Willcox & Gibbs S200

Introducing my new baby, a Willcox & Gibbs S200 straw plait (braid) sewing machine.  Here are some pictures of the machine and interesting links to 17 Guinea, Hatlines #71, Straw hats, Alex Askaroff, Mad Hatter Blog, and how to lock a Chain Stitch

Willcox and Gibbs S200 Straw plait sewing machine
Willcox and Gibbs S200

I have had two big ticket items on my millinery wish list for a while now.  One is a hot block hat stretcher and the other is a Willcox & Gibbs straw sewing machine.  I can now check off one of those items after winning an eBay auction a few weeks ago.

Treasures from the little tool box
Treasures from the little tool box. Spanner (wrench), needles, tweezers, screw driver and oil bottle.


I was first introduced to the idea of a straw plait (braid) sewing machine while working at Edwina Ibbotson’s.  There was one that sat in the corner with a clear upturned box covering it to protect the 17 Guinea, as she calls it, from being knocked about and keep the dust off.  

I am not sure where the term 17 Guinea comes from as the Guinea was replaced by the Pound coin in 1816 and these machines are later 1800s and early 1900s. According to Wikipedia a Guinea is worth 1 Pound & 1 Shilling.  The National Archives estimated the value in 1880 as equivalent  £69.49 as of 2017. At the time it was worth 1 stone (6.35 kg/14 lbs) of wool or 3 days wages for skilled tradesman, which doesn’t seem like very much for a sewing machine.

Hatlines Issue 71, The Repair Shop
Hatlines Issue 71, The Repair Shop

I have looked on and off over the years for a “17 Guinea” with no success.  Not long ago the Hatlines magazine published by the Netherlands Hat Association, had an article about these old sewing machines. The article did a great job of showing how to clean and maintain the machines. It gave the names of several brands that I believe would fall under the name 17 Guinea and also gave me a sense of confidence in finding one.

Straw plait bonnet
Straw Plait Bonnet by Leanne Fredrick Millinery
Straw Plait hat in progress
Straw Plait hat in progress by Leanne Fredrick Millinery

I made several straw plait hats after taking a class from Jane Smith at Morley College, London and loved the process and the results.   Jane’s class taught how to make the straw hats on a standard home machine.  It is a bit tricky getting around the crown, but it can be done. Ever since I’ve desired to work with a proper straw plait machine.

W&G S200 logo button
W&G S200 logo button – Look close, notice how the needles make a W for Willcox and the machine makes a G for Gibbs
W&G S200 patent plate
W&G S200 patent plate

I don’t buy on eBay very often and even more rarely do I win, but I had been watching this machine and another on Gumtree. It was a Friday night and the auction ended at 8:15 pm.  As the last few minutes of the auction approached, I entered my highest price, into the bidding system on eBay.   It automatically bids in increments only until you are one increment above the last highest bidder, then stops. To my excitement, shock, amazement and delight.  I won.

W&G side view
W&G S200 side view

Although we have stayed very close to home in London since March, due to Covid, my husband and I adventured to Eastbourne to pick up the machine from Alex Askaroff. Followed by a stay at the Hydro Hotel. It was a good weekend.  

W&G S200 seam gauge
W&G S200 seam gauge

It doesn’t look like much, but the new tensioner was patented around 1875, so my understanding is that this machine was made around 1880. 

The video of my machine being demonstrated by Alex Askaroff.

Alex Askaroff’s YouTube Channel has some great videos if you are interested in vintage sewing machines.  I love this kind of stuff.

Another nugget was in the little wooden treasure box was a print out of the following blog post by  Mad Hatter, Cristina de Prada from 18 April 2009.  The link to Jane Smith’s straw hat e-book is not longer active, but she has many of the patent illustrations which I think are fascinating.

These early machine made a chain stitch, rather than a lock stitch of the current sewing machines.  A chain stitch  doesn’t require a separate bobbin. The underside can be used as a lovely decorative stitch but the chain stitch is know to easily unravel if you break a stitch or don’t lock the end.

Great video on how to lock a chain stitch.
It is a different model machine but the concept is the same. Go to video at 7min 20sec for how to easily lock the chain.

Me and my “new” machine are still getting to know each other. I love the way it sews and sounds, but so far I’ve only used up a lot of thread and made a little navy blue straw plait bowl, perhaps it will become a cocktail hat. I am excited to get a bit more time with my new W&G S200. 

I found it…Trip to Luton Blog Post

It was autumn 2013 and I was surprised with an invite to join Edwina Ibbotson and another apprentice, Mee on a field trip up to Luton to visit three millinery suppliers. 

This was originally written years ago. I am delighted to say all three vendors are still trading in Luton, UK. Why am I posting this now?  I was working on my latest article for The Hat Magazine #86 about the differences between how Hatters use hat blocks verse how Milliners use blocks and I needed images.  Photos have been trickier to get during the Covid lockdown.

The Hat Magazine #86 Cover The Hat Magazine 86 Hat Blocks

I knew I had images of the Boon & Lane block makers, but I could not find them.  Crazy frustrated, I let it go and waa-laa, like magic, a few days after the finished magazine* arrives in the post. I stumbled across the blog post about my trip to Luton, UK on an old neglected website I wrote prior to Hattin’ Around.  There was also an embarrassing early attempt at a podcast, but I am going to leave that behind for now.

I hope my reminiscing about hat related discoveries in Luton will bring you joy as it did me. I also don’t want to lose it again.

Back to the original blog post…

Boon & Lane the block makers, Baxter, Hart & Abraham suppliers of felt, straw, and petersham, and Randall Ribbons suppliers of feathers, flowers, an endless array of sinamay colors and much more.

Mee, Leanne, Edwina arrive in Luton
Just arrived in Luton, Mee, Me and Edwina

We drove to Luton in Edwina’s light blue vintage Mercedes. That is an experience unto itself. It took me a while to figure out how to do the old hook and magnet seat belts. The journey to Luton is about 40 miles through London and took nearly 2 hours, but we arrived mid morning at our first destination, Boon & Lane.

Edwina with vintage blue
Edwina with vintage blue and her hat block proto types

Boon and Lane  are the block makers. This was an experience to remember. There were two men working in the block factory that was filled with wood and sawdust on one half and different types of sand on the other. They make both wood and aluminium (also spelled aluminum in the USA, so the reason we pronounce this word differently is that it actually spelled differently in the UK vs US) blocks.  The aluminium blocks are used for industrial use, where they are attached to a heating device and there is a top and bottom piece that clamps together to form the hat shape all at once.

Steve Lane Aluminium hat block sand
Steve Lane tamping sand for Aluminium hat block cast

Alan Davies and Steve Lane make everything.  When I was there, Alan was working on wood blocks while Steve handled the sand packing in preparation for the molten aluminium. They were welcoming and generous with their time. Explaining what they were doing, the stages of making a hat block and showing Mee and I the various pieces of equipment.

Alan Davies talking with Edwina
Alan Davies talking with Edwina about her latest shapes

Thus far in my hat career, I’d done very little blocking, but I was completely seduced by being there. As you are sure to have guessed, today would be my first custom made block purchase.

stages of finish of a wood hat block
Stage of finish of a wood hat block, R>L

I choose a large downward flat 45 degree brim block and an oval head shaped flat topped crown block with slightly rounded edges (known as a square crown), to contrast the domed oval crown block (known as a round crown) I had in my very limited collection. It took a couple of months for the blocks to be made. Shortly before Christmas, Edwina came back one day with her new blocks along with my freshly varnished crown and brim blocks.

crown brim collar hat blocks
My new blocks from Boon and Lane. The crown has a felt on it, to take it up a hat size to fit my larger than average head.

They were beautiful shiny golden yellow with my name and the year stamped into them. The excitement was only dimmed a bit as I tried to figure out how I was going to get this massive brim block home on my bike. Alas, I could only manage the crown block that day on the bike, I’d have to wait and bring it home on the bus a couple days later. 

treasures from BHA
My treasures from Baxter, Hart and Abraham. Hat box, felt hood, capeline and petersham.

Next stop –Baxter, Hart & Abraham, suppliers to the millinery trade. This place is tidy and well organized. The textile junkie in me thrilled to touch the various different felts. Wool felt, fur felt, and the really furry felts called Melusine. Then there was the colors. My shopping strategy goes, walking around and gather everything I want.  Then doing a mental subtotal of how much it will cost. Feel anxious about how much I have. Then putting back some of my treasures, until I don’t feel the sense of financial panic. I bought several wool felts to practice on without too much financial impact, but my prize purchases were a yummy small (cone) cognac (gold) and a beautiful large (capeline) grey fur felt. It was glorious and I was so nervous at messing  up the fur felts. I envisioned a gray (grey) large brimmed hat with a fairly simple crown that I could wear all winter. However, it wasn’t going to be that winter that I’d get to wear it. [Update: I made a trilby with the cognac and fedora with the grey, which I still wear today] 

Sinamay colours
Sinamay colours at Randall Ribbons

Last stop- Randall Ribbons, the makers of all things feathers and flowers. They had a minimum order. Their website says a minimum order of £30.  I did not spend anything at Randall Ribbons. 

Feather samples
Feather sample board at Randall Ribbons

I think I was a bit overwhelmed by this point.  I had placed a rather sizable order at the block makers, and purchased enough felt at the millinery suppliers to keep me busy for a while. And honestly I just could not envision how I would trim these new hats of mine. I would have bought a simple hat pin or something, but with a minimum order, I left with nothing. I cannot say the same for Edwina or Mee.

Boxes of silk flowers
Just a small portion of the boxes of flowers.

We only went to three places, but it was a full day. Many thanks to Edwina for the tour of Luton and Mee for being a newbie like me. It was nice to be able to listen to someone else’s questions.

Prior to moving to the UK, I’d never heard of Luton. Since the field trip, I’ve heard Luton mentioned several times in relation to the hat making and millinery industry.  Luton was very active in the making of straw hats in their hay day. Which became more real to me because I have just begun taking a strip straw class at Morley College with Jane Smith.

…The end

It has been a pleasant walk down memory lane. I admit  to making a few revisions.

*Many thanks to Elly Stemerdink for the fabulous photos for the hat block article.

The Hat Fairy & Live Virtual Workshops

Late at night when everyone else has gone to bed, I get into the hat zone.  I work until the wee hours and occasionally into the next morning. Recently this has been while having a great time learning from and teaching Live Virtual Millinery Workshop

When I get to a stage where I am tempted to start taking things apart and redoing the whole thing, that signals bed time.  I set down the scissors and back away. Ideally, I do a quick tidy of the work space and put the hat on a poupée, which doesn’t alway happen but is always appreciated by my future self when it does happen.


Then it is off to bed for a few hours of rest before the next day begins in earnest.

In the morning when I get up I say, “I wonder what the hat fairy brought last night.”  Making my way to my home studio, I look at my piece with fresh (overstatement) eyes.  There are three possible reactions.  

Reaction one, is joy and delight, it is beautiful and well worth the loss of sleep, maybe even a little pride in the thought “I made that.”  Which is followed by me wearing the hat around the house while still in my nightgown. I feel fired up and want to make another hat.  

Reaction two, the big let down of disappointment followed by why did I invest so much time into that awful looking thing. I should just throw it away. Followed by, I can’t throw it away that is wasteful and it may be a useful sample of a technique or I might  be able to fix it. The reality is there are so many unfinished hats and so many more yet to be created.

Reaction three, which is by far the most common one, which is in between the other two.  Pleasure with a tinge of disappointment. I like it in general but something isn’t right.  


The current problem by far is the multitude of unfinished hats.

The red Swirl Sinamay  and red Floating Quills just need the labels, the green Macintosh Rose need a lining and the label, the grey Kakadu Lily needs something in the centre, and the label, the white Veiling Brim with Crinoline Roses needs the trimming sewn down, the base attached and the label. The giant blue Silk Abaca Bow needs a whole hat to put it on, as do the Silk Abaca Lilies. 


These are only a few of the hats that I have made in the B Unique Millinery Virtual Live Workshops which started shortly after the Covid-19 Lockdown.  The workshops have been a safe haven of creativity and camaraderie.

Please keep in mind that these pieces do not reflect the skill of the tutor, only my interpretation during a 4 hour workshop.

Workshops 
Red Swirl Sinamay and Red Floating Quills with Rebecca Share
Grey Kakadu Lily with Sandy Aslett
Blue Silk Abaca Lilies with Tracey Wells
Blue & White Bows with Neil Grigg
Electric Violet Free Felt with Katherine Elizabeth
Veiling and Veiling brim with Jenny Roberts and
Crinoline with Alison Clark

Green Macintosh Rose by Me, Leanne Fredrick
Next workshop on 31 May/1 June 2020

Rolled Edges and Rouleaux by Me, Leanne Fredrick
next workshop 9/10 June 2020

There are more Virtual Live Workshops on the B Unique schedule. 

And Live Virtual Workshops with Me, Leanne Fredrick coming soon to Hattin’ Around.

p.s. Live Virtual workshops are working out really well.  Although nothing beats human connection,  there are some elements that make the Live Virtual workshops even better than in person.

  • Travel is cheaper  
  • Workspace is tailored to personal preference
  • A close up camera is great for small details  
  • Mute and unmute for noise control 
  • Step away without disturbing the rest of the class
  • and you still get to know others in the workshop

It’s About Time AW20 with Stephen Jones


I attended the Stephen Jones AW20 It’s About Time collection launch at his showroom on Great Queen Street in Holborn London with Greg Commons of The Hat Magazine on 15 February 2020.

The collection celebrates Mr. Jones’ forty years of hats. The digital invite was simply and cleverly animated. The party flashed, Annette Bening winked, the feathers waved and the Underground hat changed colours. Which was obvious enough for me to look closer at the other images. It was like a little treasure hunt. The invite features four magazine covers a 1982 Tatler, 1992 Vogue Paris, 2003 Time Style and Design, and 2013 TimeOut London. Mr. Jones’ collection reinterpreted the glamorous 80’s, the sharp shapes of the 90’s, the frivolous and embellished 00’s and the magical 10’s. 

We were greeted at the door, then made our way through the public showroom, past the reception desk and into the private showroom. I’ve been to the public showroom a few times, but never past the reception desk. I was excited. Most people were stylishly dressed, but not everyone. Many were young, but not everyone. Some wore hats, not everyone.

Relieved of our, Storm Dennis, winter outer wear at the cloak room, then primed with some Moët & Chandon champagne, the focus turned to Mr. Jones and the hats. The mood was light festive and fun a delightful contrast to the windy blustery and rainy Saturday night. Cameras were out and snapping. Staff would help people try on hats and pose for photos. It is great fun to watch Mr. Jones select a hat for a specific guest who wants to be photographed then cock his head, then give it a tilt or remove the hat off and choose another one. I wish I could hear his thoughts.

Suzy Menkes being fitted with a winged head piece by Stephen Jones.

A fun combination of people; stylists, photographers, models and media mixed and mingles with a several of Stephen Jones Millinery staff. Mr. Jones is a brilliant host and speaks to his guests with humour and kindness.

Erin O’Connor in Stephen Jones Millinery headwear

Not every milliner can have a famous personality or model appear at their events but Stephen Jones can. The excitement and buzz that these people brought with them could be felt as a physical wave of energy through the room. I do not have an eye for the famous or trending people so I had to rely on asking those near me, whose who. A few of the evening’s guests who caused a stir were Erin O’Connor (runway model), Miss Fame (RuPauls Runway), and Suzy Menkes (Fashion Editor).

Miss Fame arrives

Although there was excitement about the people, the hats were the stars of the show. Here are a few hats from the collection.

I love the details, from embellishments, to stitching and trims. The way hats make an outfit, the details make the hat.

Loads of embellishments on a trapper hat.
Gold stitching on the brim, subtle and just right.
Grey silk velvet trimmed in gold feathers. Elegant!

I hadn’t really thought I’d be one of the last to leave, but was enjoying a lovely chat with workroom manager and her partner. Only to look around and notice everyone was heading out the door. I went to say my good byes and Mr. Jones said,”We haven’t had a chance to talk.” With so many people, it was lovely he noticed. 


There was a simple gift bag offered when we left with marketing materials pertaining to the collection.

Lovely guests in coordinating berets.

Thank you Mr. Jones, Stephen Jones Millinery team and Greg Commons for a nice evening.

Poupée in a Pinch

Having a poupée, while working on a hat is extremely helpful, most professional milliners would say essential. What is a poupée? It is a French word for doll, but when speaking of millinery it is a hard buckram head and neck shape that is covered in batting (wadding) and mid weight calico. An authentic millinery poupée is hard to come by and often expensive. I learned to make a Millinery Poupée from London milliner, Edwina Ibbotson. She learned it from Rose Cory, a former miller to the Queen.

If you are just getting started with millinery, picking up an inexpensive styrofoam head from a wig shop is often a good short term solution. Despite having a few proper millinery poupées, on occasion I still need styrofoam heads for display or teaching workshops. They are utilitarian but not attractive.

A while ago I saw a styrofoam head covered in off-white paper at a local shop. It looked much better than the plain styrofoam. I love découpage, the art or craft of decorating with cut out pictures, but had not done it in a long time. One evening armed with a pot of watered down white glue (~1:1), a stack of magazines, a small paint brush, and a movie on Netflix, I set to work. I was all over the map with ideas of what to do…flowers, greenery, random collage, sheet music, body parts? There seemed to be a fair bit of tans and pinks in the magazines, so I went with the idea of doing it in what I thought of as a range of light neutral tones. Midway through I decided to add more color for the hair, eyes and lips.

It was getting late into the night. I had tried a few different things and was tired. I try not to judge my own work when I am tired. I set it aside to dry, hoping that in the morning I would be delighted with my arty efforts.

I came out the next morning with excited anticipation and looked. I was not excited after I saw it. “Maybe I am being too hard on myself,” I wondered. I asked my youngest (a teenager) what she thought. She paused and said regretfully, “It’s scary.”  I felt disappointed, frustrated, and regretful of the “waste” of time. In that moment I found it difficult to see it as a learning opportunity. I set it in a corner and left it for a few months.

Finally, I needed to fix it or toss it. Back to the drawing board. I thought about flowers, etc. again. I have seen foam heads covered in floral cottons and although cute, I think it is a distraction from the hats, so I wanted something simple, neutral and less personified than my first attempt. I had a pad of black paper. I hadn’t thought about black before, but there was enough paper to cover the head and maybe having a darker head would be great for the light colored hats that seem to disappear against the calico. 

Again, a pot of diluted glue, paper, brush and this time the Audible book, Born A Crime by Trevor Noah, which was very good, by the way, I set to work doing paper mache. A few hours later, with sticky fingers stained an odd blue-y-black, I left it to dry.

The next morning with guarded excitement and blue fingers, I took a peak. She was lovely. I adore flat black. She looked sleek and elegant. I will call her Trevi.

I have since tried putting a few pins into her. The several layers of paper and glue give the pins a little extra bite for blocking or shaping something. I will always cover her in plastic wrap (cling film) while blocking, to protect her and just incase the black decides to bleed if it gets wet.

I encourage you to not give up the quest for an authentic millinery poupée as they are lovely to work with, but a découpage or papier mâché head can keep you working, while you save your pennies.

Tips for découpage or papier mâché.  Thinner paper is more plyable. Thick paper needs to get moistened and soft to contour well. Tear paper rather than cut for smoother edges. Tear smaller pieces to use around the curve of eyes and nose will prevent pointy bits. If your fingers get too sticky, wash them and start again. Let the top dry before doing the bottom, as you don’t want it to stick to the table.

I would love to see or hear about your poupée projects. Please send me photos or post a comment.

Fisherman’s Hat

Making a Fisherman’s Hat has been on my list. I am delighted with my results in denim, a soft red leather, and I even tried it in cork.   

I usually make my own hat patterns, but this time I used the Vogue V9044. I did take some liberties with the pattern.

Simple Fisherman in grey denim and pretty much to pattern.

Fisherman in red leather with interfacing only in the band but generally to pattern. I might end up keeping this one. Love it.

Fisherman in cork going seriously off piste. I have a vision of this in a high fashion photoshoot.

Custom cord, covered buttons, and likely some tassels will trim these beauties. If you are interested in how to make these things, I will be teaching various Passementerie techniques at a workshop during London Hat Week in April 2019.

A slight diversion, my husband said the leather hat looked like a motorcycle hat. Search “bikers hat” for lots of variations. He mentioned Marlon Brando’s hat in particular. the View B crown of the Vogue pattern is closer in shape. Perhaps a mash up of the view B crown & view E band. I find commercial patterns more of a suggestion or starting point. If you give it a try, I’d love to see what you come up with. Happy Fishing.

Viennese Delights

Quintessential spring time in Vienna includes sightseeing, cakes, coffee, music and of course hats & their makers. With so many different delights in Vienna, it was hard to decide where to start, but Szaszi Hatters was a real gem.

Szaszi Hatters since 1858 specialize in high end Gentlemen’s custom made hats.

We showed up without an appointment and were loitering outside the door after pressing the door buzzer when Mr. Shapira walked up behind us. He was stern but welcomed us in through the door, down the hall, into a courtyard of sorts. We waited a moment for him to drop off some keys.

My friends, Andy & Rebecca (who thankfully speak German) and I gawked at hat blocks through the window, and when Mr. Shapira returned, he led us into his workshop.

There is something magical about being in a craftsman’s space, an energy, a vibe. I can feel it. Old wood, used tools, pots, and tins of various concoctions. He showed me a pot of actual shellac which is rarely used in hat making any more, at least within the group of milliners that I know. It appears that Mr. Shapira does everything the old fashioned method and there was even a conformature on the side of the blocking table. His hats are made from very fine straw or rabbit, beaver, or mink fur. I desperately wanted to ask where he gets mink felts, but didn’t want to overstep my welcome. I do feel that I was of some help, as he showed me an unfinished top hat for Royal Ascot. I mentioned that Royal Ascot was in just a few weeks. He seemed pleased with the reminder that the deadline was coming up soon.
When traveling with friends, I have to be mindful that I cannot expect them to be as keen on hat shops and workshops as I am. Some basic sightseeing is required before the hat seeing can begin.

First there was rum, wine and water on the roof top of the Ritz at sunset, then Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel, Mozart’s Requiem at Karls Kirsch, Nache Markt for a Viennese lunch, coffee and cake at Demel’s, and finally some Art Nouveau style art & architecture to admire. I was elated to be in the presence of Klimt’s art as well as learning about Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. As you can see my interests are mostly food, art and craft, however I appreciate that it takes the history of a place to glue it all together.

One of the hat shops was at the Karlsplatz subway station, Collins Hut & Mode.

Conflicted, is how I felt when stumbling across this hat shop as I dashed to meet up with friends. Despite not being able to have a proper look about, I did snap a few photos through the window. I wonder how the crushable red hat looks and feels while wearing it. I was concerned about their signage for a natural straw hat. I know that Panama hats are made in Equador, but just because it is made in Ecuador does not make it a Panama hat. 

Ah, Vienna, nibbling an apple strudel, while admiring hats on the run to meet friends. It was all good.

Mühlbauer have been hat makers in Vienna since 1903. The shop was airy and modern. The lovely woman running the shop at Seilergasse was generous in letting us try on hats and take pictures. There were many inspiring styles. I loved a navy beaver fur hat in a simple shape. The straw cap with a peak has been on my “to make” wish list for years. I liked that their hats have a tags signed by one of their milliners. Another nice touch, is how they indicate the front mark with a stitched arrow, which is simple and effective. They have another retail shop and actual workroom in Vienna. If I make it back to Vienna I will definitely go visit them.

Next door to Szaszi Hatters was Pelzhaus Fuss. Discovering something wonderful along the way is one of the best parts of travel. Pelzhaus Fuss specialize in fur and leather, however Spring hats are generally straw and cloth, and it is Spring, so only a few fur pieces were on display. The real highlight for me was the mural, freizes and the ceiling decorations. I was told they have been there 100 years.

I am such a hatter/milliner fan girl, it is a bit ridiculous and thankfully my friends were kind and generous to embrace my excitement and delight in meeting Mr. Shapira and visiting his workshop as well as the other lovely hats and shops in Vienna.

Gustav Klimt  is one of my favorite artists and it was a thrill to see The Kiss and Judith up close.  I also enjoy capturing the hats from hats painted through the centuries.  Napoleon’s bicorne is magnificent.


A train ride to the lovely village of Melk on Monday afternoon allowed for dinner in the square. The next day was a visit to the Melk Abbey which has the library of my dreams and two gorgeous globes. One globe shows California as an island off the west coast of North America. I wish I had a picture. They also had a couple special exhibitions on color and texture. Both were enjoyable and interesting.

After visiting the Melk Abbey we hired bikes and rode through the Wachau wine region and along the Danube to the village of Krems.

We had intended to ride along the south side of the Danube, but the path was closed. We had to go along the north side and I am so glad that we did. The villages and the vineyards were lovely but most importantly we rode into the village of Willendorf where the Venus of Willendorf was discovered nearly 110 years ago on 7th of August 1908. They estimate her date at 24,900- 23,900 years BCE. In real life she is 11.1 cm (±4 inches), but they’ve placed a much larger statue of her at the discovery sight, and she looks over the Wachau valley and Danube River. I would do that cycle ride again, but with a little more time to allow a few stops for some tasting along the way.

I hope you enjoyed Hattin’ Around through Vienna with me. If you’ve been to Vienna, what were some of your favorite things?

Get Loopy

London Hat Week 2018 – That’s A Wrap

London Hat Walk crowd & Tower Bridge

London Hat Week 2018 – Thurs, 22 March – Wed, 28 March 2018 

I am still basking in the London Hat Week 2018 afterglow. I loved teaching the workshops, but they take loads of time to plan and prepare to a standard that I expect of myself and London venues are expensive, so in the final week before it all started I began to ask myself why I do this. However as I look back over the pictures and write this blog my mind is stirring with ideas and my heart is full with feelings of camaraderie and community. That is why I participate in LHW. I have written a brief summary of all the events and activities that I participated in.  I hope you enjoy my recap of Hattin’ Around at LHW2018.

Thursday, 22 March

I loved going to the Clotheworkers’ Centre to see hats from the V&A collection.  This was my 1st LHW activity and one of the many highlights.  I have been wanting to do this for years!  Huge thank you to Liz Waldy for coordinating this event.

Denise Innes-Spencer, Edwina Ibbotson, Dillon Wallwork, Vladimir Straticiuc, Ian Bennett & Victoria Carson

Launch Party – once I got past the ridiculous process of figuring out what I was going to wear… I even made myself a wardrobe planner this year, but didn’t get very far filling it in.  It was good fun saying hello to friends from the past. I also worked up the gumption to introduce myself to some new people.  The Fashion and Textile Museum had an interesting t-shirt exhibition on, which provided a good back drop to the event.  I loved Stephen Jones short talk to Kick Off LHW18. He always manages to offer new insight into the past & present fashion world. Highlights of the night was getting my make-up done by a make up artist sponsored by Judith M.  and talking with Jaycow  in the queue to get in.

Friday, 23 March

The Suffragettes: Millennial Rebels – A small exhibition by milliner Claire Strickland and photographer Nicolas Laborie. I love when people create small, unique experiences. It is one of the advantages of living in London. The exhibit was a curious mix of period and modern. To see the hats in life and then in wet plate photos helps to clarify how life of the past was not just black, white & shades of grey but in fact, even in London, full of color.  However the real highlight for me was to discover that the models for the exhibition were girls that my own daughters home schooled with for a year when we first arrived in London. It is a small city after all.

The Great Hat Exhibition had so many hats! It was too much to take in at the time. I took loads of photos and will go back to look at them after I finish this blog post.  There was an immense range of pieces covering a span of designs, materials, and craftsmanship skills. I have yet to fully digest all the pieces and select a few favorites. The highlight for me was running into Awon and to put together names, hats and faces of some of the milliners.

I dropped off my ha , “Celebration” at Edwina Ibbotson’s, A Muse For All Seasons Exhibition. I think my greatest regret of LHW18 was that I wasn’t able to get back  to see everyone’s hats on display together and say hello to old classmates and work experience people. I was finishing my workshop prep & packing for teaching.

Saturday, 24 March

The Market Place on Saturday turn out to be expensive. I bought a book and a bunch of felts. I enjoyed meeting author of Hats, Clair Hughes and had a nice chat with her while I got my book signed. I completely overspent at the Pjooil table, but the prices were great and the fur felt colors were lovely.  I dropped a few coins at Parkins then ran out of time and money.  Highlight was finding some more vintage hatpins at Buzz’s table, just before my Hatpin workshop on Monday.

Sunday, 25 March

The Hat Walk from Tate Modern along the Thames to City Hall by Tower Bridge was fun and thankfully the weather was good. My good friend and photographer, Anna Watson  came along to take photographs, so although we saw each other, we didn’t speak much as I fluttered about talking with hat people. There was a significant group of Red Hat ladies walking.  I enjoy seeing women smiling and having fun together.  The highlight was the feeling of camaraderie of walking together with everyone and meeting people from all over the world.

Market Place visit Part 2 – I literally sold the small hat case off my back! I had been doing a bit of Hattin’ Around Hat Case promotion by wearing the small hat case on the Hat Walk before going to the Market. I also picked up some pretty lace from The Trimming Company.

The Millinery Lesson film premier – In a very small theater, Marie O’Regan surrounded by family, friends and students watched a movie about herself. Filmed and produced by Mike Southon. The film had an original music score, was about an hour in length and a beautiful tribute to her. Highlight was feeling like a hero because I remembered the flowers that had been put in water in the back room, for Becky Weaver and Georgina Abbott (LHW Founders) to present to Marie after the Q&A with Marie & Mike.

Monday, 26 March

I hosted two workshops on Monday, a Hatpins workshop in the morning and  Petersham ribbon trims workshop in the afternoon.  The venue was between Vauxhall & Oval stations, the room was large, clean with a view of the London Eye. Highlight for me was meeting new students with a range of abilities and them leaving with pretty pins or ribbon nautilus & cockades and new skills.  A huge thank you to my assistants, Clare Spicer  and Sonia Freeman Birch.

 

An Evening of Royal Millinery a panel discussion at the Archer Street Bar was festive and educational.  The awkwardness of the launch party was over. It was a cool venue with the wait staff singing a song about every 15 minutes. Highlight for me was of course listening to Dillon Wallwork , Jess Collett  and Ian Bennet  be interviewed by Becky Weaver of Hatalk.  I must apologize to Dillon as it must have seemed like I was stalking him during LHW18. I had met him a few years ago at an event and approached him to talk several times, but didn’t remember to re-introduce myself until the panel discussion evening.

Tuesday, 27 March

I hosted an all day 1950’s style cocktail hat making workshop which introduced loads of techniques to the students. With a growth mindset and the learning that happens every time I teach a course, next time I will provide a kit of materials for purchase as well as a kit list. It was a lot to ask for the students to bring all the various bits needed. My highlight was to see the diversity of pieces they created with the same set of instructions and basically the same materials.  

Wednesday, 28 March

Milliners Roundtable Discussion was the final event for me. I have hosted/facilitated this free event at London Hat Week every year. The first year it was one hour squeezed within the lunch hour of another workshop, the second year it was 1.5 hrs. This year I expanded it to 2 hours and it still didn’t feel long enough and I had to cut off the conversation because we were out of time. There were six countries represented with ladies who have recently begun hat making to other who have been in millinery for 25 years.  The conversation ranged all over from suppliers & issues to pests & mold and how to get started in business.

Copyright Anna Watson 2018

To all of you who participated in London Hat Week 2018, Thank you for making it a wonderful experience. Until next time….

 

How to Pack a Hat Box

This is a pictorial on how to pack a basic hat in a hat box . This is appropriate for basic men and women’s hats. Unless you have a mother/aunt/grandmother who wore hats and used hat boxes or you worked in the industry, how are you suppose to know?

Check the Size

Choose the right size box is the first step.  Keep in mind that the hat is always the right size. 🙂 I am using the medium size, Hattin’ Around Hat Case, which is perfect for my grey fedora. The grey straw would better fit in the large Hat Case. If it is too snug of a fit, there isn’t enough space to create a protective impact zone with tissue paper. The gold trilby would be better in the small sized Hat Case.  If there is too much space you will need loads of extra tissue to keep it from moving around. The hat box dimensions are in the Hattin’ Around Hat Case link above.

It is all about the tissue

The tissue paper protects the crown while it supports the brim. You need to crumple & rumple the tissue to give it more body and structure. Don’t wad it into a hard ball or leave it too loose and floaty. I good medium amount of rumple is perfect.  

Always use acid free tissue but what about buffered, acid free tissue? There is a really good blog post about buffered vs. unbuffered storage materials, which discourages using buffered storage materials with protein based textiles such as wool, silk, and feathers, which are common in high quality hats.

Make a layer of rumpled tissue across the bottom of the hat box and around the sides, creating a nest for the hat.  Pack the crown with tissue to help it keep its shape. Settle the hat upside down into the nest. Add more tissue around the sides or if there are gaps. Finally, add another layer of tissue across the top to protect the hat from impact against the lid.  Packing a hat when there are large trimming elements to consider will have to wait for another blog post.

Finishing Touches

The use of a compliments slip was something I started doing since moving to the UK, but I like that it walks a line between formal letter head and a casual note. The compliements slip includes the important business contact details with space for a short personal note. I also like using a beautiful A5 (±1/2 Letter) photo marketing card.

The Hattin’ Around Hat Cases have durable, easy to use buckles to secure the lid. See my post on How to Assemble a Hat Box if you are using a flat pack cardboard hat box, as they frequently do not come with assembly instructions.

Connect the additional strap 

Hattin’ Around Hat Cases (small, medium & large) come with an additional strap that can be used to carry your hat case on your shoulder or on your back, which keeps your hands free and makes for easier travel. 

I will work on a follow up post that offers some tips on how to pack a hat with special trimming such as long feathers or large bows.