Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Biggest Sale Ever

So after taking these super fancy hat classes, I find that I'm a little more picky about what I'm going to carry in the Shoppe.  For one thing, it's silly to have so much.  I'm going to focus in a little more.  Which means that I have a lot of things hanging around that I'm just not going to continue (woodland crowns, bobby pins, etc.).  And the solution to this problem is a big big sale!
I've taken more than half of the shop and put it in the Clearance section at 50% off, where it will remain for so long as there is any left in stock.  Have fun!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 10

The "draped" fabric cocktail hat
   So the class is done :(
Yesterday I finished up the lining for the little cocktail hat.  All that's left for that is to add an elastic band so it can actually be worn (rather than balanced) on the head.
Top view of the cocktail hat

The impressive inside of the cocktail hat
 At the beginning of class, though, I blocked another felt hat, this one in black.  I decided that I wanted to try one of the funky vintage blocks.  It's definitely a little odd, but I think that it could work... 

The funky felt hat I decided to make

While waiting for the felt to dry and after I had finished the cocktail hat, I worked on making another rose from the extra silk lining.  I spray starched it a couple of times to make it less floppy and cut out all of these petals (15 in 5 different sizes).  I didn't get it finished, though, so no pictures for you.  It could be a fun plane activity.
Cutting out petals for a silk rose
 I'm a little sad about the end of class, but I'm looking forward to the fun things we're going to be doing before we leave (today there's a chocolate festival).  On Monday we're going to Luton, which is historically a hat town and still has a lot of millinery supply shops, a museum stocked with hundreds of vintage hats, a hat block manufacturer (possibly I'll be coming home with one?), and pretty much nothing for my poor husband to do.  Luckily, he's patient.  I'm going to try to get some pictures up of some of the hats you didn't see finished up, but for now, I leave you with a picture of Kensington Gardens in the morning fog:

A foggy park in the morning

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 9

The stitched up fabric hat (I'm  playing around with the veiling)
and there are two people working in the back, not Mickey Mouse ears...
  Day 9 started with a somewhat spontaneous fabric purchase.  For some reason, no matter when I try to leave, I always end up being about 20 minutes early, which is a little too much.  The bus occasionally ends a little bit early and stops one stop before my usual one, and right in front of that is a fabric shop with lots of "wax" which is one of the fabrics they use in Senegal.  They didn't have a lot of really cool patterns (I should have gotten the chicken and egg fabric when I had a chance), but it was really well priced.  They had pre-cut 5 meter pieces for 10 pounds.  So I bought one of those and got two yards of not real wax because I liked the pattern.

  In class we worked some more on our fabric hats.  I carefully pinned mine into a pattern that I liked, using quite a lot of pins, which caused a lot of pain when it came to stitching it in.  Basically you have to try to invisibly sew your pleats down while having them stay put and lay right.  I was able to cheat a little bit because of my sequiny fabric (I hid some stitches underneath the sequins, shh, don't tell).  If I had picked something satiny, I would have had a lot harder time of it.  Nonetheless, it was slow work, a lot of which had to do with all of the pins sticking out of it.

  Once I got the top part stitched down and trimmed, I cut out some fuchsia pink silk for the lining, and its pieces together, which was surprisingly tricky.  I had it done before the end of the class and tried it in the which point I found that you could see through the silk.  And to all of the ugly black stitches I wasn't worried about because they were going to be covered.  I have a plan that might work.

  Today we're blocking another little felt hat, pretty much whatever we want.  While that dries I'll be fixing my fabric hat.  I'm a little sad about the last day of class :(

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 8

The Buckram Frame on top of the sequined fabric I'm going to use for it

The first part of day 8 was spent working some more on our parasisals.  I rolled my brim over the wire I had stitched in the day before and did some pretty awesome, and not so slow, invisible sewing to keep it down.  Then I attached the crown to the brim and had it all ready to go by lunch.  It is now how it was in the pictures from last night and just needs to be trimmed.

Then came wrestling with the dried buckram, which became seriously solid.  It was quite a struggle getting it off the block, involving the removal of sweaters and shirts down to my tank top and spending a half hour tugging and pulling and beating it against the table.  I am proud to say that I didn't have to hand it over to the instructor for her to do it for me.  I heard someone asking if there might not be a machine for this purpose.  Then came trimming it down to the size and shape we wanted it, I wanted mine to tilt forward at an angle, although I'm now wishing I had made it steeper.  

We finished the edges, stabbing our needles through the buckram, which is much like trying to pin into the old wood blocks.  Since I picked a nice, tiny shape, this whole thing didn't take me as long as my classmates who chose bigger hats.  I therefore spent plenty of time draping and pinning cloth on the hat and taking pictures of the result so that today, I can do a final drape and pin and start sewing it on without worrying about how it's going to come out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Picture Catch Up

The Parasisal Cloche

The Swirly Crown Piece of the Parasisal Cloche

A Front View (it looks better in real life)

Two Squares of Buckram and the Block They're About to Smother

The Cat That Hangs Out Outside the School

Day 7

  I apologize this time for the lack of photos.  There will be some coming, I'm just in a little bit of a hurry this morning because I want to get in early enough to shop for fabric at the nearby fabric stores.  In other, non-hat news, a friend of ours was in town and the three of us went last night to see Wicked, which was awesome.  We really enjoyed it, and there was the bonus (for me) of a lot of hats.  And fancy hats too!

  So, Day 7.  We worked most of the day on our parasisals.  Mine is going to be a cloche, which is one of my favorite styles.  For those of you who are about to open another tab for the googling, a cloche is a 20's style hat with a short brim that fits closely to the head. Cloche means "bell" in French to give you some idea of the shape.  I picked a crown block that has these swooping dips in it...I will have to get you a picture, it will be easier.  There wasn't really a good block for the brim, so I picked one that was about the right shape and I had to cut it so that it would do what I wanted.  This proved challenging since, once I pinned the cap to the brim, it went about down to my chin when I tried it on.  It makes it hard to figure out where to cut it.

  I did though, and I've got the brim wired and rolled (but not yet stitched.  I'm pretty excited about it now, though it was hard to see how it was going to ever come out well while I was snipping at the brim.  I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to finish it today, though, as we're going to be doing some work on a draped fabric hat.  If you're having trouble picturing that (I am), think turban.  I don't really want a turban, though, so I'm doing a draped cocktail hat...turban conjures visions of dramatic women in flowing silk robes with cigarette holders and dark red lipstick for some reason.

  We picked out some blocks yesterday and blocked on some buckram, a sort of meshy fabric that comes pre-infused with tons of stiffiner.  This makes it a very sticky mess to work with.  All of my blocking pins were sticking to my fingers, and my thimble got stuck onto my thumb.  But, it was kind of fun.  I've just come to really hate the vintage blocks because you almost need a hammer and nails to get anything into (no, that's not what I'm doing, I'm trying very hard to push little pins into them, bending half in the process).  I'm going to be free cutting this one a little bit too, but it should be a little more straight forward.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 6: Millinery 2 Begins

I'm sorry to say my internet is having some issues again this morning, so this is going to be short (and photo-less).

Today we started blocking a parasisal (I will explain that later).

Hooray for millinery 2!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Days 4 and 5

Making patterns, which involves "maths" and some interesting tricks

  So I know I didn't post about day 4, and besides some internet issues, the reason is that I spent day 4 sewing a ribbon to the brim of my straw hat.  That is aside from some edge trimming and the ironing in half of said ribbon.  So there were no pictures and nothing really to report.

  Day 5 was spent on learning how to make patterns and then making a hat from one of the patterns.  So I now have patterns for a beret and a baker's boy hat to fit my head.  I bought some nice thick, sort of silly, blue and green plaid blanket like wool for my baker's boy hat.  I decided to carefully line up each of the 6 pieces on the same spot in the pattern, so that the final hat would have a nice, circular symmetry (whereas I usually just try to use a little fabric as possible).

My carefully traced out wedges for the baker's boy cap
  I finished up the straw hat except for the trim and the fabric hat except for the band that goes on the inside to fit it to your head.  I don't have pictures of those yet, but I'll get them up eventually :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 3

The top hat (shown from back) all stitched together and finished with a raspberry velveteen ribbon
  So class today started with putting the finishing touches on our felt hats.  She encouraged us to be dramatic and experimental with our trimmings, but I thought, for a chocolate colored top hat, a simple velveteen raspberry ribbon with an adorable bow in the back would be just right.  People hat feather flourishes and complicated ribboning that all came out great.  The girl sitting next to me used a soft fur rose to decorate hers.  We're not supposed to take pictures of each other's work (or the teacher) or else I'd show you, but you'll just have to content yourself with mine.

I made me a flower
The top hat all stitched together and ready to be ribboned

  Since my trim was so simple, I used some of the time to learn how to make a felt rose.  Granted mine doesn't look especially rose-like, but I think it's pretty enough.

The vaguely hat-shaped thing that you start with
  Then we got our floppy straw hoods and went to pick out blocks.  This time (thankfully) we were doing an all in one, instead of doing the crown and brim separately.  I was considering doing only smaller brims to make it easier to get all my new hats home, but I decided a bigger brim would be more fun:

The straw beat into hat shape over a block

  You block straw like you block felt only more carefully.  Tomorrow I'll be finishing it up and possibly starting on a patterned fabric hat!  Three hats, this class is awesome!

Day 2

  Sorry, I have no pictures for you.  I took my hat home to finish sewing it together so I can be ready for straw hats!  I was laughed at and called keen, but, hey, I'm trying to get as much out of this class as possible.

  Class was spent pretty much entirely in sewing (with some small amount of light and careful ironing).  Once we pried our brims off their blocks and neatly trimmed them, we started by sewing the head band to the inside of the brim.  All of the stitches are meant to be invisible, which means really really slow going.  Slow going for most of the class, but really, really slow going for me.  Not only slow, but pretty sloppy too.  The teacher pointed out that I couldn't be expected to just be good at it right away, to which I replied that I most certainly could!  But apparently it takes practice, and a lot of the class is enrolled in the fashion school.

  Sewing (invisibly) the wire into the brim didn't go much faster.  I finally managed to catch up a little when it came to the stab stitch, (invisibly) sewing a fold over the wire in the brim.  Again, it wasn't especially clean, but apparently I need to be patient.  I wanted to show G my work, so I brought it home and did manage to get some work done.

Today, my hands are sore.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hat Classes!

My top hat brim, all blocked and ready to go into the hat oven!
   Today was the first day of hat classes, and while the lead up to class was somewhat awkward, class was great!  We pretty much jumped right in.  We all got the same felt (nice stuff too, chocolate brown fur felt) and were told to chose a hat that could be blocked in two parts (the crown and the brim).  I decided to do a short little top hat, and after some digging, found the perfect blocks for my project.

My top hat crown (it only goes to that line close to the middle of the block)
  We began by plastic wrapping the blocks to protect them and make sure the felt doesn't stick to them.  Then we proceeded to manhandle our felt hoods.  We drowned them, squeezed them and stretched them until they were ready to pull over the crown blocks.  Hands already getting a little tired, we then had to pull them taught around the blocks and pound little pins into them.  Lots and lots of little pins.  With our hands.  After that, you steam them and brush out the felt so that it looks nice.

The block room
  By the end of class we'd blocked our crowns and brims and left them in the hat oven (which is kept at something around 175, so pretty cool).  If our crowns were dry, we were able to work them off of the blocks.  Tomorrow we will be doing a lot of hand sewing, I imagine to put the hats together, and to finish them nicely.  I'm so excited to see my hat all put together!  My hands hurt!

The entrance

Monday, March 5, 2012

To London!

Well, I've shut down the Shoppe this morning and I won't be back until I've learned some fancy new hat skills in England!  Hooray!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weapons of Self Defense: The Hat Pin

“When attacked from behind, she grasps a hatpin. Turning quickly, she is able to strike a fatal blow in the face.”
While I was browsing Aka Tombo's Blog last week, I found a great link to an article detailing the forgotten art of hat pin self defense from one of my favorite fashion eras, the Edwardian period.

From the Bartitsu Society:

The popular trend towards enormous, flamboyant hats reached its zenith during the Edwardian era. Circa 1901, fashionable ladies’ headwear featured elaborate assemblies of taffeta, silk bows, coloured ostrich feathers, flowers and even artificial fruit.

The mainstay of the Edwardian hat was the artfully concealed hatpin, and as the hats themselves grew ever larger, so too did the pins. Some antique examples are thirteen inches long and resemble nothing so much as unbated, miniature fencing foils.
A wealth of evidence from the period demonstrates that hatpins were popularly regarded as secret weapons, and indeed as “every woman’s weapon” against the depredations of hooligans and ill-mannered brutes. Laws against hatpins of “excessive length”, or the wearing of hatpins without protective stoppers, were proposed in Hamburg, Berlin and New York among other cities. At least ostensibly, these laws were intended not so much to ban the use of hatpins in self-defence as to mitigate the incidence of accidental hatpin related injuries inflicted upon blameless fellow passengers in crowded tram-cars.
The article goes on to share some more amusing history, literary references and some technical instruction.  You can find the full article here

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fascinator Friday with Aka Tombo

Pheigi Sugahara Macdonald of Aka Tombo (Red Dragonfly) places the highest priority on making eco-friendly and people-friendly products that, in my humble opinion, happen to be completely gorgeous at the same time.  She carefully chooses unbleached, natural silks from socially responsible companies, recycled kimono silk from nearby markets, and certified Harris tweed directly from her homeland of Scotland.  To top it off, she goes beyond all this admirable responsibility to ensure that none of her products are "bland or beige" and instead have a sweet, funky style.

You can browse her shop here

And read her entertaining blog here


Friday, January 20, 2012

Fascinator Friday: Now, Voyager

Pinwheel Fascinator
Pinup glamour. Playful silliness.  Sisters Felicity and Jess of Now, Voyager create a range of exciting doodads that you never knew you always wanted to put in your hair.  Like adorable knit desserts and pretty little parrots for example.  Inspired by the pinup revival movement and Harjuku style, what they appreciate the most is style commitment. As they say, "if you don't believe you look fabulous, why should any one else?" And they have just the products to get you to believe!
Seaside Bucket Fascinator
Knitted Bakewell Tart Hair Clip

Lovingly hand-crafting their wares, they've also started offering tutorials for vintage hair styling on theirwebsite. They've even started a Save the Victory Roll campaign, teaching people the skills to keep this fabulous 40's hairstyle from being lost to history.  You can check out all of the colorful fun at theirfacebook andtwitter pages, or find yourself a fun, affordable doodad at their shop!

Dolly Straw Hat Fascinator

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Christmas Berry Woodland Crown
All sparkly Holiday stuff is 30% off...and much of it will work for winter formals or next years' festivities!  Take a peek at the shiny sale section here!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fascinator Friday Returns: Taissa Lada Designs

Vintage Inspired Black and White Feather Headband
 I love a good dramatic piece.  One that maybe barely fits in a normal-sized door, because, after-all, the grandeur of the woman wearing it is meant for a more throne-sized room.  An impressive hat can be the best hallmark for the woman of importance.  That is why I now direct your attention to Taissa Lada Designs.  With a flair for the dramatic, Taissa Lada creates pieces that are fit for runways and formal balls and royal court visits.  Featuring swooping feathers and sometimes a dab of netting, her creations are at once sassy and intense...and bound to make an impression.

You can find her store on Etsy and on Ebay

Also, she's having a sale...Go forth to inspire and be inspired!