The Red Jacket

The Red Jacket!

Ever since I made this jacket in Harris Tweed for my Sister I had an urge to make it again, in red, for myself.   So – nearly two years later!



The pattern is Burdastyle 7321 which is very fitted with a curved front, inseam pockets and a slightly fish tailed vent in the back.










I used a red ex Prada tweed fabric purchased from Ditto Fabrics online. This is a fairly heavy woven and textured tweed, lovely to work with, though inclined to fray.






To line the jacket I used a patterned polyester stretch satin (as for my Sister’s) which again came from Ditto and is just perfect for this project.







I just love the oriental print of red, blue and orange flowers and fans. The fabric feels soft and luxurious and the added stretch makes the jacket so comfortable to wear.

P1010852 I piped the lining seams with satin bias binding which just adds a little extra detail to the finish and also lined the inseam pockets.   This jacket was my first attempt at bound buttonholes.   To be honest – they didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped (hence no close up shots) but I did enjoy the process, so I’ll try harder next time.


After the jacket was completed I thought choosing buttons would be easy.   How wrong could I be?   Four weeks later and after visiting every button shop I could think of I nearly gave up on buttons altogether.

P1010850The problem being that both fastening and cuff buttons i.e the same button in two sizes were needed and not so easy to find.   Finally I chose these rose gold, beehive shaped buttons from Totally Buttons online.   These are plastic buttons, with a metallic finish and I really had my heart set on metal buttons, but so be it.   I’ve worn this jacket to work frequently, usually over a plain black shift dress or trousers but it’s also great with jeans and a white tee.


Mid Century Rocker Revival

My lovely son and his girlfriend Kirsty live in a beautiful flat in the Dean Village area of Edinburgh.

Kirsty picked up a 1950’s rocking chair for free on Gumtree after watching Kirsty Alsopp’s ‘Fill Your Home for Free’.Chair After!

In the Workshop – Finished!




Looking very sad and neglected the chair spent a few nights in our kitchen where all the battered finish was removed from the wood before it was stained a dark mahogany shade.


Even though the cushions were burst and worn it is a really comfy chair and has a  relaxing little ‘bounce’ because there are springs underneath as well as in the back.

This was to be an upholstery experiment for me, however I well chickened out and decided to take it to the upholstery classes I’ve been going to on Saturdays (see previous post -Captain’s Chair). I’ve learned so much at Colin’s class – and you get to use real tools!  

Firstly the chair was stripped right back to the frame.   The flock wadding was to be reused in the new upholstery.

Back to the bare bones!
Back to the bare bones!

The next step was to introduce some  bounce into the seat base with stretch webbing (or big elastic as a sewer would see it).

New Webbing and the Original Wadding
New Webbing and the Original Wadding


Some Extra Ooomph!
Some Extra Ooomph!

Once the original wadding was stitched into place some additional wadding was added for comfort and lower back support.

The fabulous yellow velvet upholstery fabric came from Cotton & Chintz in Edinburgh, chosen by Chris and Kirsty, and I decided to use this for the back, with the addition of covered buttons in the contrasting grey velvet.

Contrast buttons!

Contrast buttons!

For more contrast, I added grey piping to the reverse side of the back before closing with the yellow velvet.  I was given a free rein as to where and how the fabric was used.


Grey Piping
Grey Piping

Finally the cushion.   This was hard work and the piping was stitched on the Singer 66 Treadle machine in the upholstery workshop.   This old machine can really handle anything.   I have a hand crank model 66 (see previous post) which I used to complete the piping at home.

With a bit of brute force the new cushion interior was inserted into the cover and zipped closed.   Won’t be taking that apart again in the hurry!

Drum Roll!!!!!
Drum Roll!!!!!

I really enjoyed this project.    Hard graft with the hammer and nails and a great experience at the class with Pauline and Menina, two lovely ladies, also trying upholstery for the first time.

My next upholstery project is a pair of matching antique carver chairs I first recovered in Laura Ashley stripe fabric a very long time ago (and hope to do better this time around).

Holiday Fun

I have been so looking forward to a week off work – and so far it has been really lovely.   As usual I had my list of household tasks which had been put off for too long (cleaning cupboards etc.) and I really wanted to make a start on a dress I have been thinking about for ages using a Vogue Balmain 60’s pattern and some lovely vibrant blue fabric.    So what have I actually achieved so far?    This little guy!

Harris - My Pin Dog
Harris – My Pin Dog

Inspired by Heather Jack (Great British Sewing Bee Winner 2014) who was supported through every project by her faithful Pin Dog, I decided to attempt my own ‘Scotty’ version using some of the many offcuts and scraps of Harris Tweed I have accumulated over the years.

My Very Own Pin Dog
My Very Own Pin Dog

The pattern was a freebie from the internet x 200% and the body was constructed of Harris Tweed scraps in patchwork.   The lovely velvet ribbon bow was saved from a Links of London Christmas gift, received from my husband some years ago and it was so pretty I couldn’t bear to throw it out.

Harris now has pride of place on my sewing trolley!

Harris Making Sure I Keep my Sewing Tidy
Harris Making Sure I Keep my Sewing Tidy

Thank you Heather – for your inspiration.   You are such a worthy winner and you were so disbelieving that you had actually won!!!.


MadMen 3 Challenge Dress

Can’t believe I haven’t watched Season 6 yet.   Too busy sewing my MadMen Dress for the Challenge hosted by the lovely Julia Bobbin.

Actually I have cheated outrageously on this challenge as I actually made my dress last summer.   I had planned on making a 60’s two piece dress for this year’s challenge, using a lovely original vintage pattern.   However that has had to wait due to curtains, blinds and upholstery projects.   Think I need to give up my day job!!!

More than a bit crushed, but remember - it is only March in Scotland - so still at the back of the wardrobe!
More than a bit crushed, but remember – it is only March in Scotland – so still at the back of the wardrobe!
The dress Betty is wearing in the photo on the right has many similar features to my dress.
The dress Betty is wearing in the photo on the right has many similar features to my dress.
Love all of these!
Love all of these!


The pattern was from as US seller on Etsy and although the packaging was in quite poor condition, the pattern itself was perfect.   No adjustments were made to sizing at all (due to good luck rather than good judgement).   I decided on version 2, sleeveless and with concealed buttons under a central placket.



I used a pindot cotton print in French Navy and Cream and lined the dress in royal blue silk with an underlined bodice.   The buttonholes and placket were a new challenge for me but, despite how it looks in the photo, when the dress is ironed it all looks great.

I decided to go all out with a self fabric belt and the buckle is an original vintage plastic which I had in my button box.



This is probably the the nicest vintage pattern I have ever used
This is probably the the nicest vintage pattern I have ever used

To add a bit of a twist the dress also looks good with a tan leather belt.

In the photo I am wearing (not that you can see them) a fabby pair of vintage marcasite and faux pearl clip on earrings, which I love but which are pure agony on the earlobes after about 2 minutes.


I have loved taking part in the Challenge this year and, all going well, I will have my two piece ready 2015!!!

I really should have ironed the dress before the photos were taken!

Adventures in Upholstery!


Doesn’t sound very exciting does it?   For the last three weeks I’ve been going to  a class in traditonal upholstery all day on Saturdays and I’m absolutely loving it.   The class takes place in a tiny village on the way to Aberfoyle – about 40 minutes drive from my home in Central Scotland.   The  workshop is a tiny schoolroom attached to the original school master’s house.   Cosy and quaint , it’s like stepping back in time, several hundred years.

In the workshop

My tutor believes in natural products, recycling materials and ethical sourcing so it is just great to use natural jute webbing and hessian, recycled flock filling and sustainable coir or horsehair.

My first project is the complete revamp of a mid century vintage rocking chair for my son and his girl friend.  This is a major starter project and great fun – post to follow as this progresses.

I also took along this  antique captain’s chair which belonged to my mum and dad as a little side project.

New webbing

Padded with coir and covered with calico
Padded with coir and covered with calico.

Hessian webbed, hessian based, stuffed with coir, covered with calico and a layer of flock, before a finally being covered with fabulous Harris tweed from the lovely people at the  Harris Tweed & Knitwear Company it has taken on a new life and a true beauty.


I am so proud of the finished result.  

The final trim which is attached with upholstery pins,  is actually bias fabric as I didn’t really see a decorative braid working well on the tweed.   The oak frame was quite dirty and tired looking after being in storage for some time.   I stripped back the dirt using wood restorer, then applied a generous coat of wood polish and oils blended.  Finally I applied two coats of Liberon natural beeswax and buffed this to a lovely burnished sheen.   The natural patina of the wood and wear to the arms etc.  still  glows through maintaining the character of this lovely old chair.

And Here’s One I made Earlier!

My New Year’s Resolutions are all underway now – only one problem!   Not enough time.   Working full time and now going to an upholstery class all day Saturdays doesn’t leave much time for sewing (need to consider giving up work!).   The upholstery is going really well though – hard work but loving every minute and I hope to be posting the results soon.   My sewing project ‘the Red Jacket’ is going very slowly so I thought I would post some bits and pieces I made in 2013, so here we go.

The Madmen Challenge Dress

I took part in the challenge last year as I am a HUGE Mad Men fan.   This was my ‘Betty’ dress, but it could be a ‘Joan’ or whatever.


I based my dress on Simplicity Jiffy 4429 from the early 60’s.  The pattern was really easy, with only two pieces, but I misjudged the sizing badly as the sides needed taken in by about 4 inches total. This was also a pattern for a tall lady so 4 inches also came off the hem length. I french seamed the dress and fully lined it with cream habutai (also french seamed). I used a concealed zip and it went slightly wonky at the back v neck so I disguised the problem with a self covered button. I then decided to go all out and make a self covered belt and buckle. The buckle kit and belt backing came all the way from ‘A Fashionable Stitch’ in the USA.   Please ignore the wrinkly elbows and the bingo wings.


Harris Tweed Skirt for Burns day


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  (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.McCalls 3380

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!!!!!!



Annette J. Dunlea Irish Writer


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