english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Pilatus Swimsuit on Holiday

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

Pattern: Opian Pilatus

Time taken (excluding cutting out): 6 hours

Fabric: Liberty ‘Santa Monica Brighton Swim Regenerated Nylon’

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

August and September have been a busy couple of months for me with a week’s weaving course, The Sewing Weekender, jeans making and ply split braiding workshops, and a holiday to Croatia. Today I’m finally having a quiet Saturday at home with time for video gaming (I bought myself Untitled Goose Game this morning), blogging, and – later on with any luck – some sewing. I might make a start on the Alice & Co Mary Quant-inspired Georgie Dress if I have a suitable fabric in my stash.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

After my weaving course and the Sewing Weekender, Phil suggested that perhaps we should go on holiday together for a change! I put in a request for somewhere sunny and near the sea as I fancied another go at sewing a swimsuit, specifically the Opian Pilatus sewing pattern.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

My Pilatus was inspired by the lovely versions by Katie and Linda in particular. I love the cut-outs, the high waist and that front tie. It is a really straightforward pattern to put together – the bodice is self-lined meaning that it’s not even necessary to attach elastic in the top, just at the edges of the bottoms. Following a couple of projects which seemed to take forever (but probably didn’t, just lots of short sewing sessions) I’ve started timing how long my sewing projects are taking for my own interest. Excluding cutting out, this project took me six hours, which I think is pretty reasonable for a swimsuit.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

This is the second swimsuit I have sewn, following a Bombshell Swimsuit in 2014. My sewing skills have increased enormously since 2014 (I only started garment sewing in earnest in 2013) – as have my blog pictures, check out those original Bombshell swimsuit pics in the garden. My Bombshell turned out perfectly wearable, and I still wear it, but I did struggle with getting a good fit. This time around I found swimsuit sewing straightforward. I cut a size 2/4, grading between sizes at the waist, with no changes to the pattern.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

The fabric is a Liberty swim-suiting fabric in print ‘Santa Monica’ and fabric type ‘Brighton Swim’. I bought it in a half-price sale (it’s still available if you’re quick) from the Liberty website. I’m really impressed by the quality of the fabric, it’s opaque, a good weight, and dries quickly once out of the water. The fabric I used for my Bombshell wasn’t really a swimsuiting fabric – I think it was probably intended for leotards or dance costumes. It works ok for a swimsuit but it takes ages to dry. This Liberty fabric feels so professional in comparison, which makes a huge difference to making my Pilatus feel well made.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric

Excuse the number of pictures. I wore this swimsuit in Croatia to swim in the hotel pool, the ocean, and a salt lake on Lokrum Island. All of the locations were so beautiful that I couldn’t resist requesting a few more pictures (from Phil) each time.

Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric
Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric
Opian Pilatus Swimsuit in Liberty fabric
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Paper Bag Waist Trousers

Simplicity 8605 Trousers

Just a quick blog post today to share a pair of trousers which I made (and photographed) almost exactly one year ago, but never did share on the blog.

Simplicity 8605 Trousers

These are Simplicity 8605, which were part of Simplicity’s 2018 Spring collection, made in a super soft chambray fabric from Guthrie & Ghani. They’re paired here with a Paprika Patterns Onyx woven tee.

Simplicity 8605 Trousers

I do love a paper bag waist and I also love a quick and easy sewing pattern so I clearly need to make more of these trousers. I wore these non-stop last summer, and now that the weather has warmed up here in the UK I’ve been wearing them lots again. I might have a browse through the stash and see what fabric I have that is suitable for a second pair.

Simplicity 8605 Trousers

The pattern is as simple as it looks; five pattern pieces for the trousers, and four for the skirt also included in the pattern. The paper bag waist is created by attaching a casing, containing two rows of elastic, to the waist of the trousers. They are extra easy to fit. The legs are loose, and you can control the width of the waist by the length of the elastic you add. I appear to have made these in size Small, which according to the pattern envelope is smaller than my measurements, and they fit great.

Simplicity 8605 Trousers


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Starry Sirocco Jumpsuit

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ve been getting lots of time for sewing recently, which means I have been trying patterns quite soon after their release rather than a year or so later, as is my usual habit.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

That includes having sewn two Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuits since the release of the pattern in April. The jumpsuit pictured is my second Sirocco. I made both my Siroccos in fabric purchased during the Paris Sewcial meet-up from Bennytex fabric warehouse on the outskirts of Paris.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I made the first Sirocco in a lightweight grey knit fabric grading between sizes 38/40. After a couple of wears I decided that the crotch was too low for me to be comfortable wearing the jumpsuit, so for my second version I still cut a size 38/40 except for the seams at the top of the trousers and bottom of the bodice, where I graded down to size 34 (the smallest size in the pattern). This worked perfectly to raise the crotch without impacting the construction of the pattern (including attaching the pockets to the trousers at the waist seam which I was worried would be affected by a more major alteration). I want to go back and make the same alteration to my original Sirocco in time to get lots of wear out of it this summer.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

This second version was made in a medium weight knit fabric with a gold stars print. This is a sweat-shirting-type fabric, with a soft wrong-side. I really like this jumpsuit in a slightly weightier fabric, and I’m loving white clothes this summer. I suspect this fabric might get marked or start pilling relatively quickly, but I’m going to make the most of wearing it for as long as I can.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

These pictures are a mixture of photos taken in our local park, and pictures taken during a family holiday to Derbyshire, including to visit a nearby well dressing in Cressbrook, inspired by a visit by Karen a few days before.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I always associate holidays with taking lots of nice blog photos. I filled my suitcase with summery clothes I wanted to photograph – and then it was wet and cold all week. We still managed some nice pictures between showers, and the summery outfits worked out fine for exploring Derbyshire paired with some boots, a jacket and an umbrella. We even managed a brief dip in the outside pool in Hathersage while we were there.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ll leave you with the obligatory jumping in a jumpsuit picture as I return to binge watching series 17 of Project Runway with a final cup of tea before bed.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit


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Floral McCall’s M7154 in a Field

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

McCall’s M7154 1930s reproduction dress pattern is one of the most involved sewing projects I’ve completed.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

I sewed the dress back in 2017 to wear to my brother’s wedding. You can read the original blog post here.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

I hadn’t worn the dress since the wedding as the long train at the back makes it impractical for events involving dancing, and I don’t attend any evening events with no dancing!

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

When I visited the Confetti Fields a few weeks ago I decided to take McCall’s M7154 along for an opportunity to wear it again to get some updated photos.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

Funnily enough there aren’t many places to get changed in private in a field. I slipped into this dress behind some foliage and got changed back in an (empty) tent provided for baby changing. You can see my bra straps in some of the shots because losing my bra behind the foliage as well as my dress was definitely a step to far.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

I had to make a lot of tweaks to this dress during construction to make it fit, and that, combined with the impractically of the train, means I’m unlikely to sew the pattern again, but I’m glad I did make it, and I thoroughly enjoyed swanning around in it outdoors on a sunny afternoon.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet
McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet
McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet


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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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Two Knitted Skating Hats

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat

A few months ago, a vintage fashion Instagrammer I follow posted a picture of herself in a ear warmer she had made and I decided I had to have one.

I made a search on Ravelry (ear warmer? head warmer? headband?) and managed to stumble on a free pattern by Julie Bierlein for the Portsmouth knitted skating hat.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in Alafosslopi

This is a simple and well designed pattern, with the option to knit in chunky/bulky or super chunky/bulky yarn. I knit two versions and each one took me two evenings, at a relaxed pace.

I really wanted a pink hat, but I thought I’d test the pattern with some stash yarn first, and used Ístex Álafoss Lopi in Golden Heather for my yellow version. I bought this yarn on a whim during a trip to Sweden back in 2015, and I previously used some of the ball in this hat. I still have loads left so no doubt it will show up on the blog again at some point.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in Alafosslopi

Having tested out the pattern, I ordered some pink yarn for version two. Always keen to support British yarn companies, I chose West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat yarn in the Escape colourway.

Both the yarns I used were chunky weight yarns, but the Alafoss is much firmer, which I think works really well for this pattern. Despite being my test version, my yellow version keeps its shape better and has a crisper silhouette. The soft pink yarn is much softer and has more stretch. I should have compensated for the stretch by knitting the pink hat slightly shorter but I didn’t realise until it was already finished and washed.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat

I wasn’t sure how often I would wear these ‘hats’, but I wore them daily during a recent trip to New York. From the perspective of someone with long hair, they do a good job of keeping your head warm, and wearing them doesn’t result in a ‘hat hair’ effect.

For a fairly frivolous looking accessory they are actually quite practical, and easy to roll-up and pop in a pocket or bag when not being worn.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat

I’m currently making a hat which definitely can’t be described as practical, a small pillbox hat to wear to the Dressmakers’ Ball next week, using some leftover fabric from my dress.

This was definitely one time when I was glad to have purchased slightly more fabric than I needed for the dress as I’m also planning to make a matching belt, and maybe a bag. There’s only four days left before the Ball now – wish me luck.

Portsmouth Skating Hat by Julie Bierlein in West Yorkshire Spinners Re:treat


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Favourite 2018 Pattern Releases

Vlog Icon Fav Sewing Patterns

I’ve published a vlog of my personal favourite sewing patterns releases during 2018.

I’ve only sewn one of these so far, but I suspect I’ll get around to a fair few eventually. I have a couple in progress currently, including a Yates Coat.

In no particular order, my favourites are:

Night and Day Dress – Charm Patterns: https://charmpatterns.bygertie.com/shop/night-and-day-dress/

Yates Coat – Grainline Studio: https://grainlinestudio.com/shop/women/yates-coat-paper-pattern/

Myosotis Dress – Deer&Doe: https://shop.deer-and-doe.fr/en/sewing-patterns/65-myosotis-dress-pattern.html

Eloise Dress Sewing Pattern – By Hand London: https://byhandlondon.com/products/eloise-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern

Zelie Shirt – République du Chiffon: http://republiqueduchiffon.com/en/home/118-chemisier-zelie.html

Honeycomb Shirt & Dress – CocoWawa Crafts: https://www.cocowawacrafts.com/shop/sewing-patterns/honeycomb-shirt-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern-eng/

8605 – Simplicity Pattern: https://www.sewdirect.com/us8605a/

I AM Félicie – I AM Patterns: https://iampatterns.fr/en/sewing-patterns/116-felicie.html

Audrey – Seamwork: https://www.seamwork.com/catalog/audrey

Pinnacle Top/Sweater – Papercut Patterns: https://papercutpatterns.com/products/pinnacle-top-sweater

Justine (Free Pattern) – Ready to Sew: https://www.readytosew.fr/en/store/dresses-and-skirts/the-free-pattern-justine

Fika Tote – Noodlehead: https://noodle-head.com/product/fika-tote-pdf-pattern

TPC21//Drop Shoulder Coat – Trend Patterns: https://www.trendpatterns.co.uk/shop/tpc21drop-shoulder-coat-1

Len Coveralls – Sugardale: http://sugardale.net/sewing-patterns

“Karma” Trench – Milan AV-JC: https://www.milanavjc.com/zero-waste-karma-trench-en

Jarrah sweater – Megan Nielsen: https://megannielsen.com/products/jarrah

Floreat dress & top – Megan Nielsen: https://megannielsen.com/products/floreat