english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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The Glamorous 30s Exhibition, Brussels

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

While visiting Brussels during November, me and Phil visited the Glamorous 30s exhibition at the Costume and Lace Museum. As suggested by the title, the exhibition focuses mainly on glamorous women’s clothing – evening gowns, day dresses, underwear, swimwear and accessories. A small selection of children’s clothing is also included. The museum has a permanent collection of lace – a small selection of which is also permanently on view.

I especially loved the lounge and bed wear as it’s so pretty. I really fancy a pink padded house jacket now! A lot more glamorous than what I normally wear around the house.

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Chanel dress

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Modern dress inspired by the 1930s

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Hand-painted dress

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

The museum has a small children’s dress-up section where I tried on all the hats!

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Another favourite museum from our trip to Brussels was the Belgian Comic Strip Centre, where I got to visit a Smurf house!

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

We also tracked down quite a few of the comic inspired graffiti pieces around the city.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Finally, I’ll leave you with this cutie.

Brussels, Belgium


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Vintage Postcard Christmas Cards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

While in Paris recently, I picked up a selection of vintage French holiday postcards for €1 each from Marché aux Puces, Saint-Ouen. I made them into Christmas cards for my family by cutting slits in the corners of blank cards (rather messily, with a pair of scissors I might add…) and slotting the postcards in. Super simple:)

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards


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Ruching Covers a Multitude of Sins

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

I’m very happy to finally be sharing a Bombshell Swimsuit on the blog! I’ve wanted to make a Bombshell since the pattern was released and I’ve even had the pattern pieces cut out for a couple of months – I was going to make it in time for Karen’s Sporty Summer Sewalong but missed the deadline, then I thought I’d make it for the Sewcialist’s Oonapalooza but  missed that deadline too… Anyway here it is at last, I finally got around to making it last week due to taking a few days off work.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

It took me a little while to find a fabric I liked as I knew I wanted something patterned. I found this in Barry’s Fabric. The fabric had a few large (perfectly cut) holes in it (they threw those bits in free) but there was just enough left on the roll for my purposes. I’ve actually used the wrong-side of the fabric for the body of my swimsuit as I loved the deep purple colour. I used the right-side of the fabric for the straps and the bodice tab.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

My bombshell came together really well and it was looking like I’d have it made up in one day before Phil got home from work – then I got to the point of finishing the bodice and came unstuck. I attached my elastic at the bodice but found that the suit was rippling. Assuming that it needed to be tighter I attached a shorter piece of elastic to bring the suit in but just got more extreme rippling. At that point I decided to cheat; I went back to the original elastic length and then just pinched the excess fabric at each side of the bodice and sewed it down when attaching the straps. That is the joy of a ruched swimsuit – it hides a multitude of sins:)

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

The weather here in the UK has gotten pretty cool but I  braved a slightly cool garden to get these photos yesterday. Me and Phil were just back from a weekend in Cambridgeshire. We were there for a family (joint 30th) party and also managed to squeeze in a trip to Cambridge and to Burwash Manor, home of Backstitch. Backstitch has a great selection of patterns if you’re in the vicinity, and I did pretty well in the British Red Cross shop in Cambridge as they currently have loads of vintage notions. I came away with some lovely buttons, but they also had a great selection of belt buckles and needles.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

Now I just need to take my Bombshell for a dip to see how it fares. Unfortunately I don’t have any exotic holidays planned so I’m thinking a local pool will need to suffice for this year.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit


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Trousers! Vintage Simplicity 3688

At the beginning of the year I set myself the goal of sewing three items of clothing that I’ve never made before – trousers, a swimsuit, and a coat. One down, two to go, as I recently made my first pair of trousers!
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Simplicity contacted me last month and offered me a free pattern. With my trouser-sewing goal in mind it was a no-brainer to go for Simplicity 3688 which is a reproduction 1940s pattern. The pattern includes four separate items – I’m never going to make the skirt suit but the trousers and blouse were more than enough to win me over. Helpfully the pattern envelope includes both the adorable original illustrations, and photos of the finished items which (while not exactly thrilling photos) allowed me to get a sense of the finished shape. I was totally sold after a quick google identified that Karen and Debi amongst many others have previously made gorgeous versions of the same trousers (Debi has also made the blouse).
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
I would totally recommend these trousers to other trouser newbies. They are made from only three pattern pieces (five fabric pieces) and are a quick make (yippee, my favourite kind!). Personally I love the vintage shape with the high waist & wide leg. I used a grey polyester suiting fabric which has a nice drape which suits the wide leg & is light-weight for the summer. I’m thinking a wool pair would be great when the weather gets a bit colder (which, to be honest, could be at any time in the UK…). I cut a size 10 (based on the finished measurements, NOT the measurements on the envelope). The size 10 was actually a tiny bit smaller than my measurements so I sewed with a reduced seam allowance at the sides. The pattern uses the side seam allowance to cover the zip – my reduced allowance meant that wasn’t really possible so I just used an invisible zip instead of the standard zip recommended.
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
The automatic buttonhole function on my sewing machine has stopped working recently. How a machine can work perfectly except for the buttonhole function I do not know… It’s the most infuriating fault as it will sew 2-sides of the buttonhole but then stops! I’m planning to take it for a service soon but while waiting I attempted to use press studs on the waistband of these trousers instead of a button. I thought I’d found an easy workaround until the first time I wore them when I found that the press studs popped open every time I bent down! So I borrowed my mom’s sewing machine & attached a nice secure button instead:) Press studs +  waistbands = not a good idea!
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Me and Phil have been lucky enough to spend the last few days on holiday with my family in the Lake District. The photos above were taken in the garden at Beatrix Potter’s House and just outside. For those outside the UK who may not know it, the Lake District it is like a storybook version of England – all tiny villages, countryside, slate and stones walls. Basically it’s gorgeous. Obviously it also contains lots of lakes, like Coniston Water pictured below along with some wide trousers billowing in the breeze!
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers


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Vintage Paul Blanche Coat

Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
I wish I made this coat, but it is actually a vintage coat, given to me by my Nan when I was a teenager.
The brand is Paul Blanche. Is anyone familiar with the brand? Surprisingly I can’t find anything online.
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
As kids me and my brother went on holiday each year with our parents and grandparents. One year the house we were staying in happened to have cushions, which I loved, in the same fabric as the coat, so my Nan gave me her coat when we got back home.
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Being a teenager at the time – and given that being a teenager is all about trying to fit in – I didn’t actually wear it. I think probably because it was unusual. Also, the zip was broken (it wasn’t possible to fully undo the zip meaning it couldn’t be worn loose).
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Anyway…. I rediscovered this coat in my parent’s loft a few weeks ago. I quickly replaced the zip and am finally wearing it. Sorry for the delay, coat!
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat


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Vintage Fashion at the Herbert Museum

Inspired by Chronically Vintage’s review of 1940s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook, I recently treated myself to an earlier volume in the series 1920s Fashion  and have been admiring the many, many (it has 600 pages) lovely illustrations this week. So I was in the perfect mood to visit the new exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars.

Herbert Art Gallery Flyer

The exhibition displays clothing and accessories from 1900 until the 1950s. It’s only a small exhibition but it contains a nice mixture of outfits, from day dresses and uniforms to evening and wedding dresses. For a number of the outfits information about the owner is displayed alongside. Obviously the evening and wedding dresses are the most exciting:) There are some nice accessories too, including a cloche hat and some very cool shoes – no pictures as they were behind glass.

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars


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Anyone for Tennis?

The day after the Birmingham sewing blogger meet-up I bought yet more fabric! I had no excuse but when I spotted this tennis-themed retro fabric I couldn’t resist. I found it in the Sue Ryder charity shop in Kings Heath. Anyone living locally may want to check it out as they had a selection of old patterns, as well as some cool vintage tea towels and other interesting bits and bobs.

Retro Tennis Yellow & Green Fabric

I have around one metre of the fabric. I really ought to make something tennis themed – does anyone have any ideas? I’m thinking perhaps a short skirt or a tank / polo shirt.


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Retro Apron of Many Colours (McCall’s M4793)

Yippee! It’s a bank holiday weekend AND we actually have some sun here in the UK. However, having some sun does mean I’ve had to put the sewing/crafting to the side for a few hours to do a number of outdoor jobs (gardening/painting/cleaning the drive) before the sun goes away again. I’m so close to having a pair of pyjama bottoms & a bean bag finished, so I’m sure to be posting about those soon.

In the meantime, I finally got around to photographing an apron I made back when we first moved into our house 1 1/2 year ago.

Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

The pattern is McCall’s M4793, option A. It’s a very sweet little apron, with three roomy pockets. I really like the ric rac detail on this pattern option. As you can see, I went for a green wobbly ric rac.

Sewing Pattern

Sewing Pattern

The fabric I used for the apron was from Ikea. Although it looks like different fabrics have been used it’s actually all made from a single fabric – which had a patchwork effect. The fabric is dated 2008 and was deigned by Lotta Kuhlhorn who has designed a number of great fabrics for Ikea.

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

Retro Apron McCall's M4793

I actually bought this fabric while on holiday in Hong Kong. I had been meaning to visit Ikea to buy fabric for this apron before we went on holiday  but hadn’t gotten around to it, then while we were in Hong Kong we happened to stumble across an Ikea in a mall dedicated to home ware stores. Since it was right there it made sense to pick up some fabric and stop off in the cafe for Daim cake. If I remember correctly the Ikea we visited was located close to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, which is what we were actually in the area to visit.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong

P.S. elsewhere on the web I spotted the following interesting bits and bobs over the last few days:

  • The Patchwork Harmony blog featured a lovely tutorial to cover a silk lantern (from Craftsy magazine). If you don’t already read their 91 magazine make sure to check that out too, as it’s awesome

 

  • I just discovered the Thread Cult podcast, which features interviews with the sewing/textile world’s best & brightest. The most recent episode featured Sarai Mitnick from Colette patterns

 

  • A local-ish gallery to me, Bilston Craft Gallery, has a great wooden automaton of a mermaid in a pub by Wanda Sowry on display at the moment. I must go see!


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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