Posts Tagged ‘steampunk clothing’

My Dearest Celia…

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

As I hope you know by now, my new collection, entitled, for reasons that will be made clear, “My Dearest Celia…” was launched a week or so ago. ¬†This is the first time I’ve done this- in the past I’ve always posted pictures of every garment as I made it, as it came together, then took a picture of it to use as a product picture and showed that. It didn’t generate much excitement for two reasons- one, everyone had already seen it several times before it was finished, and two, the photos that I took were never good. This time, therefore, I decided to keep my cards a little closer to my chest during most of the design and construction, and also to bring in my friend Tom in to take some pictures that were actually good.

This is also the first time I’ve actively put together a “collection” as a single entity. With my harlequin stuff, I put a few bits together, photographed them as they came, and posted them, but this was the first time I’d done the whole thing as one to be shot together. As a result, I totally got delusions of grandeur, and decided that the photographs all needed a unifying narrative, to make them more than just pictures of clothes.

The story went like this; “My Dearest Celia…” is the start of a letter written by a lovelorn soldier of the 23rd Infantry Brigade, nicknamed The Tigers, to a woman with whom he is besotted.

I wrote this, and then felt super guilty for making up a character and being so mean to him. I have a weird conscience.

Unfortunately, Celia is all too aware of this, and, without reciprocating his feelings, takes advantage of them to get him to do stuff. Bad stuff. Stuff that gets him in trouble with bad people, and results in him being tied to some railway tracks (the location scouting part of this was super fun!).

Will she release him? Why should she, when she can get more promises? She's super mean.

After finally cutting him loose, they walk a little. Probably he’s apologising for inconveniencing her or something. Jesus, unnamed male character, sort your life out!

In this scene, our hero tries to endear himself to Celia. In reality, what you see here is Real Life Celia being mad that my outfit involves a fleece lined jacket, and hers is just a fairly thin top and trousers over a white blouse, and it's freezing cold.

Then we talk things out, and sit on a sluice because it’s a nice day:

The reason for the slightly soft focus on this shot is that Tom shot it on a 1947 Kodak Box Brownie. The man is dedicated. Also, Instagram can suck it.

I guess we make up in the end, because when we got to the final location, which was a very cool former tram bridge, I was intending to shoot me dangling off it by my finger tips with Celia standing on my fingers, but what had been ¬†a fairly easygoing, shallow river when I scouted it, had become a pretty solid torrent, and I didn’t fancy drowning. I realise this shows a profound lack of commitment to the role, but what do you want? I’m a dressmaker, not a model.

Here we stare off into our future; me, happy to me with the woman with whom I am obsessed, her, apparently planning more ways to take advantage of those feelings.

If you read all that, thanks! This was a lot of fun to put together, and it showed me a few things I need to get better at. Most importantly I’ve learned that while it’s fine to work yourself super hard on construction, and work long days putting it all together, you can’t (or at least, I can’t) rush the design process. If inspiration hits, it hits, and if it doesn’t, a deadline isn’t going to make it. Next time I won’t set a date for shooting until I have all of the designs dialled in.

This also marks our first proper shoot with our new offical model Celia Grey, who puts up with a lot, and totally followed my direction here- I said “Ice Queen”, and she nailed it! That said, it was super cold, so maybe ice queen wasn’t too far from the mark.

You can find the collection for sale here.

Deadlines, patchwork, swimming, site redesign, and corsets

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

What ho! Today, a catchup on what I’ve been doing. My aim now is to update my Facebook and Twitter several times each day with pictures and updates about what I’m working on, and then once or twice a week to have a longer post here pulling everything together.

First things first! As the title suggests, I’d like to talk about deadlines.

I love deadlines.

That may sound odd, but I am sure a lot of you can relate to my position. If someone asks me to make something, and sets me a deadline, that thing will be made by that deadline. No questions. Last Sunday, I was at a market in London, when a friendly fellow asked me to make him a pair of trousers. BUT, he added, he needed them to wear to a party on the next Saturday. That’s six days, including shipping them to London (for those of you outside the UK, it’s small, but it’s not THAT small, and I live about 6 hours away from London by road). No problem! I measured him, drafted them on Tuesday, cut them, and made the fly on Wednesday, leaving myself just the waistband and the hems to do on Thursday, which I did before shipping them special delivery just after lunchtime. They arrived Friday morning, and he had a great, bespoke outfit in under a week.

So when I am set a deadline, I meet that deadline. Questions? No? Good.

The other side of the coin is when people say “Oh, no rush”.

Goddamnit, people! I NEED the rush! If there’s no rush, if it’s a run of the mill product, it’ll take anywhere from a month to in excess of six (SO sorry, customer (you know who you are)). If it’s something I’m excited to make, I’ll get the basics of it done super quick, but then all those little finishing bits will drag on and on and on. So please, if you’re ordering something from me, tell me when you want it by! It can a week’s time, or a year, but let me know!


Now, item number two in the list is Patchwork! I do love me some patchwork, and I think it really brightens up some relatively normal designs.


Me, in cotton Harlequin trousers

These trousers, for example, are a pretty standard cut. A little higher in the waist, perhaps, and they have only one pocket, but still. Add some patchwork to one leg, and you get nothing but compliments!

Several of my recent designs were inspired by that very black and white diamond patchwork fabric. Those of you who know me well will know that I have a thing for harlequins, and when I saw this fabric, I had to have it. However, it’s quite expensive on the roll, and the shop that I got it from has only the one roll and cannot get any more. Not wanting to rely on no one else buying any, and that already slim roll somehow lasting forever, I decided to figure out how to make it myself, quickly and easily.

To cut a long story short; I did! Mainly thanks to my overlocker. I love my overlocker.


NOT SHOWN: Lipstick marks.

If anyone’s interested, I’ll post a tutorial on how to do it. It’s a very quick method that does not involve cutting out hundreds of tiny diamonds which then fray and get lost before you have a chance to painstakingly join them by hand.


Logic would tell us that now is the time to talk about swimming, but it’s not! That comes later! I’m going to talk about the upcoming redesign of this site.

When I first got this site, it didn’t have much direction. I made stuff that I thought was cute, and it was! Oh my, was it ever. But now, I have a lot more direction. Recently, it’s been Circus Swing, and further back, Steampunk. So I’m going to have parts of the site redesigned to better reflect this! I’m also going to get rid of the portfolio section, replacing it with some kind of garment retrospective, and I’m going to get rid of the “Home” page, because what on earth do you put there that doesn’t go in another section? The site will work just the same, it’ll just look different. Better, I hope!

Now, by way of an apology for the last paragraph’s dramatic departure into chaos, corsets! I am working on some corset designs. There’s not a whole lot to say here, except that I’ve only ever dabbled with corsetry, and I’m excited to be getting properly into it! Keep an eye on my twitter for excited tweets as it all comes together/despairing, angry tweets as it all falls apart.


Finally, swimming. The event I was training for, the 2.2 mile Breakwater Swim (swimming from Plymouth’s Breakwater to the shore) was last Sunday. You can read a bit about it here (that’s me on the right, refraining from doing what the photographer suggested and putting my hand on Pauline’s shoulder, because she was covered in Vaseline). This was before the swim, when we were all excitedly nervous. Anyway, it went off without a hitch, once I was in the water (although I came off my bike on the way there and did the whole thing with cuts all down my right side and a swollen elbow on one side and shoulder on the other). I took longer than I wanted, but 12 weeks ago I couldn’t swim 25m crawl, so I’m still pretty happy. Now it’s time to work on my technique and my speed. I set the bar nice and low for next year!


Thanks for sticking with me through all that, folks! That was long. Reward yourselves now! Perhaps a cup of tea, or something from the store?