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.

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.

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?

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….

 

Getting Lucky in Ireland

My last visit to Ireland was February 1998, so when California friend, Laura, suggested we meet up there this Autumn, I was all in. Arriving at the Dublin airport, I was delighted to see a larger than life, image of milliner Martha Lynn, representing the craft of Millinery.  I love when millinery gets visibility, especially on a large scale.

Thanks for advice from my London friend, Lis, we went to Bray. It was the perfect balance of things to do without being a busy city. We enjoyed a couple days of coastal hiking, exploring, shopping and a few pints. 

I brought home a little treasure from Greystones Antiques. This simple little buckle I am sure will end up on a hat.

Laura and I headed north to enjoy the streets and treats of Dublin for a couple days before returning to our respective families. We grabbed the first Sightseeing bus we came to, for a quick tour of the highlights of Dublin, then it was time to go hat shop hunting.


I feel like I found the pot of gold on the first shop, which was Anthony Peto‘s hat shop. Thank you Anthony and Petra for taking time to talk to me without any notice.


Anthony’s main showroom and workshop are in Paris where employs a full team of skilled crafts people. His Paris business has been around for 25 years, while his Dublin shop has been open since 2015. Anthony Peto hats are stylish and well crafted. He offers a variety of styles for men and women. While grabbing the like to his site, I re-discovered this video showing one of Anthony’s team, making a strip straw hat in about 7 minutes.  Anthony Peto’s website news page. I would love to have one of those sewing machines and a straw spinner like he is using.

While trying to find another milliner in Powerscourt Centre, Dublin, I stumbled across a costume design exhibit called Frame 7 by Marion Cuddy.  There were some hats, which is always delight. I believe the milliner was Michael Mullins.
Nearby was milliner and fashion blogger Jennifer Wrynne’s boutique. She been a milliner since 2011 and opened the boutique in 2016. Her hats were primarily special event hats.

I love window displays that include headwear, especially when it is clever and creative. Thank You, Irelands Eye .  On a side note: I wish the fashion magazines did a better job of including headwear in their features.

Inspiring, brave and bold, Claire Garvey Couture makes crazy fun hats and clothes. Claire had recently bought her shop after 18 years in business. I think this is what she said, I was so agog looking at stuff I didn’t write it down. Congratulations Claire!

I feel very lucky to have met two amazing hat designers and visit their shops, made a couple of new friends (Kelly & Lynette) and most importantly, connected with my long time friend, Laura. Until next time, Ireland, Thank you.

Bridport Hat Festival 2017

Bridport is a small villiage in Dorset, in the south of England, just 1.5 miles from the English Channel. I had heard of the Bridport Hat Festival for several years and this year I finally entered images of a hat in the contest. I was delighted to have been shortlisted and sent in my hat for judging. I took the train/bus down from London on Friday afternoon in early September. If you can get a seat with a table,  long train rides are perfect for finishing a hat and meeting nice people.

There were hats in nearly every Bridport shop window and the charity shops had loads of hats for sale at great prices. Above are my favorite charity shop finds of the weekend, although I didn’t buy any of them. An eccentric grey hat by Pop Goes the Weasel, a lovely but far too small, white felt by Graham Smith for Fortnum & Mason. A Frederick Fox in a fawn with black ribbon & flower trim and another no-label hat with loads of stitching.

From Bridport I enjoyed a walk that lead me by the river then through three fields,  down to West Bay for the evening. (Images L-R, water mill by brewery-Bridport, Harbour West Bay, Dorset Coast – West Bay, Station Kitchen – West Bay). It was a gorgeous day and I savored a delicious dinner at the Station Kitchen. I appreciated a cozy night’s stay at a vegetarian B&B, The Old Mill House in Bridport.

The Old Mill House was not much to look at from the street, but had gracious hosts and a small bridge over the river in their serene garden.

The highlight is seeing the variety of hats. A lovely couple wore Twin Peaks, hemp hats from Kathmandu by Elephant Road, a couple in matching outfits, and my strip straw hat with wavy border and vintage flowers.  I think this hat below, a hand felted scene of Poseidon/Neptune was stunning. Can you see the horses coming out of the sea foam on the left and sea creatures following behind on the right?

The Bridport Hat Festival is a fundraiser for various charities. One of which is Brain Tumour Research. They seem to be at a lot of the events I attend. I like collecting their annual hat designer badges.

At one of the charity fundraising stands a gentleman was enjoying selling 2nd hand hats by coming up with some outrageous claims. I bantered with him a few moments, then just as I was ready to decline and depart, I saw another unlabeled stitched beret, in gold and it fit me. If you’ve been following my blog posts, I have come across several of them in my adventures in Southern England. Who made these hats? The price was right and it came home with me. 

More crazy hats from jesters to lampshades. A couple who went with a breakfast theme of a skillet with bacon & eggs and a large fried egg.  Hats with loads of stuff on them to a US political themed hat.

Then in the vendors hall I spotted this little wire framed gem. I will be teaching a wire frame half hat class during London Hat Week in 2018, Cocktail Half Hat with Daisies. It also came home with me, as another sample of how versatile the wire frame technique is to make charming hats.

The vendors hall featured several milliners and hat makers. Here are a few.  From Left to Right. Fairytale Chic, Humphry Hats, International Feltmakers Association, and Hats-A-Head. I love all their creativity and craftsmanship.

Finally, the catalyst for my journey the Milliners and Hatters Open Competition.  The hats were on display all day in the Town Hall. At the end of the day the hall was cleared, then set with chairs with a center aisle. Each hat was modeled and awards were given.  I didn’t bring home any prizes but it was fun to have my hat on display and then modeled at the end. The hat on the far right was the overall winner. I think they will eventually get photos of the hats on the Bridport Hat Festival website.

My learning opportunity came when the hats were modeled. Despite having a center back mark and comb for placement, my hat ended up backwards and on the wrong side of the model’s head. Luckily it looked beautiful from all sides, but it really would have shown better if it had been worn properly. Live and learn, next time I’ll make it super obvious. 

Bridport was a lovely town and we had great weather. I think it would be a good place to take my family for a little holiday in the future.  Thank you Bridport for a fun day out.

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.