english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Pink Wool Clare Coat

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Three weeks or so before me and Phil left for a holiday in Reykjavik, New York and Boston, I decided to make myself a warm coat to wear.

I loved the Closet Case Files Clare Coat when it was released and had already bought the pattern, so this was the perfect chance to make it. By the time my fabrics arrived, I was actually down to two weeks before our holiday – with plans to be out of the house for both weekends – so made the coat in short evening sessions over those two weeks. Luckily, the Clare Coat comes together really quickly, but I was still finishing the edge stitching the night before we left. I also attached the press-studs that same night, but obviously wasn’t operating at full capacity since I sewed them all on the wrong way around (meaning they wouldn’t close…) and had to remove and reattach them once in Reykjavik!

Clare Coat

My outer and lining fabrics were both purchased from Herts Specialist Fabrics, who specialise in reproduction fabrics for historical re-enactors. Both fabrics are described as being made in the UK, although I wasn’t able to obtain specifics.

Herts fabrics are very reasonably priced. The pink blanket pure wool cost £19.00 for two metres, and the gold satin I used for the lining cost £15.90 for two metres. Both are 60″ width, and I have enough of each left over for one more project.

As the store focuses on reenactment fabrics you don’t get the same service (in my opinion) as I would expect from a shop specialising in garment sewing. For example, the satin arrived in two cut lengths (without this being made clear in advance), and the wool arrived with some deep creases which I wasn’t able to remove. You can see some of the creases in the wool in my finished coat below – but some were no doubt added by me later! Given their prices and range of UK fabrics I’ll definitely be ordering from them again, but it’s worth knowing in advance.

Clare Coat

Based on a recommendation by Heather Lou in the Clare Coat sewalong, I decided to add a layer of thinsulate as an interlining to ensure my coat kept me suitably warm in Iceland.

I ordered my thinsulate from Point North Profabrics. Two metres plus postage cost just under £30 which I was loath to spend on something that looked like quilt batting, but I still have a reasonable amount left over and it certainly made a difference to the finished coat. We were out and about in some pretty cold weather in Iceland and I never felt cold.

The addition of the thinsulate – along with the thick blanket wool – wasn’t popular with my sewing machine. I think I broke seven needles trying to stitch around the edges of the coat (through all layers). It didn’t help that I was doing this on the night before our holiday and didn’t have time to go slowly.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

To me, the cutting-out part of coat and jacket making always feels like it takes longer than the sewing. I also had a lot of pattern pages to stick together, since I couldn’t find a reasonably priced copyshop print option in Birmingham or Coventry (If anyone knows a cheap local option for printing individual patterns do let me know). I was spending a weekend in Cornwall just after my fabrics arrived, and thought it would be the perfect time to get all of my pieces cut out so that I could start sewing once I was back home.

We were travelling to Cornwall on the train and I couldn’t find a bag large enough to fit all of the fabric in, so popped it in a bin bag. It seemed very logical to me, but Phil was NOT impressed at the thought of having to lug an overflowing bin bag of fabric all the way to Cornwall on the train. Obviously the fabric did come with us, and was cut out between strolls on the beach.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Based on the recommended size for my measurements, I graded between a size 2 at the bust, and 6 at the waist and hips. I noticed that other blogged Clare Coats looked quite fitted in the upper body, and was a bit worried about not being able to fit a suitably woolly jumper underneath. As a result (see if you spot the stupid error here), I decided to use a narrower seam allowance to add extra ease; when I got to the point of attaching the collar it didn’t fit, as I’d increased the length of the neckline… Sooo, I unpicked all of the neckline seams and sewed with the recommended seam allowance.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

I’m really happy with the fit, and fancy making the pattern again in a less bulky fabric for a smarter look. But given that we’re finally getting some sunny weather, a second Clare will probably need to wait until the Autumn.

These photos were taken in Reykjavik, where my coat was put to good use.

In these photos I’m also wearing a Karusellen hat and Cecelia Cowl.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland


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Doraemon Emery Dress

Doraemon Emery Dress

When Rebecca invited me to take part in the World Book Day Blog Tour, after saying YES!, the first decision was what children’s book would inspire my project.

As a child I was a voracious reader and, in particular, was seriously obsessed with Enid Blyton. Obsessed to the extent that I not only read every book of hers I could get my hands on (and as you may already know, there are an obscene amount of them), but also read her autobiography and had a picture of her in my room. Yeah, that obsessed! My mom always said I had a habit of becoming utterly obsessed with anything I became interested in – I’m making no comment here on whether that is now true of sewing and knitting…

Doraemon Emery Dress

Anyway, none of the books I loved as a kid immediately suggested a project to me. Instead I though of my favourite children’s book as an adult, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince. I think I was a teenager when I first read The Little Prince, while on holiday with my family in France. Me and my brother both immediately loved it and I still read it regularly – my favourite section is the first couple of pages where the author describes his drawing of a boa constrictor eating an elephant, which every adult mistakes for a drawing of a hat.

So, I planned to embroider a garment with an image from The Little Prince (and may still get to that at some point), when I spotted a favourite series of manga in my bedroom – Doraemon – and remembered this fabric. This project is a prime example of how an online challenge can spur on sewing activity. I bought this fabric at the London meet-up organised by Rachel in 2014, immediately decided to make an Emery Dress with it and ordered the pattern. Both fabric and pattern have sat in my stash waiting to be made for the last two years.

Doraemon Emery Dress

Doraemon has been a staple of children’s TV and literature in Japan since the 70s. He’s well known around the world, but has never really taken off in the UK (or, I suspect, the US, since manga and anime available in the UK are usually produced in the US). As far as I know, the Doraemon manga has never been published in English – however, in both Japan and China, ten bilingual volumes of the manga are published as tools for learning English. When I visited China a few years ago I bought the full set.

Doraemon Emery Dress

The basic premise of the manga is that a lazy kid (Nobita) is visited by a robot cat from the future (Doraemon), who is sent back in time by Nobita’s descendants to improve his future by preventing him being lazy. What makes the manga so appealing are Nobita and Doraemon’s characters and the relationship between them. Despite the fact that Doraemon is a robot on a mission, he really just wants a quiet life and is easily pestered into assisting Nobita to be lazy/cheat/one-up school bullies, all of which eventually back fire, of course.

Doraemon Emery Dress

The dress is an Emery, graded between a 2 at the bust and 6 at the waist/hips. I’m really pleased with the fit and will be making more – it definitely needs a petticoat for full effect though. The only change I made was using a standard zip as opposed to concealed, which was because I asked Phil to buy it – he remembered that it needed to be pink and 22″, but forgot concealed. Close enough I reckon!

Doraemon Emery Dress

As a side note, my favourite random Doraemon facts are that he holds a position (anime ambassador) in Japan’s Foreign Ministry, and that the first versions of Doraemon published in Hong Kong were pirated and he was renamed Ding-Dong!

Doraemon Emery Dress

Rebecca has organised four giveaways as part of the blog tour, the full list of prizes and rafflecopter entry links can be found here.

The full list of bloggers participating in the tour is as follows:

Monday 29th February||  Dobbin’s Bobbins  |   While she was sleeping
Tuesday 1st March ||  Fairies, Bubbles & Co.  |  As It Seams
Wednesday 2nd March ||  Sewing With Kate  |  Call Ajaire
Thursday 3rd March ||  Sew Shelly Sew   |  Bel’Etoile
Friday 4th March  ||  Sewn In The Attic   |  Just Add Fabric
Saturday 5th March ||  English Girl At Home |  Made by Sara  |  Paisley Roots
Sunday 6th March ||  MinnieMie | Sew Country Chick  |  Dobbin’s Bobbins


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Hancock in Lyonesse

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Inspired by Gillian’s Better Pictures Project, and Katie’s guest post in particular, I photographed this recent knitting project indoors. However, I was paranoid the photos would be too dark (it was a grey day) so there is a mixture of indoor and outdoor photos below!

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

This is the Hancock pattern from Home & Away by Hannah Fettig, also known as Knitbot. I ordered the book straight after it was published (self published by Hannah) and love it. It contains eight cardigan/jumper patterns (plus one hat), which can be knitted flat or in the round. The book also contains some great general knitting tutorials, such as gauge, blocking, and weaving in ends. Plus it’s a beautiful book.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

I knitted Hancock in the round, using the smallest pattern size. The yarn I used is Blacker Yarns Lyonesse 4-ply in colour Rose Quartz. Lyonesse is a blend of linen and Falkland Island Corriedale/Merino wool. Blacker Yarns refer to Lyonesse as their ‘summer range’, and the inclusion of linen in the yarn means it is lightweight and relatively summery. However I’m still wearing it this winter over long sleeve dresses / tops.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

You can see Hancock is relatively short (this is accurately shown in the pattern photos) and I considered lengthening it, but ultimately followed the pattern without any changes. I’ve found it the perfect length to pair with a dress or high waisted skirt or trousers, but it’s worth bearing in mind if/when knitting it.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

The pattern is an open cardigan without any fastenings. I’ve been intending to buy a shawl pin (as every knitter surely ends up knitting shawls, despite previously never knowing that you needed one!) and think that Hancock would also look good pinned closed when I want a bit of extra warmth.

Hancock is a straightforward knit, if relatively time consuming (at least for a slow knitter like me) due to the use of 4-ply yarn.

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

I’m classing this as one of my #1year1outfit projects since it is made with a yarn produced by British mill Blacker Yarns, using Falkland wool (it’s unclear from the Blacker Yarns website where the linen was sourced). Given that my 2015 One Year One Outfit pledge already allowed me to use fibre from the entirely of the UK, I might be pushing it by also including Falkland wool. However, BritYarn’s definition of British includes overseas territories, and that’s good enough for me!

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

Hancock by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot

I’m just in the process of blocking another completed project from Home & Away which I’ll be blogging soon.

P.S. If you’re on Ravelry you can find me here.


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Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Francoise Dress

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

Having decided that I wasn’t going to make Tilly and the Buttons’ Francoise in time for the #SewingFrancoise contest, I cracked at the last minute and whipped this up over Saturday night and Sunday morning; just in time to wear to my brother’s engagement party on Sunday afternoon. I snuck out of the party for a few minutes to take these photos in my mom and dad’s garden.

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

The dress is made in a purple-pink wool I bought while in Paris.The gold leather I used for the collar and tab was also from Paris – a pressie from Ma Petite Mercerie that was provided in our goodie bags. I thought the gold would be suitably festive:) The buttons are vintage, from a charity shop. The only downside of this wool is how much it creases – the dress was nicely pressed before I left home, but you can see it was creased by the time I reached my parent’s house!

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

I cut a straight size two and took it in slightly at the upper back. I actually fall between sizes, but I find Tilly’s patterns tend to have a bit of ease so I went with the smaller size and it’s a good fit. I cut the leather sections on a single layer as I didn’t think they would turn and press well if I doubled them up.

Francoise Dress, Tilly & the Buttons in Purple Wool

It was nice to enjoy a spot of selfish sewing this weekend; now to get back to making Christmas presents before I run out of time.


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Sew Over It (not) Silk Cami

Sew Over It Silk Cami

You know that misconception that people who don’t sew have that sewing your own clothes is really cheap? Well this is one of those examples where it is true! Sew Over It’s Silk Cami only uses a tiny amount of fabric so I managed to scrape this project out of the scraps left over from my recent Kimono project. I also received the pattern free with a recent issue of Mollie Makes magazine (issue 44), the magazine is still on sale if you get in quick or you can purchase the PDF pattern from Sew Over It. The fabric is a John Kaldor polyester so not a silk (as suggested by the pattern name) but it has the required drape to work with this pattern.

Sew Over It Silk Cami

I love quick and easy sewing projects. Due to not having enough fabric left to cut out facings I actually simplified this pattern even further, scrapping the facings in favour of rolling the edges of the neckline and armholes and hand-stitching in place. I’ve actually developed a bit of an addiction for hand-stitched hems lately, everything I make is getting a hand-stitched hem at the moment regardless of how necessary it is. I’m going to claim this is due to hand sewing being relaxing, but it may also be due to the fact that I can do my hand-sewing while sitting on the sofa in front of the TV as opposed to having to walk all the way upstairs to my sewing machine…

Sew Over It Silk Cami


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Hot Pink Kimono

Kimono

I’m very happy to be back at home after spending a week away for work. I read Christian Dior’s autobiography recently and he wrote that the best thing about travelling is how much you appreciate getting home. I misquote but that was the jist. Travelling regularly for work (I currently travel around once a month for varying lengths of time) does mean that work doesn’t get boring, but it also eats into your personal time & plans. I do manage to get some knitting done when I’m travelling (i.e. on the plane) but rarely get time to sew so I’m planning to make up for it this weekend while drinking lots of tea and catching up with the tv I’v missed (I’m looking at you Project Runway, Great British Bake Off & Masters of Sex).

Kimono

I’m also hoping to get chance to wear this kimono I completed a couple of weeks ago. It would be perfect for a stroll around the park if the weather cooperates. I got tempted by all the amazing kimonos I was seeing on other sewing blogs, so I made this using the Elle Apparel tutorial. It was a classic case of HAVING to make something that, until then, I never knew I needed! By Hand London have also recently posted a great kimono tutorial but the Elle Apparel tutorial suited my fabric better as it allows more flexibility on placement. This is a John Kaldor polyester and is a border print – I wanted to make sure I included the blue border at hem of the kimono.

Kimono

This was a very quick project but I took a little extra time hand stitching the hems while relaxing on the sofa. Hand finishing hems is such a perfect task for lazy evenings/afternoons while watching tv.

Hopefully there will be a few more warm days in the UK this year when I can wear it. If not maybe I’ll slouch around the house in it – it will certainly be more glamorous than my usual hoodie.

Kimono


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Mimi Blouse from Love at First Stitch

Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
My first make from Love at First Stitch is a Mimi Blouse. I made this in a soft cotton I purchased from one of the ‘coupon’ shops in Paris. The cotton is really soft and delicate – I wish I’d bought more! The buttons are some handmade polymer clay buttons I made a few months back.
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
I actually had my copy of Love at First Stitch early as I found it on sale in Waterstones before the official release date. That meant I was able to finish my Mimi in time to wear it to meet Tilly and get my copy signed at Guthrie and Ghani.
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
I have to admit to making some stupid errors in my Mimi. For a start the collar is a little wonky! I recently read a guest post on By Gum, By Golly by Sara of Lilies & Remains on her theory about f***ed but fabulous vintage clothing. I feel a bit similar about handmade clothing – I don’t worry too much about the odd error or wonkiness, or loose sleep over perfect pattern matching. Given all the effort that goes into a make, I embrace the imperfection and wear it anyway!
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
Having said that though there is one error that is annoying me that I’m going to go back and fix. When cutting or sewing together I’ve gone off the straight grain on the right-side of the blouse. It means that the right front hangs wrong. So I will be good and put that right – when I can tear myself away from the other makes that are in progress!
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse


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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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Alice Potter Illustration

Alice Potter very generously donated one of her prints for the craft fair me and colleagues held at the University of Birmingham recently. Along with the print she included the adorable postcard pictured below with a personal message written on the back. Since it was addressed to me I thought it would be ok to bring the postcard home:), and it’s now taken pride of place on my fireplace. I’m thinking it would look even better if I were to decoupage the frame – so that may be a little job for the weekend!

Alice Potter Postcard
Alice Potter Postcard