⟨ Slow Stitch ⟩

THE SEWING RETREAT

Merchant & Mills

Words / Toby Crispy
Translation / Fanny Chan

「我們天生就是造物者,小時候我們很自然就隨手拿起身邊的東西來堆堆砌砌,造些東西,拾起紙筆就畫張畫,但後來,就在不知不覺間停止了。」Carolyn説。

“We are all natural makers. As children we will naturally make anything, we will draw, construct or paint all day. Then it stops.” Carolyn said.

Beach House Sewing Retreat位於距離Rye總部十分鐘車程的Camber。
The Beach House Sewing Retreat is located in Camber, a 10-minute drive from the headquarters in Rye.

T: Toby Crispy 
C: Carolyn Denham, the co-founder of Merchant and Mills

C: 日常生活中的大部分時間,我們都承受著不同的壓力。 如果我們能花點時間來做些手作,我們或會變得健康一點,甚或會更懂得負責任地消費。

五日四夜的縫紉旅程,留宿在距離Rye幾英里,城鎮的中心一座當代風格的房子,那是聖約翰斯前救護車站的建築古跡。後花園種植了橄欖樹和野花,也有廚房設備,在忙碌的一天過後,同學們可以在家煮飯、休息或探索一下Rye的餐廳。步行五分鐘便來到無邊際的海灘,那就是Camber。

每天回到位於典型英式城鎮Rye總部的路程,走過鋪滿鵝卵石的街道,途經圖多建築和格魯吉亞的面貌、各類奇怪的獨立商店和老式酒吧。

C: We are under stress much of the time in our daily lives. If we can take or make the time to make, we will be healthier. And we will consume more responsibly.

For the five day four night sewing retreat, the students stay in a contemporary character house located a few miles away from Rye. The house is called the St John’s Rye, which is a former ambulance station located in the town center. It has a beautiful garden planted with olive trees and wildflowers, and it is equipped with a kitchen. At the end of a busy day, students can cook, take a rest, or explore the eateries of Rye. The endless expanse of beach in Camber is just a five-minute walk away.

Having to go to the headquarters in Rye, the quintessentially English town, every day, the students have a chance to wander the cobbled streets that are flanked by Tudor buildings, Georgian facades, quirky independent shops, and an array of old pubs.

在店舖樓上的縫紉工作室裡,包圍著漂亮的布料和紙樣樣板可供試穿,經驗豐富的Chrissie和Katie懷著無限的耐性,帶領六人的小班,指導選擇合適的紙樣,不慌不忙,輕鬆而專注。

全神貫注地製作衣服之餘,每天都會提供道地食材的午膳,和無限量供應的咖啡茶點,有時也會安排一個下午,外出去附近有趣的地方走走,例如是 Great Dixter | House & Gardens,或到葡萄園裏嘗嘗葡萄酒,呼吸一下城鎮的空氣,和發現更多Rye的點滴。

C: 最後,同學們會一起穿著完成的作品,在我們喜愛的職人常去的地方,如Tillingham Winery、8 The Street或是The Whitehouse吃晚飯慶祝;我們一方面為他們感到驕傲,另一方面暗暗地沾沾自喜。我們堅持一直的口號,KEEP IT SIMPLE AND DO IT WELL,從簡約中做到最好!

點擊這裡能了解更多關於sewing retreat的資料。

In the sewing studio upstairs from the shop floor,  the students are surrounded by beautiful fabrics which they can use and try on all pattern samples. With only six students in each course at a time, there is no rush and no time limits. The experienced teachers, Chrissie and Katie, patiently guide the students to select suitable patterns in a relaxed, light-hearted and yet focused manner. 

Other than making clothes, students can enjoy the locally sourced wholesome lunch, and unlimited delicious cakes, tea, and coffee. For a breather, there are afternoon outings to inspiring locations, such as Great Dixter | House & Gardens, or a wine tasting at a local vineyard. It’s a great opportunity to get a short break and some fresh country air, and a chance to discover the broader context of Rye.

C: The week finishes with a whole group dinner together at one of our favourite artisan spots, like the Tillingham Winery, 8 The Street, or The Whitehouse in Rye. The students proudly wear their newly made garments and along with them we all feel a little proud, even a little bit smug! We stick to our slogan of KEEP IT SIMPLE AND DO IT WELL.

Click here to know more about the sewing retreat.

T: 現今根本沒有人缺乏衣物,我們所需要的是回到初心,重拾做衣服的學問,在過程中重新連結我們的身和心。

C: 是的,我們已擁有太多衣服,我們所有人都是。無間斷的時尚迴圈對大多數消費者來說,幾乎是沒有些微的好處。所以Merchant & Mills就是要在我們和衣服之間製造出不一樣的關係;不是要塞滿衣橱的衣物,或是每逢周末跑到商店裏追尋那件聽説能改變人一生的虚幻戰衣,而是花點時間在自己身上,選擇自己最喜愛的紙樣和布料,放空一切,投入在製作的過程中。你的思緒會變得安靜,因為當刻最重要的,是衣服上的縫線要保持順直。

同時間,這過程的目的是建立一個時尚、永恒而且是自己真正喜歡的衣櫥。 當你找到最適合自己的紙樣,並通過轉換不同的布料, 將衣服變成真正屬於自己的!

T: Nowadays no one lacks clothing, what we need is to relearn how clothes are made, to restore our mind and reconnect with our hands through the process. 

C: Yes, we already have too many clothes. All of us do. The relentless cycle of fashion offers little or fleeting reward to most consumers. So, for Merchant & Mills, it is about making a different relationship with what we wear. It’s not about a wardrobe bursting with garments, nor is it about trailing around the shops every Saturday to find the elusive dress that will change our lives. It’s about spending time with yourself, choosing a pattern and fabric that you really love and while you are immersed in the process of making, you will be thinking of nothing else. Your mind will quiet and all that will matter is the straightness of your topstitch. 

At the same time, the aim is to build a stylish, timeless wardrobe of things you really love. You can find a pattern that suits you and transform it with different fabric choices each time you make it. Your clothes will truly be your own! 

T:到過紐約、意大利和倫敦做時裝設計後,是什麼引發你決意離開商業時裝世界,回到衣服製作的最根本?

C:從事時裝工業之後,我覺得這裡並不適合我。雖然我稱自己為設計師,但我知道我應該先做一個製造者,無論我為那個設計師工作,我也經常為自己做衣服,我總是覺得自己做的衣服比較舒服。當想到要從設計世界跳出來,我想或許我該做一個小型的系列。

我時常被街上的人問及我的衣服是從哪裡買,似乎反映了它的市場潛力。於是我就停下來想一想,不如也讓別人享受做自己衣物的樂趣?我嘗試以玩票性質地去做一個小型紙樣系列,於是⋯⋯我幾乎被周遭所有的人潑冷水,我卻不在意是否會失敗。就算我失去了一切,我仍然相信。

T: Having worked on fashion design in New York, Italy and London, what triggered you to leave the commercial fashion world and go back to the origin of clothes making?

C: After working in the fashion industry, I knew it wasn’t for me. Although I called myself as a designer, I knew myself to be firstly a maker. I have always made my own clothes, no matter which designer I was working for. I always felt more comfortable in something I had made myself. When it came to move on from the design world, I thought I might make a small collection of dresses. 

I would often get stopped on the street and asked where I got my dress from, so there seemed to be a potential market. Then I stopped and thought: What if others could get the pleasure I do from making it themselves? I toyed with the idea of a small pattern range, and ….I was actively discouraged by almost everyone around me. I didn’t care if I failed.  Even if I lost everything on this venture, I truly believed.

T: 於是⋯⋯不經不覺 Merchant & Mills 已十年了,這是怎樣一路走來的?

C: Merchant & Mills十年前開始,把當代紙樣設計注入新興的工藝界。 我們從簡單和容易實踐的風格開始。

除此之外,我們還為市場帶來最精緻的縫紉工具,以反映我們對這事情的認真態度,將縫紉提升至一個高尚的位置。我們始於高質量和工業模式、分了獨立尺碼的現成硬皮紙樣,隨着成長,我們發現在儲存和運輸上都難以運作,所以後來我們就改為在美國用傳統方式印製軟紙樣,就這樣開展了我們的批發市場,現在已可以在世界各地的獨立商店都能找到我們的紙樣了。

T: And….it’s already 10 years, how did you come through this journey?

C: Merchant & Mills started 10 years ago with the view to bring contemporary sewing patterns to an emerging craft community. We started with simple, easy to make styles that were achievable for any level.

Alongside this we brought to market a curated selection of finest quality sewing tools to reflect the gravity of our intent; to elevate sewing to its proper place.  We started with high quality, industry-standard cardboard patterns that were individually sized and ready to use. However, as we grew, it became commercially unviable to stock and ship this range, so we moved to paper patterns, printed in the US in the traditional style. This opened up the wholesale market to us. Our patterns are now stocked by independent retailers all over the world.

C: 而第二個自然而生的部份就是布料買賣,我們會到歐洲及世界各地搜購適合我們的紙樣使用的天然布料;這是一個正在增長的部份,我們現在還會和布廠合作,製造屬於自己色系的布料。

最近我們正專注於可持續性的布料,我們加入了BCI (良好棉花發展協會)以確保我們的棉布是來自可持續性的來源。我們研發了新的混合麻布,並會繼續和布廠合作發展綠色能源。

C: The second organic developments stage that Merchant & Mills has seen was our move into trading cloth.  We travelled to Europe and the rest of the world to source beautiful natural fabrics that complimented our range of patterns. This is an area that continues to grow. We are now working with various mills developing our own cloth and colourways. 

Our current focus has naturally shifted to sustainable cloth. We have recently joined BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) in order to have our cotton and cotton blends sustainably sourced where possible. We have developed new hemp blends and continue to work with mills that are run on green energy.  

C: 這是高級街頭時裝和純工藝之間的另類選擇,也是一種生活態度,就是你選擇自己做自己的衣服;只要你想做,你便能做!

C: It’s an alternative to the high street, and it’s an alternative to just general crafting. It’s something more like a different lifestyle choice. It’s like you’re choosing to make your own clothes rather than to buy them. And you can make everything if you want to.

「整件事是關於活在當下,感受生活,多於只是盲目地拿著信用卡在商場中流連和消費。」另一創辦人 Roderick Field補充。

“It’s much more about being present in the present, experiencing life instead of just blind and closing your eyes and get your credit card out in a shopping centre.” Roderick Field, another founder said.