www.silverhillcreative.com will be coming soon! Until then, please enjoy my blog or visit my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Hat of the Week": Steel Beads!

Jazzy Gray Felt Fedora

Okay, technically it could more accurately be described as a trilby. But how many people know that word? Not many. It's a fedora to almost everybody. In fact, pork pies are even called fedoras by a lot of people. Well, I'll save the nit-picking for another post. I call this hat both a fedora and a trilby in my description. Anyhow, this hat is 30% off, with no coupon code needed until next Monday.

 I have kind of an obsession with beads. I have well over 100 different styles of beads in my supplies. Most of those are glass seed beads. Some are semiprecious stones. The beads on this hat are something special, though.

The gray beads every few columns are just size 15 (i.e. very small) seed beads. But the other beads are what are called steel cut beads or French steel beads. They are tiny. And, yes, they are made of metal rather than metallic colored glass.

You might see steel beads embroidered onto vintage clothing or shoes. But the most common way to find them is vintage purses. Steel-beaded purses were very popular — especially in the 1910s and 1920s.

Want to put together an authentic Flapper costume? Forget the sequined headband and red fringed dress. Get yourself a beaded purse!

For these beads, I had bought a panel from an old purse. Even the vintage purses that are whole tend to need some repair work. And sometimes they have only remnants. I took this picture of the piece I bought. Gorgeous! But you can see how it's falling apart. And the fuzzies along the top are disintegrating, decaying threads.

I used beads from this panel to decorate the side of this hat. Obviously, I have plenty more left for future projects.

The trim is vintage, too. (Or possibly antique. It's very old.) At first glance it appears black and gray. But it's actually dark navy blue and pale mint green. I think it's silk and cotton, but I'm not certain. It's in lovely condition for its age and just beautiful trim.

Despite all the vintage fanciness, this hat is one of the most casual and wearable ones I've ever made. It can be worn straight or tipped forward or to the back of the head, depending on the style. It looks smashing with jeans and a t-shirt.

If you are interested in steel beads, check out French Steel Bead Shop on Etsy for beads and vintage bead purses.

As always, I welcome comments and questions about vintage supplies or the process of making hats.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"Hat of the Week": I Hate this Hat (but not really)

This week's "Hat of the Week." Mint parasisal straw cloche. 34% off. (I said before, I don't believe in tiny discounts.) No coupon code needed. And here's a bit about it.
Mint Parasisal Straw Cloche
Here's one of my dirty little secrets as a milliner: I don't love straw. I prefer the look of felt, and I much, much prefer working with felt. Felt is easier. It feels good to work with. Straw is tricky! Think of "Chinese" finger traps, how that weaving can cause the tube to change shape and get narrower or wider as it is pushed or pulled. That's what happens with parasisal woven straw at times. Or, if you're not careful, the weave can start to fray and unravel. So, I don't do as much work with straw.

This one, though, is a hat that I'm very happy to have made.

I used to hate pastels. Now, depending on the occasion, I can love them (... or not). But I think spring and summer call for light-colored hats. Mint green is much better for the season than black. But to keep it from being too cutesy and candy-colored, the band is a nice dark-colored contrast.

This is a vintage rayon ribbon I found on Etsy. I love it and wish I had a whole roll of the stuff! I have a weakness for vintage ribbons. Modern ribbons aren't nearly as nice. They tend to be cheap and stiff and made of polyester. Or, if they're quality rayon, silk, etc. they're very expensive.


The cloche shape here is a very 1920s style. I like to think it would be a perfect thing to wear to the Jazz Age Lawn Party.

As always, I'm happy to answer any questions about my process, etc.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Hat of the Week": Experiment with Shapes

Wide Brim Asymmetrical Hat
This week's "Hat of the Week" is a huge 35% off (and with no coupon code needed): A wide-brim hat with an asymmetrical crown in khaki fur felt.

And here's a little about it ...

This is one of those hats that I consider an experiment in form and shape. Even with only a few crown shapes and a few brim shapes, they can be combined in dozens of different ways! Certain shapes I return to again and again. This hat, though, is currently the only time I've combined this particular crown with this brim.

The trim is vintage. I am kind of addicted to vintage trims and to geometric patterns, and this combines both, of course!

Part of the reason I chose this hat this week is because it's a perfect transitional hat between seasons. Here in Vermont, we had a few hot days, and then it turned cool and rainy. I love hats with this size of brim. It's wide enough to give your face some sun protection, but not so wide that it becomes a kite in the slightest breeze. And it can keep the rain off your face, too. I wouldn't recommend wearing it in a drenching downpour, but fur felt holds up pretty well to getting damp.

Another interesting thing about this hat is how it could fit different head sizes. For an average (small to medium) women's head size of 22"-22.5", it will fit fully down on the head in a modern style.

If you've ever looked at vintage photos from the 1930s and '40s, you might have noticed that women's hats often weren't worn down around their foreheads. Instead, they were made to be a bit smaller than head size, so they perched slightly. (Or, for the "toy hat" or "doll hat" style, they perched a lot!) So, for the gal with a 22.5"-24" head size, this hat could be worn in that vintage fashion.

That's all for this "Hat of the Week." But I am happy to answer any questions about this hat, how it was made, etc.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Hat of the Week" Promotion and Blog Entry

I wanted to offer a sale on some of my hats, but I wanted to do something a little bit more fun and interesting than just discounting everything for a day or a week.

Starting now, there will be a different "Hat of the Week" each week. Every Monday, a new hat will be revealed, discounted between 25% and 50% for one week only. (I am not a fan of 5% or 10% off sales. That's not much in my opinion.) And no coupon code is needed.
Summer Seagrass Cloche
Pink Asymmetrical Cloche
For the first round of this special, I decided to take suggestions for what should be the first. I decided to pick two: the Summer Seagrass Cloche and the Pink Asymmetrical Cloche. And the first-round discount is 30% for each hat.

The other thing I'm going to do with the "Hat of the Week" is talk a little about it — the creative inspiration, the materials, the process, whatever. Good motivation for me to blog more.

Summer Seagrass Cloche

I call this the "perfect" cloche for summer, and it really is. Seagrass has an airy, open weave, so it's really lightweight. And I think seagrass is softer and less scratchy than many other types of straw.

This was blocked by hand over a basic cloche shape, but the front of the brim was turned up and shaped by hand.

Here's something you may not know if you don't make hats: The blocking/shaping — i.e. the majority of what makes a hat a hat — is often the quick and easy part! Other steps, such as binding the brim edge with ribbon, where every stitch is done by hand, is the long and tedious work. When I look at this hat, I remember when I was making it just in advance of a runway fashion show. It was almost done, so I thought it would be ready in time. Hardly! Those last steps take the longest. A big lesson for me as a milliner has been to know that things always take longer than expected.

The end result is worth it, I think. And the bow is probably the most perfectly constructed one I've yet made. The flower sequins and bright orange ribbon are my vision of summer.

Pink Asymmetrical Cloche

As an artist — and I know I'm not alone in this — I struggle with figuring out what my style, my vision and my point of view are. And is it even necessary to have a signature style? Well, that's some artistic angst for another post. 

 What I'm trying to say is that this hat is one of the closest to being a Silverhill Creative Millinery signature. It has an asymmetrical style. And it has a cockade. Both are themes you'll see a lot. Plus a bead accent. If I'm not doing full-on bead embroidery, I often like to use at least one bead. (Embroidery, vintage trims and swirls are also frequent components.)

In the description of this hat, I've noted that the ends of the ribbon have been intentionally left raw (unless the buyer prefers them sealed) so that they'll naturally fray over time to develop a vintage-y look.

That vintage aesthetic is the driving force behind my work as a milliner. I can admire the artistry and architectural feats behind crazy couture millinery. But the styles that really inspire me are simply the hats that women wore in their everyday lives 70, 80 or 90 years ago. The cloche is, of course, a classic 1920s shape. And ribbon cockades or rosettes have been used on hats for many years and through many styles.

For historical inspiration, I sometimes look to hat illustrations/ads or vintage hats on Pinterest.

This isn't meant to be a strict period reproduction. It is a "vintage inspired" style. And it's still an everyday style. No fancy outfit required. It can be worn with jeans. (Though it wouldn't say no to being paired with a 1920s-style dress.)

If you have any questions about the process or these "Hat(s) of the Week," just ask, and I'll be happy to answer.