Examples from Advanced Millinery (hat making)

In a previous post I talked about an advanced millinery workshop that I took through Chinook College in April.  Well, I promised some pretty photos, and for this post I’m going to share with you photos of some of the examples our instructor brought to show us.

Amazing feather flowers

These come from a company in Germany – these weren’t for sale, just for example.

Black and white fabric flower with feather accents

First up one of my favorites – and I think, totally reproduce-able.  From as far as I can tell, it’s two black fabric flowers (like the big hair flowers I buy) and two white ones, taken apart and put back together again – but instead of layering their centres like you would usually do, spreading them out over a base, and then adding in the little (cheap) black and white feathers.  (Ok.. the long skinny black ones might be harder to find, but I don’t think they are essential to the design…)  Then there are some of the fake stamens in the middle (which sometimes come with the hair flowers, and sometimes don’t..)  This thing was HUGE btw – bigger than my hand by far.

cut feather 'flower'

The instructor had this example in blue, and then a larger, slightly more ornate version in brown.  All it is is regular feathers, but they’ve been cut & trimmed, and glued into a small Styrofoam ball.  It’s kind of impressive looking all by itself, but when you start breaking it down, it’s actually pretty simple – just would be time-consuming to make (and hence the high price tag).

Large feather chrysanthemum

I loved this example as well, and really would have liked a closer view…  this is all cut and curled and arranged feathers, forming a gorgeous flower.  The instructor called it a chrysanthemum, but I think it looks more like a peony.

Beautiful facinators

Our instructor’s colleague made most of these – they’re just fantastic – and really nice to see again to get inspiration from for our own designs!

brown sinamay pillbox

One of the projects we were supposed to make in class (but didn’t) was a sinamay pillbox, so our instructor brought out an example of one.  It shows the slight pleating needed to shape the sinamay – it doesn’t have nearly as much give as the buckram we worked with in the last class.  It also has flower and feathers and brown French/Russian veil material for decoration.  I don’t remember the binding on the edge, but I think I remember someone saying that the edge was wired, and it LOOKS like it was bound with fold-over sinamay.

purchased mini top hat with lace, tulle, feathers, and flowers.

This is a cute mini-top hat that the insructor had purchased for her other business.  She brought it in as an example of facinators, but what I was really looking at was the sheer amount (and layering) of decoration.  The hat base itself is brown (with gold glitter) felt mini top hat (so hard that it felt like cardboard…) and then on the brim there is first a layer of gathered brown lace, and then covering the edge of the brown lace are the edges of a green Venice lace.  Over the green lace at the back there is some super-soft black tulle gathered up and trailing, and on the side there are a number of ribbon flowers in shades of brown-pink, and then two ostrich feathers – one in brown-pink and the other in magenta.  I can’ say that I would EVER grab all of these colours and say “hey, let’s put all of this together!” but the overall effect is pretty nice actually… (very vintage-feeling).  This facinator had an elastic band to hold it on – I don’t like these myself, something to do with the shape of my head – I have to wear it SOOO far forward to keep it on if the elastic is in the back (which is where it’s supposed to go) that it looks silly, and then if I want to wear the hat where I want it – I have to wear the elastic under my chin – which looks even more ridiculous.

Brown feather and flower facinator on a straw base

Next up, an example of a simple straw circle facinator (pad) as the base for some extraordinary feathers and flowers to make a lovely facinator.  We were supposed to work with straw facinators as well, but I think only one person did in class.  It didn’t seem to me to be nearly as interesting as working with new materials (like the sinamay), so I didn’t want to spend the extra time or money.  This facinator was interesting though – just seeing how all of the feathers and flowers and things came together to make the design.  This facinator is on a comb – which then the instructor balanced off a pin stuck into the Styrofoam head. 🙂

Ivory mini top hat

The final example (or at least, the last one that I got a photo of to share with you) is a sinamay mini-top hat.  The instructor suggested that for these mini top hats, it’s probably cheaper to buy them pre-made (I assume because they are so popular and thus mass-produced) and then decorate them yourself, than to try to block the sinamay on a mini top hat block. This one had the edge bound in ivory fabric to match the sinamay, and then was decorated with loads of feathers.  This hat is on a narrow headband (covered in ivory satin) – I also don’t tend to like those, because they limit the ways I can do my hair – plus with my big-ol-head – they tend to pinch. 😦

A question for the readers

So, those are the examples that our instructor brought in to show off.  I have a question for you about wearing facinators -do you prefer a comb, a clip, a headband, or an elastic band on the facinators you wear?  Any other methods of attachment that I’m omitting (like hairpins, etc) that you prefer?  Let me know in the comments below!


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