Leavers Lace: Named from the inventor of the machine that produced it, John Lever, in Nottingham in 1813. It was an adapted version of the Bobbinet machine. The name of the machine was the Leavers machine (the 'a' was added to aid pronunciation in France).
Calais Lace: In the early 19th century, a group of British ‘tulle’ manufacturers from the Nottingham area emigrated to the continent to escape a period of economic unrest, taking their distinctive techniques with them. Many settled in Calais and there resulted in a boom in the Lace industry.
There is also Corded Lace and Eyelash lace which is self-explanatory when you look at their design.
When I began designing my first collection in 1975, lace and in particular colour matching silk was a big part of the process. I would make test batches, dying at home, or gather samples of ribbon in the colour I wanted. I would then take it to The English and French Dyeing company, which opened up after WW1, based in Acton. The two guys running the place, who were in their 80s, were very busy fulfilling orders for the Royal Opera at the time. I was reluctant to try gifting them with lingerie to get to the top of their queue, but it was the way to go and my five rolls of natural silks became Palest Pink Peach, Milky Coffee, Ivory ( not dyed but whetted and stretched) Hot Coral, and Eu de Nil.
Excitingly, as one shop-door closed another was opened last summer, with the launch of Keturah Brown Online. Showcasing signature designs from the brand, reaching beyond the high street bringing this Heritage Brand into a digital age.
A year on, Goug has adapted to the world of online sales, fulfilling orders via her Etsy and Keturah Brown online stores, reaching a new and Global customer base. Goug has embraced country living and even managed a (much deserved) three-month cruise in South America.
Goug talks a little about the big change…
“I now have the best work room ever, with lots of space and all my laces and silks to hand. Wonderful sunlight and a great space to feel inspired. Obviously, I miss my shop and my lovely customers so much but I am in London often to meet and fit by appointment.
The shop and upper parts were showing their Victorian heritage and needed a massive investment from which sadly we, will be recovering for quite some while”
The personal service and made-to measure pieces that Goug’s customers have come to love so much is still available, as Goug mentions, via appointments booked with her. You can get in contact via the website if you would like to arrange this.
Goug is continuing to create new collections and these will be added to the website as they are available. Visit www.keturahbrownlingerie.com where you can browse, buy and sign up to our mailing list.
Last week, London was hit with another of it's usual '30 days of summer' condensed into 72 hours. The capital stripped-off in local parks, terraces, balconies and gardens as the mercury hit 29 degrees. As wonderful and very welcome the weather was, particularly after a very harsh winter, I found myself with my annual dilemma a little earlier than expected...The Summer Wardrobe.
I stood staring into the void of clothes hanging up...a dark abyss of different textures and colours trying to recall clothes I knew I had worn last year (or was it 5 years ago?)...and as I rummaged I began to find things I had no memory of wearing (possible impulse buys that never quite worked outside of the fitting room)
This dilemma was fuelled by the fact I had a meeting to go to on the other side of the City and it was scorching...so it had to be appropriate and practical. Nothing too transparent and nothing too fitted!
A few other things came to light, as they always do on that first hot day of the year, such as forgotten wears and tears (that one always had the intention of repairing but it got thrown to the bottom of the pile at the start or autumn) and the state of some of my lingerie!
Goug's suggestions were...
"These days when your bra strap shows, it doesn't matter and can be part of your outfit as in keeping with current trends...if it is showing make sure it's pretty and that it has a good colour (not faded) and not worn"
"Obviously always take care to wash your white's with only whites and be delicate with your delicates to keep them at there best for longer"
"Those fine summer dresses often needs a slip as the slip will sit on the skin and the dress will then sit on the slip...smoothing out those lumps and bumps"
I would add...Having a good set of summer lingerie pieces in your wardrobe will carry you through the season and will give your confidence to shine in freeing and cool pieces that deserve the (sun)light of day...atleast once a year.
By Celyn Cooke at Keturah Brown
Last week I had two pieces of silk lying on the cutting table after making a custom nightdress. I stared and stared at them, in the midst of a dilemma, not wanting to put them aside for ‘Later’ as from my experience ‘Later’ never happens.
At last, inspiration was upon me, I sketched and then cut the pieces for a half slip from the remnants. I do admit that it didn't quite fit as it lacked a corner at the hem....what to do?
I was not going to be defeated!
This was simply remedied with a little tailoring trick. I inserted what is known as a ‘godet’ into the gap.
noun: a triangular piece of fabric, often rounded at the top, inserted in a garment to give fullness.
This wonderful little design feature was prominent in 1930s fashion and is a great detail to use when using Bias cut and draping fabrics.
You will be pleased to know that I have also cut out the pieces for a pair of knickers, from the same remnants....As you can see...I hate waste.
I have always had this problem…
An early memory of this habit is from my school days. When my Royal Blue school jumper became faded and worn at the elbows I had a method. I simply un-picked and detached the sleeves, turned them inside out, swapped them and re-attached (Worn patches now located on the inside of my elbow)…I only ever had one jumper throughout my school years.
This skill for waste saving continued in my career. In my days of designing evening dresses at Bernard Freres, I used printed Sari inspired fabric, with a different design at each side. I designed my dresses so that nothing was wasted within the length. They loved that!...particularly in cost-effective terms!
I often create pieces from odds and ends from the cutting table. Those little pieces of fabric can inspire some interesting results. Recently I put together some Art-Deco inspired panelled pieces, in various ice cream colours.
It’s astounding the amount of clothing is discarded (though hopefully to charity shops) and we live in a very 'throw-away' culture. There is certainly a rise in the idea of 'up-cycling' within fashion that hopefully will continue. I often suggest one should look to pay a bit more for quality items that will last longer and in the long run will mean you will buy less. Add to that, a bit of knowledge, basic sewing skills and imagination, one can re-invent a wardrobe time and time again.
Last week I had another repeat customer...though not 'repeat' in the conventional sense.
This lady came into the shop and produced a Camisole that I had made for her...35 years ago!
An Ivory Silk with Ivory lace piece (pictured below) that had stood the test of time which I recalled I had made in the early 80's. They say that anything over 25 years old is 'True Vintage'. It also goes to show that the combination of quality materials, craftsmanship and aftercare means that you will have something that lasts. One can look at it as an 'Investment' for their lingerie drawer.
The customer did order two more bespoke pieces, both Camisoles, one Black with Black lace and the other Mint Green with Coffee coloured lace. Both completed and customer has gone away happy with her investment. It seems my craftsmanship may be my worst enemy, as at this rate I can expect her back in 70 years!