Exploring Colour

Recently I signed up to SkillShare, an online tutorial resources with on-demand creative classes, topics cover everything from anatomical drawings, freelancing business tips to weaving. The service really suited me, it allowed me to learn new skills without leaving the house, allowed me to take regular breaks and return to it. There are so many video tutorials out there on YouTube and Creative Bug, but the sheer scale of the platform, on such varied topics and with the ability to share your progress with your virtual classmates makes Skillshare my go to place to up-skill and feel inspired.

I’m in the exploration stage of my journey, (which is why I started this blog) I’m trying as many different types of creative projects as possible and Skillshare encourages chasing those curiosities to see where you end up. A class caught my eye by Illustrator Claire Picard on  Exploring Colour; Create s Colour Inspiration Sketchbook and Explore Colour Trends. The class helps you collate, document and comment on current colour trends. Honestly, colour is something that has always been intuitive to me, rather than conscious. But I had noticed my sketchbook pages had started to stay black and white.

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As I was wanting to broaden my horizons and my colour palette I started collecting images for a colour journal and suddenly the world seemed technicolour. Curating a colour journal requires you to collect images, from any source, be that interiors magazines, fashion magazine, wallpaper swatches or art work and pick out the key colours.



The act of picking out the key colours encourages you to apply interesting colour combinations to your own work. I would never have put emerald green, fuchsia and orange together, but this spread below shows a distinctively 70’s feel, whilst still feeling organic. The green and pink picked out from the watermelon makes the colour combination feel natural and at ease.

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Unsurprisingly I picked out a lot of purple, as Ultra Violet is the Pantone Colour of the Year. The Pantone Colour of the Year is not simply aesthetic, but has become known as a reflection of current trends. Pantone describe Ultra Violet as ‘Complex and contemplative… suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.’ Personally, it is a colour I would shy away from, perhaps because of it’s oh so sweet connotations with Parma Violets, but here amidst a sage green, cream, ochre and midnight blue, I can understand the intrigue and mystery Pantone refers to.

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Millennial Yellow as it’s commonly known, is a colour I gravitate towards, yellow dresses, yellow jumpers and a yellow mug can all be spotted in our home.  During 2018 it has been everywhere, so much so Stylist even brought out there own entirely yellow issue. Cover to cover the magazine was full of optimism and uplift, which is exactly what is needed, as the headlines make us believe that the world is becoming increasingly bleak.


I really enjoyed picking out key colours from busy and powerful prints, it helped me pull out combinations that can easily be applied to my own work.


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It’s interesting to use travel magazines and pick up colour palettes from across the globe, this spread is so synomous with Marrakesh and North Africa.

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I love spotting colours in naturally occurring objects, for example the colours of Stilton cheese occurs informs the use of colour in the page below and it seemed to be a great place to start.

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In terms of fashion for fabrics, I predict plenty of deep plums, warm neutrals and soft mints. Not a million miles from the Ultra Violet Pantone Colour of 2018, but warmer to keep your bones and heart warm just in case this winter is anything like last years.


I will definetely keep up my colour journal, it is a time consuming process, but it doesn’t require too much concentration, so I collected images skimming through magazines in front of the TV. I’ve been collecting images and sticking them to my pin board above my desk and stock up colour swatches when i’m in DIY or hardware stores. The pages become a great resource and hopefully over time and as the sketchbook begins to grow, trends will emerge from season to season, and year to year.

I’ve got my eyes tuned in on the hunt for colour and what an array of Pantones are around us.

All for now.

Claire & Co.



Liberty Art Fabric & Fashion Exhibition at Dovecot Gallery

Just before the Fringe Festival started in Edinburgh, I found myself in the Scottish capital and made a beeline for the Dovecot Studios. In association with the Fashion & Textiles Museum, the Dovecot was hosting a celebration of the most acclaimed fabric company in the UK, if not the world, Liberty.  Featuring over 100 garments and fabrics spanning 140 years, this exhibition explores how textiles brings art into everyday life.

Liberty Exhibition flyer

When founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty dreamt up his vision for a London Emporium in 1875, he wanted to metaphorically dock a ship in the city streets, with the store to be a celebration of fabrics and luxuries from distant lands. The success of the store was soon established as Liberty’s collection of ornaments and fabrics from around the world were irresistible to a society at the time intoxicated with Japan and the East.

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Liberty’s influence in interior and fashion style was profound, so much so that the Art Nouveau period in Italy became known as ‘Liberty Style’. The exhibition is a historic retrospective, showing fashion through the ages.

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Fashions of the time period are reflected in the designs, like these children’s smocks worn by both boys and girls in the victorian era and give a nod to the arts & crafts movement, but still incorporate the distinctive Liberty print.


Celebrating Scottish roots, the exhibition pays homage to husband and wife team Marion and David Donaldson who were responsible for bringing the swinging 60’s North of the border.


The couple arrived in Glasgow in 1966 from London on the back of a Lambretta with an armful of Liberty Fabrics. They had left London behind after deciding it wasn’t for them, Marion left behind her teacher training and David, who had been studying Psychology, whilst working part-time at the infamous department store, used his staff discount to purchase the fabric that would be the start of a lifelong career in fashion and textiles.

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Marion set to work on her Singer machine, a gift from her mother for her 21st Birthday and secured a wholesale order of her designs to a local boutique, from there her popularity grew exponentially. They designed short A-Line dresses in psychedelic prints, there was nothing else like it.  The couple made the leap from hand sewn to manufacturing as the success of the brand snowballed and fabric agents began to approach them. The pair retired in 1999 after building a brand with as much gravitas as Laura Ashley and Mary Quant.


Surface design could seem superficial, but the example of these Clarks x Liberty Collaboration is a reminder of how powerful repeat patterns can be in spreading a little joy into the everyday. These shoes are certainly enough to put a spring in your step and make the draftsmanship of Liberty print accessible.


Liberty’s signature style can be both timeless and contemporary. All these garments wouldn’t seem out of place today, they are instantly recognisable from across the room. Yet Liberty continues to push boundaries and aim to be progressive in design decisions.

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In 2016, Liberty collaborated with St Martins student and winner of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II award for British design Richard Quinn. He was picked up during his graduate show, where Quinn had blown up Liberty Prints and subverted them and printed them on to foils. The collaboration continued with a line of clashing prints and highly saturated designs. 

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This exhibition cemented my love of all things Liberty, (you’ll spot some hand sewn Liberty table cloths made for our wedding)  it reminded me how timeless the designs are, solidified the power of the signature style and emphasised the need to constantly push the boundaries.

Luckily i’ll be in London next month and if you need me i’ll be getting lost in the haberdashery floor of Liberty with a new appreciation for this cloth.

All for now.

Claire & Co.





Meeting Skye Weavers

Scotland has a long standing tradition of weaving tweed and cloth, sadly most of the manufacturing of the cloth has moved overseas. On the Hebridean Island of Skye, in an old croft house in Glendale, the Skye Weavers are producing high quality textiles. Beautifully set, it is easy to see why husband and wife team, Roger and Andrea moved to the Island to establish the business after seven years of working on the Isle of Mull at the organic farm and weaving mill, Ardalanish.

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Skye Weaver has a twist,  a bicycle-pedal loom,  all the variety of woven products and cloth have been produced by the power of ‘humans’. It’s easy to understand the appeal of the pedal loom as the sound of the bicycle powered machine is hypnotic.

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Before I started making my own clothes, I hadn’t really considered construction of cloth. As I learnt more about sewing, I started to really consider what fabric I was using and it seems like a natural progression to learn to understand how cloth is manufactured.

A loom follows it’s own pattern, similar to that of a knitting pattern. The warp threads are kept under tension on the loom, whilst the weft threads are interwoven at different intervals and colours to create the pattern of the cloth.  From speaking with Roger there is an element of engineering to make sense of the pattern, a lot of head scratching at the start and logical problem solving to get the loom to produce what you have planned. .

Skye Weavers Patterns

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Andrea is the self confessed creative of the pair and her designs are influenced by the surroundings, I took this photo on our walk down the to studio and you can seen how purple heather contract to the yellow wild flowers spread across the landscape seep into the designs.

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The Warping and Winding shed next door to the loom is filled entirely by the ingeniously hand built warping mill, constructed from from a piece of an old tractor made in Dunham, Manchester of all places. It is here where the wool is prepared for the loom and it is painstakingly strung to become the warp thread.

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The final shed is a shop containing a range of products produced with the wool made onsite. They are, as you would expect, soft to touch and champion the woven patterns. We left with a branded brown paper bag containing a teal scarf, as a present for my mum.

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I left with a new appreciation for the construction of cloth and I was keen to find out more about how the cloth is produced before embarking on a project myself. I would have love to have a wool coat woven in Skye, but a little closer to home in Yorkshire there are producers manufacturing coating wool here in the UK. So I feel inspired to start my winter coat, hopefully it will be made in time for when the weather starts to change.

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I’ll end on this fitting photo of a sheep staring into the horizon. What a view for a studio.

Claire & Co.


DIY, Fabric Design, Journal

Shibori & Indigo Dyeing

Indigo is amongst the oldest dyes for textiles and printing, it’s synonymous blue tones can be spotted across the globe and seen throughout ancient history. Much of the indigo used today is synthetic and most commonly used in denim. The more I learnt about the production of clothes and the dyeing process of fabrics, the more I became increasingly interested in natural dyeing. My interest was primarily for selfish reasons, I don’t want to expose my skin to chemicals, but secondly from an environmental perspective it just makes sense to use natural dye.

I welcomed the chance to give this ancient technique a try at the  Shibori Natural Dyeing Workshop at Stitched Up Co-operative . The process is messy and complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing, so I was pleased to have my hand held through it with the help of the lovely Claire from Stitched Up. Claire had already prepared the Dye vat, maintaining an Indigo Dye Vat is a labour of love, it required regular feeding of fructose and needs to be kept at a certain temperature, it requires the same commitment as a sourdough starter. So I’m glad I didn’t just embark on this project in the garage at home.

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I was introduced to Shibori for the first time, it’s a Japanese method of folding, binding and bunching fabric before it is exposed to the dye, leaving behind the negative space. There are endless possibilities of patterns depending on how you fold your fabric or what you use to create the relief. Here are a few examples to give you an idea.

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To begin the dyeing process you start by folding and binding your fabric. This examples below shows how the fabric is first folder and pegged together to create the relief.

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Next you submerge your fabric into boiled water, this allows the fabric to be fully porous and removes any oxygen from the dye, which can spoil the chemical balance in the dye vat.

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Then you’re ready to dye, indigo can stain your nails and hands so it’s best to wear rubber gloves. Carefully submerge your fabric into the dye without causing too many bubbles, again as the oxygen can alter the PH of the vat. Gently massage the fabric, especially near the edges of your binding to ensure the dye seeps right to the edges. Leave the fabric in the vat for three minutes, before removing carefully, again avoiding any drips or bubbles. You’ll be surprised as when you remove your fabric it is a yellow-green colour, the magic happens during the washing process.

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Then to start the washing process, in cold water move the fabric vigorously, this time you want to create as many bubbles as possible, this process helps sets the dye so ensure you are thorough with the washing process, otherwise your dye won’t be fixed and the colour will disappear in the washing machine. We washed the fabric in three buckets of fresh water, moving from one bucket to the next, from just dyed to nearly ready, ensured the water stayed as clean as possible. The fresh water buckets were changed regularly to avoid cross contamination.

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Once washed the fabric will be blue, depending on the depth of blue you requires, determines how many times you need to repeat the ‘dye/wash’ process. The example below has just been dyed once.

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After the demonstration, we had a go ourselves, the best way to determine what works is  simply to get stuck in. I started by clamping these circles, then I used pegs and then I wrapped thread round my fabric to create a water effect.

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I really enjoyed the process and found it instantly satisfying. I love the tones that indigo produces and find it very calming. We just experimented with small squares of fabric, but still I wanted to use them in some way, so I managed to make a cushion cover and used fabric scraps to fill it. I also decided to frame a piece of indigo to put in our bedroom. Indigo is an aesthetic that I really love and I can definetely get behind the natural dyeing process. There seem to be a few brands across the globe doing interesting things with Indigo.

Indigo Cushion

Indigo Frame

Stitched Up are running another Natural Dyeing Shibori Workshop next month and there was talk of a ‘Vat-urday’ event where you could drop in and use the Vat and dye your own cloth on a drop-in basis, i’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for that. In my sketchbook I recorded the process in a hope to cement the new information. Who knows perhaps next summer I’ll get a pet vat of my own on the go.

Dye Workshop Sketchbook Page

All for now.

Claire & co.




Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sewing

Sewing A ‘Knock Out’ Dress

When I came across Tilly and The Buttons patterns the Etta Dress jumped out at me, the lemon print on the sample and the elegant cut of the pattern truly make this dress, as the title of the online class suggests,  ‘a knock out’.    Like most beginner sewists, I was pretty set on making myself an occasion dress for my wardrobe, even though I wouldn’t get that much wear out of it day to day, I think wearing a dress that you’ve made yourself, that you know is fitted to your body, brings a whole new level of confidence for a special occasion.


As reward for teaching myself  to sew and for graduating from the Love at First Stitch Book, i bought this pattern and some coral stretch cotton fabric from Sew Over It to make a knock out dress to wear for a family wedding. It was going to be putting my newly acquired skills to good use as the pattern said ‘for a confident beginner’…eep!

Coral is not a colour I wear often, but last summer I picked up a linen coral dress on holiday and often get complimented on it. I had also tried to buy a Coral Bardot Dress in the Sale from Wallis last year, for another wedding, but it was out of stock in my size when it came to processing my order ( heartbreaking ) So I was pretty pleased that the end result was going to be a dress i’d been dreaming up for over a year (without the cold!)


Wallis Dress


I opted to make the capped sleeve version, with a a collar and without the pockets. It was the first time I made an official toille, I made it from some Calico I picked up in the sale at Abakhan and on the surface the  process sometimes seems labour intensive, I was really glad I did, because I needed to add some length to the body and the skirt, so it would fit perfectly on the bottom of the knee. The Calico didn’t have any stretch and when I pinned the back to wear I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to eat…or dance to much in the dress. But determined in my plans I set to cutting into the fabric…!


Constructing the bodice and the skirt was plain sailing, but I hit a road block trying to add the collar. I got cocky and skimmed through the instructions, because I felt I remembered what I was doing.,because I’d made a toille.,such a rookie error. So I attached the collar without the faced piece so had to go back and unpick it. I also had to unpick the zip because I didn’t have the interfacing for the back seams when I was making it, yes on a Friday night…so i just skipped that stage, but when I went to wear the dress..the invisible zip was visible, I think it was because of the stretch in the cotton. So I spent quite a bit of time unpicking, then interfaced and put the zip in again. I used an invisible zip foot, it was better, but still not great…so I sewed over the zip tape again with a normal zip foot. I made bias binding tape for the sleeves a first for me, with some help by watching Lauren from Gurthie & Ghani’s YouTube Tutorials.

Bias Binding

Honestly, I love it. I feel great in it and better still I am confident knowing no one else will be rocking up in the same frock as me, as I made it myself. When I tried it on I never wanted to take it off. I reckon it will be posh frocks and wellies when i’m out walking the dog.

I had bought some champagne coloured lining fabric to line the whole dress, but because of the heatwave I didn’t want to add a synthetic lining to a cotton dress on what could potentially be a very hot day in July.  The stretch in the cotton made this dress really comfortable to wear, even though it is fitted. The zip is still not perfect and because I didn’t have a coral zip, or couldn’t source one locally you can’t really hide any mistakes, but I had to let go of my perfectionism and remember firstly it was my first proper wearable dress and secondly no one else would give two hoots about my zip.


I plan on making this dress again, I want to try the long sleeved version, without the collar in a puppy tooth for winter, I think without the collar and dress it down for everyday. I also like the idea of an emerald green one, which would feel very Joan from Mad Men. If I was working in an office i’d probably make several versions of this dress and wear them on rotation because it’s smart, sophisticated and feminine.

Joan Mad Men

Thanks to Tilly and The Buttons for this knock out dress, I’m sure I will always hold a special place in my heart for Etta. Especially as I got a shout on Tilly and the Buttons instagram stories of a photo of me wearing this dress at a wedding.



All for now.

Claire & Co.