Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Black felt pleated half hat

I think I will have finally caught up with blogging about all the hats I've made just in time for New Years-must try harder in 2014! This last one is a black felt pleated half hat, inspired by the styles of the 1920's.   I made it on my malleable head block that I use for free form blocking, drawing the felt over from the left side to the right in several folds that are then pinched together at the right side of the face in a small pleated tail. I kept the decoration to a minimum of a satin binding as the silhouette is quite dramatic in itself and I didn't want to distract from that.

Detail of the pinched pleats.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Black Felt Flower Mini Pillbox

During the 1940's felt flowers were a very popular way of decorating hats and making corsages and even jewellery as a way to cheer up wartime fashions. With rationing in full swing using up small scraps of felt to create flowers was an ideal way to add some much needed femininity to everyday life.  I've made silk flowers and ribbon roses before but wanted to try out using my silk flower tools on felt as I had tried them on the felt leaves for my Autumn Leaves Hat and they worked rather well. The tools themselves do rather look like instruments of torture, and you do have to heat them up so that they mould the fabric...  The ones with the balls on the end are to form a cup shape in the leaf or petal in various sizes.  The hooked ones and the shield shaped one are for creating veins and folds in the fabric.  To help make the shapes the sponge is placed beneath the petal/leaf and then the felt is steamed with a wet cloth and an iron and then you press the shape into the felt with the tool -the sponge allows the shape to form.
I made a lot of the flowers and leaves  first and then spent quite a long time arranging them on the pillbox.  I tried the in all sorts of combinations, in little groups all the way round, in two groups on opposite sides, all on the top, in a line across the top... But eventually settled for one large group on the side and top, on the right side of the hat.  The flowers are finished with a black glass bead as their centre.  I really like this little hat and shall definitely by making more felt flower as they are actually far easier than making flowers from silk!

Lilac and Cream Tribly

I made this trilby on a lightly smaller block than usual, as I wanted it to sit higher on the head than a normal headsize hat, its not a mini perching hat either-its somewhere in  between! THe block was found for me by my lovely friend Ben who happened upon it in an antique shop and very kindly nabbed it for me for the bargain price of £40. The pleating around the crown was inspired by a hat worn by The Hon. Daisy Fellows in Harpers Bazar in 1933- such a fab hat.
I didn't make my pleats as big as the original hat and finished it with a twisted cord rather than a feather, as I prefer to go with what colour trimmings suit the felt and use up some of my extremely extensive collection of decorations... The lilac and cream combination is quite versatile and will go with lots of other colours. I hand blocked the brim as I don't have a brim block in this style and size-yet! It does take a lot more work hand blocking a brim but you do get more freedom over the finished shape.

The rather jaunty snap brim.

Close up of the twisted cord.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brown Perching Hat

I must admit that the block for this hat has been sitting in my cupboard for a while, as the last time I tried it, it really didn't work for me so I re-blocked the hood as a different shape.  My difficulty was that the top of the the crown has a dip in it and I couldn't get the felt to sit in it properly.  This time I used a bean bag with a weight on top to keep the felt in the dip whilst it dried and this time the hat came of the block in the right shape-woohoo! I was very pleased, as this is such an elegant shape for a crown and it perches most elegantly.  The brim I hand shaped by ironing it mostly flat on my ironing board, the used my tailors ham to create the curves I wanted (as I had previously done on my red felt boater).  I finished the hat with some lovely striped petersham that my Mum bought me a while ago and with a couple of pheasant feathers that I have also had for years (finally using up some of my stash!). These were just normal straight tail feathers, but I wanted them to be curly. so I tried with my usual method of curling feathers with a hair curling iron, but the main vane of the feather was a bit too thick to bend around the barrel of the tongs.  Instead, I gave the feathers a good steam and then used a pair of closed scissors pulled along the central vane to curl them, in the same way that you would curl a gift ribbon. You have to be fairly careful using this method as if you apply too much pressure you can kink or even break the feather-not good. Its also better to go slowly and repeat  this often than trying to get a massive curl in one pull.  I managed to get two fairly similar curls which I really like and having bound their ends together with thread I sewed them onto the hat and covered the ends with a little more ribbon.  I must admit to being chuffed with the finished article, its just such a jaunty little hat!

Curly feathers!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blue Slanted Cloche

I've got a bit behind with posting about my hats recently.  I'm going to have a stall at my first craft fair next Saturday and I have been madly trying to finish as many hats as possible and make lots of hair butterflies to sell.  With so much blocking and sewing I've forgotten about taking pictures so this is me catching up!  This hat is a pale blue wool felt cloche using my new slated brim block from the marvelous Guy Morse Brown. The brim sweeps across the face from left to right and is longer on the left side than the right, making a lovely asymetrical hat. I finished the hat with a silvery grey ribbon and a cream braid.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Burgundy embroidered cloche

Despite more wretched IVs the hatting for the craft fair at the end of November continues, well, as much as I can manage! I had blocked this burgundy felt in my last blocking frenzy and its been sitting about waiting for the embroidered decoration to be finished and applied.  The embroidery is another of my slightly art nouveau inspired scroll work designs, similar to the ones I used on the large cerise sinamay hat I made a few months back. Instead of using a contrasting colour for the embroidery this time I decided to use as close a colour match as possible to make the deign more subtle and more suitable for everyday wear.

Close up of the embroidery.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Grey swirly pillbox

With November fast approaching I am trying to finish off as many of my designs as possible for the craft fair on Nov 30h. I actually blocked the base of this hat a couple of months ago when I had decided to block another cloche and then went a bit nuts and blocked another three small hats as well.  With an eye to selling it I wanted to try and keep the decoration as elegant and simple as possible, so I played about with the excess felt left from blocking the base until I had a sort of looped bow that I liked. It was a bit too plain as it was so I added the lines of stitches.  It wasn't until I added the Swarovski crystals that I realised how much it looked like a music stave, except that is only has four lines instead of five- next time I will definitely do five lines and add some more embroidery to turn it into music!

Only four lines, next time I'll do five!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autumn Leaves

A while ago I made a felt button hat decorated with green leaves, and I always planned to make an autumnal version and I finally managed to finish it.  I wanted them to be clearly linked in design, so I used the same button block, only this time in orange.  I used a maple leaf as my template for the felt leaves, as I've always loved the way maple leaves go such bright colours in the autumn. To make the leaves more lifelike I added free machine embroidered veins and shaped them to look slightly crumpled with one of my silk flowers shaping tools (which looks rather more like an instrument of torture!). Another of my favorite arts of autumn is seeing leaves blowing about in the wind, although certainly not having to sweep them all up, and I wanted to get a sense of movement into the leaves as if they were blowing in the breeze, so I had to create a wire armature to attach the leaves to,which was strong enough to support them without being too obvious or bulky.  I think that this is one of the best hats I've made as its such an unusual design and it too quite a number or experiments before I got the armature to work the way I wanted- but it does work!

Felt leaves and a button waiting to be put together.
Leaves pinned together and you can't see the armature!
Detail of the leaves.
The hat from behind.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Black and cream boater

Oh dear, I've been a bad blogger and not been keeping up with my blogging every week ideal... I'm back on the IVs again so this has at least let me catch up with  this post about another hat I've made for the craft fair in November.   As I said in my previous post about my mini red felt boater, my love of the boater is down to its versatility and the fact that it suits pretty much anyone. The block I used for this hat has a slightly smaller crown section than the head measurement, so that it can perch at a jaunty angle on the head rather than fit down onto the head.  I bought the natural, window sinamay several months ago but wasn't quite sure how to use it. I asked on a milliners group page on Facebook and got lots of helpful advice, so I decided to use it in conjunction with black sinamay. The black is used underneath the window sinamay to emphasise the pattern of the windows. It's a bit more fiddly working with window sinamay as the sections with the cut outs are very delicate and tend to flop about!  I blocked the hat in three sections- the brim, the band and the tip, and then sewed it all together by hand. Because the sinamay has quite a complex appearance already I kept the decoration very minimal to not detract from it, just a simple satin ribbon band and a pinwheel bow for a little flirty touch.
Blocking the brim. The block has a string groove to make blocking the brim edge easy.
The crown sewn together.
The complete hat sewn together.
The finished hat.
I love pinwheel bows!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bits and bobs

I've signed myself up for a craft fair at the end of November-eek! I'm not entirely convinced this is a sensible idea, for one thing I can't gauruntee I can stay off ivs... and also rather than making things to someones specification I'll be showing off my desgns for everyone's scrutiny, which is much more scary.  Fortunately, its only a day long fair so I should manage to make it through that long and also I won't have to deal with scary members of the public for too long-I'm such a coward sometimes!  So, I've been going back through old ideas to try and pinpoint things that will hopefully sell. This means I've been remaking and improving  and adjusting lots of different things so this post is a few pics of the different hats, headpieces and embroidery I've been trying out.
This is my prototype for a freestanding embroidered damselfly I've been working on. It's not a great picture as you can't see what a nice greeny-blue colour the stitching on the wings is.  For the next version I am going to try using a different kind of stabiliser, as the tear away one I used here is difficult to get out from between the lines of stitches.  I think wash away or heat away would work better. It also needs a little bit more sparkle, so some beads are definitely in order.
I've also been designing some embroidered word art. My machine does such beautiful lettering that I wanted to see if some amusing sayings would sell...
I've also been doing some more feather ornaments. The left over part of the feathers from making my butterfly headpiece have been hanging around for a while so I thought I'd use them up by making peacock feather pom-poms.  I've been curling the tines to make them into little corkscrews curls, and the iridescent green is gorgeous.
My favorite hat block has also been getting some use.  I'm trying to build up a selection of colours for the fair. I love this burgandy colour, so I may have to make anoter one to keep...
This orange button is going to be an autumn leaves hat to go with my leafy green hat. I'm going to decorate it with a swirl of orange and red leaves.  I want it to look like they are being blown in the wind.
And finally I've got a sinamay boater with a pinwheel bow decoration that I am just finishing off. It'll get its own post later when I've taken some better pictures.  This block is another lovely shape that I hope will be popular.