english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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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


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Vintage Postcard Christmas Cards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

While in Paris recently, I picked up a selection of vintage French holiday postcards for €1 each from Marché aux Puces, Saint-Ouen. I made them into Christmas cards for my family by cutting slits in the corners of blank cards (rather messily, with a pair of scissors I might add…) and slotting the postcards in. Super simple:)

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards

Handmade Christmas Cards using Vintage Postcards


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Charm of Magpies Dolores Pocket Skirt

Dolores Pocket Skirt in vintage fabric
I was one of the pattern testers for what will be the first sewing pattern by Ready Ruthie, the Dolores Pocket Skirt. It’s a really cute design, and I’m looking forward to seeing it on sale soon. The skirt fit me without alteration, but I made one due to preference – I cut a big chunk off the bottom for an above-the-knee length as I prefer my skirts short.
Dolores Pocket Skirt in vintage fabric
I really like the piping detail on this pattern and the pockets are nice and roomy. My only pattern testing suggestions were to make some changes to the pattern & instruction PDFs to bring them more inline with the detail provided in other indie patterns. I’m excited to the see the finished pattern once Beth has had time to make any final tweaks.
Dolores Pocket Skirt in vintage fabric
The fabric I used is pretty special. This is the fabric I received from Joy at A Charm of Magpies (hence the name of the skirt) as part of the spring sewing swap. It’s a vintage fabric from Joy’s stash and has a lovely drape and weight.
Dolores Pocket Skirt in vintage fabric
I’m counting this as the sewing portion of my entry for the Outfit-Along hosted by Lladybird and Andi Satterlund. I am hoping to finish my Myrna cardigan as the knitting portion by the end of July deadline, but my Myrna only has one sleeve at the moment so time is looking a bit tight! Oh well you can’t sew/knit along every time!
Dolores Pocket Skirt in vintage fabric


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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


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Vintage Paul Blanche Coat

Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
I wish I made this coat, but it is actually a vintage coat, given to me by my Nan when I was a teenager.
The brand is Paul Blanche. Is anyone familiar with the brand? Surprisingly I can’t find anything online.
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
As kids me and my brother went on holiday each year with our parents and grandparents. One year the house we were staying in happened to have cushions, which I loved, in the same fabric as the coat, so my Nan gave me her coat when we got back home.
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Being a teenager at the time – and given that being a teenager is all about trying to fit in – I didn’t actually wear it. I think probably because it was unusual. Also, the zip was broken (it wasn’t possible to fully undo the zip meaning it couldn’t be worn loose).
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Anyway…. I rediscovered this coat in my parent’s loft a few weeks ago. I quickly replaced the zip and am finally wearing it. Sorry for the delay, coat!
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat
Vintage Paul Blanche Coat


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1940s Spotty Dress

I’ve blogged about this dress previously but didn’t get any decent photos so thought it was worth another post.
Handmade Vintage Dress
This was actually the first item of clothing I made, with the exception of the few things I made during Textiles class at school (I remember an awful fleece hat in particular…). I didn’t make things easy for myself by starting with an original 1940s Marian Martin sewing pattern (9049)!
Sewing Pattern Marian Martin 1940s (9049)
I made this dress while I was still at University studying for my undergraduate degree (BA English) approximately eight years ago, but pretty much never wore it as the original length (ankle length) didn’t really suit me. When I rediscovered the dress in the attic last year I lopped a big chunk off the skirt to get to the current length. Much more my style:)
Handmade Dress from Marian Martin 1940s Sewing Pattern (9049)
This week (spurred on by me made May) I finally got around to tidying up the hem and redoing the buttonholes (which were frankly awful, tut tut Charlotte of 8 years ago). Now I can finally get some wear out of my new-old dress!
Handmade Dress from Marian Martin 1940s Sewing Pattern (9049)
This dress is worn below with my Brigitte Scarf. It was a lovely day but was actually a bit bright so I got Phil to take some photos in the house too, which means you are seeing a few of each!
Handmade Vintage Dress
Handmade Vintage Dress


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Before Breakfast (Afternoon) Blouse

Handmade Afternoon Blouse
I sacrificed a lie-in this morning to get up nice and early and start sewing. I call that dedication after a long week at work! I wanted to get started on an Afternoon Blouse, the new (and first) pattern by Jennifer Lauren. I love Jennifer’s style (I’ve been planning to copy these trousers since she posted about them…) & was very excited when I saw the news of the pattern release. I bought the pattern last weekend but only got as far as cutting out the fabric so was adamant that the cut-out pieces weren’t going to spend any more time lay on the living room floor.
Handmade Afternoon Blouse
I decided that this blouse had to be made from stash fabric since I had a big shop at Barry’s Fabric a couple of weeks ago & am planning to buy fabric during an upcoming trip to Paris over Easter & at the London meet-up in May. This fabric was actually purchased (from Barry’s of course) for an in-progress project which will be blogged soon, but I had just enough left to squeeze an Afternoon Blouse out of what I had left over. It’s a John Kaldor polyester in navy with purple dots. The fabric is actually see-through so I underlined the whole blouse using some navy lining fabric. I also used french seams throughout due to the delicacy of the fabric. I picked the decorative button with this fabric in mind from a local haberdashery in Kings Heath (if you live local pop in, it’s on York Road & the owner is lovely).
Handmade Afternoon Blouse
It’s a lovely pattern and it does come together nice and quick (in my case in a morning rather than an afternoon!). I had this finished in time to head out for lunch with Phil at Le Truc in Birmingham. I must admit I did rather balls up the front facing join and had to unpick and redo it, I probably should have taken a little more care as suggested in the instructions! I’m looking forward to seeing lots more Afternoon Blouses appearing online and to seeing Jennifer Lauren’s next pattern!


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Vintage Fashion at the Herbert Museum

Inspired by Chronically Vintage’s review of 1940s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook, I recently treated myself to an earlier volume in the series 1920s Fashion  and have been admiring the many, many (it has 600 pages) lovely illustrations this week. So I was in the perfect mood to visit the new exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars.

Herbert Art Gallery Flyer

The exhibition displays clothing and accessories from 1900 until the 1950s. It’s only a small exhibition but it contains a nice mixture of outfits, from day dresses and uniforms to evening and wedding dresses. For a number of the outfits information about the owner is displayed alongside. Obviously the evening and wedding dresses are the most exciting:) There are some nice accessories too, including a cloche hat and some very cool shoes – no pictures as they were behind glass.

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars

Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Keeping Up Appearances: Fashion Through Two World Wars