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.

Onwards into the New Year – 2016 is nearly here!

 Frocks, Harebell, Ready To Wear, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Onwards into the New Year – 2016 is nearly here!
Dec 272015
 

It’s been quite a year, to say the least.  Weddings, bridesmaids, ladies who “don’t wear dresses” wanting dresses for weddings and discovering that, actually, they look amazing and that dresses are – and should be – fun.

Times move on and the new studio at St Mellion is almost finished, working is already happening there and the first frocks in the new children’s line, Harebell, have been made.  The very first one, “Gracie” sold within hours of being shown online and it’s a most appropriate home, too.

Three retro dresses on bustforms.

“Gracie” in tulip print.

And here it is, proudly modelled by the muse who inspired its creation!

Meet Grace!

Meet Grace!

Grace first came into the Looe shop, The March Hare, when she was a tiny tot in a pushchair.  She didn’t speak, just looked around with huge eyes, taking in everything as her mother, Krystal, had a lovely time looking in beautiful in a variety of frocks.  Over the years, Grace has grown up (and up and up!) into a beautiful, self-assured young lady, who knows exactly what she wants and likes and somehow, with her love of vintage and retro styles and classic dresses, she’s always the inspiration behind the Harebell line.  It was obvious that the first frock should be named after her, because it was the basic design that was created for her two years ago.  The frock has various options (sleeves, necklines, sash/waist ties, skirt length and fabrics) but it’s the same frock and looks wonderful.

Small girl in cream frock with apple print

Grace modelling her “appley dappley” Gracie frock, with sweetheart neckline and no sleeves.

Grace spotted the Wednesday March Ready To Wear line in Lovely Lane, Looe, back in the summer – nothing gets past this young lady! – and was adamant that she wanted something in the apple print.  Despite my slight misgivings as to the size of the print on a small person, Grace proved once again that she has a great eye for design as it works wonderfully.  A round necked, short sleeved version of the dress is almost finished in a black background version of this apple print.  Don’t tell Grace, though, as it isn’t her size…

No doubt Grace will continue to inspire the Harebell line as she grows up.  Apparently, this week she has been glued to the movie “White Christmas” (Miss Wednesday’s favourite!) and has a long list of designs she needs to discuss!

It’s wonderful when customers become friends.  Krystal owns the actual frock pictured on the WM business cards and profile pictures.  Hopefully both mother and daughter will be inspiring things for years to come.

Happy New Year 2016!  Here’s to new premises, new frocks, new friends and even more fun.  Stick around, we have a party to plan!

Good Times and Fashion Failures

 Frocks, Out And About, Style, Underpinnings, Weddings, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Good Times and Fashion Failures
Jun 072015
 

It’s been a bit of a hectic couple of weeks.  Miss Wednesday is up to her eyes in bridesmaids and frocks as it’s right in the middle of Prime Wedding Season and her alter ego, the Hedge Harpist is wearing her fingers to the bone with gigs and recordings and learning new choons.  Hence last week’s radio silence.  (Well, I say, “radio silence” but there’s been a fair bit of airplay on the actual radio!)

Thursday of this week saw two members of the Petticoat Club (Miss Tanya and the aforementioned harpist, wearing her favourite tulip print frock) at the Royal Cornwall Show, along with their Changing Room bandmates, as guests of the lovely BBC.  Much fun was had on the BBC stage, playing live on Radio Cornwall, a set for the audience in the marquee and then, a lot later, a live slot at the end of the BBC Spotlight news programme.  There’s a lot of waiting around involved with the rock and roll lifestyle, but there was plenty to see and do at the show, including beer, chips, ice-cream, sheep and cakey tea.

Two Valaid Blacknose Sheep, small, fluffy and cartoonlike with black faces

Valais Blacknose Sheep aka “comedy sheep”. Cutest sheep on the planet.

The filming of the Spotlight bit was highly entertaining.  Along with the waiting around, there’s an enormous amount of faffing and fussing for the technical crew, to get everybody in just the right place for each shot, without getting in the way of the other shots.  A small space with constantly changing light levels, no marks on the floor as it’s in a field and the big main show ring in the background.  That wasn’t stopping for any mere news programme and happily continued with horses backsides and loud tannoy commentary.  The presenters of the show, Natalie Cornah and Justin Leigh, were absolutely delightful and great fun.  Can’t imagine that it’s their favourite gig of the year, what with the challenging conditions, but they were lovely.  There was a slightly iffy moment, just seconds before going on air as a seagull kindly decorated one of the band but other than that, everything went smoothly.

Two musicians and a small green harp

Waiting around prior to Spotlight. The favourite tulip print frock.

There have been lots of kind comments over social media, in the pub, in car parks, out shopping, etc from people who saw it but you’re spared a link as it’s a news programme and expired two days ago.  There’s a relief…

Bunch of dodgy musicians

The Changing Room filming for BBC Spotlight. Photo (c) BBC South West.

Friday saw the band heading up the M5 to Clevedon to film for Songs From The Shed.  In an actual shed.  A very small but lovely shed.  Chickens and a very handsome cat made an appearance but no sheep and no cakey tea.  Well, it wasn’t Cornwall.  The random harpist wore another WM frock, this time the Bardot design in a tropical print with black grosgrain ribbon trim.  It’s a nice fabric, that one.  Doesn’t show up the cat hair or ketchup spills.  Useful.

Five musicians and instruments in a very small shed

In The Shed!

And then last night there was an outing over the water to West Looe for a spot of supper and then an album launch for James Shead’s new CD, A Light For The Fires.  He played a cracking set and a good time was had by all.  Miss Sara, however, was greatly distressed by some of the fashion faux pas on show.  She insisted that they should be the subject of this week’s Wittering, hence the following timely reminder…

  • Underwear should be just that.  Under.  This means “out of sight”.  Not putting too fine a point on it, a black bra doesn’t look cool under a white crochet top or showing clearly at the back of a pastel-coloured outfit, with crossed shoestring straps.  At best it looks careless, at worst slutty.
  • Uneven hemlines only work when the garment is nicely lined.  A cheap skirt in a light polycotton that goes up and the front and down at the back and that isn’t even well made looks like you’re wearing a nightshirt.  Or would it it was a frock.  Sadly, last night’s offending outfit was topped off with a cropped top and a roll of protruding bare flesh between that and the skirt.  Not a pretty sight.  Nearly put Miss Sara off her wine.
  • Unless you have the body of Gisele Bundchen or are prepared to wear appropriate shapewear, don’t wear bodycon outfits.  Please.
  • And lastly, consider your skintone.  If you have dark hair and lovely pale skin, a sprayed on outfit in white and light grey marl jersey will make you look like a bottle of milk with a wig on.  Sorry.

And here’s Miss Sara, showing how it should be done, in a lovely frock by Miss Fortune with a necklace by Zombie Panda Designs.

Rockabilly girl in red and black frock

Miss Sara