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.


  1. Thank you so much for your blog :)

    I have always loved sewing of all kinds and have done a bit of millinery over the years... but started again at the end of last year and I'm hooked!!!!

    I make blocked silk and felt fascinators and make flowers with embroidered petals (check out my fb page to see some pics).

    I found your blog a couple of months ago after searching for old millinery books and information on making flowers with flower tools.... and now I can't wait to see your next post :))

    Keep writing... and good luck with the LA County Fair!!!

    Heidi xx

  2. Thanks much, and good luck to you also.

  3. Although the most advanced hat I have made is a leather garrison cap I would like to make a fascinator with a huge single feather. I have seen some that look like Ikebana- thats what I like.

    Good luck with the show!

  4. Don as creative as you are, I know you would be successful at making such a fascinator. Try it!