Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Millinery Meet-Up 2014--Millinery Education Event

I am very pleased to announce an unprecedented millinery education event to be held Oct. 18-21, 2014, at world renowned Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  MILLINERY MEET-UP!

This has been a long time coming. So a little history. I was one of 4 international milliners invited to the first International Millinery Forum, back in 2007, in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia.  Being at that first forum of students and instructors gave me a sense of belonging that I'd not experienced before.  At that time no one was using Facebook or any other social media and it was quite difficult to connect with others of like interests.  I had found common ground.

International Millinery Forum has been held 3 additional times since that first one, and I've been invited to each.  And each time I come back from Australia I'm asked when we'll have something like that in the USA.  Well, now's the time!

Last year, while teaching a week-long millinery class at Arrowmont School Of  Arts and Crafts, I had a conversation with the Assistant Director about bringing a group to Arrowmont to study millinery under a number of instructors--domestic and international.  My good friend, studio assistant while at Arrowmont, and accomplished milliner in her own right, Diane Shagott, (of Hats to Di For in Atlanta, GA) and I stayed up late those nights at Arrowmont hashing out what we wanted Millinery Meet-Up to be.  We think you'll be pleased!

Please click over to to find out more about classes, housing, food, instructors, and all the other activities we'll have over 4 days!  We're having a Millinery Marketplace too!  Come see what the millinery suppliers will be bringing for you to purchase...and more!

Instructors:  Eugenie van Oirschott (The Netherlands), Wayne Wicherns (San Francisco), Daria Wheatley (Washington State), and Lina Stein (Ireland). Read their class descriptions and biographies on the website.  You'll be amazed.

Registration begins on May 12, 2014, so start your planning.  We hope to see you in Gatlinburg for MILLINERY MEET-UP!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bias Edges--Tutorial

Wow.  Well this is embarrassing.  I can't believe that August was my last post.  It was a very, very busy 2013 and 2014 is shaping up to be even more busy. I am again with a long promised tutorial--bias edges.

One of the classiest ways to trim out a hat is with a beautiful bias edge.  There are other ways to finish the edge of hats, especially big-brimmed hats.  You can add a petersham ribbon edge, as is seen on many men's hats especially, or turn the edge of the straw or felt under and hand-stitch using a pick stitch.  (If you don't know what these are I promise to do tutorials on these in the future.)

This hat is an example of the bias edge I'm talking about.  The bias can be fabric or, in this case straw...sinamay straw.

The polka dot sinamay was blocked over a flat vintage brim block.  Instead of adding a crown to it, I decided to keep the 'neck' from the block and use it as a very shallow crown.  Certainly this crown wouldn't sit down on the head, but many vintage and contemporary hats do not have traditional crowns.  Anyway, what you see in this following picture is the hat (called a platter) after it was stiffened and the brim edge wired for stability.  The edge of the brim is turned under but is raw cut on the under side.  This will be covered up with the bias cut sinamay.

Let's do this thing!

I use a very long wooden lathe piece of wood I got at the hardware store to help measure long expanses of sinamay or fabric.  The lathe is much longer than a yardstick, and since most of my bias strips are longer than a 36" yardstick, and I need a very hard straight-edge, I use the lathe. 

I lay my sinamay (or fabric) out on a large flat space.  This allows me to use the tape measure to find the bias length I need to go around the brim edge. I have already measured around the circumference of this brim so I know what that length is.  In this case it is 47".  I use the tape measure to find where, on the sinamay, I can get a full 47", plus another 2-3", which I'll explain later.

Once I have found my length of 47" + 2" (49") I mark it with a chalk (on dark material) or pencil (on light colored material), using the wood lathe to keep my line straight.

Follow closely while I explain the next step as it is a little out of order...  OK, you know how long your bias strip needs to be, but how deep does it need to be???  Here's my rule of thumb:  decide how much fabric you want to see on the top and bottom side of the brim--the depth of the bias edge.  I usually choose it to be 1/2", but you can choose whatever you like.  Whatever depth you choose is multiplied by 4.  My example would be 1/2" x 4 = 2".  That's how deep my bias strip needs to be.  So my bias strip would be 49" long and 2" deep.  Got it?  Now, add a bit more to that depth, maybe a 1/4".  Why?  Because the bias strip will need to roll over the edge of the brim and that takes up some of your bias depth.  So in actuality my bias strip is 49" long and 2.25" deep. Wire and straw or felt can be fairly thick, and that is what takes up extra bias depth as it rolls over the side. You may need to add more than the 1/4".  Sometimes I add another 1/2"!  Trust me, this will all make sense as we go through this tutorial!!

Now that we have that explanation out of the way, I need to make a parallel line to my first line which will mark how deep I want my strip to be (as explained above).  Below you see I've done this with the lathe and chalk.  I can't stress enough that you must mark that second line exactly the depth you need.  No guessing.  Use your tape measure to keep that depth line correct!

Now I cut along each chalk line to get my bias strip.

To lay down the bias strip I start on the top side.  Use the picture below as your guide.  Note that I have turn back the end in such a way as to have it lay at an angle.  It is very important that you turn back your edge.

As you lay down the bias strip around the brim edge, be sure to just slightly pull it (not too tight!) as you proceed around the circumference of the brim.  Pin as you go, just as you see in the picture.

I've now pulled and pinned the bias strip around the circumference of my brim and laid down the other end of the strip across the folded end in the picture above.  Be sure to cross that fold by at least 2".  The fold and the crossover are the 2"-3" you added to the original length in the prep stages above.

I now am ready to start sewing the bias strip to the brim edge.  I use a tape measure to mark that original 1/2" I decided would be what would show on my brim edge--1/2" on top and 1/2" on bottom. (If you are confused, please scroll back up to the top to see where this 1/2" measurement comes from.)

Below you see that my stitching (a backstitch) is 1/2" from the brim edge.  I measure each and every stitch as I place my needle.  It is very easy to sew uphill or downhill and you need a VERY straight line of stitching for a smooth edge once the bias flips over after this step. The backstitch length is approximately 1".

Once I have sewn all the way around the brim using the backstitch, I flip the bias strip over the edge and around to the bottom side of the brim for more stitching.  See my smooth edge?  Trust me, that is because I measure each stitch 1/2" from the brim edge!!

Below you see the bias strip pulled to the bottom side of the brim. And you can also see the backstitching from the top side.  I will now fold the raw edge of the bias under.  The fold will be 1/2" and should just cover the backstitching.  It should look the same as the top edge except that it hasn't been sewn down yet.

Below you see the raw edge has been folded under and I've pinned it into place to stabilize it while I sew.  And this is where it gets tricky.

Everyone wants to iron their bias strips before they place them on the hat, as they would with a garment.  However, with a stiff hat we are not able to manipulate the material as easily as we would with a garment.  Therefore we do not iron down the bias fold because we want the folds to remain rounded to help conceal stitches.  Stitches can actually hide under the folds pretty nicely.  Follow me to the next picture.

I will begin stitching from bottom to top, catching the bias folded edge on the bottom only (and under that rounded edge).  My needle goes through the hat and is angled up to pop out under the bias fold on top of the brim. (I am hiding my stitch to the top under the fold of the bias at the top.)  My needle will be angled from bottom to top (then top to bottom) as I move around the brim edge.  I am attempting to make all stitches invisible!

Said another way...I catch a bit of the sinamay, under the fold, on the bottom, then angle my needle up to the top side of the brim and have the needle come out under the fold.  If I catch a bit of the upper bias strip, no problem, but I'm not trying to catch it.  I'm trying to hide my stitch under the fold.

Before anyone asks, no I do not recommend 'hemming' the under side of the brim to hold down the bias.  It is not nearly as clean a look, as the stitching shows more, plus you cannot bend the brim to make the stitching flow smoothly.

Needle moving under the top fold and back down to the under side of the brim.  BTW, see where my bias ends crossed and made a nice diagonal seam?  That's from that original fold and crossover when you first laid down the bias strip.

And here you have the finished bias project.  I will say, bias trim is something that must be practiced.  It must also be done properly to beautiful finish or it shouldn't be done at all.  This is always a difficult technique to teach because it is so precise and even the tension of the bias and the needle and thread are a part of the process.  But when it is done nicely, with no stitches showing...well, it is divine.

Thanks for bearing with me on this one.  If you have any questions, please respond in the comments below.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Millinery Supplier JudithM--Flower Making Class

 In the United States we have three millinery suppliers.  One, located in the center of the country, is JudithM Millinery Supply, located in LaGrange, Indiana. It was my very great pleasure to have been asked by Judith to come teach a French flowermaking class in her teaching studio, in July.  JudithM offers a wide range of millinery supplies and you can peruse those on their website by clicking here.

JudithM is located in this beautiful historic building. 

As Lilly Dache is one of my favorite milliners from the heyday of hats, I found this quote quite amusing. It is painted on a door leading into the studio. If you are not familiar with Dache you need to research her hats and then read her autobiography, Talking Through My Hats.

JudithM's is in Amish country.  I have never been around the Amish and therefore was mesmerized by their mode of transportation (buggy and bicycle), their dress (what's called Plain Dress), and their simple way of life. I wanted to be very respectful so didn't make pictures of the people, but I did get a few shots of the buggies and sites around Shipshewana, where I stayed.

First day of the flower making class we spent the morning preparing the fabrics for the two flowers to be made in class--a rose and a bachelor's button.

 Note all the hat blocks on the back wall!

Funny shot below.  She brought a silk animal print blouse to cut up for petals.  This piece got plenty of sizing and after drying it looked too much like 'road kill'!   Stiff!

This was a VERY full class!  Flower making, obviously, struck a cord. We had students from Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.

 Pretty petals all in a pile...ready to be tooled into shape for the rose.


 Nearing completion!

Bachlor's Button being assembled.

Final group of roses--colors, combinations...all beautiful!

Group shot of bachelor's buttons.

Close up.

Final couple of shots I really like showing the buggies.


I'll be back at JudithM's in 2015, to teach another few flowermaking classes.  Very pleased to be asked back!

Next post is allll about the classes I taught in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Spring Millinery Classes in Atlanta (Buckram) and Virginia (Straw & Felt Hats)

So many things to tell you and report to you.

FIRST!  I am so honored and pleased to have been asked back for the 4th time to teach in Australia at the International Millinery Forum.  If you are not aware of this awesome event, get to their website and start saving those dollars.  You don't want to miss this event of a full week of millinery workshops taught by 19 tutors (instructors).  This year the special international milliner is Jane Taylor, from London, who makes fabulous hats for many clients, including many of the young Royals.  Cannot wait to meet her!

Secondly, this blog post is about two classes taught earlier this Spring/Summer.  Hope you enjoy the pictures and are inspired to make some hats, join a class, or at least wear a hat....

 Atlanta--May 2013--Hat Shapes Using Wet Buckram

Very full class and above are a few of the wet blocked pieces.  Students will be creating their own unique shapes from these larger pieces.

Starting to cover the buckram with lovely silk fabrics they brought to class.  Below.

I was very pleased with the outcome of the students' pieces.  Sorry I don't have pictures of everyone's hats.

Be sure to check out upcoming millinery classes at the Spruill Center for Arts in Atlanta here>> .

Next class I'd like to share with you was at a new venue for me...the Jacksonville Center for the Arts, in Floyd, Virgina.  Hatmaking:  Blocking Straws and Felts

Now.  If you are wondering why I was teaching in a place most of you have never heard of, let me tell you, when I go back there next year to teach...YOU NEED TO BE THERE.  This is THE most incredible little mountain town in southwestern Virginia, right of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I was in heaven!  This is a very small town of about 500 people.  And an amazing 1 in 6 is an artist of some sort--musician, potter, photographer, painter, weaver, fiber artist, name it.  And this is not 'mom and pop' craft but very high end stuff.  Seriously, you need to go there.

Friday night everyone gathers on the street for an informal music festival.  I love bluegrass music and that was what everyone was playing--fiddle, bango, upright bass, guitar, and one pretty little lady who probably 80 who stole the show with her singing. I wasn't even in class yet and I was in love with this place!

Downtown. If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know I like to showcase the great places I teach.  Hope you enjoy and appreciate this place.

The center of the music scene is shown below.  Music, craft, restaurant, fabulous,.

Locals below.  This is real, it is fun and it is magical!

Above is the Jacksonville Center of the Arts, a remodeled dairy farm, which was donated to the Center for classes.  Totally remodeled and a great space.

Class begins.  We had a class of 6, all who loved Floyd as much as I.

We started with very basic blocking of parisisal straw capelines and progressed through cutting crown from brim (and why), adding petersham, and wiring brim edges.  All very important techniques in created straw brimmed hats.

Students then free-form blocked fur felt hoods using basic blocks as initial shapes, then hand-shaping for individual hats.

A few pictures of a few of the students with their straw hats on heads, holding the felt hats.

And another shot wearing the felt hats.

I can't wait to get back to Floyd next year!  Hope you will be there too!!!

Just for grins, here are a few pictures of the trip from my host family's home to class each morning.  Oh, yeah!  Beautiful country roads.

On the way home I traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I left very early and encountered some amazing scenery.

Upcoming blog posts will feature a teaching trip to millinery supplier JudithM Millinery Supply in Indiana and San Francisco Bay area classes.  Stay tuned!