Your grey skies and brick buildings welcomed us to city living. We landed here in 2011 and only meant to be your guest for a couple of years, to enrich our lives with your worldliness and history. Little did we know your beguiling ways would enchant us for a surprising ten years and we would become part of your family.
Thank you for sharing your people. Friends who have welcomed us into their hearts and homes. Diverse communities that have expanded my children’s minds and attitudes towards others. Hardy companions for my husband to stand out in all types of weather for a round of beer.
I appreciate, all the people who taught me to make hats within the context of a city and country were hats, history and craftsmanship are so intertwined that it is impossible to tease apart the individual fibres that create the most enchanting headwear.
London, you have changed our lives immeasurably for the better. I hope that in some small way that I have given back to you, my adopted city and country. I will strive to be an ambassador of craftsmanship and tolerance, by embracing uniqueness in people which makes their art and their communities special.
For all that you have given me, I am thankful.
It is with a heavy heart and a fair amount of tears that I say good bye, at least good bye for now.
As of October 2021, I will be settling into a new reality of making, teaching and writing about hats from Santa Cruz, California. Please, sign up for the newsletter to hear about new workshops and events.
Bonus photos — A lovely find at a charity shop in Balham, London yesterday.
A Top Hat and Box that I over heard a charity shop manager discussing with a member of her staff and she allowed some photos.
Come visit myself (Leanne Fredrick Millinery) and some dear friends, Freeman-Birch Millinery, Hats by Clare Spicer and Climbing Rose Clothing at our tables on 24 & 25 November in South West London, UK and 1 December in Ewell, Epsom, UK. More market info
Winter Holiday Drawing on 15 December 2017
Loads of ways to enter to win a place
in my London Hat Week 2018 Hatpin workshop. More drawing info
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I love the charity shop hunt. I don’t know if it is the biological hunter/gatherer instinct or a conditioned response from flea markets and garage sales with my father as a girl, but Monday I hunted and gathered.
This particular Monday brought me to Tooting, London. A name that always brings a smile to this California born girl. There was a charity shop across the street and I had a few minutes before I’d be missed, so I tucked into the shop. It was a gold mine for me. I rarely find hat books at Charity shops, but this was a good day. I discovered a fun book on felting and making hats, Fabulous Felt Hats by Chad Alice Hagen another was a child’s book The Hairy Hat Man’s House by the Letterland Storybooks and just as I was about to leave, high up in the window display was a wonderful conical straw hat. I’ve been on a bit of a Conical (aka Coolie) shaped hat kick lately. My computer desktop is full of images and my pinterest Hats pinboard is all about conicals right now.
A hat and two books later, I return home to discover that the latest edition of The Hat Magazine has arrived! The first thing that must be done is to flip to the back for the Workroom Technique section. This issue is, “How to Work with Feathers” by Edwina Ibbotson and it did not disappoint.
In addition to the Monday, Good Hat Day, I’ve had two “finds” and book shops lately. My eldest daughter is a book junkie. She can’t pass a book shop without wanting to go in. And seeing as I am like that with fabric and hat shops, I can’t fault her. So I end up in a lot more book shops that I would on my own. Over the previous week I discovered two books, The Panama Hat Trail by Tom Miller at Travelling Through and Hats by Colin McDowell at Skoob Books. In true Leanne-form, I have started all of them, but the only one I’ve properly read all the way through is….yes, the children’s book. I am a slow reader, so this back log of books should keep me busy for the remainder of the year and into the next.
Back to the “Good Hat Day”, I then went into work, where I work on the computer doing the marketing, social media, website updates, invoicing, and anything else that needs to be done, while surrounded by beautiful hats and intensely creative skilled people. And to top it all off, hat class, where I could work on my own Conical shaped hat. Three layers of sinamay and I’ve wired the edge so far.
AND THAT is a Good Hat Day to me! Have you had a good hat day? Tell me about it in the comments, and sign up for my mailing list.
A long weekend trip to Amsterdam with my family and a quest to visit their local hat shops. I found an artist collective, two great hat shops, a nice fabric & haberdashery, and a funny hat lamp.
Artwear Jordan – Brouwersgracht 145
An artist collective with a focus on women’s fashion, beautiful linen garments, felted hats and jewelry. The founder is a woman from Marin, California. I find American expats all over the place. She was charming and I could have happily worn any of the pieces in her shop.
De Hoed Van Tijn – Nieuwe Hoogstraat 15
A tall gentleman greeted me and graciously answered my questions and allowed photographs. This shop is a mix of hats, not only mens’s and women’s styles but also covering many price points. There are some nice factory hats as well as couture pieces. He told me that his husband designs some of their hats, along with several other milliners. They were arranged by color rather than by designer collections which made for great pictures.
A. Boeken – Fabric & Haberdashery – 31-35 Nieuwe Hoog Straat, Centrum
A respectable fabric store with a vast assortment of fabrics. They take up about three shop fronts, each one unique, with a focus on different things. There was also a lovely yarn shop next door, called Stephen and Penelope Fine Yarn. As you can see in the picture, I was not the only one who was distracted by these shops while walking by.
Oh, good heavens! There is nothing like encountering a “Body Power” naked bike ride while walking over to the last hat shop. I hope you appreciate my careful picture selection of the cyclists from a rear view, having gone past us.
Hoeden M/V – Herengracht 422
A beautiful hat stop and a charming young woman, Bronte, who was gracious and welcoming, to my rather bedraggled family. The shop was really nice with several enchanting displays and variety of hat styles for men and women. They sell pieces from multiple milliners and also have their own brand, called Bronte which is designed by the young woman’s mother. They have shops in Dusseldorf & London. I haven’t been to the London shop yet, but I will go, soon.
On a different topic, I love apple pie. In fact I am a bit of an apple pie snob. It needs to be made with fresh tart apples. Overly sweet, mushy canned apple are extremely disappointing. I have had some amazing apple pies as my Grandma made fabulous apple pie for Thanksgiving every year in California. In California, when ordering an apple pie, you would often have a choice of Apple Pie or Dutch Apple Pie. It wasn’t until I was putting my fork into a glorious big slice of apple pie at Winkles in Amsterdam, that the little a-ha moment happened and I thought, “This is real Dutch Apple pie.” Here is a picture, as you can see, it does not have a crumble topping. I wonder if it is another example of the word Dutch, being confused for Deutsche, the word for German.
Amsterdam is made of many canals. Brewers canal was gorgeous and our AirBnB place as very small, perfectly eccentric and right on the canal. It was very picturesque.
I love second hand shops and we came across a large one – Episode. It had lots of hats. Actually they had lots of all kinds of clothing and accessories. I escaped without buying anything this time.
Perhaps the most unusual hat item of the trip was a red hat lamp in a store on the square in Harlemmerbuurt.
I dramatically under estimated the bicycle culture of Amsterdam. If I had not taken the picture myself I would think it was a commercial for how civilized a cycle culture can be. This is at the back of the train station by the ferries.
I am curious as to how they manage the derelict bicycles. Our small block of flats here in London constantly struggles with too few racks to lock our bikes as there are old rusty bike that remain locked to the rack, long after their useful life and likely the owners have moved out of the building long ago.
I possibly should have called my blog Hattin’ & Bikin’ around as I love riding my bike. In Amsterdam it is not just a commuting method it is a way of life. These are not what some Londoners call the Lycra brigade, the cyclists in their road racing kit that do battle with London traffic every morning and evening. In Amsterdam, people take their kids to school, pick up the days shopping and go visiting friends, using their bikes. Take a look at a few of the cycle parking lots that were particularly impressive. The first was a triple layer structure outside the central station, little did I realize there was another one on the other side by the ferries.
How about the cycle parking near a concert venue!
Amsterdam was a complete delight with many unique features. It was not the legal prostitution nor the pervasive aroma of canibis smoke that was the most stimulating for me, it was the bikes, and the fabulous hat shops. If you get the chance, it is a lovely place to spend a long weekend.
Registration for London Hat Week Opens on 20 May 2016! Milliners, Hatters and Headwear enthusiasts 6 thru 12th of October 2016 is a great time to be in London. There will be many workshops and events for you to learn new skills, meet master milliners, and talk with like minded people.
If you want to see the master schedule of all the things going on for LHW2016, go to London Hat Week..
I have enjoyed participating in this event for the last couple of years and each one gets better. Last year I hosted the Milliner’s Question Time and a Milliner’s Roundtable Discussion. Both event were very well received and fun to host. At the end of the week I was knackered while being creatively and emotionally energized!
You may have noticed that there currently isn’t a Milliner’s Question Time (MQT) listed. This may change, however in the meantime, I will work on posting last year’s MQT 2015 podcast with Edwina Ibbotson, Rachel Trevor Morgan and Noel Stewart.
I love the attitude of mutual learning and sharing of ideas that is found during London Hat Week and would love to meet and share ideas about millinery, technology and business with you.
I have finished my first hat for my husband. I think he looks very handsome in it and you know…. Interesting people wear hats. This hat is a midnight blue fur felt trilby with a simple leather band trim.
Here are some photos of the process… at this point he wasn’t too sure about this whole hat thing.
He is still uneasy about were things are going
The brim is being blocked using a brim block that I carved last summer in Jane Smith’s block carving class at Morley College.
Jeff is tall and my original crown shape had a fairly deep crevice in the top which made the hat sit high on his head. The combination would have made riding the London Tube a little difficult. I didn’t want to carve a new crown block so it was time to do some hand shaping. I was able to combine steam from my kitchen kettle with an egg iron in a stand (thank you Susie Hopkins), a head block, along with some tips from a great video on hand shaping a hat by Kevin from Pork Pie Hatters. It took some time but looks much better.
The hat is getting closer and Jeff is starting to believe that it might actually be wearable in public. There was still a significant amount of cutting, brushing, sanding and stitching to go, but I was getting excited to see the finished hat on Jeffrey.
He wore his new hat to the Hidden London Underground tour we took last weekend at the Charing Cross Tube station. It was a good tour and he looked so handsome in his fur felt trilby, despite the high vis vest.
Hatting Happiness is both of us wearing hats I’ve made. I love my green velvet 8 piece cap with hand dyed silk lining.
Liotard was known for his amazing detail in painting the fashion of the day, which was the mid to late 18th century. The sitters often wore hats and they were painted with fantastic detail which is very interesting for people like me who are a bit obsessed with hats.
He was know to travel a lot so there are a variety of styles of head wear, of which the turban was featured in many pictures. I am quite fond the turbans, particularly the glamorous movie star style. These images highlighted the many ways of doing the wrapping and folding found in a turban.
Jean-Étienne Leotard was a man before his time when it came to personal promotion. This late 18th Century self portrait shows a large smile, missing tooth, toque hat and turkish style of dress. Another unusual element is that he is not holding a paint brush but instead is pointing his finger. These elements were unique for the time.
Liotard’s use of pastels is also noteworthy, my friend, Dusia who coordinated the visit, brought to my attention his common use of two specific colors which he uses in nearly all his paintings, a beautiful blue (“rich sonorous blue” or “electric blue”, and a salmony red. It is interesting how consistently these colours appear in his paintings.
Grown-Up tip – To avoid the sleepy feeling I often get at museums & exhibits, I have discovered that if I focus my attention on a particular interest, such as hats and head pieces, my endurance in greatly improved. I have used a similar technique with my children, by asking them what they are going to look for, or offer a suggestion of what animal they can find.
Thank you to Dusia and Kitty, for a fun afternoon of learning and inspiration.
I will keep my eye open for more Liotard paintings. I really enjoyed the subjects, the use of colour and of course the Hats.