A Very Forgiving Inari Tee Dress

Pattern: Named Clothings Inari Tee Dress

Fabric: Stripy lightweight denim from John Lewis 

The days between Christmas and New Year are long and lazy, with nothing too much to be hurrying on with, the most pressing part of the day being tackling yet another cheese board and having another crack at the Christmas cake. Whilst much of my working life does revolve around food, at this time of year it is almost completely dedicated to it – in this case eating more than cooking, something which I’m more than happy with. I’ve had just over a week off and am back working on Friday, cooking for a big family party over New Year at an estate not too far from home. The weather for much of this time has been awful, something which I am secretly rather pleased about as it further justifies days spent cosy inside sewing whilst working my way through a box set (currently imagining being somewhere hot with ‘Indian Summers’).

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Kitchen window views last week…

It’s been great to have this time to work away at a couple of sewing projects, including finishing off a pretty dressy dress in a pale yellow cotton and a brocade pencil skirt. I’ve also altered a skirt which I made going on two years ago now – one of my first ever projects – and which was far too big; it now fits perfectly (I’ll get around to blogging about it soon..).imageAs perhaps my most made pattern this year, I couldn’t round off the year without squeezing out anther Inari tee dress. I think I made 5 Inari crop tees in total this year (most unblogged) and so felt it was time to go full dress with it. As a proper stash busting project I used up some stripy super light weight denim which I got from John Lewis a good 2 years ago now.

* I’ve only managed evening photos for this make, snapped quickly on my phone so the light wasn’t great and they’re not the greatest *

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This pattern is already a very relaxed style, using this sort of fabric simply adding to that easy wearing feel. The actual construction of this pattern is so straight forward, the only variation which I took in adding pockets at the side seams. I say it every time I write about one of Named Clothing’s patterns but their instructions are so clear and easy to follow it makes the whole process so straight forward.

I’ve piggy backed one of my favourite Inari crop tees – made in the Autumn – into this post as I love the fabric so much (but didn’t feel it warranted a whole post to itself). I got a metre from M is for Make back in the summer and simply love the colour and pattern – I think it works perfectly with a boxy style top.

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Anyway, that’s all for now – the fire’s been lit, Laurel and Hardy are on and that cake isn’t going to eat itself.

Hannah x

Slouchy Tartan Coat

Pattern: IAM Patterns Artemis Coat

Fabric: Tartan wool from Croftmill, bought last Christmas

This coat was meant to be finished at least a good month ago. I have however been on top procrastinator form and as such have been picking it up and putting it down for ages now. I don’t know if it’s just with the general busyness of this time of year, or just having a lot on my mind lateky, but I’ve been struggling to focus for long on anything, resulting in lots of started and stopped projects, or else almost there but not quite projects. All this coat has needed done for weeks was the sleeves hemmed and bias binding attached to the inside seams. Not big jobs but somehow I never quite got around to them until last week when I forced myself to.

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I really really love this pattern. I love the style of the coat, the shape, the fit, the feel – everything. As my first foray into coat making it’s a very gentle introduction and I couldn’t be more happy with it. The only thing I think I would change is, next time – depending on the fabric – I will line it. The pattern doesn’t call for lining and I’m happy with this one unlined, instead finishing the inside seams with bias binding.

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I’m really pleased with the pattern matching along the centre back seam

The fabric is pretty heavyweight so a lining may be too much – but, for a future lighter weight version, I think I’ll try popping a lining in.

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I’ve been after a jacket like this for a good while now; the fit, shape, style and fabric are completely up my street. Whilst I can appreciate a super sleek fitted tailored ‘hacking’ jacket they’re just not for me; I feel all wrong in them, too held together and formal. And whilst they are undoubtedly very smart and stylish I just feel a bit frumpy/mannish. No, for me is a looser fitting, ideal layering, less formal style. The Artemis coat ticks every box.  Made from six simple pieces – four front and two back – with the sleeves cut as one continuous bit from the main body (hence the slouchy fit at the shoulders) it is a very straightforward make. The most fiddly bit was the two buttonholes, which really weren’t that fiddly at all. I’ve already got another one planned in a beautifully soft grey/black wool from Guthrie and Ghani.

I’ve got a few projects waiting to be finished and blogged – an Elisalex dress, an upcycled skirt, and a top – hopefully before the New Year. Right now I’m cutting out fabric squares and piecing together a quilt in an attempt to get back into the swing of sewing.

Anyway, that’s all for now,

Hannah x

Upcycled Flambards Pencil Skirt

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I must have been about 11 when I first read the Flambards series by K.M. Peyton. I say first, the series has since been read on an almost yearly basis. This was followed by the 1979 TV drama, watched on repeat with my brothers and the children of one of mum’s close friends. I was obsessed; we even had an elaborate game based on Flambards, the point of which I can’t quite remember, but which involved much crawling around the next door hay fields. I won’t bore you with the plot details but think horses, crumbling country houses, pre and post WW1 rural England, family drama, heiresses, a touch of romance, more horses.. and you should have the basic gist of it. Basically my idea of heaven in a book (and in 12 years my taste really hasn’t changed all that much).
There is a sewing related point to this rambling nostalgia. The fabric for this skirt is, in short, Flambards in fabric form, and for this I love it completely and utterly.
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Strictly speaking this skirt isn’t entirely me-made. It started out life as a Joules dress I bought years ago in one of their sales. It was a navy close fitting knee length style with long sleeves and an exposed central back zip, the pattern running around the hemline alone. I loved it immediately and bought it, despite the dress not being in a style I generally wear. As such I wore it all of 2 or 3 times and it has sat in my wardrobe ever since. I do like this style and, when the occasion requires, am more than happy to wear a dress with a simple, close fitting shape. However, as it’s not a style I wear a lot and, as I love the fabric so much, it seemed a shame not to get more use out of it. And so, in a fit of wardrobe blitzing and before I could give myself time to change my mind, I pulled the dress out and chopped it in half.
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Adding front and back darts following the dart placements from the By Hand London Charlotte skirt, I interfaced around the top and created a simple rolled waistband. Using the same central back opening where the dress’ zip had been I added an 8” exposed zip and, voila the skirt was done.
1 evening + 1 under-worn dress = a very wearable short pencil skirt.
And so there we have it; my ode to one of my favourite series of books all wrapped up in a good dose of nostalgia, in the form of a skirt.
Hannah x

Chilly Days Tartan Tunic and some thoughts on the making process

Pattern: Sew Liberated Esme Tunic

Fabric: Tartan Brushed Cotton from
Backstitch (bought ages ago)

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I’ve been on a bit of a stash busting mission lately, using up fabric I’ve had piled up for ages rather than always buying more. (Read:- this is in reality a money saving drive more than anything..) I bought this fabric last year with several makes in mind – a classic shirt, a slouchy cardi-coat, my stand by style boxy tee, a shirt dress… and eventually, last weekend settled on pairing it up with the Sew Liberated Esme Tunic. Despite this being one of the first patterns I ever bought well over two years ago, and despite loving the style of the top, it had never jumped out at me as something which I simply must make right now. I guess that happens sometimes, you buy a pattern, love it completely, but don’t actually want to make it. Well, in this patterns case, it’s position in my pattern pile has risen. I really really love it. So naturally I really really love this top.

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Excuse my dreadful tangly hair – my only excuse is the wind..

It was a breeze to sew up – one of those makes which I got a huge amount of satisfaction out of finishing the seams perfectly, making the innards as beautiful as the outer. And of course the fabric, as can only be expected with brushed cotton, was a delight to work with; soft, smooth, very little fraying… perfect.

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I love the placket detail on this top. The button detail is just that: a detail, with no real buttonholes.
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The sleeve and cuff detail also makes this top the perfect style in my eyes.

However, do you ever find – and this happens with virtually every make I complete – that there is a period, shortly after finishing a piece, when you’re just a bit ‘meh’ about the whole thing. I tend to follow the same pattern with my projects; initial flurry of planning excitement, concentration phase with the cutting and fitting, initial ‘I really love this’ phase as it starts to come together, and then the final it’s finished and I love it but… I’m not so excited about it anymore. Maybe that’s just normal? This top was no different but this sequence of feelings towards a project seemed somehow sharper, more distinct. My feelings towards my paintings are exactly the same – it is in fact an important part of my creative process; being able to look at something with a hyper critical eye helps to give perspective. This I guess is no different with sewing.
I’d be really interested to hear if any fellow sewers feel this way about their makes.

Anyway, I do love this top now and, as the months draw in, getting colder, it’s going to get a lot of wear. I’m not generally big into wearing shirts, but this style is definitely the exception to the rule – perfect for wearing with jeans as a cosy layer when working in my very cold studio.

That’s all for now – I’m off to have a properly cosy Sunday night – bath, pjs and a lit fire = perfection.

Hannah x

Plummy Trousers and another Inari Crop Tee

Pattern: Papercut Pattern’s Guise Trousers // Named Pattern”s Inari Crop Tee

Fabric: Plum coloured suiting fabric from Clothspot (bought ages ago so I can’t remember the details) // Cotton linen mix from Backstitch (again bought ages ago)

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I’ve been planning these trousers for ages now. I even bought the fabric – well over a year ago – with the specific intention of using it for these trousers. It has however, until a rainy day a few weeks ago, languished in my stash waiting for me to pluck up the courage to actually begin making said trousers. I’ve had trousers placed on a bit of a pedestal ever since I began making my own clothes. They always seemed to have an air of complication about them, of tricky fit issues (baggy crotch, saggy bum, too tight legs, too loose legs…), resulting in a garment which would look decidedly homemade. My fears were totally unfounded – I couldn’t have been more wrong and, for a newbie to trouser making, the Guise pattern was the perfect starting place.

I don’t think I have ever made anything paying such close attention to the instructions. I followed them meticulously to the letter. This is also my first foray into Papercut Patterns and their instructions are great – very clear with the illustrations super helpful in steering me through the steps. Such attention has paid off and I love my finished trousers – it is definitely my proudest make to date. (My favourite feature is probably the pockets – the contrast fabric is from a chopped up old top.)

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I love the fabric I’ve used for the pockets – it comes from an old top from Ness which no longer fitted very well.

As someone who generally only wears trousers when I’mworking I’m completely sold on this style. I have already ordered some black fabric to make another pair, and have my eye on a few more trousers patterns. Trousers may no longer just be a practical necessity for me.

I’m wearing another Inari crop tee (definitely one of my favourite patterns), made from a cotton linen mix from Backstitch. I embroidered a very simple design onto the neckline and sleeve cuffs to jazz it up a bit and am very pleased with the result. I think I’ll definitely be making a few more like this!

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It’s been a busy month with cooking work – October is always a month with weeks booked back to back as there are so many people up visiting the Highlands at this time of year, for the last of the fishing, the stalking and school holidays. November is a quieter month as I contemplate what my next steps should be. I’ve reached a bit of a bend in the road, at the last minute changing the
plans for work and the future I had in place just a few weeks ago. And so I’m going to take the next wee while out – to sew and paint and create. To read and think and plan.
And to blog – I’ve a whole lot of makes queued up for posting on here.

Anyway, that’s all for now!
Hannah x

Drop Waist, Funnel Neck Dress

Pattern: Pattern X from the Japanese book ‘Clothing for Everyday Wear’ by Yoshiko Tsukiori

Fabric: Silver Crossweave Irish Linen in icy grey chambray from Merchant and Mills.

I’m finally getting back into a good rhythm with sewing, finding time in the evenings and at weekends to settle down with my sewing machine. As usual I have several projects on the go at once (I like being able to zip between projects (although it does tend to end up with the odd pile up of ideas…)) and am currently working on a pair of plum coloured Guise trousers and a tartan Artemis coat. Besides from a few Inari crop tees and finishing off my dungarees and Lumme pleat skirt, this dress – finished a few weeks ago – is the first thing I’ve made from scratch since getting home from Ballymaloe in July. And I’m so pleased with it!

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I have three of Yoshiko Tsukiori’s pattern books and love them. The photography and styling is lovely and, despite not being hugely into frills and bows (which features in a lot of the styling), I want to make everything. However – despite many evenings spent flicking through the books, planning future makes – I’ve only actually made two smock dress patterns to date.

This particular pattern was top of the to do list and, having traced the pattern out (the faffiest job with these pattern books) ages ago, the actual making of the dress was super simple. Sometimes you just need to make something which involves no fiddly fastenings or zips and no major fitting issues – a simple over the head, pull it on number, made with minimal pattern pieces. This dress fits that bill perfectly.

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It’s exactly my preferred everyday style. There’s a time and a place for super fitted garments but, for me, pottering about in day to day life, my go to clothes tend to be looser fitting, lighter weight pieces – effortless to wear but not scruffy. It’s a fine line I know.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m working at an estate up north at the moment – Autumn has well and truly hit, the trees turning golden and the stags roaring in the hills. It’s all very beautiful. I’m off for a quick walk, then dinner needs prepped – I’m cooking a seasonal plum and marzipan Tarte Tatin for pudding tonight. It’s getting to that time of year when everyone just wants cosy, comforting foods – thick casseroles, flasks of soup and fruity puddings with custard. All the best types of food.

Hope you all have lovely week,
Hannah x

Life After Ballymaloe

This post would more accurately be titled ‘the mad busyness which has been life after Ballymaloe.’ I really didn’t think things through before launching myself back into the real world, becoming some sort of crazed yes lady – ‘shifts in the shop? Sure. A fortnights cooking out west? Yes please. Another 3 weeks in the middle of nowhere? Yes yes yes.’ I feel like I’ve been firing on all cylinders for the past wee while and, as a friend accurately pointed out, I’m not very good at doing nothing; I thrive on busyness. I often wish this wasn’t the case. I fear an inevitable burnout, which generally emerges towards the end of a busy spell, turning me into an emotional, teary wreck. For a short time only, but still. This happened frequently during 3rd and 4th year of University, resulting in messy, semi deranged ‘everything is awful’ bawling.

Anyway, life, if you hadn’t gathered, has been busy. Hence not a lot of sewing is getting done, but on the flip side a lot of cooking is (cooking being my job after all…).

Life post Ballymaloe has seen me return to my private cooking work, cooking for many of my existing clients but also for some new ones. This time of year especially sees a good mix of clients holidaying in Scotland for a variety of reasons, namely fishing, stalking (deer, just to be clear) and shooting. The food they want is varied, making menu planning for each group interesting. A big cooked breakfast everyday is a must – sausages and bacon from the local butcher, eggs – scrambled, poached or fried – black pudding, homemade granola, yoghurt and fresh fruit. Then for lunch maybe a picnic by the river of homemade onion, bacon and blue cheese quiche, cold roast chicken and salad. Or else a filled roll for on the hill, with a flapjack for energy and lots of fruit. Dinner varies from season to season and from group to group – those out on the hill all day want hearty fare; casseroles and soups, big roasts with lots of sides, roulades and tarts for pudding. Others prefer lighter options; salmon with salsa verde, roasted peach and Parma ham salad for starters, little meringues with a raspberry coulis for pudding. It’s always varied, always interesting. I have a stack of cookbooks I carry everywhere with me, the current selection being; Darina Allens ‘Ballymaloe Cookery Course’ (naturally), Claire Ptak’s ‘Violet Bakery Cookbook’ (cinnamon bun recipe to die for in here), Nigel Slater’s ‘A Year of Good Eating’ and Amber Rose’s ‘Love Bake Nourish.’

It’s a good job for now – I enjoy being on the move, but have, of late being feeling restless with it. It can be wearing always working on your own – I miss the buzz and energy that comes from working as part of a team.

And so, booked up until the end of October with cooking work, from November I will be making a few changes (learning to say no and plan ahead better) and settling into more of a balanced rhythm with a new job (which I will talk more about in a future post – it’s still all too new and exciting to write about yet). So still busy, but balanced.

Anyway, that’s more than enough of ramble for now – I’m off to cook dinner.

Hannah x

I Made Dungarees

Pattern: Marilla Walker Roberts Collection Dungarees

Fabric: Lightweight denim from Merchant and Mills 

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I made dungarees. The success of said dungarees is debatable, especially when taken into account the sheer effort it takes to shimmy them up and over my hips. But I made dungarees. When fitting the bodice part I forgot to take into account the fact that it would have to be be able to pull up and over my hips… A crucial error which I discovered too late; remedying it involved much unpicking, re-pinning and discreet application of poppers and buttons. Getting the dungarees on now involves not only extreme body contortions but also an elaborate system of fastenings and buttons. Unique you might say. Anyway, I’ve learnt from my mistake and next time shall be less concerned about the fit around my waist and more about the fit over my hips. It’s all about the hips with these dungarees.

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2 buttons and 3 poppers went into the making of this bib flap fastening… 

I think I’m going to relegate these dungarees to the role of wearable toile – fine for pottering about at home (painting dungars?) but needing a bit of tweaking fit wise before they make the real world cut.

Despite this I am pleased with them and, as much of my spare time is spent pottering, they will most likely still get quite a bit of wear. I actually made them back in April, before heading over to Ballymaloe, so with the benefit of retrospect feel ready to make a new pair, fresh eyes enabling me to view all my mistakes rationally, unclouded by any annoyance.

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A tired but ‘look how happy I am with my dungarees’ face..

Also, on a wee side note – 2 posts in one week! On a role!

Hope you’re all having lovely weeks!

Hannah x

Lumme Pleated Skirt

Pattern: Named Pattern’s Lumme skirt

Fabric: Cotton from Dragonfly Fabrics

Finally, after pretty much an entire summer, I have gotten back into the swing of sewing. Since coming home from my 3 months at Ballymaloe Cookery School it’s all been a bit mad (and it doesn’t look like letting up anytime soon – try November…), so it’s taken a wee bit of time to get back behind the sewing machine.

Between shifts in the tweed shop and private chef work it’s been all go – I can count on one hand the spare days I’ve had. But it’s all good – I’m just back from a week cooking on the North Esk for a group fishing which was lovely. They are regular clients – in fact they were my first ever clients five years ago – and it’s always lovely cooking for familiar faces.

Anyway, despite this I’ve managed to squeeze in some sewing and have a few makes piling up on my blogging to do list – a jacket, a floaty flowery skirt, an embroidered top and this, Named patterns Lumme skirt.

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I’ve had this pattern kicking about for an absolute age but could never quite work out what fabric I wanted to use for it. After much humming and hawing I eventually settled on this cotton from Dragonfly Fabric – a lovely summery feeling fabric ideal for summer.

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The construction of the skirt itself I don’t have much to say about – it was very straightforward thanks, as ever, to Named’s clear instructions.

And to be honest, that’s about all I have to say for now – it’s a great pattern and I will be sure to make it again, perhaps in a heavier weight fabric for winter. I’m all worded out – a busy day serving customers in the shop has drained my chat resources for now.

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Summer has hit Scotland! 

Have a good week (enjoy the sunshine!)

Hannah x

The Last 3 Months

So. The last 3 months. Where did they go?!

The last 3 months have been the most intense, best, most self affirming 3 months of my life. They have been full on – intensely so – emotional, exhausting.. I have eaten more softly whipped cream, bread (oh hello there brioche..) and butter than I ever thought myself capable of. OK, bread is a lie – I always knew I was capable of consuming ridiculous quantities of bread. My liver isn’t quite sure what hit it, my jeans are definitely on the snug side of fitted and I have completely forgotten how to apply make up. I have cried over marshmallows, gotten emotional about salad, eaten my body weight in brioche, made cheese, eaten so much wild garlic, gooseberries and rhubarb my insides surely now resemble them, nurtured and diligently fed a sourdough starter (more commitment than a baby I tell you), helped milk cows, started saying ‘grand,’ ‘thanks a million’ and ‘I can’t cope/deal’ (thanks Sheena)… And of course met the most wonderful, eclectic mix of people and made friends for life.

I have never felt happier nor more confident. This year has been a year of changes; in March I drastically altered the course I thought my life was on, pulling the rug out from under not only my own plans but also my ex boyfriends. I had no new plan for the future – no career path, still living with my folks…

I arrived at Ballymaloe feeling quietly discontent with life, stressing about everything and feeling generally a bit flat. I have left with a renewed sense of purpose, happiness and energy for life. Even my skin is happier – I arrived with irritable, eczema prone skin and have left with the clearest skin I’ve ever had (I’ve got to hand it to Darina, an organic diet and raw milk has worked miracles).

I am excited for the future; I have so many plans to travel, to work… I won’t go into too much daily detail about the course – there are other far better blogs which do that (check out Miriam at bakemystyle.com). But I will say this; if you get the chance to go to Ballymaloe, go. Don’t even hesitate. It is by far the best money I have ever spent. I have learned more than I can comprehend at this moment in time, from teachers whose knowledge, patience and sense of fun is second to none. I have eaten and worked with the best quality organic, local and free range produce and seen first hand the impact using such produce has on both your cooking and your own personal well being. I have left with so many ideas and plans for the future; not just dreams but actual real life plans.

Rory O’Connell (teacher at the school) sums up perfectly the whole ethos of everything I have learned in his book ‘Master It,’ writing: ”To cook well, it helps if you love and value food, as this is where it all starts. I cannot separate the cooking from what I am cooking. I feel bound to do well by the ingredients… By cooking them well I honour the soil, the waters, the air, the planet, the efforts of the farmers, fishermen, producers and purveyors – everyone who got the ingredients to my kitchen.” This is what the school is about and this, fundamentally, is what I have taken home with me; a renewed passion for food and its origins. Roll on whatever life throws at me next.

Granted I now need to sleep for at least a week, but Ballymaloe, you’ve been a blast – thanks a million.

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Hannah x