english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Floral Velvet Wedding M7154

M7154 in Floral Velvet

So here’s a dress that was long in the planning! Two years ago, my brother James announced his wedding. Not long before that, McCall’s had released M7154, a 1930s reproduction pattern. I loved M7154 on release and when the wedding was announced thought it was the perfect excuse to try the pattern.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Despite having two years advance warning (and the pattern in a drawer for that time), I, of course, waited until a few weeks before the wedding to make a start on my dress. I actually did the majority of the sewing in the week before the wedding, in the evenings after work. I finished the hem of the dress on the morning of the wedding, along with finishing touches to a wedding jacket for my brother and his wife’s dog, Rupert… I was staying at the venue, and had my bedroom set up as a sewing room, with machine and sewing supplies spread across the dressing table.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

The wedding venue was a fort on the Cornish coast, which you can spy in the background of my photos. It was a beautiful wedding and we had a lovely weekend, and even decent weather for February – with the exception of during the official photos, when it poured!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

My fabric is a floral velvet purchased from Barry’s Fabric. Barry’s have a small rack (near the till) which contains a selection of fabrics which are kept out back (mainly velvet and fake fur), presumably due to a combination of price and the space the bolts take up.

Phil was wearing a purple suit to the wedding, so I started off attempting to buy a purple or pink velvet for my dress. However, due to needing five metres, available options were limited – I had the staff in Barry’s back and forth checking pretty much every velvet on the rack… I love the fabric I did come away with though – and I have a little left to make something more casual, given the impracticality of this dress.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

I’m not a toile-girl, so I went straight into making the pattern ‘for real’, and adjusted as I went. I made quite a few adjustments to better fit the dress for my body, and to tweak the design:

  • The pattern has you continue the zip from the back of the skirt up to the top off the dress along the bodice lining. Based on the bodice construction, I could see this being fiddly, and I didn’t want the lining to be visible at the bodice back. Instead, I finished the zip at the skirt waistband and added a hook and eye at the waistband, as well as at the top of the bodice (as per the pattern);
  • Initially the bodice hung very low. I raised it by unpicking the bodice at the shoulder seams and trimming off approximately 2 inches from each of the four straps.
  • The bodice is intended to hang over the skirt, but I had a lot of excess fabric at the bodice back, which hung awkwardly. I suspect this was partially due to using a heavier-weight fabric than recommended. I unpicked the bodice back from the skirt as far as the side seams and reduced the bodice length – pinning and eyeballing until it looked right;
  • I cut approximately 4 inches off the length at the skirt hem.

I also found the instructions for sewing the neckline to the bodice at the front and shoulders unnecessary fiddly, and would recommend following your own common sense on those sections.

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

Photos of what you really want to see from the wedding, Rupert’s dog jacket, to follow!

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet

M7154 in Floral Velvet


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V2401 for the Big Vintage Sew-along

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

I’m very excited to be sharing my contribution to the Big Vintage Sew-along blogger tour today. Are you taking part? McCall’s have selected twenty McCall’s/Vogue/Butterick vintage patterns, and are donating money from the sale of those patterns to The Eve Appeal gynaecological cancer charity. There’s also a series of events taking place, including an afternoon tea at the Knitting & Stitching Show in October.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

The pattern I chose to sew for the blog tour is Vogue 2401, which (as you can probably tell from the silhouette) is a 1950s’ pattern. I decided on 2401 as I thought it had an unusual (coat dress like) silhouette, and I loved the line drawings (although not the modelled product photo – which is rather naff). I made Version A, the only difference between versions being the sleeve length.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

Inspired by the coat dress look, I chose to use a medium-weight fabric. I ordered lots of swatches and took ages making up my mind, but finally decided on this Black and White Graffiti Sateen from The Splendid Stitch. The fabric handled beautifully; I unpicked and re-sewed the bodice multiple times and the fabric handled it like a champ and didn’t fray.

A medium-weight fabric was a good match for the full skirt and structured collar. The only section which would have worked better in a lighter weight fabric are the ties at the front – I’ve tied them in a double knot as otherwise the ends stick up and look a bit unruly. I actually think the tie sections (which wrap from the side of the bodice to the front of the dress) would look great in a contrast fabric – so a lighter-weight, contrast fabric would be perfect for those two pattern pieces. I also think this pattern might work really well in a structured knit fabric.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

Some of the design details of this pattern are obscured by my fabric choice, and I’m not sure they are particularly obvious from the (quite long) description on the pattern envelope. This is a wrap dress; the dress is tight fitting (there are a lot of darts!) on the arms and top of the bodice, but then opens up with a slit along the sides of the bodice (covered by the bodice wrap section) and the skirt. The skirt is constructed separately from the bodice in multiple panels, with the back/side skirt panels overlapping the front skirt panel. The skirt suffers from a common wrap-dress issue; the skirt panels don’t overlap by very much. I wore this dress on it’s first outing to the park (Cannon Hill Park, a local favourite) to take these photos and I was flashing quite a bit of leg. I’m planning to either secure the panels to one another or add some additional width to the skirt to address this, otherwise every time I wear it I’ll be constantly checking and adjusting the skirt.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

I fall between a 10-12 on the pattern sizing chart; because the paper pattern contains a subset of sizes (e.g. 6-10, or 12-16, etc.), I actually fall between two separate paper patterns. I went with the smaller size (to match my bust measurement), and then roughly graded out at the waist / hips. However, with this dress you actually only need to worry about your bust measurement, as the wrap provides ease at the waist and hips.

One thing to note – because this dress is very fitted at the arms and upper body, I actually found that to get it on/off, I really needed to drop/lift it over my head with arms raised, rather than putting it on one arm at a time. As such, it’s one of those dresses that is much easier to put on with assistance!

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

The bodice has quite an unusual construction method, which reminded me how accustomed I have become to detailed (indie pattern) instructions. I spent ages puzzling over (and repeating) one step, but I think the step which tripped me up is actually very simple. For anyone else sewing the dress, at the final step on Page 2 of the instructions (attaching the front and side front bodice), I believe that the correct construction requires you to cut into the front bodice up to the marker. However, because the instructions don’t explicitly state this, I tried various alternative methods to make the pieces match up.

The only changes I made were to skip the inside belt, which I didn’t think would add much, and interfacing, which the weight of my fabric made unnecessary.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

I’m hoping to try a few more patterns from the Big Vintage Sew-along selection before the end of the year. I already have 1940s pattern B5209 cut-out ready to sew, and I’m planning to make 1930s pattern McCalls 7154 to wear to my brother’s wedding in February next year.

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

V2401 Vogue Big Vintage Sewalong Dress

Next up on the blogger tour is the lovely Gabby in one week’s time! The previous projects on the blog tour are all pictured here, and the following bloggers are still to come:

26/08/16   Gabby at Gabberdashery
02/09/16   Rachel at House of Pinheiro
09/09/16   Elena at Randomly Happy
16/09/16   Wendy at Butterick
23/09/16   Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time
30/09/16   Rachel at The Fold Line


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The Big Vintage Sew-along

Fabric Swatches

I was delighted to be asked to participate as a blogger in the Big Vintage Sew-along, hosted by the McCall Pattern Company.

As part of a year-long event, 20 patterns have been selected from the Vintage Vogue, Retro Butterick and McCalls Archive pattern lines. Proceeds from the sales of those 20 patterns will go to the Eve Appeal, a charity which funds research into gynaecological cancers. The official website for the sew-along is here, and the Fold Line have posted a round up of the event and bloggers taking part.

I’m not revealing which pattern I’ve selected until I blog my project on 19th August, but I thought I’d show you the fabric I’ve picked.

I don’t normally have much trouble choosing fabric! But for this project, I ordered lots of swatches and took ages making up my mind. I finally decided on this Black and White Graffiti Sateen from The Splendid Stitch. It’s washed and ready to cut, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the pattern looks in it – fingers crossed that I do right by pattern and fabric!

Fabric Swatches

From the Splendid Stitch, I also considered this Black Damask, and Matchsticks Poly Stretch Crepe which I love but thought would be a bit lightweight for the pattern. (P.S. you can get 20% off your first order at the Splendid Stitch with code 1W1N-JL5H-J963 until 17th July).

Fabric Swatches

I had originally planned to order this lovely textured Tottorri Cross fabric from Merchant & Mills for my Big Vintage Sew-along project, but it sold out before I ordered! If anyone sees it back in stock let me know as I’d love to try sewing with it.

Fabric Swatches

From Merchant & Mills, I also considered (and love) the Scarlet and Blackwatch linens. The Blackwatch is 100% Irish linen.

Fabric Swatches

Fabric Swatches

From the Draper’s Daughter, I love the Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Woven Spot. I decided it wasn’t quite right for my Big Vintage Sew-along project, but I definitely fancy ordering some for a different pattern (I’m thinking, perhaps, a dungaree dress).

Fabric Swatches

And finally, from Offset Warehouse I considered the Navy Blue Handwoven Ikat and Tyulipa Organic Hand Block Print. For this project, I was wary about the directional pattern in the ikat, and the weight of the tulip print – but again I love both fabrics for other projects.

Fabric Swatches

The full list of bloggers taking part is below (with thanks to Jane, who had already pulled this together). I’ve loved seeing the projects posted so far and hope you have too.

Blog Tour
11/03/16   Katie at What Katie Sews
25/03/16   Portia at Makery
08/04/16   Kate at The Fold Line
15/04/16   Amy at Almond Rock
29/04/16   Elisalex at By Hand London
13/05/16   Jane at Handmade Jane
27/05/16   Jennifer at The Gingerthread Girl
10/06/16   Lisa at Sew Over It 
24/06/16   Janene at ooobop
08/07/16   Marie at A Stitching Odyssey
15/07/16   Kerry at Kestrel Makes
22/07/16   Fiona at Diary of a Chainstitcher
29/07/16   Karen at Did You Make That?
05/08/16   Laura at Sew for Victory
12/08/16   Nina at ThumbleNina
19/08/16   Charlotte at English Girl at Home
26/08/16   Gabby at Living on a Shoestring
02/09/16   Rachel at House of Pinheiro
09/09/16   Elena at Randomly Happy
16/09/16   Wendy at Butterick
23/09/16   Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time
30/09/16   Rachel at The Fold Line


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Mustard Crepe Joan Dress, Plus Giveaway

Sew Over It Joan Dress in Mustard Crepe

I was really thrilled to be asked by Sew Over It to help pattern test their new pattern the Joan Dress. The version shown here was made using the test version of the pattern. I graded between an 8 at the bust, and 10 at the waist and hips.

Sew Over It Joan Dress in Mustard Crepe

The design is a vintage-inspired wiggle dress, named after Mad Men bad ass, Joan. I don’t regularly sew vintage or vintage inspired patterns, but I love them! The very first garment I made, outside of school, was a vintage dress. I do however sew lots of indie patterns, so a vintage-inspired indie pattern is perfect for me:)

I have a bad habit to rush through sewing projects, so I really enjoyed that this dress encourages slow sewing. Not only because it is lined, but also because it includes lots of lovely details, including that adorable collar and six darts. There is also some hand sewing involved, which I know not everyone enjoys, but I do as it allows me to sew while sat on the sofa with Phil of an evening. Much more social than sewing alone at my machine.

Sew Over It Joan Dress in Mustard Crepe

This was my very first time sewing a kick pleat, and I actually made a dumb mistake when I first ‘finished’ making the dress – I sewed the kick pleat on the outside. Alex at Sew Over It pointed me to their kick pleat tutorial which I found really helpful and would recommend as a general guide to sewing a kick pleat for any pattern. It looks much neater sewn on the inside;p

The lovely big kick pleat means that this dress is actually pretty practical despite being fitted, although I do need help with the top of the zip as I can’t quite reach up with the dress on.

Sew Over It Joan Dress in Mustard Crepe

I made the dress in a Mustard Crepe supplied by Sew Over It. The fabric has a beautiful colour, weight and drape.The colour is most accurately represented in the photo below. I couldn’t bear waiting until the weekend to get some photos and blog about the dress, but sadly it’s already dull by the time I get home from work now, so the other photos are slightly washed out. The dress is lined with a nude rayon, which worked really well as it doesn’t show through at all (a darker lining would). I fancy trying the dress is a wool next. I love that the Sew Over It website allows you to search suitable fabric for each of their patterns, and they have some lovely wool fabrics suggested for the Joan Dress.

Sew Over It Joan Dress in Mustard Crepe

Lovely as this crepe is, it was a trickier sew than making the dress in a wool as it shows every crease, and easing the sleeves in was fiddly. I redid the sleeve heads and I still have some puckers!

Sew Over It Joan Dress in Mustard Crepe

Now for the giveaway!

Giveaway now closed

Sew Over It have provided an extra copy of the paper pattern to give away! All you need to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post. Let me know your all time favourite TV show for beautiful clothing – is it Mad Men, or do you have another favourite? Twin Peaks is a favourite of mine, Audrey always looks superb. The giveaway is open internationally and please make sure to include your email address in your comment if it is not easily available in your profile. The giveaway is open until midnight on Monday 05th October, after which I’ll randomly pick a winner and announce it on the blog.

Giveaway now closed


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Vintage Knitting Spam

Vintage Knitting Pattern & Sewing Notions

A lazy post this evening, while watching some Orange is the New Black (and possibly Revenge of the Nerds). I picked up these vintage knitting patterns at a recent meeting of my Weavers, Spinners and Dyers guild. The sewing notions included in a couple of photos are courtesy of Maddie; I won them in a giveaway on her blog.

It’s dubious whether I’ll ever knit these patterns – I have a substantial Ravelry queue and am continually distracted by the newest indie release – but they are sooo nice to look at.

Vintage Knitting Pattern & Sewing Notions

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

Vintage Knitting Pattern

And after all that glamour, here’s one pattern that’s not so glamorous…

Vintage Knitting Pattern


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Barbie – Sewing Blogger

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

The library at the university where I work has some interesting books. My especially random find of last week was Barbie Fashion by Sarah Sink Eames, a pictorial catalogue of all Barbie outfit packs made between 1959-1967. Obviously, it was immediately checked out.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

A quick look at Barbie’s wardrobe from the 60s suggests she’d fit in pretty well in the sewing blogosphere.

She’s already made up a Rigel Bomber for Jacket January.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Inspired by Lauren, she’s made up Vogue 1419 in red wool.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

She’s joined in with the Ginger jeans making spree, finishing with some lovely top stitching.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

She sewed up an amazing ensemble for Oonapalooza.

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

She’s even purchased a copy of the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie and may have gotten a bit carried away…

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Yep, Barbie would make a pretty impressive sewing blogger.

I’ve run out of comparisons, but do enjoy some more adorable outfits from the book!

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames

Images from Barbie Fashion, Sarah Eames


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The Glamorous 30s Exhibition, Brussels

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

While visiting Brussels during November, me and Phil visited the Glamorous 30s exhibition at the Costume and Lace Museum. As suggested by the title, the exhibition focuses mainly on glamorous women’s clothing – evening gowns, day dresses, underwear, swimwear and accessories. A small selection of children’s clothing is also included. The museum has a permanent collection of lace – a small selection of which is also permanently on view.

I especially loved the lounge and bed wear as it’s so pretty. I really fancy a pink padded house jacket now! A lot more glamorous than what I normally wear around the house.

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Chanel dress

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Modern dress inspired by the 1930s

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo
Hand-painted dress

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

The museum has a small children’s dress-up section where I tried on all the hats!

Museum of Costume & Lace Brussels, Glamour 30’s Fashion expo

Another favourite museum from our trip to Brussels was the Belgian Comic Strip Centre, where I got to visit a Smurf house!

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

We also tracked down quite a few of the comic inspired graffiti pieces around the city.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Finally, I’ll leave you with this cutie.

Brussels, Belgium