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.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Loving the floaty chiffon tops at the moment - TUTORIAL

I am loving the floaty chiffon tops at the moment (although not when people wear them without a top underneath AT WORK and you have to sit and try not to look at their bra in a meeting...) - they're so elegant, easy to wear and smart.

So this morning, I decided to turn one of the beautiful printed fabrics in my stash into a stylish floaty top.

It was really easy to make so I decided to make a little tutorial of how I put it together.

I used 1m of fabric off the market. This is a cheap plastic georgette with a gorgeous print. I think it cost me about £2 or £3 a metre.

I folded it in half lengthways and then cut a slit in the middle of the folded side for a neckline. I cut it 10" long. Do check at this point that you can fit your head through the slit - mine only just fits!!!

I next trimmed 2" off each side of the fabric - this is to form the belt

I trimmed 12" off the end of each of these strips to bind the neck. I know I should make binding on the bias, but because the neckline's a slit I didn't worry about that. If your neck slit is longer than the 10" I used, make your strips 2" longer than your slit.

These two 12" strips form the binding for my neckline. I didn't make the binding up in advance as there's no way this fabric will hold a crease. What I did was to turn my top so the wrong side was facing out and pin a strip along the front and back edges of the slit.

This is the time to point out that you don't need to do this on a mannikin - I have used that to make the photos clearer.

Now stitch this edge with a normal 1.5cm seam allowance. As you go around, reinforce the corners of the slit by sewing a big rectangle (like a letterbox around you slit).

When you reach the edges of the strips, turn the ends over to give a nice neat finish

Now we need to hide those edges (in the following pictures the top's been turned right way out again although you can barely tell the rights and wrongs from these photos). Turn the strip over the raw edges then tuck the edges of it under to give a nice clean edge. If your fabric's like mine you are going to need a LOT of pins to hold this in place.

You can stitch this on the machine, but I prefer to do this by hand and hide the stitches.

At the corners, reinforce it by strongly stitching the two pieces of binding together

If your fabric will take it, you can press your neckline, but mine won't and I rather like the finish this gives

Next job is the belt. Pin the remaining fabric strips together

Stitch down one side and reinforce the end. Cut the thread from the machine a little longer than the whole belt. Lay this along the seam you've done and enclose it with the other seam. This allows you to pull the belt inside out really easily (sorry, I forgot to get photos of this bit). You can trim the seams before pulling through, but I decided I wanted to carry on that rounded look from the neckline so left all the fabric in there to create bulk. Finish the ends off neatly.

Either put your top on the manikin or on yourself and mark with pins the point directly below the arm pit a little lower than the natural waist line.

Take it off and check everything's lined up right. Replace the pin with a safety pin. Mark the same on the other side. Now check that you can get the top on and off with the pins in place. If not, move them out a little until you can.

Create a button hole where each of the pins is and open it up. Pop the top back on the mannikin or on you and tie the belt around it, lacing it through the button holes

You'll be able to see that your hem at the bottom is looking a bit wobbly (ok a lot wobbly)

Trim your hem to make it all straight (if you're wearing it get someone else to do this for you). I did this by eye. Don't worry too much about how neat you do it, we're going to sort that out in a minute.

Now take it off, lay it on the floor and try not to wince at how messy it looks - that's absolutely fine

As you can see, mine's very different on the left and right sides. Fold it in half down the middle, line everything up really carefully and neaten the edges up into a nice curve. This is where the see-through fabric comes into its own - you can see all the layers at once.

Open it out and make any adjustments you need to.

Finally, if you have an overlocker (serger) or the appropriate foot for your sewing machine, finish the edges off with a rolled hem. If you don't a zigzag stitch will do fine. And if you're really keen you could hand-roll the edge or do something else fantastic like that.

And that really is all there is to it. This took me less than two hours this morning to make, and that included the time spent on working out measurements, design and all that. This is a really easy project and I think it looks brilliant. I've been wearing it all day and it's fantastic to wear.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Vintage Vogue 1094

I bought this pattern ages ago in a sale. I've been trying to find a good reason to make it up for ages and the wedding of one of my closest friends in the world seemed perfect, especially seeing as there was a bit of a mad hatter's tea party and I could see a little bit of Alice in it.

I love the design. The bands around the neckline are gorgeous and the big pouffy skirt is fantastic, but most of all I love the dropped waist.

The pattern is fantastic. I read up on the fantastic selection of reviews on, which mostly suggested that a third band is required around the neck as there's actually only two decorative bands. I'd definitely agree with this and did this on my dress.

I made up a toile of the bodice, which fits beautifully - I had made adjustments to bring it into a size 10 hips, 12 waist and 12 bust - pretty minimalistic adjustments but I usually expect to adjust further from there. I found the fit to be spot on (although when I made up in a softer fabric I found it a little large around the bust and waist, but not a whole size).

The fabric I used was a roll-end off the market. I got just over 2.5m of beautiful soft 100% cotton. It's cream with a brown, pink and grey pattern like leaves growing up it in delicate stripes. I also bought a brown cotton to line it with and with the intention of giving it a little more structure. I had intended to make a petticoat until I saw this at beyond retro and the colour match was just too perfect - just take a look at them together

Full Chiffon Petticoat Dusty Rose

The problem was that the pattern called for 4.4m of fabric. I had to work hard to get the pieces onto the fabric. I had to cut the back piece as two pieces and put a seam in the middle, and did the same with the central band. The skirt length was completely down to how much I could fit on the fabric. I knew I had some leeway as the reviews showed a longer skirt than I wanted and the pattern showed several inches of hem, but was nervous to cut a whole 6 inches off the bottom of the pattern! I did a lot of maths with the petticoat and skirt lengths and figured I could probably manage it.

I didn't get any progress pictures as I got really stuck in and didn't notice until I'd finished. The pattern itself is so easy to follow and goes together beautifully. It's strange - the lining and outer fabrics are stitched together at the start and treated as one throughout - this worked beautifully with my plan of building up the soft fabric with the thicker lining. It's strange to work with though as all your edges are showing and not hidden by the lining. I also like the internal belt, I didn't expect that to work so well.

The only other thing that I changed was to add a belt. The dress doesn't need it, but with current fashions I found that the dress looked a bit bland without it. I tried a few of my own, but with the dropped waist they just rode up and didn't look right. So I bought a buckle and copied the bottom of the bodice to create a belt in the same shape as the dress. I had no idea how that would work, but it was an absolute dream.

So here it is, with the hat I made to match it. And I've added a little bit of the bride and groom in there too as they looked fantastic. Congratulations Robyn & Andy - I hope you're having a brilliant honeymoon.

A royal wedding hat fest

Oh boy did I have fun watching the wedding this morning. Firstly the bride and groom looked stunning and everyone looked really happy. It was a beautiful ceremony and it was great fun watching everyone arrive and leave.

But more importantly the HATS. Oh my word they were fantastic!!!

Kate's done so much for hats in this country - it's wonderful to see a young woman wearing so many beautiful hats and she wears them so well. It's only right that there should be so many beautiful ones at her wedding.

There's a good photo gallery at Vogue here which captures a lot of the outfits. Not my favourite one though...there was a beautiful simple grey dress with a fantastically clean lined hat and I have no idea who it was on - I've been searching for hours but I cannot find it! If anyone can help I'd love to see another picture - I'm pretty sure I saw it while the 'lesser' royals were arriving...

Either that or I'd love to be a bridesmaid in Pippa's dress...

I was so excited by hats watching it that I had to make a little something while I was watching (well, I never can sit still) so here's a little fascinator inspired by the royal wedding, in a nice regal purple.

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