english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Starry Sirocco Jumpsuit

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ve been getting lots of time for sewing recently, which means I have been trying patterns quite soon after their release rather than a year or so later, as is my usual habit.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

That includes having sewn two Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuits since the release of the pattern in April. The jumpsuit pictured is my second Sirocco. I made both my Siroccos in fabric purchased during the Paris Sewcial meet-up from Bennytex fabric warehouse on the outskirts of Paris.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I made the first Sirocco in a lightweight grey knit fabric grading between sizes 38/40. After a couple of wears I decided that the crotch was too low for me to be comfortable wearing the jumpsuit, so for my second version I still cut a size 38/40 except for the seams at the top of the trousers and bottom of the bodice, where I graded down to size 34 (the smallest size in the pattern). This worked perfectly to raise the crotch without impacting the construction of the pattern (including attaching the pockets to the trousers at the waist seam which I was worried would be affected by a more major alteration). I want to go back and make the same alteration to my original Sirocco in time to get lots of wear out of it this summer.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

This second version was made in a medium weight knit fabric with a gold stars print. This is a sweat-shirting-type fabric, with a soft wrong-side. I really like this jumpsuit in a slightly weightier fabric, and I’m loving white clothes this summer. I suspect this fabric might get marked or start pilling relatively quickly, but I’m going to make the most of wearing it for as long as I can.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

These pictures are a mixture of photos taken in our local park, and pictures taken during a family holiday to Derbyshire, including to visit a nearby well dressing in Cressbrook, inspired by a visit by Karen a few days before.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I always associate holidays with taking lots of nice blog photos. I filled my suitcase with summery clothes I wanted to photograph – and then it was wet and cold all week. We still managed some nice pictures between showers, and the summery outfits worked out fine for exploring Derbyshire paired with some boots, a jacket and an umbrella. We even managed a brief dip in the outside pool in Hathersage while we were there.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ll leave you with the obligatory jumping in a jumpsuit picture as I return to binge watching series 17 of Project Runway with a final cup of tea before bed.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit
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Floral McCall’s M7154 in a Field

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

McCall’s M7154 1930s reproduction dress pattern is one of the most involved sewing projects I’ve completed.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

I sewed the dress back in 2017 to wear to my brother’s wedding. You can read the original blog post here.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

I hadn’t worn the dress since the wedding as the long train at the back makes it impractical for events involving dancing, and I don’t attend any evening events with no dancing!

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

When I visited the Confetti Fields a few weeks ago I decided to take McCall’s M7154 along for an opportunity to wear it again to get some updated photos.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

Funnily enough there aren’t many places to get changed in private in a field. I slipped into this dress behind some foliage and got changed back in an (empty) tent provided for baby changing. You can see my bra straps in some of the shots because losing my bra behind the foliage as well as my dress was definitely a step to far.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet

I had to make a lot of tweaks to this dress during construction to make it fit, and that, combined with the impractically of the train, means I’m unlikely to sew the pattern again, but I’m glad I did make it, and I thoroughly enjoyed swanning around in it outdoors on a sunny afternoon.

McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet
McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet
McCall's M7154 in Floral Velvet


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Maven Patterns Rochester Dress at the Confetti Fields

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

Recently, my mom told me about the Confetti Fields in Pershore, part of a farm which grows and sells dried flower petal confetti. For 10 days each year some of the fields are open to the public, and they have pop-up stalls selling cake and tea, and bouquets of the flowers. Clearly this was an irresistible blog photo opportunity, so when my mom and dad visited last weekend, me and Phil tagged along.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

In my enthusiasm to visit the fields I didn’t actually stop to think that Phil – who has severe hay fever – might not be so keen to walk through fields full of flowers, until he reminded me. He did get severe hay fever and it was not his favourite place, but he still took some rather nice photos of my new dress in between sneezes.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

This is the Rochester Dress from Maven Patterns. I bought the pattern direct from Maven Patterns at the Sewing for Pleasure show at Birmingham NEC in March, and picked this fabric to make it with, also at the show, from Higgs & Higgs. The fabric was in the bargain bin and was a total steal, I assume it’s a cotton but it has a linen-like ability to wrinkle seemingly two seconds after emerging from under the iron.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

The Rochester is a deceptively simple pattern, as it actually has a number of carefully designed details. I was assuming I would whip this dress up, but following the instructions and taking my time to sew neatly (I’m getting really good at actually taking care with my sewing now!), it took a couple of longish sittings.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

The first of the interesting features of the dress is the long curved hem, with side split and modest high-low hem. In addition to hem facing pieces, the pattern includes a template for top-stitching the hem, which I used and which resulted in very neat top stitching if I do say so myself. The pattern also intends for the sleeves to be finished with top stitching, and it looks great on the pattern but I couldn’t see any way to top stitch after the sleeves had been constructed with my fabric / machine, as I couldn’t easily have reached that far up the sleeve with the machine. I slip stitched my sleeve facing by hand, but the effect isn’t as interesting as the intended top stitching.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

The other main feature of the dress is the neckline. There are two neckline options included in the pattern, and I had intended to use the alternative (which is a simpler single row of elastic directly at the neckline) due to loving the effect on the pattern cover. I decided, however, that I ought to try the more unusual option and I’m really pleased with the result, which was very easy to achieve with a couple of rows of stitching and a small off-cut of elastic. There’s also a pleat at the back of the dress although it’s not very well shown off in these photos, or in this crease-loving fabric.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

I’d definitely like to make another Rochester dress in a crepe or viscose at some point, and I do think the details of this dress would be shown off to great effect in a solid colour.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress

I’m really glad that I finally got around to sewing one of the Maven Patterns. I’ve seen some beautiful versions of the French Dart Pattern (including Susan Young’s) so that might be the next pattern I try, and I also fancy making myself an apron I’m happy to wear out to workshops (i.e. one which isn’t covered in stains from years of wear in the kitchen) using their Maria Apron pattern.

Maven Patterns Rochester Dress


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Velvet Floral Floreat Dress

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

Me and Phil are back at home this weekend after a few days holiday with family in the Peak District. We had a fun few days but one thing I am glad to return home to is decent Wi-Fi! I spent hours yesterday catching up with emails, and thought this evening would be the perfect opportunity to write a blog post. I have also left the house a few times in between, and finished a small embroidery project, so the weekend hasn’t been solely spent in front of a screen.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

I managed to dodge the rain long enough to get some photos of recent makes while we were away, but the photos here predate the most recent holiday, and were mostly taken in Paris when we were there for #ParisSewcial.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

This pattern is the Floreat Dress from Megan Nielsen. The pattern includes a whole host of variations and I was especially drawn to the knit dress version, so made my floreat in this stretch floral velvet from Like Sew Amazing which I purchased with a voucher I was kindly gifted by Sarah for second prize in the Refashioners 2018. I love a velvet, and this is quite an unusual fabric as the florals are smooth and shiny, with velvet in-between.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress

I didn’t love this dress as much as I expected on completion. After a couple of wears I have determined that the long length, long sleeves, and busy fabric combine to feel a bit overwhelming. Lately I have committed to making sure that I love (and wear) all of the garments in my wardrobe – and I have been altering (or giving away) those I’m not happy with. I worked through a good chunk of my alterations pile during Me-Made-May, and am planning to keep up the momentum now May is over. For this dress, I’ve trimmed the sleeves to a short length and I have a feeling that the new and improved version will be in regular rotation in my wardrobe.

Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress
Megan Nielsen Floreat Dress


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Refashioners Bar Jacket at Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A

Last weekend Phil and I had tickets to see two exhibitions at the V&A, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams and Mary Quant. We decided to make a weekend away of it, and spent the rest of the time having a look in the shops, and generally mooching around London.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A

When I booked to the see the Dior show I immediately knew I wanted to wear the outfit I made for The Refashioners 2018, to the exhibition. Last Saturday morning I got dressed in the full outfit – imitation bar jacket, pleated skirt, petticoat, long gloves – picked up my refashioned fruit-bowl hat, and set off for London.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A

It was fun to wear the full outfit together again for the first time since I got photos for my Refashioners entry in Paris, and to get a photo of the outfit next to its inspiration (first photo). I feel a bit like I’m playing dress-up for the first few moments after putting on the petticoat, but it soon feels completely normal. It’s actually quite a comfortable outfit so long as I’m only wearing a single layer under the fitted jacket, any more than that and I feel squashed in.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A

The Dior show is excellent sewing inspiration and I’m hoping to get some sewing done myself before the end of this weekend. I might even work on the 1950s inspired ‘waspie’ corset pattern recently released by Gertie for Butterick (which I was hoping to wear to the exhibition under my bar jacket, until I decided to use up my potential sewing time playing Pokemon: Let’s Go! instead).

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A

I do find that galleries always make me want to draw, paint, sew, weave, or generally create. Normally I forget that by the time I get home, but i’m hoping to find time for some other crafts in addition to sewing this year. I’ve booked on a couple of workshops, and I’ve set my drawing and embroidery supplies close to hand. I’ve also started a tap dance class recently, to try a completely different creative hobby for the very first time. Sewing is still number one though, and I’m sure all of those other crafts will end up coming back to sewing and to this blog.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A


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Modified Asymmetric Gather Dress

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

I originally made, and blogged, this dress (The Maker’s Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress) a year ago, but I was never happy with the fit on me. Apart from a couple of trial outings, this dress hung on my wardrobe door for a year waiting to be altered.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

After that long wait, it took me a single evening to alter the dress and add it into rotation in my wardrobe. The alterations I made were to remove 7 inches from the hem, reduce the width of the shoulders (I temporarily removed the sleeves and cut a crescent shaped section from each shoulder), remove the elastic from the sleeve hems, increase the waistline gathering, and generally improve the tidiness of my sewing.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

The dress is sewn in a crepe fabric from John Lewis and paired here with a matching lipstick and another pill box hat. The construction of the hat is as per my previous post, and the fabric is a pale pink pvc with a snakeskin print and texture, from Fancy Silk Store. I spotted this fabric the first time I visited Fancy Silk Store for hat making supplies; once I had a first pill box under my belt I went back to buy this fabric. These hats only use a tiny amount of fabric so I have plenty left and may use it to make a matching bag.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

Over the recent bank holiday weekend, Phil and I made the most of the sunshine and visited a couple of Birmingham Museums’ venues. It’s easy to forget to be curious about historic sites which are close to home, and we’re slowly working our way around some local sites, including Soho House (home of the industrialist Matthew Boulton) where these photos were taken.

The Maker's Atelier Asymmetric Gather Dress

#memademay2019 is fast approaching. My pledge is to use the challenge to help me reach a point where I enjoy wearing everything in my wardrobe (me-made, second-hand, and ready-to-wear). That means getting rid of clothes which no longer fit or which I no longer enjoy wearing, altering me-made garments which I’m not completely happy with, and finishing my UFOs. This dress is one example of working towards that pledge, and I’m hoping to continue throughout May and beyond.


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Night and Day Dress for the Dressmakers’ Ball

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

For the first Dressmakers’ Ball, organised by the team at Crafty Sew & So in Leicester, back in 2017, I left making my dress until the very last minute and ended up sewing a knit dress the night before the ball.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

This year I was determined to be organised, and finished my dress with so much time to spare that I ended up making a matching belt, pill box hat, and bag (which collectively won me an award on the night for best accessory!).

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

The dress is Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress. I have the PDF version of the pattern (a gift from my parents for Christmas) and sent it for A0 printing as the pattern has many variations (including some very full skirts) so is enormous. I printed all of the pages as I’m keen to try some other variations in the near future. The version of the dress I made for the ball was actually decided by my fabric choice.

I was visiting New York – and attending Male Pattern Boldness Day – the month before the Ball, so decided to buy fabric for the dress at the meet-up. I was planning to get something drapey to make the bishop sleeved version of the Night & Day Dress, but once I spotted this double-sided metallic brocade in Metro Textiles I was sold.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

Having had pretty consistent body measurements since my twenties, if not before, I’ve increased a few inches in the bust and waist recently. On a few recent projects I’ve cut out on autopilot based on the size I’m used to cutting (and gotten away with it), but for this project I was determined that I wasn’t going to skimp on any steps to a well fitting dress. I measured myself and cut the correct size, only to find, when I tried the work-in-progress bodice on, that it was too large. I took the bodice apart and cut the pieces down a size (to a 4 in the bust and 6 in the waist to hips, the size I would have cut on autopilot) and the fit was just right. I’ve since bought Gertie’s new book, Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses, which uses the same sizes/block as Charm patterns, and Gertie notes in the introduction that the sizes are generous in the bust and hip.

I should say that I don’t bother with muslins/toiles, so although I always hope patterns will fit first go, I’m always expecting to need to make changes. Personally I prefer to make alterations to a sewing project as I go, in this way, and regularly do. I find that approach works much better for me, and I’m very rarely left with an unsalvagable project.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

After making the dress, I felt that the pattern needed breaking up at the waist so I made a matching belt, using the reverse side of the brocade. I couldn’t find any belt buckles for sale locally in Birmingham, and hadn’t left myself long enough to risk ordering one online. I popped into H&M in the hope of finding something suitable and found an ugly fake leather belt on sale for £3. I cut my fabric based on the width of the buckle (not the belt I removed, which was much wider & horribly bunched up), and punched through some Prym eyelets for belt holes.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

Next I started on a hat. I have a couple of hat making books I picked up cheaply years ago and hadn’t yet made anything from. This pill box hat was based on a design in Saturday Night Hat. The book instructions are based on using millinery supplies, but I walked to Fancy Silk Store one lunch break and asked for the closest they had to double buckram. The material I bought feels quite plasticky and is impossible to sew through, so it works to provide a firm structure but is more of a faff than an actual double buckram would be (I assume). The base of the hat is a circle (for the top) and a rectangle (for the sides) which I managed to attach together (the material also resisted all attempted to glue it) by punching holes along the edges of the top and sides, and sewing the pieces together through these holes. The hat is then covered in fabric pieces, which are sewn to each other. Finally, I punched Prym eyelets on either side and threaded elastic through. It’s worn behind my ears / under my hair.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

The hat pictured here isn’t actually the version worn at the ball. This is a replacement pill box, as the first was ‘stolen’! The day after the ball, Phil and I were having a wander around Leicester. I was carrying the pill box hat in a plastic bag (along with a cheap comb and a sewing kit) to avoid squashing it in our very full suitcase, and accidentally left the bag unattended for ten minutes in McDonalds. We dashed back to find it but it was already gone! This second version is better constructed than the first, so I’m thinking of the lost one as a rare (for me) toile!

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

Finally, the night before the ball, I decided to whip up a matching bag. This bag was based on a pattern included with a recent issue of Simply Sewing magazine (issue 54). I didn’t have time to create/order a strap, so borrowed one from one of my handbags, and I finished hand-sewing the inside of the bag on the train to the ball (in good company, travelling with the lovely Sue).

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress

The Dressmakers’ Ball was a really fun evening and a great incentive to make a more glamorous dress and a plethora of accessories. I believe Crafty Sew & So are planning to hold the ball every other year, and I’m thinking next time I need to take the word ‘ball’ to heart and create something really dramatic.

Charm Patterns Night and Day Dress