Age counts….

The same cloche-block like in the article before, but another hat bodie. And the same problems! But why?

Not only the treatment of a hat bodie counts, but also it´s age!

Especially straw hat bodies can be to dry and overaged, if they are from the 1950s/60s or before.

Not every vintage hat bodie is concerned, some of them are good to work with and the attempt is worth it!

But some others show cracks and breaks during the process of stretching und some of the folds remain and can not be removed by damping or ironing, because the hat bodies were stored in piles or under other adverse conditions for decades, got crumpled and the material “remembers” the folds….

This hat bodie had both problems. It had some folds and in the brim-area, the straw was brittle and cracked. In such a case, make the best out of it! Depending on where the flaw is, you can make an element of decoration with the damage, like I did on the brim! If the flaw is in the crown, just enlarge it, cut it to shape, line it with some other material or, if the damage is small, use it to draw a feather or any other decoration items through.  Or cover it with a ribbon.

Don´t be disappointed, if the vintage hat bodie refuses to work with you the way you want or respond with damages. Don´t give up!  It won´t be a perfect hat, but still wearable.  And the fine old material is always worth the trial!

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Treat your hat bodies right!

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Look at this little yellow cloche….It looks a bit odd, don´t you think?

All those creases and it´s rather stiff and the texture uneven!

Much more like a beginners hat, not a hat made by a more experienced milliner!

So what happened?

Last year I  bought a lot of millinery items and hat bodies from another milliner. It seems, she wanted to work with the yellow hat bodie, stretched it over a block, starched it- And than obviously changed her mind. Afterwards she must have “crumpled” the hat bodie, and layed it aside.

When I got it, it was dry, stiff, more like a scrunched newspaper and not in the condition, a good and expensive hat bodie should have.

I tried to gently wash out the stiffener, but only succeeded in parts. I didn´t want to give up, so I stretched the wet hat bodie over a wooden block and patient  worked on the shape. But there were some folds, I couldn´t remove anymore. And the hat bodie remained a bit starchy, so I didn´t use new stiffener. I did all I could, to make the hat as good as possible- But in fact the hat bodie was ruined by the rough treatment, it had before.

So please treat your working-items and materials right! If you work on a hat and find,  you changed your mind, don´t  throw it in a corner and let it rot.

Take it off the hat block, wash out the starch before it dries and than reshape it and let it softly dry on room temperature. then put it on another hat bodie or a hat stand. And use it as soon as possible….Or you end up with hats like THIS!!!!


A pair of scrap-caps

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WP_20160317_12_41_20_ProIn series one of “The House of Eliott” Evangeline often wears a black velvet beret with two tassels and appliques. I adore that piece!

But it wasn´t the first time I saw it. Like so many clothing and millinery from  movies , it was reused for another series. So after the end of “The House of Eliott” in 1994, the beret  went to “Agatha Christies Poirot” and embellished the head of Zoe Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver.  There I noticed it for the first time, wanted to make one for myself- And forgot it….

But this time I  wouldn´t let the thought slip out of my mind.

I had three scraps from furniture-fabric around 1960 or a bit earlier. The scraps have beautiful patterns and a soft velvet texture.

Perfect for two berets. The only problem was the much smaller diameter.   So my berets look different in shape. The crown is smaller and the band is wider.

I had no template, that was big enough, so I simply used a cake plate to help me with the pattern. Many kitchen-items are helpful for millinery or sewing!

What was left over, made (combined with other scraps from my stock) a crazy little bag, matching both berets.

Result: Zero waste!

Two early 1920s dresses


Those two dresses were the last things, I finished before the chill catched me. They are inspired by “The House of Eliott”, Season 1.

I was longing to have dresses in that style. And it was a good possibillity, to use the filet-pieces I had collected for years.

I found it never easy to use them, filet is delicate and somehow difficult to work with, but I decided not to run away from that subject this time!

I also used some modern (but high quality!) batiste, pieces from a vintage curtain and lots of antique lace from my stock. Some of the lace and curtain are Art Déco, but others are Art Nouveau….But that´s no objection, because in the 1920s, dressmakers and cotouriers had no scruples to work with lace and fabrics from the decades before! They just used it in a complete different way with new patterns and styles!


Bavarian Crochet-Vest


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Two weeks ago, I catched a cold. The nasty kind, that keeps you in bed for weeks. But it also gave me the opportunity, to learn a crochet-pattern, I wanted to master for long,  but never had the time: Bavarian Crochet.

It´s not easy to learn something new, when your brain feels like a huge marshmallow, but after a few failures, I got it and made a little wrap-vest.

It´s said, the pattern was brought to America by two women, mother and daughter, immigrants  from Bavaria.  But is this true? Or just another fairy-tale?

The funny thing is, no one in Bavaria seems to know the pattern. (Acctually nobody in the whole Germany seems to know it!)

The few people over here, who use the pattern, all got it from the web or American crochet books! (Like me.)

That may be an evidence, that the story isn´t true- But it´s no proof!

Because many vintage patterns for crochet, knitting and needlework were brought to America by European immigrants and survived there, but were forgotten in their origin countrys. And of course, the pattern would have had a different Bavarian Name.

And there ist another possibility: Maybe mother and daughter (if they ever existed!) invented the pattern theirselves. Or it had been used in only a small area in Bavaria, perhaps just one remote village…..?

You see, things are seldeom, what they appear to be…..There is always something behind!  And it´s much more fun, to think about such things, while lying in bed with a chill, than starring at the ceiling or watch flys on the wall!


Another boring, mass-produced hat, I found in a second hand store. It had a 1970s style, but I liked the damped shade of rosewood and the felt was of a better quality, so reshaping was worth it. I carried my loot home, removed hat band and decoration and stretched it over a genuine 1920s hat block. The original decoration, a small feld-band was reused, I just made a decorative knot and fixed it to the hat again. Front decoration is now a dyed bobbin doily!

So, if you don´t know what to do with one of those nice little  bobbin “dust-traps”, here´s a possibility: Make it a hat-decoration!