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  • Carol Alayne

Highland flair

I was working on four different Harris tweed garments last December when, by chance, I came across this article in The Guardian newspaper: Harris tweed sales soar. ‘Surely not just thanks to me’, I mused, but I was pleased with the closing remark from Lorna Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, who said: ‘There is a renaissance in handmade quality products, exactly the box Harris Tweed ticks. There is still a discerning customer out there who wants quality [handmade] goods…’ I do hope Tailoring for Women and the Harris Tweed Authority can continue to tick each other’s boxes!

Here is my latest Harris tweed garment. The design was based on a favourite coat of my client. I kept the features she likes: multi-colour detail, authentic un-dyed stag horn buttons (as usual, The Button Queen had the perfect product), and the thing she called ‘swing,’ or the weight of the volume at the hemline, rather like a kilt.

There were two features she wanted to improve on: the length was to be made longer to cover every length of skirt in her wardrobe, and some of the features didn’t sit quite right. The generous pockets and the turn-back cuffs needed structure and staying-in-place power.

Little details can be a big deal. If a pocket doesn’t carry the right stuff or a detail doesn’t lie in place it can be annoying enough to ruin the experience of wearing a garment. (And if not the wearer, it can offend the eye of the person looking at it. I watched a weatherman on TV last night and the top collar of his suit jacket flipped up and away from the garment. I was so fixated on this that I lost the whole of the forecast.)

The rest she said, was up to me. I thought it would benefit for an added two-way zip to make it warmer. And to increase the volume, a generous pleat was added to the centre back. Then I thought, if colour adds to the excitement, why not go for it with eleven (yes, eleven) different shades of the Harris tweed base cloth. And each bound buttonhole would be a different colour, arranged in the order of the spectrum. Think Richard of York…

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