english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

When I tested the Sangria dress from the Winter 2016 pattern collection from Capital Chic Patterns, I also asked Sally if I could test the Cuba Libre shirt. Before I began regularly sewing garments, a good proportion of my wardrobe was made up of RTW shirts, but I haven’t actually sewn many shirts (just one Archer), partly because I already have lots in the wardrobe, and partly because I have a tendency to pick quicker projects. However, I though Cuba Libre would be the perfect opportunity to add some me-made shirts to the wardrobe.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

I’m afraid I was a useless pattern tester and didn’t finish this shirt before Sally’s feedback deadline – but she let me off the hook! In fact, I still haven’t quite finished the Cuba Libre shirt shown here. I didn’t manage to add buttonholes or buttons before our holiday to Istanbul, but packed the shirt anyway, and I sewed myself in (plackets & cuffs) so I could wear it for a trip to Topkapi Palace, where these photos were taken. Sewing blogger problems, huh?

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

I also hand sewed the hem in our hotel room the same morning – which is actually standard for me, as I often hem garments by hand using a slip-stitch. In these photos it looks like the shirt has a hidden button placket – but that’s just because I haven’t attached buttons as yet (I will, I have no intention of regularly sewing myself in)!

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

This is a really great pattern with lots of lovely shirt details: yoke, collar with stand, cuffs and cuff plackets, patch pockets with flaps. I was working from the tester version, but Sally’s instructions are great and if even you’re not familiar with shirt making it’s nice and straightforward.

Cuba Libre is intended to be oversized – in a thicker fabric, as here, it results in quite a casual look, but in a more luxurious fabric (as in Sally’s sample photos) it can look very glam.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

My fabric was a remnant I picked up from the sale table at a local Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, It’s medium weight but very drapey, and very synthetic. I’ll definitely be making more Cuba Libre shirts – the pattern also includes two lengths of shirt dress, and I love a shirt dress as much as I love a shirt, so will be attempting all variations at some point. Some of the lovely details are a bit lost in this print, so I think I’ll make it in a solid (or, as a lover of print, perhaps a very small scale print…) next time.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

As noted above, these photos were taken in Topkapi Palace during my recent trip to Istanbul. If you’re not familiar, Topkapi Palace was a residence of the Sultans until its conversion into a museum under the Republic. The Palace is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a visit (although make sure to visit Dolmabahçe also), especially on a sunny day when it’s lovely strolling between buildings. The Palace has a fascinating history which it’s worth reading up on before you visit, time permitting; as is often the case with palaces, it was a beautiful prison for an awful lot of its residents.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

A personal favorite fact about Topkapi Palace is that it had a dedicated confectionery kitchen which employed up to one hundred confectioners – proof, if needed, of how seriously Turkish people take their puddings! A Turkish colleague told me previously that I was well suited to working in Turkey, due to having such a sweet tooth. Well, when in Rome.

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

Capital Chic Patterns Cuba Libre Shirt

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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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Refashioners Shirt Dress

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

Just in time, prior to the deadline, here’s my refashioners 2015 make. It’s photographed here at Les Invalides in Paris

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

Les Invalides Paris

Les Invalides Paris

The top half of the dress is refashioned from a man’s shirt found in the Coventry British Heart Foundation shop, which is my favourite Coventry charity shop and a favourite place to visit during my lunch break.

Shirt Refashion - Before

To create the top of the dress, I retained a central panel including the collar and button placket, and then attached side panels and cuffs using fabric cut from the sleeves. You can see the three pieces I cut for each of the side panels below.

Shirt Refashion - Before

There wasn’t enough fabric left to make a skirt, so I used some stash fabric gifted to me ages ago by Ingrid. Given that Ingrid was one of this year’s featured refashioners I thought it was pretty appropriate;) To make the skirt I just cut a large rectangle of fabric and gathered it to fit the top part of the dress. I attached a row of elastic at the waist band to create a bit of definition.

Since it was pretty windy and bright at Les Invalides, I took a few extra photos in my garden at home.

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

When I cut the central panel of the dress I retained half the pocket! Not necessarily that functional (although who actually uses their breast pocket?), but I think it’s pretty cute. I replaced the original shirt buttons with ceramic buttons made by a member of my Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers Guild.

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

Refashioners 2015 Shirt Dress

I have another couple of shirts waiting for a refashion; I just need to decide what to try next!


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Onyx Shirt in Sanssouci Park

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Yesterday, me and Phil arrived home from a week’s holiday in Berlin (plus a quick stop-over in London to attend a sewing meet-up organised by Helen). We had a great week, but it’s also lovely to be home – particularly as I have a few more days off work, so time to do some sewing, knitting and blogging.

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

I only managed to make one new garment for the holiday, a second Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns. I started it a few days before we left, but inevitably ended up hand sewing the hem at midnight the day before we left. Sewing blogger problems…

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

I made a straight size two. The only alteration I made from the instructions was to fold under twice at the neckline and hand stitch, rather than using bias binding. I also hand stitched the hem.

The fabric is Atelier Brunette cotton. It’s their ‘twist’ design in dark blue, and was purchased from Guthrie & Ghani. Buttons were from my stash, and I think were freebies with a magazine.

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

These photos were taken in Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. The Berlin travel ticket (if you buy all zones) includes Potsdam, so we decided to catch the train there one day during our trip. This is the area of the park in front of Sanssouci Palace, which was built as the summer palace of Frederick the Great.

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Onyx Shirt by Paprika Patterns in Sanssouci Park Potsdam

Sanssouci Park Potsdam


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RTW Shirt Love & Elsewhere

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

It’s been a while since I got excited about RTW, but I’m madly in love with this shirt from The African Shirt Company. It’s from their Core Range, in print Blue Lagoon.

The African Shirt Company’s shirts are made in the village of Kiteghe in south-western Kenya. The company was designed to provide an alternative source of income for villagers, and has so far employed a small number of local women. The company also supports a local reforestation project, with a donation made with each sale.

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

The shirts are made by hand using foot pedalled sewing machines, without electricity or running water, and ironed using a charcoal iron.

The fabric used is kanga, a traditional East African fabric which dates back to the 19th century. The label attached to the shirt recommends dipping it in the ocean (or cold salt water) to set the colour!

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

As much as I love making as much as my clothing as possible, I also like making an exception for something as special as this shirt. Buying mass produced RTW from a mall, knowing that it has been produced unsustainably, isn’t exciting. But when you know where your clothing was produced and who made it it can be! I love knowing that this shirt has travelled to me from the village of  Kiteghe, and that it was constructed on a treadle sewing machine.

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

Having bought very little RTW clothing recently, I think I’m going to start buying more RTW, from sustainable companies. I strongly believe that you need to support and invest in the things you care about, and independent sustainable fashion and accessory companies need support if they are going to thrive.

The African Shirt Company Blue Lagoon Shirt

Elsewhere

♥ I love the Purl Bee Gathered Skirt for all Ages tutorial.

♥ These Found Paper Memo Books are adorable – each book is made up of various pages of found paper. Plus they have scissors on the front;)

♥ The Spring WestKnits Scarf KAL is now in progress. 2-3 scarf patterns will be revealed each Friday, but I already know that I MUST knit Unicorn Parallelograms.

♥ The latest issue of Pom Pom Quarterly has just been released; I’m considering a subscription… They Pom Pom team also produce a Pomcast (podcast).

♥ There’s a cool event taking place in Hoxton, London on Saturday June 13th. #GRANDFEST2015 will feature a number of people over the age of 70 running free master classes in traditional skills like knitting, jam making, and brewing in cafes and shops around Hoxton Square.

♥ TRAID will be presenting & selling a collection by designer Alex Noble produced with refashioned textiles. The Traidremade collection will be on sale from a pop-up shop at 2 Berwick Street, SoHo, London between May 22 – June 14 2015. Profits will be used to fund the purchase of birth certificates for the children of Bangladeshi garment workers, allowing them to be recognised as citizens.

♥ The latest episode of BBC podcast In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg, focuses on the Cotton Famine in Lancashire from 1861-65. This followed the blockade of Confederate Southern ports during the American Civil War which stopped the flow of cotton into mills in Britain, leading to starvation, mass unemployment and migration. Dramatic stuff!


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Burda Style Waterfall Top

Today the Christmas/New Year holiday ended for me and I went back to work. The Christmas holiday is my absolute favourite time of the year. Partly because I’m crazy about Christmas (I watched the documentary about Liberty recently and their staff plan Christmas all year! Clearly I should be working there). Partly because I get a couple of weeks off work (the benefit of working at a university) so have two solid weeks to do whatever I want (e.g. sewing, crafting, gaming & watching loads of old movies!).
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top
Along with an Anna dress and Archer shirt, I made the Waterfall Top from the January issue of Burda Style. I made this right at the beginning of the holiday. I read the Paunnet review of the January edition of Burda one morning, went out shopping that day and picked up a copy, and had the top finished by the evening. I thought it would be a nice speedy sewing fix and it was.
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top
The only alteration I made to the pattern was to reduce the height of the waistband by half, as I found that my fabric wasn’t draping well with the very high waistband. The fabric is a 100% Viscose, purchased from Guthrie and Ghani. It’s perfect for this blouse, nice and drapey. As you can (kind of) see from the photo below it features a retro print.
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top
The January issue of Burda features a few other projects I fancy giving a go. If only I were still on holiday I could have them sewed up in no time!
Handmade Burda Waterfall Top


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Archer Shirt Meet December Rain

I finished my Archer Shirt this morning and wanted to get some pictures. That meant stepping outside with a brolly to get some natural light. Welcome to the UK in December Archer Shirt!

As mentioned in a previous post I made this shirt in one and a bit days (just the buttons and buttonholes completed on the second day, e.g. today). I followed the sew-along posts from the Grainline Studio blog throughout. There’s nothing better than a photo of what something should look like to help you spot when you’ve gone wrong! It still took me a little while to puzzle out some of the steps, but this is my very first shirt. I think I would have struggled if I’d had only the instructions included with the pattern, which expect a degree of prior knowledge,  as a guide but with the support of the sew-along this is a relatively straightforward make.
Grainline Studio Archer Shirt
I cut a straight size two and the fit isn’t bad, I think the slouchy style rather suits the plaid and makes for a proper lazy Saturday shirt. I might try a size zero for my next Archer, especially If I go for a more office appropriate fabric. The size two is a little long in the arms and a touch big on the shoulders for me. This fabric is a 100% cotton plaid and it feels so soft and cosy. Because I wanted to get this shirt completed in a day (to meet the Archer appreciation deadline) I went with just the one pocket and with version A of the shirt. Next time I’ll give view B a try.
Grainline Studio Archer Shirt
Somehow (perhaps I allowed too large a seam allowance) I did find that when I came to attach the collar to the shirt the collar band wasn’t quite long enough! That problem was easily solved by putting a small tuck in the yoke. The only other issue I had was nothing to do with the pattern – for some reason when I came to make my button holes my sewing machine absolutely refused to play ball. In the end I gave up trying and sewed the buttonholes by hand. They certainly aren’t perfect but as another first for me not terrible either.
Grainline Studio Archer Shirt
The small green buttons used on the shirt are also handmade. I made them using polymer clay and a button mould purchased from MoldMuse on Etsy.
Grainline Studio Archer Shirt
Happy New Year everyone. I’m going spent the day slouching in my new archer, watching Home Alone and playing computer games:)