english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Sewing Projects are Never Really Finished

Simple Sew Grace Dress

As mentioned in my last blog post, I recently repaired this little Simple Sew Grace Dress, and then realised that it no longer fitted me. I decided the dress was worth an attempt to make it bigger, and if that didn’t work I’d admit defeat and it would move into my fabric scraps basket.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I couldn’t gain any ease from the existing seam allowances as I had trimmed and overlocked them very close to the seam line. This is how I’ve always overlocked my projects, and it does give a lovely neat finish, but in future I’m planning to leave larger seam allowances on areas I might want to let out in future. P.S. Gillian has some great tips on sewing for gaining weight on the Sewcialists blog this week.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Luckily, the remnant of fabric left over from making the dress was large enough for me to re-cut the waistband and the back bodice pieces (but not the front bodice). Since the skirt is gathered, it was easy to gain some length there, and I was even able to reuse my existing gathering stitches!

When I made the dress back in 2017, I cut a size 8 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist. Referring back to the pattern I found that my measurements now put me into a size 12. I had cut (as opposed to traced) the pattern when I first made the dress, so I worked out approximately how much width to add to the pattern pieces to cut a size 12 back bodice and waistband. Adding all of the additional ease to the back of the bodice meant that the armholes hung slightly low, so I added two short darts at the front armholes to mitigate this.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I wasn’t sure my fix would work, but I now have a dress which fits me well, if differently than previously. The pattern was designed to have a close fitting bodice and waist, whereas I have some ease (and could probably pop a t-shirt underneath), but if anything it has made it more wearable – especially at the moment, to wear at home or on a walk locally, as in these pictures which we took on our new regular walking route yesterday evening.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

All in all, I’ve now spent quite a bit of time on this simple dress, but it has been fun to successfully rescue a project from my repairs basket, and to problem solve a solution. It’s proof that a sewing project is never really finished.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

There’s still A LOT to work through in my repairs and UFOs baskets. I’m thinking I might tackle my too-small jeans next, but maybe next week!

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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A Dress with Nine Lives

Simple Sew Grace Dress

We’ve been working our way through the house since social distancing began, cleaning and sorting through the contents of all of the drawers and cupboards. Inevitably, I finally reached the baskets containing my UFOs and repairs.

I’m aiming to work my way through the baskets over the next few weeks. I’ve set myself the same goal before, with largely the same contents of the baskets, but with more time at home perhaps I’ll be more successful this attempt? There’s always going to need to be a UFOs basket, but it would be good to empty it and start fresh.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

This dress was the first project I pulled out of the basket. It’s a Simple Sew Grace Dress, which I originally blogged in 2017. I made this dress in a hurry to wear to an event, the fabric frays easily and I was planning to revisit it to stabilise the seams before washing or wearing it again. Unfortunately it accidentally got thrown in the washing machine and emerged with holes along the centre seam.

I carried out a panicky repair job, overlocking everything in sight. In my rush to repair it I did a terrible job of gathering the skirt (which is a bit heavy to gather well), and the waistband was still quite damaged. I wore it a few times (including in those previous blog photos), but then it went it to the repairs basket.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Yesterday I found out a remnant of the fabric I used to sew the dress (which was a gift from Madalynne through a giveaway on her blog), and recut a new waistband. I also regathered and attached the skirt.

It looks so much better now. The only downside is that the dress is now too tight to be comfortable. Partly as a result of me gaining weight since I originally made it, and partly because I was careful to stabilise the waistband this time around, via a combination of underlining and lining.

So, I’ll be revisiting this dress again later today, to see if I can eek out enough ease by reducing the seam allowance at the zip to add this back into my wardrobe this summer.

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

During January, I finished two coat sewing projects which I started one year ago, during the 2018 Christmas holiday. One coat for me, and one coat for Phil. I managed to complete both coats in time for a week’s holiday in New York, which we treated ourselves to last week. The timing felt fitting, since I was originally aiming to finish the coats before a previous trip to New York in March 2019 (which was timed to coincide with Male Pattern Boldness Day). At the time of that trip Phil’s coat had been temporarily abandoned due to fit issues, and my coat was still in pieces, awaiting its construction.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

Both coats were worn daily in (cold) New York last week and I got plenty of photos. I was planning to share one of the coats on the blog today, but, like the construction process, I expect that photo editing (e.g. weeding out the photos where we are pulling weird faces) and blog post writing will take me some time. Rather than wait, I thought I’d share a quick blog post about the most recent knitting project I completed.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

This is Kate Davies’ The Observatory hap pattern. I purchased the kit for this project (which is currently on sale, 50% off) as a gift for my nan, but, after discussing it with my mom, decided that she probably wouldn’t enjoy the combination of lace knitting and lace-weight yarn. I didn’t want the kit to sit in my stash so decided to start it myself a few months later, when my knitting needles were next free.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

The yarn included in the kit (Fyberspates Cumulus in colourway Pearl) is a blend of baby suri alpaca and silk fibre and is the softest yarn I’ve ever worked with. Starting a new ball (the pattern uses 3) was always a treat as each time it felt like unwrapping a tiny cloud. I’m happy to wear fairly coarse yarns against my skin, but there is something very comforting about just how soft this hap is to wear.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

I am not a fast knitter, and I have also been knitting much less frequently recently, so this hap took me a good portion of 2019 to complete. The Shetland lace edge of the shawl (which is knitted first) is of course the time consuming part, with the body of the shawl worked out from the edge relatively quickly afterwards. This definitely feels like a wintery accessory to me so I’m glad that I finished it in plenty of time to wear this winter.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

I probably wouldn’t have picked to make a lace-weight hap if I hadn’t originally intended to give the kit as a gift, but I actually really enjoyed a brief foray into lace knitting and working with the Cumulus yarn. I am a big fan of scarf knitting and have a growing collection, so it’s nice that this is something a bit different. Having said that, I am planning to start another (rectangular) scarf soon, once I have completed my current knitting project, started in New York, the Best Beret.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap Kate Davies The Observatory Hap


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Tilly & the Buttons Indigo

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress

Pattern: Indigo Dress by Tilly and the Buttons

Sewing time taken (excluding cutting out): 5 hours

Fabric: Gifted by Kate at The Sewing Weekender 2017

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress

After a busy week and a rubbish election result, I decided to treat myself to a weekend at home. Apart from a couple of excursions out for sustenance – and to take these photos – I’ve stayed in the house, watched films, and sewn. It’s meant being able to finish a Yates coat for myself and getting back to the blog after a couple of weeks absence.

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress

It was a bit chilly taking these photos in the local park, but I wanted to share my Tilly and the Buttons Indigo Dress – and the hairband I made to match it. I’ve been making good progress through both my unfinished-object pile, and my fabric stash, this year. This fabric was a piece which Kate (of The Fold Line) gifted to me at The Sewing Weekender in 2017, so it was really satisfying to sew with it and to be able to start wearing it at last.

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress

My Indigo is graded between sizes 3 and 4, I made the dress length version and included all of the ruffles (although they aren’t easy to see in the pictures due to the business of the fabric). It’s such an easy and comfortable dress and I’m sure it will get lots of wear once the weather warms up again. I have to credit Joy, Amy & Marie‘s version of the Indigo in particular for tempting me to make my own.

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress

I wear headbands regularly, and decided to have a go at making one to match this dress using my fabric scraps. For the base of my headband I ordered wide plastic headband bases from Petershams Millinery Supplies. To cover the band I cut a rectangular strip of fabric, sewed it up as a tube and secured it around the band with a few stitches. I then made two more rectangular tubes, and attached them on top of the band to form a bow. It’s a really cheap and easy way to make a matching accessory and uses very little fabric. I’ll definitely be making more.

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress

Now that my Yates coat is finished my next (sewing) priority is finishing a Carlton Coat for Phil which I started last year, and a dress for me to wear on Christmas Day which I cut out two years ago. If I can get those projects completed I will be starting 2020 with a very healthy (i.e. small) unfinished-objects basket, and loads of plans for working through more of my fabric stash in the new year. But first I’m going to go back to a weekend of films and relaxing on the sofa beside the Christmas tree.

Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress Tilly & the Buttons Indigo Dress


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Constellation Double Gauze Myosotis

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

I’m finally blogging my Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress which I made back in April, ready to wear for the Paris Sewcial / Paris Coud meet-up.

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

I loved the Myosotis pattern when it was released, but it was when I saw the fabric that the idea of this dress got lodged in my brain and wouldn’t leave me in peace until it was realised. The fabric is a double gauze by the Japanese brand Kokka, and is embroidered with astrological designs. I originally saw the fabric on Guthrie & Ghani’s instagram feed in an alternative colourway, but by the time I had bitten the bullet and made the decision to order it they were out of stock. It was relatively difficult to track down, but I found this white colourway available from Miss Matatabi and put in an order quick before they ran out too. With the dress already fully formed in my mind, I picked out matching pearlescent buttons during Male Pattern Boldness Day in New York in March.

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

I made View A, with all possible ruffles, in size 34/36 (grading between sizes at the waist). As per my last blog post, I was clearly inspired by / copied the product image for version A, which is also made in a white cotton fabric. During construction I should have taken more care to stabilise my fabric on the long curved front bodice pieces, because when I initially got to the point of sewing the bodice together I found that the delicate double gauze fabric had stretched and the bodice wouldn’t lie flat. Luckily I had enough fabric left to recut the bodice, and second time around I underlined the bodice pieces in a plain white cotton, making the bodice much more stable, easier to sew and opaque.

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

A white cotton Myosotis might seem destined for spring and summer, but I think it looks suitably autumnal in these pictures, paired with some wintery tights, boots and a hat. As it happens, these photos were actually taken during the summer, in June, while on a family holiday to the Peak District. I packed a suitcase full of new summery me-made garments having not checked the weather forecast, and spent the whole week pairing them with boots and a coat.

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

With the three sewing events I’ve been involved in organising this year (Paris Sewcial, The Sewing Weekender, and SewBrum) over for another year (at least) I’m hoping to catch-up with posting a few other sewing and knitting projects from this year which are yet to make it to the blog. I’ve also set myself the goal of knitting a Halloween-themed jumper before the end of the month (wish me luck, I knit multiple gauge swatches, none of which were right, and in the end just went with the recommended needle size). After that it will be time to think about Christmas present making – and finishing the coat for Phil which I started last winter and abandoned in March!

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress in Kokka Double Gauze


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Woven Kielo

Named Kielo Wrap Dress in Cotton Sateen from Minerva Crafts

I’ve had more time to sew recently as a result of both having a more relaxed job, and Phil starting an online undergraduate degree (in computer science) which is keeping him busy most evenings. Once Phil is settled down to study I’m turning to my sewing projects in the evenings much more often than I have previously, as opposed to watching Father Ted/Red Dwarf/Blackadder on repeat, which is what usually happens when we both have a free evening.

Named Kielo Wrap Dress in Cotton Sateen from Minerva Crafts

With my additional sewing time, I’ve made some of those new release patterns which take the sewing community by storm and have to be started immediately, and I’ve also made some of those patterns which have been on my to-sew list for years, including the Kielo wrap dress which has been on my list since it was first released back in 2014.

Named Kielo Wrap Dress in Cotton Sateen from Minerva Crafts

The particular motivation to get on with finally trying out the Kielo pattern was the offer of this cream and black Stretch Cotton Sateen Fabric from Minerva Crafts as part of their Maker Team. I remember the launch of their Blogger Network well so it was fun to contribute my first post, which is now live here. I actually managed to write about the construction of the dress, rather than my normal blog waffling (as evidenced here), so check out the MC blog for actual construction details.

Named Kielo Wrap Dress in Cotton Sateen from Minerva Crafts

The fabric is a medium weight woven which emphasises the silhouette of the Kielo in a way I really like, although it needs a short jacket in cooler weather as paired with a longer one the silhouette looks a bit frumpy. After waiting 5 years to try the Kielo (and given that it took all of two evenings to sew) I think that another version at least is called for, and I’m keen to try the pattern in a lightweight knit for a different silhouette. I cut a straight size 10, reduced the length (by 9 inches) and consequently increased the height of the vent.

Named Kielo Wrap Dress in Cotton Sateen from Minerva Crafts

These photos were taken during a recent trip to London after Phil won two free tickets to see The Who at Wembly Stadium! I’m well aware of the many ways I am lucky, but lately I’ve been lucky in the competition-winning sense. Long may it continue!

Named Kielo Wrap Dress in Cotton Sateen from Minerva Crafts


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Starry Sirocco Jumpsuit

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ve been getting lots of time for sewing recently, which means I have been trying patterns quite soon after their release rather than a year or so later, as is my usual habit.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

That includes having sewn two Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuits since the release of the pattern in April. The jumpsuit pictured is my second Sirocco. I made both my Siroccos in fabric purchased during the Paris Sewcial meet-up from Bennytex fabric warehouse on the outskirts of Paris.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I made the first Sirocco in a lightweight grey knit fabric grading between sizes 38/40. After a couple of wears I decided that the crotch was too low for me to be comfortable wearing the jumpsuit, so for my second version I still cut a size 38/40 except for the seams at the top of the trousers and bottom of the bodice, where I graded down to size 34 (the smallest size in the pattern). This worked perfectly to raise the crotch without impacting the construction of the pattern (including attaching the pockets to the trousers at the waist seam which I was worried would be affected by a more major alteration). I want to go back and make the same alteration to my original Sirocco in time to get lots of wear out of it this summer.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

This second version was made in a medium weight knit fabric with a gold stars print. This is a sweat-shirting-type fabric, with a soft wrong-side. I really like this jumpsuit in a slightly weightier fabric, and I’m loving white clothes this summer. I suspect this fabric might get marked or start pilling relatively quickly, but I’m going to make the most of wearing it for as long as I can.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

These pictures are a mixture of photos taken in our local park, and pictures taken during a family holiday to Derbyshire, including to visit a nearby well dressing in Cressbrook, inspired by a visit by Karen a few days before.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I always associate holidays with taking lots of nice blog photos. I filled my suitcase with summery clothes I wanted to photograph – and then it was wet and cold all week. We still managed some nice pictures between showers, and the summery outfits worked out fine for exploring Derbyshire paired with some boots, a jacket and an umbrella. We even managed a brief dip in the outside pool in Hathersage while we were there.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit

I’ll leave you with the obligatory jumping in a jumpsuit picture as I return to binge watching series 17 of Project Runway with a final cup of tea before bed.

Deer and Doe Sirocco Jumpsuit


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Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

Last Summer, I attended a brioche class with Renée Callahan of East London Knit at Yarningham, a Birmingham-based yarn festival. After the class, before I could forget everything I had learned about brioche knitting, I started this Brioche Twister Scarf, a free pattern for signing up to Renee’s newsletter.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

Satisfyingly this pattern only requires two skeins of (DK) yarn. Unlike fabric, I don’t tend to buy yarn without a specific pattern in mind, but I had two skeins of spur-of-the-moment purchase yarn in my stash, which were perfect for this pattern. I’m sure you must have some of those too.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

The two yarns I used were both British and from small independents. A skein of Daughter of a Shepherd’s Hebridean & Zwartbles DK, which I purchased direct from Rachel at Yarnporium, and a skein of Harcourt Rare Breeds‘ Leicester Longwool, which I purchased direct from the farm when I visited with my Guild. I believe the Harcourt Rare Breeds’ yarns are hand-spun by local spinners. The combination of yarns makes for a very warm and snuggly scarf.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

I finished knitting this scarf last September, then put it aside for a couple of months until a holiday to Paris and Rome during November, when it was finally cold enough to start wearing it, and where these photos were taken. It’s gotten lots of wear since during my commute to and from work.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

I really enjoy making scarves as they don’t take too long to knit, there’s no worry about fit, and they are easy to throw on in the morning, so they tend to get worn more than other knitted items. I was planning to knit a second Brioche Twister Scarf as a gift, but, having taken a break from brioche, I returned to find I’d forgotten the technique and kept making mistakes! I might be too late for this winter, but at some point I’m definitely going to knit this pattern again in a different combination of yarns and colours.

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf

East London Knit's Brioche Twister Scarf


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Resurrected Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

This is the Simple Sew Patterns Grace Dress, which was a freebie with a previous issue of Love Sewing Magazine.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I’m currently very fond of this dress for a few reasons. Firstly, I made it using a yellow and white cotton/polyester brocade which I won in a little giveaway on Madalynne’s blog. The piece I won was leftover from an adorable two piece set Madalynne made, and which she recently revised in a blog post.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Secondly, I made it especially for a fun little overnight trip to London some months back, and wore it out to party. In typical fashion, I decided to make it for the trip at the last minute, and – from memory – sewed it mostly in one evening. Which leads me on to…

Cannon Hill Park

Thirdly, this dress was brought back from the brink, and given a second chance to live a fulfilling garmenty life. I didn’t realise until I had almost finished making this dress, that the fabric is quite delicate and frays significantly. My overlocker happened to be playing up at the time, and I was attempting to finish it quick to wear out, so I make the decision to wear it out and that afterwards I would hand wash it and overlock the seams.

That plan would have been fine, however I didn’t let Phil in on it, and he threw the dress in the washing machine. My poor dress emerged from the machine ripped in a number of places along both sides of the waistband.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I allowed sufficient time to sulk, then went back, unpicked the zip and bodice lining, and overlocked the bodice and skirt to the waistband. During the surgery I was attempting to lose as little fabric as possible, which has left the waistband somewhat wonky, and messed up the skirt gathers, but it’s meant this dress has made it past it’s first wear!

Simple Sew Grace Dress

I get a bit of gaping at the front of the armholes which I’ll need to address if making it again, but this is a cute simple party dress, and works really well in a stiffer fabric like this brocade.

It’s pictured in a couple of these photos with a new favourite lace cardigan from People Tree, in 100% cotton, hand knitted in Nepal.

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress

Simple Sew Grace Dress


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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.