Forest Flame Millinery

Monday, June 11, 2012

My 'simple' button cocktail hat

There are some tutorial at youtube where they teach you how to make a quick and simple cocktail hat using lots lots of hot glue and a plastic disposable bowl. Hey, to each his own. If you want to do that for yourself, by all means go ahead but don't expect anyone will pay for that. But this is how we, milliners, go about to make hats. It took me the whole of today to get this done.

My friend, Nancy [Nancy Wu Millinery] from Hong Kong gave me this beautiful cranberry red velvet fabric. It was thicker and better quality than the one I bought in London. I chose the smallest button block in my collection and it was one that I bought online while in Singapore and had it sent to my London address last year.

Hat blocks are the basis of all blocked hats. Milliners make shape from wooden hat block. I've covered them with cling wrap to protect the surface. Since I started making hats, I am slowly building up my collection of hat blocks. It's not something you should rush as hat blocks (new or vintage) are VERY expensive. Mine range from S$40 to $400 and some of the expensive ones are used and vintage stock. Button shapes are less expensive and I have many sizes in this round shapes and these shapes are more popular with Asians who have smaller faces and they either don't like or dare not wear anything medium to large size.

So after I made the round shape out of buckram (cotton canvas fabric), I covered with the red velvet that Nancy had given me.

Using the same fabric, I cut different petals. Some petals are stiffened with wire and bondaweb.

Forming a bud with stamens and I stitched one petal and a time to form a flower. I also made a few sprig of veiling and stitched onto the button hat.

Look, I don't use hot glue gun. I hand-stitched everything and I can say proudly that I am very neat in my stitching and always strive to achieve that no-stitch look. Meaning? You can look under the petals and you can't see any visible stitching. What's left now is the lining. I will have to line the underside before I sew on the elastic and/or add wire tooth hair comb.

This shape is my latest acquisition to my hat block collection.  I made a bridal hat in this shape using sinamay (banana fibre) and sew lace and pearls BUT after I finished, I cannot remember where I have put it.  How can that be? So I blocked again but this time on buckram because I want to do à la Jane Taylor piece where she use beaded fabric on many of her hats. This is in buckram and I had iron interfacing to protect the beaded fabric that I am going to use. Alas, it didn't work because there is an indent in this shape and the stretchy fabric refused to conform to the shape.


I think I will cover with silk and sew little lace applique on the dented area to hold the shape.

In the meantime, I will make another red button cocktail hat. The first one is always trial and error. I have found an easier way to do the flower petals and will make another one. As for the first one, I usually keep as reference. One day when I have accumulated many of such pieces, I may sell them at a reduced price.

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