December 2, 2009

My hats at GRATACÓS

Filed under: daily life,Millinery projects,Millinery trivia and events,My hats at GRATACOS — Cristina de Prada @ 11:51 pm

If you happen to be in Barcelona and get a chance you should visit GRATACÓS (Paseo de Gracia 110), the best fabric and accessories shop in Barcelona where you will be able to try on and buy the hats from my mini-collection, PAJAROS (Birds). My friend Nina Pawlowsky and I share a window and a large table display inside (shown on the picture). The hats with a cut design on the left are Nina’s designs, the bird hats on the right are my babies.

Si pasas por Barcelona te propongo visitar GRATACÓS (Paseo de Gracia 110, esquina Diagonal), la mejor tienda de telas y accesorios de Barcelona, dónde podrás ver y comprar los sombreros de mi mini-colección, PÁJAROS. Mi amiga Nina Pawlowsky y yo compartimos un maravilloso escaparate y una zona interior de exposición. Los sombreros “troquelados” a la izquierda son diseños de Nina, los sombreros de pájaros a la derecha son míos. Ya sabes que pedir a los Reyes Magos!

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: http://chapeaudujour.blogspot.com/2008/11/quills-and-spills.html

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!

November 2, 2009

Mini hat is out of the block

The hat is out of the block. I used scissors to cut the edge following the string line. I like the downwards curve of the edge, which I believe works nicely with the general curviness of the hat. When I took that picture it still needed a good brush up, though.

I’ve added chemical stiffener on the inside because the hat was too soft.

Below is a picture of the inside of the hat. Whereas on the outside you cannot see any wrinkles, on the inside and with the lateral light that is hitting the hat one can see some wrinkles around the “headsize”. The grosgrain has been sewn in place using pink thread, which cannot be seen on the outside because I go in with the needle on the same place I came out (but on a different angle).

I’ve had to sand the edge a lot to get rid of irregularities which are my very own fault for doing a lousy job with the scissors. The edge also needs to be cleaned with a wet cloth to get rid of the white dust.

The trimming is the only thing missing (to tell the truth it’s finished, but you will have to be patient to see the result!)

These days I feel a need for simplicity and hang on to the old adage “less is more” (or more recently the KISS principle).

Since this blog is called “The rantings blah blah”, here goes some ranting…

I feel there are too many overloaded, heavy handed, unbalanced hats and fascinators on the market (with this tendency to add everything but a kitchen sink on the hat/fascinator), that I feel an urge to steer clear of that and to condemn it.  The simpler the hat the more difficult it is to make. A simple elegant hat is a challenge (I’m not saying my hats are elegant or simple… but one does strive for that).

Lets do this exercise: Pick up your favorite hat book, old fashion picture of hats, or vintage fashion magazine. I bet the hats you love the most are those that are striking without being overpowering, those with a simple line, those where you say “Wow, that lady looks amazing!” and not “Wow look at that hat, that cannot be comfortable, poor woman!”

Having said that, there are hats where there’s a lot going on (as an example, the wonderful butterfly hat by Philip Treacy) that work wonderfully (or so I think). I think making a complex hat look becoming and in a way “simple” is an even more difficult task.

There, I said it.  That’s what I think of the proliferation of fascinators in the market. I have nothing against the fascinator as long as it’s well made (no glue thank you) and it’s becoming. I also encourage the people that only make fascinators to branch out and learn more, because there’s so much more to learn and there is a lot of joy involved in becoming a milliner… and that is why I write this blog, to share what I know.

October 27, 2009

Sneak preview of cork block Mini Hat

For those who cannot wait until the hat is finished and want to know how the blocking of the Mini Hat is going, here is a sneak preview of the hat block in use. I have used a black furfelt cone with spikes, and as you can see there is a lot left over after blocking it.

I’ve started by spraying water based sizing on the cone, wrapping it up in a wet cloth and microwaving it for 1,5 minutes to soften the felt and get the sizing to sink in. I’ve manually stretched the tip a little bit and then I’ve started blocking. Around the collar there was a lot of excess felt, which I’ve managed to reduce by ironing with a wet cloth, pushing down (but not too much), all in an effort to encourage the felt to shrink in that area.

It has taken some time but it has worked!

Here are some more pictures of the blocked felt. First the back (and most troublesome part of the blocking process because it took a long time to get it to shrink down):

And here is a picture from an angle. As you can see I did not need to use any pins, the string that locked on the groove was enough to keep the felt in place. I do not know what I will do with the edge when I unblock it. I think that for a folded edge I should have made the groove lower down, so possibly the only option will be to cut the edge.

October 26, 2009

Mini hat block out of cork

Those who have been following me for a while might remember that I did a mini plasticine (aka Play-Doh) hat block to use it for making straw braid hats (like these ones).

I’ve been thinking for a while that this block would make a beautiful felt hat, but if I blocked felt on it, it would soon lose its shape, so today I set off to make a cork version of the block.

The result is quite close to the original, but one must keep in mind that the curves of the original block where due in great measure to the fact that plasticine is very malleable and lends itself to that kind of look. Reproducing that curviness with cork has been difficult. You can imagine how difficult it has been by looking at the pile of glued cork layers (4 centimeters each) that I started with. When I started I had my doubts it would work out, but I’m pleased that it did in the end, after hours of filing and sanding away.

Now there’s only one thing left to do, to block a felt on it!

You can see all pictures I’ve taken of the process if you follow this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63536356@N00/sets/72157622669749288/

All pictures related to making a cork block (you might remember I also made a Homburg hat cork block) can be seen if you follow this link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/63536356@N00/sets/72157602793993432/

Will be back soon with pictures of a felt mini hat made using this block…

October 7, 2009

Up for a little Sunday shopping?

Filed under: Millinery material,Millinery suppliers — Cristina de Prada @ 4:33 pm

Better late than never, here goes my advice for next Sunday.

Pack your bags and go on a little excursion to Brühl , Germany, for this years special KOPKA sales day!

Sunday, 11 October 2009: 9h a.m. until 4h p.m.

Those who have been following my blog for a while might remember my visit to Kopka last year for the Special Sale, and might have already seen the pictures of my loot (above, picture on the left) and of the shop (pictures on the right, the bottom right picture is of the shelves with the items on offer with color coded tags, each color being a different price).

If you also decide to buy something from the current collection you will get a discount, but only if you pay cash, so remember to take money with you as the offer items must be paid in cash, and if you want a discount also.

I wish I could be going this year, but I wont be able. I hope one of you goes and tells me all about it.

Happy shopping and sorry for my delay in letting you know about it!

September 9, 2009

Reseña del libro electrónico “Plumas Fantásticas” – Review of e-book in Spanish “Fantastic Feathers”

(You will find the review in English below! This is a review of the Spanish translation of the book -the original is in English-, so I’m starting in Spanish).

Todos aquellas personas hispanoparlantes que tienen interés en aprender a hacer sombreros bien saben que prácticamente no existen publicaciones en castellano que traten del tema. Para el que sabe inglés eso no supone un problema ya que en ese idioma se pueden encontrar muchísimos libros, y algunos de gran calidad. No obstante hay gente que no tiene el privilegio de saber idiomas y que se ve en gran manera limitada por ese hecho ya que los traductores de internet sirven de poca ayuda cuando se quiere entender un libro.

Intentando salvar este vacío en el mercado acaba de aparecer traducido al castellano un libro en formato electrónico publicado por How2hats que se llama Plumas Fantásticas. Han creado una página web completamente en castellano para atender al mercado hispanoparlante llamada www.comohacersombreros.es  donde venden los libros electrónicos online (de momento solo venden el de Plumas Fantásticas aunque si la iniciativa prospera traducirán más).

Para el amante de las plumas a quien le gusta hacer tocados éste es un libro interesante ya que da una visión introductoria del mundo de las plumas, describiendo los varios tipos que hay disponibles en el mercado, así como diversas técnicas que permiten realizar tocados o decorar sombreros.

Este libro electrónico contiene entre otras cosas:

  • Listado de material necesario
  • Descripción de las diferentes plumas
  • Proceso de teñido de plumas y otras técnicas
  • Confección de un arreglo y aplicaciones
  • Creación de una base sencilla de tocado en sinamay
  • Fotos diversas de tocados que se pueden realizar usando las técnicas que se enseñan en el libro

El libro lista proveedores de plumas, tinte y sinamay que venden online desde el Reino Unido (aunque envían a España). No obstante, con un buscador tipo google, y usando los términos en castellano que aparecen en el libro, es posible encontrar proveedores en España. Uno de los problemas que suelen tener los libros especializados traducidos al español es la baja calidad de las traducciones, pero afortunadamente, en este caso, la calidad de la traducción es muy buena y las instrucciones son fáciles de seguir.

El libro contiene 20 páginas dobles y 62 fotos color, no obstante algunas de las fotos ilustran tocados y sombreros para los cuales no hay instrucciones, ya que simplemente muestran algunos de los usos que se pueden dar a los arreglos de plumas. He de decir que algunos de los tocados que se enseñan no son de mi estilo, pero francamente eso da bastante igual ya que lo importante es aprender las técnicas y aplicarlas al estilo propio y eso es lo que ofrece el libro (la foto es de un clip de pelo que he hecho usando una técnica del libro).

10 de Septiembre: acabo de actualizar los links a la web en castellano que estaban mal!! Disculpas!!

English text (this e-book is also available in its original language, English, and this review is partially applicable):

All of those Spanish speaking people who have an interest in learning to make hats know darn well that there are practically no publications in Spanish on the subject. For those who understand English, that is not an obstacle because many books can be found (some of very high quality) that are written in that language. Unfortunately there are many people who don’t have the priviledge of understanding English and who are greatly limited by that, since online translators dont help much in understanding a book.

Trying to save this gap in the market, the e-book Plumas Fantásticas, published by How2hats, has just been released (a translation from the original Fantastic Feathers e-book).  They have created a website entirely in Spanish to serve the Spanish speaking market named www.comohacersombreros.es where they sell e-books online (at the moment they only sell the Plumas Fantásticas e-book, although if this initiative is successful they will translate more).

For those who love feathers and making fascinators this is an interesting book that gives an introductory look to the world of feathers, describing the different types of feathers that are available in the market, as well as the different techniques that allow you to make fascinators or trims.

The e-book contains among other things:

  • List of necessary material
  • Description of the different types of feathers
  • Feather dyeing and other techniques
  • Making a feather mount and its uses
  • Creating a simple sinamay fascinator base
  • Pictures of several fascinators that can be made using the techniques shown in the book.

The book includes links to feather, dye and sinamay suppliers that sell online from the United Kingdom (although they do deliver to Spain). Nevertheless, using a search engine like Google, and using the Spanish terms from the book, it’s possible to find suppliers in Spain. Specialized books translated into Spanish often suffer from poor translations but fortunately, in this case, the quality of the translation is very good and the instructions are easy to follow.

 The book contains 20 double pages and 62 colour pictures, although some of the pictures show fascinators and hats for which there are no instructions, they are there as a source of inspiration to show what has been done by other people using those same techniques. I must say that some of the fascinators shown on the e-book do not match my style, but frankly that doesn’t bother me because what matters is to learn the techniques and apply them to your own style, and that is what the book offers (the picture  above is of a hair clip I’ve made using a technique from the book).

September 10, 2009: I’ve just updated the links to the website in Spanish, they were bad!

July 25, 2009

Graham Smith and the Woolmark Company collection

These amazing pictures belong to the Woolmark Company collection at VADS.

My attention was immediately caught by the side tabs on the “helmets” to hold sunglasses in place and avoid having to squeeze the temples of the glasses inside the hat, isn’t it just great?!  The first picture in particular looks very compelling and could fool people as being a modern picture of retro style clothing.

I also find amazing the sculptural quality of the “bowl” hat that defies gravity, sitting on a chignon, and the wonderful quality of the clothes in the way they are cut and assembled.

All three hats were made by legend milliner Graham Smith. You can learn more about him if you follow this link.

The International Wool Secretariat, now The Woolmark Company, was established in 1937 to undertake research and the global promotion of wool. To that end, they built up a large library of promotional photographs and accompanying press releases which they generously donated to the London College of Fashion in the 1980’s when they relocated and were short of space.

Credit for the pictures:  © London College of Fashion/The Woolmark Company

Top:  Coat in white brushed wool. Hat in white kid. Manufacturer: Dumas & Maury, 1965. Designer Clive (Evans).
Helmet: Graham Smith, Sunglasses: Oliver Goldsmith

Middle: Coat in white wool with curving seams. Hat in white straw. 1966.
Fabric Manufacturer: Moreau
Designer: Clive (Evans)
Model: Ann Milling
Hat: Graham Smith

Bottom: Tunic suit in ivory whipcord. 1965.
Designer: Clive (Evans)
Hat: Graham Smith, Sunglasses: Oliver Goldsmith

Be sure to explore the VADS website, it’s full of jewels. A search under the heading “hat” will deliver you hours of fun.

July 20, 2009

Accessorize! Web exhibition from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

ACCESSORIZE! 250 OBJECTS OF FASHION & DESIRE. I saw this book at a bookshop and fell in love right away. It’s a publication of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (ISBN 9789086890453 , 19.95 euros, 272 pages, 250 illustrations, bilingual English/Dutch). When I got home and looked at it closer I realized that the book is the companion to the Rijksmuseum online exhibition about accessories, an exhibition that has been there, without me knowing, since 2008! Both the book and the website have been designed by Joost van Grinsven and Cristina Garcia Martin.

Because it’s an online exhibition it doesn’t matter if you’re at the other end of the world, you can see it, and I recommend it highly: Accessorize 250 Objects of Fashion & Desire.

The book is sorted by colour, with gorgeous pictures of hats, umbrellas, parasols, fans, shoes, gloves, handbags, combs and more, it’s both in Dutch and English.

The same items that are on the book can be seen online, with the advantage that they can be sorted, not only by colour, but also by category, material, period and topic. The images can be zoomed in a lot too. The only thing that I miss is a 360º view… but I know it’s asking too much!

The Rijksmuseum has four Schiaparelli hats in their collection. The lady who bought and donated the Schiaparelli hats said (I quote from the web) “Hats by Elsa Schiaparelli were not meant to give a woman style or make her more elegant; her clients already had that! Schiaparelli hats were designed to attract attention. Her often unorthodox models were always so beautifully made that they never made the wearer look ridiculous”.

I recommend that you view out the exhibition from top to bottom and click also on the little film icons to watch the extra items, but if you want to go directly to hat business these are the links for you:

-Link to the hats part of the exhibition: click here.

-Link to the feathered hats animation: click here.

I was lucky to see some of hats from the Rijksmuseum collection in person back in 1998 during an exhibition entitled “Chapeau, Chapeaux!, hoeden van 1650-1960”, of which I have the catalogue that was issued (and the poster hangs in my living room). These are three hats that were on that exhibit, one of which is on the online one:

This text is from the online shop of the Rijksmuseum describing the book:

Right now, so it seems, accessories are almost more important than clothes. Unique to this day and age? Far from it. For centuries men and women have used accessories to embellish their outfits. For it’s that one designer bag, those handmade shoes or that unique scarf that makes the difference between trendy, rich, original, stylish-and not. It’s true today and it was true in the past. The Rijksmuseum has a collection of exceptional accessories from different eras and different countries-from brightly-coloured fans to gold-rimmed spectacles, from lavishly embroidered gloves to couture hats with extravagant feathers-and almost all limited editions, for that was the way it was. A source of inspiration to one person, an object of desire to another, but always a delight to behold.

July 12, 2009

Sewing my label with a cross stitch, old style

Filed under: millinery techniques and cheats,Sewing label with cross stitch — Cristina de Prada @ 5:15 pm

I was curious how a label would look if stitched the old fashion way, with a cross stitch, so I gave it a try.

I love the result with contrasting thread and although the process is time consuming it looks wonderful.

I’ve seen this way of stitching the label referenced in two books: First in How to Make hats by Ruby Carnahan, and then in How to make hats; a method of self-instruction by Rosalind Weiss.

But although I have searched the web, I have not found any picture of a vintage hat label sewn this way. If you have one let me know, I would love to see it.

How do you sew your label on?

Update July 20 2009:

 Since I wrote this post I have come across this picture of a J. Suzanne Talbot (Paris) label at the Rijksmuseum website. The label is sewn in place with tiny stitches. What I find amazing is that the gros grain is sewn with such huge visible stitches…

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