english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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1983 Inspired Tees

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

Hi everyone, I’m sharing some photos taken in our garden today, which is possibly the furthest I’m venturing for any blog photos for a little while. I haven’t been stuck at home long enough to actually tackle any gardening yet (it may be coming), but I did pop outside to get some pictures of these t-shirts, and to join in with an online tap class on the patio (not pictured).

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

These t-shirts are one of my projects for the Sew Your Birth Year challenge currently being run by The Sewcialists. I was born in 1983, the same year my favourite band, The Smiths, formed and first toured. These tees are based on the design of a t-shirt from that original tour, featuring the band name and a bunch of daffodils. I was originally just making myself one but Phil requested one too, cue matchy matchy photos!

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

My t-shirt is a Seamwork Jane tee (size XS; see my previous version here). Phil’s t-shirt a pattern hack, it’s the neckline and shoulders of the Thread Theory Strathcona Henley, and the body of the Seamwork Eugene, graded between the two at the armhole (also using the sleevehead of the Strathcona, but the bottom of the sleeve is the Eugene!).

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

The fabric for both is a ‘Maria’ cotton jersey from Sew Me Sunshine. I completely overlooked that a t-shirt for Phil requires more fabric than I am used to ordering to make a t-shirt for me, and I used every scrap of the 1.5 metres of fabric I ordered (to hell with grainlines) to cut out these tees. I very carelessly pre-washed the white fabric along with some coloured jersey and it came out of the washing machine a light pink (the tees are pinker in real life than they look in these photos). Despite my errors the t-shirts came to fruition, and if anything a pink t-shirt is more interesting than a white one!

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

I screen printed the designs by cutting three stencils out on acetate sheets (one for each colour), and printing through these using a screen and fabric printing inks. I haven’t done any screen printing for quite some time and the black lettering is quite patchy, but I don’t think that looks out of place on a band tee.

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

I have another 1983 inspired project to share very soon. Due to being a teenager at the time, the 90s is the decade where I have most personal connection with the clothes, including with lots of individual garments I wore or wanted to wear, but it has been really good fun to find sewing inspiration from the year I was born.

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees


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Zigzag Linden at the Ikon Gallery

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

Autumn is here and with it new Grainline Studio Lindens are entering my wardrobe.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

I cut out and prepared (pinned all initial seams) two Linden sweatshirts during evenings this week, and then sewed both sweatshirts today. I managed to sew the first – pictured here – in a couple of hours this morning, meaning that I was able to wear it during a trip into Birmingham city centre this afternoon.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

It’s pictured here at Ikon Gallery where we caught the final day of an exhibition of recent work by Polly Apfelbaum. I must admit that half of the incentive for visiting was seeing the exhibition before it closed, and the other half was getting blog photos in such a great space!

The exhibition was very accessible and interactive, with visitors invited to walk over the woven rugs included in the exhibition on the condition you removed your shoes.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

This particular Linden is made with fabric purchased as an offcut from Birmingham Rag Market, and was the remaining metre of fabric I had left after making a Freya Dress.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

I had a go at making Named’s Talvikki sweater earlier this week, and am not convinced by how it looks on. I’m having a break before returning to try altering it, but it was very satisfying to return to a pattern I know well.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

As a reminder (if only for myself), I make the Linden in size 2 in thicker fabrics, but in a size 0 in thinner fabrics – including this one. I also always cut the neckband one size larger, to avoid pulling, and have found it to make all the difference.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery

My Linden is pictured here paired with a Seamwork Oslo Cardigan which I made for myself in 2014 when it was released with the very first issue of Seamwork. The weather has been very mild here in the UK for the last few weeks, and this kind of casual jacket is currently perfect outerwear. By the time it gets cold I might have all the supplies ready and be prepared to sew coats.

Linden Sweatshirt at the Ikon Gallery


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Fashion Revolution Jane Tee

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

To celebrate this year’s Fashion Revolution Week (which took place 22 – 28 April) I decided I wanted to make a garment which lived up to the ethics and ideals of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to order fabric and sew a garment, so I thought I’d keep it simple with a slogan tee.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The fabric for this tee was a Cream Marl Viscose Blend Jersey from Offset Warehouse. Offset Warehouse describe it as made from sustainable fibres (40% Cotton, 30% Viscose and 30% Polyester) and reclaimed from a high end manufacturer in the UK and stopped from heading to landfill.

The jersey is very fine and soft, with a subtle marl effect. It’s slightly transparent, so I am wearing a slip underneath in these photos.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

The pattern is the Seamwork Jane tee, which is a great loose fitting crew neck t-shirt pattern, and a perfect blank canvas for screenprinting (no darts). My measurements put me between an XS and S, but I cut a straight XS as there’s plenty of ease.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

For the text, I printed the ‘I made my clothes’ A4 poster from the Fashion Revolution website free resources section. To create a more stable stencil, I placed an A4 acetate sheet over the poster and cut out the lettering with a craft knife (I have a lifetime supply of acetate sheets as I took a box home from work many years ago, since they were gathering dust following overhead projectors being removed from classrooms). I screen-printed the text using black ink onto the pre-cut t-shirt front; I always use Permaset Supercover screen printing ink to print on fabric and find it really reliable, Fred Aldous stock it in the UK. If you fancy trying screen-printing you’ll need a screen, a squeegee (sized for the screen) & ink (if you want to print on fabric make sure the ink is suitable).

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

These pictures were taken in Vietnam, predominantly in the Botanical Gardens and Zoo in Ho Chi Minh City. I hadn’t realised in advance that the gardens and zoo were one and the same – we were aiming for the gardens. The planting is frequently beautiful, but as a whole – as you can see in these photos – it’s somewhat run down and in need of investment. Great for some dramatic blog photo backdrops, but not great for the resident animals. I suspect it suffers the same fate as Vietnam’s museums, which also – on the whole – appear to be underfunded and, as a result, dusty and in varying states of neglect.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

P.S. my all time favourite zoo story, was that we were once in a zoo somewhere in Europe (I have forgotten which), and a huge crowd gathered to watch and photograph a sole red squirrel which was living (wild) in the zoo. That little squirrel managed to steal all the attention from the huge (caged) animals which were metres away.

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt

Fashion Revolution Inspired Seamwork Jane T-Shirt


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Seamwork Neenah Dress

Seamwork Neenah Dress

This is the Seamwork Neenah Dress one of my #makenine projects, made with a stash fabric of forgotten origin (thanks to the Cora App I won’t be forgetting where I bought fabric in future). Although I can’t remember where I bought this fabric, I do know I bought it with the intention of making Neenah – and a year or so later, here she is!

Seamwork Neenah Dress

Based on my measurements I graded between an XS and S. I cut the sleeves in size XS and initially found them too tight, so unpicked and sewed again with a very narrow seam allowance. I cut two inches off the length of the sleeves, but left the dress length as per the pattern.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I really like the fit of this dress. It skims the body nicely without being clingy. There’s a little bit of pooling at the back, but in a casual style like this I don’t think it’s worth worrying about. It’s worth noting that the turtleneck pattern piece is quite long (it’s folded double in these photos). I’m a big fan of a high neckline, but if you want a smaller turtleneck I’d recommend using a more lightweight fabric, or reducing the height of the pattern piece by up to half.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I whipped this dress up on Friday evening (having previously send the pattern for A0 printing), ready to wear to a sewing meet-up in Birmingham yesterday in celebration of the lovely Bianca returning to us for the weekend. It was a really fun day, lots of nattering and fabric shopping with sewing friends, followed by a Cecille Grey gig in Nottingham. I was absolutely knackered when I fell into bed that night, but it was definitely worth it, and I love making new clothes for special days.

Seamwork Neenah Dress

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been sticking to my New Year’s Resolution to keep my evenings for my hobbies, instead of allowing work to stretch out into them, and to attend more meet-ups. I’ve been attending the monthly Brummie Yarn Social organised by Sue and Ben in Moseley, and it’s been lovely to see the Birmingham sewists more regularly, as well as to catch-up with a bigger group yesterday.

Seamwork Neenah Dress


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Seamwork Loretta

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

Ahh, how satisfying to find time to write an actual blog post. A lot of bloggers will post after some time away to say that they haven’t found time to blog, but have been doing lots of sewing. Well, I haven’t been doing either!

Over the last few months, my evenings and weekends have been spent catching up with work, preparing for the Sewing Weekender (and I didn’t take on as much in the run up as Kate or Rachel did), or with friends. Work has been especially busy, as I took on a new role at the University where I work at the same time as supporting Clearing (where students find a place with a University post A-level results). Clearing is all consuming while it’s underway, so that it not only sucks up all of your time, but also makes you into a total bore for a few months, as it is basically all you want to talk about! Sorry to everyone I bored to death talking about phone lines and call volumes…

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

I’ve missed the acts of sewing and blogging, and I also missed being able to add to my wardrobe on a whim when I fancied something new to wear (I did order three new dresses from People Tree one evening in a sulk). Anyway, I’ve found a little time for blogging now, with sewing to follow soon.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

Phil is somewhat holiday obsessed and was really keen to go away for his birthday in July, but we compromised on a post-Sewing Weekender and post-Clearing long weekend in Porto in late August. Before we traveled I managed to finish this Seamwork Loretta blouse which I had started before work got crazy.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

This is View 1, tunic length, in the smallest size. I’m actually going to go back and cut this to top length (View 2), as I think it will be more versatile and suit me better; being small, I feel a bit drowned in the volume of fabric at this length. This top can be worn on or off the shoulders, but until the length is reduced I prefer it off the shoulders, otherwise it looks a bit proportionally unbalanced on me. One thing to note, the armholes are quite large and, when the blouse is worn on the shoulders, potentially a bit revealing.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

I purchased this fabric while in Tokyo earlier this year from the large Tomato store in Nippori Fabric District. It’s a lightweight cotton with a traditional-style Japanese print. I restricted my shopping to three fabrics while in Nippori, and am looking forward to sewing with the other two soon.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton

Right, I’m off to catch up with another hobby I have neglected – social media and the newsletter for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, which I support as a volunteer.

Seamwork Loretta in Japanese Cotton


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Behind the Scenes at the RSC Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

I have an article included in the October issue of Seamwork, which was released yesterday.

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

The article is a profile of the in-house costume department at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon. The RSC is one of a small number of UK theatre companies with a dedicated costume department (others include the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Welsh National Opera, and Scottish Opera). The costume department works on every production at the RSC, across six departments: menswear, womenswear, hats and jewelry, painting and dyeing, costume props, and footwear and armory.

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

You can read the full article here, or download the magazine (for free) from the Seamwork website.

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department

Royal Shakespeare Company Costume Department


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The Seamworker’s Guide to Fashion Museums

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

I have an article in the August issue of Seamwork, released today.

The article is a guide to some of the best fashion and textile museums around the world. I’ve visited some of these museums in person; others are on my to-see list. I did my best to squeeze in as many museums as I could within the article word count!

You can read the full article here, or download the magazine (for free) from the Seamwork website.

One of the museums included is the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, which is one of my favourites. Below are a few photos of their recent Liberty in Fashion exhibition which I visited back in January. I’m especially looking forward to their upcoming Jazz Age fashion and photography exhibition (23 September 2016 – 15 January 2017).

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Liberty in Fashion at The Fashion and Textile Museum


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Seamwork Kenedy & Manila

Seamwork Magazine Kenedy Dress & Manila Leggings

I’ve got a Seamwork pairing to show today. These are the Kenedy dress and Manila leggings, both patterns from Seamwork magazine.

Seamwork Magazine Kenedy Dress

Seamwork Magazine Kenedy Dress

The Manila leggings were included in the January 2015 issue and I’ve been meaning to make them since then – better late than never! I was much quicker with the Kenedy dress, which was featured in the March 2016 issue.

Seamwork Magazine Manila Leggings

These are the first pair of leggings I’ve made and I’m really pleased with them. I cut a size Small and the fit is good. With the petal shaped cuff added they are a tiny bit long for me (I’m about 5’3″); next time I’ll reduce the height of the cuff slightly as it’s actually quite deep on the inside leg side.

Seamwork Magazine Manila Leggings

The fabric is from Girl Charlee and is their Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric. The colourway is Heather Grey which I can’t see in stock now, but the Charcoal looks similar. The fabric has 4-way stretch and is a good thickness for leggings – you can see a slight pant line in the photo above where I’m modeling them without the dress, but so long as you are wearing these as leggings not as trousers I think it’s just the right weight. I’ve been wearing them quite a bit and have found the recovery good.

Seamwork Magazine Manila Leggings

The sample version of Kenedy featured in Seamwork is made in a satin-type fabric, but I immediately imagined it in something comfy for pottering around the house. This fabric is one of the few I purchased while visiting the US a few months ago, it’s Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel in Red purchased from Gather Here in Boston  where I met up with Jenny. It was lovely to sew with and it’s really soft and comfy to wear, but it creases easily as you can see.

Seamwork Magazine Kenedy Dress

The main thing to bear in mind with this pattern is how short it is. It would be pretty indecent without leggings or trousers, so if you want to wear it alone make sure to measure the pattern pieces / add some length before cutting out. I graded between a Size 0 and 2.

Seamwork Magazine Kenedy Dress

Seamwork Magazine Kenedy Dress & Manila Leggings

Disclaimer: I was provided with spandex knit fabric from Girl Charlee for use in a project of my choice; all opinions expressed are my own.


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TOFT Profile in September Seamwork Magazine

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

Woo hoo, my first article for Seamwork is included in the September issue, which is released today.

The article is a profile of TOFT, a British knitting company who produce alpaca and wool yarns, and knitting and crochet patterns.

TOFT yarns are produced in the UK using British fibres, and the business is based on an alpaca farm in Warwickshire, not too far from where I live. Taking part in #1year1outfit has made me really conscious about trying to use locally produced fibres, so it’s great to have such a fantastic business close to home. I also had the best possible day when I visited the farm to interview owner Kerry for the article. In order to photograph the alpaca I was allowed into the pens for some close-ups, so I spent a blissful afternoon climbing into pens and being surrounded by young, curious alpaca.

You can read the full article here, or download the magazine from the Seamwork website.

A few photos that weren’t included in the Seamwork article are below.

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm

TOFT Luxury British Knitting Company Alpaca Farm


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Oslo Cardigan Strike 2

I’m a bit slow posting this Oslo Cardigan, which was a Christmas present for my mom. Now that I’m back at work, Christmas feels ages ago. My first week back at work went very, very slowly, but no doubt I’ll be back to my normal routine soon.

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

This is my second Oslo (which was one of the patterns included in the first issue of Seamwork). My first version, which I made for myself, was a test run, prior to making this for my mom. Both versions were made size small, in woven fabrics. The fabric used here is a lovely thick wool, from Barry’s Fabric. I bought all of the fabric left on the bolt, around 2.5 metres I think, so I’m hoping to squeeze a skirt out of what I have left.

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

I think the Olso pattern – although designed for knits – works really well with a thick woven. The result resembles a casual jacket more than a cardigan.

As with my first version, the only tweaks I made were leaving off the cuffs, and making a matching fabric belt.

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

I’ve had a bit of a wool-buying binge lately. I’ve pre-treated all of the wool fabrics, including this one, by shrinking them in the tumble-dryer. I placed the wool in the dryer on a high heat with two old towels that had been dampened with boiling water. I’ve used this method on both wool-blends and pure wools, such as this, and it’s worked perfectly every time.

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

I took these photos on Christmas Eve, before wrapping the Oslo and giving it to my mom on Christmas day. Is it wrong that I’ve started to think about Christmas 2015 gifts? I seriously LOVE Christmas.

Maybe I’ll actually try making the Oslo in a knit next! And I really want to try the Manila leggings pattern from Seamwork issue 2.

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan

Black & White Wool Oslo Cardigan