english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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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December Sewing Zine Vlog

December Sewing Zine Vlog

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve just published a new vlog on my YouTube channel, featuring the Christmas swaps I took part in, presents I made, crafty gifts I received and my in-progress projects.


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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!


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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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#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.