• Upcycled Hat Contest

    The Upcycled Hat Contest on Hat Talk Social Has Begun!
    Cherry Bomb

    Hat Talk Social, a website for milliners from our friends at How 2 Hats, has a contest running for the best upcycled hat. Three judges will review entries based on originality, theme interpretation and quality of workmanship.  There is so much inspiration in everyone's work. I encourage you to browse all the beautiful hats on Pinterest.

    Below is my entry into the contest made using plastic soda bottles which I describe in my previous post.

  • How to Recycle Plastic to Create Hat Trims

    I am really excited that the team at Hat Talk announced an Upcycled Hat Contest. I love using recycled or upcycled materials for my hats. I often search through thrift stores for hats that have been tossed out because they are too small (child size), crushed (straw) or just not needed anymore (lots of church hats)! Often times the materials I find are higher quality than I can purchase. They are definitely less expensive and always perfect for testing a new block or cutting up to salvage trim.

    For the contest, however, I wanted to stretch myself and learn some new skills. I have often been inspired by bags or jewelry I've seen created in countries like Africa or Brazil made from from soda cans. In my research for ideas, I came across a Nestle Water's website that was promoting plastic bottle recycling. I was inspired by the artists they featured and that lead me to look for how-to videos. Here is that site and some good videos I found:
    • Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water Recycling click
    • Pop Bottle Flowers by Luvleescrappin click
    • Make Jewelry from Plastic Bottles by Juneocto click

    Okay, so here are the steps you can take to create some dramatic feather shapes from a plastic bottle.
    2-liter plastic soda bottle
    Sharpie (any color)

    Tea light

    Step One:
    Empty, clean and dry your bottle. Remove the label so the plastic is clean for a smooth surface. You can cut out the bottom and use later to create a flower.

    Step Two:
    Cut 1-2 inch strips of plastic at whatever length you want your feather to be. I cut all the way to the end of a 2-liter bottle.

    Create a point on the end, if you like. I also cut 1/2 inch slits into the side of my feathers.

    Step Three:
    Color one side of the plastic with the sharpie. It didn't seem to matter which side but you might have a preference to test on a scrap.

    Step Four:
    Hold the edges of the plastic feather over a tea light candle until your feather curls the way you like it. Be careful because it curls very quickly. You can apply heat to the reverse side if you want to correct the shape.
    Just heat the edges

    Plastic curls from the heat

    More curling

    Collecting the feathers to attach to my hat

    Flowers from bottom of bottle

    When the contest launches, I'll post pictures of my hat. I am really excited about using these new techniques to see what else I can make. And my next project will experiment with colors.

    Thanks for stopping by!!!

  • Hat Trends 2012

    Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending my neice's college graduation where I witnessed a new trend (it could be old, for all I know) in Cap and Gown wear. Many of the graduates took this opportunity to personalize their caps with paint, glitter, and rhinestones. I was amused by many of the messages so I wanted to share a few with you!

    ~ Most Appropriate ~
    ~ Best Message ~ HIRE ME!
    ~ Best Graduation Gift ~ I wonder if she's going to Paris?
    ~ Cutest ~ Hello Kylie Kitty 2012
    ~ Most BeDAZZLING ~
    ~ Best Glitter ~
    ~ Most Creative ~ Grandma Paper Hat
  • The French Room ~ Let the fun begin!

    This coming weekend some partners-in-craft-crime and myself will begin teaching millinery classes in our new space called The French Room.

    Two weeks ago we were fortunate enough to meet a lot of potential students at an open house we held during Los Angeles' yarn crawl weekend. We had a blast, drank mimosas and made new friends. We also gave away a free class along with $5 off certificate to all our new friends.

    We offer classes on the weekends. Mostly Saturdays and some Sundays. Each month we feature millinery classes along with other craft classes we hope people will find fun. Here's a list of our upcoming schedule

    Free Form Fascinator by Corina Heywood
    Saturday April 28
    Kentucky Derby/Fascinator Hat class
    Be ready for the big race on May 5th! Learn how to make your own essential (and fabulous!) head wear for that Derby viewing party with friends!
    Level: Beginner

    Pricing:$35 + $15 for materials
    To register, call 818-445-7147 or click here!

    Saturday May 12th
    Infinity Necklaces
    A perfect class to share with your Mom to celebrate her special day. These very long beaded strand necklaces can be worn many different ways. Even if you've never made jewelry before you will have a one of a kind, versatile piece to wear all year.  Materials will be provided, but you are encouraged to bring special items that have family history to use such as old necklaces to take apart, charms, lockets, brooches, beads, watch faces. Make your necklaces together - then wear them on Mother's Day. Who knows? They could become family heirlooms. 

    Level: Beginner
    10:00 - 12:00 
    Pricing: $25 - materials included - single rate
    Mom discount: $40 for you and your Mom

    May 19  & May 26
    Free Form Straw Fascinators
    Millinery Workshop ~ make a free form straw Fascinator headpiece - perfect
    for springtime parties! Instructor Corina Myla Haywood is a professional hat
    designer and instructor and an inspirational artist to work beside (http:/
    Level: Beginner-Expert
    Cost: $80 (materials are included)
    Saturday May 19, 1:00-3:00
    Saturday May 26, 1:00-4:00

    May 26
    Dandy Bow-tie
    Learn different styles of bow-ties and what was popular through the eras. You will be able to pick the style, modify a pattern and then make a bow-tie, Your choice of classic style or clip-on.

    Level: Beginner
    ($20 + $5 for materials) 

    June 2
    Wedding Garters (bridal keepsakes)
    Using lovely fabrics, lacy trims, and elastic, create something with old elements, or something new, something blue, or with some things borrowed!  Surprise a bride or bridesmaid with a heartfelt keepsake of a special day.  

    Level:  Beginner to Intermediate (some hand sewing experience helpful)
    1:00 to 3:00pm-ish
    Class $25 (includes all materials)

    June 9
    Hand Rolled Roses and Gathered Flowers 
    Learn how to make beautiful fabric flowers for a center piece to your own one of a kind summer necklace!  Once you've learned to make these blooms you can also use them a multitude of other ways: on headbands, on barrettes, as brooches, or shoe clips. You can also take this class to make flowers for our bridal sash class, being taught on Saturday, June 1st.  It’s easier than you'd think and lots of fun!

    Level: Beginner to Intermediate (some hand sewing experience helpful)
    June 30 - 1:00 to 3:00pm-ish
    Class $35 (includes all materials) 

    June 17 & 24
    Upcycled Hats
    This is a great starter class where you can learn a lot of basic millinery techniques including how to block, trim and finish a hat. You will also learn basic techniqes for repairing a hat. You can chose either felt or straw to create something totally new from an old hat. Or, if the student prefers to work with new materials, they can be purchased for an additional fee.

    Level: Beginner
    June 17 - 12:00-2:30
    June 24 - 12:00-4:00
    Class $40 (includes all materials)
    New felt or straw hood, additional $25

    June 16
    Bridal Sashes
    Learn how to make a beautiful bridal sash to add the perfect finishing touch to your wedding gown.  Or bring your wedding party to create them together ! Match your wedding color theme, use pieces of lace, ribbon, flowers to create a unique piece that is sure to become a lovely memento of your wedding day.

    If you want to take this class as a group we can arrange to teach it at someone's home on a date that is convenient for your party. The French room's class size for this class is limited to 4 students per class.

    Level: Beginner (some hand sewing experience helpful)
    $30.00 + $10.00 for materials.

    We're located in a space within The Little Knittery in Atwater Village. The address is 3195 Glendale Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90039
  • Trip to Paris ~ More About Estelle Ramousse

    Jeana and Estelle being silly

    One of the best things about travelling is making friends.

    Estelle was not only a great teacher and milliner, but also a gracious friend and host. She invited Jeana and I for a stroll up the street to see an amazing view of Paris from the Parc de Belleville. Wow! We could see the entire city laid out before us while Parisians strolled with their dogs, children and friends.

    Above the Parc de Belleville
    View from the Parc
    Then Estelle took us up the Rue des Envierges to the Rue des Cascades where we sat outside a small bar and toasted a day well spent.

    The Bar
    The View from Cascades
    After drinks we strolled down the block for dinner in a local cafe. We were entertained by a "jazz" band which made Jeana feel very much at home (She live in Portland).
    Le Hot Jazz
    French Dinner - yum!

    The reason I added all this information to my blog is to give you an idea of what Estelle's lifestyle is like. She is fortunate enough to work next to many artists. And when their work is done they hang out together in the local bars and restaurants. I don't know if Estelle realizes it but this is such a wonderful place for artists. I envy her and feel privileged that she gave us a glimpse of Parisian life!

    Estelle's neighbor - a photographer- drops by!

    Pretty great life, no? Oui!

  • Trip to Paris ~ About Estelle Ramousse

    Forgive me but I just wanted to do a whole blog post about Estelle.

    Estelle Ramousse, Modiste
    Spending an entire day with Estelle taught me so much about the lifestyle of a milliner, a Parisian and an artist. I wanted to share a little bit of that with you.

    First of all she is an adorable, outspoken, warm and friendly person. Every minute we spent together she was expressive and fun. We talked about millinery, sewing, teaching, living in Paris and music all while working in her studio/store. She kept singing the lyrics "jive turkey" from a 70s funk band we watched on YouTube. I wish I could remember the groups name right now but it escapes me.

    A knit hat for Estelle
    A gorgeous leather and fabric hat for me!

    Estelle's shop and studio is located on a block that hosts a number of other artists. Directly across the street was a sculpture's studio, next door was her photographer and up the street a potter worked in a front window. Estelle said she tried working in her window for a while but became tired of the people on the street gawking at her.

    Last year Estelle took a month-long vacation to Mexico. (she has some amazing photos on her
    FB page, if you want to check them out) And I could see how she took inspiration from the Mexican culture to create some amazing hats. Throw in her interest in New Guinea, as well...

    Cactus Flower

    Estelle gets work from many different clients. Some walk in from off the street. Some are students. And some come from the theater, film or TV. Those jobs inspire her to build outrageous fantasy pieces that are amazing. Those kinds of hats attract photographers to her asking to use her creations in photo shoots.

    This hat includes a variety of feathers and a pair of quills for horns.
    Look closely and you'll see pheasant hackles, ostrich, pliots, and peacock feathers
    Work in progress.
    Can you see the black feathers she covered the entire scull cap with?
    Those are hand sewn.

    More about Estelle in the next post!

  • Trip to Paris ~ Hat Class with Estelle Ramousse

    The highlight of my recent trip to Paris was getting an entire day of study with Estelle Ramousse. Some of you may know her from her book, "Studio Secrets: Millinery," which is how I heard of her. On a whim, I sent her an email asking if she taught any private lessons and surprisingly she promptly wrote back "yes!"

    by Estelle Ramousse
    We planned to meet on my first full day in Paris at her shop. I jumped out of bed early and rushed to the Metro where my first challenge was figuring out how to reach her neighborhood. I felt so cosmopolitan rushing down the stairs, struggling to buy a ticket and jumping on the train while trying to appear more Parisian than American. I probably failed miserably.

    The train traveled from Montmarte to the Belleville neighborhood where Estelle's shop is located. As I rode I got a view of Parisian's offices and neighborhoods out of the way from the tourists view. When I exited the train I walked up to the street where I could see Estelle waiting for me across the street. She is, in one word, adorable. Dressed head to toe in denim, she had on high heels and an amazing jean jacket she made herself with feathers, leather and paint. Estelle loves dramatic designs and has the skills to create them.

    Amazing hand stitching!

    The Finished Hat
    Estelle and I decided the lesson would be on how to create a headband similar to the one in her book. I think it was the best lesson I could have asked for because it allowed me the chance to see someone with sewing skills create a custom headpiece. We measured my head, cut the top layer, sewed and then fit the piece again. I could give you the step-by-step but it's all in her book. But let me show you some amazing pictures of Estelle at work.
    Cutting on the bias
    Fitting the material - creating a dart
    Planning the flower - adding wire so the applique will be 3-dimensional
    Adding the lining
    The finished hat - gorgeous!
    Estelle is not only incredibly talented but also was a great host! In my next post I want to tell you more about her hats and the neighborhood. In the meantime, enjoy this photo of her with my friend Jeana in front of her shop!

    Estelle Ramousse, Modiste
    00064 Rue de la Mare
    75020 Paris, France

  • Trip to Paris ~ Ultra Mod

    So, just between you and me, the name Ultra Mod sounds modern for a store. But this is the name of one of the oldest stores for millinery supplies, ribbon, and buttons in Paris. The store is divided into two shops across the street from each other. The East side sells ribbons and buttons while the West side is devoted mostly to millinery.


    Like many millinery brick-n-mortar stores still left, the inventory is limited. Once purchased, will be gone forever.

    I enjoyed shopping for sinimay, veiling and ribbons - all things that would fit easily in a suitcase.
    West Side front window
    Ultramod is located at 2, rue de Choiseul in the 2nd Arrondissement. If you get the chance to visit Paris it is worth a visit. But hold onto your wallet because the materials are hard to resist.

    West Side front window

    Antique straw sewing machine

    Hat Boxes

  • My Teacher, My Guide, My Inspiration

    Once, maybe twice in your life you are fortunate enough to find someone who's love, guidance and knowledge changes your life. In my most recent years that person has been my millinery teacher, Jill Pfieffer. Her talent for making hats is so immense because anything she didn't quite know the answer to she would explore with her creativity. With her it was always French Room - or hand made, as we would say.

    Jill was fortunate to have been raised by a mother and grandmother who passed on their skills for sewing and pattern making. She was also encouraged to cultivate her own tastes and make things on her own. I think this gave Jill the ability to create beauty in almost every area of her life. Here are some examples from my short time of knowing her:

    * Having to live in a small apartment? Well, look at how handy all my things are and check out the view from my window!

    * Having poor health? That's okay because I have two cute drivers that pick me up every day for my trip to the doctor (she called them "the boys").

    * My client doesn't want me to use animal materials (wool, for example)? Fine - I will figure out how to block synthetic wool and improve on my technique at the same time!

    I admired how much she loved her life. I also admired how much confidence she had in herself.

    I learned today that Jill passed away. I don't know the circumstances. But in my selfish mind all I can think is "how am I going to do without her" and "who is going to answer all my questions?" I know if Jill was sitting here with me she would probably say "you know what to do - just think."

    Jill loved all the people in her life - especially her daughter, her son and her grandchildren. She spoke often about them because she always shared with you everything that was going on in her life.
    I miss you, Jill. And I hope you know how much you were loved by all your students. 
  • Marimekko | My New Hat

    I should really title this "My Adventures in Draping" since this is a very new, very fun process I am learning all the time. But let me begin from the start by describing how this hat was inspired. 

    As a child of the 70s, I have been a fan of the fabric designs of Marimekko, which is a company based in Helsinki, Finland. Founded in 1951 as an oil cloth factory, the business failed and then transformed into a very influential fabric design company that achieved popularity in the 60s and 70s. They are best known for brightly-colored printed fabrics and simple styles, used both in women's garments and in home furnishings.

    In 1987 I had the opportunity to travel to Finland and got to shop at the Marimekko store. My mother still wears a pair of socks and t-shirt I purchased for her at that time. So you can imagine how excited I was to find that Crate and Barrel was selling their fabric by the yard!

    I started with a yard of this beautiful fabric which I think resembles a cherry blossom tree.

    Building the Frame
    With buckram I blocked a crown on my wig stand and cut out a brim using a platter to trace the shape. (a platter from the 99 cent store!) After wiring, mulling and fleecing both I added a brown silk fabric to the bottom of the brim. Once I sewed the crown to the brim the fun began!

    Draping the Crown
    We (my teacher Jill and I) placed the fabric over the top of the hat. I turned it until I got the placement right - meaning that I wanted the branch to flow across the width of the hat so you could see the design properly. Once I was happy with that I put one pin on the top of the crown to secure it. Then, using my hands, I smoothed the fabric over the crown applying folds when needed and pinned. This was done by pinning the front and side right and creasing - then pinning the back and side right and creasing. By pinning the crown in 4 segments I was able to more easily smooth the material.

    Lining the hat and Creating an Applique
    The brim was actually fleeced and covered with a brown silk fabric before I draped the crown. But I learned two tricks with this process.

    1) In order to line the inside I placed a piece of the silk fabric across the opening and pushed my hand down inside the crown. Where ever the fabric wanted to fold I pinned it and then lightly stiched it down and trimmed to the edge. That left only the headband (grosgrain) to sew down and cover my stitches.

    2) The underside was too plain for me so Jill suggested I cut a piece of the Marrimekko design and create an applique by applying a thin layer of glue to the back. I never created my own applique but now I have something I can do with scraps!

    Custom Applique

    Marrimeko Fans
    Marimekko has a fan base of people who use their fabrics in all sorts of crafts. Crate and Barrel sells a really cool book that features these crafts called Surrur. I plan on posting my hat to the Facebook page as another example of how to use their fabric!