So, I had an idea, probably about four years ago, it was one of a few that have been simmering away. When I say simmering, more uncooked really. It was ignited by a conversation with Jane Tattersfield at a Trade show. I had been drawn to her stand by the colours. I love colour! Thinking Jane’s designs would look lovely on silk I starting talking to her about one of my favourite things, dressing gowns. It seems it is one of Jane’s favourite things too and she dreamt of a full-length gown to sweep around in. I share that dream. The reality is of course that in an old stone house with a roof you can see daylight though “wafting in silk” brings on feelings similar to cold water swimming. Actually I wouldn’t know anything about that but am always full of admiration for those who plumb the depths.
Where were we? Are yes, dithering and finding other things to do. So fast forward four years to March 2020 and the Parlour, like so many other things, came to a sudden juddering halt. When I write this, in hindsight, it all sounds a bit better than the reality. I did cry, I am sure lots of us have cried and many with more to cry over than me. But I watched others around me carry on. The creative creatures I previously rubbed shoulders with (bumping elbows now) carried on working on passions of their own. Inspired by this and in truth, because there was not a lot else going on, I revisited a couple of these simmering ideas. One being THE Dressing Gown.
I should also add in here that over the previous few months I had formed a little gang with three lively and lovely people (Whatsapp named Quilters and Stitchers). I can’t sew, in fact, it makes me quite bad tempered but undeterred they cajoled and gently pushed me to cut and stitch. The aim being to make a quilt but the underlying reason, to drink wine. It was at of these drinking, erh sorry, sewing sessions that I discussed The Gown idea. It turns out, my love of dressing gowns wasn’t limited to Jane and I. Shapes, lengths, materials, pockets, itchy labels, all debated.
And so, with no haste whatsoever, I set about warming the idea up a bit. A prototype was made, (thanks Tracey Coverley for taking pity on me and making this) and then given to Sue to test drive (thank you Sue for waiting so long for the finished article) And with help from everyone around including Nicola at Bear Fruit things were warming up a little more.
Next up then some very practical considerations, getting the artist, getting the printing done, finding someone to make the gowns. All easy in the end, Jane was brilliant at getting the design to the printers, a lovely UK based printer who made the whole thing simple. And then the maker, Angie. Angie has been working with silk for years, her passion is moths and butterflies, it ties in well don’t you think with the silk worm. This good neighbour of mine has quietly and kindly worked her magic and brought the idea to life. It takes her a whole day to make one gown. Speaking as someone who can’t sew (did I mention that?) I do appreciate the effort that goes into making clothes. The UK industry has lost many of its factories and along with it, many skilled workers. So it’s a real luxury to have someone who has this talent on my doorstep.
Finally then the first gowns are ready to grace The Parlour. Made of cotton and silk which seems quite apt as Whaley Bridge is on the border of two areas one known for it’s silk and one for its cotton. It turns out pure silk really only likes dry cleaning and if we are to waft around then we also want to waft to the washing machine and put it on a gentle wash to wear and waft again.
On reflection I feel I have been very lucky this year. Support for the online shop has kept me going and the quiet time has given me the chance to work on this idea. I want to continue to support artists, artisans and skilled workers to follow the passion and use their talents. Adding an extra element into the mix, to help with good causes that have touched the lives of those around me. So, this limited edition range of dressing gowns will be linked to Dementia UK.
Thanks for all the love and support.
May aka Carol x
PS: The gown is lovely but the launch isn’t as I would like. Plans of gorgeous gowns in gorgeous settings hasn’t been possible and I have been reluctant to go ahead as the photos don’t do it justice. But I thought, this year, more than any other year, I’ll be forgiven for everything not being perfect. And happily, very soon, those who long for a little luxury in their life can slip into one of the gowns when they visit the Parlour again….