So I've gone a bit course crazy the past few weeks. Today's course was my first step in the world of millinery, a course in making fascinators at the Make Lounge.
My interest in millinery is a relatively new one, I like hats but I don't own many. I am in the process of learning how to swing dance and loving the dressing up aspect. After a period of trying to cultivate the look, my main reflection is that it isn't so much about the clothes as it is about the styling. Specifically hair, gloves, make-up, broaches, and hats. Ergo, I need more hats.
Of course I could buy hats, but I likes making stuff and I fancy the idea of owning a hat block. Even though I've never seen a hat block. My ultimate ambition in millinery is the cloche and the pill box hat as shown below.
I didn't really investigate what was on offer for millinery courses across London, I came across this when I was researching crotchet courses and signed up on impulse. I know little of millinery and £45 for a four hour lesson seemed fairly reasonable.
The course was delivered at the Make Lounge's venue 2 in Angel. The workshop was light and roomy and all the materials were included in the price (sweet!). Tea, coffee and Pom Bears were also provided. Including myself there were eight people taking the class, including a gentleman crafter! This rare beast turned out not be a true craft aficionado but a chap who was taking his mum out for her birthday (aww). He was very new to sewing, but made admirable progress and made a rather fetching fascinator in pink and purple.
The teacher Amy, began by showing us some examples of the finished products and giving an overview of our options. Aside from the decoration, the main choice was the base shape and of the fascinator. These could be in a circle, oval or teardrop. Amy advised that the circle was the easiest base to construct and that the teardrop a little more tricky.
The base is constructed out of sinamay - a modern form of stiffened woven fabric that feels bit like straw. I decided to go for a cranberry red base colour with a circular base (I wanted an easier life!). We used a double thickness sinamay and used a template to cut out the bases.
The next step was to sew millinery wire around the edge using a whip stitch.
Once the wire was fully stitched to the base, we cut some sinamay on the bias and made bias binding. Much easier than I imagined to construct. Once our bias binding was made we stretched it out and cut off the end.
We used this bias binding to cover the edge of the base using a running stitch.
Here is the completed base! We pressed this with the iron and then shaped them with our hands to give them a bit of a dome - to give a better fit to the end product.
The next step was to pick our decorations, I chose blue feathers and blue netting.
Once the decorations were picked it was a matter of arranging them. This was tricksy, what looks good flat on the table does not necessarily look good on your head. Much rearranging was undertaken as a result of this fact. In addition to the feathers and netting I added some sinamay twirls (made from the bias binding). Once I'd settled on a design it was simply a matter of sewing it in place with a few holding stitches
To complete our fascinator we had to attach our fastenings, either elastic or combs. I selected a comb and then secured with a couple of stitches at each end. Simples!
And here is the finished product!
I'm quite proud of how it turned out, and after the time-consuming nature of dressmaking it was refreshing to have something approaching instant gratification. I will definitely be making some more of these in the near future.
Overall, I'd recommend the course as fun introduction to millinery. I found Amy to be an enthusiastic teacher with some impressive credentials. She encouraged us to be creative and her style of teaching made the experience lots of fun. She took the time to give us background on millinery and an overview of her own experiences.
If only this was the end of it! I asked Amy for tips on where to go next to learn more, and she recommended Morley College. I've never heard of them before but mon dieu! So. Many. Courses. Corsetry, glove making, pattern cutting, shoe design, fashion illustration, swimwear, and many many more. I think I'll be logging some time there in the near future.