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Monday, September 30, 2013

Other obsessions - yes I've created another blog

I have another blog - called 'This creative obsession' which is what I have - a creative obsession.  I must create, I must make art, I must craft. It is an obsession. If I don't make art I get tetchy. It's a need.
The process usually starts with me becoming smitten by something like a pocket watch case or a miniature book and I become completely absorbed in it. 
Sometimes it involves deconstructing things like ballet pointe shoes, sometimes it means learning a new skill like bookbinding. I have to find out as much information on the topic as I possibly can. I just throw myself into whatever it is.
Many of these activities don't fit easily in the 18th century or even vintage genre so I created a new blog because I wanted somewhere to document things I create.
I am hoping it will also help me to complete more projects - because if I become obsessed with something new, old projects tend to be left unfinished. 
I've started off with a couple of my current obsessions. - pocket watch cases and ballet pointe shoes.
So if you feel like popping over to see what I am up to I'd be thrilled.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Making over a 60s broad-brimmed hat into a cloche Part 2

I'm afraid I haven't made as much progress with this cloche hat as I'd have liked but then eyesight comes first.  And of course, life has a way of throwing in distractions by the handful.
Anyhow here is my progress to date.  Photo 1 is the front view.
I've reblocked the crown and reattached the brim.  Then I cut it down to the shape I wanted and wired the edge. I'm now more than half way around the edge with the grosgrain. This is a very time consuming part as you have to go in and out of each picot. PHEW! 
Here's the back view with the very narrow brim. I've always liked this aspect of 20s cloches as many ordinary hat brims hit the back of my neck which pushes them cockeyed if I tilt my head back.  

I wish the brim had been a little broader to start with so I could have a more graduated curve to the side of the brim but I still really like the overall look.
Photo 3 is the side view where you can see the angle I've had to negotiate around with the grosgrain. 
And lastly a detail of how I've slightly gather up the grosgrain around that angle. 

I'm still tossing up how I'll trim it but I am leaning towards softly draping fabric to cover the join rather than a straight hat band. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Making over a 60s hat into a broadbrimmed cloche part 1

Yes again.  I can't help myself.  
This time I am making over a late 60s fine straw hat into a 20s style large brimmed cloche!  After all you can never have too many cloches!
This is my first two piece hat so I am learning about attaching the brim separately.
And having forgotten to take photos before I started I have had to search for a similar style late 60s hat to show you what I started with.

It was a faded pink late 60s tall crowned hat with a large brim which is now more peach/salmon in colour, similar to these two hats in shape and style.
This late 60s tall crowned style is not one I was ever keen on.  In fact I thought they were kind of hideous even back in the 60s. The very tall straight sided crown made them rather clumsy looking as far as I was concerned.
The only people who ever carried them off reasonably well were lovely women like Mary Tyler Moore or Audrey Hepburn and they could have looked good in a hessian sack!
So I started by cutting the brim off and steaming and blocking the crown into a nice cloche shape!

 Next it was a matter of deciding what kind of brim I wanted.  
I liked this style with the wide side brim that curves gently across the front and frames the face. 
I also wanted it to have the very narrow brim at the back of the neck so that it doesn't hit the back of my neck or shoulders.  Mine's not exactly the same at this hat but very similar.
I was nervous about cutting the brim so I drew the shape and nibbled away at it and kept trying it on until I was happy with it.
I'm always terrified I'll do something unfixable!
Next step is attaching the brim but before I did that I shaped the front edge of the crown up in centre front in a gentle arc to aid with the way the brim will drape across the front.
More to come!

Apologies for the delay in transmission

Sorry for the lack of posts recently.  Life gets complicated sometimes (family illness etc) and then on top of it my eyes started to play up because of all the close work I was doing.  I get so involved I forget to look away and refocus my eyes on the distance.  
So I've had to postpone anymore millinery fun while I rest my eyes.
However I did have a post half done on my latest hat makeover so I'll put that up in the meantime.
I've also been playing around with some jewellery that isn't so hard on my eyes but since it's not 18th century or really vintage related (it does use some vintage components) I think I might have to start another blog!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Blue and tattered - the hat is finished!

Ta dah!  The tattered blue hat is finished!

This is in spite of the fact that the lace I'd been using proved too fragile so I've had to glue rather than drape it. 
I'm a bit disappointed as I really liked the look of it draped but it kept splitting so I made the best of it. 
I cut around the patterns in the lace to make it fit as neatly as possible. In some cases I've had to layer it and it needed a fair bit of glue to hold it.  I've glued the lace right down under the turn up to finish on the sweat band so hopefully it will hold up well.
Frustrating as hell but I think it's come up quite well considering all the mucking about I had to do.  Mucking about and the occasional strong word!
I also made a tatty lace rose to tuck behind the turn up on the right hand side. I wanted it to have some visual interest even if you couldn't see it from the front.
My teacher said today she wasn't sure it was a parasisal and might actually be a fine straw. Anyway whatever it is I like it!
I finished it off with the lining which I think looks sooooo lush!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Another day, another hat, another mistake

I'm currently working on a blue parasisal hat, which is woven from the sisal plant. 

It's a lovely fine weave, dyed a light denim blue which I plan to trim with coffee coloured lace. 
I've used sizing on the crown to make it firm, as the parasisal is so soft it would easily get misshapen otherwise. 
I've left the edge of the brim unbound because I like the rough fraying. The lace is antique and fragile so I'll have to glue it and hope for the best.
I've had a fight with the grosgrain hatband and have glued and pulled it off three times - for various reasons. The parasisal being very soft and pliable makes things a bit fiddly. Hopefully I have it right this time.  Well it's handy to make every mistake in the book, it means you learn a lot.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Great hats and fashion in 20s movies

Since I'm all about the 20s at the moment I've been watching some of my favourite  films and series set in the 20s.  Some straddle the decades before and after but that's ok, so does fashion. They include:
Death on the Nile (the Peter Ustinov version). LOVE the hats in this one, especially Bette Davis' and Olivia Hussey's hats.  The larger brims on these two hats are so flattering.  

Yum!  They're right up there with my lovely black horsehair cloche with the lace brim! 

Thoroughly Modern Millie.  What's not to love about Millie's wardrobe especially the black and white checkerboard ensemble and that her beads don't hang straight! And you get music and Mary Tyler Moore!

Easy Virtue The music is fabulous, it's got Colin Firth, witty dialogue and a wide range of fashions from country to glam!
House of Elliot  I get sick of hearing "Oh Evie" every couple of minutes but like the clothing.
There are also a couple of good shots early on in High Road to China.
Of course Downton Abbey has heaps of fashion and I suppose the Great Gatsby will too if (according to reports), you don't take period accuracy seriously!
The Changeling was ok. Think the depressing nature of the story overshadowed any enjoyment I might have had from checking out the clothing.
Come on guys, what's your fav movies or series set in the 20s? I need more inspiration.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A (20s cloche) hat in search of a dress

Yes I have finished refurbishing and wiring the black horsehair and lace cloche! (A photo of the finished article will follow when I've actually taken one.) And of course I now need a dress to wear it with.
And yes I could sew one but only if I only want to wear it sometime in 2015. 
I don't have a 20s or 30s style figure. I have a 50s style figure. I have an hourglass figure and I'm not in my thirties anymore so I want sleeves!
I've been searching the web and found the Nataya line of Titanic dresses.
I like this one which is black with silver embroidery and sand base (according to the description)! I have no idea whether it will be as forgiving of my shape as the website description says but I need a dress! 
I want to wear it to my friend's wedding in October so yes I have some time but hey I am impatient!  And if I leave it to the last minute it won't happen - they'll have run out or no longer be available in my size or whatever!
Of course it might be a total disaster but there's only one way to find out.  
Postage from the US to Australia is hideous but what the hell I might as well just do it!
Anyone know of any other suitable style dresses online that might suit my figure????  And in a plus size style!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Historical ways to spend money

As the owner of a whacking great Diana Spencer replica ring I'm obviously not averse to replica bling.
And recently I happened upon a site called Stage Jewellery where you can buy replica royal jewellery! You know, just in case you want a copy of a particular royal tiara or even a Romanov crown. There are some cracker necklaces and earrings as well.
My current favourites are these copies of two of the Queen's tiaras.
The Spencer Tiara is there as well and some from other royal ladies like the Queen Mum's honeycombe tiara.
Can't say I'm impressed with their brooch offerings. Obviously brooches aren't a big seller, but then they aren't as fashionable as they once were. I love brooches and my own are nicer even if I do say so myself. But their tiaras and necklaces are pretty cool if you have a spare few hundred pounds! hahaha yeah right!
Inspired Treasures is another company with royalty inspired replicas that I have yet to check out.
Replicas of a variety of accessories and even cutlery are available from the Victorian Trading Company.
And I was devastated to read today that my favourite - the Past Times shop in the UK has gone into administration and will be wound up. Devastating for the staff and no more lovely shopping for me! When the Past Times catalogue arrived from the UK this lil pig was in heaven!

Friday, April 26, 2013

This is Cloche to my heart

While there is a lot of interesting information on the web about what types of hats suit which types of face, personally I just try them on to see if I think they suit me.
If it's a vintage hat it needs to be big enough for you to try on and a good number of hats may be too small. But hats can be resized as well as retrimmed and generally refurbished. Which is why I am now refurbishing a late 20s/early 30s black horsehair cloche that has the most adorable old lace brim. 
As it's been stored for years it has fold lines and the crown is all pointy.
It also has a very floppy brim, in fact, it's far floppier than it looks in this picture because it's supported by a hatblock with a brim. It was probably intended to be that way but since I don't look good in a floppy brim,  I've decided to give it some body. 
First I removed the 'sweatband' from inside and applied some gentle steam through a thick towel to the crown and left it  for a few days and it's vastly improved.  I might do it again just to ensure it's set.

But for now I'm working on that very floppy lace brim. (Sorry the photos aren't great but I took them with the phone.)
Initially I tried using clear line (like fishing line) but it doesn't mould so it really needed to be wire. Which meant more challenges to overcome. Good thing I like a challenge. 
Cotton covered millinery wire comes in either white or black. Both of which would show up like a sore thumb through the lace. 
So I watered down some brown dye and did some tests - after three very pale coats I have millinery wire that pretty much disappears under the lace! Yay!
I may also have to wire around the side wings of the black horsehair to get the right slant on the brim! Fussyboots aren't I!  
But I figure a hat that is almost 100 years old deserves all the respect and care I can give it.
Now I have the wire pinned in place under the lace. 

Fingers crossed it will work.  
I found an identical hat on a google search - it was listed with the term Mam'selle - whether this was a label in it or not I don't know.  Mine didn't have a label.
I'll post some photos once it's finished. I'll also try to get some photos of the construction of the hat which is pretty fascinating in itself.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Some more favourite 18th century portraits

I don't have the energy for anything but hat making and autumn cleaning at the moment so here are some portraits I like for one reason or another.
The first is of course John Hoppner's Mary Robinson - also known as the character she played on the stage - Perdita.
I love everything about this portrait. It has drama and yet at the centre of it there is a very serene Mary, gazing rather pensively out at the world.
Then of course there is this one of a young woman originally thought to be by Jean-Etienne Liotard. More recently experts have considered it to by an unknown 19th century artist emulating Liotard's style. Whoever the artist was they certainly produced a lovely picture.
Very different to the first but again the eyes get to me. And I love her turban and pearls. Still very 18th century but a pleasant change to the standard hairstyle or hat pictures. I just wish I knew more about her. 
Then there is John Smart's miniature of Mrs Russell which is incredibly delicate. I love her beautiful green dress with the fine lace. Green is not a colour I see often in portraits. Mrs Russell hardly looks old enough to be married, but then I think that about a lot of the young Mum's I see out with their children. Such a beauty probably married in her first season!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hats and why I've not been posting much lately

What's not to love about hats?   
Ok some people get hung up about hat hair but I'm not one of them. I'm really a low maintenance type. Fluff it up and get on with it.
I've already posted about my first hat, the straw cloche.
Now I'm almost finished the grey felt which is very Lady Mary of Downton Abbey. 
It's taken me longer because I rewired the brim two and a half times as I wanted one side to be shallower. I had pulled the wire up too tight the first time around. I tried a quick fix but in the end had to start again.
I've now trimmed the silver grey felt with a deep charcoal grosgrain hat band and am waiting on the feathers for the pin - instead of sewing all the trimmings to the hat I plan to make a pin so the decoration can be changed at will. That's the plan anyway.  I've a feeling the thickness of the loopy grosgrain might be better off sewn on but hey I'll give it a whirl!
I'll post a photo once it's finished.
I've also been refurbishing an old off white parasisal which is just gorgeous. The weave is so fine and soft, you just don't see parasisal hats like it anymore. 

It's now an unashamedly romantic hat. As you can see it has a lovely gentle frayed brim and I've given it a pale peach hat band and a lovely peachy/pink rose.  I wanted it to be soft and very much a 'walk in spring sunshine' kind of hat.  The rose fluffed up really nicely with a touch of steam - it's like magic on old crushed fabric flowers.
So there it is. I've been busy making hats - my new passion.  I've also been spring cleaning even though it's autumn here. I need to make some space because I don't want to feature on 'Hoarders - buried alive'!

Monday, April 22, 2013

An award! Thankyou thankyou thankyou

The lovely Lauren at has conferred a Very Inspiring Blogger Award on my blog.  Which is in itself very inspiring for me! I've been very slow to post about this because life has been very, very busy one way or another.  My apologies to Lauren and to you for not being very active with posting. Anyhow on with the award ceremony!

To accept the award, one must:
1. Display the award and link back to the person who nominated you. 
2. State 7 facts about yourself. 
3. Nominate 15 bloggers for the award. 
4. Notify the winners.

Seven facts about myself:
1. I live in Australia where it's rather hot for wearing costumes!  
2. I love to create and will attempt to make anything that interests me. This includes a dress made from Cadbury Chocolate wrappers, to a giant balloon and crepe paper chicken hat and lots of stuff in between!  At the moment my favourite things to create are HATS!
3. I love chocolate.
4. I love wearing and making hats.
5. I adore this planet.  What a jewel! How lucky we are!  We need to clean up our act!
6. I'm fond of a nice cup of tea - especially in a nice china teacup.
7. I can recite the alphabet backwards.

15 Blogs I find inspiring in no particular order (not all are costume or 18th century related)
Ok there are only 12 here because I've been short on time. 

Who inspires you? 

Monday, March 25, 2013

I've been most remiss of late but blame the hats!

It's nearly six weeks since my last post so apologies for the lack of new posts.  Life often runs away with me.
However I've not been idle. 
I've moved on to making hats #2 and #3 - pictures will follow in due course but I have to say I am hat mad at the moment. It's totally absorbing and utterly fascinating.
Cloches are probably my favourite hats of all time but the minute after I think that I find some other style I think quite dashing. However cloches are my hat of the moment with the odd side trip to rustic simplicity.
I've been watching some YouTube videos on techniques and even 'how to wear a hat'. This I think comes down to having 'hatitude'.  If you feel uncomfortable in a hat that's how you'll look.  Personally I love hats.  It's a pity you can only wear one at a time.
There were a range of vintage hats at Aladdin's Fair yesterday but I resisted and instead bought a hatblock!  This one actually.
I've been looking for one my size and this one seemed roughly correct even though I didn't have my trusty tape measure with me and had to borrow one.  
It's been padded out with layers of felt to make it the right size for someone so I am in the process of peeling those old layers off to see what size it is and make it just right for me. 
I've peel off two layers and there looks to be at least two half layers underneath! I keep measuring as I go because it might be easier to leave some layers on rather than take them all off if it's going to become too small for me.  On the other hand they are OLD felt and perhaps I should put on my own layers!  I'll ask my teacher's advice on that!

It's been well used so I'm hoping some of the experience of its previous owner will rub off on to me.
The old flowers have come up a treat with a little steaming which is rather like magic.  Apply steam to squashed old flowers and watch them puff back up into life! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cloche to the end!

I've almost finished my first ever hat at Millinery class at Maudies MillineryMy teacher supplied this lovely fine vintage straw hood for my first foray into hat making.
This picture shows my steamed and blocked hood (stretched on a wooden head shape) which as you can see is a traditional style cloche (french for bell). 
You can see I have curved the small brim up slightly on one side and have started to wire the brim so it will keep it's shape. 
As I wired the brim I pulled the wire up slightly to assist with the front curve.
Sewing the wire along the brim seemed to take forever but not as long as covering the edge of the brim with grosgrain ribbon which was a bit fiddly. Because you are sewing around a curve you have a bit of a pucker going on as you sew and keeping that evenly distributed was a challenge. (I imagine it will be worse on the stays when I get that far but then the binding for that won't be quite as wide.) It was also fiddly because you only pick up the end of each picot so that your stitches are as unnoticeable as possible.
Then it was time to add the head band around the inside which didn't take long thankfully because I couldn't wait for the fun bit!  The trimming!
I settled on some old ivory 4.5 inch wide silk ribbon (which is shattering but I don't mind a touch of Miss Haversham), a lovely old lace applique that was salvaged from a vintage dress and a vintage rhinestone dress clip because I like a little bit of bling.  
Actually I spent more time just looking at my trimmings than trying out any specific ideas. I didn't want to destroy the silk before I got it on the hat.
And then it all just came together.

I have the silk draped up and over one side and then folded to make a vandyked type of drape across the back and up the other side. The dress clip is on one side and the lace applique on the other.
I didn't want to cover up too much of the lovely fine straw.
The grosgrain edging looks paler in the photos than it does in real life.
Here is the other side view.
And that lace applique is just perfect. In fact it was all just meant to be as far as I'm concerned. 
And last but not least the view from the front.

I have to make the lining to be glued inside this week and then I can wear it! 
Yay a completed project which I am over the moon about. Yay Yay Yay!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stay safe everyone

Sitting on my bed listening to the wind and rain grow louder outside.  Half the country has been battling bushfires, and up north it's flooding rain from ex Cyclone Oswald, along with tornados (6) in the past few hours.They've had to release water from the dams because they are at full capacity with more to come. 
All that weather is heading for us now.  
I went out and tidied up the garden so that there are less missiles to blow about and have our usual emergency packs ready just in case. I hope we never have to use them. 
Reading posts from the US and UK about the snow and cold temperatures.  I don't go well in the cold so I hope you are all rugged up.  I sometimes wear thermals here in Winter - don't think I'd survive one with snow.
So please all of you no matter where you are stay safe.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Success with the puzzling thing - it's part of a braid loom!

I found out what this puzzling item is that I recently posted about!  
Having looked at the loose thread the reel contained it reminded me of the threads you see on those lovely antique trims and braids you see for sale on Etsy and eBay.  
SO I figured it was probably from a loom that made a trim or braid. 
I googled 'braid loom' and look what popped up!
Here's a picture of a braid loom in action weaving multiple braids in different colours at the Museum voor Industriële Archeologie enTextiel in Gent, Belgium. And there are the little doodads like the (formerly) puzzling thing in our original photo.
Katherine Sanderson's website has some wonderful images of the amazing machines in this museum so if you are interested in how textiles are produced I'd head on over to her blog. I found it fascinating and I'd love to visit.  I love watching how machines work - right up there with watching construction sites - yeah we all know I'm strange!

Monday, January 14, 2013

DIY French wedding tiara stand

I've become sidetracked from my DIY 18th century wig stand project. But this is similar and I'm considering it a dry run for my wig stand.
This glorious old french wedding tiara covered in wax blossoms complete with streamers which belongs to a friend of mine needs to be displayed on a nice stand.
Originally it most probably resided in a Globe de Mariee or Globe de Marriage - those gorgeous displays under a glass cloche which celebrated late 19th century French marriages particularly in Provence.
It's currently residing on an ugly polystyrene head which looks like an alien and does it no justice at all.
My supplies list includes:

  • one wooden candlestick 
  • one reasonably sized styrofoam ball
  • something to connect the two (a bit of dowel)
  • some wadding in case I want to pad out the ball
  • material to cover the padding which is in fact, a doily.

The candle stick doesn't have a very wide base and since its going to hold something very precious and delicate I felt it needed a wider base.
So I bought a mug tree from the thrift shop and ripped the base off it. 
I'm hoping my friend will find a glass cloche to put it in when it's finished.
Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A lovely new vintage store and a puzzling thing

I came across this puzzling item at Maudies Millinery the new vintage store I discovered just the other day.
The question is, "what is it?".  
Maudie is as stumped as I am (and ignore the bow on top). 
It looks to be part of something bigger - perhaps a loom of some kind???  
There is a little metal thingamy along the bottom that looks like it guides the thread (which is loose - not a mercerised thread).  And I'm guessing those spaces along the bottom of the wood could be where some kind of gear wheel may have moved it backward and forward.
If you know what it is please let me know.  There is a growing group of us who are keen to know.
Now back to Maudies - she has all sorts of vintage loveliness packed into her little store. There are lovely vintage hats and all sorts of fabric trims, flowers, beautiful buttons, old brooches, feathers, shoes, a lovely old lace flapper style dress and that's not all!
Wait for it - Maudie teaches millinery - yay!  So I am going to learn how to make hats which makes my heart sing!  I've wanted to do this for ages.
Check out Maudies Millinery facebook page.

Oh and HAPPY 2013 - I hope it's kind to you and yours!