Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chicago Millinery Classes--Block Making and Fascinators

Last week I was fortunate enough to teach in Chicago, at TLD Design Center. I've been teaching there for probably 9 years and it is always a pleasure to go back. Great students come from all over the mid-West to take not only hatmaking classes but a wide range of textile classes from the owner, Tammy Deck and other instructors. This year we had students from New York, Florida, and Kentucky, as well as Chicago.

I taught two one-day classes this year. The first was Block Making. Everyone made a least one hat block and then blocked a parisisal hood over their new block. Above, Ann and Rebecca are hard at work on their projects.

Clair and Abby begin the blocking process. Abby attended the Kentucky Derby for the first time this year and came away wanting to know more about hatmaking. Here she begins free-forming on a hatblock.

And here is her hat just as it was coming off the block. She was thrilled with the result! A few embellishments and she'll be ready for the Derby next year!

Lyn made a very simple but elegant block. Here she is blocking her black parisisal hood over it.

The next day I taught Fascinating Fascinators. One of the first things I asked the group was, "What IS a fascinator?" Of course, there is no definitive answer to that as they can take many forms. And that was my point. They can pretty much be anything you want them to be. They take no specific form! Go for it!
I demonstrated numerous skills that could be used in making fascinators: feather-work, sewn braid, free-form sinamay, fabric covered buckram, along with how to attach elements to combs, hairbands, hat elastics, clips, etc.

This photo, and the one above it, are of feather mounts created by Betty. She will probably use these on her fabulous felt hats since that is really her forte. Love the color combination!

Close-up of the fascinator base Betty created with a very dark navy braid. Nice!

Rebecca starts the final process of curling feathers on her silk covered buckram base. She created the feather mount from coq and biot feathers using the technique she learned in class.

The final product! She used an orphaned rhinestone earring as the focal point and a base for the feather mount.

Betty models Rebecca's hat.

Rebecca does the HAPPY DANCE she is so thrilled with her hat! And I agree!
Great job, Chicago class!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dyeing Sinamay and Silk Straw

I've been having a great time doing some dyeing lately. I don't consider myself having strong skills in doing this kind of work, but I enjoy it. I don't have the scientific part of the brain to do all the measuring needed to come up with specific colors. I mix up Procion Fiber Reactive dyes and frankly, I get what I get. Below you will see the results of dyeing some natural colored sinamay straw and a short piece of silk straw. More about that further down the post.

Here is what sinamay looks like naturally. While I'd get much stronger color strikes if I used bleached sinamay (white sinamay), I have rolls of the natural colored and save my white for specific projects.

I've skipped over all the messy business with powdered dyes, water, buckets, gloves, face masks, etc., to show you a fairly easy way of 'batching' the sinamay. By batching I mean letting the dye sit in/on the sinamay until it exhausts itself and the sinamay can no longer accept anymore dye. This takes about 12 hours, but I sped it up a bit by placing the dyed sinamay in plastic bags, placed it outside in our HOT North Carolina sun, and let it process. I continued to turn the bags over every hour or so.

Above you see the bags opened at the end of the day. I'm ready to remove them from the bags and wash out the residual dye.

All balled up and getting their first shower! Because these dyes are non-toxic I don't mind washing them out on the grass in the garden.

And here they are all washed out and ready to dry. Note the smaller turquoise piece in the center of the group. This is silk straw, which I loooooove! The warp of the weave is silk and the weft is straw. The sheen on this straw is unbelievably gorgeous. Gorgeous!

Here I've taken the small piece of silk straw to the studio to play with. Can you see the sheen? This particular piece is about 18" wide and about 30" long. So not a big piece of straw yardage to work with, but wait until you see the resulting headpieces I fashioned out of this.
The following pictures are the 3 styles I came up with while manipulating the straw. The straw weft is really the only way to bend the straw for design possibilities, the silk warp being too limp to make much of a design statement. If you are familiar with Jin Sin, it works by the same concept. Sinamay bends equally on warp and weft.

Example number 1.

Example number 2.

Example number 3.
Which one do you like best? Leave a comment here on the blog.