Gifts that keep on giving

My friend Angela called into the studio this week for tea and scones. She moved to Melbourne, Australia earlier this year and I have missed her so much. Angela and I did our first blocking course together and caught the bug for hat making. Before she left, she gave me this pin pusher and tiny hammer which I have treasured ever since.

Angela recently made the pilgrimage to Millinery Mecca, Torb & Reiner and brought me a goody bag. I have some beautiful vintage velvet ribbon and amazing vintage petersham which I can’t wait to use. She has also given me some beautiful purple thermo felt which I haven’t used before. I’ll have to check out some Youtube tutorials to see how to use it.

Thanks to all my very supportive friends who encourage me to keep making!


Straw Cloche day at Atelier Millinery

What a busy week it has been! I went to London last Saturday for a 1 day straw cloche course at Atelier Millinery.  I set off from Stockport and 2.5 hours later I found myself in the beautiful Smiths Court Рa quiet little oasis not far from the hustle and bustle of Regent St and Shaftesbury Avenue.

Our tutor for the day, Tina introduced us to our vintage straw cones which had been pre-stiffened and dyed to the colour of our choice in advance. It was a total joy to be gently smoothing and massaging the material instead of using the incredible force needed to block the wool cones I am used to.

It was a lovely day so once we had blocked our straw, we brought the table outside to do our stitching and to enjoy the sunshine.

I learned so many things on the day – the benefits of waxing your thread, not using more than an arms length of thread at a time, how to make a petersham trim and much much more. I am going to have to practice practice practice now so I don’t forget any of these great tips and techniques.¬† The day was very intense with so much to take in but thanks to Tina’s patience, I did get there and I am really happy with my hat. Here’s to an exciting new world of straw!

Fun with Fabric Flowers

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It was another great day of learning new millinery skills at Hat Works on Saturday 20th June. This time we were getting to grips with fabric flowers. The worksheets on the table were a little daunting, with origami style diagrams that I find difficult at the best of times. But as always Sue and Marie were on hand, with their unwavering patience and encouragement to help us persevere. I made two (and a half) flowers and covered two other techniques – it might not look like a lot but the good thing is that I feel confident to practice these techniques on my own now. This week at the studio I’ve been trying these techniques on a smaller scale and using a range of fabrics to see how I could incorporate this into my work. I’m looking forward to the veiling workshop now on the 4th of July.

First day fun

I really enjoyed my first open day at Marketplace Studios  on Sunday 14 June. It was lovely to meet fellow hat lovers and share the work I have done since I moved into the studios 5 months ago.This was the first time I have shown my hats publicly and everyone has been so supportive.

There was a great buzz in Stockport Market Place, thanks to the Vintage Village. I managed to get a very quick dash through to purchase these great hat brushes from Wayne of All our Yesterdays. All in all it was a fantastic day.

I want to say a huge ‘Thank-you’ to everyone who came in to look at the work, say hello and stop to chat about hats. Your interest and encouragement has given me renewed energy to develop my work. I’m looking forward now to getting back to the studio where I am going to be working on my free-form wool hats.

Feathers Find Me Out

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Anyone who has been on a millinery workshop or course with me will know that I have a totally irrational fear of trimming hats. I have no idea where this comes from – I think I love the simplicity of blocked shapes so much that it feels unnecessary to adorn with an added extra (millinery sacrilege to some I know). I am starting to gradually get over this thanks to the courses in different trimming techniques I have been attending at Hat Works. Last month’s 1 day course on feathers was fantastic and has really opened my eyes up to the range of techniques and qualities of different kinds of feathers to create stunning shapes and lines that would not act as a mere adornment but totally ‘make’ the hat or headpiece.

The day covered so much, we studied a vast array of feather types, learned their names, qualities / uses, looked at stunning images of couture creations, we got to handle hats from the museum collection, all on top of making our own feather corsage. There was even time for additional experimentation with feather flowers, feather curling, use of wire and beads.

Bring on the next session on the 20th June – Fabric Flowers, I can’t wait!