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!
At Keturah Brown, owner and designer Goug can usually be seen at her sewing or cutting table creating her signature Camisoles, Slips, and other made-to-measure lingerie...but occasionally along comes a design project or challenge that takes her fancy.
Last week she accepted a request to make simple Navy Gingham cotton dress for work. For the record, Goug does not take on alterations or tailoring work unless it's something that has piqued her interest. After all, lingerie is her passion, but her long career and experience, including designing evening dresses in Rome, means that her skill set is fine-tuned when it comes to putting a garment together.
With some simple description and discussion, Goug was able to come up with a design that fitted what the client had in mind. With the fabric supplied Goug got to work and put together the dress (the finished piece is pictured below) It was a simple shift dress design with bias trim on the neck and arm holes and a drawstring waist. The quality of the Gingham cotton meant that it did not need lining and was not see-through.
The client had a forthcoming wedding to attend and had two other dresses in mind, but was yet undecided. The simple Gingham dress (which had only been intended for work and everyday purpose) ultimately trumped the two previous ideas and made it to the wedding in Tuscany, accessorised with great earnings and flat shoes.
By Celyn Cooke
Running a shop in the ever-so-chic Primrose Hill, does keep one up-to-date with the current trends. On a number of occasions we have had one lady coming into the shop looking for something specific, only to have several other ladies come in at various points, days after, looking for the same thing.
Recently we have seen a couple of re-occuring requests that have piqued oour interest.
It is apparent that we are in wedding season, as we have had an array of brides-to-be and other important members of the bridal party looking for lingerie, ranging from functional (smoothing out) pieces to be worn under the wedding dress to more sexy items for the honeymoon. This is a usual occurrence each year in the shop. More unusually, we have seen quite a number maids of honor and hen party organisers come through our doors, searching for single pairs of knickers. There is a popular hen party activity, in which all the party goers purchase a pair of knickers for the bride, who then unwraps them individually (all should be wrapped in the same paper apparently!) and then has to guess who bought her which pair. It was apparent in the shop that the buyers of these knickers were very keen to choose something that reflected their own personality, as to give a clue to the bride. I thought it a rather nice (and tame!) activity for a Hen-do.
Bed to Beach
On first thought, the suggestion that someone would want to wear their pyjamas out in public, whilst on holiday, may raise a few eye brows. But this trend does have some specific requirements in order to pull it off. We always stock a mixed range of sleepwear in the shop. From your usual warm pyjama sets, dressing gowns and nightshirts to more delicate silk nightdresses, silk pyjamas, vibrant print kimono style robes and shirts. It is the latter pieces that seem to have caught the attention of ladies who are looking for a rather chic style on their forthcoming holidays. Think in the realms of wearing a classy set of black silk pyjamas while sipping a cocktail in a bar on the seafront in the south of France. Or wrapping up in a printed silk kimono (two piece bikini underneath) whilst heading to the beach bar. You can start to get the picture.
It's not an original idea and is inspired by loungewear from the 20's from designers such as Coco Chanel. Some examples of the casual look below. I must say it does look lovely and comfortable, which is what you want to holiday. The no-fuss (yet has been thought about) look is what seems to appeal to the ladies we have had in looking for pieces that would work. I like the creativity of it.
I was recalling my time as a designer/sketcher for La Mendola in Rome, many moons ago. In particular some of the festive traditions surrounding Christmas and New Years Eve. A very vivid memory was one of New Year's eve, dodging pots, pans, clothes, kitchen appliances and three-piece suites (You name it!) that littered the streets and were making their way out of apartment windows. This symbolises the letting go and banishing of the bad past...though it seemed to me that everyone had saved up their unwanted junk just for this occasion, ready for the municipal trucks to haul it away.
One that really sticks in my mind is the well-known tradition of wearing Red underwear to ring in the New Year. It's a well-known custom in Italy (and also adopted in Spain too) Apart from the idea that Red is a colour associated with luck, there is also a legend about the tradition dating back to Medieval times. A story told that men would drape their nether-regions with red cloth, to protect themselves from mischievous Witches, who may be out on New Years eve and up to no good (Apparently???) I am not sure if this legend also applies to the Spanish tradition, but I am certain the general premise is about good luck for the New Year.
In South America, a similar superstition exists, particularly in Peru. Yellow is the colour associated with luck and so not only wearing yellow pants but also to wear them inside-out for New Year's eve, promises a prosperous year. Also filling your pockets with lentils and cinnamon???....it's quite a lot to think about if you're going out for a night on the town!
I thought it's a rather funny fixation of luck being assciated with your pants. I did a little research and discovered many European superstitions of the past, all evolving from underwear...
Sleep with a bra under your pillow: That is if you want to meet the man of your dreams, in your dreams!
No Underwear on your wedding day: A rather risque and wholly impractical notion. In the 1920's it was believed that if a Bride to be wanted a Happy Marriage, she should attend her wedding service without wearing underwear. It symbolised wholeness and appeasement to the gods of love, who would in exchange give joy and happiness to the couple. Can you imagine the wedding congregation all with one thought on their mind....was the bride going commando!
What ever the New Year brings, I wish everyone a happy, healthy and lucky one....regardless of the your colour and position of your pants!