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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Resurrected Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

This is the Simple Sew Patterns Grace Dress, which was a freebie with a previous issue of Love Sewing Magazine.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I’m currently very fond of this dress for a few reasons. Firstly, I made it using a yellow and white cotton/polyester brocade which I won in a little giveaway on Madalynne’s blog. The piece I won was leftover from an adorable two piece set Madalynne made, and which she recently revised in a blog post.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Secondly, I made it especially for a fun little overnight trip to London some months back, and wore it out to party. In typical fashion, I decided to make it for the trip at the last minute, and – from memory – sewed it mostly in one evening. Which leads me on to…

Cannon Hill Park

Thirdly, this dress was brought back from the brink, and given a second chance to live a fulfilling garmenty life. I didn’t realise until I had almost finished making this dress, that the fabric is quite delicate and frays significantly. My overlocker happened to be playing up at the time, and I was attempting to finish it quick to wear out, so I make the decision to wear it out and that afterwards I would hand wash it and overlock the seams.

That plan would have been fine, however I didn’t let Phil in on it, and he threw the dress in the washing machine. My poor dress emerged from the machine ripped in a number of places along both sides of the waistband.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I allowed sufficient time to sulk, then went back, unpicked the zip and bodice lining, and overlocked the bodice and skirt to the waistband. During the surgery I was attempting to lose as little fabric as possible, which has left the waistband somewhat wonky, and messed up the skirt gathers, but it’s meant this dress has made it past it’s first wear!

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I get a bit of gaping at the front of the armholes which I’ll need to address if making it again, but this is a cute simple party dress, and works really well in a stiffer fabric like this brocade.

It’s pictured in a couple of these photos with a new favourite lace cardigan from People Tree, in 100% cotton, hand knitted in Nepal.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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SewBrum 2017 – Hold the Date

SewBrum 2017 Logo by Maike Plenzke

Just a quick post to let you know that there will be a #SewBrum meet-up on Saturday 28th October 2017.

As this will be the fourth year running (!) I’m planning a few tweaks, but as in previous years, the meet-up will start in Birmingham City Centre, before moving to Moseley Village to visit Guthrie & Ghani.

Full details to follow. Everyone welcome. Hope you can make it x

In the meantime, read my wrap-up posts about the 20162015, and 2014 meet-ups.

SewBrum logo by illustrator Maike Plenzke.


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Liberty Inari Tee Dress

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

This is my first Named Clothing Inari Tee Dress, sewn using a metre of Liberty Tana Lawn, purchased as a pre-cut length in a Liberty sale.

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

This print reminds me of Japanese woodblock prints, so I made sure to pack it for my recent holiday to Seoul (where these photos were taken) and Tokyo. However, Karen notes on her vlog that the print was actually inspired by Mount Stuart in Scotland. A perfect excuse for a trip to Scotland next, methinks.

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

This dress was one of those projects which, I decided lateish in the evening, I absolutely needed to make to wear to work the next morning. Sometimes those projects turn out ok despite me, other times not.

In this instance, I selected a size based on the wrong size chart (i.e. I took the finished measurements chart to be the size chart) and cut the dress two sizes too small (a size 4 instead of 8). The dress ended up thrown aside in disgust for a couple of weeks before I revisited and realised that it did still fit, if a little lacking in ease.

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

As an aside, I made Phil walk towards that lovely purple wall, as a perfect photo background, until we got close and realised that it was a paper covering over the real wall…

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

I’ll definitely cut a larger size next time, as there’s quite a bit of pressure from my hips on the seam at the top of the side slits in this version! In fact, I’m planning to go back and reinforce them to protect this dress.

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

This is totally my style and I love how little fabric it requires, so there will definitely be more Inari Tee Dresses added to my wardrobe.

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn

Named Inari Tee Dress in Liberty Cotton Lawn


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Vogue 1428 for the Cocktail Hour

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

Today it’s my turn to share the outfit I’ve made for the Vogue Patterns Cocktail Hour Sew-along, complete with cocktail! As with last year’s Big Vintage Sew-along, McCalls have selected a range of patterns for the event, with proceeds from the sale of those patterns (between March until November) being donated to The Eve Appeal gynecological cancer charity.

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

The twenty patterns included in the sew-along are evening-wear themed, with lots of dresses, but also separates, outerwear, and accessories. After liberal umming and ahhing, I decided to sew Vogue 1428.

Vogue 1428 is designed as a dress in three parts – a skirt, vest under-bodice, and lace bodice – which are joined together at the waist. I decided that they would get more wear as separates, so constructed the skirt and bodice in that way, skipping the vest altogether in favour of a RTW one.

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

There’s actually very few changes required to this pattern to create separates instead of a dress. Based on the pattern’s recommended sizing, I cut a size 10 in the bodice and 12 in the skirt; the bodice is spot on, although I could have probably sized down slightly in the skirt.

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

For the skirt, I followed the pattern instructions until the end, when I cut and attached a waistband with a single button closure, instead of attaching it to the bodice (I just cut a straight band based on my waist measurement, but you could use a waistband pattern piece from a TNT pattern).

I really love the box pleats on the skirt, and think it looks great in this heavier weight fabric, purchased at Barry’s Fabric in Birmingham. I made absolutely no attempt to pattern match the skirt at the side seams, and am using limited fabric as my excuse.

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

The lace for the bodice was also purchased at Barry’s, who have a great selection of lace and evening wear fabrics. This lace has a textured surface and a touch of glitter, which I managed to dust all around the house in the process of cutting and sewing this.

The pattern instructs you to cut the base of the bodice along the scalloped edge of your lace, so constructing the bodice as a separate is just a matter of not attaching it to the skirt or to an under-bodice. I created a slightly more raised ‘collar’ on mine, by attaching the lace around the neck slightly differently than instructed (I just placed the raw edges together and sewed with a french seam).

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

I’m really pleased with the finished garments and think they will get lots of wear – the skirt in particular. I fancy another version of the skirt in a summery colour, for a more day-time look. I also found this quite a quick sewing project, useful to know if you ever need an evening outfit in a hurry!

I figured this outfit was worth a trip out for photos, so popped to the local park this morning, cocktail & most suitable glass I owned slipped inside my handbag, before it got too busy. Not a bad start to the day!

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

Vogue V1428 for The Cocktail Hour

If you want to take part in the sew-along, you can view all of the patterns here, and the outfits made as part of the blogger tour so far here.

The full list of bloggers taking part until November is below:

1. Winnie Longhurst
Scruffy Badger
3rd March
http://scruffybadgertime.co.uk

2. Kate Underdown
The Fold Line
10th March
http://thefoldline.com

3. Portia Lawrie
Makery
17th March
http://www.makery.uk

4. Rachel Walker
The Fold Line
24th March
http://thefoldline.com

5. Wendy Gardiner
Butterick
31st March
http://mccallpatternuk.sewdirect.com/

6. Abigail Dyson
The Crafty Pin Up
14th April
http://www.thecraftypinup.co.uk

7. Lucy Regan
Sew Essential
28th April
http://www.sewessential.co.uk/blog/

8. Fiona Parker
Diary of a Chainstitcher
12th May
http://chainstitcher.blogspot.co.uk

9. Nina Chang
Thumblenina
26th May
http://thumblenina.wordpress.com

10. Jen Sanders
Gingerella
9th June
https://gingerella.wordpress.com

11. Charlotte Powell
English Girl at Home
23rd June
http://englishgirlathome.com

12. Elisalex de Castro Peake
By Hand London
7th July
http://byhandlondon.com/blogs/by-hand-london

13. Kerry Patterson
Kestrel Makes
21st July
http://www.kestrelmakes.com

14. Gabby Young
Gabberdashery
4th August
http://www.gabberdashery.com

15. Abigail Norton
Sew Abigail
18th August
http://sewabigail.co.uk

16. Karen Ball
Did You Make That?
1st September
http://didyoumakethat.com

17. Rachel Wain
Rach Against The Sewing Machine
15th September
http://rachagainstthesewingmachine.co.uk

18. Elle Harris
Sew Positivity
29th September
http://www.sewpositivity.com

19. Rachel Pinheiro
House of Pinheiro
6th October
http://houseofpinheiro.com

20. Amy Thomas
Almond Rock
13th October
http://almondrock.co.uk

21. Jane Marland
Handmade Jane
20th October
http://www.handmadejane.co.uk

22. Jennifer Walker
Ginger Thread Girl
27th October
http://gingerthreadgirl.co.uk

23. Marie Koupparis
A Stitching Odyssey
3rd November
http://www.astitchingodyssey.com

24. Elena Rosa Brown
Randomly Happy
10th November
http://www.randomlyhappyblog.com

25. Laura Clarke
Sew for Victory
17th November
http://sewforvictory.co.uk

26. Janene Spencer
Ooobop
24th November
http://ooobop.com


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Fabric Shopping and Sightseeing in Seoul

Dorasan Station, Seoul

In April, Phil and I spent a week on holiday in Seoul.

My latest vlog contains a few clips from the holiday: sightseeing, plus fabric shopping in Dongdaemun and Gwangjang Markets. It also features a few me-made garments which I wore regularly during the trip; my Tilly & the Buttons Cleo dungarees, Named Inari Tee Dress, and By Hand London Victoria Blazer.

You can view the vlog here:

Dongdaemun Market is an enormous building housing a huge number of separate fabric and haberdashery stalls and shops over seven stories. I’d highly recommend Marie’s blog post, and the information Marie links to, if you plan to visit. The stalls in Dongdaemun appeared to have unusual and high quality fabrics, especially knits. However, the vast majority of stalls don’t have bolts of fabric ready to cut from; instead the stalls have samples on display, and fulfill your orders from their warehouses for collection at the market or delivery to your hotel.

I wimped out of buying fabric from Dongdaemun, but did treat myself to a linen fabric from Gwangjang Market. Gwangjang is a maze-like covered market, almost entirely dedicated to fabrics and haberdashery. Gwangjang is more home-sewer friendly than Dongdaemun, with stalls selling fabric from the bolt and pre-cut lengths, although I did find Gwangjang to have much less unusual fabrics than Dongdaemun. I spotted a few sewing-related services on offer in Gwangjang, such as scissor sharpening and seamstresses. Not too far away, in the area surrounding Euljiro 4(sa)-ga Station (exist 3 and 4), we wandered across an area specialising in sewing machine shops.

Finally, we tried Namdaemun Market because I’d read online that fabric was available, however, after a good look around and checking with the tourist information, we found that there was just one stall selling a very basic selection of cottons. Namdaemun is worth visiting for the food stalls, but no good if you’re in the mood to fabric shop.

A few photos of textile and haberdashery items in Seoul palace museums are below.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Ironing boards, sewing box and scissors:

Seoul

Seoul

Seoul


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The Sewing Weekender 2017

Sewing Weekender banner

The Sewing Weekender will be returning for a second year!

What: A sewing weekend break in Cambridge, sponsored by (Birmingham-based) Adam Ross Fabrics.

When: Saturday 05th – Sunday 06th August 2017

Our venue, Murray Edwards College in Cambridge, will be transformed into a sewing room for the weekend; bring along a sewing project, or two, and sew while chatting to friends and drinking plenty of tea.

Over the weekend, we’ll have a series of informal talks and hands-on workshops from fellow sewing bloggers and independent business owners.

Tickets will go on sale on the morning of Thursday 25th May. Tickets to the event will cost £65; optional accommodation will cost an additional £95 (single room) or £145 (twin room).

Full details here.

Read my thoughts on last year’s Sewing Weekender here, and those of attendees here.