Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wishing All a Very Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Let us give thanks for what we do have, and pray for all of those that are in need, for there is a big gap between our needs and our wants.  To those here and in other parts of the world that do not celebrate this holiday, gratitude is still a wonderful and transforming trait for all of us, 365 days a year.

Thank you so much for following my blog.  For this I'm so grateful.

Just a little note:  I will be going back into the email and social media world with both feet next week, hopefully.  Every once in a while, I love spending time with Lee--that's me!.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

(1) Class Reminder: Couture Millinery Fascinator Class, October 15th; (2) Learning from the Past: My First Bird-of-Paradise

Couture Millinery Fascinator Class Less Than Two Weeks Away!

First, I would like to thank those of you that dug your way through my wordy, confusing class registration instructions to pay and register for class.   I'll do better next time.  For those of you still having problems figuring out how to pay/register, here is the short and skinny.  If you would like to pay through PayPal, just email me at  In the email, provide me with the email address associated to your PayPal account, and I will send you an invoice for payment.  If you are sending a check, email me for my address.  The check must clear before class begins.  You also have the option of paying by money order before the day of class start.  There are a few seats left; first come, first served.

Learning from the Past:  My First Bird-of-Paradise

I  know, you think I've taken leave of my senses, especially when I tell you that I've had an overwhelming urge to travel to downtown Los Angeles (California Millinery) to purchase these vintage broken, faded birds.  Well, some of you would think that I was "touched," but some of you would identify with this urge.  It is the urge to learn something new, the urge to grow my craft, the urge to improve.  I've felt for some time that I have been driving on a four-lane highway, with all of the cars horizontally lined up.  I've been feeling the urge to move forward lately; this is a good thing.  I invite these feelings.  

Although I give credit to my instructors and my millinery library for some of my growth, I have to give myself credit for having that itch that moves me forward.  How else would my skills have grown so much over the years.  I say these things to encourage you to move beyond that which has been taught you and that which will be taught you. These vintage birds are also my millinery instructors.  All of them have been made with different supporting materials.  All of them look different.  There is no one way of doing anything.  If you subscribe to this notion, your growth will be stunted.  

I love visiting California Millinery because there I can purchase and/or study artifacts that will never again be made with such skill.   I have heard some call these artifacts junk.  What a shame....  After all, this junk taught me how to make my first bird-of-paradise.

Fascinator Construction:  Buckram frame covered with black suede, and sprinkled with large vintage amber-colored rhinestones.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fascinator Class October 15, 2011, Los Angeles, California, Area

First, forgive me for staying away for so long.  I've been extremely busy with Ms. E', updating my Hatstruck Web site, making hats, buying hat supplies I'll never use, you name it!

The Hatstruck site contains what I refer to as my "Portfolio of Skills."  I haven't added  descriptions to the backs of the majority of the images yet, plus I need to add additional images.  However, I've decided to launch the site as is to support the announcement of the my upcoming fascinator class.  

I attended the fair and I took pictures, but I'll post those in a week or so.  I did win two first awards, and a most innovative award, including lower awards on all of my other entries.  I'll go into more detail later.

Yes, I finally decided to give a group class again.  I wanted a place close to where I live, somewhere serene, somewhere artsy.  After looking for an appropriate location, I decided on a place within walking distance from where I live here in Torrance, California.  For those traveling from out of town, Torrance is packed full of  wonderful restaurants, hotels, and shopping.  The weather in this beach city is to kill for!  Just a little bit of enticement to encourage you to travel here.

The class will be held on Saturday, October 15, 2011.  Here is a description of the class as given here in the sidebar.  For time and location, please see the sidebar to your right:

More than a simple fascinator class, this class will teach frame making and covering; millinery trim, including feather work, and more. Various demonstrations using popular millinery materials (jinsin, crinoline, sinamay, etc.) will be given in class. Learn skills that apply to all areas of couture millinery. All fascinator supplies are included in the class fee. Please bring scissors, stick pins, measuring tape, and needles.  Although you will complete a buckram frame (wiring, stitching, etc.), finished frames will be provided so that you may cover and trim an additional hat(s), depending on your skill level and time. A class fee discount applies to Hatstruck blog members--$180 members, $225 non-members). Registration fee now due. A non-refundable fee of $40 will apply should you cancel the class within eight (8) days of class start date.  For those registering from 1 to 8 days of the class and decide to cancel, the $40 non-refundable fee will also apply. Please contact me at for additional information.  Feel free to make payment through PayPal.

There is a lot packed into this class.  I was not interested in conducting a fascinator class where you just trim a fascinator base and call it a day.   So, if you want to work hard, but still have lots of fun, please join me.  Although I will demonstrate a shortlist of hand stitches in class, I suggest that you view the stitch videos suggested on links in the sidebar to your right.  Snacks will be provided.

Below is a fun, vintage millinery video; enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Foundations for My Cocktail/Fascinator Hats: Part II, Including Blocking Suede and Other Millinery Materials

I have a nasty habit of giving things away.  I picked this up from my grandparents, two extremely generous people.  I guess this is a good thing, after all I've gotten back more than I've ever given away.  You see, back in February of 2010, I brought you Foundations for My Cocktail/Fascinator Hats and promised, I think, to post a followup showing how to put the lining in the hat.  Well, someone wanted the hat even before I finished it, so I gave it to them.  Since that time I've received a number of emails asking me how to put a lining in a fascinator.

Since I haven't had any sleep in over 24 hours, I'm asking you to forgive me in advance for my more than usual number of typos.   Please read over Foundations for My Cocktail/Fascinator Hats and I'll start where I left off, almost.  Rather than working with a stretch material I will be covering this hat with two layers of suede, one of which will have to be blocked before it is sewn to the buckram foundation.  I will also block the lining.  

I'm growing tired of wining about seeing millinery fabrics that don't hug the frames they cover.  So, I can either stop wining or do something about it.  I have to tell you that every time I see fabric that does not fit a frame correctly, I have an internal tantrum, especially when I see it in a high fashion magazine!  I'm working on this.  If you ever want to cure yourself of something like this just listen to someone else complain about something similar without helping or offering a solution.  Not so cute is it?

When I started taking millinery classes we had to steam and block everything.  We had to block the buckram, the lining, and all fabrics that were not stretch fabrics.  To your right is an image that shows suede that has not been blocked.  This does not look professional at all.

To block suede or leather, mist the inside of the fabric with water.  I use a very fine mister.  Stretch the fabric over a hat block and let it dry.  To stretch fabric that has a bias, stretch the fabric on the bias over a block and steam it, readjusting the fabric re-pinning as you steam.  It's just that simple.  See lining, below right.  I don't steam buckram anymore.  I prefer to mist it or do a very fast dip in water and work the moisture three the fabric in my hands.  This way the buckram appears to dry harder than it was originally (same as steaming it).

Using a glover's needle (leather needle) sew the suede to the frame catching only the crinoline.  The second layer of suede, the black mesh, did not have to be blocked because it automatically hugged the frame.  However, I blocked the lining.  

Note:  If you are adding trim to your hat, sew the trim on before the lining is attached, if possible.  Use your best judgement.

After the lining has dried, lay it into the crown and pin it to the suede using fine quilting pins or millinery pins (fine quilting pins are easier for suede and leather).  Stitch the lining to the suede about  1/4 th inch down from the edge of the hat.  Trim the lining; it is not necessary to turn the lining under. 
  Note:  Every layer of fabric, including hat band, diminishes or adds to the inner or outer  side of a hat.  Although turning the lining under does not affect this type of hat, it will affect a full crown hat. Remember, by turning the fabric under you will have an additional layer of fabric.   I prefer to trim the lining down rather than turn it under no matter what type of hat I'm working with.
Swirl your  grosgrain ribbon (petersham in some places, sawtooth to some), pin it to the suede (remember that the lining is 1/4 th inch down).  stich it into place.  

Additional Images

Adding support wire for feather:  Added feet to the wire and stitched them under the black suede mesh.

Feather Trim:  Feather curled in opposite direction of curve, using  my thumb's nail to pinch the spine approximately every 1/4 th of an inch.

Lining Fabric:

Lining Fabric:  Design created using my logo in graphics software and printing the fabric on my Epson printer  (fabric will have to be attached to paper before printing).

O.K., the label is a bit overkill!

Final Notes:  Please take advantage of the free online resources in the sidebar of this blog.  Also, purchase a reference book.  My first millinery book was "From the Neck Up." You can find it on the author's site, on Amazon, Ebay, etc.  I didn't go into detail as far as stitches, etc., are concerned because I really feel that if you are new to millinery, you should do some exploration and experimentation on your own.  If possible, take a class.  

If you do not have a block, purchase a wooden bowl of similar shape and block and make frames using the bowl.  

Have fun!!

Hatstruck "Make Your Own Art" Millinery Supplies Contest Images

As you all know, LilDevilGrl was the winner of the Make Your Own Art" millinery supplies contest.  I finally got around to sending the package off last Saturday, and she should have received her cute little box on Monday. Click on images below to enlarge.

LilDevilGrl requested trim, more specifically lace, for her special request.  I have to admit that I don't collect lace, but I hope she will be happy with what I sent her.  The extras I sent along were ribbon, vintage veiling, a beautiful black fur felt hood, extra wire joiners, hat elastics, veiling pins, rhinestones, extra blocking cords, and some extra feathers.  See Make Your Own Art for other gifts she received which included jinsin, straw hat body, wire joiners, cobweb, blocking cords, millinery wire, grosgrain ribbon, feathers, and vintage chenille.  


Friday, August 5, 2011

The Winner of "Make Your Own Art" Millinery Supplies Contest!

I would like to thank everyone for participating in the" Make Your Own Art" millinery supplies contest.  I noticed that some of you joined just for the sake of joining; thank you for your support.  This has been so much fun for me, I'll do it again, but next time it will be even exciting.  I'm trying to figure out a creative way of rewarding all of my members for their extra effort.  It's early in the morning here, and I wanted to figure out who won the contest before I hit the bed.  The random number generator made this easy to do.  For those that have emailed me for various reasons, forgive me for my tardiness; I will answer you in a day or so.

THE WINNER IS LilDevilGrl!!!!  Congratulations!

Please contact me at to claim your prize.  Remember you have one special supply request from my personal stash of supplies.  Let me know what you want or need (trim, felt, straw, etc.).  Just ask; chances are I have what you need.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One of Several Fair Projects Submitted, No. 6--The Fedora

Finally, I get to  my last 2011 Los Angeles County Fair millinery submissions.  Before I start, I want to remind you that I'm conducting a "Make Your Own Art" millinery supplies contest and giveaway.  The deadline to enter is August 4.  So if you are considering entering the contest, you only have one more day to do so!

Fur Felt, Trimmed in Soft Leather:  Would you be surprised if I told you that my favorite hat is the fedora?  I thought you would be.  Many Southern women of color talk about their mothers wearing hats when they were growing up, but that wasn't the case deep in the rural area I grew up in.   Although women put on their Sunday best, it was always about the hair.  My grandmother and I would take the Greyhound Bus some 38 miles to the city each month where we would have our hair done  for the first Sunday.  We attended church every Sunday and Wednesday--Sundays for Sunday school and Wednesdays for prayer meetings--but it was the first Sunday that was special.  This was the Sunday that our pastor would preach at our church.  Back in those days, in some rural areas, preachers usually serviced several churches a month.  Although this was an era when men's and women's hats were popular, the wearing of women's hats in my area was almost nonexistent.  My interest in women's hats would develop many years later.

My love for the fedora came from my grandfather.  He had his everyday fedoras, and he had his Sunday fedoras.  He dressed in a suit and tie on Sundays, and if it was cold, he would ware a long trench coat over his suit.  His Stacy Adams (shoes) were polished, and they always looked new.  The heels of the shoes were lowered, yes lowered,  so that their toes tilted slightly upwards.  Yes, my grandfather was a spiffy dresser!.  He would take me to the Juneteenth (June 19) baseball (softball?) games each year.  I wore my frilly cute dress and he wore his fedora, suit and tie, and Stacy Adams.  Now that I think about it, it was summertime. You will have no trouble figuring out my age.

Well, I could go on and on about the good old days when Sears and Roebuck would send our baby chickens through the U.S. mail.  I could talk about phone party lines and when good customer service existed.  If you're a young person, you wouldn't have a clue as to what I'm talking about.  So I'll stop now.

Oh, about the fedora, I was extremely disappointed with it.  I couldn't find the blade to my brim cutter; I didn't have time to add all of the details I had planned, such as a lining, etc.  Next year I'll do better.  Oops!  I said that last year.

Thanks; we made it through this!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

One of Several Fair Projects Submitted, No. 5--Headdress

Again, before I get to another one of my Los Angeles County Fair millinery 2011 submissions, just a reminder that I'm conducting a "Make Your Own Art" millinery supplies contest giveaway.  The deadline to enter is August 4, 2011.

Well, I've almost completed my parade of county fair submissions; I have one left after this one.  I was debating whether I should show my worst hat in this post, but I decided to save  it for last.  By that time, all of us will have reached our tolerance for these submissions.   

This entry fell under the "Class 5, Headdresses/"Super-sized" Hatscategory.  It was made of sinamay and trimmed with a feather and horsehair.  After over 24 hours without sleep and having only three hats completed for the milliner contest, I was desperate to complete at least one more hat.  Category 2, "Purchased/Embellished Hats," was definitely out.  Not only did I not like trimming these, I was lousy at it.  So, I was sitting dazed, unable to concentrated, trying to figure out what I was going to do next.  As I set looking around my room, I saw felt and straws blocked on hat blocks, I saw my purchased hat to trim; even tackling one of these would take too long.  I needed sleep, the faster the better.  

Over on the wall in a tall box stood rolled buckram and sinamay, yes sinamay!  I had enough energy to cut a wide bias strip from this flexible and forgiving material.  I didn't know what I would do after I cut the strip, but I would do something!  I folded the fabric twice, may even three times, and started pulling on its edges like a crazed woman, no idea of the finished product in site.  The headdress had to be 16 inches tall.  Yes, yes, I would use trim to accomplish this!  I looked up at my feathers all stuck in a large chunk of foam.  I ran over and pulled out the longest feather in the bunch.  How was I going to get this feather to stand up?   I thought, "just stick it between the folds of the sinamay,  DON'T THINK JUST DO!   Have you ever tried to think when you've been without sleep for over 24 hours?  O.K.,  trim is not my friend; I prefer little of it, at least on the hats I make, but I'm not making this hat for me.  

Well, back to supporting the feather, just keep pulling the sinamay, I thought, the feather will find a place on its own.  As I pulled and pulled on the bias edges of the fabric, more on the top, the fabric started to point to the ceiling.  I'm on to something here!   The feather is pointing to the ceiling!  Oh, I know, I'll wrap the fabric around the feather and tack it, yes, yes...I'll put in a half headband, attach the horsehair, and then I can go to sleep....  I'll skip the puff of steam; I need sleep!  

I actually liked the results of my mindless, crazed efforts.  I needed my daughter's opinion.  She likes every thing I make, but by this time I actually can tell the difference between "I like it mom" and "WOW."  She gave me the WOW, I mean really!  Now I could go to sleep, at least for two hours. 

 If you're interested in viewing my other entries, check out my jewelry piece, felted hat, envelope hat, and my hat pin cushion hat.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

One of Several Fair Projects Submitted, No. 4--Pin Cushion Top Hat

Before I get to another one of my Los Angeles County Fair millinery submissions, just a reminder that I'm conducting a "Make Your Own Art" millinery supplies contest giveaway.  The deadline to enter is August 4, 2011.

Now on to my 2011 fair submission.  First, I absolutely love to play around with my image manipulation software.  It's so easy to make my millinery images into beautiful paintings. The software also comes in handy when I take a crappy picture.

This entry fell under the "Class 4, Covered Buckram Frames/Other Foundation Frames" category.  I made all of the hat pins for this hat, added one of my faux pearl necklaces, and a brooch. It is soooo cute, even if I have to say it myself.  There is nothing new here, but it's the hand work I like most.  The hat is covered with suede.  If you're interested in viewing my other entries, check out my jewelry piece, felted hat, and envelope hat.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hatstruck Couture Millinery's First Blog Contest: "Make Your Own Art," Millinery Supplies Giveaway!

It's time to take a break from showing my county fair contest submissions.  It's also time to take the leap into the contest arena.  So, I've done some brainstorming, and I asked myself, "what would I want to receive from a millinery contest?"  OK, my answers were a bit too broad, so this time I chose to deal with addressing the needs of those that are interested in making hats and those that currently make hats.  I came up with several answers:  hat blocks, millinery tools, millinery supplies.  Well, I'm not giving away hat blocks or tools, at least for this contest, but I am giving away a few millinery supplies.

Here are a few supplies I'll be giving away:  Jinsin, fur felt hood, straw cartwheel, grosgrain ribbon, millinery wire, wire joiners, feathers, blocking cords, vintage veiling, and cobweb.

Winner's choice.  The winner will be allowed to choose an additional millinery supply item I have in my possession (straw, felt, trim, etc., just ask) to be added to their winnings.

Surprise Items!!  The best items are not shown in the images.  I'll throw in some additional items, but these will come from my stash of loved items.  I may even cry as I'm putting them into the box to ship.

Contest Rules:  The contest deadline is August 4.  You must be a member of this site and you must leave a comment in order to win.  There will be ONLY ONE WINNER.  Please, leave only one comment.  So, here is what you should do:


I will ship Worldwide!  

If you are not interested in the supplies, don't leave a comment; your membership is still greatly appreciated.

Remember, if you are an anonymous visitor, I have no way of contacting you.  I've had several of those.

A big THANK YOU to everyone!


  1. If you have not joined the Hatstruck site, join it by clicking on the "Join this site" button in the sidebar, and following through to completion of registration.
  2. Leave a comment on this post:  say something like, enter me into the contest; I like this site; Hi; just about anything will do as long as the comment is clean.
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Although the Optional portion of the rules are optional, I really would appreciate it if you would do them.

Monday, July 25, 2011

One of Several Fair Projects Submitted, No. 3--Soft Hat/Fabric Hat

Now we're getting to the hats I entered into the Los Angeles County Fair millinery contest for 2011 (I finally realized that I couldn't distinguish one contest year from the other.) .  This hat was under Class 1: Soft Hats/Fabric Hats--a flat pattern hat.  These African fabrics, as far as fabric type, design, and texture; span the spectrum.  Raised in the South, years ago there was one thing you wouldn't do fashion wise, and that  was to wear clothing of dramatically contrasting fabric designs to school or anywhere, unless it was to work in the fields, etc!  That was a NoNo!  Some examples would be plaids and polka dots; prints, such as the one here, and stripes, etc., not unless you wanted to be laughed at.  But this was long before many of us were exposed to how beautiful these contrasting fabrics were, worn by exotically dressed cultures.  When I saw these fabrics, I knew I just had to make a single object from them.

I hand beaded the print fabric with seed beads, cowrie shells, and just about anything else I could find in my bead box that I felt complemented the fabrics.  This hat actually took me longer than the other three hats I submitted, but I was determined to submit a flat pattern hat this year.  I wanted to make something simple--no cap, no beret.  I wanted to make something that could be utilized for more than one purpose.  What about a hat that could double as a purse as the envelope hats of the 1940s, but taller and more flexible in style.  OK, that would work!  ...and it did.  I made the crown tall so that it could be formed into many shapes.  Who knows, I may even cover a pair of shoes with the remaining fabric and carry the hat as a clutch purse.  I have to admit, I was please with the results of my toil.

Friday, July 22, 2011

One of Several County Fair Projects Submitted, No. 2--Jewelry: Cold Connection Bracelet

I promised you that I would share my fair projects with you.  Well, here is the jewelry piece I submitted.  It is a cold connection (no soldering) bracelet made of copper, brass, metal beads, faux pearls, and Swarovski  crystals.                                                                                                 

Monday, July 18, 2011

One of Several Fair Projects Submitted: Hand Felted Hat

Hello All!  My family reunion was wonderful.  My classmate and friend delivered my hats and a piece of jewelry to the fair for judging.  I'm so happy that the hat delivery date has come and gone.  When I delivered my entries to my friend, I had had only two hours of sleep because I worked on the hats up until the last minute.  On the same day, I had to drive two hours to my family reunion because my daughter decided she didn't want to go.  BUT, since she loves her mother so much, she wouldn't let me drive.  SOOOO she drove me to the reunion for fear that I would get into a car accident because of my lack of sleep.  Thank you MY DARLING.

I thought I would share one of my fair entries.  I will not get into the details of its construction yet, but here are a few details.  This was not entered into the millinery contest but into another division of the fair as a hand felted project under "hats."  I needle felted a hood, wet felted it, and finally blocked it over a  1930s/40s cap hat block.  Sorry for the crappy picture, I only took one picture because I was in a hurry to tag my entry items and get them out the door.  I'll be sharing more items with you shortly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Six Days Away and No Hats for the L.A. County Fair Millinery Contest Yet! A Look at More Unfinished Projects

In my last post I mentioned my dilemma concerning my family reunion, the fact that I have not started making hats for the L.A. County Fair Millinery Contest, and I shared an unfinished project.  Well I have some good news, and I have some not so good news.  The good news is that one of my classmates will be delivering my hats to the fairgrounds on Saturday, the 16th.  The not so good news is that I still haven't started on the hats that she will be delivering .  Remember I mentioned that I always submit paperwork for five hats, but I've never met that quota yet.  Well I'm determined to deliver five hats this year, but then I was always determined to deliver five.  I didn't mention that I also submitted paperwork for three arts and crafts projects, one jewelry piece (already made!), and two hand felted hats (one project 25 percent made).

So why can't I get started making my hats?  For someone like myself that has been making hats forever, it's quite easy to make a hat.  The issue is designing the hat.  Designing a hat is hard work, especially if you want something unique.  Once I have a design in my head, I can proceed with the making of the hat at a speedy pace.  So, I'm happy to report that I have a design for one hat!  Are you as excited as I am?  You may ask, "but you've had months to work on your designs, what have you been doing?"  My answer to that is:  six months, six days, six hours, there is no difference, at least for me that is.

Oh, there is a second issue that drives the design, at least for the contest; I need a "hook"--something catchy.  Have you seen my hats (if you follow the link, click on large image to view all 50 images). I presume you have if you follow this blog.  I'm not a catchy person.  I make hats for meditative purposes, mostly; I make hats to explore new techniques, new materials, for research purposes, to teach someone something, etc.; plus making a hat is easier than seeing a psychologist.  Millinery is my favorite hobby.  Oops!  I was told that if said millinery was my hobby, no one would respect me.  To that I say, Oh Well!  OK, getting back to the issue at hand--the hook.  I love model (runway?) millinery.  I love all millinery, but I'm not a model millinery person; although I'm trying to add some of these skill to may skill base because most people like to wear something unique .  I also love workmanship.  To make a long story short, from what I learned last year, the hook will be more important than the workmanship.  Please, don't misinterpret this statement.  What I'm saying is that a catchy item evokes more attention, more passion.

Finally, to my unfinished projects.  The image above shows two of the projects I have on blocks that have been sitting around, again, forever.  The 1930s/1940s cap block is one of my newer block.  Sometimes when I receive a new vintage or antique block, I block on it.  Notice, the paper towel wadded up and placed under the blocking card to help define the dent in the tip of the block. ( No, cord marks will not show up in finished product after I complete it.)  Also notice that the millinery pin that holds the cord in place is actually pushed into the knot of the cord rather than into the hat block itself.  I do this because I love these old blocks as sculptures rather than as hat blocks.  This technique is not for everyone.

The green cloche was blocked on a vintage balsa utility cloche bloc--see image to your right.  Remember that I mentioned that everyone should have a utility hat block (standard balsa wood utility skull hat block).  You can run a small business with only a utility block.  Add a basic brim block block, and you can conquer the world!  Although I pin into all of my utility blocks with millinery or finer pins, and in some cases, push pins, it's still a little hard to do so with this block.  This is a special utility block that has a defining line cut into it just above where the eyebrows start, back around to where the hat ends at the neck--1920s style.  This block has a slightly different shape than the block I sold.  As a matter of fact, I purchased another cloche block with the money I received from the sale of that block.  Remember the draped cloche here; it was blocked on the utility cloche block.  These blocks are asymmetrical, and they also vary in shape from block to block, plus there is no need to always try to figure out how deep this style of cloche should be blocked.  The foundations and/or hats made from these blocks can be manipulated in fascinating ways!   If times run out, dull or not, one of these hats may show up at the fair, especially if I run out of time.  I enjoy making these old, outdated millinery styles.  From time to time, you'll see one of these on the runway; after all, history repeats itself.

What types of hats do you like to make or would like to learn how to make?  What types of hats do you wear?  Do you like the more trendy styles (fascinators--cocktail hats, whimsies), or do you like the more classic styles, in general?  Whatever your preference, have fun with it!

Note:  Remember the poll concerning what types of tutorial you would like to see here, and millinery trim was the winner.  Well, notice the green cloche and how intricate it is.  I also consider the tacked folds on this hat to be trim.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another Hat Block Alternative: The Candle Holder

In less than two weeks, July 16, I have to deliver my hats to the county fair for the millinery contest. I always submit paperwork for five hats, but I've never met that goal.  Further, I suddenly realized that I'll be attending my family reunion on that day; actually, it's a three-day reunion that I've been very much aware of.  So I was day dreaming about whether or not I should leave the reunion and drive over an hour to deliver my hats, or should I leave home a day later and deliver them on my way to the reunion?  Life is just so complicated, especially when I have not one hat started!  Last year I wasn't satisfied with my hats, so I vowed to work at least two weeks on them rather than three days, oh well.  Since I can't focus, I thought I would share some of the stuff I have laying around on hat blocks, forever.

The first thing I'll show you is my candle holder block.  I picked this up at Ross Dress for Less.  In everything I see a hat block.  I'll just go into a store to look for something I can block a hat on.  Why can't I be like normal women and buy cute shoes?  I  have plenty of hat blocks, but I use them more as collector pieces than what they should be used for.  I just enjoy finding odd things to block hats on.  I saw this candle holder and I just had to have it.  It will accommodate a size 23 head size without adjustments.   I steamed a fur felt hood and secured it to the candle holder with wide rubber bands.  Then I used a blocking cord to block the dent in the middle where the candle would be placed.  I could have left this step out since I decided I didn't like the dent in the top of the hat.

What's nice about fur felt is how easy it is to work with.  I can re-block it over and over again without any problems.  First I thought I liked the rubber band marks, but I think I'll steam and brush them out.  Who knows  what I'll end up with.  My finished hats always surprise me.  No promises when I will finish this; stay tuned!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Cabbage Rose Class Project, No Summer School, and Other Ramblings

Summer School Ends  Thursday, a week ago, my evening millinery class was buzzing with activity and chatter.  You see, it was the last night of class before summer vacation.  Not only was it the last night, but for the first time since I have been taking millinery classes, over a quarter of a century on and off, there would be no summer school because California budget cuts caused LAUSD  to ax our millinery classes, as well as some other summer classes.  Back when I started taking classes, summer school was a time when we would cram everything in--flower, glove, purse, and jewelry making, including shoe covering and sewing, and hat making, of course!  Oh, how I long for those summers of creativity!  These classes serve adult learners, including seniors, and high school students needing to take additional classes, usually for graduation.

Cabbage Rose Project  What was all the chatter and urgency about?  Well everyone was excited about the cabbage rose Mrs. Eloise King, our millinery teacher, was demonstrating to make on this last night.  Several of the students had made the rose earlier to trim their hat, and it was so beautiful that everyone in class wanted to make it.  This was not the only rose being taught this night, but this was the one that really peaked my interest.  Unlike the cabbage roses I had made in the past using strips of folded fabric, this rose, although it looked very similar, was constructed in a unique manner.  It was this construction technique that intrigued me.  This rose was constructed using 12 squares of fabric of varying sizes.  Each tier of the rose was a pod that fit into the pod below it, and none of the tiers were attached to the other--they floated inside each other like a flower in water.  I made a very large red flower from thin suede, not to be used as trim, but as a hat.  The suede yielded a heavier flower than I liked, but I was fascinated by the results.  Mrs.  King suggested that I turn the edges down, and the result was spectacular!
Why All Those Millinery Classes  You're probably asking, why is she still taking millinery classes.  Well, my calligraphy classes only lasted eight years...and then there was the paper making, the jewelry making, elementary and high school (of course these are out in order), college, college, additional technical classes, etc., etc.  To make a long story short, I'll never stop learning, and it's something I can fit into the rest of my life, for the rest of my life.  

Sharing  When my kids were small, I made hats for extra income while working my regular job.  I actually dreaded making another hat then--the deadlines, etc.  After a while, I started making hats only when I wanted to and gave them away to family and friends; boy, did I love this.  Plus, sharing was and still is a great way for me to give back.  Now retired, I love it even more.  The research and experimentation never ends!  

For those that email me and are surprised that I share so much, I ask, what is there not to share?  I know how you feel because I've seen how some act if they are asked a millinery question.  In my millinery classes we pass hat patterns around as if we were passing around tea cakes.  For years no one even thought about "copying."  Even back in the day when many of the women had millinery businesses, they never felt threatened and always shared.  Today occasionally someone will come through that will take but not give back, but that has only been within the last few years, and they don't stay very long because "they're on a mission," excluding those that stop in to further their careers.  Not everyone has the time to just hang out.  There is a difference.

I've been told that people will not respect me if I just "give it away;" people will just use me up; people will just sell the information.  To that I say, this is about me and what I enjoy doing; there are still good, honest people in the world.  I'll leave the respect to those that really know me, and I will not stop doing what I enjoy doing because of others' issues and insecurities.  Somewhere in the world someone, especially in these times, will need a little extra cash that learning millinery will bring them; someone will need a hobby that they can enjoy without spending a fortune to pursue; someone, because of their location will not have access to millinery classes or expensive millinery supplies; but many will have Web access.  It will not replace formal instruction in many cases, but it will help to a certain point, and big time if hard work goes into learning.  

Kicked Off Yahoo Answer  This leads me to another issue.  Recently I signed up for Yahoo Answer where you ask and/or answer questions on various subjects.  Of course, I searched out millinery and hat making questions and answered them when I could.  Shortly afterwards I was reported for inappropriate language and kicked off--the same language I use here on my blog.  After several emails back and forth to Yahoo (one of those everybody-gets-the-same-email, emails), it was clear that they were not going to investigate.  So, it appears that there is a problem with sharing.  The next time someone is bashing someone on the Web, ask yourself why.  I've learned so much in the last year and a half about how evil some people can be.  What a miserable waste of life.

What do you think?   What is the issue with sharing techniques that have been documents in books down through the years?  We are not talking about the Coca Cola formula here.  Unlike hatting (making men hats), millinery is not a trade that is passed down from family to family--its secrets.  Plus today, there are those that make exquisite men hats without all those guarded secrets.  This does not involve someone's line or technique they have created.  So, I'm I that much out of touch? I would really appreciate your thoughts.

Please note that there was a typo on the County Fair millinery flyer.  The delivery date is July 16, 2011 and the delivery time is from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Monday, June 20, 2011

French Couture Hand Rolled Silk Organza Flowers

Please note that there was a typo on the County Fair millinery flyer.  The delivery date is July 16, 2011 and the delivery time is from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

OK ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't resist this one.  I just had to use Ms. E' as my flower model for this post.  She is just the cutest little thing--almost four months old now.  I'm having so much fun babysitting her each day.  I missed all the cute little things my kids did, like their first steps, etc., because I was busy working everyday.  You're lucky that I can't paint a mural of her on your living room walls just so your hearts could  smile as much as mine when you see her.

Ms. E' is modeling one of three silk organza hand rolled flowers I recently made.  When I first learned how to make these hand rolled flowers a couple of decades ago, we would spit roll the petals.  "Did she just say spit roll, as in saliva!"  Yes, I did.  Well, I don't do that anymore.  I don't think the world was as health conscious as it is today, and now I don't even want to think about it.  Today, I roll the flowers with diluted fabric stiffener or diluted white glue, using the same original pattern.  I make slight modifications to the pattern, depending on the effect I want to achieve, or I'll just make another pattern in some cases.

The top and bottom flower petals in the image to your right were cut from the same size pattern.  The petals of the flower on the top were given a very slight roll at intervals, while the petals of the bottom flower were entirely rolled going around the petal, except its bottom.  The flower in the middle is a slight variation of the other flowers; here I used less petals--same pattern.  For the center, I cut small pieces of fabric and dipped them into dye, the petals were painted with a paint brush.  I'll put together a tutorial for the top flower when I get a chance.  Oh, you'll also notice a red fascinator in the slideshow below.  The flower was both hand rolled and tooled using an electric flower iron.  I'm still greiving over the fact that I gave this hat to one of my friends.  That red rose was the most beautiful flower I ever made.  I couldn't get the camera to capture its beauty. I hope you enjoy the slideshow; I had fun making it.

Please check out my other posts on making your own flower stamens and how to make leather and suede flowers.

Please Note!!! There is a bug (error) in the image viewer. The images for this post should show flowers and a cute baby. If you see the fashion show images from the last post, please display this post by itself by accessing it through the sidebarSorry for any inconvenience. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Essie Edwards: A Phenomenal Milliner, Seamstress, Instructor, and Fashionista

I am totally amazed by this lady.  She's a graduate of Pepperdine University, she has been a milliner for over 60 years (yes over 60 years!), she has been an instructor for the Los Angeles Unified School District for almost 40 years, she is a mother, a source of great support for her students, she is a fashionista, and she is a lovely woman both inside and out.  Mrs. Edwards is a walking example of a phenomenal instructor.  When she walks into the classroom she wears what she has made--suites, purses, hats, belts, etc.  All perfectly made by her loving and guiding hands. As you can see from the image on the left, she is one cute lady, and she really looks sassy in the sporty black BMW she drives.  You Go Girl!

But what I really love about Mrs. Edwards is that she encourages me to be me.  She never insists that I do something the same way and in a particular manner.  In her words, "There is more than one way to do something."  For a person like myself who loves to experiment with different millinery techniques, her words are like music to my ears.  A student has to grow under an instructor with this attitude.  She is patient with her students, and they always praise her for this.

Mrs. Edwards only teach day classes, and I waited seven years to take her class, begging her not to retire.  When I retired,  I could finally attend her class.  Then, I was blessed with Ms. E, my granddaughter.  So once again, I'm without my Mrs. Edwards because I lovingly babysit Ms. E during the day.  I still take an evening millinery classes from my other millinery instructor, Mrs. Eloise King (off and on for 26 years), but I also miss my day class with Mrs. Edwards. 

On May 21 Mrs. Edward held her annual fashion show at the Watts Senior Center and Rose Garden.  I really love attending classes at the Rose Garden; it's lovely, quiet, and peaceful.  Dorothy Sampson is the gardener and caretaker for the garden and center.  She is an extraordinary lady who keeps the grounds and the roses beautifully groomed, even using her own resources at times allowing the roses to maintain their award winning status.  I just have to mention Recreation Facility Director Toni Hester (image to the upper right) because Mrs. Edwards constantly praises her for going beyond the call of her job duties, especially when it comes to her sensitivity to the needs of the seniors, as well as Mrs. Edwards'.

I'll get to the images in a moment, but I wanted to mention how wonderful it is to have a place to go where people are sincerely genuine and supportive and enjoy each others' company.  Below are some images from the fashion show.  These ladies, and the gentleman helping the ladies to the walkway, all make beautiful things in Mrs. Edwards' class.  When I was editing the images, I was thinking how blessed I would be to be able to drive to classes and socialize with people as wonderful as these are 25 years from now, as these ladies are doing today.  Thanks to Mrs. Edwards and all for being such an inspiration.