November 1, 2008

Making a simple flower with flower making irons

A few years ago I took a (very short) course on making artificial flowers using special irons, and after the course I bought the full set of irons. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t attempted to make a flower since, that is until this week. A small pattern hat I’ve been sewing (another variation of the one I created from a Plasticine shape) was in real need of some cheering up and I decided to try my hand at making a flower from the same fabric (a wonderful fabric by Gratacós). Unfortunately this fabric is not made fully of natural fibers, so I’ve had to be very careful with the iron temperature (too hot and the fabric would simply melt).

I’m no expert in making flowers, but here are some pictures of the process and of the results, as well as the pattern. Click here to get the PDF of the pattern. The pattern is loosely based on a pattern from a Japanese book, you can check it out at this link.

First thing to do is to brush the fabric with hat stiffener (the chemical smelling/bad stuff), make sure you do it on a ventilated room or outdoors. In my case I cut circles slightly larger than the pattern and then brushed the stiffener. Hang the fabric outside to dry (the stiffener will evaporate).

Once the fabric is dry one has to cut the flower pattern pieces (3 large ones and 4 small ones). Notice that one of the petal cuts goes all the way to the center which will allow us to overlap one end over the other (one petal over the other).

Now it’s the time to bring out the flower making iron and the cotton fabric covered rubber base (I bought this foam rubber base along with the irons, and covered it with cotton fabric). The rubber base is springy and allows us to push down with the iron and get the right shape.

Because my fabric is not made of natural fibers I had to be extremely careful with the temperature of the iron. It’s better to start with a lower temperature and build up . I pushed down on the center of each petal and then on the center of the flower. When pushing down the iron on the fabric the result will be an indentation that gives the petals a three dimensional feel.

My flower is made in three sections. The center section is composed of one large and two small pieces. Start with a small piece, overlapping the ends, wrap a second small piece around and finally the large piece. Make it so the overlapped pieces fall on different sides. Pin in place. The lateral sections are made in a similar way to the center one but using only one small and one large piece. these are squashed and put at each side giving the flower a nice effect of volume. Pin, arrange, and when you’re happy with the result, sew in place.

To finish off the flower nicely I made a small pad of stiff interfacing covered in the same fabric., the idea was to sew the flower to the wrong side of the pad, making it more stable and easier to sew onto the hat.

Because the result with just the flower was a little bit too classic for my taste I added a halo of biot feathers. These are strips of goose feathers that come sewn in a ribbon and are sold by the meter/yard. Because they are on this ribbon base they are easy to sew onto projects. I sewed the feathers first and then the flower, underneath is the good side of the pad.

The result on the hat is stunning, I will soon post a picture of the finished hat.

October 28, 2008

KOPKA – A little piece of (hat) heaven

Filed under: Millinery material,Millinery suppliers — Cristina de Prada @ 5:56 pm

Pigeon holes with wonderful felt cones A short while ago my friend Nina and I took off to Germany  in order to be there for Kopka‘s special Sunday sale (I believe they do this twice a year).

Kopka is a wonderful supplier of straw and felt hat bodies. They have a wide range of felt and straw finishes and what I love the most, they have a huge array of luscious colours available.

Their special sale day was the perfect excuse for a trip there, and as a result we bought some wonderful stuff at very good prices, as well as some stuff from the current collection because the colours were simply irresistible and had a 10% discount if paid in cash.

We were the first ones at the door on Sunday, some ten minutes before the opening time which was 9am, but they invited us in, offered us a cup of coffee and showed us some wonderful hospitality.

They were delighted that we had boarded a plane just to visit them!

The shop/warehouse is very welcoming, and for the occasion they had set up a long table with coffee, tea, chocolates (mmmhhhh…), cake, and later on the day also quiche. That meant that we had no trouble spending 3 hours there shopping to our hearts (and bellies) content. Note the fun flower and felt arrangement on the background.


Table ready with drinks and snacks for us shoppers!

The special sale products were on the inner part of the shop, neatly stacked and colour coded. The stuff I bought from the sale ranged from 4,95 to 25 Euros. The stuff that was not on sale had a 10% discount, which made it also very attractive.

Material on offer

Here below is my loot piled up on the grass. My favourite item is the green cone, it’s from the current collection and it’s gorgeous:

My Kopka loot

I totally lost it by buying two beaver fur capelines at 58 euros each, I hear they make the ultimate hat for a gentleman because they are extremely light and very sturdy. Kopka only recently started carrying them again and they only come in black and grey (I bought one of each). The top quality gentleman and cowboy hats back in their heyday, were made of beaver fur. Here is a picture of the beaver fur felts I bought:

Beaver capelines - just the best!

I don’t really know how I will go about working with them… possibly I will try to work them without stiffener, if they end up too soft I will add some afterwards.

The current collection of straws and felts is in a special room, very beautifully displayed:

Straw cones displayed in baskets  Straw capelines from the current collection.Felt capelines from the current collection

Not all colours change with the season, Kopka has seasonal colours and standard colours that are different depending on the material (fur felt, peach bloom, wool, etc.). Most of the colours cards can be seen on their website, although it’s only an approximation to the real colour as it depends very much on the monitor displaying it.

If you decide to pay them a visit, or to buy something from them because you saw it here, please let them know! I had an interesting conversation with Wolfram Kopka  (the owner) about how some professionals choose to share what they know, and some prefer to keep what they know a secret… he reckons success will be for those who share. Let’s hope so!

August 16, 2008

Beehive hat “crossroads” – another hat with the new block

Beehive hat crossroads version

Here are some pictures of the block and of the process of making this hat (click on any of the pictures for an enlarged view).

This is the seagrass cone used for this hat. People not familiar with the hatmaking process will be interested in seeing this (often people don’t understand how the whole thing works!):

Seagrass cone

And this is the new block, that I love, bought at Van der Broek block makers in the Netherlands. Their website is in Dutch, but soon they will have an English version:

Hat block - beehive


I’ve simply sprayed the cone with water and blocked the top (it’s an easy shape to block). the headsize opening sinks into the block, so I’ve used a sort of brace to get a neat finish. I made the brace following a tutorial from the incredible and highly recommended The Hat Magazine. It’s from one of the early issues, and I had not found a use for it until now!

Blocked seagrass cone  Underside of the block  Headsize brace

Below are pictures of me, pinning the brace in place with my wonderful new tool, the pin pusher. I discovered the tool through HATalk e-magazine. It was one of their monthly giveaways, and when I contacted them about it they said I could buy it directly from them. Two pin pushers (one for me and one for Nina!) cost £19.85 including shipping (from UK to Spain), which I find very reasonable.

I’m in love with my new tool. You insert a pin which is held in place (inside a shaft) by a magnet. Then you just push the pin in place (it has a spring). Soooo easy, no more fussing with hammers! In order not to push the pin too deep I have used a collar that came with a drill bit I bought some time ago and that is fixed in place with a little screw.

Inserting the brace on the headsize opening My new pin pusher! Love it! Close up of the pin in place

…There’s much more… click where it says “more” to see the rest.


May 26, 2008

Didn’t you know you needed one of these?

Filed under: Millinery material,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 11:05 pm

I love wacky vintage millinery tools (and there’s a lot of those).

Nina was using this one today:

Vintage millinery tool 

It’s not a torture device although it looks like one. It’s meant to be used when you block a hat in one piece (instead of separating brim and crown). This way you can remove the crown block (and use it again if you need to) and use this contraption to make sure the headize oval does not lose it’s shape. Cool eh?!

Here are some more pictures:

Wider view of the tool in position Close up of the brand and patent mark

May 24, 2008

Nina’s Hat for Ship and Shore

Filed under: Hat for ship and shore,Millinery material,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 4:31 pm

Image with her Hat for Ship and Shore Nina with her hat for ship and shore!

She couldn’t resist making one for herself, but…who can blame her?!

Made using vintage materials, she looks very handsome in it!

And she has lent me vintage material so I can make myself one with them:

Vintage millinery material

May 1, 2008

Introducing Mimi to you – she’s got a head for hats!

Filed under: Millinery material — Cristina de Prada @ 11:57 am

This is MimiA birthday present from Peter that has arrived in advance. Mimi is my new friend and fellow hat lover (she is not happy unless she has a hat on her head!).

I had dreamed of having a DecoEyes mannequin head but I believe the company is no longer in business because although their website is still out there, they don’t reply to emails. I had my eyes set on Matilda but unfortunately it was not to be, at least not for now.

So I started looking for an alternative and I found my dear Mimi (officially known as Mimi3). A US seller on Ebay that ships overseas had it, and with the exchange rate as it is, it was a good deal. She was well packed for the journey and arrived in about 10 days, which is pretty fast if you ask me.

What do you think of Mimi? I like her big blue eyes and flapper hairstyle, she also has a beautiful long neck, and looks great with a hat on.

She’s made of fiberglass, so she’s very light, and her make up seems to have been spraypainted, although some of the details might have been hand applied.

I had to use scotch tape to keep in place a couple of the hats I have taken pictures of.

Because her headsize is 22″, all of my hats fit her (loosely, which is not a big problem).

Here is Mimi wearing some of my hats:

Mimi with blue hat I made for my mom Mimi with blue hat right view Mimi with blue hat left view Mimi with the white bow hat 

Mimi with white bow hat - front view Mimi with mustard color cloche hat Mimi with black cloche front view Mimi with black cloche side view

March 12, 2008

Japanese Easy Hat Templates from Clover

Clover hat patternsApparently something that has existed for years, I discovered today some fun looking hat templates made by the Japanese brand Clover.

I came across these while I was (as tends to happen) looking for something else. My current project is a sewn fabric trilby hat from a Japanese book (Stylish Cloches – スタイリッシュクロッシュ) that I’m doing at the same time as Jane, from Glorious Hats. She bought the book because she saw it here, in my blog, and then we decided to try one project together (although we’re in opposite sides of the planet). One doubt we had was whether the patterns came with seam allowance, but I was pretty convinced (after doing some research) that all Japanese patterns come without the allowance, that has to be added later on.

Well, now I have my doubts about that, as I’ve already made the lining for the hat and it seems huge! I wish I could read Japanese!!

Anyway, I started a search on Internet trying to find a Japanese milliner that might be willing to help us with this dilemma. I’ve posted comments on a couple of blogs and I hope something comes out of it. While doing all that I have found these fun looking templates. The beauty of them is that they are made of hard plastic, and come with a little wheel to mark the seam allowance. So you trace the stitching line first, and them roll the wheel around the template to mark the allowance… pretty clever!

Take a look at the promotional video. Alright, it’s in Japanese, but it’s really fun to watch!

If only we could buy this stuff… anyone for a trip to Japan?

By the way, this is the hat we’re going to make:

Trilby from Japanese book

March 9, 2008

Organizing vintage veil samples

Filed under: Millinery material,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 1:09 pm

Little pieces of vintage veil that came with the lot

Years ago I bought on eBay a vintage veil lot. It was really exciting when I received a huge box filled to the rim with veils of all kinds and sorts.

Some are in very poor condition, but some are great. I have little bits of some, and a big bolt of others. With such an amount of veils it was difficult to have a clear idea of what I had in order to use it on my projects.

I had thought of cutting pieces and glueing them onto cardboard, but the veil is so fragile that I decided against it.

Samples of my vintage veils, cleverly organized.Then, the other day, I saw this Martha Stewart tip for using a business card organizer to keep the spare buttons, beads, thread, etc., that come with store bought clothes (and that tend to be missing when one needs them)…

Back to my veils, the minute I saw that on the Martha Stewart website I realized it would be great for making a sampler of all the veils that I have. I have temporarily labeled them with a white piece of paper that I’ve inserted along with the veil on the business card slot. There I have written a description of the veil, whether it’s wide or narrow, and how much I have.

Because I’ve taken the sample out of the end of the bolt (which is the part that is wrinkled and has been exposed to light), the sample often looks faded and wrinkly, but I prefer it that way, I refuse to cut out a square piece from the center, good part, of my veil stock.

Isn’t that great?!! I’m really happy with this solution, and it can be applied to so many other things!

Here are some more pictures (click to enlarge):

Samples of my veils, neatly organized. I already had these at home!

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