Forest Flame Millinery

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cocktail hats cum fascinators

I made more cocktail hats these few days and will put them up for sale at my etsy stop soon. A friend wore my cocktail hat to the SIA Cup and helped to give out my name cards. Well, no big order came in but there was a surge in people who wish to join my mailing list. That's a great start.

US$70.00 /SING$88.00
  The wooden crown is about the size of an average head, so you can see the relation of size between the hat and head. The large ivory flower is made of satin and polyester chiffon and paired with ivory stripped coque feathers. The hat base is hand-blocked using buckram to provide shape. Ivory lace fabric is used with trimmings. To wear, pull the black millinery elastic behind your head.

I made another one but using Russain veiling and habutai silk for the flowers.

 This is in pure white colour and will be suitable for a bride who wish to be different on her big day. And also for a bride who wants to add height :}

This is how the hat is seen from the back of the head
There are more in peach, brown and pink which I will put up soon. Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I want a poupée

I have scoured ebay france and uk looking for a  poupée . For the uninitiated, this is how a traditional poupée looks:
(If you are interested in hats, do read this lady's blog. She is from Spain and makes beautiful hats. She is also very talented)

Whereas in UK, it is known as Stockman Head. Whatever name, it is unattractive to many but to a milliner, it is an essential item. I learn the traditional art of millinery from a retired Royal milliner and as a result, my designs are skewed towards the English ways.

Milliner Stephen Jones once said, when asked what he thought to be an essential gadget: “The thing I use every day is a poupée, a fabric head. I build shapes on it, using any material at all; it can be a piece of velvet or a tissue – anything can look great as a hat”.

Stephen Jones, brilliant British milliner. Treacy studies under him. He is the real Maestro.
Milliner's poupée is unlike a wig form or wig stand commonly found at Ebay. Poupée has a nose and chin and it is a useful 'head' to build a shape or drape materials. I wasn't going to substitute with a wig form and finally, I track down a company in NY who still make traditional ones (in their Paris factory) minus the painted eyes and lip. The company specializes in couture dress form and supplies to French Haute-Couture industry and major American Luxury department stores.

A milliner told me she has a second-hand poupée from ebay UK that costs her 80 pounds. Well, if you know me, you know that I will pay if that's what I want. And I have learn (the hard way) that you cannot use cheap shit to make hats. I always believe to buy the best I can afford. So I am keeping my fingers cross that Stockman will reply  and sell me a poupée online. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sporadic burst of energy

I tried to tidy my work area which is also my living room. I bought many drawers and shelves from NTUC and Ikea which I hope will help me be more organised. For the last few nights, I assembled these shelves from Ikea myself and worked out a good sweat.  

This metal rack was very cheap but so hard to assemble. I use it to keep my trimmings.

 These are some feather flowers that I made. They have to wait as I am busy with another project.

 The pink Ikea organisers that are so easy to assemble. I keep mainly feather and veilings in these pink containers. Yes, I have many feathers stock.
I got these plastic drawers from NTUC and they come with wheels. Not very attractive, but no need to assemble, so they are great. One is for trimmings and the other I kept my silk fabrics and tulle.

 My hat blocks...some in the box to keep it free from dust. My cheapest hat block is US$100+. It is a peak cap shape but I have not made any hat with it. I don't really like it. So why did I buy it? It was a bargain and brand new. Irrational buying. The most expensive one costs 300 +pounds (for crown and brim). I took a long time to decide on this one. It is a trilby that can be for both sexes. I wanted to make men hats too. Another reason for its high cost is it is brand new. I don't really like second hand hat block as some look so grubby and dirty. At such high cost, I need to take better care of them by keeping them in boxes.

 Iron and hot plate ....all part of millinery.

This second hand wooden head on spinner is my best buy- just US$56 from ebay excluding shipping. It can go as much as US$100 now at ebay. It was shipped from Canada and relatively new with just a few cracks and some pin holes. I use it mainly to pin my work as I figure out how to position feathers and flowers. I also use it to position veiling. Right now,  I have been working on cocktail hats for the last 2 weeks. This is work in progress.....

 ...with a large satin flower attached. It is nearly finished, just the lining and raw edges to go.The cocktail hat is part of a collection of 10 that I am sending to Perth Australia. This has kept me very busy but thank goodness I was given 2 months to work on them. Once they are sent out (I am still figuring out how to pack them), I will make a few more for my etsy shop.

I have a oval pork-pie crown (second hand), a cloche hat block (new) and a flying saucer hat block (new) coming my way. I do wish they arrive in early June so that I can start practising before my trip to London. I think I prefer to make hats and not just clips and headbands. In the past, I have priced my designs too long and have done myself great dis-service. A handmade cocktail hat cost more than US$100 in USA and even more in England.  So I think my price is reasonable considering that I use mainly silk fabrics and painstakingly handstitched every process.