Please check the updated posting here (I had to delete the one here because the html had gone crazy).
January 1, 2008
December 30, 2007
There you will find hundreds of pictures and scans of old apron patterns. Should come as no surprise that there are lots of people out there who love and make aprons, but the truth is that it doesn’t cease to amaze me the amount of great things and great people you can meet on the internet.
This pattern comes from a Spanish mail order sewing course dating from the 1950′s.
By the way, Amy’s blog is beautiful and fun, lots of sewing projects but other stuff too. She has published a great little book called “bend-the-rules sewing” that I have and love and I’m sure it will be of great help with my new sewing machine (yes!!! my personal Santa left it under the tree a few days after Christmas!!)
December 29, 2007
The crown block is finished. I have adjusted the shape a little bit more and have called it a day!
Remember I made a detachable base for the block? I was trying all along to “save” the verticality of that base and I think that might have contributed to the hat not sitting comfortably on the head. My last (EVER) modification to the block has been giving some angle to that part so that it sits nicer. In these pictures you can see the work halfway. The right side has been given an angle, while the left side is as it was, before sanding:
Notice that I have traced the edge of the headsize with a pen, that way I will immediately notice if I start sanding that by mistake.
I’ve already reblocked the crown and it’s drying, so my next posting (soon!) will be about trimming the hat.
December 17, 2007
I bought myself this little tool on ebay, isn’t it great? You can insert it in a hat and that way you can measure the headsize. I guess it was used by milliners or sales attendants to find out the headsize of the customer that wanted to buy a new hat (and came with one on their heads). I’ve had to pay 52 euros for it, but I think it was well worth it!
Here is a detail picture:
During our recent visit to the Netherlands we took the opportunity to visit the Hat museum in the city of Utrecht. It has the fun name of Gossip and Whispering.
A small private museum occupying the ground floor of a little attached house it displays not only vintage hats but also contemporary hats from the most noted Dutch designers (picture above). The vintage hats on show include fur hats and feathered hats (even handbags covered with feathers!), gorgeous hat pins, delicate beaded toques and much more. Also hatmaking tools like vintage hat blocks and a straw sewing machine. The hat stands (picture below) are a joy to look at.
Up until the first week of January there is also a special exhibition of 40 contemporary hats by 7 different milliners selected by the wonderful Dutch Milliner Marianne Jongkind. The milliners are Yvonne de Bruijn, Vera Klomp, Mirjam Nuver, Eugenie van Oirschot, Marianne Schouten, Irene Bussemaker and Irene van Vugt. This is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Marianne Jongkind’s atelier”. Some years ago I spent a few days helping out and learning from her and I can tell you she is a very kind person and a great hat maker. This exhibition includes also her own hats.
One of the nice things in the museum are the albums filled with newspaper clippings and pictures of wonderful hats from different milliners.
Tiny Meihuizen-Wijker (below, in front of her own creations) is the person we have to thank for setting up and maintaining this museum. She has more than 2000 vintage hats in her attic and at the time of our visit she had just received some beautiful Christian Dior hats covered with petals.. Tiny also makes hats and gives classes and workshops in her museum. There is also a “high tea” in offer where you get to drink and eat delicious things and also get the opportunity to hear about hats and to try some on! Perhaps on a future trip I will have the time to join in one of the workshops, who knows! Click here to see all the pictures of our visit to the museum.
December 10, 2007
I’ve been under the radar for quite a few days because of a family trip to Holland, but I have now a few hat stories to tell you. Before I do that I want to give you a little update on my homburg block/hat.
After some heavy sanding and filing I blocked the hat crown again.
No microwave this time, instead I put the kettle on the stove to get some old fashion steam. Then with the help of my small travel iron and a wet cloth (which in combination produce a lot of steam) I managed with no problems to reshape the felt. On the down side, when I tried it on Peter again I could see that I had improved but it was not yet comfortable to wear, so I will give it another go soon (some more sanding and reshaping) because I want to be finished with it and move on to something else (possibly another hat block for myself this time).
You might look at the pictures and think that the hat looks exactly the same as it did before, but I can promise you that I retouched it so much as to produce a thick layer of cork dust covering the floor of the balcony.
It’s a fact that it sinks in too low for it to be comfortable, but I’m getting some doubts on whether the inner top of the hat should really rest on top of the head. I’ve seen some old pictures of men with high hats and it seems pretty obvious that the top of the head does not reach the top of the hat! Follow this link for a clear example! How on earth they were made to be comfortable I don’t know… perhaps once the headsize is the right one then the hat stays in place, but with the ribbon still to go it could be that the hat is now too big. Another thought I’ve had is that possibly it would be more comfortable if the sides hugged the head a little bit, so my next modification of the block will go in that direction.
I am open to suggestions, so please let me know what you think!
November 29, 2007
I know it might be hard to believe, but I do not have a sewing machine. What I know about sewing by hand I’ve taught myself, and my mom taught me to sew on her mom’s (my grandmother’s) pedal Singer. I love that machine and if one day it makes it’s way to me I will cherish it, but the fact will remain that it can only do a straight stitch.
So, I was thinking on getting myself a brand new sewing machine.
I know what I do not want:
1. I don’t want a machine with a plastic body. No, no, no… I hate those (and that immediately rules many brands)
2. I do not want a fancy electronic embroidery machine. I want it simple, basic.
3. I do not want a second hand one and I don’t want a bargain that will break on day two.
These self imposed restrictions have led me to the following machine (that unfortunately does not sell in Spain), a Janome 419s. It’s a Japanese brand, and this particular model has an all metal body and can do 18 stitches and a one step button hole. It also has a free arm and the feed can be dropped.
It looks like a strong machine that will be able to sew through felt and whatnot. This french website has lots of pictures of the little details.
The strange thing is that, if I buy this machine in Holland (I’m going there soon for a few days) it will cost me 399 Euros. If I buy it in the UK it will cost me 232 Euros (including shipping to Spain) and they even drop in a set of scissors worth 65 Euros. It’s a no brainer really, but I’m amazed there can be such a huge difference in price. The official Janome price is simply half in the UK…
Well, this is it. I’ve kind of made up my mind, but I will try to test one while I’m in Amsterdam, to get a feel for the machine.
So… if any one has any objection against this machine or brand, please speak now (soon) or forever hold your peace…
November 28, 2007
Finally I took the felt out of the block but not before trimming out the excess felt with a new toy I recently bought myself at a craft fair. It’s called a chenille cutter made by Olfa. It’s similar to the paper cutter from 3M that I showed you on this post, only this works much better because it’s intended for cutting several layers of fabric, and the manufacturer even says that’s good to cut felt. I thought it was made to cut chenille, but after looking around on the web I see that it’s meant to make chenille, or at least something that looks like it, pretty cool actually.
Well, back to my hat. I was very proud of myself after I unblocked. It looked like a hat! It looked pretty darn good!
It does looks like a hat… I know it sounds silly but I was imagining everything that could go wrong and was not so sure about the whole thing.
I unblocked while at Nina’s workroom and immediately realised that it was too soft and needed some stiffener. I used the chemical smelly stiffener because it would not have been a good idea to use the waterbased one since the hat might have lost it’s shape. I felt wonderful and held the hat in my hand all the way back home (in the bus)… people must have thought I was nuts.
The BAD news. Either I have to chop off the top of Peter’s ears by one centimeter or I need to re-do the crown. BWAAAHHHH! Entirely my fault because I DID measure the distance between the top of his ear and the top of his head, wrote it down, worked it into my sketch and then FORGOT all about it until the moment I put it on Peter’s head. The underside of the crown (crease) has to slightly sit on top of the head, otherwise it will not be comfortable to wear. Or would it? I think not, but then I think about a top hat and that does not sit on top of the head…
Soooo… this is the plan (possibly doomed to failure). I am reworking the crown block. The height will go down, but mostly the crease will be deeper. I hope I will be able to save the brim, and just steam the crown, put it back on the crown block, tie the base with string and with the help of more steam I should (hope to) be able to work it into the new shape. What I reckon I cannot do is to simply lower the height of the crown without going down on the central crease because if I do that I will have excess felt and I wont be able ease it into shape. Even so, I will have excess felt and don’t have a clue how it will work out… possibly a mess…
November 26, 2007
It seemed like the day would never come, but finally I have dared to block the felt on my wonderful new blocks.
Still too lazy to dig up my jiffy steamer from under a pile of boxes I have popped the water sprayed felt, wrapped in a wet towel, into my microwave.
This is the fur felt capeline I have used, bought at the German supplier KOPKA, it’s a special capeline for man’s hats. It’s special because because it’s thicker felt and heavily sized.
Here are some pictures of the process:
Yes, crazy enough to nuke the brim after the crown was blocked (no pins in there, just string!), also a picture of the plastic bags I’ve used to protect the block:
And here the blocked brim. You can understand now what I meant before when I said that the brim block goes upside down. The block is in the oven for drying (I have an air oven and it’s set at 50ºC). I did put my marble dust bag on top and some weights on top of that to keep the top crease in place, but I had removed them when I took the picture so that it would dry:
Here are some pictures of the blocked brim:
I might still get a decent hat out of this… who knows!
Tomorrow the unveiling/unblocking… I hope to have time to post about it!
November 22, 2007
I thought I’d show you the latest progress on the brim block…
I don’t know how I manage but lately I end up working on the block late in the afternoon until the light is almost gone and I can see close to nothing (guessing my way around), so I will wait until this weekend to check up the block with good light and give it a final shape and polish. The edge is pretty much done, first I’ve traced it with a pen and then I’ve used the metal file to make the indentation and shaping.
I must say I’m pretty happy with the result so far… I can’t wait to block the felt and I hope that a proper hat comes out of it, but it’s really hard to visualize the final hat just from the block, even if it’s me who has made it.
And I want to say thanks to Jill for keeping an eye on me and the block/blog!