Monday, October 24, 2011

Hat a Week 4 - Spotted Bonnet

This weeks hat was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to try combining the two main ways of making hats, blocking and flat pattern making. Blocking is using a wooden shape and steam or heat to mould the hat form on the block, usually felt, straw or sinamay, for example this black felt cloche. Flat pattern cutting is when you work out how to make the shape out of flat pieces, for example this tricorn and most of my first hats were made from flat card patterns cut from buckram and then covered. The two methods are a bit like draping on the stand and flat pattern cutting when making clothes - one is done on a model in 3d the other flat on paper in 2d. Id never tried combining the two before and it is doable but can involve a lot of trial and error.  This hat is inspired by a hat made by Jeanne Lanvin in about 1910, the back is created on a block and brim was cut flat then the two were joined together.  It is a lovely tight fitting back sweeping into front brim that extends over the forehead.  I suppose it is technically a bonnet rather than a hat, but it is a rather charming that I have wanted to try and recreate for ages.
This is hat once the two parts have been joined, the edges wired and the shape mulled in domette. You can't really see the join (which is the idea!) but it runs from ear to ear over the top of the head. I finished the hat with a fabulous scarlet polka dot fabric and decorated it with black bias strips inspired by the decoration on the Lanvin hat. The back of the hat is pleated to take in the excess fabric around the curved back.
Detail of the pleated back.
As some of the under brim is visible when being worn I decided to line the whole in the same polka dot fabric, which adds to its rather cheerful appearance. I am really pleased by how this experiment turned out, and I have definitely learned a lot about using both methods in one hat! The next hat a week maybe a bit late as I actually have the opportunity to make a swanky dress for me for the G and S Society 50th anniversary ball in December, as well as some other ongoing work, so the hats may well have to take a bit of a backseat for a little while at least.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hat a Week 3- Not really a hat.....

... But still something you wear on your head so I say it counts! These are some Victorian beaded flowers. I have been trying to make them for ages but have not been able to get wire thin enough to work. The beads themselves are only about 2mm wide with a teeny tiny hole which is fine if you only need to pass the wire through it once but to make the flowers you may need to get two or three passes through it and my usual wire is way too thick for that. I was going to order some very fine gauge wire over the Internet but the sites I use only offer big reels of wire and I didn't really want to buy a big expensive reel before I knew it would work. John Lewis let me down for once and only had the 0.6mm wire I usually use that is too big. I finally found some in the crazy little craft shop in Saffron Walden called Colour Craft. It's one of those amazing shops that are crammed floor to ceiling with a huge array of craft stuff. Wool, beads, tapestry thread, paint, books, pencils, brushes and more fills the shelves. I can't think why I didn't go there before probably cos I don't go into SW as much anymore so just didn't remember! So I finally had my wire and I have sooooo many beads, so off I went. It really is very simple and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to do. Even on IVs and drugged out of my head I managed to make these three in a couple of days. I've popped the two silver ones in hair pins and the third iridescent one may go on a hat.
Little iridescent flower with rounded petals
I know this is a couple of days late, but I'm still struggling with lack of computer and having to swipe Dad or Mr EB's when they don't need them! The one I was using wont connect to the wifi at my parents house cos basically it is a bit rubbish... oh well better late than never!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hat a Week 2-Black felt cloche

Well so far so good, I've managed two hats in as many weeks! Oh ok, I actually made both this one and the ivory pill box in the last fortnight but I only just finished the inside of this one so I'm using it as Hat a Week 2. This one is a black wool felt cloche made using another gorgeous Guy Morse Brown block that was my Christmas present from my parents. I love the shape of it, its so smooth and curvy! It also has a string groove around the bottom of the brim which really does make blocking so much easier. You can see in the first picture how you just use a cord to pull the felt into the groove and use one pin to secure the cord tightly. I also used a cord to pull the felt in tightly around the base of the sideband so that it adheres nice and closely to the shape of the block.

Here the hat is off the block and with the edge wired and finished but not yet decorated, you can also see how messy my workroom gets mid hat making!
Finished! I was pleased by how the geometric hat band turned out. It's made from overlapping circles of red and white felt that are finished with a black satin cord tied in a little bow.

Close up of the trim and bow.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

A Hat a Week

Recently my health has been rather depressing. I'm now on ivs about every six to eight weeks, when once I only needed them every six months. My lung function is about 50% now, which to be honest is crap and means I am tired all the time and I can't do things that I love, like playing the flute or lindy hop. This combined with some other health rubbishness which I won't go into cos its all a bit raw still, has made me a bit depressed. I've been prone to depression since I was a teenager and I can now recognise the signs that mean I'm on a downward spiral. In an effort to prevent myself sitting in a corner and brooding about how unfair life is, why me, blah blah blah I have decided to start a new project. I find that forcing myself to keep busy and think about other things does help stop me getting too depressed and gives me time to try and sort myself out. So my project is A Hat a Week- pretty simple, I am going to make a hat a week, although I include in 'hat' pretty much anything that you wear on your head, so veils, fascinators, flowers, tiaras, anything that attaches to your head! This will of course be work and health dependent sometimes I may not manage it, equally if I don't have much on if I may even make more than one hat-how reckless and daring!

My project has also turned out to be computer dependent too! I have actually had this post and hat ready for about two weeks, but unfortunately my faithful old computer, emphasis on old, turned up its toes and died-again... So I have been unable to blog properly cos the ipad doesn't really do photo uploading easily. Thankfully Mr EB really is a computer genius and managed to get all my files off the old computer and apparently can even get it working again, although this involves time which is something that he does not have a large supply of. So eventually I shall get the old machine back, but in the meantime I am borrowing one of Mr EBs spares!

So the first Hat a Week is another bridal one. This is a mini pillbox made from ivory sinamay and finished with an ivory ribbon and silver wire spirals set with swarovski crystals and freshwater pearls. When I use this block again I am probably going to use it slightly differently in that instead of blocking the whole hat with one piece of sinamay I'm going to block the headband and tip as two separate pieces then sew them together. This should make it easier to turn the sinamay under at the bottom, with one piece there is a whole lots of fibre that has to get turned in!

A Veil for Holly Race now Beckett!

Lucky me!!!! I finally got asked for a silk tulle veil by my lovely friend Holly! She is such a stylish lady and knew she wanted an ultra soft, drappy veil in silk tulle, so whats a girl to do- buy lots of silk tulle:-) Don't get me wrong non silk tulle is also lovely stuff but it has much more body so when you gather it up it is more pouffy and has more volume- ideal for petticoats and some styles of veils but not if you want a lighter less fluffy look. Silk tulle is just like cobweb, all wispy and light. It also sticks to itself, just like cobweb, and everything else as well. This can get a tad annoying, but its worth putting up with because it moves and drapes beautifully. The lightest breeze makes it dance-oh God I sound so soppy! Holly also chose a lovely ivory lace to edge it, which went beautifully with the lace of her dress. As you can see from the pictures it just looks beautiful (shame the workroom is such a mess...)

This is a lot of Tulle!
Detail of the Lace edging
This is a picture taken at the wedding by Albert Palmer- we had such good luck with the weather! I love the movement in the veil, and you can see just how long it is as well.  Gorgeous!
I love this photo!