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.
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.