Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Couture Sculptural/Free-Form Millinery: Part 2 - The Tutorial

OK, no excuses....  I've been away for quite some time.  I haven't checked my emails for several months or the comments on my blog.  I've been staying up all night, and taking care of Ms. E' during the day.  You see, there were a couple of things I wanted to do when I retired.  You know about this blog, another thing I wanted to do (and there are many more) was to take piano lessons.  So for the past couple of months I've been taking piano lessons.  I must tell you that I'm not as sharp as I once was.  I played clarinet when I was a youngster, but that was nothing compared to this piano thing.  The two staffs are killing me.  Plus I have no rhythm; I can't even dance. I'm sure my piano teacher would have unlisted her phone number if she had known what a baby I am.

Waite, no, no!  All of that time I was away, piano was not the only thing I was learning.  I was also teaching myself how to crochet beaded ropes.  I could not move forward until I learned how to crochet a strong foundation.  On YouTube it looked easy; well, it wasn't easy for me.  In the end I finally created a strong foundation without the use of any props.  Only then, could I move forward.  As far as aesthetics, I still have a long way to go, but I'll get there with more practice.

So you say you could have done this in less time?  OK, I'll give you that.  But I guarantee you that  I'm probably better at daydreaming than you are, and that takes lots of of time.  Plus, I had my thrift and antique shops to visit.  I've picked up a couple of interesting bowl shapes, so stay tuned for a few interesting hats I plan to make.

Since you've only seen a couple of my utility blocks and maybe a bowl or vase or two, you probably think that I don't have any hat blocks.  Actually I have quite a few beautiful blocks.  I view most of them as sculptures rather than hat blocks, and I usually have most of them stuffed into every available space in my tiny living quarters, with the exception of my daughter's room; she's just not having that.  However, a little over a month ago, I pulled out a few blocks to place a on a vintage or antique (?) game table I purchased from the thrift shop.  I'll talk about this in another post.  Finally, I've always wanted to put one of my Willcox & Gibbs straw braid sewing machine heads on a treadle frame.  Well, I found a W&B treadle at my antique shop, and the rest is history.   So, I have plenty to share with you; it's just a matter of finding the time to do so.  Stick with me and I'm sure you'll find a few things that may be of interest to you.

I promised that I would end the blog if I didn't post in a timely manner.  However, I just couldn't do that.  We all have our ways of sharing our blessings, and this blog is one way I share mine--by sharing my knowledge and love for millinery.  Hopefully you will find something here that you can share with someone also.  Believe me it will not take anything away from you.  Further, time waits for no woman.  I've been making hats for almost three decades, but I still haven't taken a watercolor class, a photography class, a draping class, volunteered to participate in the construction of a Habitat for Humanities home (a high priority), take a young person under my wings and teach them everything I know about millinery (another high priority), learn how to ride a motorcycle, take more belly dancing classes, get back to enjoying the arts, finish those curtains I started a couple of months ago, get back to making jewelry, sit in the sun more often, spend more time with love ones (top priority), teach a few millinery classes, spend less time on Facebook (that started a few months ago), etc., etc., etc.  Now that I've talked your eyes off, on to the tutorial.

Just a little note:  I'll send out passwords when time permits.

Sculptural/Free-Form Millinery: Part 2 - The Tutorial

There are a couple of things you should know that are not clear in the video.  Because the straw I used was soft and pliable, it required no blocking.  All of the shapes were created by twisting the wired edge into various shapes.  Also, I forgot to take images of the frame wiring.  So, if you need to know how to wire the foundation frame, please visit this post.  You can either create a shape and permanently sew it into place, or you can do as I did here and temporarily pin trim (flowers, etc.) into place.  Enjoy!


  1. Thank you for taking the time to share your skill of millinery with us.

  2. Amazing looking hat! Love the sculptural forms. Would love to experiment at some stage. Thank you for taking the time to take us through the steps. I think it's GOOD that bloggers don't blog all the time- it's great that you are too busy to!

    1. Thanks you. I take my hat off to you because you can keep on top of your blog. It's so hard for me.

  3. Now I know we've chatted a bit about piano on Pinterest, and I know that I haven't been the best of blog readers lately. But I'm currently trolling the seas for millinery blogs to promote a thing for Milliners of Etsy, and came across this post.

    I have been a piano teacher for nearly twenty years. There is one thing that I have learned absolutely to be true about adult students. They are waaaaay harder on themselves than kids. They always think they're doing worse than they are. I am sure you are doing just fine. Keep practicing, and don't beat yourself up.

    And if there's one thing about reading the staves that I would love to be able to explain, but it's so hard written. I could show you so easily. Try to think of the grand staff as a picture of what your hands are doing. Look at the shapes of the notes. When I read Chopin's 4th Ballade, the piece I'm working on right now, I don't think about what the names of the notes are, I think about what shape the chords are. You have to feel it, instead of trying to read it one note at a time. Think about what's up, what's down, what's staying the same, how far apart. All of these things are abstract concepts on any other instrument. On the piano, the staff is literally a picture of what you're doing.

    Chin up! Relax! you're doing fine!

    1. Well, I have not been the best blogger either. Thank you so much for your advice. One day I'm may open a shop on Etsy.