english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England

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The Little Book of Sewing

Sewing Supplies

Karen Ball’s book, The Little Book of Sewing, is released on 04 April. I was lucky enough to receive a pre-release PDF copy via a call-out in her newsletter.

It might be a little book but it feels substantial. I read Karen’s book over a few very enjoyable sittings, and I know I’ll be returning to my hardcopy, once it arrives, when my motivation to sew needs a boost.

Sewing Supplies

If you read Karen’s blog then you don’t need me to tell you that the writing is great. Conversational, and regularly funny (it’s dedicated to Tmos), the book shares a love of sewing with its readers. It successfully strikes a balance between advice and conversation (I wasn’t tempted to skim read as I often am with sewing tutorials or instructions), and between providing a little insight into Karen’s personal sewing and reflecting the wider sewing community.

Sewing Supplies

Wide ranging in the information it covers – from basics such as understanding a sewing pattern, threading a needle, or sewing tools, through to careers in sewing, sewing in film and literature and sewing and mental health. The book touches lightly on the areas it covers, never going into so much detail as to risk becoming boring before bouncing on to the next topic.

Sewing Supplies

As a regular / intermediate sewer, I was reminded of lots of things I should know but tend to forget. Practical tips like cutting thread at an angle to obtain a finer point, and a reminder that sewing failures are an opportunity to learn and improve.

Sewing Supplies

Karen’s book will inspire you to pick up a hand sewing needle or take a seat behind a sewing machine. Reading it inspired me to sew for the enjoyment of sewing, as opposed to the promise of a finished garment. The book celebrates both the act of sewing and the hobby of sewing (from the items we collect to the community we become a part of). It contains a reminder of the reasons sewing is enjoyable, good for you, and very doable.

Pre-order here



Coat Sewing

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

This may be the first ever time that I haven’t blogged in a while because I was too busy sewing.

Sewing and blogging are quite closely linked for me, and, typically, if I am quiet on the blog it’s because I’ve not had the time and/or energy to sew recently.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The community element is a big part of why I sew regularly. Before this blog, and before being conscious of the sewing community, I did sew, but without the inspiration of fellow sewers, and the added incentive of sharing my own projects and plans, it was intermittent, and just one of many hobbies.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The project which has kept me away from the blog this time is a coat for Phil. It isn’t the coat you can see in these pictures – which is the Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat I made for him back in 2015. Apparently I only make him coats, as this Peacoat was the first thing I sewed for him, and the current coat is the second.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

The coat I’m currently working on is the Free Sewing Carlton Coat and I’m looking forward to sharing the coat, and lots of details about its construction, once ready. I was really hoping to have the coat ready for our holiday to New York last week; nothing like an arbitrary sewing deadline to keep you busy! I started the coat just after Christmas and thought a late February deadline would be realistic (ahem, I was actually aiming to make myself a coat too), but it has taken me many, many hours and I’m committed to getting it right.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

In the interim I took some photos of Phil in his Peacoat last week, in New York Botanical Garden. It was the first coat I sewed and I made various small errors during its construction, but the coat has worn really well despite them. The wool, from Barry’s Fabrics, has worn brilliantly with the occasional removal of bobbles from areas where he has carried a bag.

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat

I do like re-photographing and celebrating long-standing garments, and it was nice to get some updated photos of Phil in this coat, particularly as he looks so young to me in the previous blog post pictures now. Phil wasn’t quite so fond of being photographed – as demonstrated below!

Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat


Velvet Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Two weekends ago we were in Bristol for the Like Sew Amazing shop launch, and last weekend we were in London so that I could attend a meeting of the Association of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers GPC. I’ve stuck to my resolution of making time to attend meet-ups and other creative events, and not just those I organise. In just over two weeks’ time we are flying to New York, so that I can attend Male Pattern Boldness Day for the first time. Peter’s long-running event is surely the ultimate sewing meet-up, and I’ve been longing to join in for years.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

The only downside of so much socialising is that I’ve spent very little time at home for the last two weekends. I’m keen to finish one or, dare I say it, two coats before we leave for New York, but it’s going to be a push. I struggle to motivate myself to sit behind the sewing machine after a day at work, but I have been making progress on my knitting in the evening and during weekend travel. It’s a good job, as I also have four knitting projects I’d like to finish for New York (one blocked and ready to go, one in progress, and two yet to start).

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll have something new to wear (and photograph, obviously) for my holiday, and I won’t be cutting any corners to complete the projects quickly. As my sewing ability improves I’m trying to make sure I finish my sewing projects to a (slowly but surely) increasingly high standard to match.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

These photos were taken on a previous trip to Bristol, when I was there to attend the Sewcialite Soiree in November. The pattern is the Grace Dress from Simple Sew, and was free with Love Sewing magazine. It’s a lovely simple pattern, which I’ve now made three times. My first version is still my favourite, despite it getting somewhat mangled in the washing machine, as the fabric gives it a simplicity and lightness.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

This version was made in the leftover floral velvet from my version of McCall’s M7154, purchased from Barry’s Fabrics. The long train on M7154 means that it isn’t wearable for many occasions, so I was keen to make a ‘day dress’ with the remaining fabric.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Back to holiday knitting for me, with a glass of cider and an episode of ST The Next Generation.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

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Favourite 2018 Pattern Releases

Vlog Icon Fav Sewing Patterns

I’ve published a vlog of my personal favourite sewing patterns releases during 2018.

I’ve only sewn one of these so far, but I suspect I’ll get around to a fair few eventually. I have a couple in progress currently, including a Yates Coat.

In no particular order, my favourites are:

Night and Day Dress – Charm Patterns: https://charmpatterns.bygertie.com/shop/night-and-day-dress/

Yates Coat – Grainline Studio: https://grainlinestudio.com/shop/women/yates-coat-paper-pattern/

Myosotis Dress – Deer&Doe: https://shop.deer-and-doe.fr/en/sewing-patterns/65-myosotis-dress-pattern.html

Eloise Dress Sewing Pattern – By Hand London: https://byhandlondon.com/products/eloise-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern

Zelie Shirt – République du Chiffon: http://republiqueduchiffon.com/en/home/118-chemisier-zelie.html

Honeycomb Shirt & Dress – CocoWawa Crafts: https://www.cocowawacrafts.com/shop/sewing-patterns/honeycomb-shirt-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern-eng/

8605 – Simplicity Pattern: https://www.sewdirect.com/us8605a/

I AM Félicie – I AM Patterns: https://iampatterns.fr/en/sewing-patterns/116-felicie.html

Audrey – Seamwork: https://www.seamwork.com/catalog/audrey

Pinnacle Top/Sweater – Papercut Patterns: https://papercutpatterns.com/products/pinnacle-top-sweater

Justine (Free Pattern) – Ready to Sew: https://www.readytosew.fr/en/store/dresses-and-skirts/the-free-pattern-justine

Fika Tote – Noodlehead: https://noodle-head.com/product/fika-tote-pdf-pattern

TPC21//Drop Shoulder Coat – Trend Patterns: https://www.trendpatterns.co.uk/shop/tpc21drop-shoulder-coat-1

Len Coveralls – Sugardale: http://sugardale.net/sewing-patterns

“Karma” Trench – Milan AV-JC: https://www.milanavjc.com/zero-waste-karma-trench-en

Jarrah sweater – Megan Nielsen: https://megannielsen.com/products/jarrah

Floreat dress & top – Megan Nielsen: https://megannielsen.com/products/floreat


In Conclusion, My 2018

With 2018 drawing to a close, I wanted to write a round-up of what I’ve been up to in the last year.

National Exhibition 2018 of the Association of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

I’ve continued volunteering for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, managing their social media channels and monthly newsletter. It’s an organisation I love being part of, despite personally doing minimal weaving, spinning or dyeing. In the same way that being part of the sewing community introduces me to a wider community of women, being part of the Association allows me to be part of a different community of fascinating, talented women, I otherwise wouldn’t interact with. This year I attended the Association’s biannual National Exhibition for the first time, next year I will be attending the summer school (my first-choice is a week-long course in weaving tweed and tartan), and in 2020 I plan to submit a small (un-juried) piece to the next National Exhibition.

The Sewing Weekender 2018

I (jointly) organised the third Sewing Weekender (with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line), and the fifth SewBrum (with Lauren Guthrie) in 2018. Both events were the biggest yet, and it’s really positive that people continue to want to attend, that this community continues to grow and that it continues to be supportive despite that growth. For the first time ever I even managed to make a new dress to wear to each of the events! I was adamant that I wasn’t going to let being busy stop me from attending other events in the sewing community this year, and I made it along to (and thoroughly enjoyed myself at) Sew Up North, the Sewcialist Soiree, and Birmingham-based meet-ups including Brummie Yarn Social.

Bar Suit for The Refashioners 2018

I participated in the Refashioners for the second time (the first time was in 2015), and won the runner-up prize for an outfit inspired by Dior’s Bar Suit, which was my most involved sewing project to date. Phil and I visited Paris to get photos based on my inspiration image (we also holidayed in Vietnam, Majorca, Lulworth Cove and Skegness this year). My entry for Tilly & the Button’s Sew a Xmas Sweater Competition was also based on an inspiration image, Vera Ellen’s dress at the end of White Christmas. Back in April, I celebrated Fashion Revolution Week by making a screen-printed tee, which was one of my favourite garments this summer. Finally, in December I participated in two Christmas swaps (Bombazine Mitt Swap & Sewing Secret Santa).

Megan Nielsen Karri Dress Skirt

In December 2017 I started using the Cora App to catalogue my fabric and I’ve kept it up all year (with a few gaps where some retrospective cataloguing was required). Cataloguing my fabric inspired me to take part in MakeNine for the first time in 2018, and to finally sew with patterns and fabric I’ve had in mind for ages. I’ve only made a smallish dent in my MakeNine plans so far (simply because I don’t sew as fast as I plan), but the intention to not forget patterns released (and fabric purchased) in previous years remains, and I did sew with my stash of Mahlia Kent remnants, built up over a couple of previous trips to Paris.

Knitbot Linen Point of View Vest

I’ve had limited success with my knitting this year (I’ve done less knitting, and the projects I have finished have had fitting issues), but in the last couple of months Christmas has inspired me to pick up my (circular) needles more regularly, and I’ve finished knitted baubles for our Christmas tree, and a scarf for my mom’s Christmas present. I’m hoping to stay inspired and to successfully complete a larger project for myself in the new year.

Wharf Street Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Without me really noticing it was occurring, I’ve become more confident in my sewing ability in the last year or so. My ability to complete my Refashioners’ project was a sure sign to myself that I’m no longer reliant on instructions, or thrown when something doesn’t immediately work as expected. I’ve become more confident altering garments which I’m not happy with, and this year that included significantly altering a knitted garment for the first time, taking the scissors to my Wharf Street Pullover to remove length from the hem and sleeves.

Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit

My blog photography has also improved (credit to Phil for this one), and I took the opportunity this year to get better photos of my Bombshell swimsuit, on a beach as opposed to in my garden. I enjoy celebrating garments which have been successes by re-blogging them, like last year when I took the opportunity to do so for my Victoria Blazer, which is still undoubtedly my most-worn handmade garment.

Vlog November Sewing Zine

I kept up my vlog in 2018, including a monthly ‘zine’ which I started in September as a way of sharing sewing and knitting related things which interest me, plus a little on my own creative plans. I’ve also kept up a more regular schedule on my blog recently, and I think the blog and vlog complement each other well, with the blog for finished garment and longer posts (such as this), and the vlog for shorter chit chat and recommendations.

Capital Chic Patterns Sangria Dress

I tend to think that I don’t sew patterns multiple times, but my love for the Sangria, Linden, and Grace patterns continued unabated this year. More unusually, I am sewing a garment for Phil for only the second time ever, making him a coat while I’m off work over Christmas using the Free Sewing Carlton Coat pattern.

I also bought myself a sewing machine for the first time this year (the previous have all been gifts). There’s a story behind the purchase which I’ll save for a second wrap-up post about my personal/work life, as this post is long enough already.

Thank you for reading the blog and Happy Christmas and New Year!