Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hat Blocks and One of My Hats for Sale on Ebay, Plus a Stephen Jones Video--NO THAT IS NOT WHITE GLUE!

I'm cleaning house (condo)!  My living room looks like a hat shop. Every closet (hall, my bedroom, living room, and kitchen cabinets) are stuffed with hat blocks.  There are hats on every end table in my living room, and they are also hanging off a wire dress form.  So, I'm selling three hat blocks and one of my little fascinators on EBay.

Yes, it hurts to sell my hats.  I went back and forth trying to figure out which one I would sell.  I'll be selling more hats, although I think I'm the only one in love with them.  You would think I was an avid hat wearer!

Check out the inside finish of the hat I'm selling--image posted on EBay.  The lining is extremely neat, no glue used.  The winner of my little fascinator will get an extra bonus--instructions on how this finish was accomplished.  I don't use this method often, and it will vary depending on the degree of richness required.  Additionally, you could turn out possibly three times or more the number of hat compared to traditional methods of hat construction.  This is great is you are a one person show.  In other words, it's just another technique to have in my millinery techniques bag.  Some will say that this method is not couture, but if you collect couture hats from the past, you'll notice that many famous couture milliners used it.

 So, check out my auction on EBay; listed here.  Some items ending soon!

No, That is Not White Glue!

Below is a Stephen Jones workshop video.  Stephen is one of my favorite milliners--one.  The reason I'm showing this video is because I witnessed a milliner putting white glue on a buckram frame last week.  That is not white glue being put onto the buckram frame in this video!  Buckram is starch sized, therefore if a water based glue is put onto it, it becomes bumpy.  There are times when all milliners have to use an adhesive to attach fabrics to frames, for example, in situations where there is a deep concave, such as in a deep brim.  So, if you don't have access to millinery adhesive, use archival rubber cement.  By the way, the method I used on my little hat does not require adhesive, either. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Couture Milliner to the Stars? Who Is/Was George Lawrence?

Several months ago while browsing my favorite auction site, EBay, I  bid on a package of millinery sketches.  Included with those sketches were a souvenir  book from the play Oklahoma, dated 1944; a notebook containing swatches of millinery materials, notes for various millinery techniques, George Lawrence  millinery labels, and the head measurements of a number of, I assume, his clients, one of which being Carole Channing.  The sketches covered a couple of decades, starting in the 1920s.  Some of the sketches were pencil drawn and later inked in brilliant colors, and some were left un-inked. A few of the sketches were of medieval costume headdresses.  Maybe Lawrence also made hats for the theater. 

My curiosity was even more heightened when I observed that there was a noticeable difference in the sketching skills, or lack of,  shown in the sketch renderings spanning across decades.  Why were the sketches from the 1920s more professional looking than those drawn in latter years.  ...but then I noticed something else, the sketches actually resembled those drawn by other designers from the periods they represented.  For example, if you've ever seen some of the costume books showing medieval costume sketches, some of the sketches appeared to be crude.  The sketches represented in Lawrence's drawings also appeared to be crude for that period,.  In other words, the differences between sketches may have been intentional.  Still there was something odd about the sketches.  Were these sketches rendered by the same person?  Did they really belong to George Lawrence, or did they  belong to a student of millinery?  Were these sketches rendered over several decades, or over a shorter period of time, perhaps for a class project?

So, ladies and gentlemen, who is/was George Lawrence, the milliner that made hats to order, as referenced on his millinery labels.  I know that, from my own personal research, some of the ladies in the head measurement list worked in the theater.  Of course we all know who Carol Channing is, and I must say that she has an impressive head size for the eras represented by the sketches.  Usually head measurements were smaller, thus all the size 22 hat blocks floating around from earlier eras. If you know who George Lawrence is/was, please let us know.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Millinery Tutorial Poll Results

HATS:  HEADS AND TAILS (click on image to start video)

I asked you what types of tutorials you would like to see here, and I really appreciate those of you that took the time to participate.  I've been brainstorming ways that I could reward those of you that follow me, email me, and leave comments; so, there is a surprise coming to you very soon for your extra efforts.  Your support is greatly appreciated.  Additionally, I'm extremely passionate about couture millinery and the continued growth of this beautiful art form.

There is nothing new under the sun.  Enjoy these two vintage videos (one below also)  from the past addressing millinery trim (poll winner).  Here are the poll results:

  • Buckram Frames--Flat Pattern:      7
  • Buckram Frames--Blocked               6
  • Straw Blocking:                                    10
  • Felt Blocking:                                          8
  • Millinery Trim (flowers, etc.):        13
  • Other (no comments left):                  3
I estimate that 33% of my learning came from the classes I've taken over the years, and I never get tired of taking classes, if I can find them; 33% percent from books, other media, and observation; and 33% from experimentation.   In other words, I Never Stop Learning, Experimenting, and Taking Classes!  I've noticed something that's very interesting to me.  When a milliner is given lots of praise for their work and that work is in great need of improvement, in some cases that milliner ceases to grow because they grow to believe that they are as good as the hype.  So to those milliners just starting out, if your headsize ribbon is falling out of your hat; your headband does not hug the side of your hat; if your fabric (on covered hats) does not hug your hat frame like a fine glove, and it looks like you're gathering the waistband of a skirt; if you think blocking is only for felt and straws; if you spend more on glue than thread in your "couture workroom," etc, etc., please research why these things are happening.  

A second observation::  milliners with poor skills pass on their bad skills on.  Learn to tell the difference between a good and a bad milliner.  Ladies and gentlemen, there are too many fantastic milliners out their to study, past and present.  If you have learned to tell the difference between a well made dress and a poorly made dress or purse or shoes, you can learn to tell the difference between a well made hat and a poorly made one.  My work still needs plenty of improvement, and I'm not even a perfectionist!