During the making of ‘The Moorland’ riding skirt, I had the idea that it would be great if you could get a wax cotton walking skirt.
Myself and my partner love to go camping and walking and are not put of by the weather. My partner has some water proof trousers but I don’t as I hate the idea of wrestling my muddy boots off to then peel off wet trousers. The idea of the skirt was much more appealing. The skirt would have a similar design and concept to ‘The Moorland’ a wrap around waxed cotton skirt that I could simply pop on and off over what ever Im wearing and hang it up easily to dry when I was finished.
Hand made with love
All our skirts our hand cut and sewn by myself ‘Odette’ I’m the founder, designer and owner of Nouvelle Habit.
Here are some of the reasons I choose to hand make every skirt.
This traditional method of waterproofing fabric has definitely stood the test of time. The waxed cotton look has become intertwined with traditional English past-times and the look reminds me of being in the country side.
Are you looking for some Christmas shopping inspiration this year?
I have put together a little list of my top gifts that I would love to see under my Christmas tree this year.
This was photo-shoot No4.
I was excited about this shoot for a few reasons; one being, I love moorland, especially Dartmoor. Two, it was going to be the first time having two models and to see the Navy and Vintage brown side by side. And finally, it was the first shoot where a model already owned her skirt, so we would get to see it once the wax cotton has been – broken in. It is one of the things I love about wax cotton is how it becomes more supple and soft as it is worn.
For our 3rd shoot, we were up in North Wales in a breathtaking location on the edge of Halkyn Mountain.
My Photographer for this shoot was the extremely talented, Martha Lily photographer. I was excited to work with Martha as I had been following her Instagram account for a while, as she offers super photography tips and, I had been trying to improve my skills. So I was looking forward to meeting her in person.
After the fun we had doing our original photo shoot, I wanted to organize a new shoot but using a new model, new horse and new photographer. I wanted to offer the opportunity for some of you guys to be involved and so I put up a post on social media asking if any one would like to model with there horses. It was lovely to have such a big response, but I then had the task of picking.
Throughout the design process I was inspired to create all sorts of extra finishing touches.
As Nouvelle Habit, my dream business came closer to reality; I decide that I would make sure that those little extra finishing touches were part of my final product.
The official photo shoot was coming up; I had everything crossed that the weather would be kinder this time.
I booked two full days to give us a greater chance of good weather, hoping to get the shots I needed for the launch of my website.
Celine, my friend was flying down from Glasgow to model for me. Avril would be my photographer and I was going to direct and be on horse duties. The Nouvelle Habit branded clothing had arrived and looked stunning thanks to Team Equestrian
I buckled down to designing the straps for the skirt fastenings.
I wanted my design to mirror the shape of my logo, to have in-built slits as keepers* so as not to have to attach keepers.
On the morning of our test run I washed Jester from head to toe, much to Jesters disgruntlement. I carefully wrapped him up and hoped that I had done enough to keep him clean in the January Mud! The location was at Kate’s (my lovely yard owner’s) house, which was a 10min hack up the road. As we set off, a thick cloud of drizzle rolled in over us… Not ideal.
Prototype No13. Mon pièce de résistance!
I finally achieved what I had been aiming for in my final design, the one that ticked all the boxes. The one that looked exactly the way I had pictured it in my mind’s eye. So it was full steam ahead to get my test riders in skirts and out on horses.
I was really stuck on this for a long time; I had my business name but the inspiration for my logo just wasn’t there.
After being given a book on symbols, signs and visual codes by my dad the idea came to create my own Coat of Arms. I spent the next few days reading as much as I could on Heraldry and the meaning of colours, animals and flowers to help me create one that I felt would represent my business and me.
In the run up to my launch date, I had a huge dilemma to resolve. Which was going to be the best route for my business? Me, hand tailoring every skirt or, finding a manufacturer that would reflect everything I wanted my business to be. As with most things there are pro’s and con’s.
For the first time ever, Jester was only a 5 minute drive from my home and now that he was fighting fit, we could start riding again. This gave me the opportunity to ride every day in my skirt and to start putting it though some vigorous testing. Come rain, shine or even snow.
After Christmas my horse ‘Jester’ fell very poorly and had to be taken into hospital to have fairly big head surgery, which involved the removing of a large tumour. The operation went well but poor Jester then had a fairly long recovery period, confined to his stable.
Prototype No10 turned out to be everything I had hoped for. So the next big thing was to figure out the best weight of fabric …and the best solution to keep it secure while riding.
After a few silly mistakes (entirely a product of my excitement and enthusiasm) jumping in and doing, the first short version was complete.
As I had hoped, it behaved in the same way as the long version but something still wasn’t quite right… the length! Having spent so much time contemplating the issue, coming up against the same snag, I realized that I needed to take a different approach. Just the one length, a ‘midway’ skirt, eureka!
Christmas was coming and I had successfully joined the Princes Trust ‘Explore Enterprise Course’.
I was feeling really ready to embrace every aspect of my business venture, from marketing and selling, even down to the accounting! I was hungry to learn as much as I could and with prototype No8 ready to sew. I was as excited as a child might be on Christmas morning.
I booked Joy to come and spend another day with me in the studio to help with the next couple of prototypes, as I wanted to change my skirt from a 6-panel skirt into 12 or more panels! Things were about to get a whole lot more complicated…
I’m lucky I have a
super supportive mum and dad, both willing to listen to my crazy ideas, give me
advice and most importantly, let me follow my heart.
prototype stage I had been bombarding them with photographs and filling their
inboxes with questions. Taking them with me on the roller coaster of emotions
that I was going though every day! From elation to devastation, my parents
experienced it all too.
My ‘Hobby Horse’ was fantastic for cosmetic fixes but as a rider I knew the importance of live tests. Moving in the skirt while mounted, the drape of the fabric and the range of movement the rider would have, the way my design behaved in every kind of weather. These were all crucial aspects of the product in my mind’s eye and I was determined to get them right.
Before starting prototype No4 I realized that I really needed some form of horse at home. Making a garment that’s intended to be worn on a horse is tricky when you haven’t got one at your studio to sit on to try things out. Where there is a will, there’s a way. I had a large wooden saddle stand made especially for the job. I set up the ‘Tailor’s Hobby Horse’ in my living room with my saddle.
Minor tweaks were
made to the design for prototype No3 but in all other respects, prototype No2 was
built upon. This time making use of a heavy material to replicate the weight of
the waxed cotton and exploring the lining it to get an accurate idea of the
finished look and feel…
No1 was relatively easy, as I had already made this when I was at Bath Collage; the only difference being that it was in miniature. So the first step was to make it to fit me.
I was still battling
with certain elements of my design and decided to contact Joy (who was my
teacher at Bath collage) and see if she would be able to give me some one to
one coaching to help accelerate my project and complete the first prototype.
For me to be able
to transform my idea I needed to learn a whole new set of skills, so I enrolled
and became a student at Bath collage.
During my time
there I was taught the magic of pattern making. Learning to make my own designs
into working patterns.