Back to millinery








Now, my Christmas holiday is over and I´m back to millinery again.

I wanted a matching hat for all the off-white lace gowns, I made over the last month. By mischance, I had no woolfelt hat body in a suitable color. So I had to take a straw one (Sisol).

A while ago I bought it with some other items from a milliner, who can´t work  fulltime on her profession anymore. That´s what happens to most of the remaining german milliners sooner or later. It´s not a country for hats. And you have to be courageous, to go on with a craft so ancient, nobody these days cares anymore. (At least here in Germany….)

The straw cone had a cut-out. I think, she took a piece for a fascinator. And what was left, looked like a hood or the entrance to a cave….Perfect for a 1920s helmet-cap.

During the 1920s, straw hats where even worn in winter, the hat crown lined with different kinds of fabric like silk, cotton or thin linen. Often the crown was also covered with many kinds of embellishments, embroidery or another layer of fabric.

I had some vintage lace-pieces from Plauen in Germany, probably from the late 50s or 60s and some beautiful glass-gagate-beads from Paris around 1900.

I didn´t want to use only the lace without a different shade of color, because that would be to much “bridal”. So black and light brown hat to go with the lace.

It was lots of work, to tie all the small lace-pieces together, embellish all with the glass beads and stretch it somehow over the cap, but it was also fun and experience….

And rag-cat came over, to waste her good advice on me now, after her princess throwed her out for the day….

Now it´s finished and I think, it´s not so bad at all!

A coat for Mrs. Santa….

WP_20151222_15_02_41_Pro WP_20151222_09_44_24_ProNo, just kidding…Since I saw the blue velvet coat in series two of “Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries”, I wanted something like that.  No accurate copie of course, but a coat in a similar style. Now, that´s long, long ago…meanwhile series three turned up and I never had the time to go on with the project.

Until the day before yesterday. I put anything else aside, made the pattern and sewed the coat in a hurry from silk-velvet, I had in store for years and a lining of vintage unbleached linen. Like the original from the series, my coat has a closure from a vintage belt-buckle. In this case a buckle from a traditional german costume around 1900.

Like usual, it´s not perfect and I also changed some details: Another color, a shorter, softer collar, NO feathers and I also changed the wide, in the lower part gathered and narrowed sleeves into more practical, simple ones.

After I finished the coat, I found it a pitty to have so much work with the pattern and than just use it for once….So I took two vintage curtains and made another, unlined version. This time an Art Déco belt-buckle does the closure-job.

And I think, I will make another version in brown….

Some of the scraps made a little two-way-cap. Depending on which coat I wear, I just turn the cap around.

A rat for Christmas- A “Rag-Cat-Tale”








Every real rag-princess needs a close pet, both friend and muse , that gives her inspiration and some good advice, she don´t need.

It can be a dog, a hamster, a fish, a peacock or even a colony of ants in a sight-glass.

Our princess has a cat. No ordinary cat of cause, but a rare “rag-cat”…and that isn´t always easy….

First of advent. As usual the cat layed on the rag-princess work and winked sleepy. Outside a few snowflakes dropped. A rough wind blowed and ripped the last withered leaves off the trees. Dark clouds where floating across the sky. It was  frowning and cold.

But the rag-princess saw nothing  at all. She just kept on sewing.

The cat observed her for a while, than got bored. “Soon there will be Christmas!” She thought. “And I will get another nonsens like a warming recycling-cover for my feeding bowl, a coat for my winter-walks, a horrible cat-hat or paw-slacks….and like every year, I say “thank you”, ripp off the stuff with my claws and throw it under the christmas-tree, so my princess can recycle it once more….She doesn´t look happy than….But I WANT her to be HAPPY! Therefore I must find something to give her this year….And I think, I already know WHAT!”

Softly, like only cats can do, she got up, jumped of the table and creeped away….Outside, where wind, cold and darkness waited for her. She shivered and hold for a moment. The wild wind ran through her tight fur. No weather for a petted rag-cat. But she had a plan and so she jumped bravely through the door, into the middle of the elements raging.

“Have you seen the cat?” the rag-princess asked her husband, prince charming.

“Hgggn” he sayed and lifted his eyes away from the screen for a moment to look at her.

“Well, I  presume that means “No”! The rag-princess sighed and began to look in every room for her cat.

“She isn´t in the wardrobe, I searched it three times over. And she isn´t in her cat condo or under the bed. And also not IN the bed. And not under the table, on a chair under the tablecloth or in the cellar!…I don´t know where to search for her anymore! She looked out of the window full of foreboding and for the first time today, she saw the coming storm.

“I hope, that crazy creature didn´t ran out!!”

“Hgggn!” prince charmin growled.

“We have to look for her! the rag-princess shouted and opened the front door. A gust of wind brought in some snowflakes and withered leaves and from the middle of the chaos, in jumped the cat. But she was not alone. She hold something in her jaws. And it looked dead as a doornail.

Proudly she layed her prey at the rag-princess feet and grinned. “Look!” she meowed. “My advent-gift for you! You will have some more for Christmas! You can eat them and sew me a nice cushion from their skins afterwards!”

‘”A mouse!” Prince charming screamed and jumped of his chair. “How disgusting! What are we going to do ?”

The rag-princess took the huge fire tongs, that hang near the castle´s big fire place for nearly 300 years and grabbed the mouse careful.

“Here!” she sayed and pointed at prince charming with the fire tongs. “Go to the balcony and throw it into the moat. Shall others care for the body!”

“Ugh!” prince charming screamed. “Don´t point at me with that thing! And disinfect the floor immediately”  Most careful he took the fire tongs and ran to the balcony.

The rag-cats ears twitched nervously. “Maybe the mouse wasn´t big enough!” she thought. “Or the color of the  fur didn´t match with the rag-princess latest sewing project…..Or maybe she found the mouse to skinny! Next time I´ll catch her a big, fat one!”

Content with herself, she coiled up and slept for the rest of the Advent-evening and the following night.

The second Advent came and again the cat creeped out and lurked under a bush, until a thoughtless mouse came along through the freshly fallen snow. This time the victim was fast, with a soft fur in a gentle shade of brown. Content, she went back to the castle, jumped on the table and layed ther gift in front of the Advent wreath, on which now two candles burned. “Look! This time I got a real pretty one!”

Prince charming´s loud scream made the mighty old window in the hall tremble and the rag-princess got the fire tongs again , grabbed the mouse and throwed it from the balcony into the moat. Afterwards she plugged the tablecloth into the washing machine and sprayed the table with organic-disinfection-spray until it blobbed.

“Stop bringing mice in!”

The cat looked astonished at her and vanished miffed.

“A princess can expect something special! The last mouse was better than the first, but not good enough after all! I have to work harder to loot a perfekt mouse and my princess will be satisfied!” She thought to herself, when she layed in the wardrobe and spread her hair all-over the princess precious rags.

The third Advent came warm and sunny and so the cat went willingly outside and strolled through the shrubs, that surrounded the castle, until at last, after a long time of waiting, the perfect mouse came along.  Big, fat, with a silky mouse-skin in the color of slate…..almost to good to be true…and to good not to devour it at once. But the cat subdued her avarice, jumped out of the shrub´s shadows and soon after, she layed another dead body at her princess feet and purred full of pride and comfortable feeling.

Luckily, prince charming was on a visite at the castle of his cousin, the frog king,  and so the mouse could disappear into the moat without him to know and the cat got another preach “What shall we do with  MICE? Can´t you catch us something USEFUL?”

But the cat only whipped her tail and said nothing.

The fourth advent came with rain, cold like ice. Just a few days until Christmas.

“I think, thats only a kind of misunderstanding.  The princess knows, how tasty a luscious mouse is…Maybe she lacks of recipes for mice…Yes! That´s it! I can´t rember, I ever saw her cooking mice! Probably she´s ashamed and don´t want to admit. It´s best, I borrow the “big book of mice-fry” from my cousin, the mad cat and the problem will be solved!”

At this evening, in front of the advent wreath not only an old, worn out book with claw-marks on it could be found, but also  a mouse, so splendid, every cat would be in entrancement at once by the look.

Prince charming got up, grabbed the table-cloth and like a magician he pulled it from the table  as quick as a flash, so the four candles on the advent wreath not even glinted. He took table-cloth, book and mouse, throwed all into the moat and went to wash his hands. The rag-princess just shook her head, sighed and gave her cat a dispraised look.

Now the cat was seriously aggrieved.

“But I´m a CAT!” she meowed. “It´s my Job to catch mice!”

“Wrong! You´re a RAG-CAT! Your job is laying on top of a rag-pile with sleepy eyes and a bored expression on your face.  You´re obligated to give constantly good advice I won´t follow, inspire me, purr, open seams and rip off fabric with your claws. And I think, that´s enough! Nobody ever talked about mice!

“You mean, you don´t appreciate the mice?”

“I find them abominable!”

Now the cat began to whine loudly.

“O, what a poor, poor cat I am! All this hard labour and for nothing! I´m the best hunter in whole fairyland and I don´t deserve to be with a dishonorable princess like this, who gives me just censure and no praise!”

She walked around the princess legs, constantly meowing and lamenting, while she winked astute at her with sloppy eyes.

“All right!” the princess yelled exasperated. “I give up! What can I do, to stop you making such a fuzz?””

The whining stopped immediately.”

“First: I want you to to admit that I´m a big hunter! Second: You will make a hat to honor me!”

“A hat? For YOU?”

“No!” Rag-cat meowed. YOU will wear the hat and it will look like THIS…” She jumped on the rag-princess shoulder and whispered in her ear.

“That would be a rather ridiculous hat!” The rag-princess said.

“Almost every hat of yours is more or less ridiculous!” the cat locked a nut.

“Touché! I make the hat….Any further terms?”

The cat grinned conniving. “Third: You will go to town, wearing the hat and visit the wise old wizard!”

“Oh NO! I refuse to do it! The wizard is not only an old friend, he´s also a man of culture and taste. And he´s the only one, who doesn´t mind about my rags. But if he sees me wearing THIS hat, he will strike my name off the list for his New Years Party!”

“There must be a punishment! If you refuse to do it, I will meow day and night until your ears fall off!””

The princess had to face her doom, because there is almost nothing on earth so scary, as a constantly screaming cat.

On the day before christmas, the hat was finished and the rag-cat nodded satisfied, as the princess went on her way to town with a heavy heart and a absurd piece of millinery on her head.

On the way, she got lots of  laughter and most of the residents of fairy-land thought it was a new advertising campaign of the puss in boots.  When she came to town, as she promised, she went straight to the old wizard´s house, where he lifed with his amicable wife.

“Oh!” the wizard´s wife yelled, when she saw the princess hat. “What an interesting hat you wear! Is it new?”

“Brandnew. It´s for my cat´s honor. She ist the biggest mouse-hunter in whole fairy-land!”

“Now, look at the cute little mice on it! How many are there?”

“Just four.” the princess said. “One for every advent-mouse-gift”!

The old wizard entered the room, looked at the hat, saw the ecstatic look on the face of his dear wife and turned pale.

Quickly he hauled his wife away from the marvel. If there was anything in the world, he didn´t like, it was hats.

“Four mice!” he said. “Thats far enough!” and quickly changed the subject. But in secret he resolved to talk serious with prince charming about his wife´s  allures and to strike both off the guest list for the big new years party.

Meanwhile the rag-cat coiled up satisfied on a silk-cushion on top of a pile of fabrics in the princess sewing-dungeon and thought about some things…..

“Mice….battered little creatures!I think, they are to minor to be a gift for a princess….Oh, I was such a fool! But I will fix it! On Christmas,  at the big ball in the hall of the castle, I will give her the finest present in front of all her guests! The most desirable of all: A gigantic, fat RAT! Yes, that´s it! A RAT FOR CHRISTMAS!”

And content with her self, she fell asleep.

Do we really need to buy new clothes for Christmas?

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…or is it possible to DIY?

Of course it´s fun to run to a mall or the next boutique and buy something nice mass-produced, made under exploitative conditions…..But it´s much more fun to sew it yourself and you could never be really proud of  the piece you bought in a store. And don´t forget: Some other women around the world would have the same clothing…And maybe the unpleasant person next door, you really don´t like, is among them….. But your own creation is unique! (And perhaps you could make that unpleasant person a little bit jealous!)

If the answer is: “But I CAN´T sew!”, ask a creative friend or a member of your family, to sew something for you. And if it´s impossible, buy your cloth from a eco-friendly company, buy second-hand or look for some artisan-or recycling cloth. Etsy and Dawanda are good sources for such things. Or look through your wardrobe….Is there really nothing suitable you could upcicle?

I had some short vintage scraps left after my M-Project.

They didn´t match, because they have the color of old ivory and for the project I needed off-white.

I thought for a while, what to do with them….I confess, I don´t really need another evening gown….But at least I decided to sew a short, sleeveless tunic with an unusual back, I can wear for some different occasions in summer and winter.

I didn´t plan the pattern that way. The task was to use the bits as they came and not to cut- Only if it´s really necessary.

that meant some obstacles and limitations. But I found, at least the tunic created itself.

Some of the scraps where remainings from long forgotten vintage lingerie with unusual shapes and holes. The centerpiece of the back was made from some scraps, original belonging to a piece of lingerie or an evening gown from the 1930s. (This kind of fabric was used for both)

Someone long ago cut up the original gown and recycled it. I had only the remaining scraps to work with, but it was enough for my purpose.

Another lace-scrap at the front came from a 1930s slip and had a black silk-border. I thought about removing,  but decided to keep it and add on some more vintage satin-ribbon in black. It makes a good accent to the shades of old ivory.

And this time I was a bit smarter and made a matching bag from the deposits.

So don´t wait any longer, if you don´t have your clothing for the feast ready now.

Take what ever material or clothing you have, be creative and design your own dream. It can´t really go wrong and you will shine at Christmas in a unique piece of art!

Recycling Hat

I got a slightly flawed hat from the 1960s. It wasn´t the most beautyful hat, but the felt body was in a predominant good condition, so I turned it into a cap. The damage in the felt was adverse located,  why I cut a felt-applique and layed it over the flawed area.  A vintage bow from another hat and ready!Exif_JPEG_PICTURE



No matching pouches….





After I finished my Metropolitan-Project,  I found I had enough evening gowns for Christmas  and New Year´s Day, but no matching evening pouches…..

So running to the computer, get into the collection online, search for something suitable and stumble over some simple, but beautiful evening lace-bags.

Between 1905 and the early twenties, spanish-american socialite and lace-collector Rita de Alba y de Acosta (Rita Lydig) gave some items of her collection to the Callot Soeurs, in order to make coats, blouses gowns and some bags from. In 1953 her clothing and accessoires have been donated to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and can now be seen on the web.

And Rita´s beautiful bags hooked me!

What most of them have in common, is a very simple pattern and shape, combined with precious lace, that was already antique, when the Callot Soeurs worked with. Some ot the pieces go back to the 17th or 18th century.

Of course I don´t possess such rare items….But that´s not important. I have enough vintage bits and pieces, to small for clothing, but perfect for a bag. And I don´t care, if there are holes or spots.

First I made a little off-white bag from silk scraps, vintage linen-coasters (or are they in fact small tea-napkins? I don´t know….), a piece of venetian lace and machine-made bobbin lace. The bag has no front or back, it can be used from both sides. This bag is very much in the same style, Rita Lydigs bags were made.

But I also wanted something more “spacious”, so I sewed another bag from rags, different lace, gold-brocade borders and some pieces of 1950s lingerie-fabric.

Now the feasts can come….I´m prepared with my gowns, lace-poncho and matching evening-pouches.


Sew yourself a sari-skirt

WP_20151008_10_32_02_Pro WP_20151008_10_32_17_ProI had a vintage brocade-silk-sari. One half was rotten, but the other half with the show-piece, called “pallu”, was in good condition. I wanted to save as much as possible of the precious fabric, so I made a simple wrapping-skirt  with lining .

The fabric is heavy and I have to be careful if I sit down but it´s worth the attention. You can use every kind of sari or something in that direction. But the fabric should be not to airy.

A piece like that might be fine for a Christmas-Party.


Scrap-gifts and decorations for Christmas










Last week someone reminded me, I had planed to make some little doodads for Christmas. And guess what? I HAD forgotten! I was so busy with other things, that I don´t even remembered. But time flies and I needed the doodads. So the sewing machine had to run and the crochet hook had to fly! But I made it at least!

I had the idea with the Christmas-trees, when I saw some tree-shaped cookies. I made a simple pattern from cardboard and began to sew.  I made lots of gift-bags for cookies and other small gifts, gift-tags and tree decoration from vintage and new fabrics and crocheted also a few collars and shawls.

The design for the little pineapple-collar isn´t mine. It belongs to Mayumi Kawai. You can find it in the book  “Dentelles elegantes au crochet”. (Elegant crochet lace)  Sadly, there is no english version. Only french and japanese, but the pictures and instructions are very good, so you can get along without foreign language competence.

And some of the projects in this book are so pretty, I will enjoy myself reworking them!

I had the idea to make a long version of the small collar and create a real scarf. You can see on the picture, what appeared…

Now I´m better prepared for Christmas and my rag-box is not overfull anymore.

Autumn Ensemble

WP_20150929_14_26_16_Pro__highresOnce there was a small tunic, that didn´t fit anymore….

I cut it up in the middle of the front, add a collar in the same color on, embellished with a precious piece of vintage velvet-ribbon and removed the sleeves.  It looks much better now.

Then I sewed  a matching trouser from antique sacking.

The button on the front is something special:

I bought it from an elderly lady, which is a gifted wood turner. She also makes buttons from wood, afflicted by wood worms. After the worms had turned into beetles and flown out, she cuts the wood and fills their remaining channels with metal.

The worm-patterns are fantastic.

I think, the wood worms would be astonished, if they knew, they´re artists now!