off to fit in some sewing before it’s time for a puppy fitting session!

Tribe Patterns Billie Dress