November 20, 2009

Like a wire on a bird

Filed under: Bird of Paradise hat,Millinery projects,Wiring felt bird for structure — Cristina de Prada @ 4:15 pm

Here are some pictures of how I do the inner wiring for my beautiful green bird. I have used a large brim block as a base to shape the wire. With the pattern drawn on a piece of paper I have traced a line where I want the wire to go, and that done I have placed the paper on top of the brim block and pushed small pins all along the lines where the wire is supposed to go. The bits where the wire has to bend have many pins, while there are no pins where there are straight lines. After doing that I have been able to easily measure how much wire I was going to need and cut it to size before starting. With needle nose pliers you can make little circles on the ends to avoid snags and make it easier to sew in place. I’ve sewn the wire in place by hand without getting to the other side of the felt.

I want to thank Montez for giving me the idea for the rig I’ve made to shape the wire. Check it out for yourselves, here’s where my inspiration came from:

I hope you will be able to use this technique to make your hats. Needless to say this bird is my design, so please do not copy it… I’m sure you can think of something else that is as beautiful!

March 1, 2009

DECORATE YOUR HEAD! Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones

With our tickets bought since December, and an invitation to both the Milliners lunch and the Private View of the exhibition (opening party), we decided to go ahead with the trip and not cancel despite of our recent loss.

We had a great time and it was a wonderful privilege to have been invited.

During the Milliners lunch The Hat Magazine took a picture of all the attending milliners, so be on the lookout for that on the next issue. After the lunch we had the opportunity to take a sneak preview at the exhibition and found it even more wonderful than expected.

The exhibition is divided into sections: Inspiration, the Salon and the Client, all around a center section called Creation, that reproduces a millinery workroom (with hat blocks, a conformateur and loads of other stuff, including all the trash -bits of ribbon, straw, thread- that we all tend to accumulate on the floor).

The “private view” party had an attendance of around 800 people and was top notch. The service was spectacular, they kept on refilling our champagne glasses, served oysters, lobster, raw tuna, and many other delicacies that I don’t remember. There were two sweets corners with the most out of this world sweets: macarons, raspberry mini-tartlets, mini brownies, little pots with I don’t know what… well, heavenly. As you an see in the pictures the waiters had a lovely red V&A mini-hat.

Concerning etiquette, the invitation said “decorate your head”. I made a green version of my bird hat for the occasion, and Nina made herself a high comb, reminiscent of the Spanish combs worn with mantillas by knitting raffia and making raffia flowers that she later dyed.

To my surprise NOT everyone was wearing a hat (how can that be?!!!). There were famous people, but I’m not good at that, so I cannot tell you if I saw them… only later I learnt that Manolo Blahnik -hatless- was there, along with some other heavy weights (check the V&A website and check every little bit it: , there is a video of the opening with interviews).

To see all my pictures follow this link: V&A Hats- An Anthology by Stephen Jones (Set)

Check also these cool pictures from someone else who attended the opening: Hats- An Anthology by Stephen Jones – Opening Party at V&A London (Set)

December 23, 2008

Bird of Paradise hat

One of the hats I made for the Hat Week exhibition was this Bird of Paradise  in felt.

I’ve been thinking about having birds on my hats for a long time, and after having a lot of sketches done I decided to try and give it a go. My idea at first was to cut a silhouette of a bird to then appliqué it on a hat, but once I had designed and cut out this bird I decided it deserved to be on its own.

It’s made with one of the felt cones I bought during my escape to Kopka in Germany. It’s a beautiful peach bloom fur felt cone off white in colour. With the idea of making the most out of the cone I folded it in four selctions and then traced the shape of the cone into a piece of paper. I drew the shape of the bird within that space, using up as much of the felt as possible. The result is pretty good, and the curvature of the cone is ideal because as a result the bird sits very nicely on the head (with the help of a metallic Alice Band).

The tricky part (one of the very many) was the cutting of the felt. I traced the shape with a pencil on the wrong side and used small curved scissors for the intricate parts. Once I had my first bird cut out, is when I decided I wanted it to be a hat on its own, which meant that I would have to cut another one identical and sandwich them together with some millinery wire in the middle to allow me to adjust the position of the wings and tail.

I must confess that I didn’t expect this to succeed, so I stopped taking pictures altogether (no one really wants to document a complete disaster), but here is what I did:

  1. I wired the bird following the contours, and sewing with a curved needle without going through the felt.
  2. I cut the second bird, but this time I cut it slightly outside the line, so later I could trim it to exactly the same contour as the other one.
  3. I cut a section of narrow tubular ribbon and inserted the thin metallic Alice band into it.
  4. I tried on the hat and decided on the position of the Alice band, and I pinned the ribbon in place (the idea of the tubular ribbon is to allow the band to be adjusted, and even to replace the band with one of a different the colour).
  5. I glued the two birds together section by section. I used a glue called Copydex by Pritt. It’s nice because it comes with it’s own brush attached to the cap, which minimizes the mess, and it makes a great bond.
  6. Once it was glued together and dry I trimmed the edges of the felt to even them out, and I sanded the edges slightly.

This hat (and I call it a hat because I do not like the word fascinator) had a lot of attention during the exhibition, and one of the visitors, a young lady, unpinned it from the chair and tried it on (see picture below)…  next time we will have to chain them on!

Powered by WordPress