No more tatty dresses!
I’ve always been a bit naff at dressing my daughter. I had a boy first, and then kind of applied the same rules to her. On the occasions she needed to look less like a boy (she had no hair either), I dressed her like me, which was sometimes a bit odd on a toddler (although the skinny jean and gilet combo has worked as she got older). I had friends who were amazing at dressing their daughters. Their cherubs would float in wearing unique creations that cost the price of a family ticket to Alton Towers; and I’d sit gripped in fear, my red wine precariously balanced on my knee. The last few years I opted for the modern girl’s wardrobe of 3-for-1 t-shirts and lycra leggings, but if I’d had a Tatty Tess, it might have been different.
These really are rather lovely clothes for girls, that are also mucho competitively priced (check out the mini film on the website – it even has other people’s children on there that I don’t find objectionable). The range hasn’t been around for long, so it’s still a well kept secret, but interest seems to be growing fast.
Considering all this gorgeous gear is handmade, the prices are pretty reasonable – starting at £28 for a skirt, up to around £42 for a jump suit – justifiable if you’re looking to splash out on the odd piece that’s a bit special (remember to leave three times as long for loo trips in a jumpsuit – both you and your daughter ; ) The creative brain behind Tatty Tess (and full-time seemstress) is Northamptonshire born Tessa Teichman-Derville. Thanks to a career break in early motherhood, a sewing machine her husband, Tim, bought for her birthday and the continual encouragement of friends she finally turned her hobby into a business, taking the plunge just over a year ago at a local craft fair (unfortunately she’s now in Kent, not Northants, but let that not impede your purchasing).
Tessa, who lists the illustrations of Mabel Lucie Attwell, (below), amongst her artistic inspirations, has designed dress silhouettes with a very simple, smock shape. These clothes have got that vintage look to perfection while remaining funky, not fussy. She must be doing something right because customers are ordering entire seasonal wardrobes for their lucky little ones. So now, as well as her main range of stock, Tessa has branched out into a bespoke limited edition range (with a higher price tag attached).
Winter fabrics include a combination of 100 per cent cottons lined with voile, silk velvet, tweed, wool and denim. Trims are made of everything from antique gold lace to faux fur. The new summer range (more on that to come nearer the time – but an exclusive sneaky peak, below, at her sketches) will include chambray, denim and Liberty lawn cotton.
Surely it’s only a matter of time before the buyers at Liberty cotton on (no, *wink*, pun intended) to Tessa’s talents. And, I’ve just got to say it, there’s something about this range that makes me sure Kate Middleton would snap it up if she saw it – don’t you think little Princess Charlotte (the range starts from 6 months) would look perfectly peachy in one of these smock dresses (covered in Dairy Milk)?
These clothes are all about making the most of the precious window of time when your daughter might just consider wearing something you buy for her (mine is now at the age where she is just nicking my wardrobe). The ready to wear range goes up to 8-years-old, but bespoke orders can go to older ages. And rest assured that if your Muddlet literally likes the mud, the clothes can be stuck in the machine on normal wash (Mr Muddy – aka the laundrette – will be pleased).
Tess had a few lovely words to say about Northants – I grew up in a Northamptonshire after my Yorkshire parents moved down in the late 60s. We lived in a stone, thatched cottage in Crick and had a very lovely village based country childhood. One of my biggest loves was reading, and the Northamptonshire author BB still holds a place in my heart for his children’s books that so evoke growing up amongst the county’s wild life. The Little Grey Men & Brandon Chase in particular. Tim & I got married in Crick church and we still come back often to visit my mother and my sister and her family. We love visiting Holdenby and Coton Manor for days out with my 8-year-old, who says their tea room lasagne is the best in the world (note to Muddy Ed, must try this out)!
Tatty Tess, tattytess.com.