english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Comic Art Sudley Printed with Contrado

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Contrado are a London-based company who offer fabric printing on demand. I talk about my experience designing and printing a fabric with them in my latest vlog, which you can view here:

As mentioned in the vlog, my design was inspired by a comic-print, black and white Prada skirt, which I eyeballed in a shop window. My design features some personal favourite comic characters / artists.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

The design was printed on Contrado’s Crepe de France fabric. The fabric is light/medium weight, with lots of drape.  The image print quality is very high, with even small details printed clearly. The colour didn’t run when I washed the fabric, but I did get some colour/image transfer when I ironed this dress on a high heat (following one wash). The fabric is slightly see-through; I lined the bodice and will wear a slip underneath.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I used my fabric to make a Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress, with the skirt extended to floor length. I thought Sudley would be a good pattern to show off the fabric, due to the lack of fastenings or darts. As in my previous Sudley, I cinched in the waist of the dress by attaching elastic around the waistband.

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

I’m looking forward to wearing this out – although slightly wary about how dirty the hem may be by the time I get home!

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress in Contrado Comic Print

Disclaimer: I was provided with two metres of fabric in exchange for blogging about it, all opinions expressed are my own.


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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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Lesley in John Arbon Merino

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

This is my second project from Home & Away by Hannah Fettig (Knitbot), the Lesley sweater. This pattern is the cover star of Home & Away, and the photos of it included in the book are stunning.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I loved the pattern as soon as I saw it. It’s a great basic which goes with everything. It’s also a straightforward knit, and thanks to the aran weight yarn, knits up really quickly. Kirsten knit her Lesley sweater in one week! I wasn’t that quick, but it didn’t take me much longer.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I received the yarn for my Lesley as a Christmas present from my Mom and Dad, it’s John Arbon Textiles’ organic Falklands Merino. It makes for a lovely soft sweater. I have one skein of yarn (plus a little bit) left over which I might use to make a hat – probably one of the gorgeous hats from the Autumn 2015 issue of Pom Pom. According to the patterns I won’t have quite enough yarn, but I’m going to chance it and see how I get on!

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I’m wearing my sweater here with a Pianissimo scarf (also in a John Arbon yarn! This is Viola in the Fern colourway), and Stork Scissors by Birmingham-based Frilly Industries.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I swatched for this sweater on Christmas day, and would have started knitting but didn’t have the correct size circular needles for the ribbing – bad planning on my part. I went into Birmingham on Boxing Day to buy needles and cast on that evening. I was very happy with House of Fraser who were open and had the needles I needed – and not happy with John Lewis who were closed altogether. How is a person supposed to start their #boxingdaycaston!

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

These photos were taken out-and-about in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade (Gillian, I’m listening! #betterpicturesproject). It’s a beautiful arcade with great indie shops but you wouldn’t really know from these photos as you can’t see much of it – I blame the camera man;) One of the most enjoyable film screenings I ever attended was held in the Great Western Arcade as part of Flatpack Festival (p.s. if you’re local, this year’s festival starts 19th April). It was a screening of Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last!, it took place in March when it should have been warm enough for a screening in the arcade, but that day it was very cold and snowed. Note that the arcade is open to the outdoors at both ends. The organisers were fantastic and provided us each with a blanket and cup of tea, along with popcorn and chocolates. Such a fun evening.

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

I’m finishing up a few small knitting projects currently but looking forward to casting on another sweater/cardigan soon!

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn

Lesley by Hannah Fettig, Knitbot, In John Arbon Aran Yarn


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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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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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Fireplace DIY

While I’m crafting Phil likes to do DIY. This is one of his recent jobs – tiling our dining room fireplace. The surround was in the house when we moved in and I think it’s the original 1930s surround, but I’ve since sanded it down and varnished it. The tiles also appeared to be original but they were dated & cracked so we decided to rip them out & replace them with red and white.

Red and white tiled fireplace

Red and white tiled fireplace

Red and white tiled fireplace