Art Deco Needle Cord Skirt

Fabric: Libre Needlecord in olive from Fabric Godmother

Pattern: By Hand London’s Charlotte Skirt

February seems to have decided to end on a high note with beautiful clear sunny days (albeit also very cold). Dare I say that it’s even beginning to feel a bit Spring like with snowdrops out and crocuses pushing through. As I think most people are, I’m heartily sick of winter, so this little glimpse of Spring and brighter months to come is most welcome. It’s been a busy old few weeks – I’ve been working in a tweed shop, which fits in nicely around my private cooking work, and I’ve also been finishing off two paintings which are being exhibited in Edinburgh in March. We delivered the paintings on Monday so now the countdown has properly started for the opening night this coming Friday (to which I will be wearing a me-made skirt..).

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Home is kind of beautiful! Early spring sunshine this week.

I made this particular skirt a couple of weeks ago, using fabric I bought a couple of months back from Fabric Godmother. You would be forgiven for thinking that such fabric is really quite ugly – I understand – I can see were you’d be coming from. Olive green and beige matched with an Art Deco style print on needlecord fabric is hardly everyone’s idea of a beautiful print, but, on this, and in this fabrics case, I beg to differ. For is it not simply lovely!

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Excuse the wavy looking waistband – it’s straight in real life without a jumper hastily tucked in! 
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Just look at that glorious print!

I love the pattern and colour of it and, while I concede a dress would probably have been a bit much, as a skirt, and specifically a short pencil skirt, it is perfect. Incidentally, my mum has bought two metres of the mocha colourway to make a dress and it is entirely suited to this; once the green is removed from the equation it really becomes rather lovely dress (as well as skirt) fabric.

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This is my second Charlotte skirt (the first is unblogged) and, once again, the fit is exactly how I want it to be, straight from the pattern pieces, no tweaking required. The only variation I took from BHL’s directions was to skip out the hook and eye fastening at the top of the waistband and instead attach the waistband before the zip, bringing the zip right up to the top of the waistband. I think it gives a cleaner line (besides attaching hook and eye fastenings neatly aren’t my strongest point). As well as the fit, I am most pleased with the flawless (if I do say so myself) pattern matching I’ve achieved below the zip. This was not without much painstaking pattern placement, cutting and measuring, but I have to admit, it’s so worth it. It would have looked completely wrong had it not matched up. I’ve been less particular about matching the sides seams – besides ensuring that the lines sort of kind of match and run right round the skirt – it seems kind of impossible to match precisely the curved seams of a pencil skirt. That’s at least my excuse because looking at this photo I’ve not even done that great a job of running the lines round evenly.. Oh well!

I’ve already worn this skirt quite a lot – to work as well as just generally out and about, dressed down with a slouchy jumper. I really love the softness of the needle cord and foresee many more similar such skirts.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now!

Hannah x

 

 

Arty Painters Tunic Dress

Fabric: Cotton Chambray from Merchant and Mills

Pattern: Dress with front tuck from ‘Happy Homemade Sew Chic’ by Yoshiko Tsukiori

I have to confess; this is not a new make, merely a rediscovered one. One that has been shoved, out of sight out of mind, totally forgotten about under a pile of fabric scraps, toile fabric and UFOs… What can I say? I don’t remember hating this dress on making it way back in June but I can’t have been that taken with it for it to end up in such a pile rather than hanging, proudly, in my wardrobe. Who knows? June last year is a bit of a haze of finishing uni, degree show prep, late night studio times.. who knows what I was thinking!

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Pockets perfect for stashing all sorts of things!

Anyway, the dress has been rescued and you know what? I love it. It is the first garment I ever used French seams on so, on reinspection, I was pretty pleased with what I’d done; all it needed was a few tidy up stitches here and there and a good ironing and, hey presto, it is now hanging proud of place in my wardrobe as the ideal comfy everyday dress. The pattern is from a Japanese pattern book I bought ages ago, by Yoshiko Tsukiori. There are some really lovely patterns in this book – really clean, simple shapes which (on taking away the ruffles etc shown in the books illustrations) make some really beautiful everyday garments. I am partial to a looser shaped garment so much of the patterns in the book – as well as a lot of other Japanese pattern books – suit this, although I find I do have to take them in a wee bit to give a bit more shape and avoid looking pregnant. I also added to this particular dress the back ties, simply using the same crochet ribbon trim I used on the pockets, attaching them to the side seams. This helps to add a bit of shape and very loose structure to the dress.

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The photos are taken at the bottom of the garden, in a glimmer of sunshine last week. It was beginning to feel a bit like Spring – snowdrops out, everything greening up a bit… But snow at the weekend reaffirmed that winter is still holding on and Spring is still just around the corner, almost here but not quite.

Hope you’re all having lovely weeks,
Hannah x

Monsoon Daisy dress

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Megan dress, from the book ‘Love at First Stitch.’

Fabric: Monsoon Daisy in monotone cotton from Merchant and Mills

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Finally, after receiving her book last Christmas (2014..) and following her blog since she appeared on the Great British Sewing Bee, I have made a Tilly and the Buttons pattern: the Megan dress. And you know what? I love it; the fit is grand, the style is lovely, it can be dressy, casual, dressy-casual – whatever you like, it’s so versatile! I think a sleeveless version would also be rather nice for summer… Following Tilly’s instructions the dress came together with little drama. I French seamed all the seams (apart from the centre back one below the zip which I finished with zig zag stitch – I struggle to neatly French seam below a zip – is it even possible? If so how??) and am pretty pleased with the overall finish. The only slight issue I have with the fit is some slight gaping at the back. Really it’s so slight though that it’s hardly an issue at all and is due entirely to my narrow shoulders rather than the pattern itself.

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I think the dress looks rather nice worn with thick tights, boots and woolly socks, all bundled up with a woolly cardi. As suited as it may be to bare legs and clogs (roll on summer), it’s certainly not going to get away with just being a warm weather dress; oh no, I plan on wearing this dress all the year round!

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It even looks ok with a lazy pair of converse and tights – as demonstrated in the photos – for if you want that super casual ‘I care but not really’ look, naturally.

I am ever so slightly in love with this fabric – I love the block print designs on the fabric Merchant and Mills sell, the handmade quality of the print I thinks adds something really special to the overall pattern. Recently, my interest in textile design and hand dying has grown and I’m itching for the warmer months to come around so I can give indigo dyeing a go – I feel this is probably more suited to working outdoors than in (I don’t want a blue kitchen…). My brothers both gave me books on textiles for Christmas – ‘Stitch Stories’ by Cas Holmes and ‘Screen Printing at Home’ by Karen Lewis – and I’m looking forward to trying out some of the screen printing ideas to create my own patterns and prints.

If you have any interest at all in textile art beyond dressmaking ‘Stitch Stories’ is a beautiful book. I’m particularly inspired by textile artist Rosalind Wyatt – whose work I briefly came across at Uni – and her use of embroidery on garments, very similar to the item of outsider art, ‘Agnes’ Jacket’ by Agnes Richter.

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Image of Agnes’s Jacket found at:- www.theguardian.com/music/2012/nov/23/agnes-jacket-jocelyn-pook-hearing-voices.                                                                            Beautiful, beautiful, yet bittersweet pieces and hugely inspiring. ‘Agnes’ Jacket’ was in fact the starting point and main influence over my final year work at art school, her embroidered jacket hugely informing the direction my work ended up going in. Who knows, maybe I’ll try my hand at designing my own textiles this year? (I am in no way promoting these books for a third party – I just love them!)

Anyway, that’s more than enough of a ramble from me – I’m off to tackle another By Hand London Elisalex dress which I’m working on.

Hope you’re all having lovely weeks, wherever you are!

Hannah x

A Little Bit of Lace Detail Dress

Pattern: By Hand London’s Elisalex dress for the bodice and Sewaholic’s Cambie dress for the skirt

Fabric: Cotton chambray from Merchant and Mills

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This dress has been a long time in the making. 6 months too long; I started it last June (working on it in between degree show and final uni bits and bobs), tentatively finished it in July, and ripped the zip and back seam out in August. The back was gaping, it sat too loosely on my waist, the shoulders slipped…. I wore it once, out for dinner with Scott, and after having to pin the shoulders to my bra straps in an effort to keep them up – something you should never have to do – I decided that the dress was a complete and utter fitting failure. I threw an almighty tantrum at it and that was that, it was doomed to sit, crumpled and unloved, on my unfinished, maybe-I-can-do-something-else-with-the-fabric pile. Until, that is, a few weeks ago.

I unearthed the dress whilst looking for fabric to make a toile and, time and distance having restored my patience with it, I set about restoring what I’d ripped out. This dress would work! I returned the zip, this time taking care to attach it with my shape and measurements in mind, drawing in the waist and shoulders (around about two darts I’d previously put in in an attempt to tighten up the back and stop gaping). I do have dreadful problems with gaping at the back with a lot of patterns – although I have, by some miracle, somehow – and after many toiles – managed to tweak the Elisalex pattern to suit my narrow back. More on that in another post, with another – still being made – dress though.

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Anyway, enough about my faffing; onto the dress itself. I used beautifully soft cotton chambray which, whilst lovely, needed a little bit something extra just to ‘lift’ the dress once completed. Enter a length of beautiful cotton lace trimming which has been stashed in a trimmings jar for goodness knows how long. It looks pretty great against the chambray and was the perfect round the waist, defining touch. A touch of vintage pretty to an otherwise practical day dress.

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I’m in another National Trust garden for these photos – this time the walled garden at Castle Fraser. Scott and I had a wee gander out to Castle Fraser last Sunday (there are a LOT of castles to explore in Aberdeenshire and I do love a castle…) and, despite being a bit chilly, it was nice to have a potter round the gardens and a walk in the grounds. Although the landscape is still a bit wintery and brown the first hints of Spring were on show; snowdrops are beginning to pop up in the flowerbeds. Not too much time left for winter now!

Anyway, that’s more than enough of a ramble from me for now!

Hannah x