Well, firstly, this was an experience not to be repeated too often.
Has your partner ever called him (or her) self a “sewing widower”? This skirt was the first time mine did. I cut out on the Friday night, and finished the Sunday evening. A whole weekend almost disappeared to my sewing machine, with short breaks for two trips to the cinema*, one meal out, and almost all the remaining time spent in front of the machine.
For the Ness is not exactly the simplest sew in the world, but she’s done, and she’s been worn and all the more beloved for it!
This, of course, is the Ness Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons. It’s a classic zip-fly skirt, which I made up in this lovely wool from Art in Fabrics in Munich. Another holiday purchase, this time with my partner, I loved this very classy shop in a beautiful part of town when we visited last summer. The stock was rather pricy, though, and I was delighted to find this in the sale section – paying €24.70 (at the time of writing, £20.36) for 1.3 metres. Expensive enough to still be a treat, so I really wanted to make sure I’d make something I’d love and I knew as soon as I saw the fabric that Ness would be it.
Why did I sew up the skirt so fast? Well, I’d always intended on making it up prior to my sister and I’s 2020 holiday, and our Dublin trip was fast approaching. I’d finished the Azaire and thought I might just have enough time to make the skirt, and encouraged by Joey, I set to it.
My sizing put me in a 12 at the waist and a 10 at the hips, so I did a simple grading between those measurements, making sure to include the back yoke in my calculations. As it is, I think I need to research what those lines mean above my bottom – it’s possible that I need a sway back adjustment, but any tips would be appreciated.
The skirt really did come together really nicely, although I changed the order of some of the steps – putting on the back pockets prior to attaching the yoke, and sewing the belt loops into the waistband in the same manner of the Sasha trousers – I think this will be much more secure. I decided not to topstitch the bottom of the belt loops, but might add that at a later date.
For the first time ever I watched the recommended instructional video to help me do a good zip fly, and I must say I am super pleased with this one. It all went together very smoothly indeed, and I am really happy with it. Overall, it worked much better than my Sasha’s and has resulted in a much more secure zip. I did not have a suitable button in my stash, so I just put a large hook and eye in place and bought a nice set of jeans buttons in Hickey’s in Dublin (amazing place). I think that’ll finish it off nicely.
After my first try on, I really did not like the skirt. It looked really frumpy and unflattering – too high-waisted and too long, even though I’d cut the mini. In the end, I decided to sew a 6cm hem, and that helped immensely. It’s short enough to be fun, but still very functional. I jumped around a lot with it at different lengths to make sure I was getting it right.
A gorgeous Kylie and the Machine label added a really fab touch at the back pockets and sewing one with the ‘wrong side’ of the fabric adds a very subtle interesting detail. My overlocker was a life saver on this very fray-y fabric: I finished almost all the seams using it, sometimes locking them together, sometimes individually so that they could be pressed flat. I just adore it (although I think it’s still a love-hate relationship: I’m not finding it entirely easy to work!). The top-stitching is a real success, I think. I used a triple stitch with ordinary thread and will use this method again: although the spool of thread disappears quickly, there’s no tangling as there is with topstitching thread.
For the pockets I used leftovers from the lining of my Moderne and the brushed cotton is super soft and snuggly, even though the pockets are slightly too high and narrow to get my hands into comfortably. I decided to sew the pockets with the pretty side of the fabric showing on the inside of the skirt, which is contrary to the tatb instructions, but they went together fine. There are some wrinkles though, so I wonder if I should have shaved some of the side off when I made my adjustments for my size.
Overall, I disliked sewing to a deadline. It took a good portion of the joy out of this creative endeavour, and although I love the finished item, it could easily have lost some of its shine during that stressful rush.
I’ve also really enjoyed sewing these more technical items recently. That’s two fly zips recently completed, and two waistbands, not to count the invisible zip of the Azaire. My Sasha trousers are not the greatest success seeing as the fabric is such poor quality it just stretches out with a single wear – not encouraging judging by how I like to wear my clothes (i.e. washing only when actually required). And so it was a relief that this skirt stood up really well to the rigours of our holiday. I wore it for two full days, and just felt fab in it. I was worried that fabric might be slightly too soft, but actually it held together really nicely and I had no concerns about the skirt falling apart at all as the days went on.
Photos are taken in the National Gallery in Dublin. My shoes are barefoot Wildling Shoes which made my long days exceedingly comfortable. For the first time, this year we did not hire bikes (wonderful city, but didn’t appear particularly cycling friendly) which meant a lot of walking, but these gorgeous little shoes kept me comfy and nimble! In the museum photos the skirt is also worn with my Geodesic on top. My holiday wardrobe was almost entirely hand made, which I really enjoyed. And indeed, even though I’m not limiting buying clothes this year I have virtually no interest. Which may be why my souvenirs from Dublin were almost entirely wool and fabric!
What a wonderful city though: everyone was so friendly, it was so pretty and I just loved the stories peppered around the place about what made Dublin, Dublin. We visited the Hugh Lane gallery, and I fell in love with a statue of two horses. The Book of Kells was incredible, with the Old Library a star of the show. The National Museum had wonderful gold on display – I could just imagine one of those torcs sitting across my collarbones! -, and incredible bog bodies. Now, this isn’t everyone’s thing, but it’s definitely mine, and these were utterly fascinating. The National Gallery was also stunning, and with that we got a real fill of beautiful culture.
One of my favourite things had to be a collection of graffitied walls near our hostel, celebrating Irish individuals both past and present. It was a wonderful slice of Irish culture – really stunning and thought-provoking. They appear to be so proud of their nationalism that I, as a Scot, felt very inspired for the future.
In terms of fabric and wool shopping, we visited four places. This is Knit was utterly amazing. Truly the archetype of the perfect wool shop. I highly recommend a visit. I bought a skein of stunning sock wool which will hopefully make an appearance on this here blog soon. Hickey’s, I’ve already mentioned, was also gorgeous. It had more expensive fabric, and although I considered a few, I only came away with just a couple of items from the haberdashery. Word to the wise: if anyone is in the market for the most amazing embroidered net fabric, this had some of the most amazing stuff I’ve ever seen.
The Fabric Counter was a treasure trove – fabric piled really high, so you really needed to rake through to find the gold. But there was a lot of gold, and it wasn’t difficult to find. Most had lost their label, but a quick question and the owner’s encyclopaedic knowledge sorted us out. Here, I bought some denim(!!!!), some gorgeous brushed cotton that will become a shirt for my boyfriend, and some silky soft viscose lining.
And finally, WM Trimmings had only a small, but lovely, selection of quilting fabric and lots and lots of trimmings. I bought some elastic for another set of boxers, thread for the jeans, needles, a small pair of scissors and that was it! I was very good, really.
Overall a stunning trip, and I’d love to go back. A long weekend only scratched the surface, and I very much look forward to returning to Ireland and finding out more about this fascinating country.
*We live on an island that has a travelling cinema: when it comes and has good films showing, we take the opportunity to go as much as we can.
A big thank you to Mhairi for taking my photos, and for creating a wonderful holiday! (For the curious, check out my sister’s beautiful art on Instagram @heronandgreen)