Last week I persuaded five of my sewing friends to join me on another fabric-related adventure.
We took the famous train journey from Settle to Carlisle, which I have never travelled before, despite living close-by for most of my life. It's a two hour trip passing through amazing countryside, over the famous Ribblehead viaduct and with views of the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the Lake District.
A sweet guide came through the carriage to tell us all of the historic landmarks we could visit on our arrival, including the castle and museum. He didn't know that we intended on spending our four hours in Carlisle admiring fabric and having a leisurely afternoon tea, which is exactly what we did.
A trip to Linton Tweed has been on my wish list since I first saw the fabric samples in a class with my teacher, Ann Ladbury, a few years ago. Shaddon Mill has been weaving their innovative cloth since 1912, and is a stunning building with the landmark Dixon's chimney, which originally stood 305 ft tall. Linton's international reputation comes from its relationship with global brand Chanel. Those iconic edge-to-edge jackets, woven with ribbon and sequins, are what Linton is all about.
Their website tells the story:
"In 1912 Scotsman William Linton started Linton Mill in the Caldewgate area of Carlisle, a small city situated close to the Scottish border and near the famous Lake District.
Initially Linton employed two salesmen with ponies and traps who travelled the Lake District buying wool and selling woollen suit lengths. William Linton's great friend, Captain Molyneux, was a Parisian couturier who in the1920's introduced him to a dynamic young lady called Coco Chanel. This began an association which has flourished over the years resulting in the house of Chanel being Linton's biggest and most prestigious customer."
Jean Muir opened the retail shop next to the mill in 1993 and Linton Direct is a collection sold there, and online too. The average cost is about £36 per metre and I would say there were about 80 fabrics to choose from.
The shop has plenty of lengths of 2 metre fabrics (perfect for an iconic jacket) next to a mirror so you can drape them across you and imagine if they would work well. It is incredibly useful, and I think when you are spending between £70 and £80 then you need to be both confident, and excited about your choice. I had a few friends on hand to give me an instant yes or no, and eventually went for a loosely woven red wool cloth. I loved the delicate white cloths too, with fine woven details, but had a reality check that with three children it might not get much wear and I wouldn't look like Gwyneth Paltrow does in hers!
They also have a skirt-length rail where you get 2 for the price of 1, so 2 metres of cloth for £20. We all came away with some pretty crazy fabrics to make up into skirts!
Then there were the scrap bags - £5 for about 15 pieces of cloth which could be used for small bags, purses, appliqué or corsages etc. Not forgetting the bargain box with random cuts for £5 too.
The Bobbin Coffee Shop served us afternoon tea with prosecco and the most delicious homemade cakes, then we headed back to the train with our delights.
I bought enough cloth for a jacket, 2 skirts, a crepe dress and a top for £98 which seemed pretty good to me.
This week I noticed my local shop had 50% off all of their Vogue patterns so I snapped up this jacket pattern. I am keen to learn all about 3 piece-sleeves (apparently they keep their shape when the elbow is bent). It also includes quilting the shell to the lining, and sewing in a chain to weight the bottom.
Claire Schaeffer Vogue V8991 pattern
I have read around the internet that sewing a couture French-style jacket can take about 70 hours. I love hand sewing, so that part doesn't daunt me, and I think it will be a really good technical challenge, I just need to find a bit of time from somewhere!
In the meantime I will start work on a simpler project, this Vogue dress in the 2 metres of soft black crepe I pulled from the bargain box for £10.
Vogue pattern 9021
You can read more about Linton and their history here
Afternoon tea is £15 per head (with a glass of prosecco) but does need to be booked in advance.
A Day Rover on the Settle Carlisle Railway was £15 per adult (the last part was by bus due to the landslide a few months ago).
Do let me know if you go for a trip, or share any top tips for sewing up Linton!