Monday, November 2, 2009

Arrowmont Millinery Class--Flat Felt in the Smokey Mountains

Hello again! I realize it has been a while since I've posted to the blog, but I wanted the fundraiser to be front and center on the blog until we closed it yesterday. Thanks, too, to all who contributed to such a worth cause. Muchly appreciated!

Many things to catch up on, but the most recent are the results of a class I taught at Arrowmont School of Art and Craft in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, last weekend. Arrowmont, one of the US's most prestigious art and craft schools, is nestled up against the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and the leaves on the trees were were my students. The class was entitled Hats That Felt Good: Retro Hats From Flat Felt, and the hats were fashioned after hats that we usually think of as those in the great 1940's movies. Many of those were made from flat felt or felt skirting as it is also known. And that is what the class was based on. Scroll down for some yummy hats.

I took quite a few true vintage hats with me for the class to look at, plus some pictures of vintage hats from that era, and even a few I've made myself. To say this was a creative class is rather an understatement. There was TONS of creative spark in the class and the results showed that.

Above you see a closeup of a two-toned number. You'll see the finished product a bit down the page. Don't you love this? Fabulous job!

We had several professional costumers in the class, and McLeod, above, was one of those. Somehow I just believe they were strong influences for the class--fun, creative, willing to share, and energetic! Here she's working on one of two hats she made in class. Dang if I don't have a single picture of her incredibly detailed leaf hat. Maybe she'll send one and I'll post. (Hint.)

How many hats can you make in a weekend? Well, I think this may be a record--5!! And each and every one of them wonderful. Yep, another of the costumers.

Diane has been to quite a few of my classes over the years, and continues to impress. Here we see the front (and next a side view) of a burgandy fur felt with a snazzy chin veil.

Pretty cool, huh?

Ah, and here is the finished hat that you saw a close-up of further up the blog. Lots of tedius work in the creation. Looks like a striking water lily...with streamers.

And here are the two hats Shirley made. The one up front is an abstract version of a toque, and the other is a very delightful perching hat made from many many pieces 'patched' together. Nice.

Another two-toned hat with some biot feathers. You'll see Jean wearing this one in the final picture of this blog entry. Lots of great ideas, lady!

And here is a group shot of 5 of the 13 class members--Terri, Jean, Erin, Diane and Lynne. Stylin' with a reason!!!
For those of you who don't know, flat felt was manufactured for years and years as a millinery medium. But somehow it lost favor and was no longer produced until millinery supplier Sandra Leko of Hats by Leko found someone to make this soft as butter skirting in Russia. It is a dream to work with and can be stitched from patterns, draped, and even blocked to some extent. An old, old skill made quite contemporary by some very talented students. Good job Arrowmont students!


  1. I love the technique you taught at IMF 2009. I just dyed some wool skirting to a green with some beige stripes.

  2. Thanks, Rosie! Good for you for taking the initiative to dye some wool skirting. Love to see some pictures of the finished products.