COBURG OPEN STUDIOS - THE SAFE WAY! September 08 2020
Coburg House Open Studios – the Safe Way! Saturday and Sunday 19th and 20th September 10am until 5pm.
Book your visit here: https://bit.ly/35ijklo
We didn’t have our usual open studios in August due to the current health situation but we decided to not miss out on the fun totally and have devised a safe and secure version – taking all the Covid-19 protocols into account. This time only two floors will be open, no crowded corridors or busy studios – that was fun but doesn’t suit our current way of life. Now we will only have two floors open – the gallery floor and the basement - a one way system and 90 minute time slots, all to be booked through Eventbrite. You won’t miss out on the wonderful work of the talented designers and artists that inhabit the upper floors as we’re all squidging along a bit, and just showing the best of the best so that some spaces can be shared.
Come back and see us, we’d love to see you – behind masks of course. There’s also new people in the studio too as some changes have taken place in the last few months so there’s fabulous new work to see.
Please come to Studio 4 in the basement where I share my studio with designer Piotr Pyrchala. I’ll have a new collection of Renaissance recycled messenger bags, a waxed cotton collection – as well as the favourite Harris Tweed designs.
More information here: https://www.coburghouse.co.uk/open-studios
CLOTH#20 - ONLINE August 12 2020SAVE THE DATE: On the 22nd & 23rd August - the fabulous Cloth Show that we've had in Edinburgh the last few years is taking place online this year...
SUSTAINABLE STYLE - GREY FOX FEATURE June 01 2020
The fabulous fashion writer www.greyfoxblog.com has featured our Renaissance Collection and the Bespoke service! Read all about it HERE
FACE MASKS - OUR CHANGING WORLD May 06 2020Who would have thought at the beginning of the year, as we all celebrated a new decade, that this worldwide tragedy was around the corner.
RECYCLING YOUR WARDROBE! March 24 2020
In this very strange situation we find ourselves in I know people will be looking for projects to do, perhaps dusting off that sewing machine and thinking - what can I make? It all seems to have happened so quickly and there's been so much to worry about that you won't have thought to dash out and buy fabric and findings, ready to create something beautiful during this time of lockdown and isolation.
This blogpost is here to inspire you to look no further than the corners of your wardrobe and to give you some tips and advice that I've picked up having spent years recycling. My first collection in 2005 was a mix of accessories that were created either from recycling or creating my own fabric by printing it locally at a photocopy shop. Much has changed in 15 years! Since that first collection I've concentrated on recycling Scottish materials like Harris Tweed jackets, Kilts and mohair capes etc as well as focusing on the amazing contemporary Harris Tweeds that are woven today on Harris & Lewis. I never dreamed when I started out that I would land up with designs in the British Museum and the V&A, create collections for the National Galleries and work with Judy Murray creating a collection for her Wimbledon inspired Harris Tweed. But before we start, here are some of the things I've made over the years - many are from that first collection but the vintage kimono and tweed have certainly been constants in my collections over the years:
FROM VINTAGE KIMONO
FROM VINTAGE CURTAINS
So as you can see, you can make something out of almost anything! Most of the pieces that I make for my own personal use have been from much loved garments that I can't bear to throw out, but I can no longer wear. Either they are so beautiful, remind me of such happy times or have huge sentimental value, that I cannot discard them. These are the ones I tend to make into other things, so that I can still use, see and touch the material, bringing the memories closer and giving me such an emotional connection to whatever it is I've created.
A good idea is to perhaps do a bit of a 'Marie Kondo' (https://konmari.com/) on your wardrobe then see what a fabulous haul you have to play around with. Besides clothing, old bags that are no longer functional, or have just lost their allure, are rich pickings for straps and fittings and sometimes zips too. You'll see in the images above the bags that are made from vintage curtains use my old wooden bangles as a motif on the closing flap, that also keeps it weighted down. I also sometimes use kilt pins to attach leather straps - at the time, I didn't have a strong enough machine for thick leather - so I made a couple of holes in the leather and attached the strap to the bag with the kilt pins. It's an amazingly strong closure that I still occasionally use today - and it's securely soldered closed.
Look through your haul and decide what kind of bag you might like to make, it's great fun choosing what it should be, letting your mind run free with the possibilities. Necessity is the mother of invention after all - and it's great coming up with ideas or suddenly seeing a different use for something because you have no access to other materials. I tend to make accessories but you can easily make dresses, skirts...anything you want. Because accessories is where my expertise lies, I'll stick to talking about that. I'm not doing a tutorial - there's loads of brilliant ones online for any number of designs so once you decide what materials you have, just get googling.
For accessories, it's always good to use heavier weight cloths for the outer material, and lighter for the inside. I unpick everything first and then always give it a wash. Even things that are generally dry clean only like wool, mohair, tweed etc, it's good to give a short 30 degree wash. This makes sure it's all clean to work with but as importantly, pulls the fibres together to make them stronger for their new life as a messenger bag or backpack. Delicate fabrics, like the kimono silks I've worked with, I do still hand wash (Note: some vintage kimonos are hand painted so you don't want to be washing that!).
Steam press all the material with a protective thin cloth; then use a fusible interlining (if you don't have any, good and quick sources are www.u-handbag.com and www.sewessential.co.uk). I tend to use a lot of Pelon Decor Bond 809 with my tweeds but something much more pliable and lighter with delicate fabrics like silks. I find the right fusible makes the material easier to work with, the lines sharper and helps hold the shape and gives strength. I also use interlining - this can be found online too but also if you've ever made curtains and have some spare blackout - this is a brilliant interlining in the absence of anything else.
Once you've decided on your material, then empty out your sewing box as well. If it's anything like mine, it's always a surprise what you can find in there that may be helpful in putting a bag or purse together. Studs, buttons, loop elastic to hold buttons in place... embroidery threads for finishing touches; ribbon that you can create a strap out of.
Get to know what you can do on your domestic machine, really become familiar with how it works and what it will take, to build your confidence when you come to make. You can even do some leather work on a domestic with the right needles and some patience. I use a semi industrial Janome 1600P. I do also have an industrial Juki but I love my Janome - and we use both in the studio for the main collection of backpacks, messengers and handbags. The thickness the Janome can go through is incredible and I like to think of it as my old war horse as it just keeps going. I started with a domestic Brother though, very light but still wonderfully versatile for different weights and thicknesses. So don't be frightened to try things out on your domestic machine - be patient and sew slowly, try working samples of the cloth first, with different thickness of the interlining, interfacings etc to see what you might be dealing with. For your first project, Try something easy like a shopper first, or a small clutch. Zipper clutches are very easy to make too, and quick - and once you've mastered a basic style then it's easy to change the size and shape to make different styles of bags. My really popular Toiletry Bag is effectively the same style as the new Traveller Cross Body Bag - just a few tweaks makes it appear completely different.
Besides accessories and clothing, cushion covers and quilts are something to think about - and we are so lucky now with an endless supply of tutorials online, on blogs and you tube. I very rarely make clothes for myself now, but I do love watching the tutorials - I find them very relaxing!
I hope this inspires you to start a project using what you have around you. If you have any questions that you think I can help with, why not post them on my Facebook page, so that others can see the questions and answers.
Good luck, happy making and wishing you all to stay safe during this health emergency.
SCOTTISH FIELD REVIEWS ARTISAN EDINBURGH! January 27 2020
By Bethany Ferguson - 8th January 2020
DESIGNS ON SUCCESS IN CREATIVE EDINBURGH
With its beautiful architecture, world heritage status, and world-class art galleries and museums, Edinburgh is a city which is truly steeped in creative history.
Although a walk through the Georgian splendour of the New Town or the winding, medieval streets of the Old Town makes the city’s charm evident, what is not so obvious is the city’s burgeoning creative communities studiously working away behind closed doors.
As a Leith-based accessories designer herself, Catherine Aitken uses her wealth of knowledge to unveil the craftsmen and women who are helping to cement Edinburgh’s place as a world-leader in revolutionary creative design.
The book is a true celebration of 24 highly skilled artisans across a variety of disciplines, including a kilt maker, furniture upholsterer and sign gilder.
The interviews with each artist gives an insight into how they got to this point in their careers, while the beautiful images makes the book an objet d’art in its own right. Perfect for display on a living room coffee table.
Some interviews do stand out from the rest, particularly the visit to the studio of award-winning Womenswear Fashion Designer Judy R. Clark. A previous intern of the late genius Alexander McQueen, Judy used this experience to create her own stunning collection of timeless designs featuring Harris Tweed, Scottish lace and antique fabrics, all of which are showcased to full effect in the book’s beautiful images.
Aitken gets the balance right between quirky anecdotes and more technical information about each individual’s complex artistic process. For example, we learn about silversmith Bryony Knox’s upbringing in Kenya which inspires her animal-shaped kinetic silver objects and earned her the appointment as Artist in Residence at Edinburgh Zoo.
With many of the featured artisans based in studios in Leith, some history into how this particular area of Edinburgh became such an artistic hub would have been welcome. However, Aitken succeeds in shining a much-needed spotlight on these vital communities.
SALE! Little treats for you in the New Year! December 24 2019We're having a little sale - not much stock left but there's a fabulous opportunity to purchase a handcrafted beauty at a special festive discount. Check out what's on offer here and very merry Christmas to you!
LAST POSTING DATES FOR CHRISTMAS... December 12 2019
...with just under two weeks to go until the big day, we thought we'd give you the dates you need to order by to make sure your gift reaches you or you the recipient in time for Christmas!
Last day for the US & Rest of World is Saturday 14th December! Europe is the 16th and UK 18th - that's the date we're closing up for Christmas, so last day to get your order in.
I hope enjoy browsing and if you need any help - as always, drop me an email on email@example.com
NOT LONG NOW... November 15 2019Not long now until the biggest and best of Scotland's Open Studios - the Coburg House Christmas event.
OCH!TOBER! October 04 2019
Hoots Maun! It's Och!tober! Lots of exclamation marks there....
Och!tober is my take on a new exhibition that's coming up at Coburg Studios during the last weekend of the month and the first weekend in November. Inspired by 'Inktober' we decided to take the underlying ethos of producing one work of art per day and apply it to ourselves as we work through October. Everyone is taking a different inspiration instead of Ink(tober) - someone is doing Pinktober and another designer maker is doing Socktober - so it's going to be fun and something very different. I've chosen Och!tober - inspired by the fact that I use mostly Scottish materials in my designs and this month will be completely so. So expect to see Harris Tweed, Scottish Deerskin Leather, Waxed Cotton and Scottish Linen.
The first weekend may also show some designs in progress as we work feverishly towards creating something everyday for the whole month.
More information soon on the other participants soon.
The dates and times are:
Saturday and Sunday 26th and 27th October 11am until 4pm
Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd November 11am until 4pm
I hope you can visit Och!tober!
ARTISAN EDINBURGH - A NEW BOOK June 22 2019Much of my time recently has been taking up working on a wonderful new project - Artisan Edinburgh.
COMING SOON - TRANSFORM March 24 2019Transform - an exhibition of Sustainable Art & Design will soon be on at Coburg Studios ...
A NEW WAY OF WORKING... February 19 2019There's a new collection online and it also reflects a new way of working for me. I've decided to concentrate entirely on small limited edition collections and bespoke.
NEW COLLECTION COMING SOON.... February 04 2019Sorry that our shelves are empty! We're currently creating new designs and they will be online very soon.
CHRISTMAS SALE December 18 2018
Our stock cupboards are almost bare... but we've got a few of our handcrafted beauties left that are still looking for a home for Christmas...
Check out our Seasonal Sale!
EXCLUSIVE CHRISTMAS PROMOTION December 09 2018Search for the Christmas Image! In the run up to Christmas we're doing a series of short term surprises and offers for our customers...
CHRISTMAS IS COMING AND THIS IS WHERE YOU'LL FIND US! October 28 2018Between now and Christmas is the busiest time of year for us. Bespoke orders come rushing in, the website is madly busy and we also take part in lots of events...
CARLOWRIE CASTLE - ISOBEL WYLIE HUTCHISON October 28 2018Isobel Wylie Hutchison has always been one of my inspirations. This amazing woman first started her expeditions in her early twenties by walking from Edinburgh to London, then from Innsbruck to Venice. Born in Carlowrie Castle in West Lothian in 1889 this was not a time when women were able to strike out on their own.
NOW STOCKED IN V&A DUNDEE September 23 2018Exciting news - our Hepburn Backpack is now stocked in the wonderful new V&A Dundee.
#CLOTH18 - NEW SHOW AT DOVECOT August 08 2018
With Open Studios just behind us, we're now working to get ready for #CLOTH18
WHERE TO FIND US THIS SUMMER... July 13 2018Our Summer Sale has just launched online and the studio is very hot and very busy at the moment as we get the new Autumn/Winter Collection ready. Besides our online shop, you can find our new designs at a few places if you're visiting Edinburgh this August so here's a little round up!
FABULOUS EVENING AT EDINBURGH CASTLE June 10 2018
Craft Scotland kindly commissioned us to create individual gifts for their reception at Edinburgh Castle, hosting the World Craft Council's visit to the city and to launch the Craft Scotland Conference that took place over the next two days.
I've long been an admirer of Tessuti Scotland. The designer behind the label, Fiona McIntosh, worked with us to produce a range of fashion accessories. Read more...
WHERE TO BUY HARRIS TWEED? May 19 2018This is a question we get asked a lot! Harris Tweed is a stunning handwoven cloth - the only cloth to be protected by an Act of Parliament - woven on the islands of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Read more...
GORGEOUS NEW CLOTHS FROM CROTAL HARRIS TWEED March 01 2018Well, we all know we love Harris Tweed but it's even better when we know who the weaver is and see them at work. In the new collection there's two stunning cloths from Annie Mackay at Crotal Harris Tweed. Read more...
MAKER OF THE MONTH AT CONCRETE WARDROBE... November 05 2017Delighted to say that November we're Maker of the Month at the fabulous Concrete Wardrobe on Broughton Street Edinburgh! Read more...
THE HERALD FASHION AWARDS October 14 2017Delighted to have been nominated in two categories for The Herald Fashion Awards, taking place in Glasgow on the 5th November. Read more...
IT'S WOOL WEEK! October 08 2017
Campaign for Wool celebrates wool every year and this year the capstone event is Wool Fusion and it's wonderful that we were commissioned to create two bags to celebrate the event and our use of Harris Tweed. The details of the event, taking place this week in London, are below.
A Rambler Rucksack and a Hobo Handbag in gorgeous montage shades. What do you think?
IT'S NEW COLLECTION TIME! September 07 2017
Check out the new designs we have for you online and also the favourites in new colours and materials. This new season we've gone for vibrant reds, beautiful blues and rich burnt orange. We've also upped the level of Waxed Cotton, using a new Hybrid Aero from Halley Stevensons in Dundee, that's dry to the touch and just perfect for our climate - and more over, teams perfectly with our beloved Harris Tweed.
We hope you like it....
IT'S SALE TIME! July 16 2017
We're getting the new collection underway and thought we'd have a little sale of the stock we had left - hope you can take advantage of it! New designs are coming up and will be available at the Craft Scotland Summer Show in Edinburgh - absolutely delighted to have been selected to take part - and alongside a prestigious range of fabulous Scottish designers! Thank you Craft Scotland. Get the details here
Just the day after that launch we're having our 25th Biannual Open Weekend at Coburg Studios! Details here. I can't believe that I've had studio space all that time. I first got the space when I was still producing in the film and TV industry, so it all started as a part time venture that eventually turned into a new career - it's never too late so start something new it seems. My last production was in 2014 but just recently I've been musing on a special project that I may get involved in....never say never!
Another event and another opportunity to browse and buy gorgeous handmade and vintage designs will be at the Selvedge Fair at the Dovecot Textile Museum and Gallery in Infirmary Street in Edinburgh - the date for the diary is Saturday the 19th August and there's more details here.
Until then, it's pretty full on with orders for Glenfiddich Distillery, a new stockist in Germany (details soon), replenishing our retailers British Museum, Mull Pottery, Cranachan & Crowdie and Concrete Wardrobe, popping a little linen collection into SDX at Ocean Terminal, supplying new stockists Charisma in Dunblane and Winston & Potter in Swannage. In between of course doing bespoke pieces for lovely customers, dealing with online orders and helping set up the new Coburg Gallery Shop - and I need to find time to get out and about and enjoy the Edinburgh Festival!
It's all go. I can't thank you enough for your support as wonderful customers and clients, for commenting and liking and giving me your thoughts on social media. It's so heartening to see how many people love beautiful handcrafted products and I hope you'll like the new designs for the new season that will be launched very soon - my customers are my inspiration after all! Watch this space!
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DISCOUNT! June 06 2017
18th June isn't far away and we've got some fabulous gift ideas as well as a lovely 10% discount across the collection. Use Promo Code FATHER at the checkout to get 10% off your purchase. Available until 17th June midnight.
Have you seen our new Tetra Pouches? In Scottish Deerskin Leather, Suede or Harris Tweed - they're just the thing for storing charges, adapters, makeup, cash and cards - and in such style. Check out the selection online here.
Herald's Fashion Top 50 April 16 2017
And we're in! Very happy indeed to be among such illustrious names and talents. Thank you to The Herald for including us.
Gent's Gift Guide November 30 2016
It’s a common complaint from Santa’s Little Helpers that the men in their life are tirelessly difficult to buy presents for. With our dedicated selection of gent’s products, we’ve got an accessory for everyone this Christmas, all Handmade in Scotland.
Read on for our handy guide to Christmas shopping from across the Catherine Aitken collection.
Who’s the guy?
Wanderlust 4 Way Montage
A truly versatile gift, there are four choices on how to wear your Wanderlust: Backpack, Cross-body Messenger, Shoulder Bag or Briefcase! We love this Harris Tweed and Wax Cotton classic in Montage edition; timeless green herringbone, with a surprising splash of vibrant orange.
An overnight bag that's just as ideal for days out in town, the Gent’s Town Tote is a contemporary wax cotton twist on a basic tote bag but with a whole host of added
features including a detachable strap and inner pockets.
A beautiful big sturdy bag for every day, whether for the office or a lazy weekend away. There's 2 pouch pockets on the reverse of the bag, a double slot pocket inside
and it's lined in strong black drill cotton.
Whether a classmate, flatmate, or Secret Santa mate, this herringbone tweed coin purse with a strong cotton lining (which fits a credit/debit card too) is right on budget for a
small gent’s gift.
What does he do?
Fabulous loop scarf for the colder months with warm fleece linings. The kind of scarf that looks stylish on anyone! One long circular loop - pop it round your neck, cross over once and pop the second loop over your head and hey presto - great style.
Harris Tweed wash bag in an optimum size to fit all those grooming necessities neatly inside for a short trip away, including shaving kit, tooth brush and fragrance. Lined with
waterproof waxed cotton made in Dundee.
Super sturdy rucksack perfect for the keen student. This wax cotton bag in beautiful chocolate brown has a strong zip closure across the top, top handle for easy carrying by hand, adjustable black heavy cotton webbing straps, secure zip pocket on the reverse, double slot pocket inside.
The perfect size to keep laptops, tablets and paperwork safe, this sturdy folio case in Classic Grey Herringbone Harris Tweed features a lightly padded interior, secure inner pocket, strong zip closure with black leather puller and antique brass fittings.
What our bags are perfect for April 07 2016
Ever stuck on what bag is most suitable for a certain occasion? Don’t worry, we've got you covered! Here we show you what each of our bags are perfect for..
Whether its a casual walk in the park or a weekend city break to Paris, our Voyager Messenger/Clutch is perfect to carry all those tourist essentials.
Our Pansy Cosmetic Bag is the ideal accessory for a vacation abroad or just a weekend away, to carry everything you need when staying away from home. Big enough to store make up, make up brushes and a toothbrush.
Our Kimono bags can take you from day to night, shoulder bag to clutch. Small, but big enough to carry everything you need to have the perfect night - money, phone and make up!
For the commuter, the student or the wanderer. Our Hepburn Backpack is stylish, spacious and sturdy, allowing you to carry everything you need, whilst looking great at the same time.
RHEGED EXHIBITION April 06 2016
The Rheged Exhibition that opened last week in Penrith, Cumbria, is a stunning exhibition that has been created by popular photographer Ian Lawson and The Harris Tweed Authority. Taking its inspiration from Ian Lawson’s personal narrative, ‘Harris Tweed: From The Land’, which explores the Scottish Outer Hebrides, the remote and romantic home of the world-famous Harris Tweed cloth.
In this stunning exploration of people and place, these most special of islands are brought to light through this exhibition of wonderful images, film and physical objects connected to the Harris Tweed industry.
So to have a few of our products showcased at this exhibition, we are absolutely honoured! Featuring along side many other designers of beautifully made Harris Tweed products, our selection of bags fit right in.
The selection of colours are wonderful, and you can really see the connection of Ian Lawson’s beautiful photography with the colours used for the Tweed, that is also available to buy at the exhibition!
The Exhibition is on until Sunday 15 May 2016, which gives you plenty of time to go down to the Rheged Centre and check out this wonderful exhibition. And to make matters even better, its completely free to enter!
The National features our new Wristlet Clutch... March 11 2016
...in a double page spread also featuring the new Voyager Hip.
With Spring and Summer slowly but surely creeping round the corner, we've introduced new season designs that will brighten up even the dullest of days. Our Wristlet Clutch makes the perfect grab bag for those on the go, available in an array of colour pop brights and traditional tweeds.
Edinburgh based fashion photographer, Alistair Clark, has captured our pieces beautifully and reveals how well they stand out and their versatility. Our new collection has also been featured in a double page spread for The National and really showcases what our brand is about - producing a “wow” factor for our customers!
FASHION SHOOT FOR SYN ONLINE MAGAZINE February 11 2016
SÝN Magazine is an independent online magazine that features innovative fashion photography. The very talented, Glasgow based photographer Nuala Swan and stylist Molly Jane Sheridan (who is also the talent behind Hair & Make Up), have come together to create a spectacular photoshoot spread for SÝN which doesn't only look great, but also features two pieces from our womenswear collection!
The Hepburn Backpack in bright blue takes the spotlight when paired with the contrasting colour of bright yellow to give this Harris Tweed backpack a real modern twist that stands out from the crowd. With model Paighton wearing KellyDawn Riot trousers and NEVER MONDAY metallic cropped jumper, it really does give this look a more creative edge. The fact that these are both innovative Scottish fashion designers, this really links in with the whole Scottish heritage that we value as a company!
The photoshoot was taken in Edinburgh at The Biscuit Factory, an arts and fashion warehouse adorned with history. Blending historic scenery with high-fashion, modern apparel gives this shoot individuality and allows for our bags to really fit in with the whole style of this shoot.
Our Explorer Messenger Bag in Brilliant Orange looks totally at home when paired with the unexpected colours of dark and bright pink. The clashing textures of the faux fur pom-poms, the knitted dress and our Harris Tweed messenger gives our traditional fabric a modern update.
Both pieces are available to buy on our website!
Metallic Knit Crop Top - NEVER MONDAY
Floral Print Trousers - KellyDawn Riot
Magenta Pom-Pom Dress - NEVER MONDAY
Pink Trousers - Lola May
SILENT AUCTION FOR SYRIA October 11 2015
The Silent Auction for Syria has officially launched and will be held at one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings ‘The Hub’ at the top of the Royal Mile - I'm so pleased to be part of the auxtion by donating a one off piece created especially for the night. The first 100 tickets are now on sale so grab them while you can! GET YOUR TICKETS HERE!
On Friday the 13th of November, to raise funds in aid of the Syrian refugee crisis, over 30 individual pieces will be on display to bid for which have been donated by multi award wining international designers, artists, photographers & milliners.
As a brand ambassador for Scottish creativity Gordon J Miller from Scot Street Style will host the evening as Master of Ceremonies.
Drinks and canapes shall be served and for those who can't manage the stairs there is a lift with disabled access so all can enjoy this wonderful event.
We look forward to seeing you all and raising as much as we can for The British Red Cross’s Europe Refugee Appeal. See you soon!
See our venue and list of fabulous talent below, each who have gifted a piece of their unique work.
JUDY R CLARK
ROSIE SUGDEN WALKER SLATER
SALLY ANN PROVEN
LETTERS TO JINNY
ANNE LEEN LINDSAY
AS A tennis coach, Judy Murray barely gives a thought to what she wears, but dressing for Strictly and working on accessories for Andy’s hotel have really raised the stakes
Judy Murray is the first to admit she was never a clotheshorse, with a wardrobe of jeans and sportswear more suited to coaching and travelling. But since she had found herself increasingly in the media spotlight, she’d been giving it a little more thought. Then there was the TV footage she saw of herself watching Andy playing at Wimbledon…
“Never wear vest tops. That’s what I learnt. I had a habit of clapping with my hands above my head and they showed me doing it in slow motion. I had thought my arms were not too bad for an old bird until they ran that. So, no more vest tops.
“Dressing for Wimbledon you need something that’s not going to stick when it’s hot and something to cover up when it’s cold.”
As well as paying more attention to her wardrobe, Murray has been focusing on design since she began working with Harris Tweed Hebrides and Scottish-based designers Catherine Aitken, Gráinne Broderick and Katherine Emtage on a tennis-inspired range of bespoke Harris Tweed fashion accessories and homeware, made exclusively for Cromlix, the hotel outside Dunblane owned by Andy and his wife Kim.
Launched last year, the Cromlix Collection of accessories includes handbags, washbags, messenger bags, cushions and cuff links, all made with Harris Tweed in a design specially commissioned for the hotel.
“We wanted something special for the hotel and picked those colours, purple and green, because they’re the Wimbledon colours and also the colours around Cromlix, the purple heather. My preference in tartans and tweed is for the more traditional colours.
“A lot of the Cromlix visitors are from overseas, so it was nice for it to have a Scottish link, and Harris Tweed is a good idea. We are very proud of our heritage and the hotel is very Scottish. It’s like an old country home and we’ve made it look as close to how it was while modernising it, leasing things like the paintings from the original owners.”
With the Cromlix Collection, which was launched last year, proving popular, Judy and her team have extended the range with several new items.
“It’s a small collection so far, but now we’ve brought in a few extra pieces, all in the Cromlix Tweed and some with deerskin leather and feathers too. There’s a baseball cap, because I wear them a lot, more bags – a smaller messenger one, a funky evening bag with a clasp handle and feathers, a clutch with a bow, a bag with leather on one side and tweed on the other – and iPad and iPhone covers.”
With all items made in Scotland, the collection also includes the specially commissioned bergamot and ginger toiletries created by Arran Aromatics for Cromlix.
“I have a jacket in the tweed and we are aiming to have people who stock the tweed making up things to order. I have a couple of waistcoats I had made, one with black leather lapels, and they’re great to dress things up. There’s also a stole trimmed in feathers that I wore to the Sports Personality of the Year Awards.”
For Murray, working on the Cromlix Collection has been a complete change of scene from her usual tennis coaching duties. Currently captain of the British Fed Cup team, she also campaigns to get more girls and women into sport.
“I’ve enjoyed getting involved in this. It’s been fun. I’ve really liked working with the designers to come up with something different. Also it’s been something completely new for me, with nothing to do with sport or tennis, so it’s been a really nice switch-off,” she says.
“I was never interested in clothes or accessories when I was younger. I had my ears pierced when I was 15 because the bus conductor kept calling me ‘son’. Then I was always on the road with the boys and other people’s children, so I just wore jeans or a tracksuit. I’ve always thought the most important thing is to be comfortable, so I’m usually in jeans, scabby sweatshirts and flip-flops. I just put my head down and go for comfort,” she says.
“I was never interested in make-up or fashion until the last two or three years, but now I have a bit more time to myself and more money and I’m going out more to social occasions.”
With the spotlight on Judy, whether it’s watching her sons play tennis or appearing at awards ceremonies – or the sparkly world of Strictly Come Dancing last year – even the smartest tracky bottoms and hoodie weren’t going to cut it. Strictly moved her wardrobe into a whole new world of glitz with a different outfit for each dance.
“I loved all of them. I couldn’t believe how much I loved all of them. Because everybody is dressed up and everything is sparkly you don’t feel self-conscious, it’s part of the show and it becomes second nature.
“The Cruella de Vil outfit for Halloween was one of my favourites. It had 3,000 crystals on it, an amazing fishtail and netting, with a white stole. That was amazing. The boys were very complimentary about how I looked on Strictly because they had never seen me dressed up. I have two very glamorous daughters-in-law and I always joke with the boys that they say you pick a wife that reminds you of your mother, except their wives are both glam. What happened?”
When we spoke on the eve of Wimbledon, Andy had just won his fourth Queen’s Club title and was in impressive form and Jamie is riding high with doubles partner Australian John Peters. How did she rate their chances at Wimbledon this year?
“It’s impossible to tell what’s going to happen. They’re both contenders for their events and aiming to win but that’s a very difficult thing to do. Seven matches in five days, each five sets, it’s physically very demanding, plus there’s the added spotlight of it being a home Grand Slam.
“But being on grass presents an opportunity, because not so many of the foreign players are comfortable on it. It also produces disadvantages too, in that tall guys with a big serve can come up with an unexpected win on the day, like Lukas Rosol beating Nadal.
“But winning Queen’s has given Andy a lot of confidence and both boys are comfortable on grass. They love Wimbledon. They do well there,” she says.
If they haven’t made it as far as the Wimbledon silverware this year, the Murray boys can always console themselves with a pair of Cromlix Collection cuff links.
“They have no interest in clothes whatsoever, but yes, they wear cuff links if they’re going to something special,” Murray says.
And whether or not the Murray boys return victorious from Wimbledon, visitors and fans will be able to take home a memory of Cromlix House. n
The Cromlix Collection, prices start from £25, is available online and Cromlix, www.cromlix.com.
Cromlix Hotel, Kinbuck, near Dunblane, Perthshire FK15 9JT. Some of the Collection is also available at Graham Stewart Silversmith in Dunblane,www.grahamstewartsilversmith.co.uk
The Women's Room Feature the Wanderlust 4Way April 19 2015
Remember our recent backpack research? (and here). I am still delighted with my Shinola purchase, but this lovely Harris Tweed one from Edinburgh based designer Catherine Aitken, recently caught my attention.
It’s called the Wanderlust 4Way and cleverly switches between back pack and over-the-body bag due to its strap construction, you just clip the straps to what you want. I think this is very neat. And it’s handmade in Edinburgh, which adds to its appeal, I love a bit of Harris Tweed.
The tweed is very tough and waterproof- although the bag is also interlined in waterproof fabric too- and the reverse of the bag is made from a dry waxed cotton in a dark chocolate, produced for Catherine in Dundee, so it’s comfortable and wont ruffle-up against your clothes. it’s £225 with free UK delivery and comes in a range of colours and checks.
Make of the Month at Concrete Wardrobe March 01 2015
The Wonderful Grey Fox Blogs about our designs.... February 15 2015
The Cromlix Collection December 20 2014
While Judy Murray was dancing the night away on Strictly, her own Harris Tweed cloth was being woven in the Outer Hebrides. It's now been created into a range of luxury accessories that are available at her son's, Andy Murray's, beautiful hotel - The Cromlix. Most exciting, Judy chose some of our products for the new collection:
The Kate Clutch, The Munro Bag and the Hayworth Handbag and I think they look stunning in this fabulous new cloth that Judy personally designed - a beautiful green and purple fading check that is reminiscent of the Scottish landscape as well as Wimbledon! Created by Harris Tweed Hebrides we have also provided ladies and gents toiletry bags and iPhone and iPad covers.
Judy also rocked our Wild Stole, Wrap Belt and the Kate Clutch at the Sports Personality of the Year Award and looked fabulous:
This exclusive collection is available from the Cromlix Hotel not far from Dunblane and it just oozes old style glamour and luxury.
The Luxury is in the process.... August 27 2014
We often get asked about how we make the bags so here's a little blog post about the making of the Hepburn Hip. Most of our Hips are handcrafted at one of our local maker's studios, but we still make a few in house, especially the bespoke ones. So here's how we do it...
First we need all the ingredients:
Leather, Harris Tweed, black waxed cotton, cotton lining, heavy cotton webbing, O rings, Sam Browne, two forms of interlining (one waterproof), interfacing, labels. Our leather arrives in hide rolls and it's all handcut to the right size in the studio:
Once the interfacing is ironed on to the tweed, we use a protective spray that helps make the tweed water and stain resistant. Then we add the interlinings (our bags are strong!) then stitch on the front leather strap then add the Sam Browne stud:
We add the O Rings and the back pocket to the waxed cotton reverse and then mustn't forget the labels - our own and the Harris Tweed verification label.
Putting the two sides together, we're almost there but it's time for a little pressing...
Next we create pockets and attach them to the lining and sew that onto the bag. A quick flourish with the hands turning it all right side out and voila the bag is born, but it now needs another little pressing before we finish the top stitching:
Almost there - we just need to add the strap. This is riveted on to the O rings - watch your fingers with that heavy hammer!
We add a little noile of lavender to the inside, and now the bag is ready to leave the studio, to be loved and cared for by the new owner, wherever in the world they may be. The Hepburn range is named after the wonderful Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn - her masculine/feminine style is a real inspiration, not to mention her love of tweed.
MESSYLA FEATURES KATE CLUTCH! July 07 2014
WHAT'S IN MY BAG
"What's in my bag" posts are some of my favourites to read from bloggers. It might be a little nosey, but I love it. I like seeing what they would carry around in real life: what lipstick they use, what purse they have or whether they carry around a sweet treat like I do.
I'm such a believer in shopping small, local and independent. I love British made beauties and of course, Scottish designers. Catherine Aitken is a wonderful Edinburgh designer whose designs I have fallen head over heels with. She uses Harris Tweed fabric in such a subtle, divine way that I find so simple and appealing! Sometimes tartan or tweed pieces seem a little cliché for me, but Catherine's eye for design and flawless craftmanship is beautiful and so unique.
My bag is the Kate Clutch in a beautiful olive green/mustardy colour. I was always looking for a clutch bag that wasn't too fancy - I tend to use my camera bag satchel everyday, so I'm not one for uber fancy bags - and one that was big enough to hold all my necessities!
What's In My Bag:
A little bar of chocolate. I pretty much always want a bit of dark chocolate after every meal or coffee.. so bringing my own stash is so helpful!
A notebook and pen. When inspiration strikes, you always need a notebook.
Business cards. For impromtu networking.
Purse. My mum and dad got me this 'Long Live Vintage' beauty from Ireland a few years ago.
Keys. Of course.
Lipstick and Balm. I love red and pink lipstick, I think it jazzes up every outfit and gives my face some colour. (I'm very pale!). I like to use lip balm first as a base too.
Designer Spotlight from The Clothes Maiden July 07 2014
Men's Journal and the Renaissance Collection April 30 2014
Harris Tweed Jackets Reincarnated as Bags
Catherine Aitken loved Harris Tweed – hardly an unusual trait in a Scottish person – but had a hard time getting her hands on the fabric. That's why she turned to used jackets when she decided to make robust men's bags with a bit of Highland flavor. She could pick them apart and transform a tired coat into an eye-catching satchel. Now she sells her work out of her studio in Leith, the small, hip neighborhood that thrives along Edinburgh's port on the Firth of Forth, and in the British Museum.
"This comes from my love of mooching round thrift and charity shops," says Aitken, who worked as a film producer before giving it up to start her business. "People also bring them to me and some customers bring their own to be created into a bag especially for them."
The only appropriate reaction to Aitken's upcycled creations, which she refers to as her "Renaissance Line," is to wonder how precisely she makes them. It's complicated, but she's figured out a system. It goes like this.
1. "The original Harris Tweed Label is taken out."
2. "The lining, padding, and interfacings are all removed using a picking tool, scalpel, and scissors."
3. "Once just the cloth is left, it's into the washing machine at a low temperature – this also binds the yarn into a closer tighter weave, closer to its original texture when the jacket was new."
4. "The pieces are then dried, ironed, cut to size, interfaced, and then we go over them looking for areas that may need to be patched with our Scottish deerskin leather."
5. The jackets are folded and carefully sewn up. Because each jacket is unique and each bag is constructed to showcase different design elements, the building process varies quite a bit more than the tearing apart process.
Aitken says most of her work targets the "suited and booted who want to have a bit of individuality in their everyday wardrobe." That works out just fine because tweed jackets are not uniformly made. The pockets are different, the shooting patches are different, and the men who've worn them down are all different. The only constant element, really, is Aitken herself.
THE GENTLEMAN'S EMPORIUM FOR LUXURY GOODS April 09 2014
Catherine Aitken will be part of a fantastic Men’s Fashion and Accessory Pop-Up Shop over Easter Weekend and we hope you can come along!
Princes Square, Buchanan Street, Glasgow on the 18th, 19th and 20th April.
We would like to announce the launch of the ‘The Gentleman's Emporium of Luxury’ Pop-Up Boutique in Princes Square, located on Buchanan Street’s ‘Style Mile’, over the Easter Weekend. The Shop will feature a range of Men’s Fashion and Accessories from four of Scotland’s Luxury Brands on sale exclusively at the event. There will be a range of products on show including Tartan Jackets, Highland Brogues, Harris Tweed Accessories and Luxury Watches.
The Focus of the Shop is ‘Made in Scotland’, including a spot-light on Scottish Textiles and Scottish craftsmanship, presenting a range of products designed and created in Scotland.
The Four Brands include –
Hunter Kingsley Tailoring - https://www.hunterkingsley.com
Catherine Aitken Accessories - www.catherineaitken.com/
Kennett Watches - www.kennettonline.com/
Buchanan Bespoke Footwear – www.buchananbespoke.com/
Unit 31, Princes Square - First Floor (between Kurt Geiger and Arran Aromatics).
Opening hours are:
Friday 10am – 7pm
Sat 9am – 6pm
Sun 11am – 5pm
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