LARGER THAN LIFE

Farm­ing and fash­ion go hand-in-hand in Lochgelly, where Wendy Craw­ford’s House of Blue­bell pro­duces top qual­ity tweed gar­ments de­signed for larger ladies, finds Jamie Dey

Scottish Field - - FASHION IN FIFE -

Fash­ion houses are of­ten as­so­ci­ated with New York, Paris or Lon­don but a group of women are cre­at­ing haute-cou­ture at a Fife farm.

Wendy Craw­ford, the wife of a sheep and cat­tle farmer near Lochgelly, put a ca­reer as an IT trainer on hold to make use of tex­tile and tai­lor­ing tech­niques to cre­ate be­spoke tweed cloth­ing.

Wendy saw a gap in the mar­ket for cloth­ing for ‘cur­va­ceous ladies’ be­cause she couldn’t find top qual­ity gar­ments that fit­ted her. Now, af­ter set­ting up House of Blue­bell in her 50s, she is de­sign­ing, mak­ing and sell­ing cloth­ing rang­ing from Tweed suits and trousers to ac­ces­sories in­clud­ing scarves and pash­mi­nas.

‘I wanted to make clothes be­cause of my shape,’ she said. ‘I wanted more nat­u­ral fab­rics. I knew from my child­hood there were some beau­ti­ful fab­rics, but they don’t seem to be avail­able now.

‘Many fash­ion houses were do­ing less and less tweed. I am fo­cus­ing on the fab­ric and turn­ing it into a beau­ti­ful gar­ment.’

The knowl­edge of tai­lor­ing stemmed from school for the three women who work with Wendy and her son, Philip, who is the de­sign team man­ager.

The ven­ture is an echo of Fife’s tra­di­tion of tex­tile man­u­fac­ture, based on linen and linoleum but also in­clud­ing gar­ments.

Wendy wanted to make the gar­ments 100% wool and although the fab­ric is sourced in Scot­land, ac­ces­sories such as zips are im­ported from Italy. Get­ting in­volved in the Scot­tish tex­tile in­dus­try was some­thing she was keen to do.

‘I felt that wool was not work­ing in Scot­land and the tex­tile in­dus­try was not work­ing in Scot­land; from a farmer’s point of view we were not get­ting any money for our wool,’ she said.

‘For tai­lor­ing, we can’t do it all in Scot­land – we take the best from around the world to make a Scot­tish prod­uct.’

The fab­ric comes from Mac­naughton of Keith, in Mo­ray, who have helped her de­velop a House of Blue­bell tar­tan, a mix­ture of blues and greens with a small amount of bur­gundy and yel­low. ‘Blair Mac­naughton (the now-re­tired for­mer head of the com­pany) was a great in­spi­ra­tion and he en­cour­aged me to get in­volved in the mak­ing of the fab­ric and the de­sign,’ says Wendy. ‘We can’t fit ev­ery­body so we de­cided to tai­lor size 14 and up­wards be­cause that is my size and I know lots of peo­ple who are my size’.

But Wendy be­lieves it is un­der­stand­able that the high street does not sup­ply larger sizes. ‘They just don’t cater for us,’ she said. ‘I don’t blame them be­cause it is the young girl who buys that fash­ion­able item of cloth­ing. I’m look­ing to make clothes that will last be­cause of the fab­rics they are made out of.’

Top: Wendy Craw­ford sur­rounded by her tweed cre­ations. Above: House of Blue­bell cre­ate bags, jack­ets, scarves and pash­mi­nas from the finest Scot­tish tweeds.

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