Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Draping - Diana statue part 1

This is the first proper 'exercise' in the draping course and one I've really struggled to get my teeth into. The simple fact is I'm not a fan of the garment, I couldn't imagine myself wearing it (even as fancy dress) and as such I've found my drive to be lacking. I almost skipped the chapter, but I don't want to miss out on the skills this early on so I bucked up my ideas and got stuck in.

This is the statue that is being draped:

See what I mean? Lovely statue, lovely dress, really good information about the dress and dresses from this period of history in the book, completely not the sort of thing that inspires or drives me. But still, here's the book's draped version:

I mean, seriously, this woman's a genius - it maps so well. The only real difference is fabric vs stone. Maybe one day I'll be able to do this out of my head!

Here's my version (excusing the fact I'm working in the baby's room as he's still in ours):

I had some difficulties with this. Firstly my new mannequin doesn't match up to the measurements used for the blocks in the book so I had to work out how to adjust the measurements. I haven't quite got it right as my shoulder seams don't meet, but I can learn from that. Secondly, I feel like I've created a scrunchy ball of fabric where the exercise shows a sleek gown. Close up it does have the right kind of shape, but I just can't get the drapey bits to sit right, no matter how hard I try. Hopefully I'll get there with that, and when we move on to more tailored-looking, sleek items (which is my style).

There were also two massive improvements from the last exercise: firstly I blocked the fabric better and was better able to map the grain lines of the fabric. Secondly let me introduce you to my cheap amazon mannequin - she needs a name still, but I'm really impressed with what you can get for just £25. Working with a full mannequin rather than the gaps on the adjustoform really made a difference. What do you think she should be called?

Thursday, 30 June 2016

New Course - Draping

Monday, 20 June 2016

And now for something completely different

I've just been given permission to post pictures of this commission, which was an unusual one. A fluffy, over the top tuxedo complete with built-in waistcoat and bow tie. This was for a festival a few weeks ago.

Bar the fact that I HATE working with faux fur, this was so much fun to make. I used an existing jacket and trousers to draft the pattern. I elongated everything, added a long tail to the jacket and lined the tail with even more lairy fabric. I drafted a built in waistcoat (to limit bulk) in the same fabric.

Honestly, nothing but a picture will do credit to this one.

I certainly don't think there are many people out there who could pull this off, but this guy absolutely rocks it!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The milliner learns to knit...

With renovating our house this year, sewing has been out of the window (no space and too much dust, along with needing to use all our spare time working on the house). Millinery has been tough, again it takes a lot of space, equipment, daylight and time. But these hands need a project so I raided my mum's knitting box, stole all her needles and started to knit.

Until now I'd only knitted the odd scarf or very simple hat. I'd never followed a pattern and had never made anything up. Having a baby on the way was the perfect excuse to make something small. On the recommendation of a lovely lady in a wool shop in Ludlow I picked up Sirdar pattern 1982 - an easy knit hooded baby sweatshirt.

We had decided not to find out if we were having a boy or a girl so I got a beige-brown bobbly wool - Sirdar Snuggly Tiny Tots shade 957.

I HATED this wool. It looks gorgeous but my inexperienced fingers ended up with the gorgeous bobbles everywhere. And if you make a mistake and have to go back the bobbles unwind. It gives the most fabulous texture though and I'm glad I stuck with it.

This took a few weeks to knit up and I got quicker and more accurate as I went along. I learned so much (how did people learn to knit before YouTube? I tried using books but got nowhere). I particularly enjoyed the accuracy involved in pick up and knit around the hood.

Finally I had all my pieces and stitched them together. And it looked like a real jumper. It was another step closer to thinking that I had a real baby in me. I was about 20 weeks pregnant, half way through, and it felt like forever before I'd have a little person to put in it. I was knitting in early summer and the baby wouldn't be here until mid autumn.

The sizing is size 0-6 months. I first put our baby son in it at about 5 weeks. It was very tight going onto his head. Luckily it's still going on, and much more easily so I think the neck is stretching. It's also washing really well. The hood is a good size and the fit is good although he'll be out of it well before 6 months. I decided not to put the pom poms on the hood as it looked so damned perfect without them.

Here he is the first time he wore it. I tell you what, he takes up a lot more of his car seat now.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Long time no see, and lots of news...

Good evening all, what a long time with so few posts. Hopefully I can start to share my projects again now. I haven't done many sewing projects, but we did buy a house that required full renovation. We had a brilliant time doing all the work and most of all designing the decor and decorating the house. We finished in October and have loved living here in this home we designed ourselves. I did a few sewing projects - mainly making our bedding which I'll go through another time.

A beautiful family house needs a beautiful family to inhabit it, and I'm thrilled to say that, also in October, we gave birth to a son. Most of what I've made in the last year has been knitted for him. Having him is going to make a change to the things I make, I'm excited to see where this takes me.

Here's me and Owen in our matching hats a friend gave us for Christmas (now there's a friend who knows me). Sorry for the slightly dodgy bathroom mirror selfie...

Monday, 10 June 2013

A little alteration

Oh wow, I haven't posted on here for a while! I've been so distracted with buying a house, moving and renovating the place we've bought that there haven't been many projects to write about.

I've done a fabulous little piece of work for a client in the last few weeks. She came to me with two simple shop-bought fascinators that both matched her outfit for her daughter's wedding. Both were single colour and she fancied a combination of the two.

Having made up the one she wanted I must say she has impeccable taste as the improvement is fantastic and really perks them up. I was so pleased I made up a second out of the leftovers to match it!

Here's some photos, I hope she likes it

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hen do season has started!

I did my first fascinator making hen do of the year yesterday in a beautiful cottage in Hove right on the sea front on one of the most beautiful early-spring days I've ever seen. The hen and her friends were all wonderful and made some truly fantastic headpieces. It will never cease to amaze me just how much creativity people have in them.

The location was perfect - I was able to set up on a long table, do a quick demonstration and get everyone started all together.

Before and after shots of our workspace:

Some of the hens working on their masterpieces:

And here are a few of the amazing creations they made in just one short morning:

And finally the whole beautiful group modelling their wares.

Thank you all for such a wonderful day, such a warm welcome into your weekend and all the cups of tea. I look forwards to hearing all about the wedding and wish the bride and her husband to be all the best for a happy future together.

Thursday, 3 November 2011


I wanted something simple and stylish so I looked at simple shapes with a girly flair. This is Charlotte, named after Dick King Smith's clever spider as my husband immediately referred to it as my spider's web hat.

Charlotte is a gorgeous thick grey wool beret with off white lace hand stitched around the head fitting. When you see her lying flat she looks elegant but she's got a secret and when you put her on the lace frames her and your face.

Monday, 22 August 2011

What a Summer! And introducing Vivienne

Wow, what a summer, I think this may have to go down as the greatest summer in history! I’ve been so busy and seen so much and enjoyed the company of my amazingly wonderful friends. Plus the weather’s been far better than it’s been in recent years and I’ve spent the best part of most weekends outdoors. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

Apart from the fact I haven’t got as much ‘making’ done as I’d like. But there’s always winter to catch up with that.

Here’s one of the hats I have made though – Vivienne.

I bought this gorgeous dress from Monsoon for a wedding. It’s such a statement piece that it doesn’t want to be overpowered by the hat, the hat needs to feel like an extension of the dress. Then there’s the shape of the dress. A large hat would knock the silhouette right out of the window. The dress to me is elegance and style and sophistication. It needs a special something to feel right with it.

I decided on a ‘button’ fascinator (a small circular base) with a single statement quill. I didn’t want to go for feathers as I don’t feel they reflect the style of the dress quite right. I decided to keep to the same colour scheme and to cover the base in black lace. The quill was curled in a cone shape and curved slightly across the base.

I love the combination so much I’m going to wear it for another wedding next weekend (shh, don’t tell anyone!) although I may go for lower heels this time.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Mallory is going to Ascot

I'm so excited, one of my hats is going to Ascot tomorrow. I hope Mallory has a good time, and I can't wait to see photos of her there.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


I had a dream of a jewel encrusted flower head-dress. Jumping out of bed the next morning I searched for a while for the flower I'd dreamed of. It was a lily.

When I had a think about it, I didn't want to cover the whole thing in sparkles - because this beautiful, simple flower should be BIG. But look at those lovely spots on it, those should be picked out in tiny gem stones.

I love silk flowers, but sometimes I want to play with different fabrics. I found myself drawn to some canvas. I felt that the texture of it was similar to how I'd expect the flower to feel. It looks sturdier than silk. I also liked the idea of the flower being a luxury item made out of a more traditional fabric.

As canvas won't hold a shape all that well, I made the petals out of buckram and wired them to give them structure and those fantastic curves.

The stamen are made from wire wrapped in tulle. Here they are in progress (the one on the left is completed, the other two need to be finished:

Now to the petals. I love the colour in the pink one above, but wanted to make it in blue. I painted the individual petals to make them darker in the middle and lighter towards the edges. I'm really happy with the result.

Now it was just a matter of assembling the whole thing, following the shapes of the petals I'd made. This was fiddly but the canvas was giving just the effect I was after. I added the gemstones at this point to.

Now to assemble the petals and the stamens to make the flower.

Being canvas, this is quite heavy for a headpiece so would need some pretty hardcore way of fixing it to the head. I opted for a hand made headband combined with a comb. Here's the headband, made to keep the flower secure:

It looks a bit weird, but the shape on there holds the stem of the flower firm so it can't rotate. Here's the finished piece and a lovely close-up.

I'll get some better photos later, I'm just so excited I needed to share this. It's surprisingly comfy to wear and feels really glamorous. I wish I were going to Ascot!

Monday, 16 May 2011


This is Minnie. She reminds me of a grown up Minnie Mouse. I'd love to wear her with a red and white polka dot skirt.

Minnie is a bow formed on a millinery buckram base and covered in sequins. She's covered in deep black velvet on the other side to give extra depth.

The bow is reflected in a shaped headband, which is sculpted to the head and velvet covered for comfort and grip.

This method of holding hats on is unbelievably comfortable and secure. A comb is added for those windy days.

The bow sits cheekily off-centre and is a guaranteed conversation starter. When I show pictures of this hat, it makes everyone think of something and brings a smile to everyone's face.

This hat would be perfect for the races or a really special party. The black would look equally fantastic with a sexy black dress or a bright coloured one. I'd love to see what you would partner it with.

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