August 27, 2007

I went nuts and bought a bunch of millinery e-books

Filed under: Hat book and magazine reviews — Cristina de Prada @ 4:53 pm

Cover of Feathered Creations - copyright of how2hatsWell, I told you about the half price sale of millinery books right? Finally I got around to do my shopping.I was browsing through the website and thinking: well, this one looks nice… aaah, that one could be interesting… wow,I would love to have that one… boy, I wonder how that’s done… bottom line (and 67 euros later), I bought 7 e-books. These are the ones I bought with my comments:

Stitched Straw Hats: Many people must wonder how these hats are made, as I did wonder once. This ebook gives great insight on this, and as far as I know it’s the only book (electronic or otherwise) on the subject. I have searched high and low and have not found any, so this is a jewel. I would have preferred if the technique had been shown using the original straw sewing machine, but I guess it is more useful to everyone else if it’s show on an ordinary sewing machine, and the techniques apply to both. This booklet shares the expertise of milliner Jane Smith, who is an expert in period hats for theater and film. You can make a hat of this kind by unstitching a cheap commercially made one, which is quite a good idea since it’s not easy to come by this kind of material.

Sinamay hat 2 (I already had the first volume): I’ve never made a hat out of sinamay (although I have some waiting to be turned into one), but I’m glad I have the two sinamay books because they give you the insight and tips that need to be known in order to make a successful sinamay hat (ok, I have not made one, but it’s full of pictures and I’m pretty confident I could and will make one). As with all the books, the pictures are great and allow you to get an idea of things, like the fact that you’re going to have wrinkles on the bottom of the crown, no matter how much you push, but those will be camouflaged later by a band. On volume 2, they share a wonderful technique for working with open weave sinamay. It’s really clever!

Silk Flowers e-book: I did a flower making course a few years ago at the home of the wonderful (as a person and as a hatmaker) dutch milliner Marianne Jongkind. I’m sorry I don’t remember right now the name of the person who gave the course! It was a great experience and I was amazed to see that a set of wood handled irons are used for the purpose. I bought the set of irons that are waiting there for me to get into action. This ebooks explains how to make a beautiful full bloom rose using these tools.

Silk hat book: Explains how to make a silk fabric hat, using buckram for stability (I didn’t know you could iron fabric to buckram, apparently it needs to be double sided buckram). The result is a virtually wrinkle free brim (top and bottom), and a beautiful crown (although on the crown some glue is used, something I personally don’t like).

Finishing Touches: Shows how to make hat decorations from sinamay: spirals, curled roses with leaves, lilies with stamens and open loop daisies. Patterns are included.

Finishing Touches 2: It explains how to make a ruched band made from silk, a sinamay feather (amazing!), how to use fabric supplied by the customer to finish a hat (together with sinamay), a frayed edge band with leaf fan (leaves made by curling the edges of the sinamay) and a ‘crazy’ hat-band using scraps of sinamay.

Feathered Creations Book: I like this one because it shows how to make cute little sinamay feathered hats without the need of a hat block. As always, plenty of pictures to guide through the process.

I don’t regret buying any of them, but I’m wondering whether it will be very expensive to print them out, it would be nice to have a printed copy. If you are tempted to buy one of these make sure you do it before the end of August when the half price sale ends!



  1. OK, you got me thinking…I already learned how to make a silk hat from our fabulous Kate, but wonder what new tricks I could learn from the book. Give: Where do they use glue on the crown? Does it explain how to make a wide brim silk with buckram that doesn’t “pop” (flex like an umbrella in the breeze), and does it explain the difference between double sided and single sided buckram? I was not aware there was two types!

    You have yet to make a buckram hat out of anything? I use buckram a lot for cocktail hats…my favorite was my heartshaped velvet one, and the St. Patrick’s Day shamrock one, both of which you might have missed.
    Dang. It would be such a blast to have a milliners with buckram go wild party.
    And what on earth is a sinamay feather?

    Comment by jill — August 27, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

  2. Buckram is a woven cotton fabric that is heavily sized. Double faced buckram is actually buckram fused to a crin layer to make it much stiffer for crown tips and other areas that need a very stiff form. Since I haven’t read the e-book I don’t know exactly what she’s doing with it. Would be very interesting to see. You can adhere any buckram to fabric by spraying the buckram with ordinary spray starch then Ironing it to the fabric. You can also fuse two pieces of buckram together this way. (Jill, we did that in class for pillbox tips.) Also, if it is a very good quality buckram you can layer fabric over the buckram and just steam it to shape and the fabric will adhere.

    We spent an entire semester working on buckram hat forms when I was in millinery school then later I thought they were too old fashioned. Now, I love making them again since you can create wildly different and fun shapes with them. Am working on a new one this week.

    Looks like you will have lots of fun exploring your e-books! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. K Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — August 28, 2007 @ 7:47 am

  3. P.S. Thanks for the Jane Smith link. Wouldn’t it be fun to take her class!? K Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — August 28, 2007 @ 7:54 am

  4. I think we three should each go buy a lottery ticket, and should any of us win, pay for all us to go take the five day class, while staying at a really cool B&B. Anyone else reading this who wants in on the plan, (Marie?) just go ahead, get the ticket and let us know when to start packing.

    Comment by jill — August 28, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

  5. Hey, duh! I didn’t see your comments! I built a new rule on outlook to sort out the comments and I did not see that there were four messages there.
    Well, down to business. I believe Jill this book is not interesting for you, I don’t think there will be any tips you don’t know yet. I also seem to remember there is a video in youtube showing how to make a silk hat (did I pick that up from your blog Jill?). The glue is used for the top side of the crown (it’s a flat top crown with straight sides), after the top is done by stretching, glue is used on the lower edge making the bias strip of fabric (side) stand up above the crown. Once it’s dried it’s pulled down over the side strip of buckram (also glued), all the while the seam is open (the side still open, later glued). I don’t know if I make any sense, but personally I despise using glue on hats, so it’s not my kind of thing, period.
    Re-reading the instructions, it says the buckram is “36 inch buckram double sided (with iron-on glue on both sides)”… I don’t think I have any of that, and after ironing it’s not perfect but a few imperfections are still visible.
    The edge is wired… wouldn’t that keep it from turning inside out? I’ve never seen a hat pop… don’t you need hurricane winds for that?! 😉
    Finally, a sinamay feather is like a ribbon feather (it’s in one of my books), where you stitch a wire on the middle and fray the edges, but it looks cool.
    Yes, made a few hats out of lined buckram, the tilted boater in my “about” page is one of them.
    I’m in. If we win the lottery we’re on a learning trip! (perhaps it’s time to start buying lottery then, otherwise it will not happen).

    Comment by cristinadeprada — August 28, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

  6. By the way, I’m looking ath the youtube video ( and I’m wondering… what is Rigilene? Looks like a binding to put on the seams so they don’t give, do you use it? She also seems to use it on the brim instead of wire. Also, I’m asking myself what she uses as interfacing because it looks like eventually she irons it and I wonder if then the whole thing fuses together. The hat turns out really neat, and the drawstring headband is a great way to make it one-size-fits-all.
    I much prefer this kind of hat to the cardboard hard (or at least it looks like it) hat of the ebook.

    Comment by cristinadeprada — August 28, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

  7. Hi again, Cristina,
    Sounds like the e-book technique is a quickie (glue) version of the sewing technique that is more traditional. Like you I much prefer the couture look of a sewn hat. Glue just looks cheap to me.

    I’ve used Rigilene. It comes from the U.K. and is often available in the notions dept. of sewing shops. It is used usually as boning but works well in place of wire for some kinds of hats. I’ve used it in edge of my Claudette hat (on my website in you want to look).

    I know what you mean about rigidity of buckram for brims. They are usually too stiff for modern wear and, of course, melt if you get caught in the rain. I’m sure that willow was much better when it was available. Alas, no more! I’ve been experimenting with new kinds of interfacings and quilting to try to come up with a better method for today’s look.

    Looked thru a Swiss fashion mag yesterday and was pleased to see more hats. Louis Vuitton and Hermes are showing very expensive hats in the Milan shows – one was crocodile! Perhaps the trend will trickle down. K Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — August 29, 2007 @ 9:16 am

  8. Hi Kate,
    Your Claudette hat is awesome, and the edge looks nice and round, so I guess Rigilene is something worth looking into. Some time ago I bought what looks like a very thick nylon wire (well, not wire, it’s transparent) on my visit to this millinery supplier (in Dutch only unfortunately). It’s described as Perlon , and that also works nice to give a flexible brim (perhaps this is the manufacturer?
    I hope more hats get into the street…

    Comment by cristinadeprada — August 29, 2007 @ 11:47 am

  9. Love your site, very inspiring and love your bird of paradise. Candyxx

    Comment by Candice Herne — February 24, 2009 @ 4:56 am

  10. Hi there, so glad I came across your site, its simple wonderful. I was hoping to find out what the techniques were for obtaining a curled edge to sinamay, as used for creating a leaf edge?

    Great work,

    Comment by charlotte — March 21, 2009 @ 12:30 am

  11. Hi Charlotte,

    I don’t have much experience working with sinamay, but I suggest you buy this back issue of HATalk: Issue 4 July 2006. In that issue they explain with pictures how to make the rolled edge. The system they propose requires the use a hairdryer and on a later issue a reader suggests to use a hairdryer stand (used at hairdressers) to avoid the danger of holding the hairdryer between the legs.
    Here is a link where you can look at the back issues:

    Hope it helps, and thank you for your compliments on the blog!


    Comment by cristinadeprada — March 21, 2009 @ 1:58 am

  12. Hello Cristina, A milliner in Ireland recommended your website and I just wish to thank you for some great info I got from reading your various categories. You are very generous in giving information, tips, tricks and much more; it is very appreciated. In Ireland hat making has little recognition and we all remain somewhat underground and hidden, it is difficult to get information so your blog is great.

    I do have two question’s, I am trying to source quality veiling for some time now perhaps you could guide me to a supplier that you have use and were happy with the quality and variety. The other question I have, do you know anything about the wire used to make stablizers for small hats without using combs, hairbands or elastic loops; I would love to use this method for my small cocktail hats but the proper wire is eluding me.

    If there is anything I can help you with, I would be delighted to share info.

    all the best,


    Comment by Linda Mckay — April 5, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  13. Hi Linda

    It’s amazing that you ask me about wire. I’ve always wanted to try the wire method (eight shape spring) for small hats, but I couldn’t find the wire (everything I found in the uk was soft wire). But I’ve been doing some research and just today I’ve bought galvanized iron wire (1.2mm) from which is quite cheap and I will check if it works. It’s not covered, but for what we want it we don’t need it covered as we will be covering with something else anyway (like tubular ribbon, mokuba has nice ones). I will report on how it works.

    Concerning veils, I was recently in Luton and paid a visit to Randall Ribbons. It’s a wonderful supplier and the employees are really kind. I was surprised at the amount and quality of the veils (and feathers for that matter). Check it out and let us know how it goes:

    And thank you for your kind words about the blog.


    Comment by cristinadeprada — April 5, 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  14. I was looking to find information on sinamay as it’s a new fiber new to me. I was born in Luton England but have lived in Texas most of my adult life having married an American. I started out working in the hat trade as an apprentice at age fifteen, and I am now sixty-two. This past summer I spent six weeks in England and my sister asked me about that part of my life as her family research revealed many relatives before us worked in the hat trade. Luton was one of the largest hat towns at that time but sadly almost all is gone. I began researching machines I used to make straw hats out of bolts of straw plaits and came across this site in England. I wrote to the man and he asked me to write my story from that time as there is little about of the hat trade in the sixties. I did and here is the link.
    It will give you an insight as to what it was like to make hats in a factory setting. I am now experimenting with milinery once again and having so much fun. I want to share my ideas with others and have asked my daughter to set up a blog for me where others can see my work. I was a designer of clothes for many years until my husband’s long illness so designing is not new to me. However it has been awhile as he died and I went through a grieving process. Linda

    Comment by linda kilpatrick — November 10, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  15. Thank you Linda for writing. I have visited Luton too and I found it very sad that everything is almost gone. That is life I guess, but it’s sad nonetheless. I am happy that you took the time to put in writing what you remember so that we can all enjoy it. If there is anything I can do to help you let me know, but I suspect you know so much more than me. I am terribly sorry about the death of your husband… my dad died 18 years ago and my mom is still grieving him, as are we… then my father in law died this January… It is difficult to adapt to such loses. Some people leave a big mark in our lives and even after they are gone they stay forever in our hearts and we never stop missing them.

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 21, 2009 @ 9:50 am

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