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

Bargains!

 Frocks, Support British Makers, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Bargains!
Aug 022015
 

It’s been a funny old “summer”.  Not quite what one ordered but such is life…

Miss Wednesday has been a bit quiet on the blogging front as there have been some fairly major things going on behind the scenes.  She’s also now accepted the fact that she is absolutely rubbish at made to measure when it comes to her own measurements.  Bespoke frocks for other people?  No problem.  Run up a little number for herself?  Ah.  Odds on it won’t fit.  Anywhere.  Somewhere in her head, Miss Wednesday seems to be convinced that she’s six feet tall and in possession of a bust.  Body dysmorphia?  Delusional?  Who knows.  Truth be told, she’s five foot feck all and if you patted her on the back in the dark to find out which way she’s facing, you’d probably be none the wiser.

But Wednesday’s failings are – potentially – your gain!  Because a couple of the sample frocks she made in “her size” are now up for grabs.

Firstly, the beautiful “Joan” style, with a dropped waist below a gently curved bodice (so it doesn’t just drop and make you look like an ironing board) in some stunning wildflower print fabric by Makower.  Wednesday was very excited about this and intended it as a stage frock for her alter ego, the Hedge Harpist, but has now come to terms with the fact that it’s just too big so she’ll have to make another.  Maybe.

Ladies dress in cream flower print fabric, with dropped waist and box pleated skirt.

“Joan” frock in wildflower fabric from Makower.

And a closer look at the fabric…

Makower printed fabric with dragonflies and foxgloves

Dragonflies and foxgloves!

The frock is, in theory, cut as a size 10 but it’s definitely bigger than that.  More of a 12.  Normally, one of these would be £145 in this fabric but this one is up for grabs at the sample price of £95 plus £4.50 P&P.  If you’d like it, just email wednesday@wednesdaymarch.com and have a chat.  Send your measurements and Wednesday will be honest about whether she thinks it’ll fit/suit you.  The frock has a side zip and the bodice is lined in white cotton poplin.

Meanwhile, she will be crying quietly into her coffee and bewailing her shortcomings.  Not least in height…   And when she’s taken a picture of the other frock she made for herself, you’ll get a chance to grab that one, too.  A different style but cut for somebody taller.  Watch this space!

Sweetly pretty or a Rockabilly edge?

 Frocks, Style, Support British Makers, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Sweetly pretty or a Rockabilly edge?
May 242015
 

This season’s crop of fabrics has thrown up an interesting dichotomy for Miss Wednesday.  She loves retro styles and proper frocks and very much enjoys the cheesecake and pin-up styles from across the Pond.  But – and it’s a big but – she also likes subtler, pretty, very English prints and less traffic-stopping designs.  Miss Sara, bless her, was becoming increasingly depressed at the number of new fabrics arriving at WM HQ that just didn’t fit her more rockabilly style and, as Number One House Model, she felt an intervention was required.

So she sighed a bit.  Wobbled her bottom lip.  Stamped her foot.  (She’s very good at that, is Miss Sara.)  All the usual signs of an impending tantrum were displayed but in the end she sat Miss Wednesday down and said, “Look, I haven’t had a new frock in ages and none of these new fabrics do it for me.  So what are you going to do about it?”

Fair play.  If you don’t ask, you don’t get and, frankly, Miss Wednesday was buried so deeply – and happily – in wonderful English countryside prints that she just hadn’t noticed.

“Oh, yes,” she said, blinking in the light and casting her gaze around the workshop for something.  “I’d forgotten I have something for you.”  And there, pinned to the notice board was a fabric swatch that made Miss Sara’s heart beat faster.  She wanted something new and “different” for an impending scooter rally so the new fabric was perfect.  Scooters, Hawaiian flora and girls in swimwear.  Even her Nice Young Man wasn’t going to roll his eyes at this new frock!

1950s style sundress in Hawaiian print with scooters and girls

Miss Sara’s new frock

Miss Sara was overjoyed.  The bottom lip stopped wobbling and suddenly stamping feet started jumping for joy.  The selected colour way was purchased and the frock run up in double-quick time for the rally, where it was received with approval.  Miss Wednesday doesn’t enjoy working with fabric printed with large figures because she has to waste a lot in the cutting so as not to behead any where it matters on the garment but, as suspected, the scooterists didn’t tire of pointing out, “‘Ere, you’ve got a bird on each tit!” so the effort was well worth it.

And so Miss Wednesday was able to retire to her English designed and printed fabrics for a while.  At least, until Miss Sara kicks off again and wants something else “special”.*

The moral of this Wittering?  Well, Wednesday March is all about retro but your way.  If you don’t see quite what you’re after, just ask.  After all, the old adage, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” does still hold true in many areas of life.  Approach Miss Wednesday with caution, mind your Ps and Qs – if possible, bring gin – and she may well make you the frock of your dreams.  Other fabrics are always available and one-offs are definitely possible.**

This is the latest fabric and a different style of frock (okay, one she’s done before but not regularly and certainly not in a couple of years) is currently under construction.  Watch this space.

Makower printed fabric with dragonflies and foxgloves

Dragonflies and foxgloves!

 

 

*   Miss Sara has already asked and current betting is that it will be around about a week before the lip starts to wobble.

**  Within reason.  She’s still not stitching velvet or jersey for anyone.  Sorry.

New Year, New Office!

 Support British Makers, Wednesday March  Comments Off on New Year, New Office!
Jan 112015
 

It was a bit of a surprise, to say the least, to get a phone call on Tuesday 6th January, to tell me that I could now have the keys to the office I’d been promised in another building, away from the delicious but unwelcome smell from the Thai takeaway next door to the current one.  I picked the keys up later that afternoon and poked my head briefly in the door of the new office, seeing it empty for the first time.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take in the state of the carpet (you don’t want to know, and this morning I found a nice lump of chewing gum hidden underneath the phone on the carpet) or the state of the walls.  (Remember when Blu Tak was heralded as being the best thing since sliced bread because it didn’t damage walls?  Well, that was a whopping great fib!)  I was shown the kitchen (miles away from the office and with two flights of stairs in between), and a chap who introduced himself as the “random bloke who lurks in the kitchen”.  At this point, I thought that maybe it would be okay.  Neighbours with a sense of humour are a good thing.

On Friday, I took the first, largely symbolic rolls of fabric and a pattern folder to the new office, along with my Bernina and tailoring stuff.  Looking round the office properly for the first time, I noted the state of it (oh dear), checked that I could reach the bird table from the window (bird food will be purchased forthwith) and checked out the alarm system.  The office is older but bigger and there are more people in the building.  So far, the natives seem friendly.

Two rolls of fabric plus a folder and a sewing machine

The first rolls of fabric arrive, along with a pattern and sewing machine.

On Saturday morning, Mr March and I started the move in earnest.  There’s so much to move!  Still!  We haven’t moved all the big, heavy stuff yet; we have that joy to come today.  And then we can decide whether or not a cutting/worktable can be constructed.  At the moment, we’re thinking that the room is still too small, although the possibility of braked castors may make it possible.  It would make life a lot easier to be able to cut at a comfortable height and also save trying to persuade the Council to replace the floorcovering.

So far, we have the petticoat rail installed, the shelving unit moved and an identical new one purchased and installed alongside it.  Already, things are looking up.  Shelving!  Boxes on shelves!  Tidy(ish)!

Bookcase with assorted boxes and rubbish

Old shelves…

Bookcase with assorted boxes and containers

New shelves…

Clothing rail with assorted garments hanging.

Panic not! The petticoats are fine!

Just don’t look at the other end of the office…

Office with stuff everywhere

Oh dear…

You looked, didn’t you?  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It will be fine, though.  It will.  Mr March and I will shift rest of the equipment and hopefully by Monday I’ll be ready to have the phone line switched over.  The number isn’t changing and the change will be instantaneous, apparently, once the word is given.  It’s quite exciting!  New address is on the contact page already.  It’s not much different from the old address; same park, different building.

Watch this space…