english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Lakeside Pajamas

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

Despite making most of my clothes, these are only the third pair of pyjamas I have sewn! Maybe one day I’ll reach the point where my wardrobe feels relatively complete and I’m happy to spend my sewing time making nightwear and underwear, but I’m definitely not there yet; however, I was in need of some new summer pjs and rather than buy RTW I thought it was time to temporarily put down the dress patterns and revisit pyjama patterns instead.

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

These are Grainline Studio’s Lakeside Pajamas in a lovely soft textured cotton which I purchased from John Lewis haberdashery during the #fmbham sewing meet-up in Birmingham, organised by Samantha and Bianca. I hadn’t decided which pattern I was going to make until the meet-up, when Ben suggested the Lakeside Pajamas. I’m really glad he did, as I love the design of these. I love that the top keeps you covered up at the front, but is interesting/mildly revealing at the back.

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

I’m typically one or two pattern sizes smaller at the bust than at the waist/hips. A set like this is perfect as it allows me to cut two separate sizes, rather than needing to grade between them. I cut a 0 in the top and 4 in the shorts, and the fit is spot on.

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

I thought matching binding would look best with this fabric so suffered through making metres of it, but would definitely prefer to buy pre-made. A little secret, I didn’t actually have enough fabric left to cut bias strips (or, at best, I would have had to join loads of short strips together) so just cut strips of fabric along the grainline. As a result, my straps/edges potentially have a little less drape, but I don’t think it’s noticeable. Making/attaching the binding is definitely the most time consuming part of making this garment, but even so they sew up pretty quickly.

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

Work – and everything else – is really busy, so I’ve had less time to be creative lately. Attending Yarningham festival, and a brioche stitch workshop with Renée Callahan, last weekend, reminded me how much I enjoy knitting, leading me to start a new scarf project which is well underway; blogging these pyjamas has reminded me how much I want to get behind my sewing machine again very soon too.

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

Grainline Studio Lakeside Pajamas

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Bertie Wooster PJs: Marbled Carolyn Pajamas

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

These ain’t your beginners’ pjs! I’m happy to say that I finished my Carolyn Pajamas in time for Monday’s pajama party deadline. I’m in the office on Monday, but I’ll be wearing them in spirit and putting them on for some luxurious lounging in the evening.

Unlike a lot of pyjama patterns, these aren’t a beginner project / quick make. They’re not difficult, but they are composed of quite a lot of pattern pieces. They took me about a day and a half (of admittedly relaxed sewing) to make up, plus half a day to dye the fabric prior to sewing. They’re sooo much more luxurious than most pyjamas though, that it’s definitely worth the extra effort. I’ve long had an obsession with pink pyjamas due to a pair worn by Hugh Laurie’s Bertie Wooster in the Jeeves & Wooster tv series. Bertie’s would definitely be silk though; I’ll have to make a silk pair next time.

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

The fabric is a dark pink 100% cotton, purchased from Barry’s, which I marbled. I was inspired by an article on marbling in the February issue of Seamwork, and Amy pointed me to this HonestlyWTF tutorial on marbling using shaving foam. The original tutorial uses food colouring, but I substituted for the Jacquard dye in this kit which I knew was suitable for fabric.

Marbling with shaving foam

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

I cut my pattern pieces out before dyeing and did my dyeing in a large cardboard box (which was good for tidying up as I threw it in the paper recycling afterwards). I dyed a couple of pieces of card at the same time and achieved a better effect on the card than the fabric. If using this method again I’d use more dye and make more effort to create patterns in the shaving foam before placing my fabric down.

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

I cut a size 2 in the top and 6 in the shorts (which makes me sound very bottom heavy…) and the fit is perfect. I didn’t make any intentional changes to the pattern, although I did accidentally attach the collar upside down… By the time I noticed, I’d already attached piping, sewn the two sides of the collar together and partially attached it to the neckline, so I decided to just go with it, and luckily it works:)!

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

I abandoned my normal location of my garden for these photos as it seemed inconspicuous for pyjamas. These are taken in our bedroom, and in honour of this blog post I ironed the bed linen for the first time ever! This bed linen is worthy of ironing – it’s Designers Guild’s Ramblas, which is my all time favourite Designers Guild pattern (purchased cheaply from TK Maxx).

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

The piping was pre-made, from my stash and I had exactly the right amount for these pyjamas; so satisfying. I used boxer shorts elastic, from Guthrie & Ghani, in the waistband of my shorts, and the buttons are Cath Kidson, also from my stash.

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas

Marbled Pink Carolyn Pajamas


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I was on the Colette Blog!

On Wednesday, I was sat eating my lunch and thought I’d have a look on Facebook. Imagine my surprise on looking at the latest post from Colette Patterns to see myself (and in my pjs no less) listed in their 5 favourite makes for July from their Flickr group! Very exciting. It also happened to be my last day in my current job before moving to a new job so it was a good day all ’round.
Colette Blog July Pick


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New PJs on Lake Maggiore (Or, Late for the Pyjama Party)

Lake Maggiore, Italy
After a weekend in Brighton, I got to spend the next two weekends in Italy. I’m spoilt, I know!

Me and Phil spent a week with my family staying in a house my parents had rented in Stresa on Lake Maggiore, followed by a long weekend in Milan.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get time to make many new outfits for the holiday. The only thing I did complete in time was a pair of pyjamas, using the free Colette Sorbetto & Madeleine patterns. The two things motivating me to make these pyjamas were the holiday and Karen’s pyjama party. I didn’t finish in time for the pyjama party, but there were done for the holiday (phew!). Note the amazing view of Lake Maggiore from the patio of the house where we were staying in the photo below. Gorgeous.
Pyjamas (Colette Sorbetto & Madeleine) in Lake Maggiore, Italy
The Colette patterns work really well for pyjamas. Just to note though that (as you can see) the Madeleine bloomers are really short! This meant that I wasn’t very covered up so was particularly susceptible to mosquito bites in the evening. The fabric I used is a soft cotton from Ikea which I’d already used to make a pair of pyjama trousers. The few notions used (pink ribbon on the shorts & bias binding around the tank neck and armholes) were purchased during the recent  Birmingham meet-up and cost about 10p each from an amazing cheap stall in Birmingham market.

Lake Maggiore, Italy

I’ll leave you with a few photos from the holiday.

Lake Maggiore, Italy
Lake Maggiore, Italy
Lake Maggiore, Italy
Lake Maggiore, Italy
Lake Maggiore, Italy
Lake Maggiore, Italy
Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy


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New Pyjamas & Crochet Mitts

This week I finished a new pair of pyjama trousers.

Handmade Pyjama Trousers

I made these using a pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee book. My mom couldn’t resist buying the book and getting it signed when we visited the opening of Guthrie and Ghani. Being a lovely mom she leant it to me before getting chance to make anything herself;) I’ve got my eye on a few patterns but started with the pyjamas trousers after spotting some soft cotton fabric in Ikea (Smaborre) that I thought would be perfect.

Smaborre Ikea Fabric

The pattern was straightforward and the Sewing Bee book contains quite detailed instructions. However, due to the pattern being unisex (and me being short) the pattern/trousers needed quite a bit of alteration to fit. In particular, the width of the leg and height of the waist area in the small pattern size seemed far too large even for a small man. My brother fits a men’s small and there’s no way he would have been broad or tall enough for these. I needed to remove 9 cm from the bottom of each trouser leg and 5 cm from the waist of the trousers in order to achieve a reasonable fit. I should really have also taken in the side seams but couldn’t be bothered thought that I could get away with a loose fit on pyjamas. It seemed a shame that quite so much alteration was required, given that a lot of people new to sewing are likely to buy the book and may get put off if they find it difficult to get a good fit on one of the simpler patterns, but you can’t have everything and I guess it’s somewhat inevitable with a unisex multi-sized pattern.

Handmade Pyjama Trousers
(Slacking in the living room with my handmade Jake)

Having previously cut out the fabric, I made the trousers one evening after work. By the point I finished I was obviously past my best as I managed to sew two pins inside the hem at the bottom of a trouser leg and had to cut my stitches to release them… I did however finish them in time to wear them to bed so it was worth it.

Given that I have a lot of clothing sewing projects on the go / planned I’ve been trying to buy less clothes lately. However I did make an exception for this amazing pair of cycling gloves with crochet backs. Aren’t they gorgeous? They are made by the Altura cycling brand.

Crochet Cycling Gloves

Having bought them I though I’d better put them to use so cycled to my favourite local park (Cannon Hill) with Phil on Thursday and Friday evening after work. We may have treated ourselves to a 99 or two as well…

Crochet Cycling Gloves