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

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…

Aug 232015
 

Yes, that Miss Wednesday has been a bit slack on the blogging front lately.  It’s a disgrace and she should be taken to task forthwith.  (Good luck with that.)

The “summer” has been busy, what with musical stuff occupying that flighty Hedge Harpist and a cat developing a major eye problem necessitating a mad dash to a specialist vet, who performed some kind of miracle.  The subsequent operation and care required said cat travelling up country to a gig, which wasn’t ideal but needs must as the Pet Sitter couldn’t be relied upon to provide appropriate care.  (For the record, the cat didn’t attend the actual gig.  She’s a conscientious objector when it comes to folk music so she spent a couple of days in a nice quiet room, off her little furry paws on kitty analgesics.  Fair play!)

Then there was the Lorient Interceltique Festival in Brittany.  That is going to take some recovery time…

But Miss Wednesday is now back in her workshop and stitching away busily.  First on the agenda when she returned from moonlighting was a sweet little skirt.  Pink and with cats on it.  What more could you want?

Ladies skirt with gathers and top-stitched waistband in pink fabric printed in the UK with Siamese cats.

Pretty In Pink!

 

The fabric is from the wonderful Makower Fabrics and is designed and printed in the UK.  You know how Miss Wednesday feels about that.  The actual print is a one-way design, so can’t be cut into full circles, which means that panels, pleats or gathers are required.  This one is gathered.  Simple but effective and not as likely to flip up on a breezy day by the sea.

Next on the list is a skirt and top for the lovely Miss Sara.  It’s currently under construction but here’s the fabric…

Cotton print by Makower Fabrics of Pointer and Dachsund dogs in black and white with black background.

Gone to the dogs…

Once again, it’s a one-way design so the skirt will be gathered (well, that’s the idea at the moment but these things are subject to change) and the top is to have tie shoulder straps.  Miss Wednesday is thinking she might make the same outfit for herself.  (For “thinking” read “is making” as she’s already cut it out!)  Watch this space for pictures of the final outfit.

Next up for the Hedge Harpist is the Looe Music Festival, which this year is the 18th-20th September.  The fancy dress theme is “Sailors and Sea Creatures” so Miss Wednesday is busily dreaming up some new frocks to fit with that.  Plus she needs to make a smaller version of the Favourite Stage Frock as her alter ego appears to have shrunk considerably of late.  It’s already been made smaller a couple of times but this is going too far for alterations.  Some people are just born difficult…

May 102015
 

Regular readers will know how strongly Miss Wednesday feels on ethical matters, such as food and garments production, living wages, decent living and working conditions, etc.  She can blather on about such things until the chickens give up asking for corn and fall asleep with sheer boredom.  Just recently, we’ve had Fashion Revolution Day, marking two years since the ghastly factory collapse at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, which killed 1133 workers (24th April 2013) and calling on people to think about and instrument a change in global fashion supply chains.

Even more recently, we in Britain had a General Election.  (Oh gawd, not more political bollocks…)  Well, no.  No political bollocks here, not really.  Because, frankly, it’s done and dusted.  For whatever reasons, the people of Britain made their choices and elected a government.  Job done.  And now we have to sit back and let that government get on with creating the country we want.  Don’t we?

Er, no.  No, we don’t.  We all have the power to influence our society.  Every single one of us.  With every single pound we spend.  And with pretty much every action we take.

Life for some is good.  Life for some is harder.  Life for others is unbelievably difficult and accessing help can be an uphill struggle, not always achievable.  We hear so much about “benefit bunnies”, layabouts, shirkers, etc.  But nobody wants to have to go to a food bank in order to be able to put food on the table for their family.  Nobody.  But in an economic climate such as this, where jobs are hard to come by and living wages a mere dream, they are becoming increasingly important.

So, spare a thought for the people who have no choice but to use them.  When you’re shopping, maybe stick a couple of things in your basket that you can pop into the food bank’s collection basket in your local bank, church or community centre.  You will be making a bigger difference than the pound or less it costs you to do this.

And when you do that shopping, how do you feel doing it locally?  Proper locally?  When you spend money in local shops (not branches of national chains), you’re supporting local people.  Not just the proprietors of those shops but the wider community.

For example, the beautiful Lovely Lane emporiums in Polperro and Looe – more news on this in a minute – stock my Ready To Wear range.  So you can actually try and buy Wednesday March clothing in a shop again.  How lovely!  Now, should you choose to purchase some of that clothing (or any of the other locally-produced goods in the shop), who do you think benefits?  Well, Sharon, the proprietor of those shops, me, the other producers, obviously.  But Sharon employs local people in her shops, because although she’s an amazing businesswoman, she can’t be in more than one place at once, so needs people to help her.  People she pays to man the shops for her when she’s off sourcing stock and doing the hundred and more things you have to do when you have a shop. Employment!  Yes, she’s creating employment, giving local people money and opportunities and keeping them out of the Jobcentre and Foodbanks.  And both Sharon and her employees spend money locally, in other local shops and businesses, creating more opportunities for expansion, employment and wealth locally.  I spend my money as locally as possible, doing the same as I’m sure do the other suppliers.  And when our money stays local – or at least in this country – it goes further.  We make our economy work for us, rather than bolstering up multinational firms who, frankly, don’t give a monkeys about any of us as long as they and their shareholders get big, fat payoffs.   Surely that’s an easy way to make a difference?

And, because this is supposed to be a blog about frocks, here’s a picture of one.

 

Sundress in blue and white seashell print fabric

‘Anna’ tie shoulder sundress

The original Lovely Lane store is moving from West Looe to Higher Market Street in East Looe and will be opening on Saturday 16th May 2015!  Exciting or what?  And yes, the tie-shoulder sundress pictured above is one of the garments that will be available for purchase there.  Form an orderly queue, please.