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Monday, September 9, 2013

Matters Millinery - Making My Own Hats

I created this fabric covered buckram hat
from black silk dupioni in Wayne Wichern's class.
The pink silk band and bow makes  a nice looking trim,
but so far I've only worn it plain.
Have you ever read the fascinating book The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould? The author presents stories about the historical study of phrenology (the Victorian idea of a noble brow is a typical example of phrenology). One aspect of phrenology was that researchers tried to prove that head size was linked to mental superiority.

It didn't pan out.

I'd love to think that my larger than normal head means I have an extra measure of brains. But according to Gould, that's not the case. About the only thing my 24.5 inch head size does for me is make it impossible to find a woman's hat that fits. Gals are supposed to have 22.5 inch head circumferences. Hence the Minnie Mouse look whenever I try on a cute hat. Over the counter hats perch up on top of my curls, making me a perfect cartoon model.

But of course, being a sewist, I can make my own hats and leave Minnie's at Disneyland.
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You may have read a posting I wrote last fall called "Chewing a Bun with Tuppence" (http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2012/06/caps-off-chewing-bun-with-tuppence.html )  about the first fabric cap I made. I also wrote about another cap I made, using the same pattern a month or so later. I wear one or the other of these caps every single day. They protect my skin better than a regular baseball cap and are a lot cuter too! 

But I wanted to know how to make more than caps. I wanted to be able to make a structured hat.

I like my black silk duping hat plain
I took Wayne Wichern's Millinery class at Cañada College last spring. It was a lovely three-session, weekend class, perfect for full-time workers who want to squeeze in some creative time with recreational and artistic sewing. We had a lot of fun chatting while we stitched away - the majority of this kind of sewing is by hand. By the way, Wayne is not only a fun person, he's also a great teacher.

Most of our time in class was devoted to making fabric-covered buckram hats. I made a simple style in black silk dupioni. I played around with trims for this hat, but mostly I like it plain. It will be easy enough to add trims anytime in the future. I bought the fabric at Thai Silks in Los Altos. If you stop by their shop, ask about special discounts for fashion students and Cañada fashion students. It's a really nice store. They've been there a long time and have a good reputation in the area. They sell online too.

We also learned about the process of making straw hats. We didn't have the resources and room to block our own, but we gave Wayne our measurements, choose colors and styles and he blocked them for us.  We did the really hard part - we trimmed them with ribbons, lace and anything else we could come up with :-) So now I have a straw hat that fits, in addition to my black silk hat!

In addition we made fascinators or cocktail hats. I gave mine to Holly the Dolly to use as a regular doll's hat. I'll put up a picture of that in a future posting.
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We loved showing off our creations at the reunion
in Wayne Wichern's Burlingame studio
In late summer Wayne invited us to his Burlingame studio for a follow-up party where we showed off our creations. Wayne teaches a variety of workshops in his studio. If you live in the area, or might come for a visit, I can promise you'll have a wonderful time in this sociable setting. Warning! These popular workshops fill quickly.
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Whenever I see an appealing hat, cocktail hat or fascinator on the web, I pin it to http://www.pinterest.com/lrshimer/hats-and-other-millinary/

Wayne Wichern Millinery http://www.waynewichernmillinery.com

Wayne's Workshop Schedule - Burlingame CA (San Mateo County, San Francisco Bay Area) Follow the link to classes for the current year at http://www.waynewichernmillinery.com

Thai Silks
252 State Street, Lost Altos, CA

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