english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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White Christmas Freya

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

Happy Christmas / holidays everyone. I hope you have some time off work over the next couple of weeks and get the chance to relax and enjoy yourselves.

This time of year, the run up to Christmas, is always so busy, but thanks to a little lull at work as a result of changing employers, I’m feeling unusually relaxed and organised this year.

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

I’ve taken part in two online swaps (Bombazine Mitt Swap and Sewing Secret Santa) and have managed to complete and post both parcels in good time to arrive before Christmas (definitely not the case last year). I even managed to get some photos in daylight before sending, which I’ll share soon.

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

I’m also making a couple of handmade presents for family, which will be finished and wrapped this weekend. No manic knitting in the car on Christmas Eve for me this year!

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

Since I was feeling ahead of the game, I decided to take part in the Sew a Xmas Sweater Contest organised by Tilly & the Buttons. I wanted to create a casual top which was loosely inspired by Vera-Ellen’s dress at the end of White Christmas.

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My version is a Tilly & the Buttons Freya Top, sewn as per the pattern, but with the addition of feather trim from Birmingham Rag Market around the wrists. I used a red scuba fabric from Barry’s Fabrics to make the top and a matching cape, which is worn over the top and closes with a button and loop at the neck. To create the cape I used the By Hand London Circle Skirt Calculator, inputting my neck instead of my waist circumference to generate measurements for a full circle skirt. I reduced the length, and had to cut out the cape in three pieces due to available fabric. I trimmed the cape with a White Simplicity Faux Fur trim purchased from Minerva Crafts.

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

The project resulted in a very festive, but also easy to wear, outfit. After Christmas, I can wear the Freya Top without the cape, and the feathers on the cuffs are also easily detachable. I’d like to make this again in more luxurious fabrics – perhaps next year!

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

Christmas Sweater Tilly & the Buttons Freya

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Pink Velvet, Zigzag & Ruffle Freya Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I do try to avoid buying fabric if I can’t immediately think of a project I want to make with it. This fabric, however, was one of the occasions when that logic went out of the window. On a whim (partly because it was cheap), I bought a large off-cut of this fabric from Birmingham Rag Market – a pink velvet knit with a large scale zigzag. The fabric has sat in my stash every since as I had no idea what on earth to do with it.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I only have a relatively small amount of knit fabrics, and this was one of my few dress length options, so I decided to give it a try in order to sew a Freya Dress (From Tilly & the Button’s Stretch) from stash fabric. I actually think it turned out pretty well, even though it looks somewhat circus themed, an impression the ruffle definitely adds to.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I graded between sizes 2 and 3, but will size up to a 3 throughout next time as I have limited ease at the bust and upper arms despite sewing a narrow seam allowance. I’m definitely going to sew the Freya Dress again (including that adorable ruffle) in an office appropriate fabric. For reference, I cut the fabric strip for my ruffle 74cm long (Tilly explains how to measure your preferred length rather than specifying a measurement).

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

These photos are the first blog photos I’ve ever taken myself (using my phone as a remote) as opposed to asking Phil to take them. They turned out ok, but I found it really hard not to frown with concentration, and it took so much longer. I’ll suspect I’ll go back to bothering Phil next time.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress


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Bibi Pinafore

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Before Tilly’s new book Stretch was released I decided that I wasn’t going to buy it, because:

  1. I have an addiction to buying sewing books, and I’m trying to reduce my purchasing frequency, since I rarely sew from them;
  2. I’m trying to mainly sew from stash since listing my existing fabric on the Cora app and realising that I do in fact normally have a suitable fabric for my next project. However, that stash is only 17% knit fabrics (thanks Cora app stats!).

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Inevitably, however, once I saw the patterns from Stretch being shared online by Tilly (namely the Bibi Pinafore & Freya Dress with ruffle) I quickly put in an order. I’m glad I did as it’s an excellent book and the projects are so satisfyingly quick to sew. This is absolutely the book I would recommend to an total  beginner, as there’s very little barrier to entry and the success rate of projects sewn from it is likely to be high.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

This is my first project from the book, the Bibi Pinafore in a stash fabric, a cable knit jersey from Higgs & Higgs. This jersey has a bit of body which is great for Bibi, although it has just enough stretch, i.e. it’s a slight squeeze to get on and off.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

There photos were taken yesterday in Digbeth, Birmingham. At the same time that a racist march was taking place elsewhere in the city (kudos to those who protested against it), the Independent Birmingham festival – a celebration of Birmingham’s independent and creative scene – was taking place in Digbeth.

Phil and I ate two main courses each from the street food vendors participating, and took fancy doughnuts home for afters.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

I love the diversity and – increasing – vibrancy of this city, and it was good to be at an event which celebrated that, and which was generally a fun place to be, at a time when a few idiots who feel threatened by it were promoting hate.

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Bibi Pinafore Dress


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Mustard Denim Cleo in Seoul

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

I must admit, when Tilly’s Cleo pattern was originally released I didn’t pay much attention. I already owned dungaree dress patterns and didn’t think I particularly needed another. However, as the highly contagious Cleo fever struck and spread across the sewing community, I inevitably became infected and immediately had to have my own Cleo!

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

In the grip of the fever, I dashed off to Guthrie & Ghani and bought all of the supplies for this Cleo (pattern, mustard denim and hardware). Apparently all of the other customers who had bought this mustard denim from G&G were also planning Cleos, so I’m sure I have a lot of Cleo twins! The buttons are the kind which don’t require pliers; they push together easily by hand and are secure once attached. Make sure to position them correctly, because they aren’t going anywhere.

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

As you already know, Cleo is quick to sew. I made this mini length Cleo in the evening before the CHSI Stitches trade show, and wore it to meet up with fellow sewists at the show. Based on my measurements, I cut a size 2 (bust), graded to a 3 (waist and hips), but ended up with quite a bit of gaping at the waist. For a quick fix, I took these in a few inches at either side, but would size down next time. I also think the bib would fit me better if it were slightly narrower.

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

All of these pictures were taken on my recent holiday to Seoul. My Cleo emerged from the case already quite creased and became more so as the holiday progressed, but I think a slightly crumpled look suits denim.

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

I’ll leave you with my Cleo Dress in a number of picturesque locations around Seoul .

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim

Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dungarees in Gold Denim


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Cacti Clémence Skirt in Copenhagen

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

A few weeks ago, me and Phil visited Copenhagen for a few nights. While there, I took the opportunity to get a few photos of this Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt. These photos were taken in the Christianshavn neighbourhood, close to Noma (regularly selected as one of the best restaurants in the world); not that we were eating there, we ate smørrebrød at a nearby (much cheaper) cafe.

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

The fabric is chambray from my stash, originally purchased from Barry’s. I doodled a cacti design on the front of my skirt using fabric pens from Ikea. I was going to lino print the design but went with fabric pens as a lazy / way faster option. Next time, I might lino print the outline and then fill-in the coloured sections with fabric pens; I always find printing multi-coloured images with lino blocks a bit frustrating as I never manage to line-up the separate colours perfectly.

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

I actually made the skirt months ago, but it’s been cold so it’s stayed in the wardrobe until recently. The Clémence Skirt is one of the patterns in Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch. It’s a simple gathered skirt so the book includes instructions to construct the skirt based on your measurements, rather than a paper pattern. It’s dead easy.

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

This skirt goes with most tops in my wardrobe, so I’ll start putting it to use now that the weather is (sort of) warming up. Using solid coloured fabrics is so practical, it’s just not as exciting at the fabric shopping stage. In fact, even when I did make a solid-coloured skirt I ended up doodling on it. Whoops…

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tilly and the Buttons Clémence Skirt, in Copenhagen, Denmark


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Mimi Blouse from Love at First Stitch

Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
My first make from Love at First Stitch is a Mimi Blouse. I made this in a soft cotton I purchased from one of the ‘coupon’ shops in Paris. The cotton is really soft and delicate – I wish I’d bought more! The buttons are some handmade polymer clay buttons I made a few months back.
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
I actually had my copy of Love at First Stitch early as I found it on sale in Waterstones before the official release date. That meant I was able to finish my Mimi in time to wear it to meet Tilly and get my copy signed at Guthrie and Ghani.
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
I have to admit to making some stupid errors in my Mimi. For a start the collar is a little wonky! I recently read a guest post on By Gum, By Golly by Sara of Lilies & Remains on her theory about f***ed but fabulous vintage clothing. I feel a bit similar about handmade clothing – I don’t worry too much about the odd error or wonkiness, or loose sleep over perfect pattern matching. Given all the effort that goes into a make, I embrace the imperfection and wear it anyway!
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse
Having said that though there is one error that is annoying me that I’m going to go back and fix. When cutting or sewing together I’ve gone off the straight grain on the right-side of the blouse. It means that the right front hangs wrong. So I will be good and put that right – when I can tear myself away from the other makes that are in progress!
Handmade Tilly & the Buttons Mimi Blouse


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Launch Day Brigitte Scarf

Handmade Brigitte Scarf
Yippee it’s finally launch day for Love at First Stitch, Tilly Walnes‘ first book (I’m sure there will be more). I’ve actually had the book since last weekend and have made a start on a Mimi blouse – to be blogged soon.

This is my Brigitte Scarf to celebrate the launch. It’s made in a silky polyester which, suitably enough, was purchased in Paris. I have plans for this fabric but was able to spare a small piece for a scarf.

I’m actually crazy about this scarf, I’ve been wearing it around the house constantly since sewing it a couple of weeks ago so I think it’s about time I made a few more. Time to raid my fabric stash!
Handmade Brigitte Scarf