Blog & Podcast

Cycling in Germany along the Danube

We did something new for this summer holiday. Cycling with family and friends along the Danube in Germany.  In my case it was Hattin’ Around the Danube.

How do you like the cycling caps I made for everyone? I used a free pattern by Dill Pickle. The pattern, instructions and caps were great, however I found the pattern ran a little small. Most of us needed the “large” and the 23.5″ (59.6 cm) head needed the “xl”. We used fabric pens to sign and decorate the caps.

Regensburg, Germany was a great place to start our trip. Architecture, history, river, good food and the start of what could be called the ice cream trail. It also had the best hats & hat shops of the trip.

HutKönig is a long establish hat shop with an excellent reputation and helpful staff. The couture felt hats were gorgeous. I loved the shapes, the colors and layered trims.

Take a look at their old glass tank steamer and hidden behind, a burgundy embosser with gold tape. Mental note, add embosser to the hatting/millinery equipment wish list.

I took loads of photos of hats, but this little miniature millinery shop was too cute to leave out of the post. They are made from real straw, felt and lace. I love digital zoom.

HutKönig actually had 5 hat blocks for sale. All of which were for small head sizes, but I can put a sock on it. I decided on this one after much deliberation.  I was hesitant to buy too many hat blocks on the first day of our trip, although the tour company moved our bags from place to place.

Lilo  is a marvelous small hat shop. Lilo, herself, was absolutely lovely and kind enough to take a few minutes to talk with me. Her hats are charming and her look is distinctive. I saw a few of her hats in boutiques elsewhere in Regensburg and recognized them as Lilo’s.

Straubbing, Germany was met with a hot and exhausted group of cyclists. I brightened up when I saw this adorable little fellow in a straw hat with his parents in the town square. 

I spotted one hat shop called Luise Danner der Hutladen, but sadly we were pedaling again the next morning before they opened.

Deggendorf, Germany was the smallest of the towns we stayed in. It was also the shortest day of cycling which is good as it had been very warm for this London based family. We arrived early enough to have a look about and the hat shop was still open.

Olga’s Hut und Mode was several rooms, upstairs with a friendly poster of Olga, pointing the way. Olga was in the shop and kindly allowed photos, but we had language issues. I told her about my blog and gave her a card, she nodded and then showed me a selection of blue hats. To be fair, blog starts with “B” and my card has a blue hat on it. If only I’d followed through with my Duolingo German lessons.

Passau, Germany is where the confluence of three rivers join, the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube. They are often represented by three colors, Green, Black and Blue respectively.

I located one hat shop, Edelweiss & Rosenrot but they didn’t want any photos inside the shop which is unfortunate as their displays were upholstered in bright green moiré.

It was a wonderful trip with loads of ice cream for the kids, a fair bit of käse spätzle (German style Mac n’ Cheese) which just might be my favorite german food and the guys enjoyed a little beer.  Fun, friends, family, cycling and hats. It was a good holiday.


Hattin’ Around Rye & Hastings, UK

It was suppose to be about camping, but for me it was about hats. A girls weekend away included a visit to Rye, Hastings and a camp out in the woods. 

Saturday on the way to the Wood, we stopped in Rye, an old town in South East England for a few hours.  Rye is one of the Cinque Ports and has a lovely old town center.

With lots of historic character, vintage shops and best of all the hat shop, Hearld & Heart.  You may recall the name Hearld & Heart from my interview with Jane Smith, they did the amazing hat that Andie McDowell wore in Four Weddings and a Funeral (94).

A few hats and thimbles in a small local museum, not the museum in the tower as they were hanging the closed sign as we approached the gate. 🙁  The Harlequin, a secondhand book shop, had two darling pink vintage hats.

I have not yet been able to embrace the loads of floppy petals, but I am trying.

I love that there is something different happening on each side of this dusty rose hat with velvet trim. It looks like Pinokpok to me, but I think it is actually parabuntal. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

I adore living in London, but a night out of the city is a welcome change. I love sleeping under the stars with a canopy of leaves overhead. Even being awoken with a cacophony of bird song at morning light is needed every once in a while.

Day two, we packed up and were off to Hastings.  The town known from the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  It is a fishing & port town, popular for holiday getaways.

Wardrobe Clothes Agency had loads of vintage hats, every piece distinctly different. A white with black lace pillbox, a red and pink feather cocktail hat,  and a sheer brim on a wire frame with pearl details. 

I am completely enamored with the wire framed cocktail half hat. I will be teaching a workshop on this style of hat. Please sign up for the Hattin’ Around Newsletter  for the announcement of workshop dates.

The white silk with black stitching was my favorite. OMG look at all that stitching! The design is also very clever.

Wardrobe Clothes Agency (teal turban with bow) and Voodoo Sirens (black trilby with large ribbon bow), both are Edward Mann hats.  I really must do some research on him, as his nautilus hat was a huge inspiration for me.

It was my good fortune to be in Hasting when there was a Steam Punk event. Steam Punk folks do amazing costume.   A velvet top hat with goggles and feathers, a voodoo hat with a skeleton and crow, a red vinyl captains hat and a pith helmet with goggles are just a few of the hats on show. However, I saved the best for last. His nickname is Moose and he trimmed his own hat.  I believe he said there are 82 brass rivets. The craftsmanship was superb.

Thank you to Hatz and Thingz, for the tickets to the Steam Punk event. It was late in the day, he had three tickets available, and there were three of us with a little bit of time remaining before we needed to head back to London.  Hatz and Thingz is a new shop, offering both men’s and women’s hats and various vintage items and steam punk accessories.

The longest hatpin I’ve ever seen, ±33cm (13″) and a few hatpin holders.  Hatpins are another of my hat related fascinations.  Please sign up for the Hattin’ Around Newsletter,  a hatpins workshop will be coming soon as well. 

I hope you have enjoyed my few hatting highlights from Hastings and Rye.

KCC Millinery HNC 2017 Collections

Kensington & Chelsea College (KCC)
Higher National Certificate (HNC) Year End Collections 2017
Hosted on 1 June 2017 at Kensington & Chelsea College, London UK.

This year was another delightful exhibition of some talents new millinery designers. The nervous excitement could be felt throughout the room as the milliners stood beside their collections to meet, greet and answer questions about their work.  There were fabulous shapes and creative use of materials, everything you would hope to see at a millinery exhibit. The milliners are listed in order of how I walked around the room. Thank you for an inspirational evening. 

Natalia Volkova – Wild Orchids


Alex Thompson – Cabinet of Curiosities


Phoebe Leung – Phoebe Pheo Millinery – Lost Stars


Odette & Elliott – An Evening at the Opera


Teresa Briz – Mandala


Chelsea Ratcliffe – Micha Millinery – Cygnet Collection 


Irina Dobrovolska – Irina Bluebird Millinery – Meditation


Heather Ogilvie – Fibonacci


Gemma Fox – Gothic Allure


Hannah Lewis – Hatterly – Fluidity, Movement & Motion

Carole Denford of The Hat Magazine, was spotted at the event. That woman must have Hermione’s time turner from Harry Potter, because she is everywhere.

Farewell KCC, until next year. I couldn’t resist this lovely image of the Imperial Wharf Station looking toward the Design Center as dusk.

My pictures really do not do the hats  and head pieces justice. I would highly recommend that you come to the exhibit next year, it is open to the public. Congratulations milliners you are off to a great start. I hope to see you Hattin’ Around. LF

p.s. I have included links to website that were available on their cards at the event. If I have made any errors, please let me know.



My Birthday Hat – Mini Topper Sinamay

My life does not have nearly enough “occasion” hat wearing opportunities, so when I was approaching a milestone birthday I decided it was going to be a hat event.  A mini top hat (topper) would be perfect, festive and small enough for easy travel.

I have wanted to make a mini topper for ages. What is it about things in miniature that are so appealing? Beautiful dolls houses, tiny baby clothes, exquisite Fabergé eggs, even well made Barbie clothes I find intriguing. My hats isn’t super tiny, maybe I should call it a midi topper?

Without a firm plan in mind about trimming and nor a 5 piece top hat block, I set to learning how to make a mini topper in sinamay on a buckram and wire framed block, with the mentoring of Edwina Ibbotson during her evening Hat Class.  The mystery was how to get it off the block once it is has dried and been stiffened. If you practicing millinery, you will notice the under cut of a waisted topper as a red flag. Unless you use a 5 piece block that you can take the block apart to extract it from the hat rather than pry the hat off the block, an under cut means you either carefully cut the hat, or destroy the block, neither seemed a good choice for a sinamay hat.

What I Learned…

      • To get the hat off the block without damaging the block or creating a cut edge on the straw, wrap the straw to meet in the back then fold the raw edges to the outside on the first layer. It is tricky to get it to butt together and stay put. I used lots of pins. The second and third layers are butted with the ends folded to the inside. Also use a wide petersham ribbon to hold the waist in while dries. Once off the block you have to sew each layer closed. Starting with the inside layer.

    • It is made in three pieces, the brim, the crown and the tip (top of the crown), make sure you mark the matching up points, especially for the “round” crown & “round” tip.
    • Making a band for an asymmetrical hat with extreme and changing angles is really difficult. I finally fashioned a pattern out of some bias muslin. It was not perfect but that is okay. I used the flaws to guide some of the flower placement.

  • Working within the hat to make invisible stitches between the layers was challenging.  I feel good about the quality of finish I achieved.
Inside finish with covered seams.
Outside wired edge finished with a bias band.

There are lots of steam punk mini toppers which are fun, but I was looking for something lighter. I have a thing for grey and I had some amazing silver little wired stamens from Masario, which I was hankering to use. I had some leftover grey silk georgette that I loved working with on a previous project and experimented to create little bias cut flowers with a dusty pink bead for the center to add just a hint of warmth.

I was sewing the last bits on just an hour before my birthday party. I am delighted with the result.

I have since carved a mini topper block myself and made a variation in felt. It is a different technique with felt. Hopefully I can do a “What I Learned…” for that hat soon.

I would love hear if you have ideas on how to work with an undercut hat block.

Cheers, Leanne

Coolie, Conical or Non-la?

Is Coolie a derogative term? According to Wikipedia and the Urban dictionary, it is. Why then, is it still used so freely to describe the common conical shaped hat most commonly associated with Asian slaves or Asian manual laborers? I blame Hollywood. The actual hat is a Vietnamese hat called a Non-la.

I go through hat phases, and I am currently looking at the conical hat. The dilemma arises with the fact that what I am calling a conical hat, is more commonly known as a Coolie. So, do I use a term that is considered derogative by some (Coolie), or do I use a term that is less known & understood (Conical), there by causing confusion (I am not referring to a Hennin which is also a conical hat) and reducing the effectiveness of my communication? Finally, do I use Non-la which is the accurate term but is rarely understood?

Language is a living entity. Words are invented, their meanings evolve as was evident in my post about the word Vulgar. Words come into fashion and then out. To have a large vocabulary is an asset allowing you to choose a word that communicates more precisely. In this case a hat shape, commonly referred to as a Coolie clearly brings an image of the Non-la to mind, is offensive to some people? Conical is too vague, a cone does not really capture the essence of the hat shape.

This may seem unconnected, but it is related. I was recently reading some older books. I love the little hard bound short story books. I love the texture of the cover, I enjoy the turning of paper pages, and the smell of an old book. I also enjoy hearing how they communicate with each other, especially between the generations and in courtship. Recently I was reading The Twins, a children’s book by L.E. Tiddeman. There isn’t a publish date, but L.E. Tiddeman died in 1937 and wrote between 1880-1931. In just one short paragraph on page 32, she used the terms, gay, cripple, and nigger. Although I found this shocking, there was no malice, it was purely descriptive.

The terms cripple and nigger are no longer appropriate for common communication. New terms are used that are more sensitive and/or accurate. We have obviously made progress is this area. So, what do I call my Non-la hat? I would prefer to avoid the term Coolie, however I am not sure that very many people know the name Non-la. What would you call it? Would you stay with the commonly recognized term, like Coolie? A vague but inoffensive term like conical? Or, the actual name that is least known – the Non-la?

I recently made a new hat, which I am calling my ‘Non-la inspired conical hat’. Soon I will be adding a new post about making this hat.

I had a brilliant charity shop find of this conical asian hat, but I don’t think it is actually a Non-la. So what do I call it? Here is a link to my A Good Hat Day blog.

HATstock Report – Talks

I have been wanting to go to The Hat Works Museum in Stockport for  years.  HATstock made it happen for me. However, I am going to need another day to go up and see the Museum properly.

This was a high density day. Early train ride from London, new city and venue, 6 talks, each lasting 30 minutes, exhibits from milliners with varied styles and materials, a market place of lovely millinery supplies and a beautiful museum. Concluded with a quick search for a sandwich and a 3 hour journey back home. Only for hats or a sick child can I endure that dense and lengthy of a schedule.

Presentations were informative and entertaining, which is a very good combination. Here is a highlight of the talks I attended.

Nick Parkin of Parkin Fabrics
The History and Production of Sinamay movie

Here is a trailer of the movie, but the whole movie is only available through a Parkin Fabrics presentation.

Nick also passed around various samples of sinamay materials. A very light weight and soft fabric used for making wedding garments for the very hot Philippine environment. Unlike the much stiffer sinamay we use for hats.

Then the tighter weave and panning of sinamay which makes what we call pinokpok which is also used for hats.

Sophie Cooke, Amanda Moon, and Siobhan Nicholson
The Hat Stand
Journeys into Millinery

Sophie did a great write up of their talk and Hatstock. I can even prove I was there. This is me in the front row wearing a black cap with Harris Tweed trim and my Hat Case at my feet. If you want to read the whole Hatty Heaven blog article.

Here are a few links for The Hat Stand Sheffield and the specific millinery sites for Sophie Cooke’s Imogen’s ImaginationSiobhan Nicholson Millinery’s Etsy shop, and Amanda Moon Headwear.

Bink of Pearls & Swine
Social Media and Selling Online

Bink is as bubbly to talk with as she is in appearance. I have seen the Pearls and Swine brand in my social media sites, but I cannot tell which one: Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.  With a name like Pearls and Swine I didn’t forget.

Her social media advice was great. Although a bit vague on specific actionable steps which I would have liked, her messages were powerful and clear.

  • Be active on social media it is much cheaper and reaches further than a brick and mortar shop.
  • Make it fun for readers.
  • Be genuine, creative and different.
  • Build excitement and anticipation in your promotions.

Bink has marketing mojo in more than just social media. When I visited her millinery exhibit, she gave me a little goodie bag with her card, as well as cards of other people. She too is leveraging relationships with other vendors, less formal than The Hat Stand ladies, but still valuable. Look at all these little treasures in the pink and white striped goodie bag.

Bink has several lines of hats and headwear.  Pearls and Swine and Temptress of Waikiki

Rupert Battersby
Battersby Hats of Stockport

Rupert told stories told through narration of old photographs that had been lost for generations in various family homes. The pictures had all the costume and glamour of a BBC period drama. Rupert’s sense of humor and story telling was amusing. It was riveting to see these very old pictures and hear stories.  Some challenges, some victories, and the elegance of a wealthy family long ago.

Battersby Hats of Stockport, An Illustrated History, by Rupert Battersby.

The Hat factory which has evolved over the years. The large water tower on the left was built after the hat works burnt twice.  However once the water tower was built they never had a fire. I suppose the water tower indirectly did the job.

Georgina Abbott and Becky Weaver
LHW goes Regional

I’ve known Georgina and Becky, the founders of London Hat Week since the first London Hat Week several years ago. I always enjoy talking with them. They were at HATstock to promote the idea of building regional hat events. If the energy and excitement of HATstock is any indication, it is a great idea. Personally I would love to visit more regional events. Georgina Abbott owns Atelier Millinery and Becky Weaver is the editor of HATalk.

Here I am pictured with Bronwen (the coordinator of HATstock) on the left, Becky & Georgia in the center, and me to the right.

Sharon Bainbridge
A Woman’s Hat is Close to Her Heart

I loved Sharon’s presentation. It was a mix of slide show and commentary on hats and the creation of identity. How a hat can change your mood as well as your persona. She touched on the idea of a milliner as a technical crafts person and having the artistic vision to generate a transformation of the wearer.
Sharon is very knowledgeable about hats and history and her diverse career path is fascinating. From lawyer to milliner, to Leeds College of Art tutor to exhibit curator. I would like to spend more time with Sharon and attend more of her talks.

I love getting together with milliners. They are a diverse and interesting mix of people with marvelous stories and skills with a common interest in hats. I came home exhausted but my hatting cup was full.

Thank you all for a great day.

The Vulgar, Fear & Creativity

The Vulgar Exhibition, an exhibition that explored the term Vulgar hosted at the Barbican, a brutalist multi-arts and residential center in London. I wanted to see if the exhibit could reveal the magic line between ridiculous/inspiring and vulgar.

I can generally glean a nugget of knowledge, from everything I do and London has really good exhibits from Barbican, The Crime Museum Uncovered, with photos and displays of evidence and their strange stories to the V&A, Alexander McQueen show which I went to at least 5 times and found something new to look at each time, and the recent The Vulgar exhibit which explored the term Vulgar and how it has evolved and different interpretations of the term highlighted through fashion and literature.

Vulgar originated in Latin as Sermo Vulgaris meaning common speech as opposed to the more formal and social dialect of classic Latin. The use of vulgar meaning common has evolved into meaning a lack of good taste or explicit and offensive.

Lack of Good Taste

Sparkly Bra dresses range. This was exactly what I am talking about in this blog post! I love the first one, it is interesting, exciting and inspirational. The all black one is good also. The third pink I think is a bit ridiculous, and there is an element humor as she looks like she is wearing a crown. Finally the last one, I really do not like. I will need to reflect further these to see if I can figure it out. I would love to hear if you have any ideas you have on what makes the first won great and the last one not. Or perhaps you think differently, I’d love to hear that also.

Explicit and Offensive

Rudi Gernreich’s 1960’s Topless swimsuit was so shocking it had to be displayed for exhibit on a wall rather than a mannequin. I don’t actually find it offensive, but I am sure there are some who do.

I fear being seen as lacking in good taste, but I refuse to be restricted to conservative tailored clothing. I must have a bit of an edge to be truly content. However when it comes to designing I often get caught in the trap of wearable, sell-able, and tasteful which can be very limiting.

I had hoped the exhibit would explain/reveal that secret zone that is edgy, exciting and breathtaking without falling over into vulgar. Yes that was a bit much to ask of an hour in an exhibit. To explore the exhibit more take a look at New York Times. However I have a sense that I am closer to my goal, and that it isn’t about a mysterious zone that is agreed upon by everyone but a place within myself which I must explore and ultimately trust.

Now I need to figure out how to banish the fear and the voices, internal and external that judge.

Exploring the fear

I fear the place of mis-aligned, drawn-on eyebrows, crocheted tissue box covers, cheap plastic anything, and ugly sparkly sweaters. Imagine my surprise that here in England there is a deliberate ugly Christmas Jumper tradition.

Exploring the voices that bring fear and doubt. The voices that I recall from my youth that would say, “look at that outfit” with the tone of admiration verses the same phrase with the tone of disgust. How to banish the voices that confine me?

My own experience of revulsion at design and craftsmanship. The earliest I can recall was at the Twin Sisters boutique in San Jose, California. My grandma’s neighbor and her sister created this business venture which was really just a garage sale.

I love flea markets and garage (boot) sales. Amazing treasures can be found for just a bit of money, allowance money when I was a child. So when I was young, while visiting Grammie on a weekend, she said, girls (me and my sister) lets go down to the sale. I had a bit of money to spend, perhaps Grammie gave me a couple of coins, I don’t recall. I was excited with the prospect of a new treasure and supporting Grammie’s friend in her new business.

Grammie, little sister, and I 1970’s

It was awful and I was disappointed. The things she and her sister had made were the most poorly made things I’d ever seen. I truly believed I could do better. Now granted my Mother is a master seamstress, with a good eye for colour and has taught sewing, so perhaps my standards were higher than your average girl of about 7 years old. Grammie insisted that I get something, but there was nothing I felt was worth my few coins. Finally, Grammie gave me an understanding glance and said, “just pick something”, so I chose a tacky lopsided pot holder with crooked stitching and fraying seams.

I fear having someone look at what I make with the horror and revulsion. Intellectually I know this is highly unlikely, but it is a non-rational fear.

A Friend who makes Monsters

Tamara is the most organized person I have ever met, in what appears to be every part of her life.  She manages the household accounts with a masterful use of spreadsheets. She hosts parties where she makes beautiful food and is dressed before the first guest arrived. She works at either a job or her own business, is a mother, wife and considerate daughter. Her personal dress is conservative and classic. And if that isn’t enough she has a hidden side, she makes monsters. The most amazing creative creatures. Usually with sharp teeth or long claws, but they contain a magical balance of whimsy and ugly to equal amazing.

Somewhere in craftsmanship and design is a magical place of beauty. Tamara’s monsters were inherently ugly but in such a sweet way and the attention to detail of each one is superb. Where as even simple square-ish pot holders from Grammie’s neighbor were vulgar.

The Vulgar was an interesting exhibit but it ultimately failed to reveal the secret sweet spot of where the brilliance of creativity and design tips over the top and slides under the bar, into tacky and repulsive. I think there is an element of superb craftsmanship that moves the bar. If the exhibit was still on, I would go again but more slowly the second time.

Hats Included

A bit more about hats and head pieces at The Vulgar exhibit. There were some divine Viennese bonnets from the Wien museum dated 1780-1810. I didn’t find any photos or links.

There was a reference to Sally Victor’s Mondrian style hat which to my delight I saw at the High Style exhibit and the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, May 2015. The Vulgar explored the ideas of imitation. I gathered a few images together featuring the Mondrian style.

Imitation vs. Inspiration

Sally Victor Hat 1962
Piet Mondrian Composition C 1935
Yves St Laurent AW 1965/66


In addition, at The Vulgar there were hats from Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones and a couple more, which I should have written down. Hats were not the focus, they rarely are in exhibits, but I was pleased they at least were given some attention.

The quest in finding my artistic voice continues. I would love to hear about your quest to find your artistic voice.

Studying with Marie O’Regan

I was lucky to have a chance to study with Marie O’Regan, a couple of times this January and I hope to do more. There are some who have been studying with her for 10 years. She has taught many of London’s best milliners. You can hear Edwina Ibbotson, mention her in a previous podcast/post, Their Journey into Millinerys with Edwina, Rachel and Noel. She also taught Ian Bennet, who I took a feather class from a couple years past. The list goes on and on.

This is one of Marie O’Regan’s poupeès and I love it. I can feel the years and the people whose lives have been touched by Marie, her hats and her teaching.  If you just see an old tattered head, you are not a milliner yet.

Marie will be 92 this year and has been doing Millinery since she was 14. She is from France and retains a lovely French accent but has been in the UK for decades. She has been milliner to the Queen, taught at the London College of Fashion and instrumental in starting the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers annual hatmaking contest. There could be books written and movies made about her, but that is beyond the scope of this little blog post. I will focus on the things I worked on, with her tutelage.

The day starts with coffee and biscuits while the students discuss with Marie what they plan to be working on. We move to a work table, and Marie moves around making sure everyone has what they need and can begin working. She will take her place at the head of the table, often with a poupeè between her knees to show placement, technique and design.

I have learned that with these types of work/study classes, it is best to come with a couple different ideas and materials.  However, I believe the key to a successful day and getting the most you can out of it, is to relax into the flow and see what amazing nuggets of knowledge the tutor will offer in the process of doing some millinery project.

On day one, I brought 3 different hats with questions about head fittings. However as I went through each piece with Marie, she would ask what else I brought. Until I selected the last piece, a blocked orange cloche. That captured Marie’s attention and the focus became the trimming of the cloche. I had blocked it months ago with vision of a layered ribbon trim. I’d made several trips to V.V.Rouleaux a lovely ribbon shop in London which has a glorious selection of ribbons including Petersham. I ended up with some striped grosgrain ribbon to coordinate with the petersham ribbon from Parkin Fabrics that matched the felt.

To my distress, I was instructed to put slashes along the sides and an angle.  It was emotionally difficult to cut into the body of the felt, as that was not at all what I had in mind, but again. I reminded myself that it is only a felt and a bit of blocking time, I followed Marie’s lead to see where it would go.

I tried curving petersham and placing it in various layouts on the hat. I learned that if you are going to weave in and out you need to have an even number of slits otherwise it doesn’t end correctly. I don’t know why I always forget to take a picture of how it looks on the first try until I’ve finished taking it apart.

I learned that it is technically difficult to keep the slits a the right angle and distance when the hat itself is changing shape from front to back. Marie could sense that I was struggling and that I needed to let that project simmer a bit to decide what I wanted to do next.

At, midday the dining table is set and she served a lovely lunch which included a glass of bubbly. The French know how to serve a lunch.

In the afternoon, I was gifted with an opportunity to see Marie work with an egg iron to shape buckram into a new hat block. Marie is not only a remarkable milliner and teacher but also a sculptor.

I watched her look at an original shape and then a piece of flat buckram, then with a sure hand she lightly moistened the buckram with a damp piece of calico, then pulled the buckram over an astoundingly hot egg iron, see photo at the end of iron in the fire. The egg iron was covered briefly with another piece of damp calico, to generate steam and protect the buckram. The calico was frequently wisked from hot egg iron and moved to a new damp spot.

A second piece of buckram was added to fill out the shape and then a wicked hot small metal iron and a pressing pad, was used to fuse the two pieces together at the join.

The second day started with me trying to explain and idea about a removable brim for a hat, but that idea did not gain much traction. Marie had a different idea, she offered me an unusual twisted buckram shape which she wanted me to shape myself, using the technique she taught in the previous class, with the egg iron and the little flat iron.  There is still much work to be done to make either of the two shapes useful, but the experience was very rewarding.

Here I am wearing Marie’s block that she pinned into shape, so that I could see the balance when it is put together. I love the creativity of the shape and if it looks this good in spartarie and a knit stocking, just think what it can be in a bright coloured sinamay or felt.

One of the things I like best about millinery is that the techniques of 100 years ago, still work.  Flat iron, egg iron,  kettle and some fire along with a bit of calico, water, pins and pressing pads, with a few basics the millinery opportunities are endless.

To wrap up, it was a total thrill to see Marie manipulate the buckram with such simple tools and immense skill.  Unfortunetly, I have two new partially made shapes now to add to the massive  unfinished projects list. I hope to return for more classes.

London Hat Week 2016 Wrap Up

Leanne with Stephen Jones.

London Hat Week 2016 (LHW2016) was a success! My workshops were well attended with good reviews.  I packed in as many event as possible and loved the variety. Everything from the Hat Walk with Laird Hatters, Champagne High Tea at the Villandry, The Hilary Alexander and Stephen Jones interview at the Dirty Martini, Hat Exhibition at Coventry University in London and movie night at The Cinema Museum to watch the documentary, Mad about Hats. Here is my summary of the week. Note: the following video sometimes loads slowly.

London Hat Walk and Interviews from Phase 7 on Vimeo.

Impromptu photoshoot with dapper fellows from Laird Hatters
Milliner from Netherlands and Ana Pribylova from UK/Australia

Hat Walk with year was a little different than the last couple and I’d say very successful. Laird Hatters sponsored the event and we were treated to a spot of tea and cake at The Espresso Room to start our journey at their New Row shop and a reward for finishing at their shop on The Strand with a lovely chocolate and a little tipple. The walk route was good fun featuring a leisurely stroll to Trafalgar square, where we stopped to take photos, chat and regroup, then continued on to the end point. I met several fabulous women from the Red Hat Bees of Bardwell, a woman from Scotland, as well as the Netherlands and Spain.

Delightful Milliner from Scotland
Avid hat wearer and photographer

There was also an Interview of Georgina Abbott and Becky Weaver, Founders of London Hat Week.

Hilary Alexander and Stephen Jones interview each other at the Dirty Martini in London, Oct 2016

The Stephen Jones interview by Hilary Alexander was absolutely charming. The two had a lovely chemistry that comes from years of working in the fashion industry where they were familiar with the same people over many decades. The venue, Dirty Martini was fun and interesting but ill suited for this event. Many of he attendees I have met over the years. It felt like a fun reunion.


Guy Morse-Brown Hat Blocks at the LHW Market

The Market Place venue had amazing murals and architecture, but I stayed focused and true to my mission to explore the millinery supplies. 😉  I alway love a chat with Catherine and Owen of Guy Morse Brown.

Masario at the LHW Market

I bought a few bits from Masario and some felts and Petersham from Parkins.

My pretty new orange felt hood and matching Petersham from Parkin at the LHW Market
Who knew you could get Ostrich leg leather at Walter Reginald at the LHW Market.

I am looking forward to heading over the East London to visit the ladies at Walter Reginald, leather specialist. They were fantastically helpful and educational. Who knew there is Ostrich leg leather. I am also wanting to try out fish leather. I touched it for the first time, and was surprised at how “leathery” it felt.

Hattin’ Around Classes and Milliner’s Roundtable at London Hat Week 2016

@Mrs_Gaskett picture on instagram of nautilus she made in class.

My first cockade workshop with #hattinaround great session #LHW

A photo posted by mrs_gaskett (@mrs_gaskett) on

A Study of Peaks workshop covered a lot of tips and techniques on materials and shapes.


Milliners Ribbon – Petersham workshop, learning about basic things, how to make a head fitting and shrinkage to advanced trimmings such as Cockades and the Nautilus. I also demonstrated how to do some vintage trimming from hats in the V&A Museum of Childhood collection.

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The students were a delight. I had people from all over the world with varying levels of interest from ladies who have been in the millinery business for 20 years, to others who enjoy it as a hobby. I received great reviews and everyone said they learned something new.

A big huge thank you to Baxter Hart and Abraham for their generosity of ribbon and information about Petersham. Go see them for supplies, they are in Luton and have always been wonderful to me. The best part is they are patient with new milliners.

Milliner’s Roundtable

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There were lots of good tips from the Milliner’s Roundtable.  A mix of milliners  from Australia, France and a strong showing from the UK crowd.  Several ladies from the South London as well as two who are near the same village in southern England, who knew of each other but had never met. Here are some ideas to help build awareness and a following that I really appreciated:

  • Giving talks at a local venue about hats or hat making?
  • Doing a charity fundraiser that features your hats, like a ladies tea with hats being modeled?
  • Approaching an empty shop owner who might appreciate an attractive window display while waiting for a new tenant.

Champagne High Tea at the Villandry was fun, but perhaps a poor choice of events to attend, as I had cut out refined sugar and alcohol from my diet. I have been to better venues for High Tea in London, but I always like trying some place new. The best part was getting to chat with charming people from the UK and Europe. We even swapped photos of hats we liked at the exhibition.

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Movie Night at The Cinema Museum, the Museum is in the Victorian magnificence of the old Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin spent time as a child, in Kennington.  It isn’t the easiest of places to find but it is a treasure.  I joined other milliners to see an informative and interesting movie about the making of fur felt, the plight of the beaver and the impact of mercury used in hat making. Mad about Hats was a labour of love for director Olivier Vandersleyen and his family. Here is the Mad about Hats trailer.




I am seated in the grey fedora, next to the sign. The director and his wife are standing behind the sign, hatless.

Hat Exhibition at Coventry University, London was a sight to behold. Hats from around the world in many ways. I posted several pictures on my Facebook page.

So much of millinery and hatting is done in isolation, at least for me. Late evenings or while my children are at school. London Hat Week is an opportunity to connect with people of similar interest from all over the world.  Thank you Becky Weaver of HATalk and Georgina Abbott of Atelier Millinery for creating this wonderful event.  I look forward to more at the next London Hat Week is planned for Spring 2018, dates TBD.

Leanne at London Hat Walk