Forest Flame Millinery

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hat Making in London

There isn't much to say....as I have developed a cold and really still contemplating if I should take medical leave tomorrow......

Here's some pics I have take during my trip to London in June. I am not the type who will take pics of everything. I get very annoyed when people insist on taking my photo after I had said no. I get Very Very annoyed. Once, I bought something and the seller insisted to have my photo and the bought item. Really, why can't people take no for an answer. That was why I stop buying after that. Okay, I have digressed. Here was the first parasisal hat that I made.

I know what I want to learn during my course. I have a cloche block and I want to use parasisal. This was the parasisal cone I have. It costs 8 pounds. So don't think that straw hats are cheap stuff.

After soaking the cone in water to soften it, I stretched it on a brim block by pinning it taut. Then leave it to dry.



Trimmed the rest of the straw and used it to block a classic round crown.

The straw has to dry first then pressed lightly.


Joining it up is rather tricky. The crown and brim ma not fit and there's a lot adjustment. This is the part that took up a lot of my time.


Finished the joint. All's left is the trimming. I've used a quarter metre to make a simple trim and will show the completed hat another day. It's still in my hat box and the hat box is still in my luggage. I have yet to unpack, having arrived in Singapore on a Sunday and started work on Monday.

But I will show you the second hat I learned. This time it was a top hat crown with a triby brim. The brim flip a little to the side as I want to know how it is done, should I buy a block this shape.
I used sinamay this time as I like the hat to be light.


The method is different since the material is different and the style/shape is also different.


The brim is in silver and both has to be dried after blocking. The completed hat.



At this time, I was waiting for both my cloche and sinamay hat to dry. So I took some pictures of my course mates and our workroom. The table was rather congested as you can see for yourself.









I use one in this shape but I use off-white sinamay. It is still work in progress as I do not have time to stitch it up.


Rose, pressing one of our works.








Monday, June 20, 2011

RE: Millinery Course in London

I am having a great time in London! The weather is chilly at night and just cool in the day, at about 20 degree Celsius. Yes, it rains everyday but the rain here is unlike the tropical storm in Singapore. Here, it's mostly drizzle but of course, it get colder when it rains.

My cloche hat in para-sisal and sinamay hat are getting there, albeit a little slow. It's not about how many hats you make. What is important to me is the technique. I want to make it right.

No much happens in London. The tube strike on 19 June was low impact and I didn't feel it. Probably because I hardly take the tube since I prefer to take bus in London. My weak knees cannot survive the labyrinth of stairs in the underground.

Today class was fun. There are 2 African ladies who are unpretentious and they also talk very loud and fast. But they are not bossy or 'overly-competitive'.  I have met ladies who just want to make as many hats as they could and they demand Rose's attention all the time. It was always about 'them' and they disregard the fact that there are other students waiting or that Rose needs a break for lunch. When they had to wait, they get grouchy and unhappy. I hope that this great atmosphere continues for the next 4 days.

I have no pictures to show in this blog. I will edit and add the photographs when I am in Singapore. Honestly, I have not bothered to find out how to use my i-mac. And that's why I do not know how to save photographs.

Another thing that is random - I saw a fox last night at the car porch. So excited that I peeped at it from the window. He/She is a daring one. pacing up and down, he was not even afraid when cars whizzed past. I wonder if he will come again tonight?

Friday, June 17, 2011

RE: Royal Ascot, London

Here I am, in London.

While taking millinery lessons on Thursday and Friday, Rose took out a TV from her cupboard and we watched Royal Ascot. When the races started, everyone with their head bent continued one of these hat making processes, blocking, steaming, stitching or ironing. When the race ended, everyone's head up again to look at the ladies' hats and commented what we like or dislike. Unfortunately, it was the female commentator that got the most fluke from us. Usually for the non-sensical comments she made and today, it was her mess of curls that got everyone commented that she looked like a chicken in the rain.

I brought along a chocolate brown parasisal cone to block a cloche hat.

This is NOT a hat, it is just a cone. My hat block is a one-piece block and I thought it should be easy, just block one, like a felt hat. But Rose insisted hat I do it in two parts as this is the couture way. Also, I can create bespoke hats for customers who want the crown shorter or longer. Who am I to argue with the guru who worked for Rudolfs and Frederick Fox and later, made hats for the late Queen Mother. My cloche is not completed because I don't have the shade of brown thread.

So I started on a hat that I'm going to wear. Using silver sinamay, it was not enough to block the full hat. So I settle for a triby brim and a top hat crown. It's still work-in-progress, so I will show the completed picture another time.

Okay, back to the Ascot. Here's some pretty and not so pretty hats.

Ambers, the lucky filly got to wear a hat designed by Stephen Jones....and she managed to pull off orange and purple!

Here's a sample of Royal Ascot's Hats









If these hats are not enough to whet your appetites, there are, I think, 109 pictures of Royal Ascot 2011 Hats at this link.

Have a hatty day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Millinery of Etsy's Project Runway Challenge

I bought a Suacer Hat Block but has been literally sitting on it until I decided to make a Saucer hat for Millinery of Etsy's Project Runway Challenge. Members have to make a black & white hat for Royal Ascot. Of course, it's not really making hats for the rich and famous at Royal Ascot, it's just a large group of milliners whose passion is to make hats and this challenge encourages fellow milliners to create hats. But to make it proper, the gals have gotten Scottish milliner, Mark Burke, to judge.

Before I show you my hat, take a look at the processes first. The traditional art of hand blocking, endless steaming, pulling and tugging, pinning.....take a lot of time.

Hand blocking and pinning

The presser is added to create the 'dent'.


The sinamay is cut to an oval shape and wired



When I finished listing to etsy, it started to rain and the sky gets really dark. Rainy days are my favourite. Yes, I love dark and overcast sky, I love heavy downpour. I love the rain so much that I even bought the sound of rain in a CD from a shop. It's 60 min of raining sound!

Back to my hats. These 2 cocktail hats pic turn out quite clear and I am going to make more of these as I think Singapore ladies prefer smaller hats. I was looking the images of celebrities invited to Singapore Airlines International Cup. I think the female celebrities and invited guests should wear something respectable on their head during the Singapore Airlines International Cup. Not wearing is bad, but to wear something like a costume headgear is disgusting. I don't know why this gal will put on several large ostrich feathers on her head when she was wearing a blue shimmery gown. If she has come to me, I could have made something more decent looking for her.

Here's 2 delicate hats that suit Asian faces. They are available for purchase at my etsy shop.

















My recent 'love' is Kimono silk and have just placed an order from Japan. They are so lovely with their oriental flowers I will make mini cocktail hats with them. But that has to wait till July as I have quite many pieces to get ready before my trip next week.