Historical Sew Fortnightly #17 Yellow

Well.. I really WANTED to do the #17 Challenge for the Historical Sew Fortnightly. I’ve been trying to do every second challenge, since I’m also trying to do some other sewing, take a few classes, work full time and all the rest – but this one just refused to come together.

I’ll admit, I don’t really LIKE the colour yellow. It doesn’t suit me, it’s too bold for regular wear, and the challenge was to use yellow as the main colour – not just as a tiny accent on something.

 “#17: Yellow – due Mon 15 September. Embrace the sunny side with something in any shade of yellow.”

But, on Pinterest I found a photo… I loved it.. and it was gold (that’s like yellow!) velvet – oh.. and did I happen to mention that at the last Grandmother’s fabric sale I picked up some gold silk velvet?

I wanted to make this dress:

(If the linked url doesn’t work, it’s http://www.pinterest.com/pin/290200769710207332/)

So, I drafted up the pattern – laid it out – and I didn’t have enough fabric. I bemoaned the fact for a while on Facebook, tried to come up with some other plan to make it work (make it shorter, substitute in another fabric..) I even auditioned a number of possible lining/coordinating fabrics in hopes of making it work – but it just wouldn’t work.

Still – I hoped. I had some purple velvet along with a recent purchase of some similarly-toned purple fabric to coordinate with it – so I used that to do a mock-up… I was hoping that I would discover that I’d drafted the pattern far too large and I would be able to make the dress in gold after all – nope. Fits perfectly (or at least so far, I’m not quite done yet..)

Oh well. Maybe I’ll just have to keep my eyes out for another meter of gold silk velvet…


Millinery: Black straw

The completed black straw cloche hat decorated with black embellishments

The completed black straw cloche hat decorated with black embellishments

After Millinery class #6, I took the black straw hood home to work on outside of class.  I envisioned the beautiful cloche like in some of my example inspiration photos, but it ultimately didn’t work out.  I just didn’t LIKE the cloche shape with my features.  For a review of the process up until that point, please read my post on the cloche.  

Marking the shaped hood with tape

Trimming away the straw to create the shape

But… it looks so cute on my Styrofoam head!

So… reworking was in order!

I started basically by folding up the brim and seeing what shapes I could create.  I stood in front of the mirror twisting and folding and I’m sure making a lovely mess of things.  This is one of those tasks best done when home alone I’m certain, because anyone watching would have likely thought I was quite a ninny…

Ultimately, I found a shape I really liked, but by then I had turned the hat inside-out, so I turned it right-side-out, and re-folded the hat back into the shape that I had liked.  At this point I just left it sitting alone (so it could think about what it had done!) and only returned later to trim the raw edge with some gorgeous bias I had made for a previous corset project.  (Its purple shot with blue dupioni silk and it’s luscious!)  As with the blue straw, I could have put the binding on partially by machine and partially by hand, but instead I ended up doing the whole thing by hand.

Then I let the project sit – while I worked on other things.

It seems I usually have several projects on the go at any one time…

When I got back to it…

When I got back to the project, even though I’d taken notes about the design, I looked at the hat, and thought “what was I thinking?” Not in a critical way – I just couldn’t see in it what I had seen before!

So, back to the drawing board, I removed the buttons pinning the hat into the shape I had created, and then used a generous amount of steam from my iron to re-shape the hat back into the original cloche shape. I tried this on… and suddenly… it worked! I don’t know if my face shape changed slightly, or if I just became less critical of my tall forehead (I did recently cut in some bangs/fringe, so that’s possible…) but it worked.

So, looking at some of my inspiration photos in the post I originally made about the cloche, I decided on a single-colour scheme with lots of black-on-black texture, and started previewing a number of laces, ribbons, flowers, appliqués, and other embellishments from my collection.

Auditioning the embellishments

Using super-fine pins, I started layering up all of the elements that worked, in the approximate areas where I thought I’d want them to permanently reside.

Once I liked what I had, I grabbed my beading needle (since it’s long and super-thin) and started hand-stitching each element down, working backwards.

In all, I sewed on:

  • A very wide lace trim – originally this was straight on one edge and scalloped on the other, but I trimmed off the straight edge so both edges have a scallop. The way this lace is made, I didn’t have to worry about fraying.
  • A great Venetian (style?) lace trim with rose and berry motifs
  • A vintage black velvet poppy-style flower which I bought from my millinery instructor back when I took the class. The flower was pretty crushed from storage, but she taught us to steam these embellishments to bring them back to ‘life’, which worked well.
  • A new synthetic triple-layer daisy-like flower from an accessories store. It has a pin back and a hair-clip back  (this one I did pin on instead of pinning on)
  • Three synthetic ‘craft’ flowers that I bought in a bunch of 10 or so from Dressew in Vancouver

The finished hat

So, here are photos of the finished hat – what do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Maybe I’ll have the chance to wear it sometime soon and take some action shots!

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Millinery: Cloche

Early in the millinery class, the instructor said that we’d be doing cloche’s as one of our projects.  I wasn’t too enthusiastic about that, because I never found a cloche that looked good on me. However, I figured that I would do a little research and see if I could come up with an alternative that might work.  My thought was perhaps none of the cloches that I had tried on worked because they weren’t fitted correctly, so if I were to make my own, I could fix that problem.

Cloche’s are most well known as the “flapper” hat from the 1920s, however the basic shape of the cloche was in fashion from about 1908-1928 (Fashion Era.com).  Helmet-like and closely fitted to the head, the hats were easy to produce because of minimal shaping needed by milliners.

My first inspiration came from the BJD Magazine blog.  (Ball Jointed Doll) I really liked the shape of the oversized hats and the embellishment, and thought that something like this (rather than the very closely-fitted hats I’ve seen examples of elsewhere).

Ball-Jointed Doll in a cloche

Click for original image

Another cloche example

Click for original image

Click for original image

Click for original image

click for original post – from the 1920s wedding blog

Next up, there was a fabulous decorated cloche on the 1920s wedding blog.  I love this hat so much!!! Ok.. I wouldn’t likely make it up in this colour way for myself (now that I’ve seen it with ‘wedding’ attached, that’s all I’ll be able to see…) but I love the shape, the colour scheme, and the decoration.  I think the white/taupe lace is really the key element in the decoration, setting off the wide satin ribbon, the bias trim, and the flowers.  (The design is symmetrical and there are flowers on both sides of the hat.)

I think this would look amazing in dark charcoal grey and black….. or soft heather grey and mauve…. (ahem, like the first photo at the top of the blog…)

There are also a few examples of nice cloches on the Victorian Trading company website.

More inspiration

I published this in 2011, but then later on when I was making another hat, I did a little more research, so wanted to add in a few more photos.

Straw cloche from hatsbyrita.co.uk

Straw cloche from hatsbyrita.co.uk

Making a cloche

Marking the shaped hood with tape

After millinery class #6 I had a black straw to play with, and I decided that I wanted to use it to make the cloche.  We hadn’t really had any instruction until then (or after for that matter) on cloches, so I imagine that the instructor’s initial comments about one of the styles we would be doing being a cloche was somewhat wishful thinking rather than lesson plan, but after doing the research and seeing some of the very pretty options, my mind was made up to make a cloche after all!

I started with blocking the straw using a head form and steam from my kettle, and got the crown shaped.  From there I tried it on and thought it might have been too big, so I put it on my smaller Styrofoam head instead, pulling the straw hood down to re-shape the crown and get more length out of it.  Although I can describe this in only a few sentences, it really was more work than just that!

From there I tried it on again, and looked in the mirror, marking the areas I wanted to trim.  Right above the eyebrows for the front, and dipping up just slightly at the back (to accommodate my ponytail, bun, or however else I want to deal with long hair + short hair style-friendly hat).  I kept the sides as long as the hood would allow.

From there I folded the hood in half to keep the shape symmetrical (without crushing it of course – while it was still warm from the steam it was quite flexible) and quickly trimmed the hood away.  I then quickly took it to my sewing machine to keep it from unraveling – handling it as little as possible.  From there, another chance to try on, and really see the shape.

trimming away the straw to create the shape

I hated it.

I took it back to the steam and reshaped the crown, and tried it on again.

I hated it.

But… it looks so cute on my Styrofoam head!

It just didn’t look good on me at all!  I popped it on my Styrofoam head – it looked so cute!  I asked my mom to try it on – it looked so cute!  I tried it on me again – and I hated it!  I pinned bias tape around the edge, lace, trim… no good, no good, no good!

Ultimately, I figured that the head-hugging, low style just doesn’t suit me at all.  I am guessing that I have too tall a forehead, and the space between my eyebrows and the visual top of my head is just too long for this style to work on me.  It ends up making me look vaguely like a conehead.  Boo.

So, back to the drawing board with the black straw I went!  Hopefully I’ll have a happy ending to share in a future post!