tea dress in vintage fabric

Hello my lovely chickaDees!

I’ve been meaning to write about the bespoke side of the business for some time as I’m not quite sure the process is crystal clear for everyone. I get this, we’re used to going on line or in a bricks and mortar store, choosing what we like in our size, trying it on, deciding if we like it and voila, new piece of loveliness in the basket!

Now this is a service I offer, we have some lovely pieces in our Etsy store and these are updated quite regularly. You can also come along to one of our pop up events (if you’re in the neighbourhood) or a local stockist to browse the goodies ‘in the flesh’.

BUT what you may not know is you can also have something made especially for you either from one of our standard patterns or in a made to measure style. And what better way to make this clear than a rambling precise and succinct blog post. I will set this post out in 4 or 5 easy to understand steps because it really is a simple process, I just think I maybe, ahem, didn’t explain it properly from the outset. Maybe the next blog post will be *Lessons i’ve learned so far* ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

paper patterns for blog

1, Select a style.

When you make initial contact about our bespoke designs, I will take a bit of time getting to know you and preferences. What colours you like, what your personal style is, what kind of design you prefer, what occasion you want the garment for (if any, you really don’t need to have to have an occasion, it’s absolutely not a condition of purchase). We will also discuss your body shape and what features you would like to highlight and which you would like to flatter.

At this stage, I will talk about prices for this service. The final price depends on all the different factors but I will give you an initial ballpark figure, from the fixed price of any pre-work (steps 1 to 3which will be invoiced before work begins) to an estimated cost of the post-work so we are both on the same page before proceeding further. This may sound ominous but don’t worry, while this is obviously a more costly process, I am determined to keep my prices reasonably affordable for what is being offered in return. Once we he have established all of this and keeping this information in mind, you will be asked to choose a style from our design library of dresses, skirts, tops… I will be on hand to advise and guide your choice. This is bespoke after all!

Dress designs from The House of chickaDee

We can make many variations of the same style as we also have a patterns library in standard sizes. For example, if you want a tea dress, you can choose the neckline, a gathered or pleated skirt, sleeve length or sleeveless, pockets or no pockets… All of this information will be given to you with sketches and photos making it visually so much easier to make a choice.

2, Select a fabric.

Once you have decided what kind of bespoke garment you desire, we can get on to selecting the perfect fabric for you and for this style. Not all fabrics are suited to all styles but I will be with you every step of the way to advise on this. Fear not.

Update: I have done some insta stories to explain that if you are not sure about committing to a bespoke make so don’t want to make contact just yet, you can also browse our fabrics in our fabric library account over on instagram. These get changed and updated quite regularly as orders are made and fabrics reserved so if you see something that grabs your eye, pop me a message and I’ll give you availabilities ๐Ÿ™‚

You can find the account here.

vintage fabric from our fabric library

3, The nifty design part.

From this selection, I will create a CAD sketch for you with the fabric included so that you get as real an idea as possible of the final outcome. If you hesitated between a few fabrics, we can CAD all of them and then decide from there.

dresses with fabrics blog

blouse for blog

4, Sizing and measurements

This is the part people think will be tricky. They’re not sure how I will ever be able to get the dress and proportions perfect if I have never met you in the flesh. Now, this is not an exercise in blowing my own trumpet but I am putting this (quite trumpety statement) to reassure you. Ahem, I am an expert in my field. I have worked in the fashion design industry as a senior designer and design manager for a very long time. I have drafted patterns for a very long time. I can usually tell what size you are and what will suit just from looking at you. I know, it’s a gift ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have yet to get it wrong from the many, many dresses I have made for clients. Not one return, size issue or disappointment. *touches every piece of wood in the near vicinity*.

Of course I don’t expect you to rely on just my eye before committing to a bespoke make. I also ask for some key measurements which are fairly easy to take yourself but if you have someone willing to help, even better. All that is required is a tape measure and I’m sure we all either have this or can beg, borrow or steal one. Actually maybe don’t steal one.

bespoke measurement requirements

Once I have this information, we can decide together if you would like a custom order or a made to measure order. Let me explain, a custom order means using our standard size patterns to create your garment. You would still have an amazing, unique piece of clothing made especially for you, but it will not be made to your exact measurements. We carry sizes UK/EU 8/36, 10/38, 12/40, 14/42, 16/44 as standard. This is the less costly option but as we have very good standard sizing, the garment will still be a beautiful fit.

If you choose the made to measure option or wish to tweak a design which means patterns being created just for you, then the service will be quoted in function.

5, Leave it with me.

Now that all this has been decided, the final quote and lead times will be sent to you. I will give a break down of all costs as any pre-work (steps 1 to 3) will already have been invoiced. Again, sounds scary but with the hindsight of experience, clients who have decided to go bespoke are not usually going to back out at the last minute especially when you get to see our lovely fabrics! Once this is all confirmed and a deposit paid, I will get to making your order.




As a general rule, a bespoke make with pattern drafting has roughly a 3 week turn around time and a custom order using existing patterns, 2 weeks. This can vary slightly at busy times so if you are thinking of this service for a specific occasion be sure to order well in advance.

And that, my friends, is Five steps to Bespoke Fabulousness. I think it’s clear but that’s maybe because I know the process. Was it clear to you? If anyone has any questions or would like to know more about this service, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to talk!

‘Til the next time….<3


50’s Style Magazine Shoot featuring T.H.O.C bespoke garments (BTS shenanigans to finished images)

polka dot 50's style tea dress.


Hello and HAPPY NEW YEAR! I know, it’s been a while and I wondered if I should start the year with a 2017 round up. Because, you know, I sort of went awol somewhere around July, ahem…apologies. But then I thought, it’s already January 17th . THE 17TH!!! What?! And then I thought of everything that has happened since I last updated-which is a lot- and if I could fit all that seamlessly into one post with the resounding answer being…no. So I have decided to share with you some of the highlights, in separate posts because, overwhelm.

Waaaay back in August I was contacted to ask if we would like to take part in a 50’s style magazine shoot where our bespoke garments would be featured. It wasn’t a fashion shoot as such but to show how a certain seaside town had changed from the 50’s to present day. It was for a French magazine, the photographer was the wonderful Melanie from Elle Photographyย who I have previously worked with on one of our fashion shoots. She is extremely talented, good fun…and so this was a no brainer.

behind the scenes hair and make up
Our fabulous model Sacha in hair and make up

So it was all organised. And then it was cancelled due to horrendous weather. And then rescheduled and the weather was still horrendous but we had a deadline to meet people so no more cancelling! It really was a case of Keep Calm and get that shot which seemed a perfect nod to the era. I decided to take along 3 dresses, 2 of which I had already, 1 of which I didn’t. I really wanted to design something that epitomised this era and those 50’s ladies just loved a polka dot! As I always like to add a quirk to my designs though, we decided to make this dress in a cotton chambray from a local artisan. I knew the finished photos would be in black and white so wouldn’t be an issue and I also knew it would make the dress much more desirable to sell on afterwards.

As it was an outdoor shoot and pouring down, we had to get creative when getting our beautiful model Sacha camera ready and so begged a local cafรฉ to let us squat a corner in return for us drinking copious amounts of coffee! It was worth it though because she looked stunning.

50's style polka dot dress with red accessories
Red accents really brought this dress to life. Even the back zipper was dyed to match.
magazine shoot featuring polka dot tea dress
Photographer Melanie from Elle Photography capturing the perfect shot

We then decided to change location to get the lighthouse-built in the 1950’s- in shot. This meant an outfit change in an underground car park!!! a lovely changing area and venturing down a treacherous pier. At least I wasn’t the one wearing heels.

magazine shoot in 50's style tea dress
Sacha was a professional through and through. Not one to be phased by a bit of rain or the stylist doing touch ups while she chatted away.
Pin up style fit and flare dress for magazine shoot
Strike a pose! This shorter length dress was made from an exquisite vintage barkcloth with a full net underskirt a la pinup girl!

This next image is probably my favourite and not for it’s beauty but for the tale it tells. The photographer, the stylist and the magazine editor. Great women working together in less than favourable conditions to get that perfect shot…

behind the scenes magazine shoot

These are some of the amazing shots Melanie got on the day. You may not realise from these shots, the extent to which the conditions were against us. It was blowing a gale and rain was coming at us from every direction. That said, I hadn’t laughed so much in ages. Maybe you had to be there ๐Ÿ˜‰

50's style tea dress, fit and flare dress made to order. Magazine shoot

50's style tea dress, fit and flare dress made to order. Magazine shoot

50's style tea dress, fit and flare dress made to order. Magazine shoot

50's style tea dress, fit and flare dress made to order. Magazine shoot

Retro style tea dress, fit and flare dress made to order. Magazine shoot

Retro style tea dress, fit and flare dress made to order. Magazine shoot

Such a great memory. We’ll be doing another fashion shoot soon for the summer collection and hopefully we will get to forgo the umbrellas. But even if we can’t, we’ll be there till we get that shot!

Retro style tea dress, fit and flare dress made to order. Magazine shoot
The dream team. Women supporting women ๐Ÿ™‚

VayCay in the Hometown

Vaycay in the homeland
Albert Docks

I am recently back from a visit to the beloved island and hometown of Liverpool-actually the family home is a short train ride outside of Liverpool in the greener West Lancs suburbs but we are a Liverpool family born and bred even if we have moved farther afield, a whole different country in my case. I take the kiddos over every summer, stay with them a week or so and then hotfoot it back to SW France while leaving the kiddos to continue the holiday with the folks, siblings and all their lovely cousins for a further few weeks. It is the ideal set up even if I wish I could stay on longer but this ole House of chickaDee isn’t going to run itself!

Andree Girard-Kemp founder at The House of chickaDee

Whenever I’m home, I always cram as much into the visit as possible but this time was even busier than usual as we were also celebrating my Dads Birthday-and it was a special one! This meant a house party for all his nearest and dearest relatives and friends. My sister decorated the house, Dad decorated the garden and Mum and I got busy with the catering. I arrived at 2am on the Saturday morning after plane delays and by 10am I was making chilli con carne and chicken curry! That’s the great thing about families, you get on and pitch in and I was so happy to do so as I often miss the special occasions from not living close by. The party was a big hit, we all let our hair down and that’s pretty much all I’m willing to say on the matter ๐Ÿ˜‰

Best bar staff money couldn’t buy
They did make a lot of tips though…

I could go on and on and bore delight you with all of the party pics (from the most lovely to when everyone had had a skinful few sherries at the end of the night) and introduce you to the whole family-and I nearly did- but lets not go there hey.

Once the party was over and the Sunday was spent recovering relaxing it was time to visit the old stomping ground. Not boasting or anything (yes I am) but I am fortunate to have visited many, many cities all over the world. Mainly through my work as a fashion designer. From Berlin to New York, London to Bangkok, Hong Kong to Barcelona, Seoul to Copenhagen…you get the picture…and I have to say that Liverpool is my very, very favourite-and yes, that’s a totally unbiased opinion. It has EVERYTHING you could ever want in a city. Historic monuments, open park space, art, culture and theatres, music on every street corner, THE best clubs, bars and restaurants and of course, the fashion. Oh. The. Fashion.

Liverpool waterfront

wheel of liverpool
Wheel of Liverpool
Liverpool waterfront
Liverpool waterfront
Ships ahoy!
Liverpool 1
It is always Pimms o’clock
Urban outfitters Liverpool 1
Fashion fix in Urban Outfitters
Plants in toilets
This is actually in a shared alley by my sister in laws house. If only I had a spare loo or two…

The lovely towns surrounding Liverpool where also duly visited…

The house of chickadee at Miyagis restaurant
Miyagi restaurant, Ormskirk
The house of chickadee at Miyagi restaurant, Ormskirk
Just some of the yummy pan asian tapas on offer


My favourite Southport street

And pretty much the rest of the time was spent enjoying the company of my gorgeous family. It’s what it’s all about really isn’t it?

Seriously, if you ever get the chance to visit Liverpool it will be time well spent. You can’t visit my family though. Although if you really want to I could ask!

What is your favourite city? xxx

Adding The Goodness In- fashion, vitality, namaste

Adding the Goodness in-Fashion, Vitality, Namaste

Recently, I was invited by a good friend to spend a day at the Vitality Retreat she runs over here in Biarritz (she also runs one in Devon for a closer to home experience). I obviously looked a hot mess in need of a little pick me up after the gruelling 3 day fashion event a few days earlier. Of course I graciously bit her hand off accepted this lovely invitation. Our other gorgeous friend, and model for my brand, Anna was also invited so I knew this was going to be a good day.

As work is never far from my thoughts (damn you brain that will never turn off!) and knowing what a stunning location she had, I asked if it would be o.k to take a few shots of the summer range while we were there. I mean, it was the perfect opportunity.

Adding the Goodness in-Fashion, Vitality, namaste
The stunning Japanese inspired garden
Adding the Goodness in- Fashion, vitality, namaste
That house tho…

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste

The morning was spent relaxing by the pool before an oh, so amazing yoga session. I love yoga but had got out of the habit recently as the business, the family and, well, life got busier. This was exactly what I needed. Time on the mat, time for me.

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste
Yoga by the pool anyone?

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste

Then it was time for lunch (yay!). And what a lunch. Prepared by chef extraordinaire Nargis, we feasted on homemade, healthy, delicious salads in every colour of the rainbow.

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste
The wonderful chef, Nargis
Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste
Yum, yum, yum…

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste


Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste


Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste

As easy as it would have been to laze around the beautiful pool, there was work to be done (sorry Anna!). So we got busy with the shoot…

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste


Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste


Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste
Tentative toe dip in the water with shouts from me of ‘go on, DO IT’! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste

We do have fun though…

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste
Robotics, hello the nineties!

What was really great about this day though, was meeting so many amazing women from all different walks of life, all looking for a break from their busy lives and to add some goodness in (this is the mantra of the retreat). We chatted, exchanged, laughed and generally had an excellent day.

Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste
Some of the lovely ladies on the retreat
Adding the Goodness in-fashion, vitality, namaste
See that woman in lilac? That’s my friend the brilliant Kirstie, AKA beauty guru, founder of beauty brand EBO and Vitality Retreat organiser. Yep, quite a lady.

A really great day and a glimpse into the magic Kirstie creates. These lucky ladies got to spend four days revitalising in these beautiful surroundings, eating delicious food and generally ‘adding the goodness in’. Everyone deserves a bit of me time, to relax and remembering what is important and I can’t thank her enough. โค
This detox oil from the EBO range is the bomb!
Feel amazing people. Namaste


Fashion & Design Pop-Up: Quartier Moderne



Fashion & Design Pop Up event: Quartier Moderne
Display props and POS!

Why hello there little neglected space. It’s been a long time coming I know but the busyness of the business has kept me on my toes and away from the keyboard! Over the next week I hope to get up to date and let you know all about the behind the scenes shenanigans that’s been happening over the last month. Firstly, we were part of a fantastic pop up event over here in sunny France called Quartier Moderne. A carefully curated selection of independent fashion, jewellery, art, home decor/design… brands expertly brought together for a three-day, practically non-stop event. To say we had fun is an understatement. To say that by Sunday night we were delirious with exhaustion but on a successful high would not even come close to describing how happy yet dead on our feet we were.

candy stripes, gingham and floral Oh My!
Candy stripes, gingham and floral Oh My!

It all started with the set up on Friday morning. Luckily my gorgeous friend (and brand muse), Anna readily offered her help and naturally gifted eye in getting my stand ready for that afternoon as even though I had planned the concept, when you are in the actual space, there are always unexpected changes to be made.

We opened to the general public at 3pm and from the moment the doors opened, the people came. And didn’t stop till 8pm, then again on Saturday from 10am till 10pm and Sunday 10am to 7pm. It was a whirlwind and so great to get such enthusiastic feedback about the brand, better sales than I could have wished for, including (ongoing) custom orders, and great contacts including boutique owners who want to stock the brand!

Fashion & Design Pop up event: Quartier Moderne
The headband station was a success and sold out completely!

Not only was it mad busy, but my fellow business owners were a joy to be around. The atmosphere and camaraderie was uplifting and we helped each other out by minding each others stands for loo breaks, lunch and popping off to buy admire the amazing wares on offer.

Fashion & Design pop up event: Quartier Moderne
Just some of the beautiful stands during the weekend.

As if this wasn’t enough, there was also adult and child creative workshops, fantastic food and drink, beauty corner, tattoo station (yes!! gorgeously delicate, mini tattoos right there before your eyes)… and live music on the Saturday evening for the apero (drinkies to you and me). Shopping, drink and music, what’s not to love!

Fashion & Design pop up event:Quartier Moderne
The view of the cafรฉ terrace and ocean from my stand. Could be worse places to work over a weekend…

It was a frantically fun, exhilirating, successful event and a huge big thank you to the formidable duo Marie-Barbara and Anne and all their fantastic team for the expert organisation, help and good humour. Needless to say, I slept well that Sunday night and luckily one of my dear friends invited me to spend a day at her vitality retreat that following week to recover relax. But more of that in the next post.

Fashion & Design pop up event

Fashion & Design pop up event

Fashion & Design pop up event

Fashion & Design pop up event: Quartier Moderne

So, how do you like to spend your weekends? Any good design events where you live? โค

Favotell networking night-Tramps London or how to miss your own party…


We were recently asked to participate in an event hosted by those lovely people at Favotell London in the uber glamourous Tramps in Mayfair, London. Favotell is a PR company who help promote emerging fashion brands and artists and having worked with them previously on an interview for their Q&A blog, it took maybe a few seconds to know I would take them up on their offer.

It was to be an evening to present a handful of fashion, art and beauty brands to some of the industries insiders including buyers, journalists, influencers, designers and magazines in an absolutely gorgeous setting. A great opportunity for the brand and a fabulous excuse to take the trip to London from my now home over here in France. We decided to create some bespoke pieces especially for the event as even though we have a, small but perfectly formed, ready to wear range we also specialise in bespoke custom orders. So a few weeks before, it was all hands on deck to prepare the three chosen outfits for the event and get them shipped over to London so Favotell could work with the pieces before shipping ourselves over the eve of the BIG DAY.

HA! As they say, the best laid plans, mice, men etc…. Everything was going to plan, the pieces were shipped over, press releases were devised and sent to the printers, all was going well. Then less than 24 hours before we were supposed to leave I received alerts by text, email, carrier pigeon that the #*@@%,!!! lovely French air traffic controllers were on strike and our plane was cancelled. I calmly searched for solutions as did every other stranded person in France needing a flight out to somewhere. I tried over the Spanish border as we regularly do but nothing available. NOTHING. By now panic and disappointment had set in as I called around notifying people of changes, re-organising workshops and cancelling sitters (because the organisation for the husband and I to go anywhere without the kiddos when they have a gazillion extra curriculars each not including school, leaving the brand, organising the cat… is quite tremedous).

Luckily for me, the brand was in excellent hands. I had decided, in a timely moment of clarity, to have the press releases sent straight to the UK which were waiting patiently in my cousins London flat for me. Or actually now, for him, because he had a mission to get them to Mayfair before the event started and then turn up on the night and have fun while keeping an eye on the brand. His name was already on the guest list so this was all good. He did a marvelous job and truly saved my bacon. Christine-my contact at Favotell-was bloody brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble and she stood in, sorted out my model, got the pieces looking great at the event and did the brand presentation for me after a long telephone meeting whereby I waffled on about the ethos of the brand. Her version was succint and on point. A total star and I am very grateful to her.

Our beautiful model wearing our playful playsuit in a rare mid-century fabric.


A guest having a good look at the other collection pieces

The evening was a success and everyone was happy apart from the husband and I who had to make do with frequent updates from the cousin whilst sitting at home like big ol party poopers and NOT drinking cocktails in London. From the feedback I have had ‘the people’ took to the collection, the brand ethos and want to see more! We will be building on this and have been invited to take part in their summer event. I will be double booking planes, trains, boats, whatever it takes to make sure I am there next time. Thank you good people of Favotell for taking care of the baby. xx

The Storm before the Storm…

Hi there. Well, this post was meant to be part II of the studio tour but the best laid plans and all that. What happened was…things started to get a little crazy. Not one, but quite a few, out of the blue happenings totally changed the course of the last few weeks. It all started out as planned. Marketing the brand on social media before the new spring designs where put in store, working on ongoing custom orders, sourcing fabrics.

Flat lay, styling photo shoot…Never knowingly without 3 stripes on my feet ๐Ÿ˜‰
I love seeing the shoot laid bare in its most unglamourous light…
And after a teeny bit of tweaking…Ta Dah!!
Before (obvs)
After a good tweak. Think you get the picture now no?

I also gave a bag decorating workshop in a local boutique. I love getting involved in the local community. It isn’t always easy being an alien in the French Basque Country (especially an alien who works in fashion) but the more you interact, the more you find yourself to be accepted and welcomed in but you will always be a bit of a freak novelty and that’s o.k…

figuring it out
Another approach
All the colours…


What I love about teaching, is seeing the different approaches and results from each student. It was such a simple technique and yet the outcome was so unique and creative.

Then came the phonecall inviting us to take part in an art, fashion and beauty showcase in London for Favotell London. We participate in various events throughout the year both over here and in the U.K but these are usually planned and worked towards well in advance. This one came to light just 3 weeks before the actual event. Yep. Nuts. Of course we accepted and then it was all hands on deck to get 3 looks ready to be shipped out last Thursday so 2 weeks to get everything ready. I do love a challenge and I do like a bit of out of the blue but this was pretty crazy. Being a bespoke brand, we wanted to send 3 outfits worked especially for this event rather than dipping into the ready-to-wear. I know, how to make things easy for yourself part I!!

I knew something had to be made in this beautiful vintage barkcloth. It just cries out SPRING!
Our signature pop of colour. You don’t work in the sports world for as long as I did without some of the design codes rubbing off on you and I love how the lime green zip contrasts with the prettiness of the fabric.
The finished design. What do you think? I think she is ready to slay any spring wedding or garden party or festival or…
I also knew we had to show this fabric. It is simply stunning and vintage boldness at its best. It lends itself perfectly to full skirts. A piece of wearable art.
This high waisted skirt only needed the simplest of tops and we had this bright yellow deadstock crepe in the studio which goes perfectly with the skirt.
The third outfit is the mid century fabric jumpsuit which you saw earlier in the post and is just a great design and amazing fabric combo. The three outfits look totally different from each other because of their fabrics and yet sit so well together as a mini collection as they all have the same design aesthetic.

Needless to say we got it all done and the outfits are now safely in the hands of Favotell. We will be leaving for London tomorrow, the event is on Thursday so follow our instagram feed as we will be doing a ‘mini reportage’ (as they say round these parts) of our 3 days and bien sรปr blog post to follow. I am getting my networking head on (not the head I’m the best with but when you’re a small business owner, you need a lot of different heads!) Wish us luck my loves and the first spring items will be in store next week. I PROMISE!!