english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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More Paper Bag Trousers & Holiday Pics

Simplicity 8605

Another weekend, another blog post featuring past holiday photos! A combination of not being able to go on holiday this year, and not having many recent projects to share, has led me to revisit a number of projects I photographed but never blogged – including these Simplicity 8605 paper bag waist trousers.

Simplicity 8605

This is my second pair of these trousers (first pair blogged here). They are really easy to make (5 pattern pieces including the belt), and to fit (loose fit and an elastic waist). They’re a great option to pack for a holiday as they are comfortable and easy to wear (and in the polyester version here, don’t wrinkle), but they’ve also been great for wearing around the house this summer. If you haven’t made any trousers before and want to give them a try, a simple design like this is a great place to start.

Simplicity 8605

In these pictures, the trousers are paired with another old make which hasn’t previously made it to the blog. The top above is also a Simplicity pattern, 8593 which is a re-released vintage top pattern. Simplicity refer to it as a poncho blouse, and it’s basically a rectangular design, with detail at the neckline and side-ties, which is wrapped over itself and tied at the front and back. I was interested in trying this different design, but in reality I found it irritating to wear. The side seams inevitably gape (Exhibit A, the picture above), so you need to wear something underneath, and the top moves about a lot while worn. I actually relegated this top to my fabric scraps tub before the top made it to the blog. The fabric – which is a lovely soft cotton from Cloth House – also faded quickly after a few washes.

Simplicity 8605

I haven’t mentioned it previously, but I’ve been working on developing some sewing patterns which I’m aiming to begin releasing later this year. All of the work involved in getting them ready for release has kept me really busy over the last few months – and meant that most of my recent sewing has been to test the patterns. It’s also meant that the various other craft projects which I got excited to begin during lock-down (new knitting project, bargello, shoe-making, weaving, etc.) haven’t gotten much further than buying supplies. If lock-down hadn’t removed most of my evening and weekend plans I don’t think I would ever have gotten them ready (and they aren’t there yet, so fingers crossed and head down).

Simplicity 8605

I feel like I’ve devoted quite a bit of this week to a thorough tidy and clean of the house (I can’t understand how it takes me as long as it does, but it consistently takes me FOREVER?), so I’m making the most of savouring it before the house reverts to its natural state of being messy and dirty again. I have a few ‘to-dos’ to complete today (including writing the overdue July newsletter for the Association of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, which will now be the July/August edition!) but then I’m hoping to pick up one of my abandoned craft projects to enjoy in the calm of my tidy living room (subject to how messy a craft project I choose).

Simplicity 8605

Have a good weekend everyone.

Simplicity 8605


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Unblogged Freya Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Weekend mornings are my favourite time to write blog posts, before the day begins in earnest, while the house and road still seem quiet. We are dropping our car off for an MOT in a couple of hours, probably followed by a long walk home, so I thought I’d make time before that to sit in my pyjamas and write about an old(ish) project which never made it to the blog.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Earlier this week, Susan Young posted a knit top on her Instagram account which she had managed to squeeze out of a remnant picked up from the Sewing Weekender fabric swap table. I recognised the fabric as one I had added to the swap table, and checked back on my blog for a picture of my project, and to remind myself where I bought the fabric, but I had never blogged about it.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I knew I had taken photos of this dress – a Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress, from the Stretch book – while on holiday in Vietnam, back in 2018. It took me a while to track down these photos, which had ended up stored on an external drive as I’ve swapped laptops in the meantime. These photos don’t do a brilliant job of showing off the dress (which is a bit washed out in the sunshine, and a bit overwhelmed by the amazing location, the temple ruins of My Son) but I’m glad it has finally made it to the blog.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Thanks to the Cora App, I was also able to confirm that this fabric was purchased from Birmingham Rag Market and I apparently only bought two metres. I think Sue and I did well to get a dress and top out of those two metres! I’m not able to use the Cora App since moving to an Android phone, but up until around 2018 I had all my fabric catalogued on the app, and I’ve held on to my old iPhone solely to retain access to that info.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

For info, I think this Freya was size 3 and I cut the fabric strip for my ruffle 74cm long. I have made two other Freya’s, a zigzag dress and White Christmas top. The only downside of the ruffle Freya in a lightweight knit like this, is that the ruffle loses all structure after washing and needs careful pressing to regain its pleats, which is a level of effort you wouldn’t normally expect (or want) for a simple jersey dress.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I’ve put on weight since these photos were taken, and this dress left my wardrobe in the last clear-out. While a knit garment doesn’t become as potentially uncomfortable and restrictive as a woven garment after a weight change, there’s also less opportunity to wear them with a button open or as a layering piece. I had a wool pencil skirt which I regularly wore with the zipper only half zipped for years and years.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I’m going to get dressed and deliver my car for it’s MOT on time. I might have to look at what other projects I have photographed but never gotten around to blogging soon.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress


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Long Time Coming Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

It’s been a busy few weeks, so today we got away from the to-do lists and visited a few local independent businesses when we knew they wouldn’t be too busy. It was a welcome change of scenery and included some in-person fabric shopping for the first time in months, which was very exciting. I was after some knits in solid colours and different weighs, so exactly the kind of fabric shopping that is best in person.

Yesterday, we also took a longer than normal walk along the canal, where I got Phil to take a few photos of these jeans. I was going to blog them last night, but I sat down after the walk (which was just under two hours) and was too tired to write a word! Given how long these have taken to reach the blog, another day is neither here nor there.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

I’ve been planning to make these jeans ever since Closet Case Patterns released the Ginger Jeans pattern (which, unbelievably, was in 2014), as I’ve always been a great lover of a skinny jean. My plans moved along slightly in 2016, when I ordered a jeans hardware kit from Closet Case Patterns, and this denim (10.5 Oz Cone Mills S-Gene Denim in Dark Indigo) from Threadbare Fabrics. I timed this denim order with our first trip to New York, and had the order sent to our hotel, to save on shipping costs. I did the same on our most recent trip to New York with an order of on-sale Vogue patterns, but they took so long to arrive that I almost missed them – they arrived on our last morning as we were checking out. In comparison, Threadbare were really helpful, and timed posting the denim to suit the dates of our stay.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

The supplies then sat in my stash for three years. I decided that the best way to motivate myself to get started on this more involved project was to book on a jeans making workshop last August. I did mostly sew these up on that workshop, but I cut out the wrong size and, when I tried them on at the end of the weekend, I couldn’t do them up.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

So back in the stash they went, until I had a thorough tidy at the start of lock down, and pulled these out of my UFOs basket. To make these jeans fit, I added in the difference between the size of the pattern I cut (6/8) and the size I actually am (10) at the side seams. I was able to work out the difference from the pattern, and had enough denim left to cut side panels, although I did have to piece the denim together to make panels long enough. You can see the side panels in the next couple of photos.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

In order to add the side panels, I had to remove the waistband and unpick the side seams and top-stitching. Unfortunately, while the waistband was off I thoughtlessly did up the zip, pulling the zip pull off the top. I couldn’t find any short cuts for getting a metal jeans zipper pull back on, but managed to manually close the zip with my fingers, which was slow and frustrating, but allowed me to get the zipper pull back on!

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

The designs on the back pockets are my favourite part. These were on a dress I bought from a charity shop. I cut away the original dress fabric from around the flower motifs, and then zig-zag stitched over the top of these to attach them to the pockets (using different coloured threads for different parts of the flowers). I also added a Modista made in isewlation woven label to the back of the jeans, since these are one of my social distancing sewing projects.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Six years on from the initial inspiration of the pattern release, I’m glad to say that these are now in rotation in my wardrobe. I need to revisit the UFOs basket to see what I can move from stash to wardrobe next.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans


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The Sewing Weekender Online 2020

The Sewing Weekender 2020 logo

The Sewing Weekender Online, 13th – 14th June 2020

After organising (in collaboration with The Fold Line) four in-person Sewing Weekender events, we were expecting that we would need to skip a year, during 2020.

Then, inspired by other online events (in particular, an online beer festival Phil attended) we decided to move online. Running the event online this year has the added bonus that we don’t need to cap attendee numbers at 90, as we do for the in-person event. It also means that this year’s event can be international, as you don’t need to travel to Cambridge, UK to take part.

We’ve decided to donate all profits to charity this year, and will be splitting them 50/50 between two charities, NHS Charities Together and Mind. To enable us to do this, all of our contributors have donated their time for free, which we hugely appreciate.

So, how does it work? As at our in-person events, this is an informal sewing event. Work on a sewing project of your choice in your own home over the weekend of the 13th – 14th June. Share your plans and progress with other attendees using the hashtag #sewingweekender.

We have created a schedule of inspiring video talks, messages and more from sewing bloggers and independent businesses, to keep you entertained while you sew, which you can access by purchasing a ticket. By purchasing a ticket you’ll also receive a digital goodie bag, and donate to two excellent charities.

If you’d like to read more, you can read about the 2019 Sewing Weekender on my blog, and The Fold Line have blogged more information about this year’s event.

We hope you’ll really enjoy the weekend of the 13th- 14th June. If you’re someone who regular attends sewing meet-ups, then hopefully this will go someway towards not being able to this year, and if you haven’t attended a meet-up before this should be a gentle introduction to it – from the comfort of your own home.


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Me Made May 2020 (& Animal Crossing)

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Before May began, I had gotten into the habit of wearing a few pairs of sweatpants on rotation, paired with a t-shirt or jumper depending on the weather. I was, however, spending time dressing my Animal Crossing character in a variety of outfits, hats and backpacks (if you’ve missed it, the new Animal Crossing Switch game was released near the end of March). I was probably spending more time getting dressed on Animal Crossing than in real life, and I was certainly having more fun with it.

I decided, spur of the moment on 01st May, that my Me Made May pledge this year would be to coordinate outfits with my Animal Crossing character each day, as a way to put more fun and more thought into getting dressed than I had been of late.

It took all of one day for me to realise that my wardrobe and my Animal Crossing character’s wardrobe (which includes a lot of fruit themed hats) don’t actually overlap very much. Luckily, Animal Crossing includes a ‘designer’ function where you can create custom clothing designs. I hadn’t tried this feature before Me Made May began, but I’m now an avid user.

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The designer has fairly simple functionality – a single size of pixel art, and only a handful of (dress and top) clothing shapes – but I find the limitations really satisfying to work within. The limitations also mean that I can’t spend too long recreating each day’s outfit. I suspect it’s taking me a maximum of thirty minutes to create an outfit and then take that day’s Instagram pic on my tiny virtual model. Phil takes my photo each day, I take hers.

I highly doubt I would have found the time to participate in Me Made May in this way had I not been based at home currently. I’m working from home (and did regularly prior to Covid-19), but the time saved commuting to work, and the greater ease of slipping back into hobbies during breaks or at the end of the day, have allowed me to think about Me Made May and my wardrobe consistently every day. I haven’t gotten to any of the larger craft projects I wrote on a to-do list when social distancing first began, but I have spent a little bit of time each day exploring my wardrobe, and deciding how to recreate a favourite garment in miniature digital format.

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Without further ado, here are some of the coordinated outfits for the first two weeks of May.

Grey rib:

Featuring a Seamwork Neenah & in-game AC clothing

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Linden Dresses:

Mine previously blogged here; AC dress by me

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Animal Crossing Me Made May 2020

Knitbot Trail Jackets:

Mine previously blogged here; AC jumper by me

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Animal Crossing Me Made May 2020

French Dart Shifts:

Maven Patterns French Dart Shift (not yet blogged); AC version by me

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Me Made May 2020

Cuba Libre Shirts:

Mine previously blogged here; AC shirt by me

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Bibi & Pinnacle:

Mine previously blogged here; AC outfit by me

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Sirocco Jumpsuits:

Mine is previously blogged here; AC version by me

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Mustard & Stripes:

Hacked Linden (previously blogged here) & RTW skirt; AC outfit by me

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Anna Dress & Victoria Blazer:

Mine previously blogged here and here; AC outfit by me

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The Smiths Tees:

My outfit previously blogged here and here; AC t-shirt by me

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Sewing Projects are Never Really Finished

Simple Sew Grace Dress

As mentioned in my last blog post, I recently repaired this little Simple Sew Grace Dress, and then realised that it no longer fitted me. I decided the dress was worth an attempt to make it bigger, and if that didn’t work I’d admit defeat and it would move into my fabric scraps basket.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I couldn’t gain any ease from the existing seam allowances as I had trimmed and overlocked them very close to the seam line. This is how I’ve always overlocked my projects, and it does give a lovely neat finish, but in future I’m planning to leave larger seam allowances on areas I might want to let out in future. P.S. Gillian has some great tips on sewing for gaining weight on the Sewcialists blog this week.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Luckily, the remnant of fabric left over from making the dress was large enough for me to re-cut the waistband and the back bodice pieces (but not the front bodice). Since the skirt is gathered, it was easy to gain some length there, and I was even able to reuse my existing gathering stitches!

When I made the dress back in 2017, I cut a size 8 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist. Referring back to the pattern I found that my measurements now put me into a size 12. I had cut (as opposed to traced) the pattern when I first made the dress, so I worked out approximately how much width to add to the pattern pieces to cut a size 12 back bodice and waistband. Adding all of the additional ease to the back of the bodice meant that the armholes hung slightly low, so I added two short darts at the front armholes to mitigate this.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I wasn’t sure my fix would work, but I now have a dress which fits me well, if differently than previously. The pattern was designed to have a close fitting bodice and waist, whereas I have some ease (and could probably pop a t-shirt underneath), but if anything it has made it more wearable – especially at the moment, to wear at home or on a walk locally, as in these pictures which we took on our new regular walking route yesterday evening.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

All in all, I’ve now spent quite a bit of time on this simple dress, but it has been fun to successfully rescue a project from my repairs basket, and to problem solve a solution. It’s proof that a sewing project is never really finished.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

There’s still A LOT to work through in my repairs and UFOs baskets. I’m thinking I might tackle my too-small jeans next, but maybe next week!

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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A Dress with Nine Lives

Simple Sew Grace Dress

We’ve been working our way through the house since social distancing began, cleaning and sorting through the contents of all of the drawers and cupboards. Inevitably, I finally reached the baskets containing my UFOs and repairs.

I’m aiming to work my way through the baskets over the next few weeks. I’ve set myself the same goal before, with largely the same contents of the baskets, but with more time at home perhaps I’ll be more successful this attempt? There’s always going to need to be a UFOs basket, but it would be good to empty it and start fresh.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

This dress was the first project I pulled out of the basket. It’s a Simple Sew Grace Dress, which I originally blogged in 2017. I made this dress in a hurry to wear to an event, the fabric frays easily and I was planning to revisit it to stabilise the seams before washing or wearing it again. Unfortunately it accidentally got thrown in the washing machine and emerged with holes along the centre seam.

I carried out a panicky repair job, overlocking everything in sight. In my rush to repair it I did a terrible job of gathering the skirt (which is a bit heavy to gather well), and the waistband was still quite damaged. I wore it a few times (including in those previous blog photos), but then it went it to the repairs basket.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Yesterday I found out a remnant of the fabric I used to sew the dress (which was a gift from Madalynne through a giveaway on her blog), and recut a new waistband. I also regathered and attached the skirt.

It looks so much better now. The only downside is that the dress is now too tight to be comfortable. Partly as a result of me gaining weight since I originally made it, and partly because I was careful to stabilise the waistband this time around, via a combination of underlining and lining.

So, I’ll be revisiting this dress again later today, to see if I can eek out enough ease by reducing the seam allowance at the zip to add this back into my wardrobe this summer.

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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Fibre Mood Dora Dress

Fibre Mood Dora Dress

The latest issue of Fibre Mood magazine (issue 9) is released today. This month I got the opportunity to view the patterns early and to pick one to sew for launch day. I picked the Dora Dress, which has flutter sleeves, a high neckline, and a loose fit cinched in at the waist with a fabric belt.

Fibre Mood Dora Dress

I made size 38 and used a John Kaldor fabric from Sew Essential which I think I bought during an in-person blogger visit in April 2016. So almost four years to the day this fabric was purchased it finally became a garment and made the move from my stash into my wardrobe.

Fibre Mood Dora Dress

You can view the full Fibre Mood magazine online for free, so it’s easy to review the patterns and decide if you want to purchase the magazine, or one or two of the pattern PDFs individually. It’s also possible to see the patterns in motion, as the Fibre Mood YouTube channel features short video clips of the patterns being worn by models during the photo shoots. If you fancy trying out one of their patterns for free, the Fibre Mood team are currently running a Social Sew Along every Friday, where you can download a free pattern and sew-along with the team on Instagram Live. This week’s project is a dress from the new issue (which happens to be called Charlotte).

Fibre Mood Dora Dress

These photos were taken in the park at the end of our road during yesterday’s daily walk. Phil and I have been making a point of taking a walk each day to ensure that we do get some time out of the house and some exercise. The walks vary in length considerably, normally depending on how late in the day we leave it before getting out and how energetic (or not) we are feeling. Yesterday’s walk was particularly short, just around the park, as the shoes I wore for these photos are not as comfy as the trainers I normally wear!

Fibre Mood Dora Dress

Wearing this dress for a walk also made it very clear that the length is currently a bit restrictive. As someone who is normally dashing to and fro (Phil regularly complains about how quickly I walk) I’m going to go back and add a vent, or probably just shorten the length, to avoid future frustration.

Fibre Mood Dora Dress


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March Sewing Zine Vlog

No new vlogs for two months and then two in one week!

I’ve just uploaded a new vlog about what I’ve been up to lately, including my plans for the Sewcialists Sew Your Birth Year mini-challenge, and attending a soft basketry workshop.

View it below or via my YouTube channel:

Things mentioned:

The Sewcialists Sew Your Birth Year Mini Challenge

Sugardale, Len Coveralls

SewOver50, #so50visible challenge

My The Maker’s Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

Paper Theory Patterns, Olya Shirt/Shirt Dress

Soft basketry workshop with Averil Otiv

The SewBrum Meet-up (Saturday 24th October 2020)

Little Black Duck, Spools of Thread Mini Quilt


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Online Sewing Events Right Now

With in-person meet-ups impossible for most of us at the moment, I’ve compiled a list of some online sewing events. These are a chance to chat to others in the sewing community or to join in with a live sew-along.

I’m talking about these in my latest vlog, and I’ve also shared the list in the latest post on The Sewcialists blog.