Saturday, 23 October 2010

I was always partial to a nice shade of periwinkle green

Apparently, colours say a lot about people. I like to think my favourite colours - red, white and black - say “independent, confident, fun, young lady with a hint of tawdry.” Apparently the internet disagrees:

RED: used as a symbol of guilt, sin and anger, often as connected with blood or sex. Incites emotions from passionate love, to violence and warfare. Red is Cupid and the Devil.”

Ummm….. i.e. confidence?

White: “purity, cleanliness. Brides wear white to symbolize innocence. Doctors and nurses wear white to imply sterility.”

Good one to avoid confusion with, there. “Marry me honey, you look so…..sterile.”

BLACK: “the colour of authority and power. Black also implies submission. Black outfits can make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black.”

That’s fine.

“In the bandana code of the gay leather subculture, wearing a black bandana means that one is into the sexual fetish of sadomasochism. Sadists wearing the bandana in the left rear pocket, masochists on the right.”

One for future reference.

These three colours have appeared in a few of my more recent creations, a hat made on my HNC course (which is going really well, except that millinery is on the 3rd floor, and there’s no lift. Bastards) and a fascinator made for my cousin’s wedding. Anyway, less talkie, more fetchy, as Peter Griffin might say:

It's made with a red felt hood I bought at a hat museum in Southern France. Well chuffed I had an excuse to use it! Also glad I managed to make the trim with the off-cuts, that came out all nice.

This little lady I blocked in one evening, and finished the next. Couldn't go to a wedding without a hat, now that I tell everyone I'm a milliner. But having less than 48hours to think about it after completing a course project was a test....still, it came out awight and I got enough compliments. Next: need some business cards.

On second thoughts, that flower is more maroon than red. Internet?

Maroon: "it is often a favorite colour of someone who has been battered by life." know what, forget it.

Friday, 20 August 2010

i made these

Top to bottom: sailor hat with swallows i hand-embroidered; top hat with red satin bow; Jane Austin bonnet; Carmen Miranda draped on buckram base; felt 1920s hat with silver birds; red pillbox on buckram base; inside of pillbox; upclose of embroidery; back of Carmen Miranda; better idea of shape of 1920s hat; tophat on block; straw cloche on block; only photo I have of straw cloche with feather trim; overview of Millinery 1 class, with Andrew the tutor, who I found out on Millinery 2 had passed away :(


To date, I've completed two millinery courses, both at London College of Fashion (yeah, I never imagined I'd actually attend a class there, either. Especially after the shocking "tartan/plaid" clash incident of 2001)

I've done both Millinery 1 and Millinery 2, the first as a series of nine 3-hour evening sessions, and the second an intensive 5 days. I can see the appeal of both: the long course, you can take your time developing your hat and ideas, but the week is great cos you go in everyday, 10am-4pm, and just work on hats. That's what made me apply for the HNC in Millinery. To be able to have that as your work would be incredible. No more part-time making, but everyday being able to create and sew and get paid for it. I don't care if it's crap wages, I don't care if I live with my parentals the rest of my life (though they may have something to say about it), if I can wake up and create everyday, I'd be happy.

Alas, that is a pipe dream. But for the next 9 months, I get 3 days a week of millinery....get in!!

So....they are all just me practising with different fabrics and blocks, and playing around with the techniques. But I tried to make it as varied as possible, and get a couple of wearable ones out of the exercise.

Bon appetit! Or something x

so the point of this blog is......

Blogs are everywhere today. I remember watching “Julie and Julia” (bloody excellent piece of cinema) and Amy Adams whines something along the likes of “everyone has a blog today.” 

I leapt up from my broken futon to applaud the statement.

What’s the point in having a blog that shares identical themes and whimsical mutterings with thousands of other wannabe Carrie Bradshaws? And the only followers are your mum and her neighbour?

However, since my campaign to actually research what the devil millinery is has taken me almost solely to the blogosphere (what a twat of a label) I have discovered that actually this modern phenomenon is not only useful but inspirational.

Millinery is, I was told by my millinery tutor, “a dying art.” Well, what an excellent time for me to decide on it for a new career path! Judging by the books I’ve read on it, I can only agree. No offence, but I don’t really want to see another picture of a summer hat that only the royals would deem fashionable. I’m fed up of faux-roses being the only trimming available. I don’t care for strange looking creations not even the circus society at uni would approve of. And therefore, thank the higher power above for blogs.

I have discovered handmade hat blocks, fascinators and hats that not only inspire but shock, and a hundred different ways to approach the craft. No longer does it seem a slightly staid area of fashion, but a leading craft that people really do rewrite the rules as they see fit. And I guess that’s the genius of joining a “dying art.” if it’s dying, you can do whatever the hell you want to rejuvenate it.

A few blogs I’ve discovered that take millinery to the next level (away from just the wedding and ascot hit-list):

thanks for reading, mum xx

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Just like Nu-Metal, I'm out to change the world. For a bit.

So, its been a while since I’ve posted anything creative, and – incidentally – listened to Staind. I’m hoping my crap doesn’t go the way of 90s nu-metal. Reminiscent of past times but not quite fond enough to be transferred to iTunes.

I’m concentrating on the old head-gear as it’s easier to buy supplies for and make without wondering if the sewing machine is pissing off the people downstairs. Although my French still isn’t good enough to actually get into an argument: I’m still at that blissfully unaware stage of having someone rant in your face and having no idea what they’re angry about. I just imagine they’re telling me what a beautiful English Rose I am, and how my spaghetti-stained top I’ve thrown on is so chic, dahling, So Chic. The fact that it infuriates them even further when I smile at the end, wave a “bonsoir!” and saunter off just cements how being totally ignorant can be your best friend sometimes.

But back to today’s theme. I’ve seen the feathered fascinators around for ages, and have always admired them. Particularly on Whitney Port. There’s something so elegant and naïve about that girl (and then she goes out wearing tie-dye crop-top and culottes and I throw up a little in my mouth.) Making them took a couple of tries with several different types of glues, two of which gave me a burn/rash:

* glue gun (Evil Glue Gun Hurtses Me)
* super glue (SO fun to play with, but does actually stick fingers together.)

In the end I stuck (lulz….zzzzz) with some clear art glue, that did the job perfectly. It was so easy to place the feathers as I wanted them too. So, basically, I started at the top, and finished at the end with a home-made button for the second as I got glue everywhere. Typical.

The back I just covered with fabric, over the elastic. I had some headbands, but they give me headaches. (Or maybe that’s just the glue inhalation.)

Number one: I love this one! The feathers were surprisingly cheap from Hobbyland or somewhere, and it’s quite a nice little number to add to an outfit.

Number two: I made this one specifically for a family-party outfit, tho in all the photos you can’t see the bastard as my hair was freshly black. Don’t worry, I made a point to EVERYONE that it was there and handmade. Poor, poor, relatives.

Another couple I’ve made….. without the emphasis on the feathers. I love lace-covered fabric, and I’ve got quite a bit of vibrant fabrics around that really highlight though the lace layer.

So…..this was for a Craftster swap, Twilight themed (bothered…I love it) a simple tear-drop shape with lace-covered blue jersey, a fan of lace, and feathers. I wanted it quite Victorian/early century looking, and I was happy with the outcome. I backed it onto a comb this time, and made a matching bag (which I was also quite proud of)

This final fascinator was for a Craftster birthday swap; she wanted something ‘pretty’ for her hair as she’s a teacher. I popped this one on an alice band, just to see how it’d go. And I saw that it was good.

So there we go! The photos never do justice. But I’m really enjoying them, albeit never really wearing them much. Which I guess makes the fascinators a self-fulfilling prophecy. If they were an album, they’d be Life is Peachy. How ironic. 

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Pass the apron and Woman’s Weekly, dear

Cross-stitch is usually associated with ‘beautiful’ farmyard scenes and teddybears. You just know when you walk into a room with a cross-stitched, framed kitten, that the musty smell and offer of stale Victoria sponge will quickly follow.

However, I have recently discovered modern crafting. Dragging what used to be viewed as solely for housewives into the 21st century, the craft revolution has given cross stitch new meaning and new appeal. Thanks to websites such as and cross stitch is now cool, and even a little sexy. Waaaaooow!!

My first attempts, and I’m officially hooked (dammit, I should’ve saved that for a crochet post.) I imagined that counting the stitches would get on my nerves, but it’s exciting to see how the piece is progressing. And, MOST importantly to me, it can be done whilst watching Twilight on repeat and eating cake. Because where’s the fun of crafting if you can’t eat and perve over hot fictional guys?

Here’s my first go, from a Subversive Cross Stitch pattern. It’s very me, and goes perfectly with my “fuck, yeah” pillowcase and “that’s what she said” tshirt. It took a couple of sittings, but was great to fill time on the train or whilst waiting for a student to arrive. I love it! 

My second was a birthday present for a friend, who’s a bit of a music guru and has a wicked sense of humour, so I thought he’d prefer it to the Extreme Trout Fishing dvd I got him last year. It’s a pattern made by a Craftster, found here:
And here is my attempt:

I can predict this won’t be the last of the cross stitch. I just need to sew myself an ironic apron and bake a tart in anticipation of my next project.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Le Chic? Just Pass Me The Gold Spandex

One day I a couple of years ago, I decided to make myself a skirt. I was fed up with the cycle of clothes I had begun. It started with seeing something on the tv or in a magazine that I liked, not being able to afford or find it, ending up with something similar but unsatisfying, and ultimately leaving it at the back of the wardrobe to rot.
Whilst bagging my still-labelled failures into a charity shop binbag one day, it struck me: why not try this myself?

A trip to Argos and a £50 sewing machine later, I was on my way. Cheap fabric was going for £1/metre at Upton Park Market, and a local haberdashers provided thread, pins and, well, cute little buttons I couldn’t resist but would “definitely” use at a later date (update: still sat in sewing box). Google “sewing tutorial” or “sewing patterns” online, and away you go.

Starting a craft in Britain is quite easy; you cant really go wrong. No wonder our fashion graduates are the envy of the world, and the UK is renowned for such modern and enigmatic clothes.

Paris…..Paris is known as the “capital of fashion”. Where chic just happens. People flock here to be seen and to soak up the ambiance, hoping it will unconsciously influence their wardrobe.

It is also a right pain in the arse if you want to create anything yourself.

Before heading out here, I was in contact with a member of a craft website for some tips on moving to the Ile de France. The most memorable piece of advice she gave me: the French don’t bother trying to make anything that can be made for them by someone with formal training. Crafting for the fun of it isn’t much of a pastime here, and that’s been made pretty clear to me during my teaching.

A few of my adult students have raised both eyebrows AND engaged the pout at the mention of crochet. At admitting to sewing a dress, I repeatedly received the “but you know you can buy them in H and M, oui?” reply. Which, quite frankly, I had a hard time not taking as an insult.

It just staggers me that for a city people regard as being so chic, no one is creative. It is reflected in the fashion. If you wear anything outside of grey, black, or navy blue, you are considered a daring outcast. Fancy a winter coat? Better make it a babydoll swing with strict collars. It’s enough to make a Central St Martins student flee back to the Eurotunnel and die happy in a sea of neon jeggings.

Apparently this subdued chic is a reflection of the egocentric French mentality, where simply trying is the first step to a guaranteed faux pas, as losing face if it doesn’t work out holds too big a risk of social downfall. No wonder the administrative system hasn’t been altered since Napoleon.

Right, I’m off to attempt the impossible; completing a bank transaction in less than 72 hours. *le sigh*

Lu et approuvé,
miss chlo

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sorrow and the scarlet leaf, sad thoughts and sunny weather; Ah me! This glory and this grief agree not well together!

and the big chill is upon us! so what better to do some pics of jumpers i made in january 2009. always the on the ball, me. so without further adieu, i give you:

the hoody that could potentially be a sailoresque creation but as yet is just "bleu"
this is from the lydia pattern on , and was relatively easy for a sewing n00b like me. although, i had to add a couple of panels down the side as it comes up small, and i loves my roomy jumpers. i also hated the v-neck so added some rectangles on the front, and also lined the hood with the same material. i really like the way it came out, and - most important challenge - my sewing survived the washing machine. i'm on my way to making things that are totally wearable!
materials used: sweatshirt jersey and cotton interlock jersey
times worn out in public: 4
negative comments from public: 0 (yessss.....)

wow, my photos are professional. love the paper on the floor and the ferret cage hiding out back. there's another resolution i should make and then get too excited to remember.

creation number two: attempt to win battle against winter neck chills
this little number i really enjoyed making. i drafted the pattern from a tshirt i really liked the fit of, then added length to the body and arms (i hate jumpers that are too short. it makes me feel exposed and slightly vunerable. wierd? normal? tmi?) the neck was a style that i've been perving on for a while, but had been too scared to attempt, and turns out was annoyingly difficult to recreate. i wanted a stiff collar that stood up alone, so used ALOT of interfacing, but it still droops a little....if it could type, i'm sure it would write "sadface". but alas, the jumper is still a great fit, and the learning curve is a profitable one.
materials: sweatshirt jersey and cute little heart broach i made from lace and felt *happyface*
times worn out in public: 5
times worn on a saturday night on the sofa with wine and cake: too many to count. goodtimes.

ps thats one of my beautiful ferrets, bear. he says hi.