Friday, 14 July 2017

"My Vintage Cover" - a Photo Recreation Challenge

I'm back! As promised, I am now a mother of two. It's quite exhausting. The business is still on maternity leave, but the blog is returning a little earlier for a fun community event.

If you follow Nicole and her blog The Artyologist, you would have seen her lovely recreations of vintage Vogue magazine covers. I have long had my eye on a few covers that I want to recreate, and this led me to think that we could all have some fun with these images! I contacted Nicole and the My Vintage Cover challenge is the result. So join us in August to create and share your own version of a favourite vintage fashion image!

Here are the challenge guidelines:
  • The challenge runs from August 1- 31, 2017 and you are welcome to post your images on any day of the month. We are announcing the challenge now, so you can start choosing which images to recreate, and preparing any pieces you might need to have in order to complete your recreation.
  • This is a non-competitive community event. We just want people to have fun, both in the challenge of recreating vintage images, and in sharing the finished images with others.
  • The event will take place in a two places. If you have an Instagram account, you can take part there, but if you don't have Instagram, you can participate on your blog. Use whichever platform you prefer.
  • If you post your recreations on Instagram, use the hashtag, #myvintagecover which we have created for this event, so we can all see your images.
  • If you are posting on your blog, feel free to let either Nicole or I know about it, so we can see your post and share it with others when we do a round up post.
  • We will be posting a few "round-up" posts on our Instagram accounts or blogs depending on how many participants we have.
  • Though we are calling it "My Vintage Cover," you are welcome to recreate either a vintage magazine cover (such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar or McCall's) or an editorial vintage fashion image. Images with distinctive poses, or styles that are iconic to a specific era are great options.
  • Repost and share your inspiration image, or link to it, so we can all compare the recreations to the original images.
  • Feel free to make your recreation as detailed as you would like. Even if you don't have it 100% accurate, join in anyways with what you can. There are a lot of great vintage images out there which rely on iconic makeup and hair, distinctive poses, or unique camera angles, so even if you don't have all the details correct, you can still participate.
  • You are not limited to just one image. Recreate as many images as you would like to! (and have the time for!)
  • Please feel free to repost this image any and everywhere you can. The more people who know about the challenge, the better!
  • Most important of all: have fun! We are so excited to see what you come up with.
The Australian Women's Weekly, 9 Dec 1953

Now, who has four white kittens I can hug?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

1940s Felt Turban collaboration with Rockagirl

I've been lucky to collaborate with some amazing people in the last few years, and the images from these collaborations always take my breath away.

Last year I worked with Polish pin-up model Maja, known as Rockagirl. She was interested in a 40s-inspired shoot, in collaboration with some other brands, and was taken by my previous wool turban.

I love how this turban looks in the burgundy colour, and with these outfits and the beautiful Rockagirl, it is simply stunning.

Collaborations can be a lot of stress, especially with my unpredictable work schedule as a work-from-home-mum, but I always end up feeling very proud of my work when it is displayed to such advantage.

I don't actually know anything about the location for this photoshoot, but the lines in he background complement the folds and grooves in the hat so beautifully!

When I return from maternity leave, it may be some time before I get back to doing much in the way of collaborations, since my time will be so much more limited, but I know there will be more eventually, because results like this can't be ignored!

This turban is currently listed in my Etsy shop, but remember that I'll be closing that for maternity leave very soon - in about a week, in fact.

This will be my last pre-maternity blog post too, so I'll see you when I'm a mother of two! Yikes.

Model: Rockagirl (FB:, IG: @rockagirl)
Photographer: Joanna Mucha (FB:, IG: jeanne_darco)

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Summer Straws and Winter Furs

As the time until baby number two arrives get fewer and fewer, my work time has been more and more devoted to making, rather than blogging, so today is just going to be a bit of show and tell.

I've just done a complete stock changeover at The Blackheath Hub, the local shop where my hats are on sale. A full winter collection has gone in, just in time for the cooler weather, and a lot of summer hats are back in my hands.

I'll be listing these ones, for which I happily have these lovely images on my friend Ruanne, on Etsy in the next few days.

Honestly, if this floral one doesn't sell by the time it's summer here again, I'm keeping it!

Straw hats with decently large brims are a must for summer, and very flattering too.

Among the other hats I'll be listing are these versions of the 1954 Butterfly cap I reviewed for the Trove Pattern Project. I couldn't decide between red velvet and leopard print, and my Instagram friends were similarly divided, so I made both! It really is a cute pattern.

I do like bows on things. As you'll see a bit in the winter hats too!

Sadly I don't have beautifully modelled photos of these ones. The weather here has almost literally been stinking hot or raining for a month now!

There's a lot of 1960s inspiration and a lot of faux fur in this collection, with a little bit of 1940s (still fluffy though) thrown in for good measure.

I think I prefer the basic hoods in the really fluffy white fur, but the rich red has a lot going for it too. And as you can see, I'm enjoying adding pom poms to things!

My love of pixie hats continues, in furry 60s hood form this time. I've played with the shape a couple of times, and I think in future I will make some further revisions, but overall it's looking cute!

From the forties I'm exploring fur-trimmed tilt hats, with big silk bows. I swoon over these whenever I see vintage examples or illustrations, and I'm happy that I finally made one. Ok, two.

And finally, some seriously lush ear muffs. I got the idea for ear muffs on a more substantial base than just a thin band from a 1940s millinery book, but I've taken their instructions as a base and done it my own way. I'm getting really happy with them now (they are SO comfortable it is ridiculous) and once I've worked on another variation I have in mind, these are set to be one of my first sewing patterns! Look out for them in my post-maternity world. (Right now I can't think too far beyond the next five weeks, to be honest, and life is dividing into "urgent" and "later, whatever, I don't care".)

I hope that whatever season you are in, and preparing for, I've shared something to inspire you in your hat wearing! Keep an eye on the Etsy shop for the new listings (and use the discount code "uptheduff" to get 30% off from now until the shop closes for maternity leave in about two weeks), and if you happen to be a Sydney/Blue Mountains local, pop in to the Blackheath Hub to try something on!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Trove Pattern Project: 1954 Beach Hat

Today I'm taking the Trove Pattern Project into the 1950s again, with that excellent publication, The Australian Women's Weekly. And we're embracing what's left of the summer sun (here at least) with a "Pretty Beach Hat".

My first thoughts were that it was a silly sort of pattern, just an oval with a notch taken out, but it does have a lot of positives. While it isn't going to protect the back of your neck or shoulders, it has really good sun protection for the face and shade for the eyes. From a sewing perspective, it is much easier than more complicated sewn sun hats, and was quick to make up.

The best bit, for me, is that the simple shape makes it perfect for novelty fabrics or trims. Since it only requires a small amount of fabric, you can buy something fun or use leftover fabric to make a matching beach ensemble.

I decided to embrace novelty and kitsch with open arms, by lining mine in swordfish fabric and decorating the top with felt cut out shapes. Lobsters make everything more fun, right?

Following are my comments and additions, and you can access the original article with pattern and instructions here.


  • 1/2 yd of 36 inch wide fabric. Key note here: the pattern fits on a fat quarter.
  • 1/2 yd contrasting fabric for the underlining.
  • 1/2 yd leno for interlining. Leno and buckram are these all-over-the-place terms depending when in time you are and where in the world you are too. Grrr. But essentially, a stiff material, but not crazy stiff, is what I could work out. I used something I had bought from a fabric shop labelled as "buckram" that is much lighter and not blockable like millinery buckram. It did a good job.
  • 1 large button. How exciting for button hoarders to have a project that only needs one! Lovely unmatched buttons get their time at last.
  • 2 yds bias binding.
  • Not mentioned in the pattern - ribbon or similar for the tie strings. I used one metre of ribbon.


It's a one-size-fits-all, which is nice, and the shape is quite simple. The measurements they have given aren't the best ones for drafting it, but then I'm coming from a very mathematical perspective. And the fit is irrelevant so accuracy isn't too important either I suppose!


Like most vintage patterns, and the free ones especially, instructions are a little sparse, but in this case there isn't much you could do to make it go horribly wrong.

Having said that, I did my best. I tried to skip the basting and dive straight into the machine sewing, and there were lumps and bumps all over the place. I sighed, swallowed my pride, unpicked the stitches and sat down to baste the silly thing. It was worth it.

As you can see in the photo above, a little more ironing wouldn't have been a waste either.

The basting (and sewing on the button and ribbon) was the only bit I did by hand. The rest is machine stitching. For most hats I would hand sew bias binding around an edge, but I didn't think it was worth it for this project, and their binding looks pretty wrinkly to me so I considered that approval of my methods.

They don't tell you where to attach the tie strings, but trying it on yourself or a mannequin head makes it pretty easy to pick a spot.


Once it is sewn, do up your button and tie up your strings! It's a really easy hat to wear, and if I'm honest, much cuter than I thought it would be.


My addition was the felt cut out shapes. I've seen vintage straw hats with novelty felt shapes as decoration, and I thought it would be worth having some fun here. Simply cut your shapes out of a thin felt and sew or glue them on. I used glue, but perhaps if you were planning to wear this to the beach and have it face the harsh elements, sewing would be worth the time.

What do you think? A bit silly and basic or kistch-tastic?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Learning Ribbon Embroidery

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the big focus directions for my business at the start of 2017 was to undertake some new learning. The first that I have tackled is ribbon embroidery. I've done a bit of ribbon work, which is making flowers, leaves and other shapes out of ribbon, sewing them together with regular thread and attaching to a project when complete. Ribbon embroidery, sewing with ribbon directly onto fabric, was something I was interested in but had never tried.

Sometime last year I got myself a Craftsy class on the subject, "Embroidering with Ribbon" by tutor Mary Jo Hiney. As with many of my online classes, I had watched the introduction but hadn't gone any further or bought materials.

One of the things holding me back was not feeling confident in buying materials. I found Australian suppliers, but you really need a range of colours for each project, and I wasn't sure I would pick appropriate ones or get the right amounts. In the end, thanks to some birthday money, I splurged on the class kits from the tutor herself, and despite the cost, I'm happy that I did. It meant I had exactly what I needed, and a familiarity with the materials that sets me up well to make further local purchases. I got the kits for the first three projects, which are the ones I like the best anyway.

I'm about halfway through the class, and for the remaining projects I'll be changing them up or just learning the techniques and applying them to a different design.

I also picked up some ribbon embroidery design books at a local op shop, for about 50 cents each, so I have more designs to experiment with as well.

So far, I'm really enjoying ribbon embroidery. It's a restful, calming sort of craft to do, especially in the evenings after Teacup has gone to bed, or over a morning cup of tea before she wakes. It has taken me a while to accept the looseness and freedom that the stitches require, being more used to functional sewing where security of stitches is important. Having embraced that, however, it is fun and it is a lot more artistic and open to interpretation than the sewing I'm used to. I like that individual stitches can turn out badly but the overall effect can still work.

As for the class, I highly recommend it. I don't warm to all teachers and tutors, and can be a bit critical, to be honest, but I like Mary Jo. She answers all the questions asked on the platform, and in a warm, friendly and encouraging way. The same manner is present in the videos. She's a bit goofy and funny too. One thing that is a little odd is that the stitch types are gone through in detail on the videos, but the projects themselves are not, you work through those based on the printed materials that are part of the class. That worked out fine for me, but it did seem a unusual and maybe wouldn't suit everyone's learning style. Occasionally some regular embroidery term was used and it seemed like the assumption was that you are already familiar with embroidery, but it wasn't enough to be a problem.

I have ideas but no specific plans for how I will apply my new skill. I think a nice fabric cloche hat covered in flowers would be lovely, and, on a more personal project, a little on the collar of a small girl's blouse would be cute.

Have you ever tried ribbon work or ribbon embroidery? If so, what kind of projects have you tried?

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

On finally finishing and fixing the "not quite there" hats

I started the new year with 3 big directions to focus on in my business, while keeping in mind that this focus would be pretty much gone after the first few months.

One of these directions is preparing to add hat sewing patterns to my business. I've only briefly mentioned this before, but it's been a big part of my thinking for the last year or more. Most of that work will go on in the background until much later in the year, when you'll hear all about it, rest assured.

The second direction is learning. It's been 3 years since my last formal training in any area of millinery, and I was feeling a bit stale. I've started a few online courses to add new skills and techniques to my arsenal, and you'll start hearing about that very soon. I feel rejuvenated already and I'm so happy that I've taken steps to move my skills forward again.

The third is clearing out my work space and finishing up the loose ends it is filled with. Listing hats on Etsy. Photographing finished hats so I can share them (and list them). Finishing nearly finished hats. Fixing ones that didn't quite go to plan. Picking up the false starts and getting on with them, or scrapping them!

It's been a rewarding journey so far, but one of those ones that makes you wonder why you didn't do it earlier. As I finish, I've been describing these projects as having taking 2 years and 20 minutes.

For example, this vintage reproduction hat. It has a sad story actually. This was a custom order that didn't quite work out the way the client wanted. I wasn't 100% happy with it either, as it wasn't quite like the original, but I did the best I could at the time. I never even liked it, and it's been sitting in my work room ever since.

So finally I tackled it again and made it look more like the original, which took about 20 minutes, and made a world of difference. And I really started to like it.

Once I started taking these photos on a shoot with my friend Ruanne, I was absolutely in love with it.

That was a worthwhile 20 minutes.

This blue boater was more than 20 minutes, but perhaps only 40, and again, the difference was worth it. On my first attempt, the brim outline was a very wonky oval, but I couldn't bring myself to unpick it the edge and start again! Sometimes I just need time and emotional distance, because it was actually easy and very satisfying to do. And now it looks much better.

The rest of these photos are vintage hats, which I didn't think I could be bothered to sell on Etsy, because of the effort of writing listings and taking good photos.

I should have had this photoshoot long ago! But it's done now.

I can't pretend that these represent the end of the unfinished pieces I have here, and you are bound to see more as I work my way through them. Are you the same, with hidden abandoned works-in-progress all over the place, or do you see things through to the end without these long pauses?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Big events and business plans

Fedoras are one of those styles that have dipped their toes into both men's and women's fashion. They started as a women's hat, became more of a male style, and now sit fairly comfortably in both camps. Likewise the colour blue has a longer history of being associated with little girls than little boys. Probably, however, a blue fedora is more likely to suggest masculine vibes to most people, and it does so to me.

So what does a very small blue fedora suggest to you?

If you thought "Tanith's having a baby boy!", you are correct.

We are back in pregnancy mode. Once again, I have survived the awful first trimester of nausea and exhaustion, and entered the second trimester of not fitting into your clothes and less exhaustion.

Having a child and being her primary carer has resulted in a lot of soul searching regarding my desire for my own business. There were times when it just seemed impossible, and others when I knew I needed it so much. I know that having two children in my care is going to be even harder and I don't yet know what that means for my business. I will obviously be taking a break, but what kind of pace I keep up after that remains to be seen. I have ideas and plans to make it work, but in the end there could have to be a lot of pauses that I don't plan for. I do intend to keep it up in the long run in some form, even if it takes years to really get back into the swing.

Regarding the fedora, I don't have a small fedora block, so I blocked it with a regular crown on my toddler-sized block, then hand-shaped the pinched fedora look into place. I'm not sure how well it will last but I'm pretty pleased with the look. Plus, it's just adorable, right?

Oh and the new addition, whose social media nickname has already been chosen at T-Rex, is due in early May. Teacup has been told she is getting a little brother, and says that there is "a baby growing in there" but how much of this she really grasps we shall have to wait and find out!
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