A Simple Long Black Skirt

Pattern: Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 2305

Fabric: Black Viscose from Macculloch Wallis

The days are really drawing in, night creeping in earlier and earlier, the winter moon an almost constant feature in the sky (when it’s not grey with rain). We had the first really cold snap of the year last weekend; frost lacing the fields in white, leaving cheeks rosy and hands and feet numb with the cold. It’s that time of year again when, despite wearing a million and one pairs of socks and boots my feet still turn into blocks of ice. I do love this sort of crisp wintery weather though – sharp blasts outside are rather pleasant and reviving, far preferable to the grey and rain of previous weeks, which seems to have returned for now.

I have this week free from cooking work (after a mad long (long) weekend working at an estate near Perth) to focus on painting work (I really, really need to crack on with some paintings…). The studio is getting pretty chilly; it’s in an empty stable which my dad fixed up and painted white when I moved home, so that I’d have my own space to paint in. As the rest of the building still functions as a stable, storing bales of hay and animal feed I am reluctant to put a heater in as this coupled with the quantities of white spirit and oil paint I use, make it a pretty big fire hazard – I shall shiver rather than take the risk! I’ve taken to working bundled up under layers of old jumpers, wearing fingerless gloves and consuming copious amounts of tea. Very glamorous indeed. Actually, it’s not really so bad; once I’m out working and am in the ‘zone’ I don’t really notice the cold and can spend hours at a time out pottering away. I have two paintings being hung in an exhibition next March, and my terror at not getting the pieces finished and dry in time is a great motivator!

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It’s pretty hard to capture the details on a black garment, but you get the idea – it’s just a simple gathered black skirt.

Anyway, I digress. Both the cold and the wet offer the perfect excuse to settle in late afternoon and sew on into the evening. I have many things planned and a few things started – including a pencil skirt which is really more suited to the summer so my incentive to finish it is waning. I do plan on making a more wintery pencil style skirt soon folowing Named’s Vanamo pattern, using a lovely swirly brocadey fabric from Fabric Godmother.

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I’m in skirt mode at the moment: I made this long black skirt a few weeks ago, over a few evenings. It is an adaption of version 4 of Simplicity’s Cynthia Rowley 2305 pattern; I’ve simply lengthened it to maxi, loosened the gathers and added a gradual bit of width to the side seams as they head towards the hem. I am slightly annoyed by the slight wrinkle at the bottom of the invisible zip – it’s not hugely noticeable when wearing it – which I suppose is the main thing – I’m just aware of it every time I iron the skirt. Oh well! I also omitted the side fastening above the zip, choosing to take the zip right up to the top of the waistband. It creates a cleaner line I think.

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I’ve apparently nodded off in this photo… I much prefer getting photos outside but it’s been a bit grey and rainy so what can you do!

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I’ve wanted a simple long black skirt for a while now (ever since spying someone wearing one ages ago in a coffee shop – I had instant skirt envy); it seemed a pretty handy wardrobe staple which would go with lots of things, all year round, whilst also being feminine – a good antidote to jeans. The black viscose  I used has a lovely drape and weight to it. It’s from Macculloch and Wallis (online) who I don’t think I’ll use again -despite their lovely fabric – due to ridiculous postage and package charges to the Highlands which they added on after I’d completed the order. Anyway, I really love this skirt which sort of compensates for the pricey postage – it pairs so well with so many tops and jumpers, and is really easy to just sling on. I’m thinking of making another one in a deep ruby red colour.

Incidentally, I’m wearing another Inari crop tee in these photos – this time lighter weight and in a gorgeous fabric patterned with astrology signs and maps. 

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Isn’t the astrology fabric lovely! I got it from Mander’s in Glasgow back in March

Hannah x

 

Stripy Crop Tee

Pattern: Named’s Inari Crop Tee

Fabric: Emerald City cotton from Merchant and Mills – I don’t think they stock it online anymore; I bought 2m about a year ago.

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The hem is straight – I think the way I’m standing must have yanked that side up!

It has been a blustery, ‘beginning to feel like winter’ start to the week; heavy grey skies looming overhead punctuated with bursts of brilliant sunshine. After a manic few days at work last week, it’s been nice to have a few days at home just pottering about, catching up on painting work and some sewing.

Ever since moving back home after finishing uni I have been on a bit of a mission to blitz my fairly meh wardrobe and create a closet full of clothes which make me feel good and which are also everyday practical. Four years at art school has (unintentionally but unavoidably) resulted in a wardrobe where 90% of my clothes are paint stained – fine for long days spent in the studio but not, alas, for everyday wear. Unless of course you want to rock that scruffy, I don’t really care vibe, then by all means, paint spatter away (although some of them are beyond even that). Anyway, I’m fed up of a wardrobe full of clothes which I either don’t want to wear, wear to death, or else wear but don’t feel particularly good in. I’m in full on ruthless mode, packing black bags full of clothes I never wear for the local charity shop – wasteful on my part but I hope at least this way they will get a second lease of life with someone who appreciates them more than I do. My long term aim is to have a wardrobe which is largely made up of my own makes with ready to wear kept to a minimum. But we are talking long term – I’ve not given up rtw altogether, just trying to make more conscious decisions about how I buy and wear clothes.

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Basics are key to any wardrobe and I have planned a good stock of tops and tees (rtw and homemade) to hopefully supplement and carry any outfit. As such, I have been busy making a few basic crop tees following Named’s Inari pattern. I’m not going to even pretend to act coy, I am full on in love with this pattern and style; simple and unfussy, with oh so straightforward instructions, I can really focus on getting the finish just right, without having to also worry about getting the fit right. As there are no major concerns over fit – it being a fairly loose, unstructured shape – it is a ridiculously relaxed top to make: I whipped this one up in an evening or two. I even have enough fabric left for another one. The hem is irritating me in the photos – it looks a bit wavy and uneven – I think I must stand weird, it’s straight in real life!

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It’s hard to get a good photo of the sleeve band with all the stripes but you can kind of see it here – I love the way it finishes the sleeve so neatly.

Needless to say, I have many more of these tops planned – this style is set to become a true wardrobe staple.

Hannah x

Inari Tee Dress at Crathes Castle

Autumn is having its last gasp here in the North, with glorious clear sunny days, setting the trees ablaze in vibrant splashes of colour. The whole countryside in fact, is saturated with a final defiant wash of colour, before the more muted (or just downright bleak) browns and greys of winter take over. The nights are drawing in now, which, despite loving the long days of summer, I am rather pleased about – long evenings spent sewing seem more appropriate to dark wintery nights than light summery ones. As such I have several projects on the go at the moment, including a few crop tees (the second version of Named’s Inari pattern) and a pencil skirt. Today’s post however features a simple tee dress I made a wee while back in July, following Named’s Inari Tee dress pattern.

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Heading out to Crathes Castle on Sunday, Scott and I spent a lovely afternoon pottering about the gardens and grounds. The sun was shining  and we had a picnic beside a beautiful castle – what more could you want from a Sunday afternoon?

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Super simple to make I really don’t have a whole lot to say about the construction of this dress – it came together painlessly and totally fuss free, due largely to Named’s clear, straightforward instructions.  I love the simplicity of the style – very unstructured, it’s an easy, pull over the head ‘I’ve sort of made an effort but not really’ look, which I find myself going to again and again. The fabric I used here is from Merchant and Mills – a beautiful lightweight block printed cotton. I really love Merchant and Mills fabric – the website can be dangerous as I find it very hard to resist their lovely printed cottons. I’ve got some lovely blue grey striped fabric, also from Merchant and Mills, which may just end up as another dress like this…

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The walled gardens at Crathes are full of wee winding pathways and arches
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Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire

Hannah x

An Autumn Dress

Autumn is by far my favourite time of year and, although we are perhaps now edging into winter, the countryside still bears the hallmarks of a classic autumnal day: the trees are alight with a whole array of reds and oranges, the countryside heavy with the smell of wood smoke and bonfires, fresh with a nip in the air. Leith Hall in Aberdeenshire – one of my favourite places in the world – is currently looking exactly how I expect autumn to look. I hadn’t been to Leith Hall since before uni and, having spent a lot of time there as a child, I was worried rose tinted spectacles may have set in. They hadn’t – it is as perfectly beautiful and unspoilt as I remembered, especially as we picked a spectacularly clear, sunny day to go. It definitely didn’t feel like October 31st! This dress, made a month or two ago, could have been made for the autumn gardens at Leith Hall – they were the perfect background for photos.


The fabric I used for this dress looks like autumn. I spotted it on the Croftmill website ages ago, where it was described as having a pattern of wildflowers on it of ‘the sort Cathy would run through to meet Heathcliff.’ I was sold (I’m easily pleased). The red makes a lovely backdrop to the creamy beige of the flowers (if they were a tube of paint I’d call them buff titanium) giving it a vintage feel, whilst the busy nature of the pattern meant that I didn’t bother worrying about pattern matching. I wanted to create something fairly free and easy – no fussy details or ties – as I felt that this was most in keeping with my hedgerow inspiration, so I chose the bodice from By Hand London’s Anna dress and the gathered skirt option of Sewaholic’s Cambie dress. I know, done to death and blogged about a million times – this paring is hardly new and inspired but it’s new to me and I’m totally in love. I have a whole series of these dresses planned; my wardrobe will be bursting with them. I made a toile up for the Anna dress and found I needed to take a big chunk out the back – it gaped terribly – so, following the tutorial on Ginger Makes blog (http://gingermakes.com/2013/09/06/by-hand-london-anna-dress-narrow-shoulder-adjustment/), I did the necessary adjustment and it seems fine, although if I’m going to be nit-picky it does gape just a wee bit at the front. Not enough to make a big issue of though, I’m not really that fussed.

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Kicking up leaves – back view

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The gaping at the neckline looks really bad in this photo (perhaps sitting down makes it gape out?) – it’s generally not so noticable/bad in real life!

This dress is going to get such a lot of wear this autumn and on into winter – it’s ideal for layering up and oh so comfy (yet still pretty). After a year of garment sewing I feel that I’m finally beginning to make clothes whose finish I am pleased with and which I’m pretty sure will withstand regular wear and washing.

The gardens at Leith Hall – beautiful in Autumn colours

Hannah x