english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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#SewingTop5 from Barbie, Sewing Blogger

#sewingtop5 - The Top 5 of 2015!

Happy New Year all. I have lots of recent makes to share, but first I need some sunlight and a gap in the rain. In the meantime, I’m handing over to Barbie, who you may not know is also a sewing blogger – previous post here, for her #sewingtop5.

Enjoy! (Just to note all photos are taken from two books: Barbie Fashion by Sarah Sink Eames, and Barbie: What a Doll by Laura Jacobs).

Over to Barbie:

Hi all, I’ve really excited to share with you some favorite makes that I added to my adorable pink plastic wardrobe this year, as well as a few misses which I’ve generously donated to Skipper.

Sewing Hits

Obviously I became obsessed with sewing lingerie this year. I found perfecting the fit quite difficult as no pattern seemed to accommodate a 39″ bust with an 18″ waist – I blame standardised sizing. However, once I had perfected the fit via 27 toiles, I made a set in every colour.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Despite having 36 sewing projects on the go at any one time, of course I became obsessed with knitting, and knit my first cardigans.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Inspired by Lauren, I made an Archer and a pair of Ginger Jeans. Sigh, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get that plaid matching quite right on the shirt front, and hopefully I can neaten my jeans top-stitching next time (#ablogogising).

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

I copied Zo, and made a cute blue raincoat. I also made a cardboard belt to pair with it, but sadly it didn’t last past the first downpour.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

I got caught up in the 1970s trend, and made a 70s inspired outfit refashioned from some old curtains – I even found a use for the curtain tassles.

Images from Barbie: What a Doll

And finally, I made a number of garments as part of my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge. Looking at these photos again I’ve realised that I may have an addiction to bows…

Images from Barbie: What a Doll

Images from Barbie: What a Doll

Images from Barbie: What a Doll

Sewing Misses

I also had a few sewing misses in 2015. At one point I mistakenly became convinced that 1980s/Jem was a good look for me. These garments have now been safely disposed of, and my hair has almost recovered from the electric shock treatments which I was undergoing to achieve the look.

Images from Barbie: What a Doll

Images from Barbie: What a Doll

My winter coat didn’t turn out as expected – although I may be able to reuse it as a Yeti costume next Halloween. I do think I might be onto something with the gold bow-tie and turban combo, no?

Images from Barbie: What a Doll

And I may have gotten a bit carried away with the horsehair canvas on my red dress. I’m thinking the dress could possibly be salvaged – but never the hat.

Images from Barbie: What a Doll


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Christmas Making

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

Happy Christmas all; I hope you’ve had some time at home relaxing. I’ve been doing quite a bit of gift making over the last week or so, and am now planning to get back to selfish sewing/knitting. I’ve already made a decent start on a Lesley sweater & I have a load of sewing patterns printed.

I actually finished the last of my Christmas gift making this morning. I was planning to make my Dad a tie but ran out of time before Christmas. I showed him the pattern pieces on Christmas Day (as proof a tie was in progress!) and finished making the tie today.

Handmade Tie using Purl Soho free pattern

I used the free Purl Soho tie pattern and fabric from Guthrie & Ghani, with scraps of Liberty fabric for the lining. This was my first attempt making a tie and I really enjoyed it – It’s all pressing and hand-sewing, so quite an enjoyable project while watching a movie.

Handmade Tie using Purl Soho free pattern

Handmade Tie using Purl Soho free pattern

The other gift sewing I did, was making a copse of Sewaholic Stanley Trees, another great free pattern. I made one tree using the larger version, and five using the smaller version of the pattern.

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

I found that I needed less fabric than is listed in the pattern. I managed to make one large, and three small trees from two metres of fabric. All of the Christmas fabric I used was also purchased from Guthrie & Ghani.

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

I thought the trees would be really quick to make, but they took longer than I expected as they involved quite a bit of hand (as well as machine) sewing, to seal the underside and attach any decorations. For decorations I made bows from ribbon in my stash, and attached either bells or tiny baubles from Ikea.

Sewaholic Stanley Tree

The most involved gift project this year was a scarf for my Mom. I used the Pianissimo scarf pattern by Thien-Kieu Lam from the Autumn edition of Pom Pom Quarterly (which is a brilliant issue). I made Version Two of the pattern (I’ve also made Version One for myself), shortening it slightly since – as written – it would be very long. The pattern uses an easily memorised cable pattern to create a really interesting effect.

Pianissimo Scarf

The photos don’t do the pattern or yarn justice. I used West Yorkshire Spinners Illustrious DK yarn in the Garnet colourway. The yarn is 70% Falkland Wool and 30% British Alpaca. It was lovely to knit with and resulted in a really drapey scarf.

Pianissimo Scarf

The other gift I knitted was a little decoration as part of the #Christmasdecswap2015 organised by Marilla Walker. I was swapping with Ingrid and made her a Tiny Sweater using the free pattern by Malia Mather. A bit like my Dad’s tie, I finished it very late, but Ingrid can hopefully put it on the tree next year!

Tiny Sweater for #Christmasdecswap2015

I’ve made Christmas cards for a few years (some previous years here: 2014 / 2012 / 2012), so got the lino printing supplies out from under the bed and created an angel lino block for this year’s cards. Multi-colour prints are time consuming to create, so I used metallic pens to add colour.

Lino Print Handmade Christmas Card

Lino Print Handmade Christmas Card


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Sheepy Linden

I made this Linden Sweatshirt last year and finally photographed it recently in Bruges.

Linden Sweatshirt in Bruges

This sweatshirt is based on one I spotted in a fashion magazine while getting my hair cut.

LF Markey Sweatshirt

I recreated it using the Linden Sweatshirt pattern. The only change I made to the pattern (version A, size 2) was creating a seam in the sleeve. The cuffs and neckband are cut from the same fabric used for the body.

Linden Sweatshirt in Bruges

The main fabric here is a ‘warm jersey’ from White Tree Fabrics. The fabric I used on the arms was purchased from ebay.

This sweatshirt is a total man-repeller, Phil hated it as soon as I finished it, and it was also commented on by men in the office. To be honest, that just makes me like it more – kind of like a dare!

Linden Sweatshirt in Bruges

This sweatshirt was a test version for last year’s #lindenswap. I was paired with Katy who made me a very stylish Linden, and in return I made her a big furry linden! Sorry Katy!

Linden Sweatshirt in Bruges

The jersey used here is actually a bit lightweight for the wooly fabric, so for Katy’s version I used a different fabric – cut from a second-hand men’s jumper I found in a charity shop.

Linden Sweatshirt in Bruges

Bruges

Linden Sweatshirt in Bruges

I’m lucky enough to have finished work for Christmas so I’m off to finally watch Spectre in a minute, then back to Christmas present making.


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Sewcialist Gift Guide

Sewcialist Necklace by English Girl at Home and Working Clasp

With my birthday just gone and Christmas approaching, I’ve spent a fair bit of time recently selecting gifts, many of which are sewing or knitted related, for my own wish list. I thought I’d share my list of lovely gifts for people who sew, with the odd knitting gift thrown in.

First up though is a little project of mine. I’ve teamed up with Birmingham-based jewellery designer Rebecca Cowley of Working Clasp to create a sewing-themed necklace.

Sewcialist Necklace by English Girl at Home and Working Clasp

The Sewcialist Necklace is made from perspex and wood, and hangs on a silver-coloured chain. It was made in Rebecca’s studio in Digbeth, Birmingham.

You can purchase a necklace via my shop. I only have a small number in stock (as I wanted to see if you guys liked the idea!) so if you fancy one asap get in quick.

Sewcialist Necklace by English Girl at Home and Working Clasp

Other lovely gifts on my wish list are :

♥ Jewellery

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. Another Birmingham-based independent brand, Frilly Industries make adorable Stork and Swan Scissor necklaces (33% discount and free shipping until Tuesday 1st December using the code BLACKFRIDAY!)

2. I also love Frilly Industries Spool of Thread Brooch which is an exclusive design for Not on the High Street (or available direct at craft fairs if you live in Birmingham)

3-4. Wool and Wire make jewellery with in-built stitch markers. Given that I knit on the train and often forget to pack supplies this is perfect for me. I’ve requested a Stitch Marker Bracelet (3) plus a set of Stitch Markers (4)

♥ Haberdashery

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. I treated myself to one of these stunning porcelain dogs by artist Eleonor Boström for my birthday. They have a pin cushion head and thread holder tail! They’re available to buy from Beyond Measure

2. I also fancy one of Beyond Measure’s exclusive wooden pincushions, which are made in Yorkshire from wood, wool cloth and stuffed with wool. These sell out really fast, I know a new supply is expected about now but you’ll need to order quick if you want one

3. I have some darning projects on my to-do list, and one of these vintage bakelite darning eggs from Loop would be perfect

4. As would this Sajou darning thread, also available from Loop in the UK

5. Coloured dress making shears by Ernest Wright & Son, a Sheffield brand since 1902. The pink edition supports Breast Cancer Care

♥ Books

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar is a lovely addition to my natural dye library, which includes a range of projects as well as lots of info on dyeing with both protein and cellulose fibres

2. Boundless Style by Kristiann Boos is at the top of my Christmas list. I really want to make the cover dress in particular

3. Slow Stitch by Claire Wellesley-Smith is a beautiful exploration of slow sewing and decorative stitch and textile art. Read my full review of the book here

♥ Wool

Sewists Christmas Gift Guide

1. I’d love to make a winter coat in a British wool, woven in London by The London Cloth Company. Their British Wool is sourced from small conservation flocks, and spun into yarn in Halifax. The resulting yarn is un-dyed, with cloth designed by breed of sheep and natural colour. They also produce a range of rope-dyed indigo fabrics

2. I was alerted to Fabworks by Marilla. Their range of Avoca wool is woven in Ireland using Australian wool

3. Dashing Tweeds also produce a range of fabrics using 100% British wool, designed in London and woven in the UK

Disclaimer: (almost) all photos included in this post are the property of the respective shops.

No affiliate links are included in the post; the Sewcialist Necklace is a product in my own Etsy shop.


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Polo Shirt Dress

It’s my birthday today, and while Phil cooks me dinner I have just enough time for a quick post about this self-drafted polo shirt dress I made this summer.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

I’ve always loved polo shirts and polo shirt dresses, and have had one or two in my wardrobe since I was a teenager. However, my wardrobe has been without one for the last couple of years as I have pretty much stopped buying RTW and have never seen the right fabric (cotton pique) on sale before. So, when I spotted this fabric for sale on Goldhawk Road earlier this year I knew I needed to make myself a polo shirt dress.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

The dress is self drafted and is based on a RTW polo shirt dress, which I may have taken a few measurements from in the shop… As with all of the RTW polo shirt dresses I’ve owned it doesn’t feature any darts or shaping. I rushed the construction a little bit, so would like to get some more fabric and make a neater version at some point. I’d also like to create a short polo shirt (as opposed to dress) version.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

As you can see the construction is pretty simple, it’s a single piece at the front and back, with short set-in sleeves. I folded a strip of the fabric to create the cuffs. The RTW polo shirt examples I looked at had the collar as one piece, cut on a single layer of fabric. I kept a one piece collar but stitched two layers of fabric together to give it a bit more body. When I make another I’ll add a layer of interfacing too as it’s still a little floppy.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

I added a partial button placket. It was a pretty easy feature to figure out, but See Kate Sew has since posted a tutorial for one.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress

These photos were taken in Paris during our holiday there in September, and were taken in the Saint-Pierre area very close to the fabric shops.

Self Drafted Polo Shirt Dress


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Freehand Fashion Blog Tour: Pencil Skirt & Giveaway

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

I’m very happy to be the first stop on the blog tour for Chinelo Bally’s new book Freehand Fashion. The fun thing about the blog tour is that each participant is making a different garment from the book; I’m kicking things off today with the Pencil Skirt.

Freehand Fashion Book

The book is divided into two main sections: a section covering how to create blocks (bodice, dress, skirt, flare, sleeve), and a project section which shows you how to use the blocks to create 15 garments (plus a couple of variations). The book also includes a small illustrated techniques section which covers key techniques used within the projects (inserting different types of zip, seam finishes, rolled hem, etc.).

Freehand Fashion Book

The blocks section has detailed information on taking a large range of measurements which I really liked and which is usefully generally, not just for the projects in the book. It includes space to jot down your measurements, but as an ex-librarian that’s beyond the pale for me;)

Freehand Fashion Book

It isn’t necessary to create the blocks before starting the garment projects, instead the relevant block steps are referenced in the project instructions (so you’ll need to flick between the two sections when cutting out). However, the blocks could be created in isolation as a starting point for your own designs – allowing you to move beyond the projects included in the book. One key difference from most pattern blocks is that the blocks in the book include seam allowances.

Freehand Fashion Book

It isn’t mentioned in the tools section at the start of the book, but I found having a french curve (or similar) helpful. When drafting the blocks or projects you’ll mark your measurements at key points (e.g. hips, waist) and then draw between the points. Obviously it is possible without, but having a french curve and long ruler helps to achieve neater lines.

Freehand Fashion Book

I’m not including pictures of the other patterns in the book as you’ll see quite a few of them during the blog tour this week! Project instructions are detailed with clear illustrations.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The projects section encourages you to draft the pattern directly on your fabric, which is one of the interesting elements of Chinelo’s drafting style. However, if you are wary you can of course instead follow the instructions with a large sheet of paper and end up with a paper pattern.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The fabric requirement information for the projects is given as a calculation based on your measurements (e.g. hip measurement plus a specified amount for the fabric width) which means you could choose to buy exactly the fabric you require for a project and not have leftover fabric sitting in your stash. It does also mean it is not as quick to check the fabric requirements as you are dashing out of the house, as I am prone to do;)

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

I made the Pencil Skirt project from the book as per instructions, with the exception of leaving off the belt loops. The fabric I used was wool from my stash which I previously used to make an Oslo Cardigan, and I couldn’t resist teaming them up for a few photos (below).

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The fabric wasn’t ideal for this pattern since the pencil skirt doesn’t include a waist band, and the loose weave of this wool could really do with being held in place with a well interfaced band. It would be simple to add a waist band if using a similar fabric, or i’d advise choosing a more structured woven fabric. Near the end of the construction process the book asks you to mark your measurements on the partially constructed skirt to confirm your sewing line; due to the loose weave of my wool I ended up trimming quite a bit off the sides to achieve a nice close fit.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

In keeping with the focus on drafting, the books asks you to decide how high you want the back slit. I should have measured another pencil skirt but just guesstimated (at 5 inches) and it has ended up a little short. I can walk fine but I wouldn’t fancy trying to run.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

The construction method for the skirt is different from any I’ve seen; it has you attach the lining to the main fabric at the top and bottom, but sew the main fabric and lining separately at the side seams. It resulted in a really neat inside finish.

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

Now for the giveaway!

Pavilion and Chinelo have kindly provided an extra copy of the book to give away (UK only)! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Let me know your favourite thing about the Great British Sewing Bee (or your thoughts about sewing on TV, if you’re not a viewer). Please make sure to include your email address in your comment if it is not easily available in your profile. The giveaway is open until midnight (UK) on Monday 16th November, after which I’ll randomly pick a winner and announce it on social media. Giveaway now closed!

Freehand Fashion Pencil Skirt

Make sure to look out for seven other garments from the book over the next week, including the Maxi Skirt and Box Top tomorrow on the Pavilion Craft blog.

Friday 13th November
Frida and Amy at Pavilion Craft

Saturday 14th November
Marie at A Stitching Odyssey

Sunday 15th November
Rachel at The Foldline 

Monday 16th November
Lauren at Lady Sewalot

Tuesday 17th November
Amy at Almond Rock

Wednesday 18th November
Rachel at House of Pinheiro

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of Freehand Fashion in exchange for a review; all opinions expressed are my own.


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SewBrum Goodie Bags

SewBrum Goodie Bags

Today is the day of the SewBrum meet-up! I thought it would be fun to do a little reveal of the goodie bags waiting for attendees at Guthrie & Ghani this afternoon.

SewBrum Goodie Bags

Lauren at Guthrie & Ghani is providing fabric bags courtesy of Liberty, goodies from Prym and a discount code for the store. The sweets were added by me;)

SewBrum Goodie Bags

Inside the goodie bags attendees will also find:

A discount code for Pavilion Books whose recent sewing publications include the five lovely books pictured below which Pavilion have contributed to the raffle.

Pavilion Books for the SewBrum Raffle

Postcards of projects from PomPom Quarterly who have also contributed a back-issue to the raffle.

PomPom Magazine Postcards

A 15% discount voucher for Girl Charlee who have also contributed a big fabric bundle to the raffle.

Girl Charlee SewBrum Raffle Prize

A very cute mini discount voucher for 10% off DK yarn from Brityarn who have also contributed a canvas bag to the raffle.

Brit Yarn Canvas Bags

Rachel and Kate at The Foldline have contributed amazing goodie bags containing sweets, buttons and vintage 1950s zips! (Have you seen that it’s now possible to create pattern wishlists and libraries on The Foldline? So good!)

The Foldline Goodie Bags for SewBrum

The Foldline Goodie Bags for SewBrum

And finally, Nominette have provided a discount code to create your own custom sew-in labels. They also allowed me to order SewBrum labels to include in the goodie bags. The labels contain the wording ‘A SewBrum Meet-Up Make’ as I thought it would be fun for attendees to sew these onto projects they make using fabric or patterns purchased or swapped at SewBrum. I’ve kept a few to sew into my own SewBrum makes.

nominette Labels for SewBrum

You may have seen Nominette labels reviewed elsewhere. I had seen Katie, Winnie, and Melissa’s reviews previously, but whereas they reviewed the logo labels these are the ‘Clothing Label 25mm’ option. The logo label option requires you to upload an image (and as such does allow more customisation) but if you don’t have an image you’d like to use this option is more straightforward as well as cheaper (£37 for 100, with discounts applied for larger orders).

nominette Labels for SewBrum

To create the labels you simply type the text you would like included into a box on the website and select a font (from 5 available). Washing icons can also be added – I left them off since I don’t know what attendees will choose to attach these to! The website is interactive, displaying your choices on an example label as you select text and colours. There are two options for label type, either centre fold (like these) or end fold, and a wide range of colour choices (15 background colours, 17 text colours). I selected a dark blue background with white text and the contract means that the text is nice and clear. I hope attendees will enjoy sewing them into a SewBrum project.

nominette Labels for SewBrum

P.S just a caveat for attendees that as a free event it’s very difficult to predict actual attendee numbers and goodie bags are limited – sorry if you don’t get one or if some of the items have run out!

P.P.S There have been some late additions to the raffle, including an Adjustoform Supafit Standard Dress Form courtesy of Sew Essential. The full prize list is here.