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Sunday 19 May 2024

Scottish outfits for Sasha Festival Children's Fund auction

Earlier this year I started thinking about what to make as my Children's Fund Auction donation for the forthcoming 2024 Sasha Doll Festival in Milton Keynes. Inspired by our 9 day Scottish roadtrip last August, which Laura and Nicolas James enjoyed, I decided to continue using the yarn I enjoy knitting (which is from the Shetland islands) and combine that with genuine Harris tweed from the outer Hebrides. In our roadtrip I had picked up a bag of tweed oddments plus some small tweed squares at a shop in Oban, none of which were big enough for making a single outfit, let alone a pair of outfits, so I started searching for Hebridean weavers online and found Shawbost Weavers who are based in the Isle of Lewis. I follow them on Facebook, they share progress of their latest weaves then post notifications when they've got the fabric ready in their online shop. 

I knew for a Sasha doll the weave pattern needed to be a small repeat rather than large checks. When they shared a post of their 'Heather' weave in early April (they posted a Scottish landscape of heather photo which had inspired the colours chosen), my colour combination appreciation was triggered and I bought half a metre of the fabric as soon as it was in their online shop (£30 for half a metre, Harris tweed fabric is not cheap in quality or price but is wonderful stuff). Fortunately the fabric, though pure wool, is not too thick for a doll, if the outfit is carefully designed. I knew lining would be necessary for the two main items, so once it arrived I searched through my fabric hoard and found some gorgeous dark purple georgette which was the leftovers from a party dress I had made for Dmd for her 13th birthday when we had attended a friend's wedding.

I used the late Ted Menten's versatile pinafore pattern for the dress (whisper - I dislike setting sleeves, so love Ted's pattern because it has none!) and found a waistcoat pattern which I redrew slightly at the shoulders to accommodate the turn right side out part of the construction, as the tweed was thick enough not turn properly with narrow shoulders (I tried a first attempt and had to cut it out again). However, before I started sewing, I knitted the 3/4 length sleeve top for the girl (Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift Aubretia), the long sleeved shirt with collar for the boy (Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift Natural White), the shorts for the boy (Jamieson's of Shetland Spindrift Mist) and both pairs of socks (mainly Jamieson's & Smith 2ply lace Optic White with stripes of Aubretia and Mist). I also corresponded with Lisa Hartley about leather colour for the shoes and decided on a gorgeous dark purple for both the Mary Janes with button and the Lace up shoes), after sending her a photo of the tweed. Thank you Lisa, they are perfect.

Once the outfits were coming together on the dolls, I decided they both needed headgear. The girl has a headband (lined tweed, with black elastic at the back of the neck) and the boy has a Tam O'Shanter (Scottish hat) made using a beret pattern with purple bias binding for a band. I didn't line the boy's hat as it wasn't necessary. He has a heart in the centre of the hat, symbolising friendship which is one of the themes of the festival. The pinafore dress has decorative flower buttons I had bought in a fabric shop near Boston, USA in 2022 after the Syracuse Sasha Festival, they symbolise the heather flowers which inspired the tweed colours - Heather was the name of one of my childhood friends.

The tweed fabric came with some Genuine Harris tweed labels, so I have sewn one inside the pinafore and one inside the waistcoat.

Florence and Reuben got to model the outfits and will do so at the festival but they are not part of the auction donation.

Harris Tweed and Shetland wool ensemble for Gregor and Sasha,
modelled by Reuben and Florence

Tam O'Shanter, waistcoat, shirt and shorts for Gregor
Headband, pinafore dress and 3/4 sleeve top for Sasha

Socks and Lisa Hartley lace up shoes for Gregor

Socks and Mary Jane with button fastening shoes for Sasha

Side view of the Tweed and Shetland wool outfit for Gregor

Heart button on the Tam O'Shanter

Back view of the Tweed and Shetland wool outfit for Gregor

Tam O'Shanter at a jaunty angle

Side view of the Tweed and Shetland wool outfit for Sasha showing the headband

Side view of the Tweed and Shetland wool outfit for Sasha showing the socks and shoes

Back view of the Tweed and Shetland wool outfit for Sasha

Side view of the Tweed and Shetland wool outfit for Sasha
showing the buttons and top of the pinafore

Genuine Harris tweed labels inside the pinafore dress and waistcoat

I am pleased with how I managed to achieve my vision of these outfits and hope they help raise funds 'for the children' at the 2024 Sasha Doll Festival.

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