english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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


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The Fox, the Bear and the Bunny Book Review

The Fox, the Bear & the Bunny Sewing book by Olive & Vince

The latest vlog is up with a review of a lovely new children’s clothing sewing book, The Fox, the Bear and the Bunny, from Olive & Vince.

The Fox, the Bear & the Bunny Sewing book by Olive & Vince

The patterns in the book make up a full wardrobe of children’s clothing (for ages 1-5), with a good number of gender-neutral patterns.

The Fox, the Bear & the Bunny Sewing book by Olive & Vince

Full details on the vlog. Watch it here:

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of The Fox, the Bear and the Bunny in exchange for blogging about it, all opinions expressed are my own.


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The Big Vintage Sew-along

Fabric Swatches

I was delighted to be asked to participate as a blogger in the Big Vintage Sew-along, hosted by the McCall Pattern Company.

As part of a year-long event, 20 patterns have been selected from the Vintage Vogue, Retro Butterick and McCalls Archive pattern lines. Proceeds from the sales of those 20 patterns will go to the Eve Appeal, a charity which funds research into gynaecological cancers. The official website for the sew-along is here, and the Fold Line have posted a round up of the event and bloggers taking part.

I’m not revealing which pattern I’ve selected until I blog my project on 19th August, but I thought I’d show you the fabric I’ve picked.

I don’t normally have much trouble choosing fabric! But for this project, I ordered lots of swatches and took ages making up my mind. I finally decided on this Black and White Graffiti Sateen from The Splendid Stitch. It’s washed and ready to cut, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the pattern looks in it – fingers crossed that I do right by pattern and fabric!

Fabric Swatches

From the Splendid Stitch, I also considered this Black Damask, and Matchsticks Poly Stretch Crepe which I love but thought would be a bit lightweight for the pattern. (P.S. you can get 20% off your first order at the Splendid Stitch with code 1W1N-JL5H-J963 until 17th July).

Fabric Swatches

I had originally planned to order this lovely textured Tottorri Cross fabric from Merchant & Mills for my Big Vintage Sew-along project, but it sold out before I ordered! If anyone sees it back in stock let me know as I’d love to try sewing with it.

Fabric Swatches

From Merchant & Mills, I also considered (and love) the Scarlet and Blackwatch linens. The Blackwatch is 100% Irish linen.

Fabric Swatches

Fabric Swatches

From the Draper’s Daughter, I love the Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Woven Spot. I decided it wasn’t quite right for my Big Vintage Sew-along project, but I definitely fancy ordering some for a different pattern (I’m thinking, perhaps, a dungaree dress).

Fabric Swatches

And finally, from Offset Warehouse I considered the Navy Blue Handwoven Ikat and Tyulipa Organic Hand Block Print. For this project, I was wary about the directional pattern in the ikat, and the weight of the tulip print – but again I love both fabrics for other projects.

Fabric Swatches

The full list of bloggers taking part is below (with thanks to Jane, who had already pulled this together). I’ve loved seeing the projects posted so far and hope you have too.

Blog Tour
11/03/16   Katie at What Katie Sews
25/03/16   Portia at Makery
08/04/16   Kate at The Fold Line
15/04/16   Amy at Almond Rock
29/04/16   Elisalex at By Hand London
13/05/16   Jane at Handmade Jane
27/05/16   Jennifer at The Gingerthread Girl
10/06/16   Lisa at Sew Over It 
24/06/16   Janene at ooobop
08/07/16   Marie at A Stitching Odyssey
15/07/16   Kerry at Kestrel Makes
22/07/16   Fiona at Diary of a Chainstitcher
29/07/16   Karen at Did You Make That?
05/08/16   Laura at Sew for Victory
12/08/16   Nina at ThumbleNina
19/08/16   Charlotte at English Girl at Home
26/08/16   Gabby at Living on a Shoestring
02/09/16   Rachel at House of Pinheiro
09/09/16   Elena at Randomly Happy
16/09/16   Wendy at Butterick
23/09/16   Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time
30/09/16   Rachel at The Fold Line


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Opal Cardigans

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Have you seen the newest pattern from Paprika Patterns, the Opal Cardigan? I really love the fabrics Lisa used for the samples pictured in the introductory blog post announcing the pattern.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

I was a pattern tester for the Opal Cardigan, and the two versions pictured here were made with the test version of the pattern. Lisa made a few changes to the final version of the pattern which it’s worth noting: slightly reducing ease, adjusting the angle of the front neckline, the height of the back neckline and raising the pockets.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

The pattern includes three length options. This first version pictured, in a blue ‘warm jersey’ from White Tree Fabrics, is View A, the shortest length. You can see that it is longer on me than on Lisa in the product photos, because I’m quite a bit shorter. I really like this slouchy length, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you want a hip-length cardigan and are also a shorty like me (I forget how tall I actually am, I think about 5’4).

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

One of my favourite things about the pattern is that each view has a different shaped pocket. I especially like the View A angled pockets.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Before I made the knit version above, I made this black and white woven version with fabric from Barry’s. Obviously making a woven version of a knit pattern was not very useful for pattern testing purposes, but I couldn’t resist! This is View B, the mid-length option.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

I only made minor tweaks to the pattern to make it suitable for woven fabric – just extending the length of the cuffs and neck binding.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

The Opal Cardigan has no fastening so it’s a really quick project. I find it goes with anything and have been throwing mine on in the morning before leaving for the office. It’s perfect for slipping on and off as the heat fluctuates in our office!

If you fancy trying the pattern, there is currently 15% off until this Sunday, 14th February.

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan

Paprika Patterns Opal Cardigan


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Floral and Lace Lou Lou Dress

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

I’ve worked lots of extra hours this week (including two 13.5 hour days during the week, plus working Sunday) so haven’t had the energy to get as much done as normal in the hours when I have been at home. I did manage to do a little sewing yesterday, but mostly I’ve sat around reading and relaxing. I didn’t even manage any knitting on the train journey to and from work today – instead I fell asleep both ways (I always wake up when I reach my station – so far at least!).

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

With that in mind, I thought it would be a good opportunity for a quick blog post sharing some photos of a version of my Lou Lou Dress pattern which I made and photographed last year. The final version of the pattern is slightly different from the test version shown here – in particular, in the final version, the shoulder straps are narrower and the armholes raised.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

This border-print fabric was purchased in Paris from Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre. I have no idea of the composition but it has a beautiful silky hand. I still have a small piece left, but haven’t decided what to make with it just yet.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

This dress is very similar to the version that was originally featured in The Monthly Stitch Project Indie competition. I whipped together the version for the Monthly Stitch deadline super fast and it was quite messy so I later went back and tidied it up, and the dress shown here is the result.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

I can’t believe it’s Monday tomorrow! Fingers crossed for a quieter week with lots of time for sewing.

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home

Lou Lou Dress Sewing Pattern Version B (early version) by English Girl at Home


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Pattern Queue or Pattern Scrum

Guthrie & Ghani Grand Opening

Sometimes stereotypes aren’t too wide of the mark. English people do take queuing very seriously.

If there is a line we’ll join the end, and we’ll proceed to the front in the order we joined. Anyone attempting to jump the rightful order of the queue will receive some very dirty looks. Unless they are over retirement age, then it’s ok.

With that in mind, I find it hard to describe my upcoming sewing projects as a queue. If it were a queue they would wait in line and each get sewn in the order they were added. What actually happens is that I have, in my head, a ‘huddle’ of patterns waiting to be sewn soon, not necessarily in any clear order. Even worse, newer patterns are liable to leap frog straight to the front, and some poor patterns wait for years before their turn comes.

A pattern scrum as it were, or, at least, not a very English type of pattern queue.


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Onyx Shirt in Sanssouci Park

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Yesterday, me and Phil arrived home from a week’s holiday in Berlin (plus a quick stop-over in London to attend a sewing meet-up organised by Helen). We had a great week, but it’s also lovely to be home – particularly as I have a few more days off work, so time to do some sewing, knitting and blogging.

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

I only managed to make one new garment for the holiday, a second Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns. I started it a few days before we left, but inevitably ended up hand sewing the hem at midnight the day before we left. Sewing blogger problems…

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

I made a straight size two. The only alteration I made from the instructions was to fold under twice at the neckline and hand stitch, rather than using bias binding. I also hand stitched the hem.

The fabric is Atelier Brunette cotton. It’s their ‘twist’ design in dark blue, and was purchased from Guthrie & Ghani. Buttons were from my stash, and I think were freebies with a magazine.

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

These photos were taken in Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. The Berlin travel ticket (if you buy all zones) includes Potsdam, so we decided to catch the train there one day during our trip. This is the area of the park in front of Sanssouci Palace, which was built as the summer palace of Frederick the Great.

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam


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Vintage Knitting Spam

Vintage Knitting Pattern & Sewing Notions

A lazy post this evening, while watching some Orange is the New Black (and possibly Revenge of the Nerds). I picked up these vintage knitting patterns at a recent meeting of my Weavers, Spinners and Dyers guild. The sewing notions included in a couple of photos are courtesy of Maddie; I won them in a giveaway on her blog.

It’s dubious whether I’ll ever knit these patterns – I have a substantial Ravelry queue and am continually distracted by the newest indie release – but they are sooo nice to look at.

Vintage Knitting Pattern & Sewing Notions

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

And after all that glamour, here’s one pattern that’s not so glamorous…

Vintage Knitting Pattern


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Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

It’s the weekend and it’s actually sunny here, so I finally got chance to wear something summery and spent the afternoon eating ice cream in Henley-in-Arden, a historic market town local to me.

This is the Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada (originally published in Japan with the amazing title She has a Mannish Style). The book has been popping up quite a bit on sewing blogs, but I haven’t spotted anyone posting this blouse yet.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

The Pompom Blouse is a loose fitting tee designed to be made in a knit fabric (the book refers to this as T-cloth on the pattern page, although there is more information in the techniques section). The interesting features of the top are the inclusion of a strip of pompoms at the neckline, and the method used to bind the neckline and sleeve cuffs. In the book, the bias used at the neckline is in a contrast colour, but I made some matching bias binding as I thought my fabric was already pretty busy. I lengthened my blouse by a couple of inches as the blouse shown in the book looks quite cropped, and I added a separate hem band (approx 1 1/2″ long), rather than turning back the hem and securing with a row of double stitching as suggested in the book.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

This fabric is a jersey I purchased from Stitch at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC back in March. The pompoms were from my stash; I bought them years ago to make a pompom-edged cushion, but never got around it! This was a quick and easy make – I recently went on a family holiday with Phil’s family and made this using my ‘travel’ sewing machine (one of the John Lewis minis) while away.

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Like other Japanese sewing books, the book includes double-sided paper pattern sheets. Pattern pieces need to be traced and seam allowances added. The instructions for each pattern include a diagram showing where to add seam allowances.

Typically, written instructions are minimal, but diagrams are included for each step. This top was very straightforward, but some of the more complicated patterns in the book (jackets, coat) would be more suited to intermediate sewists who are comfortable with less detailed instructions.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

I love the ‘mannish’ style of the She Wears the Pants designs, and the grungy styling of the book. The only issue I have with the book is that the lighting in the photos is dark, and quite a few of the items are made in black fabric – making it difficult to see the details of the clothing. Detailed line drawings are included for each pattern so that you can confirm the details before choosing what to sew.

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

The patterns included in the book cover a wide range of garments for woven and knit fabrics, including trousers, dresses, tops, jackets, a skirt, and culottes. There’s even one knitting pattern included, for a rather unusual belt sole.

Pompom Blouse from She Wears the Pants

One thing to note is that the size range of the patterns in the book is quite limited. I made a size small and found the sizing accurate, although this top is quite loose fitting due to the boxy style. Other patterns in the book include less positive ease and match the sizing chart more closely. The book doesn’t provide any information on the finished size of garments so you’ll need to measure the pattern pieces if you want to check the ease allowed prior to cutting out your fabric.

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

I’ve sewn another couple of garments from the book which I’ll post soon. In the meantime enjoy some of that mean and moody photography!

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

She Wears the Pants Japanese Sewing Pattern Book

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of She Wears the Pants in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own. Post contains an affiliate link


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Casper & Wendy Full Circle Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics

I’m a big fan of staring at Japanese pattern books – the colours and layouts are just so satisfying. This bag is from a new English-language release from Tuttle Publishing, Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics: Over 25 Easy-to-Make Purses, Totes and More by Emiko Takahashi.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

This is the Full Circle Bag project from the book. This bag is reversible although there is no way I’m ever going to reverse it and hide that Casper & Wendy print! Peter recently asked on his blog whether sewists ever reverse their reversible makes – I know I don’t, I pick a favourite side from the start!

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

The bag is a large circle which is pulled in via 16 loops which the strap is threaded through.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

One of the distinguishing features of the book is that each project includes some element of hand sewing (and it is intended that the bags can be sewn wholly by hand if so chosen). For the project I made, the book suggested hand stitching a circular design on the bottom of the bag. I placed a circle of interfacing between the two layers of the bag and then machine stitched a circle design to help create a more sturdy base.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

I know this looks like a slightly overdue Halloween project but I actually bought this fabric from Abakhan in Manchester ages ago with no project in mind. When I was shopping my stash for a suitable fabric for the bag I decided to go with Casper and Wendy. I have loads of this fabric left so it will be making another appearance at some point.

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

Casper & Wendy Bag from Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

There’s a real mixture of bag projects in the book. There are 25 projects with customisations for 60 bags. The smallest are actually purses, the largest are totes.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

I’m intrigued by the Checkout Basket Bag. I’m not sure how useful it would really be but it’s certainly different and I love the styling used in the book.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

The Eco Bag is a nice simple design for a reusable bag and they would be quick to whip up as extra Xmas gifts.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

As a lover of a large handbag (I tend to carry around a lot of stuff…) a Large Tote or a Picnic Tote has been added to my list of future makes.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

At the back of the book there’s a nice ‘before you start’ section which includes advice on which type of interfacing and which bag accessories to use for each of the projects.

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

The projects all appear relatively simple and each project has clear instructions with lots of diagrams. A pull out pattern sheet is provided at the back of the book although the larger pattern pieces are only provided in part (e.g. for the project I made, 1/4 of the pattern piece was provided, meaning it needed to be traced 4 times to create a full pattern piece). Seam allowances also need to be added to some of the pattern pieces (although it is clearly stated where these are required).

Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics by Emiko Takahashi

Do you ever sew bags? Planning to make any for gifts this Christmas?

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Handmade Bags in Natural Fabrics in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own. Post contains an affiliate link.