A Couple of Frocks and a Circle Skirt

Two posts in one week! I thought that, seeing as the last days of 2015 are upon us, I’d do a post featuring a couple of makes I made earlier in the year, pre sewing blog days. Makes I’m pleased with and want to ‘record’ on here, but which I feel I made too long ago to justify a blog post of their own. All of these makes were made for specific events, one a Spring wedding, the other my graduation and the other an art exhibition opening.

Satin Circle Skirt

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Every year the final year painters at Gray’s (School of Art) (where I studied) put on an exhibition in Edinburgh, each showcasing one piece of work as a sort of taster for the final Degree Show in June. I made this skirt for the opening night of our Pre-Degree show at St Margaret’s House in Edinburgh, back in March. Made from crepe back satin from Fabric Godmother, I followed the tutorial on By Hand London’s blog for making a circle skirt, which made working out my sizes/fabric quantities/pattern pieces really simple. The weight and drape of the fabric is lovely, creating a skirt which swished and swirled perfectly.

Vintage Roses Elisalex Dress

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A sneaky peek at my sewing space

This was my first foray into By Hand London’s patterns and the first proper fitted dress I’ve made which is wearable (previous attempts at a fitted dress had resulted in excess bagginess, or, worse, me resembling a sausage stuffed into it’s skin). Despite struggling with the zip – it was ripped out and reinserted several times before I was happy – and the fit at the back where it gapes quite a lot – and which I fixed with a couple of darts – I was, and still am, super happy with this dress. The fabric – a fairly heavyweight cotton – was from Edinburgh Fabrics and is, to my mind, pretty perfect. I love the Granny chic, curtains vibe it has; I feel it is definitely more vintage than frumpy. Just look at those joyous roses splashed across the fabric! My aim is to tackle the gaping at the back neckline for when I make future Elisalex’s – once that’s sorted it will be the perfect dress. I wore this dress to my boyfriend’s uncle’s wedding back in March.

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Pulling a cheeser – the dress in action!

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Black Cambie Dress

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I made this dress in the weeks between degree show ending in June and graduation in July, as a dress to wear to graduation. Complying to the rule about wearing either black or white I bought a couple of metres of some plain black fabric from Croftmill, although I can’t for the life of me remember what it is, but the fabric has a slinky slidy feel to it not unlike crepe (it’s definitely not crepe though). I made a toile before moving on and making the actual dress, which fits like a glove. The main issue I did come across was due entirely to my own stupidity – I couldn’t, no matter how many times I read the instructions, work out how the lining attached. I eventually tried following an online tutorial, and with my mum breaking down the steps, succeeded in inserting it and, you know, once I’d done it I wasn’t sure what I’d got into such a fankle about – it seemed really obvious how to do it. Oh well! Anyway, I wore this dress to graduation and, for the sake of adding a spot of colour to the ensemble, wore my fabulous pair of Ruby Shoo blue flowery heels.

Have a happy new year when it comes!

Hannah x

Daisy Chains in December

Pattern: Inari Crop Tee by Named Patterns and Box Pleat Skirt from the Great British Sewing Bee book ‘Sew Your Own Wardrobe’

Fabric: Inari tee – Green Tea 100% handwoven cotton from Merchant and Mills, Skirt – Linen/Cotton blend in ruby from Backstitch

Christmas has come and gone once again; a lovely relaxed day spent just pottering about at home with immediate family. Having had our (enormous) Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day itself was free of cooking and doing dishes, leaving time for a walk with the dogs and to be really lazy, enjoying presents and lots of ‘nibble’ foods – sausage rolls, cheeses, smoked salmon, Christmas cake…

I love Christmas, but I do rather like settling back into normality once it is all over and having a good sort out and freshen up, before the New Year. I have been busy planning some new sewing ideas for the next wee while, influenced heavily by the Merchant and Mills Workbook, which I got for Christmas. I love in particular their Haremere coat (which I think would be lovely in a heavy-ish tartan wool), as well as the Sandpiper skirt – I’m planning on making a few of those for the summer.

Summer is a fair bit away yet though, so winter sewing is still taking priority at the moment. It has been fairly grey and wet here the past week or so – but very mild – and Sunday proved the first change from that in a while, the skies clear and crisp with a light frost underfoot. Scott and I headed out to the beach at Rosemarkie, on the Black Ilse, on Sunday afternoon for a wee wander and a picnic looking out towards Channery Point. I love being by the sea, there is something very refreshing about the sea air, especially on a cold day. The high tide – with great foaming waves crashing against the beach – was particularly reviving, conducive particularly to rosy cheeks and windswept hair.

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Never one to miss an opportunity, we took the chance to take a few photos of my latest makes – yet another striped Inari tee and a red box pleat skirt, which (and I’m very proud of this part) I painstakingly embroidered by hand. I feel I’ve already said quite enough about the Inari crop tee in previous posts, so, besides from reiterating my love for this pattern, I will ramble on mainly about the skirt. I actually made this skirt over the summer, but cutting it to midi length. However, the fabric – a cotton linen mix – was totally wrong for the light swishy midi skirt I wanted, so a couple of weeks ago I hacked a good couple of inches off the bottom and turned it into a mini. Construction wise I’m not going to bore you with details on what was a pretty simple make; I followed the pattern for a box pleat skirt in the second Great British Sewing Bee book, finishing with French seams. The only change I would make next time would be to take the zip right up to the top of the waistband rather than bothering with a hook and eye fastening. This is just personal preference though and me being fussy.

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The Inari tee is perfectly relaxed and loose fitting.

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I’ve kept the daisies focused on particular areas of the skirt, in clusters, rather than scattered all over the place.

I have been inspired lately to try my hand at embroidery, spurred on in particular by the blog ‘Dottie Angel’ (dottieangel.blogspot.co.uk), which features much beautiful embroidery – or woolly ‘tattoos’ – on coats, hats, scarfs etc, in beautiful floral designs. I’m not therefore going to lie and take all the credit for the idea to embroider a floral design onto this skirt to liven it up a bit. I will however take full credit for the design itself.

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I am particularly pleased with the ‘trailing tendril’ from one side of the skirt to the other, over the hook and eye fastening.

I didn’t draw out a design before beginning and, following a ‘how to’ embroidery guide in an old Molly Makes magazine (Issue 50), I began with a single daisy, allowing the pattern to develop and grow as I worked. Four years of drawing classes at art school has definitely helped here! I’ve used 3 fairly straightforward stitches: French knots for the yellow centre, chain stitch for the green foliage, and super simple straight stitch for the white on the daisies and the leaves.

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It was very relaxing to do; I worked in the evenings, watching tv, and, although my embroidery is by no means perfect – I have a long way to go – I am very pleased with it. I don’t think it looks too homemade (?) – at least not in a bad way – I hope only in a slightly folky sort of way.

 

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The beach at Rosemarkie – looking out to the North Sea

Anyway, that’s all for now!

Hannah x 

 

Map Tunic Dress

Pattern: Simplicity Dotty Angel 1080

Fabric: You Are Here Vintage Map cotton by Art Gallery Fabrics

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Welcome to the wild and blustery north east coast of Scotland! Scott and I took a trip on Saturday out to the beach at St Cyrus for a walk and a blast of fresh air. Despite it being December and hardly beach weather, it was lovely; the beach deserted and peaceful. There is something so reviving about being near the sea don’t you think? When you have places like this right on your doorstep (or in this case right on Scott’s) I find I take it for granted and kind of forget how lucky I am to live where I live. It’s all too easy to allow ‘familiarity to breed contempt’ when it comes to how we consider where we live, the grass always seems greener and all that; so it’s good to have days like today to remind me how lucky I am to live in such an utterly beautiful part of the world. Because isn’t the beach, in the North East of Scotland, in December, utterly beautiful? I think it is. It certainly helped to blast the cobwebs away. 

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It looks a bit rumpled and creased in this photo – sitting in the car followed by a good north east breeze didn’t help! But you get a good idea of the simplicity of the shape in this photo.

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Speaking of beautiful, is this fabric not the most delightful thing? I spotted it whilst idly browsing through m is for make (online), not intending to buy anything, but which, when I spotted it I simply had to have. I had no plan for it at the time (as is often the case when I buy fabric) and it has sat in my stash for a few months now. I really wanted a pretty everyday tunic dress, and, after debating what to do with the fabric (it just didn’t seem right for a dress or a skirt) decided it would be a perfect match for Simplicity’s Dottie Angel pattern 1080. This pattern is a delight; simple clean lines with no zips or buttons, it is a lovely pull over the head, tie at the back dress. I made version B – the tunic length version – which, being short, is actually more of a short dress length on me, which I prefer for this style. It is loose fitting (which I love for a more casual look) and created out of two simple pieces; essentially just the front and back sewn together. Easy peasy! 

I hummed and hawed about lining it and in the end decided not to (purely because I didn’t have any suitable lining in). The pattern doesn’t mention anything about lining and, to be honest, I think that’s fine – I’ll generally be wearing it with thick leggings and the fabric doesn’t seem to ride up quite as bad as it does with tights. 

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The sea breeze is blowing my hair to resemble more and more a rumpled up crows nest. I prefer to describe it as windswept – a look I was totally aiming for.

It always takes me a moment to get my head back into the wording of simplicity’s instructions. After the straight forward chat of independent patterns, the language used by the big pattern names always seems more technical so that I have to read through it a few times. Or maybe that’s just me being a bit slow. I also learned how to make my own bias binding – I love the way it finishes the neckline and armholes. I’d never even used ready made bias binding before so this was a bit of a revelation!

I love this style and pattern so much that, no sooner had I finished this one, I had another cut out – this time in a blue floral fabric with contrast mulberry coloured pockets. Oh hey there new wardrobe staple…

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Wearing my thoroughly cosy and very sensible Icelandic cardi (bought from ASOS marketplace for a steal at £15!)
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Isn’t the sky beautiful!

Hannah x