Hat block issues

Ok, so I am officially overly excited about millinery now.

 I am still to take a single lesson, and I am already trying to find hat blocks. Hat blocks are the corner stone of traditional millinery, and any milliner worth his/her salt, would do well to invest in some of these. They can be made from wood, aluminium, plastic, fiber glass or styrofoam ( there are possibly more).

Now I am not pretending to be an expert on this subject, but from the books I’ve been reading ( and they are alot), it seems wooden hat blocks are the best. However, they also the most expensive of all hat blocks.  So for someone starting out, that will definitely be a major investment. One which I am not prepared to make at this juncture.

Having decided to make my own hatblock (crazy right?), I started scouring the internet for ideas. I found a very helpful site called Hatstruck . The lady who blogs there, Lee, is so talented and so generous with her knowledge. She makes some of her own blocks, and uses even woden bowls as blocks. Wooden bowls? Oh yes! you read right. Wooden bowls. Ever since I read that on her post, I have been looking at every piece of wooden bowl I see with added interest. Analysing its shape and trying to see a hat in those bowls. I think I’m definitetly going crazy, but when your pockets are as threadbare as mine are, improvise, you shall!!.

She even did a tutorial on how to make your own hat blocks using styrofoam and then coating it with wood filler. Genius non? I shall be trying that one soon. ohh boy….filling quite giddy now…

I also fell accross another method to make your own hat blocks, on Threadbanger. Yes, trusty old Threadbanger. With this one, you use expanding foam. So basically, you take an old hat that you want to copy, spray it with sizing ( for us UK peeps, its fabric stiffener.), let it dry, spray some cooking spray, then use the expanding foam. At the end, you’ll have a hat block which can be sanded and carved and I hope drilled too. You can watch the video here. I have already ordered stuff to try this one out at home. Though finding the right stiffener here in the UK is proving quite tricky. Apparently, the best stiffener to use would be gelatin stiffener. But I can’t find it. Does anyone have any idea on where to get this?

So there, if you, like me, don’t have the wonga to purchase hat blocks, you should try making yours at home. It does not repalce the need for professionally made ones though, but as an amateur, investing over 100 bucks for a hatblock is not what I would do.

Plus if I find these don’t work, I will have to rely on my father-in-law to make one for me. His hobby is wood turning ( how lucky am I?), so I am hoping hat blocks will be easy peesy for him.

If you are daunted by the idea of using a hat block, there are so many tutorials and books out there that will teach you how to make hats, but I think that merits its own post, so a roundup of tutorials will be coming along soon. Watch this space.

For those of you who can’t wait, I found an interesting hat making tutorial on Threadbanger. This tutorial teaches you how to make a pill box hat from felt. oh goody!! Very Jackie O if you ask me.

Is anyone else into hat making? Do you have any advice for me, or any tips? or would you like to know more about hat making? Would any one be interested in a sew along for a hat? Please leave a comment if you are interested, or have some knowledge to share.

many thanks and have a nice sunday



Peace Out MMJ and June 4×1

So here we are!
The end of 2 challenges. Zoe’s Me Made June 2011 and Stephanie’s June 4×1 challenge.
I am so happy I did these challenges, although strictly speaking I did not completely follow the rules to the letter. For MMJ, I had a week when I did not wear me made outfits, which I explained in this post, and my picture taking kind off became jerky towards the end. For the June 4×1, I was supposed to make 4 summer dresses in 1 month. I only made 3.
 I could take the easy way out and say I was sick for 1 week so I could not sew in that time (and yes I did not sew), but I know I was just plain lazy, and I could have made 4 dresses within 3 weeks. In my defence( I am always blameless), I did not anticipate the surgery when I signed up for these challenges, and how it would affect my pledges. So there. I failed my challenges, but technically speaking ( pay attention, this is a masterclass in being a politician), I succeeded.
Day 28

Hibiscus dress from day 1


Day 29

Now this is a new dress. This is my third entry for the June 4×1 challenge. I used an Italian cotton fabric I bought from goldhawk road. It was from the remnant bin. I bought about 6 different fabrics for £15 so I would say this was about £1.50/metre as I had 2 metres of this one.

I used the same Lisette pattern I used for the 1am dress. I really love this pattern. The bodice fits me really well too. I used bias binding on the neckline and armholes, then used a lace trimming I bought when Melizza and I went to Rolls and Rems.

Picture taken at the end of the day, so dress looks rumpled.


MMJ Day 30

My MMJ item today is my necklace. Hope you can see clearly in this picture.

Like I said before, I’m really happy I participated in these challenges. They’ve made me realise that I really can have a self made wardrobe and that it is not as difficult as I thought it would be. I have been so proud of myself this month, skipping around in things I made myself, and getting praises for it.

 I think I got high (on more than one occasion ) on the reaction I got from people when they found out I made my own clothes. hihihihihi. I think its a good thing I am no one famous. If I was one of those famous peeps, I know I would have been one of those really annoying ones prancing about with my nose in the air like Jerusalem women of old ( and no I have never been to Jerusalem).

I have also been really happy with the creative freedom making your own clothes gives you. I can decide what colour of dress I want, or what trimmings I want to use, and there’s nothing the high street can do about that. So liberating.

I still have 2 challenges in the pipeline. My self imposed holiday wardrobe challenge, where I make ALL the things I will be taking with me to Marjoca at the end of July……


….and the Summer Essentials Sew-Along, where I have to make 5 things or more that I would rather not live without this summer from June to August.

The good thing about doing the MMJ and June 4×1 challenges is that I have already made a couple of summer things which I will use as my entries for these remaining challenges.  I could say I am already 60% done with these two challenges. For the SESA, I still need to add a pair of shorts and a tankini. Same goes for my holiday wardrobe challlenge.
What about you? Have you got any personal challenges coming up, or other community wide challenges?