english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

I do so love having unblogged garments to pack for a holiday! I made these Nina Lee Portobello Trousers a few weeks before heading off for a long weekend in Porto, but altered them the day we left. I spent the morning sewing and generally enjoying myself, so ended up getting dressed in all of ten minutes before flying out of the door, with make-up applied en route, and hair left to fend for itself (i.e. stick out in multiple directions).

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

These trousers are an example of something I’m trying to get better at – going back and altering ‘completed’ garments if there’s something that is preventing me from wearing them. I made these trousers without alteration initially and wore them to work a few times, but found the crotch very low on me, resulting in lots of excess fabric at the back. I also hadn’t reduced the length of the trousers enough, meaning I had to wear them with heels (I normally wear flats) to prevent them touching the floor. Phil tactfully called them Hammer Pants and requested a rendition of the U Can’t Touch This dance; I of course obliged (not pretty).

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

On my next version I’ll have a proper look at how the crotch curve fits me, but as an easy fix I removed the waistband and removed a couple of inches at the waist. This worked to raise the crotch and also shorten the length. They are currently back on my alterations pile as the waistband is now too loose, meaning they don’t sit on my natural waist as intended, but I’m looking forward to tweaking and then getting lots of wear out of them. I really love this style of high waisted and wide legged trousers, and the fabric is a lovely drapey wool from Barry’s Fabrics.

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

My current approach to those garments which do need minor alterations is to have a visible pile in my sewing room. Previously I’ve left garments in the wardrobe until I’m ready to alter them and the result is that they are out of sight and out of mind. For example, I’ve been meaning to make a couple of small alterations (reducing the length and replacing the buttons) to a Southport Dress since I made it in 2015 and finally got around to it once it was sat looking at me everyday. Sadly not in time for summer!

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

I’ve done so little sewing lately that I’m desperate to catch up with lots of exciting recent pattern releases, and Nina’s most recent pattern the beautiful Kew Dress is right at the top of that list. Like these trousers, I think Kew Version 1 will be perfect for the office.

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

Nina Lee Portobello Trousers

 

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GBSB Culottes & From Stitch to Style Review

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

Woo hoo, The Great British Sewing Bee is back for series four! I won’t ask if you’re excited; I was on Twitter yesterday and my feed was full of GBSB chat:) I hope international friends get to watch it too (p.s. when I used to travel for work, I watched on iplayer live using a UK VPN).

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

Alongside the new series, there’s also a new GBSB book by Wendy Gardiner. If you’re familiar with the previous series’ books, you’ll already be familiar with the format. The book starts with a ‘Know Before You Sew’ section, which contains a brief overview of sewing supplies, machines, fabric types, and the techniques used in the book. The introductory chapter also includes a short overview of common fitting techniques (including bust adjustments and trouser fitting), although you’d need to seek out additional advice in order to really get the hang of the techniques.

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

The majority of the book contains garment projects; there are 27 in total which are split as follows: 20 women’s; 2 men’s; 3 children’s; 1 baby; 1 unisex (kimono). I don’t have any insight into what the contestants will be making in future episodes of the series, but I think we can make some good guesses based on the book! The patterns include a range of basics including the bias-cut top made in episode one, a breton top, palazzo pants, peplum dress, wiggle skirt and camisole top and shorts. There are also some more unusual patterns such as a soft-cup bra (I’m looking forward to that episode!), asymmetric top and skirt, man’s cycling top, and a sequin cocktail dress.

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

My favourite patterns from the book are the YSL-inspired Colour-Blocked Dress, and the Asymmetric Skirt. The children’s dungarees are adorable, and, although there are only two men’s patterns, they are both interesting choices – a cycle top, and a pin-tuck shirt.

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

Full-size pattern pieces are provided on paper pattern sheets in a separate sleeve. Each sheet is labelled with which patterns it contains. Pattern pieces are overlapped, and can be a little fiddly to identify (Burda-style). Make sure to take note of the pattern piece name font colour on the sheet, as the pattern piece outline will be in the same colour – making it easier to identify. Although pattern pieces are full size, some are split in two parts on the sheet due to available space, requiring piecing-together when tracing. I noticed that a few patterns pieces were missing some information, but nothing too misleading (i.e for the Culottes pattern, the waistband piece was missing notches referred to in the instructions, and the pocket piece didn’t state how many pieces to cut).

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

GBSB From Stitch To Style Book

A number of patterns within the book are labelled as ‘hacks’ (e.g the Culottes are a hack of the Palazzo Pants pattern), but helpfully the pattern pieces include cutting lines for the hack variations, so there’s no need for sewers to manually hack the patterns themselves.

In order to try the book for myself, I made up the Culottes pattern (to my mind actually a short-trouser as opposed to culottes, but that’s a matter of opinion).

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

I found the sizing information in the book a little vague. The size chart at the start of the book (sizes 8-20; 32 1/2 – 45 1/2 bust) is labelled as ‘standard ready-to-wear women’s measurement chart’; I couldn’t see an explicit statement that the patterns in the book are based on that chart, although they appear to be. Each pattern has an individual ‘Finished Measurement’ sizing chart, but the amount of ease listed appears to be inaccurate in some instances (e.g. the jumpsuit pattern, which appears relatively fitted in the photo, states that it includes just under 10 inch ease at the bust, as does the Breton Top).

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

For the Culottes Pattern, for example, the overall sizing chart gives the Size 8 waist measurement as 65cm, while the finished measurement chart states the culottes have an 82cm waist (so 17cm ease). I measured the actual pattern pieces and found that the waistband measured 67cm (so a more standard 2cm ease). As such, I’d highly recommend checking the sizing charts, but then measuring the actual pattern pieces before cutting into your fabric.

Other than the sizing information, the Culottes went together easily following the illustrated step-by-step instructions. The only changes I made were to leave off the pocket (the pattern only includes a pocket at one side due to a side zip, which I thought would feel strange), and I gathered the trousers slightly in order to attach them to the waistband as there is quite a significant difference in the width of the trouser front/back pieces and the waistband.

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

I wore these to work today and I think they’ll be a really useful addition to my wardrobe. The fabric is a navy peachskin polyester from new online fabric shop Adam Ross Fabrics, who are based local to me in Birmingham. The fabric has a lovely drape and is super soft; I want to get some more to make a dress.

I’m wearing the culottes in these photos with a Paprika Pattern Onyx Shirt, and a woven scarf from Sancho’s Dress, handwoven in Ethiopia on a wooden loom.

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

Culottes from GBSB From Stitch To Style

Don’t forget to read the rest of the posts on the Blog Tour:

MONDAY 16TH MAY
Made Peachy
Cut Out & Keep

TUESDAY 17TH MAY
English Girl at Home
The Sewing Directory

WEDNESDAY 18TH MAY
Sew Over It

THURSDAY 19TH MAY
The Fold Line
Sew What’s New

FRIDAY 20TH MAY
By Hand London

SATURDAY 21ST MAY
A Stitching Odyssey

SUNDAY 22ND MAY
Crafty Sew & So
Guthrie & Ghani

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of From Stitch to Style in exchange for a review, by Quadrille Publishing; I was provided with fabric from Adam Ross Fabrics for use in a project of my choice; all opinions expressed are my own.


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Trousers! Vintage Simplicity 3688

At the beginning of the year I set myself the goal of sewing three items of clothing that I’ve never made before – trousers, a swimsuit, and a coat. One down, two to go, as I recently made my first pair of trousers!
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Simplicity contacted me last month and offered me a free pattern. With my trouser-sewing goal in mind it was a no-brainer to go for Simplicity 3688 which is a reproduction 1940s pattern. The pattern includes four separate items – I’m never going to make the skirt suit but the trousers and blouse were more than enough to win me over. Helpfully the pattern envelope includes both the adorable original illustrations, and photos of the finished items which (while not exactly thrilling photos) allowed me to get a sense of the finished shape. I was totally sold after a quick google identified that Karen and Debi amongst many others have previously made gorgeous versions of the same trousers (Debi has also made the blouse).
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
I would totally recommend these trousers to other trouser newbies. They are made from only three pattern pieces (five fabric pieces) and are a quick make (yippee, my favourite kind!). Personally I love the vintage shape with the high waist & wide leg. I used a grey polyester suiting fabric which has a nice drape which suits the wide leg & is light-weight for the summer. I’m thinking a wool pair would be great when the weather gets a bit colder (which, to be honest, could be at any time in the UK…). I cut a size 10 (based on the finished measurements, NOT the measurements on the envelope). The size 10 was actually a tiny bit smaller than my measurements so I sewed with a reduced seam allowance at the sides. The pattern uses the side seam allowance to cover the zip – my reduced allowance meant that wasn’t really possible so I just used an invisible zip instead of the standard zip recommended.
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
The automatic buttonhole function on my sewing machine has stopped working recently. How a machine can work perfectly except for the buttonhole function I do not know… It’s the most infuriating fault as it will sew 2-sides of the buttonhole but then stops! I’m planning to take it for a service soon but while waiting I attempted to use press studs on the waistband of these trousers instead of a button. I thought I’d found an easy workaround until the first time I wore them when I found that the press studs popped open every time I bent down! So I borrowed my mom’s sewing machine & attached a nice secure button instead:) Press studs +  waistbands = not a good idea!
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers
Me and Phil have been lucky enough to spend the last few days on holiday with my family in the Lake District. The photos above were taken in the garden at Beatrix Potter’s House and just outside. For those outside the UK who may not know it, the Lake District it is like a storybook version of England – all tiny villages, countryside, slate and stones walls. Basically it’s gorgeous. Obviously it also contains lots of lakes, like Coniston Water pictured below along with some wide trousers billowing in the breeze!
Vintage Simplicity 3688 19040s Trousers