It’s all go in Goodwood Revival Week and beyond

 Frocks, Style, Wednesday March  Comments Off on It’s all go in Goodwood Revival Week and beyond
Sep 142014
 

As you may have gathered, I make a fair number of frocks for customers attending the Goodwood Revival.  When I say, “a fair number”, I mean “a lot”.  Truckloads.  Although that doesn’t really give the right impression, as they are all individually created for each customer rather than by me using production line methods in an attempt to produce lots of the same thing.  Last year I actually had a stand at the Revival and I’m hoping that plenty of the ladies who ordered frocks then will be wearing those frocks at the event this year.  I know – and have already seen some pictures – of those attending in my frocks, including one of the new Bardot frock.  There will be more pictures for me to share with you soon, I’m sure.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend this year – either with a stand or as a punter – but hopefully next year I’ll be there.  Please send me pictures of you in your fabulous frocks so I can enjoy the atmosphere vicariously!

This year has been so full of change and exciting developments that I made the decision back in the winter that I wouldn’t be attending this year’s Revival.  I had to close the shop in Looe, find a suitable new workshop, move, create lots of frocks for existing customers, create an entirely new website, which involved learning WordPress web design, not to mention all the usual guff involved with running a business, sourcing fabrics, notions, etc.  I had hoped to attend as a punter but have been so busy with everything that even that wasn’t possible.  But it’s all good.  And there are even more exciting times ahead.

I think most people know that I’ve been sewing for a long time.  A loooooong time.  Mother started me on embroidery at a very early age.  By the time I was about four, I think everybody in the family had a dressing table set – whether they had a dressing table or not – and I remember very clearly thinking, “Bugger this, I’m going to make a frock!” as my older sister was making some beautiful things for herself.  I’ve sewed on and off throughout my lifetime, mostly when ready-to-wear fashion just didn’t float my boat and I’ve made a lot of frocks in that time.  I love making frocks.  Obviously.

But what I have always wanted to do is create amazing tailored numbers, like Christian Dior’s New Look.

Woman wearing 1947 wasp-waisted suit

A suit from the 1947 ‘Corolle’ collection by Dior.

I’ve drooled and sighed over pictures – and occasionally the real thing – and dreamed of creating such things.  Mother’s favourite aunt, my Great Aunt Gladys, was a tailoress, which is a major step up from a humble dressmaker.  She was very skilled indeed, although she died when I was still quite young and I never got to learn from her.  Mother did, though, and Mother produced a creditable “Chanel” suit for me when I was 15.  Admittedly, its birth wasn’t without some complications and I swear there was a footprint on the inside of the jacket where it had been thrown on the floor and stamped on, but it was a joy to behold and wear and clearly said, “Bespoke” in its workmanship.

Every year, usually when the Autumn/Winter collections start appearing in Vogue and the like, I go through a period of longing for beautiful tweeds from Harris, Linton and other top-notch sources.  I have made myself many a skirt in tweeds and boucles but somehow my nerve always fails me when I’m looking at paying out £35 a metre for fabric that’s been carefully hand-crafted by artisans in England and Scotland.  I want and need to learn more.  Especially about hand-finished jackets and the like; I want to do those fabrics justice.

So I’ve enrolled on a tailoring course.  A proper City & Guilds certificate in fashion Tailoring.  And, having spoken to the tutor already, I’m really rather excited.  I just hope it goes ahead.  Located, as I am, in the wilds of wonderful Cornwall (although Bodmin Moor is also known as “The Arse End of Nowhere”), there’s no telling what call there will be for the course and it may not entice enough people to be viable.  It’s not a cheap or quick undertaking, by any means, but the tutor said that apparently there have been others enrolling so I am hopeful.  And really, really excited.  Did I mention that already?  Really excited.

Watch this space.

Winter Is Coming!

 Frocks, Style, Sustainable fashion, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Winter Is Coming!
Aug 242014
 

What do you mean, ‘it’s only August’?!  It’s decidedly nippy out there and this morning was positively autumnal up here on Beastly Bodmin Moor.  So my thoughts have turned to warmer things, ie knitwear, tweed, furry stuff…

As my friends know, during the winter (which in my book runs from mid-August until at least the start of June), I am usually draped from head to foot in cashmere, tweed and, well, not to put too fine a point on it, animals.  Mostly as by-products of the food industry (ie, sheepskins, reindeer pelts, etc) but sometimes this involves the pelts of long-dead critters, sacrificed in a by-gone era when people’s sensibilities were very different and central heating hadn’t been invented.  (I’m not going to add insult to injury to the poor thing that died in the name of warmth by throwing it away like disposable rubbish.  That’s my point of view but I know others feel very differently on the subject.  And you don’t want to know what I’d do to the utter bastards who shoot things for fun rather than food or self-preservation.)  And sometimes the animals involved in my pursuit of warmth are still very much alive.  I’m frequently found on the sofa, buried under a large, gently snoring, shaggy, grey rug, also known as a deerhound, often with a couple of smaller rugs in the form of Mr Tigglesworth and the Weasel, (a Ragdoll and a Norwegian Forest Cat) for good measure.  Well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  And it does get very cold up here on the moor, especially when the wind’s in the wrong direction and the blasted Rayburn’s gone out.

Deerhounds all over the furniture

Still from the 1945 movie “I Know Where I’m Going” with Mrs Potts and her “half starved hounds” just in from a bracing walk and throwing themselves onto the sofas. Could be Miss Wednesday’s house on any given day…

But to cut away from that charming, domestic scene and get to the point of the post, I was actually wondering what other people who like ‘vintage’ stuff tend to do for winter wear?  More than one person this summer has asked about “winter stuff” and said that they struggle to find anything “retro” (eg, 1940s or 50s style) in anything other than summer frocks.  Really?  Oh.  Please don’t make me take up knitting.  You wouldn’t like the result.  Hell, I don’t like the result and, frankly, it’s a waste of decent yarn.

So, what do you want, then?  Give me a clue?  Tweed?  I like tweed.  Tweed is good, as is wool serge and flannel.  Full and circle skirts in wintery fabrics?   Lovely.  Pencil skirts in tweed?  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, just say the word.  Coats, suits and jackets?  Well, we can talk about it.  I’m happy to talk about it.

Knitwear?  May I respectfully direct you to either my beloved Brora, purveyors of the best cashmere with plenty of perfectly proportioned cropped styles that work beautifully with waisted outfits and full skirts, or the rather wonderful Miss Fortune, who has been supplying me with delicious knitwear for a couple of years now and has been seen photographing some decidedly nifty nordic-patterned knitwear lately.  Keep an eye on her.  I intend to…

I have been attempting to persuade a very talented friend to take up the challenge of recreating 1940s knitwear on a bespoke basis.  She’s thinking about it.  From under a nice warm pile of whippets.  (We do like our pointy dogs!)

But seriously, please let me know what you’d like.  I’ll probably be delighted to make it for you.  At the moment, I keep busy with what are, to me, summer frocks all year round but I know I don’t wear them in the winter and surely I’m not the only person who’s part lizard?

Just don’t ask for trousers.  Unless they’re old fashioned style jodhpurs.  I’m thinking about those.  Some days it gets a bit drafty walking across the moor in the teeth of a howling gale with my skirt up round my ears…

Woman and deerhounds silhouetted against the sky

Mrs Potts walking the hounds whilst clad in a fetching kilt/skirt, just as I do.

And if anybody’s actually interested in seeing more of the mad woman and the gorgeous dogs, the best bit of the movie can be viewed here on YouTube.