Sep 072014

It’s been quite a week at WM Headquarters.  What with numerous fabric issues – some insurmountable – rearing their ugly heads, plenty of stitching for orders required this month, someone chasing a frock that had already been delivered (I knew I sent that one Special Delivery for a reason!) and a major hurdle just blown out of the water, it’s no wonder I eventually woke up this morning very, very late and with a horrid, dull headache.  Thankfully, the Mr Tigglesworth (aka The Ginger Whinger) kept most of his disapproval to himself (mainly because I fed him immediately and even he finds it difficult to yowl with a gob full of Royal Canin) and the chigguns were more interested in corn than giving me grief.  Funny how feeding things usually puts a stop to whinging, isn’t it?  It works with everything from poultry and cats to children, teenagers and men.  Obviously, with teenagers you have to factor in the accusatory looks, stabbing with a fork and obligatory “Are you trying to kill me?” glares but provided you’ve coped with their latest vegan/no green stuff/if it doesn’t come with breadcrumbs I don’t want to know sensibilities, you’re still on to a winner.

After a bit of gentle pruning* in the garden to see if a spot of fresh air would help, I gave up and donned my trusty Toggis for a rampage over the moor with Alfred.   And here’s the shocker; I didn’t bother with make-up and my hair wasn’t exactly sleekly groomed.  I know.  I’m sorry, I should have warned you.  Used as you are to the image of Miss Wednesday never leaving her dressing room without being fully frocked and with a full face of maquillage, this is a bit much for you.  But, truth be told, she does occasionally – usually on Sundays – skip the eyeliner and bright lipstick.  Today there was just a coat of Besame mascara and a smear of Besame cherry lip balm, because without those she really is frightening.  On days when all you want to do is put your head under pillow in a darkened room, a full face of makeup is just not happening, public image or no.

Inner Goddess:  Oh no!  What if somebody sees me?  What will they think?

Inner Realist:  For goodness sakes, you’re five foot feck all and 46.  That makes you invisible.  Nobody’s going to even see you.  Especially if you hide behind the dog.

So Alfred and I went over the moor, hoping for a nice quiet rampage with no extraneous people.  Alfred had been fed and I’m not a people person so there really was no need.  Naturally, this meant that we saw plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine and blackberries.  And what did I hear, when I’m trudging along, feeling like a bug-eyed mutant whilst attempting to control a huge, manky deerhound who has his eye on a big bag of freshly picked fruit?

“Oh my goodness, that is a GREAT dress!”

Excuse me?!  Here am I, wandering, sans maquillage and heels, traipsing over Beastly Bodmin Moor with the Hound of the Baskervilles and a random bloke notices my frock?

“I’m sorry, but it’s fabulous.  And I do like to compliment wonderful things.”

Well.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you very  much.  Your compliment is much appreciated.

Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you shouldn’t compliment a stranger.  It’s not sexist – women are just as capable of appreciating a well cut suit as men are a decent frock – and quietly telling the wearer of your approval is always appreciated.  And there’s nothing whatsoever stopping a woman from telling another woman she looks amazing, ditto a chap.  (“Suits you, sir!”)  Just as enjoying what you wear makes life more fun for you, having other people appreciate your effort just adds to that happiness.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that by dressing well, we aspire to enrich the lives of others.  Isn’t it nicer to see people dressed beautifully than slouching along in gratuitous sportswear?  Of course it is.

And it just goes to show that you should never underestimate the power of a good frock…

Tiered sundress in tropical fruit and flower print

The frock in question, the prototype Bardot, in a tropical print. The refined version – in a pale pink rose print – will be unveiled at the Goodwood Revival next weekend. See if you can spot it!


*  For ‘gentle pruning’, read ‘wholescale destruction’.  And be grateful I didn’t train as a hairdresser…

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

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!