I’ve been sewing this week.

I made a dress for my grand-daughter Erin, from two navy dresses of my own, cutting the bodice from plain navy and using the buttonholes and buttons, with a full skirt embroidered in navy on white cotton, trimmed with a red ribbon and a red ribbon belt.

But my main effort this week has been the production of a pale grey Harris Tweed skirt.

When John and I were on the island of Harris this summer, we came across a small shop selling beautiful knitted jackets and cardigans. I like to have a nice, comfortable, luxurious knitted jacket/cardigan to travel in, and my old faithful which I bought in Lake Taupo, New Zealand, of black possum merino trimmed with a camel patteRn and with a hood had given up the ghost. So I looked with interest at their jackets. Made of a mixture of Harris wool and cashmere these were by no means cheap (the one I bought cost £240) and I was trying them on under duress prepared to reject them, when I chanced upon one (the sales lady was very good at her job) which really suited me. It was a silver grey with black flecks, came to mid thigh, edged all round with a circular edge cable finish. While I was trying these on, a German woman came in and commandeered my sales lady, saying, I only want to ask one question, and then proceeded to ask seven. She was surprisingly put out when I pointed this out to her! But the sales lady promptly returned her attention to the sale in hand. So I bought it. I then wore it in the car every day until we returned to the beautiful (and warmer) south.

I always like to buy some Harris tweed when I am on Lewis/Harris . I looked at the outlets in Harris but nothing took my fancy. In Stornoway, Sheena and I had a ‘favourite shop’ – which she had found – where a vast stock lurked in extreme disorder in the shadowy recesses of the establishment and probably had been forgotten there since 1928. The owner greeted us like old friends – asked after our relatives, and we bought some black and white herringbone to make a waistcoat for John and some cream and brown houndstooth to make something for me. But later, in a proper ladies shop with beautiful Harris Tweed suits in it which looked however like you had been summoned to Balmoral, I found a plain tweed in the same silvery grey as the jacket. I bought a metre and a half of it.

This being the most Northernly point of our journey we turned our faces for home. In the Tourist Office in Tarbert I bought another vastly expensive wool/cashmere scarf in greys and beiges which matched the knitted jacket.

I’ve a close friend of many decades duration who has begun dress- making in her 70s, and I’ve been talking to her about the pitfalls of skirt making. So this week I went to Burgess Hill (our local haberdashery having closed) and bought for about £10 some pale grey lining, an 8” zip, and some grey thread. Buttons and interlining I already had. I used a pattern I’d drafted earlier for myself, for a straight skirt, l frontspiece, 2 backs, with waistband and back zip and pleat. This time I zigzagged right round the edges of all the pieces first. Then I tacked the back seam, and inserted the zip, and finished the pleat. I put in the darts, then sewed front to back. I cut an inch off the lining and sewed the parts together but did not sew the darts but simply gathered the lining and tacked it to the skirt inside, with the right side visible. I then attached the waistband and sewed the buttonhole ‘by hand’ with the machine – ie not automatically. All that was left to do was sew the hemline.

I saw that I had some material left so I made a simple tote bag in grey wool, lined with black cotton and trimmed with a grey black and rust coloured ribbon and an ‘A’ in black velvet. The two handles are made of the grey wool and black cotton.

I can wear this outfit with black leather boots, gloves and a bag I already have, and with a black polo neck and trousers, topped off with a black fur hat. It has cost me about £300, but as I shall wear it a great deal, I think the cost per wearing will be very low.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.


  1. Sheena says:

    Lovely. An excellent match. I feel nostalgic for that shop. Do you use a serger?

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