Thursday, 29 April 2010

Website Relaunch

I have relaunched my website today on - I especially love the gallery and the photo on the home page.

I want to thank my lovely husband for building it for me - he's worked so hard to get it set up to my exacting requirements. I hope you all like it as much as I do.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Oh to have a hat for sale on Bond Street...

I received an invitation from Kensington & Chelsea College last week to submit a hat for selection by Fenwicks of Bond Street’s millinery buyer for sale or return at Fenwicks.

I find this really exciting as this was how I found out about the course I’ve just finished. I saw a note in Metro about the display in Fenwicks of student work, went to see it and was so impressed I applied for the course the next day. I dreamed at the time of one of my hats being there on show a in a subsequent display. Imagine if that could happen one short year later!

Now, there’s 2 problems. One is that the selection will be made on the 4th. I’m away at scout camp all weekend so that means I’ll have to deliver my hat by Friday this week! The second is which hat to sell? They suggest unusual without being quirky or weird. The sort of hat a lady can wear to Ascot or a wedding or a society event. Something that takes in current trends yet also stands out.

There’s only one piece that can meet these criteria. The coursework hat. But to be honest, the one I made may be my pride and joy, but it’s just not good enough for Fenwicks. There’s a few little glitches and imperfections that make it not quite good enough to sell.

So this weekend I started blocking a copy. But with differences. So it’s better. I’m going to have the opening at the front rather than the back so it’s more visible. And it’s going to be a little deeper and less tall to let a little more light in. I’ve stiffened the felt a lot more so it’s more structured and strong. And I’m going to support the shape all the way around with the wire so it holds better. I’m also going to do the mirrors differently, but I’m not 100% sure what I mean by that.

Well, I blocked the crown three times this weekend. I just can’t do it perfectly enough. But I think I’m mostly there now. My husband’s been amazing and said he’ll do all the shopping and cooking so I can get it done. I’m very excited but very very scared.

The last three weeks of my millinery course

I’ve had this post half-written for over a month now – really need to get it finished!!! I blame the new job, but I’m all nicely settled in now so should have more energy in the evenings to make things and tell you about them!

The last few weeks of my millinery course flew by. Firstly I finished blocking the blue flower hat. I’d forgotten to put cling film on the brim block and this taught me why. The felt stuck to the block and as I pulled it off I found it to be stained and damaged by the well-used block. It’s not too bad, and it’s on the underside of the brim so I can still finish the hat off, but it was an essential lesson to learn. I wired the brim and put the two pieces together and I fell in love. I love the huge brim and how it looks with the flower on the crown.

I also blocked a large black felt hat as a one-piece based on these Chanel adverts: (oh boy do I LOVE this Chanel collection – how I wish I had that kind of cash, or the ability to recreate some of these beautiful dresses and jackets) The shape’s pretty close – now I just need to get the brim wired and add some black satin ribbon and I’m off.

I had my tutorial. I turned up with all my research and design work, beautifully presented in a pair of stylish black folders. I’d spent what felt like forever up to my elbows in pritt stick at the weekend getting it all written up and was glowing with pride. Caroline seemed really happy with what I’d done, and especially with the printouts of my blog, showing everything I’d learnt in the course. So a really successful tutorial until the end when she asked where the finished hat was. WHAT??? But this is the DESIGN tutorial!!! I thought we had until the end of the course, the next tutorial, to do that. “Yes”, she replied. “The course ends next week!!!”

No pressure then to get the hat made from scratch. I blagged that I’d got it started (honest, gov – no-one believes you) and headed home a little early to get it started. I raided my felt stash for a hood (yes, I hadn’t even ordered the stuff for it) and stiffened it that night before bed. I spent the next couple of days blocking, eternally grateful for the practice pieces I’d done as I zipped around all the mistakes I’d made before. It took me until the Sunday night before it was finished, but I was absolutely thrilled with the results. It’s exactly like the design with the silk lining, the mirrors twinkling inside and a sense of adventure.

Caroline was really impressed in the class and suggested I found a way of entering it for competitions. WOW!

We ended the course with a group meal which was a great giggle. While we were in the restaurant, one of the waiting staff came up and asked if she could show her friend in the kitchen my hat. I was so thrilled that other people like it too. Almost happy enough to make up for the fact that there’s no more millinery course until September!!!

Wow – what an epic tale! Well, here’s the hat for your enjoyment...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Sewing again

Well, I put sewing to the side to focus on my course for the first third of the year, but I’m back at it with a vengeance right now. I’ve got a pile of fabric, patterns, thoughts and ideas and not enough time in the day to get them made up. So the focus will start on work clothes (which are generally falling apart – very bad look).

So I made up a toile of McCall’s 5464.

I was surprised to measure up as a 10 throughout (I’m usually a 12 at least and never the same size top and bottom). I just made up the main pieces – one piece cut on the fold for the front and two pieces for the back – and I haven’t bothered to put a zip in (I’ll just get my husband to pin me into it). It went together pretty well really – the princess seams at the bust puckered a little – I’ll tack those for the real thing – and I sewed it to itself several times – not a pattern issue, incapable seamstress issue.

My husband was away when I made it up so I couldn’t get him to help me fit it properly, but when I pulled it on I got a very strong impression that my boobs and bum are not going to fit in this...and if they do I won’t be able to breathe, walk or sit down (but I think it makes my boobs look pretty good – sadly that’s not what pays the bills at work). I looked up some reviews on and they all loved the fitting so I checked to see if I’ve demonstrated some fumbled incapable measuring skills (or if my tape measure has inexplicably stretched). No, it seems fine. But a very very good excuse to learn to fit properly (another one and I still haven't managed it!)

The dress itself though is definitely worth any further work this takes. It’s gorgeous.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Another finished hat (finally)

Oh my, I’ve been very very bad at keeping this up to date, haven’t I!!!

Well, I’ve been very busy with the new job, and have been away almost every weekend. I’ve been writing the post about my last couple of weeks of my millinery course for about a month now, I promise to get it up in the next week (there, I said it, I have to now!)

So, it’s a completed hat post today. The purple cap from my new blocks. I’ve really been struggling with how to decorate this one as nothing seemed quite ‘right’ to me. I settled on a plaited strip of black felt across the front, which looks fantastically stylish but not really enough.

Then one day a clip I bought some time ago fell downstairs and landed next to the hat. The colours looked good so I tried attaching it and my word the hat went from good to jaw droppingly fantastic! I absolutely love it. I really adore the shape of this block – casual enough for real day-to-day wear, but structured enough to look that bit different to the baker boy caps that are everywhere. It’s quite a tough one to block as the peak rolls all the way under, so it involves a lot of shrinking, but it’s definitely worth it. I’ve already bought loads of different coloured hoods to try this on and I’m also thinking of seeing how it handles straw (not sure how to get it off the block though with that rolled edge...the felt was tough enough...)

Anyway, THREE yes get that, THREE random strangers complimented me on it today which has made me walk with my feet barely touching the ground. I'm thrilled.

And finally, I’ve decided that to fund my next millinery course (I spent considerably more on materials for the last one than I spent on the course fees themselves – it really adds up) I need to sell off some of my babies. So I’ll pop a post up as they appear on Etsy (if I can bear to be parted from them)

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