Feb 152015
 

One of the reasons for closing The March Hare was, weirdly, the popularity of the Wednesday March frocks above all other things in the shop.  With the travelling and the work involved in actually running the shop, there just wasn’t enough time to make sufficient garments to keep up with demand and have a proper range of sizes and styles in stock.  Closing the shop, renting a workshop and concentrating on the made to measure side of the business seemed to be the way forward.  And it was.  It definitely was.  No question about that.

But it did close the main window on the world and plenty of people, both local and visiting, were very sad about the decision.  There has been a lot of feedback on this.  It’s a difficult one, because many of the people who mourned the disappearance of The March Hare had never actually bought anything in there; whilst they loved the style of the shop and clothing, it has to be said that not everybody had the budget or time for a made to measure, especially given the length of the waiting list.  So, realistically, the shop had to go.

When I closed it, the plan was to do some outside events, retro fairs, etc and maybe the odd pop-up shop, but swapping the huge 4×4 for a 2-seater sports job made the logistics of moving rails, mannequins and stock problematical and Miss Wednesday is still unconvinced that giving up her beloved Snippy (the hairdresser’s car) will end in anything other than driving misery.  So she’s bimbled along, making the made to measure and having a lovely time, but not getting out much and missing having that window on the world, which was good, albeit expensive, advertising.

On Tuesday 10th February, at 11.41 am,  a short Facebook message pinged in from a friend with a shop in Looe.  “Have you got a number I can call you on please?!!!”

This was either sent to the wrong person or a cry for help.  Number duly provided and Sharon called to explain.  She was opening another branch of Lovely Lane Interiors in Polperro on Saturday 14th and had already advertised that there would be some vintage clothing but that the person providing that part of the offering had been unable to go through with it and she wondered if there was anything left from The March Hare that could be put into her new shop to fill the gap.

Er, no.  Not really.  It is all made to measure now and any samples tend to get snapped up quite quickly.

One hour later, however, Miss Wednesday was in the workshop and Wednesday March Ready to Wear was under way!  It is not a huge range at the moment, given the timescale (3 days!) but there are plans for it.  The first pieces were delivered to Sharon at the new shop on Friday afternoon and will be added to as quickly as possible, whilst still providing the normal made to measure service.  The full range should be in place by Easter.  No pressure…!

Retro style frock with novelty print on white background

A bad picture of the first WM Ready to Wear design! Meet “Chessie”. Round neck, scoop back, gathered skirt. Ta dah!

Chessie is the first ready to wear design.  She’s simple, classic and classy.  The garments in the range will be offered in standard sizes (S, M, L, XL) and limited to one in each style/fabric/size to start with to maintain some exclusivity, certainly until we can gauge the demand.  But who knows where this may lead?

Chessie is priced at £85, which is considerably less than the made to measure garments and is currently available in a beautiful print of Edwardian ladies.  The fabric is designed and printed in England and the frocks are made in Darkest Cornwall – how’s that for Buy British?!  Grab one while you can.

Wednesday March Ready to Wear is currently only available from Lovely Lane Interiors, Polperro, Cornwall.  Drive to Polperro, park up in the carpark (do NOT be tempted to drive right down as it is very narrow and access is restricted to essential vehicles only) and wander on down the quaint main street.  Lovely Lane can be found on the right hand side, past The Kitchen restaurant and next door to the ice cream kiosk.  The sign is more easily spotted on the way back than the way down so keep your eyes peeled.  Inside you’ll find all manner of glorious furnishings and goodies to tempt you, along with some rather nice frocks and petticoats and a vintage tea room offering Cornish Tea and Coffee.

Interior shot of shabby chic interiors store

The Lord Mayor of Polperro, having opened the new Lovely Lane Interiors store there. WM Ready To Wear just behind him to the left! Photo stolen from Holiday Cottages Polperro

Meanwhile, Miss Wednesday is slaving away on the next design.  Watch this space…

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…

Nov 232014
 

Six months in the preparation and now it’s all over…

Last night was the long awaited fashion show at the Eden Project, in conjunction with various local designers and educational establishments in aid of People and Gardens.  It may come as a bit of a shock to hear that all the Wednesday March frocks were finished by 5.30pm on Friday 21st.  This is either some sort of a record or, as is widely suspected, Miss Wednesday was kidnapped and replaced with an alien.  She is never finished with time to spare.  It was all a bit strange.

Mrs A turned up at the allotted time with an appropriate vehicle (borrowed from her husband), plus a wodge of  printed order forms and some wonderfully displayed fabric samples.  Miss Wednesday had packed the frocks and petticoats (and the assorted bits and bobs that would have been needed if she hadn’t taken them) and everything was duly loaded into the car.  Miss Sara, Miss Jane, Miss Tina and Miss Sarah all turned up and it was time to go.

Three cars travelled in convoy to the Eden Project and then promptly got lost.  It’s a rather large place with a lot of car parks but no obvious signs of the stewards we’d been told to locate.  Various routes were tried but nary a parking steward was seen.  It turned out, after a slight altercation with a very long, very bendy bus and an “Authorised Vehicles Only” road, that the parking stewards had misunderstood their instructions and weren’t turning up until much later.  But Miss Wednesday and Miss Tina got out and walked to find help and appropriate guidance, armed only with a pashmina and a small stash of TicTacs.  Thanks to their bravery – it was getting a tad chilly, even if it wasn’t quite the below zero temperatures that Miss Wednesday was bleating about – eventually People Who Knew Stuff were located, everybody got to the right place and everything was unloaded.  (Miss Lucinda and Miss Zoe were already there, having had no such navigation problems.)

There followed a few hours involving heated rollers, make-up brushes and a lot of standing around.  No, the bar was not open but Miss Wednesday did ascertain from the barman that there was a good supply of gin.  More on that later…

 

One tiny rehearsal  for the WM models was squeezed in at about 6.30pm, despite every other designer having their models poncing up and down the catwalk for ages but no choreographed routine to learn.  Mrs A was a tad savage about that as she and Miss Sara had worked very hard on that routine and, naturally, they were worried that timings might go to pot in the actual show as most of the models had no idea what was going to happen and some hadn’t even heard the music.

Wednesday March was the third designer to show, after quite of lot of “asymmetric” knitwear and, er, scarves.  Oh, and a rather weird yoga/deportment lecture from one designer.  Much hilarity now ensues with members of the Petticoat Club whenever scarves or “zipping up” are mentioned.  You had to be there…

Then it was time…

 

Model in halterneck cherry print frock

The newest WM model, Miss Sara, in a Leah frock in pink and white Japanese cherry blossom print. Over a purple petticoat. Stunning!

 

What?  You want pictures of the actual show?  Ah.  Yes.  Well.  Er, later.  Miss Wednesday isn’t renowned for her prowess with anything like a camera and did her very best to take actual video of the show rather than mess up a lot of pictures.   She swears it said it was recording and the red light was on.

Fortunately, there were plenty of official photographers and people videoing it so there will be better pictures in due course.  Including ones of the models who stole the show, the lovely Miss Julie and Miss Helen from People and Gardens, who raised the biggest cheer of the night.

To be continued…

 

“Will You Be My Bridesmaid?”

 Frocks, Style, Weddings  Comments Off on “Will You Be My Bridesmaid?”
Oct 122014
 

Also known as “Fifteen years of friendship down the drain…”

The bridesmaid thing.  Is it a blessing or a curse?  An opportunity to have a wonderful, friendship-sealing rite of passage with your closest friends/nearest and dearest or The Sweetest Revenge Opportunity Ever?

I get a lot of enquiries about bridesmaids’ dresses.  A lot.  Oh yes.  Most come from the bride to be and/or her mother.  Mostly they are nice and want something pretty but slightly unusual and ‘vintage-style’.  Something that isn’t prom/evening wear or in satin/chiffon/organza.   Mostly I am able to oblige them with exactly what they are wanting, even if they haven’t been able to quite put it into words.  Sometimes there is no way on this earth I am going to be able to work with either the bride or the mother and nothing I can do will actually make them happy.  That’s when my order book becomes over-full and fabric unavailable…   But usually I can help.

The thing with bridesmaids is that they come in all shapes, sizes, ages and outlooks.  It is an absolute minefield for the kind and caring bride to try to negotiate the terrain and keep each and every one of her attendants happy in a frock that will fit, suit, match the theme/colour scheme and not scare the vicar.  Enough to put you off getting married anywhere other than in secret with a couple of witnesses grabbed off the street.  (Regular readers will know that I had the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as attendants at my wedding.  Much easier and more fun.  And no, not a euphemism for various family members I detest, either!)

Of course, the majority of wedding consultations start out in a less than happy mood.  When there is more than one bridesmaid, they are invariably all worried about what is going to happen, what the others may want or not want and what they are likely to end up with.  They don’t want to upset the other bridesmaids and they certainly don’t want to upset the bride.  If I had a pound for every time I heard, “I’m just going to turn up and wear whatever you want me to wear,” uttered with a sigh, then I’d be smiling all the way to the bank.  Unfortunately, nobody ever coughs up that pound, nor does that sentence fill me – or the bride – with joy.  On the contrary, it’s when the feeling of Impending Doom deepens, blackens and threatens the swallow up the room and everyone in it.  Weddings should be joyful occasions and nobody wants a bridesmaid who is really unhappy with her frock or is there on sufferance.  Every female member of that wedding party should be wearing something that makes her want to dance.  Which is where I come in…

Happily, most of the people who come to see me about bridal stuff want “something different”; it’s quite rare for me to be confronted with “everything is to be traditional and done by the book”, which is probably my worst nightmare.  Weddings should be fun.  Have I said that already?  I’ll repeat it anyway.  Weddings should be fun.  And the participants should be comfortable.  To that end, I have a few styles that I know work very well for bridesmaid dresses.  The Leah and Diana styles (halter neck or cap sleeved, princess seamed, straight or sweetheart neckline) are the most obvious choices and very popular, especially as the bodices are shirred at the back, delivering excellent fit and the potential for devouring an extra slice of wedding cake in comfort.  Not everybody wants a halter neck, so the Diana gives a little more shoulder coverage.

Halterneck retro 50s style full skirted frock in yellow fabric with printed cherry pattern

Leah halter neck style, in yellow cherry print fabric.

 

Retro 50s style frock with cap sleeves in black fabric with bright pink roses

Diana full skirted style, with straight neckline (can also be done with sweetheart) and cap sleeves.

But then, there are always ladies who worry – probably more than they should – about their arms.  And tummies.  Hips.  Shoulders.  Oh, every bit of them.  At this point, I usually recommend a burkha.  When they’re over the shock of that and realise I’m joking, I point them in the direction of Verity, my pseudo-1940s style with the slight empire line and the full circle skirt.

Yesterday’s clients were a hoot.  Lovely ladies but not at all happy about the prospect of finding the perfect style to suit them all.  The dress they all – allegedly – wanted wasn’t going to work, as another dressmaker had already told them.  They said they “liked the style” of Diana but their faces clearly said, “Not that much…”  Sleeves were mentioned.   I waved to Verity and they all assumed an expression of horror.  Now, I know that poor Verity wasn’t on the best mannequin (Gladys, my lingerie model, who is difficult at the best of times, and is the mannequin on the right hand side in the following picture) and wasn’t sporting a petticoat, so probably didn’t look her most enticing.  But the reaction was hysterical.  “Oh, I don’t like that at all!” came from the bride.  Quickly followed by, “It makes me think of 1940s…”  Yes!  It’s supposed to!  “… Those things that cleaners wore.  Crossed over at the front.  Hideous.  Sorry.  I really don’t like it.”  Cracking description, albeit not how I see the frock.  Chief Bridesmaid was more succinct.  “Looks like a preg tent.”

Retro style frock in navy spot fabric with sleeves and crossover bodice

Verity in navy pin spot fabric.

At this point I did my best not to double up on the floor laughing.  I have never heard the expression “preg tent” before but I am certainly storing that one up for future usage.  Oh yes.

I’m not sure how Chief Bridesmaid was persuaded to don said “preg tent” but she was.  Petticoat was slipped over her head (she wasn’t going through the rigmarole of getting her kit off to try a cleaner’s overall!) and Verity followed.  Zipped up the back.  Expression changed.  She looked in the mirror and realised she looked fabulous.  She twirled.  She smiled.  Twirled a bit more and beamed. Everybody else beamed.  The bride was gobsmacked and changed her mind completely about the style.  All of a sudden, it ticked all the boxes.   The other bridesmaids did their best to try it on (wrong size, not their fault) and pronounced themselves equally enamoured.  And they all smiled.

Now all I have to do is source the perfect fabrics, because they’re all having the same design but different colours.  Very precise different colours.  Did they come armed with knowledge of the exact Pantones?  No.  Of course not.  (And, frankly, the day a bridal party does that is the day I run away screaming!)  But they are off to B&Q to arm themselves with those paint colour cards.  Easy.

Me?  I’m off fabric shopping, which I enjoy.  I’ll be looking for specifics when I rock up at the London Textile Fair in January, not just inspiration.  Excellent.

Meanwhile, the bridal party have the fun of deciding what colour petticoats (I’m recommending a pop of something vivid underneath their pastel frocks) and finding The Perfect Shoes.  The right style, colour and ones they can walk and dance in.  All day and night.

Now that we’ve settled on the style, I think I have the easier task…

 

A Day Out With Cars and Frocks!

 Favourite Places, Frocks, Out And About, Shoes, Wednesday March  Comments Off on A Day Out With Cars and Frocks!
Aug 102014
 

Occasionally, Miss Wednesday is allowed out.  For the safety of the general public, she’s usually quite strictly chaperoned and it is only very occasionally…

Last Sunday, 3rd August, Miss Sara and Miss Wednesday went to Mount Edgecumbe for their Classic Car Show and Summer Fayre.  There was also a Miss Ivy Events Vintage and Artisan Fair on, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to visit.

Mount Edgecumbe is the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe. Set in Grade I Cornish Gardens within 865 acres Country Park on the Rame Peninsula, South East Cornwall, it is now council-owned and a wonderful venue for many a wedding and event.  The grounds are stunning and well worth a visit, especially as most of the park is open from 8am to dusk daily, all year round and is free to visit.  The house and the Earl’s Garden are open during the summer, usually from the start of April to the end of September, although not every day.  There is a charge to visit these areas.

But back to last Sunday…

Miss Sara gave strict instructions to Miss Wednesday to arrive by 11.30 at the latest (knowing Miss Wednesday’s tendency to be tardy) and they set off at about 11.45 am.  It proved to be a mistake, as the road from Looe to Mount Edgecumbe is narrow, windy and with more than one bottleneck.  All it takes is for one person to be rubbish at reversing and the entire area snarls up.  But it was a beautiful day and they had the roof off the Lotus so…

On arrival, they were directed to park in with the classics, which was rather nice, and Lottie was much admired and photographed.  Almost as much as Miss Sara, in fact!

Miss Sara was wearing her Sundae Best Dress and Miss Wednesday sported her favourite Diana with sweetheart neckline, in strawberry gingham fabric.  Not the matching shoes, though.  Oh no.  Not for tramping around on grass.  Miss L Fire Dollie wedges were perfect.  Miss Sara had flat, dotty pumps but Miss Wednesday doesn’t own any flat shoes other than her riding boots, which would have looked slightly out of place.

Two women in retro frocks blocking view of vintage Buick

Blocking the view of a very nice car!

They wandered around drooling over the cars for a couple of hours, visited the food stands – Miss Sara is fond of a proper hotdog*, none of that Cumberland sausage in a brioche bun ponciness for her, thank you – and the bar (which had run out of cider and only had nasty additive-filled tonic water so nothing for Wednesday) and then headed up towards the house and the vintage fair.  There were quite a few stands up there, including the wonderful Trish of Just Seven with her glorious hats and quite a lot of proper vintage clothing.  Miss Wednesday spotted The Little Green Van Company, who have a beautiful 1974 Citroen van named Laurent, with a coffee machine, and which was serving coffee, cake and ice cream.  It looked fabulous and Miss Wednesday, who won’t eat walking around but makes an exception for ice-cream, bought the ice-creams, which were the biggest disappointment of the day.  Coming from such a wonderfully presented stand, you could be forgiven for expecting a decent waffle cone and a serving of good ice-cream.  Alas, they turned out to be a very small blog of, frankly, cheap and nasty and mostly ice-crystals, stuff perched precariously on a cheap and nasty cone.  You know the sort of papery cone that sticks to the roof of your mouth?  Yep, that sort.  Ick.  She won’t be patronising that particular stand again, which is a shame because it looked wonderful.

Overall, however, it was a very nice and relaxed day.  Ran into a few friends, drooled over some beautiful cars – what’s not to like?

Miss Sara’s long-suffering partner travelled there on his rather snazzy Lambretta.  It garnered a lot of attention.  Miss Sara agreed to pose with it for pictures but she drove the Lotus home.  Lambrettas and petticoats only work in pictures.

Vintage scooters and woman in retro frock

Lucky Strike!

Back down the hill to the waterside – stunning on a sunny day – and home via the coast road and Downderry.

 

*  In Miss Sara’s opinion, a ‘proper hotdog’ is made from very little meat  – ‘mostly lips and arseholes’ – and comes in an equally dubious bun.  The ketchup should be applied in a line and the mustard dotted, not zigzagged.  She’s quite particular about these things.