Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Cornish Leather - Part 1

My latest project is a pattern I picked up at the Knitting and Stitching Show 2013, Harrogate, for the bargain price of 50p!

This pattern appealed to me with pleats as I was getting a little tired of commercial patterns lacking shape in the skirt.  The bodice is fitted with bust and waist darts and there is the added detail of  a collar, sleeves, cuffs, covered buttons and a belt.  I think it's a 1970s pattern from the style and awful shoes!   

When selecting fabric I wanted to get involved with the latest tartan trend and really fancied this silk dupion 
( as featured in Sew magazine (December 2013 issue).  

Unfortunately the cost of pleats at £42.05 per metre of fabric would be extortionate and well beyond my price range!  Despite my disappointment I was comforted that silk and tartan would be difficult to manage and achieve a well matched piece.  

Not to worry as I stumbled across a lovely 100% cotton tartan from Truro Fabrics (

It is a Cornish tartan - 'Hunting'.  I love the colours - green is my favourite, and I am visiting Cornwall this year for a two week holiday so perhaps I can wear the finished dress then.  To the touch the cotton is brushed and very soft; I think it will keep me warm!

Cornish Tartan Cotton - HuntingFolding the fabric for pinning and cutting took much longer than usual due to the tartan check. Firstly I folded the fabric in the centre of the white line (it stood out the most) so that all pieces placed on the fold would have the same centre pattern.  

I then pinned through the two layers and matched the pattern at regular intervals whilst keeping the fabric lay flat.  When I was ready to arrange my pattern pieces I spent some time making sure the hem line of all skirt pieces ended at the same white line and similarly matched the bodice and sleeve.  

AA leather skin in black from Pittards, cost £23
I haven't cut the collar and cuffs as I have decided  to make these up in leather.  I contacted Pittards ( for a sample and then ordered a black leather skin (  I am impressed with the quality (I opted for AA) and thinness, both of which are perfect for the delicate cuffs and collar. 

Now the materials have racked up a hefty sum and I don't want to have to start buying button covering machines and eyelet makers.  I heard there were companies providing these types of services and a little bit of Internet research led me to Button Covering Services ( Look at their fabulous varieties:

Buttons by Button Covering Services

I will be relying on their services for covering my buttons for the cuffs (tartan) and collar (leather) - I'm thinking covered back buttons would be most appropriate, has anyone used these on their dressmaking? 

They also insert eyelets - that's the belt sorted! If there gallery is anything to go by I am sure they will do a wonderful job.  

Speaking of the belt, I was amazed at the lack of belt buckles in on line haberdashery stores.  My search led me to Once Upon a Belt, a business that offers interchangeable belts and buckles.  

I will shortly begin sewing the tartan with a walking foot to ensure the fabric does not shift.  The pattern is very well drafted with pictures for every step so I'm really looking forward to getting on the machine. 

At the same time and before cutting my leather pieces I want to make them out of cotton first to check I am happy with the fit of the cuffs and the shape of the collar.  Something tells me this won't be a quick project!