Jul 042016
 

Anybody remember Jeffrey Bernard? Alas, no, I really was unwell and it was nothing to do with a surfeit of gin. I took it quite badly, too, and wasn’t the easiest or best behaved of patients…

I’ve been very down in the dumps about being laid up and – as anyone who knows me will testify – extremely bad at “doing nothing in order to heal properly”. But last week, in the midst of what I can only call “a right bollocking” by an old friend, came a ray of light.

“If you are looking for something to watch while resting, I suggest Handmade: By Royal Appointment on BBC iPlayer. I have loved the two I watched, and I think you will appreciate them too.”

Well, I’d spotted one about Steinway pianos on BBC4, but missed it and had wondered idly about watching it on iPlayer. After another lengthy snooze (for which read, “sulk”) in bed, I sneaked downstairs when Spouse went out and I switched on the tellybox. What joys were revealed! Four wonderful programmes about beautiful, handcrafted, “heritage” products. It feels almost wrong to call them “products”, as that seems to cheapen the beauty and workmanship that goes into their creation. Yes, creation. “Manufacture” also doesn’t seem to be the right word.

Best of all was the programme about John Lobb, shoemaker. Such skill and attention to detail. It was wonderful to watch and I will admit to having slightly leaky eyes. Both company and artisans are utterly devoted to their trade, which is practically a vocation; they are determined to provide the customer with the best possible product and value. And the customers respond with equal devotion. Yes, the price tag makes your eyes water when you first read it, but when you see the quality of the materials, the hours and hours of skill in making the shoes – not to mention the years spent learning the craft – and the attention to design detail to ensure that the customer gets exactly the shoes they want make the figure seem like a very good deal. Tellingly, the customers aren’t all royalty and the mega-rich. They do all, however, have one thing in common, and that’s a keen appreciation for quality in design and manufacture and a certain joy in knowing that they are helping keep skills and traditions alive and artisans in work. To me, that’s priceless.

That programme alone helped revive my passion for what I do, designing and tailoring garments that will fit them properly, last a long time and make the customer feel wonderful. Happily, my customers seem to understand and appreciate this.

My garments are not manufactured in a factory, not even a UK factory. They are made for you, by me in my studio in Cornwall. I put a lot of thought into my designs and processes in order to make the best pieces of clothing for each customer that I possibly can. All my customers are different and I really enjoy making something special for each one. I think I succeed, because so many of my first time customers are introduced by other, longstanding customers and usually go on to develop the two-way working relationship that makes my job so rewarding.

I love what I do and I can’t wait to get back to it, hopefully for a couple of hours tomorrow!

 

Ladies shirt in tiny floral print.

The Shorter Shirt, in a ditsy floral print cotton poplin with 3/4 sleeves and turnback cuffs.

And So The Adventure (In Tailoring) Begins…

 Style, Support British Makers, Sustainable fashion, Tailoring, Wednesday March  Comments Off on And So The Adventure (In Tailoring) Begins…
Jan 212016
 

For a good while now, I have been the subject of some considerable harassment from a friend with an idea in her head.  Angie Voluti is glamorous, charming, opinionated, wilful, deals with highly-powered and stunningly beautiful things – and people – on a daily basis and has correspondingly lofty ideals when it comes to clothing.   She wanted a coat, knew what she wanted (in velvet) and was determined that I should be the one to make it.  I have been, not to put too fine a point on it, badgered relentlessly for months.  Nay, probably years.  I have steadfastly refused.  She has – equally tenaciously – refused to let it drop.

Obviously, neither of us caved in…

Here is the first in a series of guest posts from La Voluti, in which she tells her side of The Adventure.  I do, of course, get to tell it from my perspective but it’s Angie’s turn first…

 

‘The Beautiful Coat’s Adventure started in my mind.  I wanted something that would hug and hold, wrap and isolate.  Elegant but not stiff, with a whiff of eccentricity but without the full gothic regalia.  Beautiful Coat must be out there, I thought.

I cyber-fingered pages and pages of of images with impossibly thin Chinese girls wearing short, Russian-style coats in plastic colours.  Walked in and out of high street shops, chains, superstores and small vintage outlets smelling of old papers and incontinent memories.  Too small.  Too big.  A tent round the waist or too tight around my breasts.   Not a straight line, no.  Nor an extravagant collar.  No, no hood, thanks.  No plastic buttons.  Nope, that would suit my grandmother.  You kidding?  This is for ex-strippers who can’t let go of the sequin.

I came and knocked on Wednesday March’s door.  The March Hare answered.  We spoke the same language.

“Velvet?”

“Go away.  I don’t do velvet.  You want a coat, not a dressing-up costume.”

“Wool, then?”

“Now you’re talking.”

The Adventure started from there.’

 

Angie Voluti

20 January 2016

The First Open Studio Day at March Hare Studios!

 Harebell, Ready To Wear, Support British Makers, Wednesday March  Comments Off on The First Open Studio Day at March Hare Studios!
Jan 122016
 

Come and visit the new studio to see what we do and where.  The kettle will be on!

 

March HareStudios (4) Flyer

 

The studio can be found just off the A388 between Saltash (Carkeel) and St Mellion.  Drive down through the orchard and March Hare Studios is the barn with the double shutter doors.  Come in and say hello!

As well as samples of the garments we make, we have ready to wear and fabrics available to purchase plus some haberdashery supplies.  The studio is usually open Monday to Thursday between 10am and 4pm and by appointment at other times.

Nov 302015
 

Since the last blog post, there has been a lot happening.  The lease with the Duchy has been signed, the studio cleaned and (mostly) painted and some of the furniture moved in.

Workshop with mess of boxes, bags and DIY stuff

The chaos before the beauty

Plenty of discussions have been had, plans made and much coffee drunk.  We still need to source a massive dresser and even larger cutting table.  And a fridge.  Somehow all the fabric, patterns, haberdashery, books, more fabric, mannequins, hangers, etc have to be transferred from the office at Liskeard to this lovely new studio.  Now, last time I went through this particular variety of agony, I had a lovely big 4×4.  This time?  An MX5.  This may take a while…

But it will all be worth it when everything is in its place and there is space to work.

Assorted detritus and shop sign

The old shop sign waiting for its new home.

Yes, that’s the sign from the old shop in Looe.  I always knew it would come in handy one day and now I have just the place for it.  Just waiting for someone who isn’t afraid of heights to fix it in place.  It is going to look wonderful.

There are new rugs in place now at the workstations and in the changing room and the Tassimo has been working hard.

Sewing workstation with table, chair and sewing machine

Miss Wednesday’s new workstation.

Workstations?  Plural?  Oh, yes.  Because Miss Wednesday will no longer be working alone and her offering will have expanded and sharing the space will be one of her tailoring chums, who specialises in children’s wear.

 

To be continued. . .

Oct 252015
 

I know, I know, the Witterings have been few and far between over the summer and it’s been a whole 2 months since the last one.  Rest assured, there’s been quite a lot going on behind the scenes and developments are now fast and furious.

For a while, I have been looking for the best way to continue with my business, bearing in mind the wholesale slaughter of the retro scene with mass-produced, ethically-dubious rubbish and the resulting customer base who hold no truck with sustainability, paying a proper price for a well-crafted product or even individuality, just demanding more and more for less and less.   I’ve also been looking for new premises, which have more space for work and stock and for a way of carrying on when the musical part of my life threatens to take over, as it is increasingly doing.  No complaints about that part, but it does complicate things slightly when I’m away so much.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I found this.

Stone barn workshop with blue painted double doors.

The Doorway to Heaven…?

I wasn’t expecting to find my absolute dream studio when I just did an idle Google search but closer inspection revealed almost* everything I ever wanted inside…

151021 Mezzanine

The legal stuff is ongoing but hopefully it shouldn’t be too long before I have some really, really exciting news to share with you.  Watch this space!

* * * * *

 

*  Plenty of space, good lighting, sunshine, a mezzanine for my office, room for an enormous cutting table, rails, ready to wear stock, supplies, etc.  Only downside is that the “kitchen” is little more than a sink and a couple of cupboards.  We’ve found space for the Tassimo but have no idea where to put the fridge.  And we’re going to need a fridge.  I’m not having another workshop with warm tonic and no ice for the G&Ts.  But there are plug points everywhere so we’ll work it out.

What’s that?  Did I say, “we”?  Oh yes.  So I did…