Dandy & Rose

Bespoke Western Shirts, Handmade in England


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Catching up

This year has been such a busy one for research, writing and shirtmaking that I have got rather behind with this blog.

So here are all the shirts I have made so far and not blogged about:

First up a marvel of symmetry in Liberty’s William Morris-designed print ‘Lodden’. It belongs to Thor Platter, a singer songwriter who tracked me down at last year’s Americana Music Association Festival in Nashville. I’m very glad he did!

Then in February, I came across some of one of my favourite out-of-print Liberty designs, a psychedelic paisley called ‘Forty’. So I snapped some up and made two shirts: a black one with red piping for redoubtable Americana tour manager, Andy Washington; and an all-over print for Jim Lauderdale.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Sixties men’s fashion recently and just for fun I made this ruffled shirt in another psychedelic Liberty print that has been a favourite:

amelia star ruffle side front

Find this one for sale in my online shop

A few months later, I was commissioned to make another shirt in the same fabric, this time in a western style:

As summer arrived, I made a couple of short sleeved shirts. The first was for a young man looking for something special for his birthday party. He chose the classic Liberty peacock feather design, ‘Hera’ and went for a non-western style.

The second was made from vintage fabric that I bought from a lady who inherited it from her mum. There was quite a collection and it was hard to choose, but this was one of my favourites:

Finally, this shirt in a sweet, fresh Liberty floral was commissioned as a gift from a husband to a wife. I love being part of that!


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Is it a yoke? Is it a pocket flap?

lagos laurel back

Yokes that turn into pocket flaps are an established element of western wear design. I’ve had it at the back of my mind to try some on a Dandy & Rose shirt, but the idea really took hold when I was doing some research for my PhD in the Nudie’s archive in The Autry Museum of The American West a few months ago. I kept seeing jackets in the style and was suddenly inspired to try the same thing, but with mixed prints.

upper front

My friend and customer Bill DeMain, who is a songwriter and journalist as well as running Walkin’ Nashville, a fun and informative walking tour of Nashville (where, in fact, he and I met), gave me the chance. He picked out a Dandy & Rose favourite, the Liberty paisley, Lagos Laurel. I suggested mixing two colours of the print, and Bill opted for blue and red. Although it’s now a Liberty classic, ‘Lagos Laurel’ was introduced in 2012 in celebration of the London Olympics, and features a laurel wreath in amongst the paisley motifs.

sleeve


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D & R at home (and in London)

Dandy & Rose’s biggest champion, the Grammy-winning singer songwriter Jim Lauderdale, toured the UK during July and excitingly, he played in Lewes, the hometown of Dandy & Rose!

Jamie Freeman of Union Music Store, who is also a singer songwriter, suggested that after the show, we might be able to set a world record for the most Dandy & Rose shirts worn in the same place at the same time. And we did!

group

Left – right (back row) Jamie Freeman, Stevie Freeman, Alasdair Mackay, Andy Washington, Michael Hingston  (front row) Jeff Tickle, Jim Lauderdale, me (Janet Aspley), David whose second name I don’t know!

It seemed wrong that Jim didn’t have a new shirt for his tour, so the following week we picked out a print from Liberty’s current range called ‘Wild Flowers’. It was designed by the paper cutting artist Su Blackwell, who says it reflects her childhood experience of wandering the countryside, discovering native flora. Su’s work is stunning and you can see more of it here:  sublackwell.co.uk

wild flowers folded

Just as I was giving the shirt a final press before dashing up to London to deliver it to Jim before his London show (which was great!), I noticed the word ‘Strawberry’ hidden amongst the stalks and leaves in the design.

IMG_3208.JPGHow wonderful to work with designs that are so detailed and exquisite that there is still something to discover in them when you have been looking at and handling them for many hours!

 

 

Jim teamed his new shirt with a pair of sparkly, embroidered trousers by Manuel. The combination was marvellous!

wild flowers with trousers

Jim Lauderdale in his Dandy & Rose shirt in Liberty’s ‘Wild Flowers’ print, onstage at King’s Place, London, July 27th 2017

 

 


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Ole!!

Years ago, I learned some flamenco dancing. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t resist this pattern.

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I mean, those are FLAMENCO SLEEVES if ever I saw a pair!

I wanted to make it is silk, but lack of funds had me searching for paisley polyester crepe de chine. This was calling my name but I can’t recall exactly which site I found it on.

I gave the edge of the sleeves a little tug while edgestitching them on my trusty overlocker to give them a nice fluted edge.

It’s pretty straight forward and fun to make. And I think it’s going to be fun to wear!

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Vintage Vogue Western Tailored Dress

It’s only March and I have already made two dresses for myself this year. The pile of books on my dining room table? No – haven’t read them.

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This is my version of Vogue’s reproduction 1939 western tailored dress, V9127. It was meant to be my Christmas break project, but it proved so time consuming that I had to put it aside while I got on with some Dandy & Rose orders and come back to it. I finished it in late February. I’m glad I persevered though! It was worth it! I don’t know why Vogue think this pattern is ‘Average’ difficulty. People must have had a lot more skill, time and patience in 1939, that’s all I can say. The construction has hardly any edge-to-edge seams – those long curves on the front are created by turning under one seam allowance and then top stitching it in place on the seamline. Of course, it wasn’t that clever to use a triple stitch that you can’t unpick easily but I do like the look.

 

And those pockets… tricky. The collar didn’t roll quite where it should either, so one of my arrowhead tacks has disappeared under it. And O look, it’s not quite flat for the photo, but it does sit OK now, I promise! I took a lot of fabric out of the bodice at the side seams too – the blouson made it just a little bit too bulky.

I love the fabric I used. It’s a stretch viscose crepe from Dragonfly fabrics. I picked out this colour, but by the time I ordered, they had sold out; they ordered in a roll specially, which is what I call customer care! It drapes beautifully and it’s stretchy enough that I didn’t need the side zip.

To get a proper look of vintage tailoring, I ordered custom made belt and buttons from Harlequin. They were very reasonably priced and arrived within a couple of days of ordering. More great service!

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Is it Gin o’Clock yet?

junier-yoke-and-labels

This Liberty print is called ‘Juniper’. I have to admit that I had to google to find out what the flowers of the juniper tree looked like, only to discover that they are ‘inconspicuous’, so I am guessing the fabric designer took some artistic liberties here.

g-t

On the other hand, I am very familiar with the taste of the juniper berry. Is the sun over the yardarm yet?

 

 

juniper-side-front

 


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Celtic or Knot?

One thing I love about working with Liberty prints is the complexity and depth of their designs.

This one, Gambier, is from their 2015 A/W range and I loved it so much that I bought a length ‘on spec’, hoping that someone would fall for it as much as I did. A couple of customers did, and they both commented that it looked Celtic. I agreed – that’s a thistle in the middle of the design, isn’t it? And look at that knot! Celtic, if ever I saw a knot!

I had a vague memory, though, that Liberty had said the design had Tudor connections. Now, I have had a fascination with Tudor history since I can’t remember when. Then, a few years ago, I started dressing as a Tudor in out annual torchlit November 5th procession here in Lewes and now I find that, when I am not thinking, reading about and making western wear, I am thinking and reading about Tudor dress. And making it. O, and wearing it, too. But only on November 5th.

anne-boleyn

So when I checked back on Liberty’s website and learned that this design was based around textiles in the paintings of Henry VIII’s court painter, Hans Holbein (1497/8 – 1543), I was intrigued. The dress history geek in me just had to go hunting.

I love Holbein. I went to an exhibition of his drawings of Henry’s courtiers at the Tate Gallery a few years ago and looking at them, I felt they could have been standing alive in front of me. Even the mightiest were made humble by his humanising strokes.

Here’s poor Anne Boleyn in her nightie.

1540-rome

 

It was Holbein who created the image of Henry VIII,  in all his bulky, murderous masculinity, that we still hold as iconic . So that’s where I looked for the motifs that inspired the designer of our Liberty print. It turns out that the central motif is not a thistle but a pomegranate, a symbol in Tudor times of fertility and abundance. In 1540, when Holbein painted this portrait  of Henry, he wore a coat made from fabric decorated with a stylised pomegranate design, so we would all know what a fertile and abundant man he was.

 

But I think the actual inspiration for it must have been a portrait of one of Henry’s close friends, Sir Henry Guildford (1489 – 1532). Sir Henry was at one point the King’s ‘Master of Revels’ responsible for organising the court’s entertainments. But by the time this portrait was painted in 1527, he had the responsible role of Comptroller of the King’s Household. He looks as if he was a force to reckoned with, doesn’t he?

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Holbein has used gold leaf to show us how sumptuous his robe is – and look at that chain!And look closely at the pattern on that gold cloth… here’s our pomegranate:

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And here’s our knot:

collage-knot

So… not Celtic, after all. It turns out continuous knots occur in the art of many cultures – Islamic, Buddhist and at the court of that most English of Kings, Henry VIII.

I guess there must have been continuous knots all over these islands, in the same way that there were versions of the same familiar folk songs from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Does that design still look Celtic to you? It still does to me! But that’s alright, I think. Like a great song, a beautiful design can cross cultures and have more than one meaning, depending on what angle you see it from, or how your ear is cocked. That’s all part of our richness, and what makes human culture so life enhancing.

gambier-cuff-and-placket


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Meant to Be Together

orizaba-denim-back

There is something about the combination of Liberty with denim that is just right.

This is not an original thought. It’s been done before: Levi’s had a collaboration with Liberty in 2013.I have made a couple of denim and Liberty print shirts myself, too.

This wonderfully exotic paisley, Orizaba, is denim’s perfect partner. Mostly orange, it has touches of dusky blue and turquoise. It’s just so… western!

I have outlined the yokes with dusky orange piping and the cuffs with piping made from the paisley.And I’ve  used a lovely fine denim shirting that does the print fabric, Liberty tana lawn, justice.

orizaba-denim-cuff


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Happy New Year!

Around the world, 2016 has been in many ways a strange, sad and alarming year  .

But looking back on my own year brings many good memories and moments of achievement. I survived the grilling that came with passing the halfway point of my PhD and had a productive – and fun- research trip to Nashville. A definite high point was having a Dandy & Rose shirt put on display in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s ‘Featured Western Wear Designer’ exhibit. It’s such an honour: I don’t think I’ll get my head around it until I see it in person, which I hope to do in 2017.

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I wrote a lot of words and made a lot of shirts in 2016.

Now for 2017!

Wishing followers of this blog a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!


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Sunshine in December

lagos-yellow-front

David’s shirt in Liberty’s paisley ‘Lagos Laurel’

It’s been a grim, foggy weekend, full of undone Christmas preparations, so I have been glad to have this sunny yellow paisley shirt to focus on.

The fabric is Liberty’s paisley ‘Lagos Laurel’. I seem to recall that is a 1930s print from the Liberty archive. They reintroduced it to the range in 2012 in honour of the London Olympics – see the little laurel wreath tucked in amongst the paisley motifs?

I have made several shirts in Lagos Laurel previously…

but I haven’t used this lovely, rich, buttery yellow before. And I don’t think I have used yellow snaps before either. What a joy!

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