english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Holiday Snaps & Meandering Thoughts

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

Phil and I dragged out the Christmas holiday as long as possible, spending a few days in Alicante before returning to work this week.

These pictures, of garments I’ve previously blogged, were taken while we were away (Malachi Vest / In the Folds Jumpsuit / Tamarack Jacket). I didn’t spend a lot of time sewing over Christmas, but did start the process of making two coats (one for me and one for Phil). I’m taking my time attaching interfacing and canvas, resisting the impulse to rush ahead to construction, in order to create coats which should look, and last, all the better for it.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

I wanted to thank everyone who read, or got in touch about, my recent post regarding my experience with my previous employer. A few people who commented used the word ‘proud’ which led me to recall a memory from the time which I thought was worth sharing, and which I didn’t touch on in my previous post, since I kept that largely to a blow-by-blow account.

Purl Alpaca Malachi Vest

At my lowest point working for that employer I spent one week off work, and in bed, recovering from a combination of stress and anaemia. Amongst the many emotions I felt at that time, I realised that I felt ashamed.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

Ashamed because, in a work context, I had come to view myself as a ‘strong’ person, and this had become central to my concept of – and what I valued about – myself. Certainly my concept of what constituted strength in this context (including being willing and able to work as long and hard as anyone, to take on more work and work out of hours without complaint and without getting stressed) was promoted by my employer (in my first interview for the organisation, when I was hired, I was asked about my willingness to work over and above my hours. I told them it wasn’t an issue, and meant it). However, my employer can’t take all the blame, they had simply built on an existing prejudice I held.

Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket

How I felt at that time, physically and emotionally weak, but without a physical cause to attribute my symptoms to in order to ‘justify’ them to myself and to my employer, was incompatible with my own (and my employer’s) prejudice about what it was to be a strong person.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

Initially I was ashamed because my view of what I valued in myself was challenged, but once I had time to dwell on it I was ashamed that I’d been judging people (predominantly myself, but inevitably, if unconsciously, my colleagues too) against a practically feudal concept. It took being physically weak to teach me that my concept of a ‘strong’ person was a nonsense, and that by judging myself against it I had set myself up to fail.

It was a humbling lesson, but in learning it I hope to be kinder to myself and others in future.

In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Jumpsuit

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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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Sewing Community Article in Sewing World

Sewing World Magazine

I have an article in the current issue of Sewing World Magazine, exploring the sewing community and how to get involved.

The full article includes practical tips for participating in the sewing community, but I thought I would share the introductory paragraphs here, which explore my own feelings about being part of this community:

I can honestly say that being part of the sewing community has changed my life. Growing up I always had good friends, but they were a select group – now I have friendships and connections with a huge, worldwide, community. The current age has been called the age of loneliness, due to our increased social isolation, but online communities – like the sewing community – create a connectness, which crosses boundaries of geography, age, and – to a lesser extent – language, gender and socioeconomics.

Sewing World Magazine

The opportunity to communicate with a diverse community of (mainly) women, in an atmosphere that is supportive and inspiring, has made me more confident. Like many bloggers, I began reluctant to take or post photos of myself online. Now I’m posting photos and videos regularly, because I’m inspired by others who are doing that and enjoy joining in. Plus, company is important to creativity. Without the opportunity to share what I make with others, and be inspired by them in return, I would have less motivation to create, and to try new things and keep challenging myself. I’d definitely still be sewing, but I doubt I’d be pushing myself to sew jeans, or lingerie. Seeing the beautiful projects fellow bloggers are making motivates me to have a go too.

Sewing World Magazine

Of course sewing is just the start – it’s the something in common to bring together a diverse community. It’s the thing we can draw around, which is representative of much more we have in common – creativity, a love of textiles, a desire to make things with our hands, and to understand how they are made.


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Be Gay in May

At a Memorabilia show last year I bought a selection of vintage magazines (Red Letter, Red Star, Secrets) from the 1950s and 60s. I thought if nothing else they would be good for a laugh, which they were. They also included knitting patterns, some of which- like the ‘butterfly jumper’ below – are quite cute. If I could remember how to knit I’d give it a go.

Vintage Magazine

Vintage Magazine

The magazines had some hilariously sexist headlines, and even a couple of highly sexist covers. ‘The  Case of the Nagging Wife’ has to be just about the least exciting mystery title ever.

Vintage Magazine

Vintage Magazine

Vintage Magazine

The magazines also featured a a number of glamorous advertisements, and…

Vintage Magazine

Vintage Magazine

Vintage Magazine

Vintage Magazine

Strangest of all, ‘Bruce Forsyth’s Query Corner’, where a young Bruce will answer all your pop music questions!

Vintage Magazine