Sunday, July 25, 2010

Millinery Straw Braid and Hat Pins

Hello all; it's good to be back.  I thought I'd touch bases with you and thank all of you for returning to my blog for a look-see over the past two months.  I see you looking in, so please take a moment every once and a while to leave a comment; I really would appreciate it.  So what have I been doing?  Recovering of course, but besides that I've been playing around with all things millinery--revisiting old techniques and learning new ones.  After 26 years I've never gotten bored with millinery because I've never stopped learning and experimenting. 

I'm often asked why I hand sew my hats when it would be easier and faster to sew them on a sewing machine, especially when sewing wire on buckram frames, putting in headsize ribbons, etc.  Well, I hand sew them because doing so is therapeutic and extremely relaxing.  I  view the end product as a piece of art--art that I've created.  I only have to please myself and I can take forever to complete a work.  Fabulous!  So, enjoy the following. 

Technique:  Candy/Cello Straw - Hat #1

The hat to your right was sewn in-the-round, row-on-row by hand.  I wanted to give it an asymmetrical look.  In order to accomplish this, I ended the hat after half completing the fifth row; the opposite side of the hat only has four rows.  I must note here that the hat was first shaped and pinned on a balsa hat block (no steam needed) and then removed from the block and sewn.  The top of the hat has been left open.  When sewing this straw, it should be slightly overlapped (this time I put the bottom rows on top), the needle and thread should be inserted into the wrong side of the braid (inside of the hat) and passed through the loop in the upper braid.  By doing this, the thread is totally invisible when viewed from the right side of the hat.  After completion, I placed the hat back onto the block and steamed it.  Never iron this type of straw because ironing would flatten it.  I put in a headsize ribbon and moved on to trimming.  For the trim on this hat, I used feather yardage for the brown portion and some dark packaged feathers for the center.

Technique:  Hat #2

Whereas the previous hat was sewn in-the-round, this hat was not.  In order to create this hat, I sewed several individual rows of straw together, forming a rectangular shape of straw fabric.  Rather than overlapping the straw, I sewed these rows together by butting them edge-to-edge and then lacing leather cord through every other edge loop.  I then put the straw rectangle onto the balsa block, overlapping it to form a "V," and finally sewing the two sides into place. Since my trim would be placed where the straw was sewn, there was no need to use invisible stitches.

Almost all straw braid has a drawstring running along the inside of one or both of its edges.  I took advantage of this drawstring to gather one edge of a strip of straw to form a self-trim.  I also created a long metal button, added a jade bead for extra accent, and finally, I attached this trim to the hat. 

Technique:  Straw Cap With Suede Visor Hat #3

This little cap was shaped on one of my many wooden bowls (alternative hat blocks).  Because this is an adult doll hat (fascinator, cocktail hat) with tight curves, the drawstring and steam was used while shaping it on the bowl.  The technique for sewing this cap is the same as in Hat #1.  After completion of the straw portion of the hat, it was steamed on the bowl for shape retention.  Also, a wire was sewn to the inside of the straw one fourth inch up from the edge of the headsize to insure that the shape would remain intact for years to come.  Finally, the visor was attached.  I will put in the headsize after I trim the cap in case some of the trim stitches can be hidden under the headsize ribbon.

For the beginning milliners, please take advantage of some of the free online book sites listed in some of my previous posts (see side bar to your right).

Hat Pins

Here are a few of the hatpins I have made.  I wanted to make a few pins without dragging out my solderer, flux, etc., and here is what resulted.


  1. Me alegra mucho, tenerla de nuevo en su blog y que se encuentre bien de salud.
    Gracias por compartir sus conocimientos.
    Sus hat ping son maravillosos ¡¡¡

  2. i love the hats you made..
    very unique and creative..
    cant wait to cee more..

    can you plz put up fashion show scenes or photos..
    Thank you

  3. Your site is amazing, great photos.

    Keep up the good work...looking forward to seeing more....

  4. Thanks for following me Tamara. The only fashion show images I have are on the site. The lady in the red hat is Eb. Look through the site to find her.