The next 3 months…

I have a backlog of sewing to blog about, but, alas, I ran out of time to get photos of it all before I left for Ireland. In this backlog there is a pair of Marilla Walker’s Roberts Collection dungarees, a sunshine yellow, elephant patterned tunic dress, the Saltmarsh skirt from the Merchant and Mills book, an Aztec print pleated midi skirt and a stripy By Hand London Anna hacked into a peplum top. These are all hanging in my wardrobe at home, all finished in the last few weeks before I headed off to study at Ballymaloe Cookery School for 3 months. For, as I mentioned above, I am currently in County Cork, right in the very south of the Republic of Ireland.

After much humming and hawing I enrolled on the Ballymaloe Cookery School 12 week course last summer, and set about spending the 12 months between then and now working like a crazy lady to save the money I needed to go. I was lucky in that, on moving back home, my parents didn’t charge me rent, meaning that I could save every penny I earned (except tips, tips are for fabric and shoes…).

And so, my endless weeks cooking at shooting and fishing lodges, for dinner parties and for folk on holiday has paid off. I have made it to Ballymaloe, where I shall study, intensively, cookery from the very basic to the more complex. For, although I already cook regularly for a living, and have done so throughout my years at Uni, I feel the need – in order to progress further – to really cement what I already know and to increase and grow my abilities as a cook; for there is so much I have yet to learn. As cliche as it may sound, I do not know where the last year has gone – it has flown in and I am super excited to finally be here!

Sewing therefore shall be taking a wee bit of a back seat for the next 3 months, to be replaced by food (to my mind still a very creative outlet). I don’t want to abandon blogging though and, although this is primarily still a sewing blog, I want to also use it as an place to record my time at Ballymaloe. It’s not going to become a foodie blog, never fear, but there will be food featured heavily for a while, with full sewing service being returned sometime in July.

I am currently yet to meet the other folk on the course and am sat in Cork airport waiting to meet a few off a flight. We start properly on Monday, and I will no doubt be back with another post sometime next week with a proper speel about the course and (hopefully) how amazing it is!

Hope you all have a good weekend,
Hannah x

RSA: New Contemporaries Opening Night Outfit

Pattern: Named Pattern’s Vanamo Cocktail Dress (just the skirt part)

Fabric: Linen viscose blend from Fabric Godmother

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I studied painting at art school, graduating last July. During our end of year Degree Show in June I was (to my great surprise) selected to exhibit in the Royal Scottish Academies annual New Contemporaries exhibition (RSA:NC) which showcases the work of (apparently) ‘up and coming’ young Scottish artists just graduated from the five art schools in Scotland. Needless to say this is an amazing opportunity and I was – and still am – completely gob smacked to have been selected.

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A photo of me and my work at the private press view earlier in the day. L-R ‘In the Midst of Life’ ‘The Likes of You and I’.

Creating new work for the show hasn’t been without it’s dramas – working alone (in all weathers, in a stable, in your parents garden) is totally different to working alongside friends and course mates in shared (and centrally heated…) studio spaces at uni and takes a whole lot more motivation and self belief. It’s very very easy as an ‘artist’ (see, I even struggle with identifying myself as such – do I really deserve the title?) to allow self doubt to creep in and convince you everything you create is terrible. Whilst this did happen at uni, the support of other people all going through the same thing was really helpful. Saying that, although it couldn’t replace actually being in the studio with them, I don’t think I could have made the work for the show without the constant long distance support, pep talks and reassurance from the wonderful Emily and Jenni, who were both also showing in RSA:NC. (They’re work is totally amazing.)

Anyway, enough sappiness from me, all I’m trying to say, in a long winded manner is: a) if you were in Edinburgh in March and went along to the show, yay! b) I couldn’t create the paintings I do without the support of my lovely arty friends, and c) there was a fancy opening night so I made a fancy outfit.

And so, the fancy outfit: Named’s Vanamo 2 piece cocktail dress. Fancy, but not too fancy – an ‘I can still breath, move, walk and talk’ sort of fancy.

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Do excuse my peely walley sun deprived legs…

First off – and I’m going to be smug about this – check out my pretty near perfectly pattern matched front and back centre seams. Cutting was a painstaking and slow process, carefully measuring and lining up pieces, but oh so worth it. It would take a very beady eyed so and so to notice the little bits out here and there (due to size adjustments and what not) on the back seam when I’m wearing the skirt. Besides from the pattern matching, and thanks entirely to Named’s wonderfully clear instructions, the skirt came together with little hassle, the main hassle being (besides pattern matching) from the fabric, which frays like mad. But what can you do, it’s gorgeous fabric.

I should also just point out though that my side seams don’t match – I didn’t have enough fabric to worry about them and, quite frankly, is anyone really going to notice?! So long as the front and back were matched ok I certainly wasn’t going to also worry about the sides. Life’s too short and all that.

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Secondly, and I should really mention this: the top. I have not, strictly speaking created a 2 piece cocktail dress, just the bottom half of it. My intentions were to make the entire outfit but a) I felt the fabric was just too much for a two piece top and bottom, I simply couldn’t envision in my minds eye it working, and b) I spent so long starting and stopping the skirt I ran out of time to make the top. No kidding, it took me almost two full months to complete this skirt, not because it was hugely challenging and took me hours to work out, no, I’m simply super good at procrastinating. I can’t tell you how many garments I started whilst making this skirt; some finished, most still incomplete. I’m going to blame it on being super creatively inspired at the moment, spurred on to create lots of fabulous things: it sounds better than admitting to having a wandering attention span.

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In true procrastinator style it’s actually taken me over a month to get around to blogging this outfit – the opening was the start of March… But it was such a whirl I didn’t manage to get any proper glammed up photos on the night, so have had to make do with some hasty Sunday afternoon photos instead!

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The front hem is even really – ┬ámy posture clearly isn’t!

One of my paintings from the show is now in London, ready to be exhibited at the ‘New Scottish Artists’ show, hosted by the Fleming Collection. It’s a show featuring 15 Scottish art graduates from last year so it’s very exciting (and very surreal) to have been selected to show in it. If you’re in London between the 21st April and 6th May do pop along to DRAF Studio in Camden – it should be a really diverse and interesting exhibition (and it’s free..).

Anyway, that’s all for now – have a lovely week!

Hannah x