Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

#1year1outfit – The Bristol Cloth and the Beginnings of a Hacking Jacket


I’ve been noticing that the #1year1outfit challenge has been generating a lot of posts recently and I feel that I have been neglecting my contributions to the challenge. I’m hoping to put this right over the next couple of months with dedicated sewing!

But first I thought I share some more research. Bristol is European Green Capital this year and a projects that particularly sparked my interest is the Bristol Cloth Project. The Bristol Cloth Competition is a contest to design a local textile. The deadline for entries was last month and the shortlisted entries are on display at the moment.

Bristol Cloth

The designs are all beautiful and they take their inspiration from local architecture, cycling tweeds and basket-weaving.




The cloth is going to be produced using local wool from Fernhill Farm, dyed with natural vegetable dyes from Botanical Inks, (you may remember that I attended one of their workshops back in April) and woven at Dash and Miller.Now you can’t get more local than that – all the elements of this fabric will come from within 20 miles of my house.

I suspect that the finished cloth won’t be available until next year, which is shame as I wanted to include a make with this very local fabric in this year’s challenge. But there’s always next year.

I do have an update on a garment that is in progress too. In the quest to find new and interesting fabrics for the challenge, I started to explore historical re-enactment websites and I came across this 100% hemp fabric which is grown and made in the South-West of England. The fabric is used, in the re-enactment world, for Viking dresses and cloaks. The only thing I don’t know about this fabric was how it was dyed. The website didn’t supply the information about that.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I ordered it. It’s always difficult to know from a website. When it arrived I found that it was quite crisp, with a coarse weave and it smelled of old string, not surprisingly, as it is hemp! I’m pleased with the colour – it is a beautiful, subtle colour, more a pale green, than khaki.

I had thought, before it arrived, to make some trousers with the fabric. But, on reflection, the fabric will lend itself much better to being made into a jacket. I think the structured look of a jacket will help make it look less “dark ages” and more in tune with modern attire.


I washed it in the washing machine at the weekend and, although I may be imagining this, I think it has softened the fabric somewhat. (Hemp is supposed to soften after repeated washings). The “string” smell has died down too!

I had a look for jacket patterns in my stash, and eventually settled on the “Hacking Jacket” pattern, for an unlined jacket, in the first Sewing Bee book. I have already made one of the projects from the Sewing Bee book before. It was one of the simpler projects – an apron and it turned out well, but I did spot a glaring error in the pattern. It was nothing major, just a mislabelled pattern piece. The Hacking Jacket, however, is reproduced from a New Look pattern, so I hoped that this didn’t have any problems.


Unfortunately, this pattern is far, far worse. Firstly, it seems to have been reproduced without any of the pattern pieces being identified. Fortunately, the scale drawing in the book is a big help on this front. However I was disappointed to find that the button / buttonhole markings are missing and the positioning dots were unlabelled, or sometimes missing. It all added up to a situation where I didn’t feel confident about this make.


I was trying to make my fitting adjustments, which I usually do at the same time as tracing my pattern However, not knowing where the waist was supposed to be, or how much the left and right fronts overlapped, making fitting adjustments would be a huge amount of guesswork. I got cold feet today and just went and bought the New Look pattern (New Look 6035) and discovered a wealth of missing information from the pattern and the instructions. I’m really glad that I decided to take the mystery and guesswork out of this project, but the extra expense really shouldn’t have been necessary and it was luck that the pattern is still on sale.

It just makes me feel frustrated for any beginners who have struggled with this book. Or perhaps not that many people have made up the projects in this book. They could have published some errata and improved the PDF patterns on the website after the book was published.

Last night I was just tracing out my pattern and customising it for my size, when I started to feel a little cold. As the nearest thing to hand I grabbed my 2 metres of hemp and tucked myself up on the sofa with it. I couldn’t believe how warm it is. I’d always imagined how cold life must have been to our forebears in this chilly part of the world, but hadn’t factored in that they would probably have worn heavy fabrics like this. Incidentally, I had noticed that it dried rather quickly as well (in about 2 hours on the line outside, which is quick, considering it is September). A cotton towel drying alongside, took virtually the whole day. Perhaps my imagined vikings didn’t spend their time sitting around shivering in damp, “stringy”-smelling cloaks after all.

I should be able to get the pattern tracing finished properly tonight, now I have all the information I need. I will just have to make good use of the top, skirt and trouser pattern also included with New Look 6035 so that I don’t feel I’ve wasted my money.

Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

6 thoughts on “#1year1outfit – The Bristol Cloth and the Beginnings of a Hacking Jacket

  1. Ooh what a great find, I can’t wait to see the jacket x

  2. Am I really weird in that I love the stringy smell of hemp? I love that you have entered a competition to make your own fabric that is all local! I will run the project again next year so you are just starting early. I’m looking forward to seeing your jacket: )

    • Sadly I haven’t entered the competition – I don’t think I know enough about weaving. But I’m keen to try the Bristol Cloth when it has been woven. With all these weaving going on nearby perhaps I could commission some cloth – bet that might be expensive though. Glad 1year1oufit is going to run again – I have done so much research that there are still plenty of ideas that I haven’t tried yet.

  3. You found a lovely fabric – very warm too?! – just perfect for a jacket. Looking forward to seeing more!

  4. Pingback: #1year1outfit – The Hacking Jacket Part 2 | Steely Seamstress

  5. Pingback: Hacking Jacket UFO | The Monthly Stitch

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