Wednesday March  Comments Off on Honoured
Jul 202014

This week’s blog entry is going to be a nice, short post, partly because I have nothing momentous to impart at the moment but also because the Visual Editor in my WordPress thingummajig is still completely broken and I find using the Text Editor a reet pain in the backside area.

You know how I witter on about only buying clothing if it makes you want to dance? About paying a fair price for a properly produced product and not flinging money here, there and everywhere on ‘fast fashion’ and things you’ll probably only wear once and then ditch? Well, I think that most of my customers understand what I’m on about and that makes me happy; whether they buy one frock from me for a wedding or special birthday and it lasts them a lifetime of happy wearings or they buy one or two a month and wear little else, I want them to really enjoy the process of chosing and ordering as well as the wearing. Plenty of them tell me they like the ethics behind my label as well as the style but this week it occurred to me that there’s also another little scenario going on behind some of the purchases.

I’ve had a few customers lately who have said that they couldn’t normally justify spending “that much” money on a frock but they are spending money they have recently inherited. It’s not that they don’t think my clothes are good value – on the contrary, they are more than happy with the quality and understand the concept of “price per wear” – but that they usually have a smaller budget. The fact that they have been left some money by a loved one and that they feel that a purchase of one of my frocks is an appropriate use for it makes me feel rather proud. It must also add an extra, slightly poignant, sparkle to the wearing of said frock.

As one customer said to me recently when she tried on her new frock, “I think my dad would approve.”

That makes me very happy.

Birthing Pains

 Frocks, Style, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Birthing Pains
Jul 132014
Tropical fruit printed dress with ribbon trim and sewing machine

Adding the metres of grosgrain ribbon trim

Yes, it hurts. Every time. Although you don’t necessarily remember that part until the first flush of enthusiasm is over and the hard work begins. At which point you think to yourself, “Oh no, I remember this now…” but it’s too late to do anything other than carry on. Well, if you want to be able to eventually return to sleeping at night and not obsessing over small details, fabrics, trimmings, etc. When there’s a new frock in your head, there is no option but to make it.

And so it was with this one. Personally, I blame one of my favourite bloggers. Somehow, probably via Facebook, she managed to to sneak this little gem into my consciousness.

Pouting Brigitte Bardot meeting Pablo Picasso

Never mind the pout, check out the frock!

Yes, I know. Utterly gorgeous. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the dress. For years I’ve had a major problem with tiers, having seen too many droopy hippies in ghastly patchwork and crushed velvet skirts. So much so, in fact, that I’d forgotten what a joy they could be. Can’t imagine a droopy hippie in this little number, though, so I thought I might have a go at recreating it. And once that thought was in my head, there was no getting out of it.

The obvious fabric, a pastel-based rose print cotton, was already in my possession but something about another roll called to me. I’d ordered it because I loved the sample. When it arrived, I discovered that not only was it, technically, a one-way design (my OCD won’t let me put the writing upside down) but it was also printed across the fabric rather than along it, making it impossible to cut the full circles I usually use. So it was absolutely ideal for this new design. Perfect! All I had to do was cut strips, gather ’em up and stitch it all together. Piece of p… Well, you get the idea.

I did some basic calculations in an attempt to get the length of the skirt and the proportions of the tiers right. I scratched my head. I sighed a little, worried a bit and then said, “Oh, to hell with this,” and went off plan.

And produced this:

Tiered sundress in tropical fruit and flower print

I’ve road tested it for comfort, ease of fitting behind the driving wheel of a sports car and audience approval factor. It passed everything with flying colours, although I wouldn’t recommend trying to drive the sports car whilst wearing it with a petticoat as there is just too much floofiness for comfort. Without the petti, it’s fine. Do be aware, though, that it’s not a frock for blending in. I’m not sure that any other frock I’ve ever made has garnered quite so much attention from people who wouldn’t normally go for an obviously retro style. Everyone seems to like this one. Including the lovely Welshman in a Cornwall Council carpark, who said, “Ooh, you look gorgeous!” and didn’t appear to register the fact that I’m a 46 year old grumpy midget. I call that a good frock!

Now, there will be a few tweaks to the design before this one goes into “production”. I’ll be re-cutting the straps to give them some shape, making a slight change to the curve of the neckline and possibly taking out a little of the fullness of the skirt. Well, a 12 metre circumference might just be over-egging the pudding. Just a tad…

The full blog post that inspired me can be found at http://www.messynessychic.com/2012/04/26/when-bardot-met-picasso/

I’m aware that the link isn’t working. Unfortunately, WordPress isn’t working properly for me at the moment so posting and editing are very difficult and I can’t get links to work. I’m surprised I can even post anything! If you haven’t yet discovered Messy Ness Chic, may I suggest following her on Facebook? She’s fabulous.

And watch out for the next version of the Bardot dress. This one has the working title of Carmen Bardot. The Brigitte one should be lovely but closer to the original. I can’t wait to make it!

By jove…!

 Wednesday March  Comments Off on By jove…!
Jul 062014

You may (or may not) have noticed things looking a little different around here.  The website has changed and almost looks like a website now.  Yes, I know.  Amazing.  And I did it.  Yep.  Me.  Little old me.  The fully-paid up Luddite has embraced technology and – get this – been on a website-building course.  With other people.  I promise no-one got hurt.

Backalong, when I decided to close The March Hare, I realised that in order to continue to actually function as a business, I would need a website; one that functioned properly, told people what I did, where I did it and – above all – how to get their paws on my retro and vintage-style frocks.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this caused me a fair few sleepless nights.  You can probably also imagine the pain that my friends went through, hearing me agonise over how on earth I was going to accomplish this when I am one of the world’s most inept people when it comes to anything other than a sewing machine.  Or things made from wood and string.  Being me, I didn’t just agonise a bit and then go quiet while I found a way through the maze.  Oh no.  Every time I hit a stumbling block or barrier, I wailed loudly, bemoaning my fate through the medium of Google+ to a select bunch of unfortunates who happen to have me in their “circles”.

Note to anyone tempted to add me to their clan on social media:-  Unless you are prepared to deal with a Grumpy Old Trad Hag who has an almost pathological fear of working with the wonders of internet technology but who is also utterly entranced by shiny new pretties like smartphones and tablets and who will shy, whinny and wail like a banshee at every single step along the rocky road to technological nirvana, avoid me like the plague.  Oh, and don’t expect me to be particularly ‘friendly’.  Or nice.  Because let’s face it, most days I don’t even do ‘reasonable’.  You have been warned.

But anyway…  Thankfully I have some very tech-savvy friends who know all about the business of, well, doing technical stuff and running an internet-based business.  Hell, some of them actually make proper money!  Yes!  I know!  Incredible.

One of them, said, “Oh for [insert deity of choice]’s sake!  Let me help you!” and sorted me out with a WordPress website in the blink of an eye.  How she managed to sort me out when she’s busy running the wonderful www.nbtea.com I’ll never know but I managed to acquire the domain name and pay for the hosting wossname, she waved some sort of magic stick and “Hey Presto!” I had a bloggy thing.  Because apparently blogging is the way things work these days.  You witter on a bit, people follow you and by magic they desire – and buy – your wares.  Yeah.  Well, the jury’s still out on the buying of the wares thing but if ever there was a bird who can “witter on”, it’s me.  Oh yes.  Wittering.  I does it.  Selling?  Ah.  Um.  Well, er, no.  I am no saleswoman.  This may well cause a problem in the actually ‘earning a living’ part of the plan but I’m still optimistic at this point.  Remind me to revisit this in a year or so.

So there I was, a blog up and running and I was nervously tweaking the site in the background.  Very nervously.  More nerves than tweaking, if we’re being honest.  Until another fabulous friend said, “Look, there’s a 3 day WordPress course you can go on.  It’s free, gratis and for nothing” – well, she said, “funded” but I’ve never understood that – “and I can get you there and back so it won’t cost you a penny.  In fact, I’ll drive you there myself to make sure you get there and don’t leg it at the first opportunity.”  Some of my friends know me very well and she did do this.  She also patted me on the shoulder and told me to “Play nicely at break time.”  She does know me well.

And now I have a website that almost looks like a website.  I chose the “theme” I had for the first effort and my friend did the magic stuff and installed it for me.  Great.  Very swish.  Rather swisher than me, to be honest.  And I couldn’t make it do what I thought it needed to do.  Or, in fact, anything.  After my first day on the course, during which there was a “Eureka!  Now I know how this stuff works” moment”, I came home and tweaked it and found that…  Oh.  I still couldn’t get it to do what I wanted.  It’s a very cool and chic “theme” but I just failed dismally with it as most of the things I wanted to do, couldn’t actually be done or changed.   After doing the rest of the course, I decided that I’d take the enormous step of downloading the template we used in school because I knew how that worked and that it would do what I wanted, providing I asked it nicely.  In my blissful ignorance, I thought it would just run alongside without being published until I activated it so I installed it right after I blogged last Sunday morning.  And discovered, to my horror, that my actual website changed immediately and I had therefore to do quite a lot of work right there and then as I’d just notified the world and his Dalmation that I’d blogged and everybody would surely be visiting my website to read it.  Aaaargh!  Obviously it’s still very much a work in progress; there’s no gallery yet and I haven’t worked out how to get a Google map with my business pinned on it, plus a whole host of other marvellous things that right now I can’t think of but will attend to, er, dreckly, but now you know why it looks a little different.  Thanks to some wonderful friends, I’ve been to school and learned stuff and have a website.

A black terrier sitting in front of computer screens


And do you know the best part?  It was fun.  Watch this space.  I might do something amazing.  One day.  After I finish the latest frock design…