By Justine Tabak
‘Mother’s in the kitchen, Doing a bit of stitching..’
Playground rhyme , 1960's onwards.....
I’m so pleased with the quality of stitching from the factory that makes my clothes. High standards and old fashioned finishing is always what I wanted when I set up my new collection.
I’m old enough to have learned hand sewing at primary school (does any school do that any more? ) – making my first top age 9! Dressmaking at home was an important way of keeping up with trends and as a teenager those skills were essential in adapting many outfits. I can’t count how many times I took in my jeans to make them ‘skinny’ in the late 70 ‘s - not available in the shops but great to wear with my dad’s old 'boyfriend' jumpers. And a friend has recounted the trouble she had with an outfit she wanted to wear to a Blondie concert – just imagine wrestling a black binbag in a sewing machine!
Illustration from my well loved Ladybird Book of 'How to Sew'
But the other end of the scale is where I’m at now, with precise work on french seams, taking inspiration from little-used sweet smocking details, specifying tailoring details like facings and bias cut edgings. It does take more time to plan and costs a little more to produce but the end product is then an item of value which lasts .
My inspiration board with stitch pattern prints and vintage florals
Stitch floral design on my Meadow Cotton Top
I also love taking stitch and embroidery patterns as inspiration for prints. This season I looked at some vintage embroidery manuals with their stitch motifs. Satin, cross, feather and herringbone patterns make interesting patterns when painted and printed in trompe l'oeil effect.
Indira making a sample
One unexpected result of insisting on fabulous skills in manufacture is that the inside can be as beautiful as the outside – and so one customer demonstrated how she chose to wear her Pearly Queen jacket inside out for evening as the gorgeous printed silk lining made a statement, and the quality of the finish means not a stitch out of place. The machinists at the factory I use takes real pride in showing me new finishes and the careful detailing such as covered seams on my lace, bias bindings around necklines and the tiniest of hand stitches for buttons and loops.