Millinery class #4

Well, since I have a BUNCH of scheduled posts up, and don’t want to interrupt my “flow”… this post is a scheduled post as well – something I’m actually writing on November 2nd, but it won’t actually be published to my blog for several weeks…

So, Monday (October 31 – yep, Hallowe’en!) was our fourth Millinery class.

Missing out on….

We didn’t have a lot of formal instruction in this class, which I’m starting to feel a bit uncomfortable with.  The instructor has a lot of comments and suggestions, but they’re largely as people are working – so if I’m heavily involved in my project, it’s hard to hear what she’s saying to someone else.  Also, since some people were using the blow dryers, it was just difficult to hear in general!

Also, she isn’t telling us what we are going to be doing in the next class – so although we only have four classes left, and still need to work on sweatbands, straws, felts, brims and trims….. there hasn’t really been a plan of when we’ll work on what.  (There was a plan at the beginning of class, but she said that she won’t be sticking to it at all…)  Since we don’t really know what we’ll be doing in the next class – there was a comment that made me a bit uncomfortable.  One of the students didn’t bring something to class – and the instructor said “well this is the class to bring it to!” implying that the student was really missing out on something by not having the materials there… however there was no way that the student could know that she would need those materials for class #4, and we have SOOOO much stuff to bring to each class, that it’s really difficult to carry it all…  (I actually crunched one of my hats bringing it home,  because I just didn’t have enough hands to carry it all.)

There also hasn’t been any “homework” so to speak for the last two classes.  This class or last – so I ended up working ahead… (and made a mistake in doing so…) and still don’t have any actual instruction on the next step.  I know what the steps are… but not her suggestion on how to do them… and although I’m perfectly comfortable just working ahead – I’d really like to take advantage of her expertise and experience so I can do it ‘right’ the first time… rather than make a mistake and have to do it over again just because I worked ahead…

Of course, my problem is my personal learning style… I would much rather have a period of instruction, a period of working on my own and getting help when needed, and then finishing off with instructions of what to complete over the week to have for next class.  My life is so stressful and busy right now that I need to feel that I’m getting things DONE… where as I’m sure a lot of the other participants are very comfortable with a more “at your own pace” sort of set up.  I suppose it’s also that I’m anxious to get to the parts of the class that I CAN’T do at home… I’ve already done a number of hats (albeit, facinators) with buckram and cloth (plus numerous dressmaker hats)… it’s interesting to get her ideas and see how some of her methods can greatly improve what I’ve done in the past, but what I really want to get to is the felts and straws…

In class

So, in class #4 we all were at different stages, which I can imagine would make it difficult to do much in the way of formal instruction.

  • Some students were still putting their tips on their pillboxes, others had their fabrics on, while I also had my lining in.
  • Most of us had our domed hats cut, but most were still needing to wire and tape.  I had my wire and tape, and then was able to start putting on my fabric – as did a few other students.
  • The instructor was eager for us to try putting our fabric on ‘wet’ – but having not told us that is what we’d be doing… I certainly didn’t have the right kind of fabric for that.   It’s something I’ll have to try at  home I suppose.

I ended up spending most of the class time blocking a new domed hat (this time using a much smaller form for a facinator) and then adding a grey fine boucle knit fabric to my first domed hat.  I’m a bit nervous about spending too much time on it honestly, because I really don’t think that it will fit correctly…  It was VERY time consuming to spend pinning the fabric to the buckram (with it still on the block) which made me feel that there was a better use of my in-class time.  That being said, I did ask the instructor for suggestions twice on the placement of pleats – so it wasn’t really wasted time at all.

Running late

I really think that I want to start getting to class an hour early – I’ve been trying to get there half an hour early to get myself settled – but I think that if the room is open and she’s there to give feedback I might as well take advantage of it.  In class #4 we had to RUSH to get out because the instructor had after-class plans as well, which meant that I ended up squishing my one hat in progress as I tried to fit it into my bag.  I’m already carrying my sewing kit, my suitcase, my purse, and a tote back and forth (I didn’t bring my buckram to class this day because I expected to buy more buckram but ran out of time…) which is just too much considering how difficult it is to get into the class at Viscount Bennet.  (Up a flight of stairs, through a door, up another flight of stairs, through a doorway, down a hall, through a door, down a flight of stairs, through another door, up two flights of stairs, and down the hall to the classroom…. )all those stairs and doors make it REALLY challenging -especially since I’m busing it or being dropped off.  Most of the other students make two trips to their cars…

However, I think that if I get there an hour early I can spend the first half hour getting settled, pulling out what I’m working on and what not, and the second half hour chatting with her to see if what I want to learn is going to be covered, and perhaps even getting started on some of it.


So.. that’s sort of a run-down of how the fourth class went. I do appreciate having access to the supplies most of all so far I think… and I think that I’ll need to really read the book more in order to stay on-track.  (It’s not really a textbook… which means it’s not ordered the way that the class is… so I haven’t really looked at it too much yet…)

That being said… in class on Monday one of the other students said that the millinery workshop is on the Chinook College website now.  It’s for April 20 (Friday 4-9), April 21 (Saturday 9-4), and April 22 (Sunday 10-2).  If anyone is interested in JOINING me (yep, I signed up earlier today) you can sign up via Chinook College here: AND… they’re running another one of the classes that I’m taking right now… (The advanced workshop asks that you attend the Millinery class first…though I think if you have some experience with dressmakers hats, costume making, etc.. you likely wouldn’t need it ) from Feb-April 4… so you’d finish the first class in time to start the second.  If it wasn’t for the fact that we have already booked a vacation in February, I might actually consider taking the class again just to have access to some of the materials again.. LOL

Obviously, despite my challenges with the class – I am really enjoying it!


One additional note – our instructor arranged a group tour of the Smithbilt hats factory today too.   Apparently if you are a ‘custom’ customer they will do some of the steps for customization while you watch – and if you have out of town visitors (or something like that) you can also go down for a little tour too – so if anyone is interested, give them a call!

It was extremely interesting to go into the factory and see all of the seriously OLD equipment being used (1880’s for some of them!) as well as ALL the different processes that go into different hats.  Frankly, despite being a long-time Calgarian… cowboy hats are just cowboy hats… though the woman giving the tour (Jillian maybe?) talked about how different tips have different looks, different fashion trends, and can even be customized to be more flattering to a person’s face shape.  She also showed us how the semi-completed hats in the showroom were actually intended to be custom fitted to the wearer.

It was also really interesting to see the difference between wool felt, and fur felt.. and then between 20x, 50x and 100x – being the percentage of beaver fur in the wool… (20% beaver… 50%.. etc)  I couldn’t help but think “poor beaver!” for a lot of that conversation – since unlike sheep (which are sheered regularly to collect the wool and doing so keeps the animals clean and healthy in the heat…) I haven’t ever heard of beavers being sheered…  I imagine they are killed to collect the fur.  Worse still, it’s mostly belly fur that is desirable for hat-making due to the length of the fiber and the barbs (which felt well).  I’m squicked enough at the idea of animals being killed for fashion, but if the animal is not being put to good use (I don’t know either way.  It didn’t really seem like an appropriate topic to broach at the time) … that squicks me even more.  (And yes, I wear leather shoes, I love silk, yada yada… I said it squicked me, not that it will change my behaviour…)


Ah.. such a boring, photo-less post.  Oh well.





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