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Tales of the Gypsy Dressmaker Paperback – 19 Jul 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007456964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007456963
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Thelma Madine is the star of Channel 4’s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and Thelma’s Gypsy Girls. She has been working with travellers for over fifteen years.

After being left with nothing after a messy divorce she started making and selling dresses on a market stall in Liverpool. One day a traveller woman asked her to make some dresses and before she knew it she had dozens of traveller women asking for the same thing, and so began her dressmaking business.

Thelma now owns Nico’s Dressmakers in Liverpool and is the designer favoured by travellers around the country, many of whom travel hundreds of miles to have her make their wedding, christening and communion dresses.

Thelma lives in Liverpool and has four children (a son and three daughters), the youngest of which still lives at home with her and her partner Dave.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sherunkle VINE VOICE on 4 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've never watched the associated TV series, and the whole gypsy wedding dress thing is a mystery to me. (The tradition, and Thelma Madine's dedication to supplying its needs, made a bit more sense to me after reading her explanation "what they [i.e. people like me] don't get is that it's all about fantasy"; Madine explains how she grew up obsessed with costumes in films, watching Gone with the Wind over and over again just to study the dresses.) However, as my daughter watches the series, and has some knowledge from a former job in a related sector of the fashion industry, I thought both of us should give it a go.

Madine chronicles her progression from making children's dresses for Catholic Communions in Liverpool to designing and making the much more elaborate creations required for traveller weddings. She gives an entertaining account of her ups and downs catering to her very demanding customers. She comes over as a determined, feisty individual. These are evidently useful qualities when negotiating with travellers; as she wryly comments, "sometimes I feel I'm becoming more experienced at haggling than I am at making dresses!" This applies to two linked issues: the haggling process itself, which is second nature to travellers, and the expectations of the customers about the product; as she says, to them "a dress is a dress, no matter how opulent, carefully made or intricate it is, and no matter how long it takes to make."

The book told me quite a bit about the traveller community, e.g. culture and morality, the significance of their weddings and the courtship ritual called "grabbing". There was less new stuff in it for my daughter; as she pointed out, much of it has already been covered by the TV series, though she feels that the book adds more detail to some topics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alessi Lover TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When you read this you feel almost like it is a someone whom you have met in person that is telling the tale.

Now I have seen a couple of the programmes about The Gypsy Weddings and was amazed at just how much a couple of the dresses were. But what amazed me the most was what Thelma went through to get to where she is now. Certainly not a tale of being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people. More of dealing with life in the tough lane but just getting on with it. How she explains what went on with her life and how much it has changed since doing those 'different dresses', well you can make a programme just on that. You can not blame her for doing the book, why not make money on something you are good at, she has found a niche and good for her.

Down to earth and that is probably why she is as good as she is at her profession. Thelma never appears to have heirs and graces and maybe that is why her clients chose her as they knew they would have an honest opinion and someone that said it as it is. Sometimes they may not like her opinions but in the long run her dresses speak for themselves, each creation different and so over the top.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, had been looking at it to order beforehand so to be offered it to review I jumped at the chance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By FLB TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Jun. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Thelma Madine makes dresses that every gypsy girl wants to wear, the star of 'My big fat gypsy wedding'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - Series 1 and 2 Box Set [DVD] Thelma gives us a frank look at her life, the highs and lows. The financial troubles, 107 foot trains, divorce, sequins and prison (yes she's been in prison).
See what it takes to have regular business dealings with the gypsy community and what it took to build that relationship. I loved this book, it shows one woman's struggle to make it in life and how hard work and determination can do it. An easy read and one that I finished in almost one sitting. I will watch MBFGW in the future with a new found respect for Thelma Madine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kirsty VINE VOICE on 2 July 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed watching the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding series, it was a fun if not always politically correct programme. Fans of the show will certainly enjoy reading Thelma's journey to becoming a successful business women.

The book details the full career of Thelma, from her humble beginnings at a local market, to becoming the go-to-girl for over the top fairytale wedding dresses. There is a good balance of lighthearted anecdotes, and the emotional trials that Thelma has gone through to be where she is today.

Even if you're not a fan of the show, you could not help but respect and admire the dedication Thelma has shown to become a success in her field of work. Her story is certainly one of rags-to-riches, but by no means a fairy tale all the way through. She has overcome some very tough obstacles and worked very hard to get where she is today.

Although I enjoyed her book, I did find that one point kept irking me slightly. As in the series, she continually points out that Gypsy girls are less promiscuous, and much more innocent that "settled" girls. Now I realise that Gypsy's are her business, and she would never want to bad mouth them. But it did irritate me that there is sweeping generalisation that all "settled" girls are here, there and everywhere with any boy they can find. While Gypsy girls behave themselves more.

I would have also liked a few more photos included in the book. The descriptions of the dresses are so tactile, that you really want to see as many pictures as possible. It would have also been nice to include some of Thelma's design sketches, so we could see the transition of the dresses from beginning to end.

Overall it was a very enjoyable book. Full of tales that will make you laugh and gasp with disbelief, very entertaining.
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