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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?