January 31, 2008

Finished cloche from German vintage block #3102

Filed under: German vintage hat block #3102,Millinery projects — Cristina de Prada @ 6:45 pm

The finished cloche!The hat is finished!I don’t know what you think… what do you think? My mom thinks it’s too plain like this and it needs “something”, but I cannot think of what to add there because the shape is really nice and after all it’s all about the shape with this hat. I’m open to suggestions!Here are other views of the hat:Top view of the cloche Right side of hatLeft side of cloche Inside of cloche with new cheapo woven label

January 23, 2008

Little project: pin cushions

Filed under: Beautiful things,Other things I love,Sewing projects — Cristina de Prada @ 10:54 am

Picture of the two pin cushions I've made

 I saw this wonderful tutorial on the internet for a super easy pin cushion and I could not resist.  I’ve used a little scrap of vintage fabric that I found at my mom’s house which is nice and colorful.

I wish I had found nicer buttons, but even so the pin cushions look nice (probably not so if you look too closely!).

I also want to tell you about my cheap but chic woven labels that I’ve ordered for my little projects (these are not for the hats). I almost forgot to sew them in! They are actually “school labels” and cost below 8 euros (less than 12 USD) for 72 labels (includding shipping). I’ve always liked ladybugs and that being one of the drawings available I thought it would be fun. Check out the labels on the blog of my cousin, just perfect for her knitting projects.

Business side of the pin cushion My cheap woven labels for little projects Other view of the pincushions

18-february-2008: I’ve included this post under the “sewing projects” category.

January 22, 2008

Blocking the German vintage block #3102

Filed under: German vintage hat block #3102,Millinery projects — Cristina de Prada @ 11:37 am

Felt half way being blockedThe hat is well under way as you can see. I’ve used reed to mark the folds on the hat, like I did with the purple hat, and I’ve learned something in the process…

…I’ve noticed that when the pin is hammered vertical (talking now about the uppermost fold line), the felt pushes up as it dries and this shrinking causes a loss of definition (the felt is no longer in contact with the wood). I guess this happens because there is more felt surface on the upper part and that results in more shrinkage. On the other hand, when the pin is perpendicular it holds the felt in place much better.

Actually if you look at the picture on the left it looks like I was completely drunk (which I wasn’t, I promise) when I did it. The idea in my mind was that if I pinned in different angles the reed would stay in place, which is a valid idea, but the expected direction of the shrinkage should also be kept in mind.

Detail of the block... how did they block the felt?One funny thing is that when I look at the existing holes on the block I cannot, for the life of me, understand how they blocked it. The pin holes are all over the place, around, not on the fold, so I would love to hear your theory on this because I’m completely baffled by the markings.

Underside of block, notice excess felt to be trimmed awayOn the left you can see the underside and there are a few interesting things to notice. One is the hotel shower cap I’ve used to protect the block which was a suggestion from Meg, second is the fact that I’m using reed on the underside also to clearly mark the headsize and have an easier job when trimming the felt. And finally the fact that there was sooo much extra felt that I had to trim some of it in order to finish up the work (the picture is before trimming).

The whole process took some time because I had to carefully pin the reed on every fold and although I microwaved the felt first (using non flammable sizing) , I also had to periodically steam the felt (old fashion way) to pull it into place. Also, although I’m using hardened steel pins they tend to bend when I hammer them and that gets to my nerves! Any suggestion about the pins is welcome, but I don’t want to use the millinery push pins that are on the market because those make a huge hole on the block.

Soon I will post pictures of the unblocked felt (Jill, no worries, I managed to get it out), which still needs some trimming.

You can look at all the pictures I’ve taken if you follow this link.

January 17, 2008

Wonderful hat blog DES CHAPEAUX – many wonderful hat images

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 3:10 pm

Modes et Trabaux, magazine I've bought from Ebay FranceI’ve just spent an undisclosed amount of money in buying diverse vintage French fashion magazines from ebay France. Just go there and search for “mode” and then select the option “Jornaux, Revues, Magazines”… the sky is the limit.

Doing some research about the magazine “Le Petit Echo de la Mode”, of which I’ve bought 64 issues dating from 1947 to 1954 I’ve come across the wonderful blog of Pita and Frank called DES CHAPEUX.

It’s the most wonderful thing, packed with quality scans of covers and features in French magazines. WOW!!! What a wonderful source of inspiration, I could spend hours browsing this site.

Time to make some tea, sit comfortably in front the the computer and start enjoying!

January 11, 2008

New Project: German vintage block #3102

Filed under: German vintage hat block #3102,Millinery projects — Cristina de Prada @ 10:53 pm

Left side of the block Front view of the blockRight side of the block Back view of the block Underside of block... apparently model 3102

With the Homburg finished, now it’s time to move ahead onto the next project.

I’ve just received a block I bought on Ebay from a German vendor. I was a bit weary because the feedback for the vendor was not as high as I hoped, but then I saw that some people had bought blocks that were obviously in very bad condition (you could see that in the picture) and afterwards posted feedback saying “hey this block is crap”… well duh!

My purchase went well and I got my block well packed and in good shape. There are lots of tiny pin holes all over, but that is normal on a used block and was visible on the pictures. I wish I had known the size though (which is marked on the bottom, 57) but on the description it said all blocks are between 56 and 59 cm… I wonder if I had asked if they would have replied with that info.

Anyway, the block is wonderful but I paid way too much for it so I’m not going to tell you how much exactly.

Next thing for me will be blocking some felt over it. I’m going to use a mustard colored velour cone that I have in my stash, and to be honest I have NO idea what the final hat will look like… funny isn’t it? I have the block but I cannot visualize how it will look on the head. We will have to wait for that.

I’m not too worried that the block is one size too small because I believe it will be easy to stretch a little bit (fingers crossed!)

That’s all for now… Stay tuned for more!

P.S. Sorry about the  lousy quality of the pictures! You can click on them to enlarge (for an even blurrier -but larger- image)

January 10, 2008

Finishing the Homburg hat – Final details!!

Finished Homburg... yipeee!

The Homburg hat is finished, pfiuuu! I cannot believe it, I’ve been dragging this project for weeks (months?).

The inside sweatband is in. I pinned it in place, marked with a pin where it should join a the back, took it out and sew that bit by machine. The sweatband itself (grosgrain) has been slip stitched in place (well, more of a stab-slip stitch because the felt is too thick to do a real slip stitch and I didn’t want the stitches to show) .

For the outside I’ve used a wide grosgrain ribbon, same color as the edge and the inside band. I’ve curved it with the iron (spraying first some water on it), and it has required some adjustments to get the right curvature so that the ribbon sits perfectly flat on the felt. Where the ends meet I’ve stitched by hand but before that and to avoid unraveling I’ve machine stitched a few millimeters from the edge on both sides (it also has helped to keep the fold in place).

Hand stitched sideband, bow will go on top. Click to enlarge.After that, it was time for the bow. I’ve done some research, and in these pictures (click on the picture to enlarge) you can see different bows from Stetson hats (taken from this wonderful book).

As you can see from these close-ups the bow itself is not really a bow (a real bow would have three thicknesses plus the thickness of the ribbon underneath. These bows are made with a single layer of ribbon, ends tucked under half a centimeter. The knot of the bow is also made separately. The whole thing looks surprisingly professional in the end, but a real bow would have been too bulky.

Click to enlarge - frm the Stetson book of Schiffer PublishingI find it quite peculiar that the fold of the bow goes towards the underside, but I think it’s done like that for a practical reason, because otherwise dust would gather there very quickly.

I have chosen a folded central knot because I think it looks much nicer.

What I have not done is iron any of these because it would have taken the fluffyness and natural look away. When stitching every end the whole thing stays very much in place.

Here are pictures of my bow (click on pictures to enlarge):

Underside of bow, tucked edges, click to enlargeThis will be the knot - do not iron! - click to enlargeThis is the knot sewed on the back

Back of the bow ready to be sewed onto hatBow pinned on hat ready of hand stitching (stab stitch)Finished bow1

Have you see the wonderful initial? I got that one from Nina, she has a wonderful stash of vintage initial letters and I think it’s a wonderful final touch!

Vintage metal initials for man's hatsHere is a bunch of initials, so you can get an idea how they work. Basically you just push them through the ribbon and fold the metal edges (quite soft).

You can take a look at all the pictures related to the making of the hat by clicking on this link.

You can take a look at all the pictures related to the making of the cork blocks that were used in making the hat, and the making of the hat itself by clicking on this link.

Thank you everyone for your support! I hope to post pictures of Peter with his hat on soon!

The Homburg hat is finished!… tomorrow the details!

Finished at last!

More on this tomorrow…

January 8, 2008

I made an apron with my new sewing machine!

Filed under: Beautiful things,daily life,Other things I love — Cristina de Prada @ 12:11 am

Helena showing off her new apronI’ve been learning how to use my sewing machine (I’m really happy with it!).

For those who know how to sew it must seem ridiculous that I’m so excited about making a simple apron, but I’m awfully proud. To avoid complications I have made a simple thing without using a pattern, just a rectangle of brown corduroy, pink rick-rack edge and then pockets and tie made out of a thick cotton/linen fabric that I had stashed away.

Yesterday was “three wise men” day. In Spain that is the day when children (and adults) get their Christmas gifts. The three wise men come from the orient in ther camels loaded with gifts. My apron was a gift for Helena, my brother Jose Manuel’s girlfriend, and she liked it a lot and inmediately tried it on. My mom, said that she wanted one herself, so I’m working on that now (the Homburg, almost finished, is not forgotten!).

Detail of the apron

January 4, 2008

Homburg hat – ribbon on the edge…

Filed under: Homburg for Peter,Millinery projects,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 2:28 pm

I’ve redone this posting because the html code had gone completely crazy and the more I tried to fix it the worse it became! 

I’m happy to say the hat is progressing (finally!):

Homburg with the edge binding finishedI’ve used the sewing machine to stitch the inner edge. I realized too late that the two ends had to be sewn in advance (I thought first to fold one edge over and put the other one on top, but the three thicknesses were too much). I fixed it but it was a tight spot to sew with the machine so it was not easy to (and I did not) make a straight line.

New sewing machine!

My new sewing machine has done a great job stitching through the felt and grosgrain. The foot can be lifted really high and that makes it easy to work with felt. Obviously the crown was on the way but I worked around that somehow, and I had to stitch further in than I wanted, because otherwise the feed dogs would not drag the felt.


Grosgrain pinned ready for machine stitching


Machine sewn edge before turning over

  Here you can see how I cut the top corners of the grosgrain to reduce bulk (they were popping out when I folded the ribbon which looked terrible), I carefully dabbed some white glue on the edge to avoid unraveling. I have also cut a notch on the felt so that the extra thickness can sink in there and be less obvious.

Ribbon trimmed - felt notched!

In the next picture you can see the edge turned over, ready for slip stitching by hand.

Edge turned over ready to be hand finished


The back looks pretty neat, all things considered. 

View from the back of the finished binding


Next thing is the sweat band… working on it! 

January 1, 2008

Homburg hat – ribbon on the edge (deleted – check the updated one)

Please check the updated posting here (I had to delete the one here because the html had gone crazy).

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