Tag Archives: needlearts

French Millinery Magic

Happiness in not in the mere possession of money;

it lies in the joy of achievement

in the thrill of creative effort.

~Franklin. D. Roosevelt

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas and surrounding villages. Please allow time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the eigth in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along?)

the studio

Chateau Dumas is spectacular. What could be more dreamy than a breathtaking “Monet-esque” 1700’s chateau overlooking the Impressionistic French countryside, meals created around superbly fresh Mediterrean bounty from local markets, lovely gardens, soothing lavender fragrances filling the air and a carriage house atelier dedicated for the millinery masterclass? Heavenly! It is the pefect foil for unleashing creativity long-dormant.

carriage house studio facing east2

Carriage House FAV

southeast carriage house stairs FAV

The second story of the 18th-century carriage house is home for the creative studio. Won’t you come up the east stairs with me to the atelier?

The millinery atelier is filled with all the paraphernalia for the masterclass — new and pristine vintage machines, solid wood hat molds, steamers, bolts of hat material, feather trimings, rolls of antique French ticking, and bits of trims, laces, mother of pearl buttons — all so inspiring. There are a few stunning straw hats beautifully displayed on antique hand-turned wooden hat stands.  I am totally smitten with the vintage sewing machine and the French ticking and trims! Simply lovely! 

Frister Rossman 2

wood brims and crowns FAV

studio hat making

 

colored petersham and osterich feathers FAV

sinnamay Color Card FAV

straw cones FAV

Hat feathers 1

willy's hat 3

the master teacher

The reason for all this swooning over this gorgeous French region and the chateau you ask? A millinery “artist-in-residence” week course taught by master milliner, Dillon Wallwork. Dillon has dazzled women with his spectacular hat creations, and has made them look gorgeous for at least 25 years. As a royal milliner to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, his creative designs have been seen on covers of magazines and newspapers around the world. Dillon was the hatmaker-in-chief to Princess Diana, and has created hats for numerous other heads-of-state. He effortlessly creates breathtaking hats — hats and hatmaking are Dillon.Whew! What a pedigree! I am pinching myself to be learning from one of the best.

Dillon is a superb designer and master teacher. His knowledge and expertise about hatmaking are beyond compare. He nimbly works millinery magic with the simpliest or the most eleborate materials. It is with a bit of trepidation that I begin the intense and intimate-sized masterclass. Soon, the concerns are allayed . . . the teacher is a master indeed! He deftly provides kind, patient and expert instruction to those who have never even seen a hat being constructed  (c’est moi!). Yet, guides those with experience to the next skill level in hatmaking.

Dillon and Gabriel FAV

the masterclass

Dillon instructs and demonstrates the step-by-step process of hatmaking. My vocabulary expands to include new terms like panning, sinamay, hoods, sisal, parasisal and blocking. I learn that hatmaking is a very labor-intensive artistic craft, and has 10-12 discrete steps before the head is crowned with a chapeau!

The first step is covering the wood crown and brim blocks with ordinary plastic wrap. Yes, the kind found in your kitchen pantry. The plastic wrap makes it easier to remove the crown and brim shapes once dry. Then a wet, sturdy netting is put over the crown to give the hat finish and stability.

wood brim and plastic FAV

netting over block

The hat material (either straw or sinamay for this masterclass) are dampened and stretched over the wood molds.

Putting Sinemay on Wood Brim block FAV

I use a lovely black straw and a fantastic natural straw that was woad-dyed the week priorIsn’t the blue naturally-dyed straw from the woad plant simply gorgeous?!  It is from a centuries-old dying process made from the woad plant soley indigenous to this French region. It is a fascinating process of how the fabric dyes yellow, turns green once taken out of the cauldren and it comes in contact with oxygen, and then becomes the loveliest of blues in moments.

Black hat on wood block FAV

woad blue strawFAV 2

 Straight pins, thumb tacks and string help hold the straw in place in order to keep the shape of the hat once dried.

 

woad blue straw 5 FAV 4

Champagne hat block FAV

After the straw has dried on the wood mold, it is “panned” — carefully ironed to give it a natural artistic sheen. It is then gently removed from the wood mold using a white plastic bone (similar to corset boning in costume design).

Panning FAV

brim off of block FAV

Stitching by hand, the crown and brim are attached to one another. A petersham ribbon is carefully hand-stitched — using a nearly invisible tiny stitch to the inside of where the crown and brim are attached. The brim of the hat is trimed or turned over and neatly stitched.

Adding Petersham to black straw FAV

Dillon instructs on making beautiful organdie roses. The edges of the organdie are effortlessly hand-rolled. Then, the organdie is magically shaped into gorgeous rosettes as if they are just picked from the garden. Dillon demonstrates the “prunning” and shaping of ostrich, duck, pheasant and other feathers to create fascinating designs to embellish hats. I love how feathers are curled — much like making curly ribbon bows for packages — with the blade of a scissors. Trimmings are added to the hat to finish it off, and making each hat truly one-of-a kind. 

Hand rolled organdie roses FAV

black hat and organdie roses FAV 1

special visitors

The millinary masterclass is thrilled to have Carol and Nigel Denford editors and publishers of The Hat Magazine out of London visit the class and learn about our progress in hatmaking. Their visit is quite lovely.

Carol (Hat Magazine) and Claudia

dreamy hats

We each make at least one complete hat. Some make more. The hats are all created uniquely, and there is a deep sense of accomplanishment. Stunning!

Claudia's Tango Hat FAV

Cathy's Hat FAV

Katie's Hat FAV

Naomi and Laurie FAV

My nights are filled with dreams of attending more millinary masterclasses to be offered in the fall and summer. A girl can hope . . .

The final lovely sights of  a once-in-lifetime dream trip to France are just around the corner.

à bientôt mes amis!

Won’t you journey with me awhile on this amazing trip in a gorgeous countryside chateau? Other adventures are at: 

 French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

 Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

 Estivales du Chapeau {hat festival in France

 Creativity at Chateau Dumas

Heavenly French Lavender

Fabulous French Hat

Bon Appetite!

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Filed under crafts, France, millinery, Sewing, Travel

A is for {Grandmother’s} Amazing Aprons

remember when…

grandmothers wore aprons throughout the day… especially when they were in the kitchen? My grandmothers never kneaded homemade bread or rolled out a pie crust without first securing the apron strings of a bib or half-apron. Some of my most treasured keepsakes are Grandmother’s aprons. There is something special–almost magical–about Grandmother’s aprons! The aprons transform me back in time and bring back sweet memories…

The Kitchen Workshorses

The Kitchen Workhorses

As they were for our grandmothers, aprons are a great “tool” to help with multi-tasking that we often do throughout the day. They are true “workhorses.” An apron’s large pockets are perfect hideaways for an amazing array of necessities and are holders of collections of all sorts gathered during the day: a freshly-pressed linen hankie to wipe a tear (yes, I still iron my hankies!), a tube of lip color (to apply as needed–you just never know!), beans freshly picked from the kitchen garden, rose petals deadheaded on a quick garden walk-through, green and brown eggs gathered from le palais de poulet, a treasured postcard from someone special or even the cell phone.

 What kind of things collect in your apron pockets?

a little more looking back

My grandmothers had numerous aprons for different purposes. All were handmade–often from a gingham or cotton floral print. Sometimes, a feedsack cotton or “repurposed” curtain was given new life as an apron! (Grandmothers were very resourceful!) Among my favorite aprons are those with a simple cross-stitched pattern in the small checks on a gingham fabric. As a young girl, I often had an apron that was a miniature version of Grandmother’s gingham apron. How I loved to wear aprons to be just like Grandmother.

Vintage Aprons

Vintage Aprons

Some of Grandmother’s aprons were decorative to coordinate with their dresses when they hosted a party. The decorative aprons were often made out of organdy, felt, chiffon, neeting or lace and showed off grandmother’s needleart skills. One of most treasured is a white linen expertly trimmed with an insert of hardanger the width of the apron skirt. Each year, My Best Girl wears the hardanger apron for the Swedish Christmas Eve celebration at Rose Cottage.

Hardanger Apron

Hardanger Apron

true confessions of a creative frugalist!

I LOVE aprons! I wear an apron every day because I am sentimental and practical. My homey aprons give me a sense of connectedness with the women who came before me.  When I wear an apron, life seems less complicated. But I confess, I usually wear an apron because I’m a messy and often spill.  It sure is much easier to launder an apron than an entire outfit! Most of my every day aprons are of the utilitarian type and are indispensable. You know the kind–heavy, durable cotton–usually, not a pretty sight after baking or cooking all day in the kitchen! 

So when spotting the large bolt of vintage green and white woven fabric at Rose Mille on the bottom shelf in the back room, I just had to get some yardage to make some pretty aprons. Rose Mille’s checked fabric is not the kind of gingham most often found in the fabric stores now, rather it is a true “homespun” woven textile and has some weight and density. If you love homespun cottons you just have to get some!)

Green and White Woven Cotton, Vintage Ticking and Trims

Green and White Woven Cotton, Vintage Ticking and Trims

Ribbons might also be added to my dream aprons to add another touch of beauty. Melissa over at The Inspired Room has more ideas about creatively using ribbons to beautify your home in simple ways…Maybe, I will be hanging my new-yet vintage-aprons in the pantry on a pretty hook using ribbons…

How are you bringing beauty into your life and home while being a “creative frugalist?”

The Old Becomes New for the Creative Frugalist

The Old Becomes New for the Creative Frugalist

Now, I am dreaming of several new aprons… Each of the six new aprons will have a different bib front using a Bella Notte linen fabric sample, vintage trim or carefully selvedge crocheted lace edging from a troseau pillow, and vintage bakelite or celluloid buttons. Isn’t this a creative and fun way to be a frugalist in the 21st century? Certainly an interesting way to recycle, repurpose and resuse!

Vintage Red Glass Buckle and Trim

Vintage Red Glass Buckle and Trim

 

Two of the homey aprons will each have a fabulous vintage glass buckle. These glass buckles are just too lovely to pass up from Mi’s stock at Rose Mille! The red buckle is a perfect accent on the red gingham. The blue glass buckle will be used on the second apron. Then, there is the apron with…so tell me,

What would your dream apron look like?

Grandmother's Amazing Apron

Grandmother's Amazing Smock Apron - Cheerfully, helped to make many batches of blue-ribbon caramel rolls!

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Filed under Cooking, Family, Sewing, Uncategorized, Vintage

romantic millinery magic

a still life with a bouquet of flowers

The skies are gray at Rose Cottage, and winter’s uninvited chill is lingering a bit too long. Snow is once again in the forecast. I am longing for warm sunshine again! Are you feeling this way, too? Wouldn’t you love to walk out to the garden and bring in a huge bouquet of freshly-picked flowers…spicy sweet pink roses, armloads of fragrant peonies and stately blue bird delphinium…into your home?

Maybe, a bouquet that is somewhat reminiscent of famous sumptuous Dutch oil paintings from the 17th century, such as Jan van Huysum’s Still Life with a Bouquet of Roses and Other Flowers? I can almost smell the old rose fragrance of the bourbon roses in that painting!

a reinvented 3-D still life

There aren’t any van Huysum’s and, in the middle of below freezing temps, the gardens are not in bloom at Rose Cottage! (Sigh!) So I envision my own version of a still life using a bouquet of millinery roses and other flowers. My still life will be a curtain tieback on the bedroom raspberry red buffalo check silk curtain. But, I will need to gather a lot of flowers–it needs to have the feel of a van Huysum!

Some of the bouquet’s elements are carefully wrapped in tissue and tucked away in a vintage hatbox. Other elements are currently in service in another small arrangement; time to “re-purpose” that one.

Lovely Vintage Millinery

Lovely Vintage Millinery

Realizing there aren’t quite enough millinery for the voluptuous bouquet of my dreams, I am off to Rose Mille–just up the river, to pick more flowers for the still life. Mi has fabulous millinery to add to the bouquet!

The white silk rose from Dulken and Derrick gathered at Rose Mille is spectacular with the gently rolled petals!

Vintage Millinery Trio

Vintage Millinery Trio

 

 

 

Mi has a gorgeous small vintage piece of  “drapey” black velvet–perfect for the base of the bouquet!

 

 

For a bit of the unexpected, I decide to use a few pieces of vintage spun cotton fruit gently sprinkled with fairy dust–glass glitter.

Some Gathered Millinery and Spun Cotton Fruit

 

 

 

 

Some Gathered Millinery and Spun Cotton Fruit

creating millinery magic

Now, it is time to create some millinery magic! Some of the little beauties need a gentle freshening. Mi glady shares a tip with me: simply hold the flower over a steaming tea kettle, and the petals will unfurl right before your eyes! It takes only a few minutes to liven up more than 50 pieces of millinery.

The black velvet is cut the length and width of the tieback needed for the curtain. I decide to use some pellon as a stabilizer between the front and back of the black velvet. Two six inch pieces of black silk cording are cut to serve as the hooks, and each are looped at each end of the tie back. The black velvet is stitched with the fronts facing, leaving a small opening. The velvet is turned right-side out through the small opening. The tieback is gently steamed, and the opening is whip-stitched closed. Now it is time for more fun!

Romantic Millinery and Great-Grandmother Myrtle's Needlecase

Shades of White: Romantic Millinery and Great-Grandmother Myrtle's Needlecase

The millinery is laid out in a design that balances size, color and texture. The first step is to create a base with the vintage black and green velvet leaves. The leaves are carefully handstitched to the velvet.

Starting at the inside end (opposite of where the tieback hooks to the wall), the roses, apple blossums, flower buds and spun cotton are carefully stitched to the tieback.

After careful stitching, the romantic millinery magic is done! Time to see the results on the raspberry silk curtain.

Romantic Millinery Tieback (2)

 

 

 

 

Romantic Millinery Tieback (2)

 

What do you think about this still life of romatic roses and other flowers?

Can you leave me a comment below about how you have created millinery magic? Or just let me know what you think! Thanks for stopping by for a chat!

 

Woman Making Millinery Magic (c.1893)

Woman Making Millinery Magic (c.1910)

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Filed under Family, Home, Sewing, Uncategorized, Vintage