I seem to draw hats without even realising it. I start doodling and doodling until a mass of lines and circles starts taking an interesting shape. Distractedly, I add the silhouette of a face and neck, and another hat has appeared on my sketchbook.
But making one? No idea where to start.
A friend who knows me well found a workshop and told me, I booked within an hour of seeing her email. So I went, with all the enthusiasm of a little girl about to learn how to make her own dolls.
My tutor was an established milliner, and I was also happy to discover that she is a really lovely person too. Katherine Elizabeth warmly welcomed me at the door, wearing a stylish-but-fun felt piece that covered half of her head. Good start I thought.
As I was early, I had a chance to look around her studio whilst the class gathered up. I felt like a kid in a candy store from the moment I walked in. I tried a few hats on, briefly imagining of being at the races, or at some posh do. Some of the hats were very elaborate, with long feathers, sinuous and elegant.
People started arriving; a girl was there for the second time, others were newbies and just as excited as me. Once the workshop started, we were given the option to either make a number of small felt hats and a fascinator, or to go for a bigger Ascot-inspired piece. I decided to go for the big deal and went ahead to pick my materials. There was plenty of choice but I had to go by instinct and decide pretty quickly. My mood dictated raspberry sinamay for the main part and contrasting emerald green silk for the crown. As I went along, I spotted more details to add, a bunch of turquoise feathers, a few shiny beads to add small points of lights, and a white art-deco style button to seal the look.
Four hours literally flew by. The atmosphere was warm and relaxed; we had tea and chocolate cake at some point, although I was so engrossed in what I was making that I didn’t feel hungry or thirsty for the whole duration. I do remember devouring my cake when I got to it though!
The most painful bit was moulding the border of the sinamay into shape. My fingertips hurt, and I quickly realised that handmade millinery is a challenging art form. It takes patience, dedication, attention to detail, and a real passion.
I loved every minute of it.
Check out my teacher: http://www.katherineelizabethhats.com/
And her events page: http://www.millineryhouseevents.com/