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!