Well I just love working with Harris Tweed! Hand woven on the beautiful island of Harris, off the west coast of Scotland, this unique fabric is 100% wool tweed and I recall as a child, my Mum making tweed dresses for my sister and me, which were so itchy we refused to wear them. I chose a glorious pillar box red with muted check in deep violet and black. My photography leaves a lot to be desired and the lighting was poor so in the shot above the colour looks more a deep russet. I promise to practice taking better photos!
Harris Tweed has been enjoying a much deserved revival and I just love the designs of Katherine Hooker http://katherinehooker.com/ (worn by the Duchess of Cambridge) and of course Vivienne Westwood.
I decided to make a Harris Tweed skirt as my first project of 2014. The tweed fabric came from Harris Tweed and Knitwear Company in Tarbert and took 2 1/2 weeks to arrive due to the stormy weather and cancelled ferry sailings.
Since there was to be “pattern matching” involved I decided on a simple straight style with a concealed back zip and vent (McCalls 3830) and I opted for style C which looks, on the pattern pack, scarily like the end product.
For lining I really wanted a good quality and weight of stretch satin. Polyester lining fabric just doesn’t work with this weight of fabric I’ve found. Also I have a ‘thing’ going on with mad patterned linings just now (see the Harris Tweed jacket I made for my Sis). The animal print stretch satin in shades of pink, red, black and grey from Abakhan was just perfect.
I started by tracing the pattern onto heavy tracing paper. Then came the arduous task of matching and pinning the checks across the width and length of the fabric with boredom breaks for a cup of tea every 30 minutes. This is a tedious step but there are really no shortcuts.
I always get so nervous when it comes to the cutting stage even after all these years, but especially when working with a beautiful fabric like wool tweed. The skirt came together really well and the zip went in with no problems. After that the lining was just a bit of fun really.
As I still recall with terror, the itchy dresses of my childhood, there was no question that the waistband facing was ever going to be in tweed, so I cut this from the lining fabric and bound the edges with satin bias, which I also used on the hem and to finish the inside seams of the back vent.
I love my check skirt and wore it last weekend (to celebrate Robert Burns’ Birthday) with a little black sweater from French Connection and my new winter boots from Gabor in black suede and patent. Very cosy!!!!!!