Tuesday, 21 October 2014

4 Simple Halloween Whimsies

I did dream of showing you some awesome spooky photos of these pieces in action, but it hasn't turned out as planned. I was fooled by this photoshoot into thinking I could take night-time images, but using my camera (good but obviously not good enough), a tripod and the self-timer (sadly I have no remote), and having to waddle slowly back-and-forth between the camera and my chair, led to a serious lack of success.

So for now, just some straightforward daylight shots, and then I am charging others with the task of getting some better photos for me!

1. "Hands" Veil and Hairclips

I wanted to make fairly simple, quick,easy projects, and this definitely fits into that category. I also wanted to work with materials I had available to me in my craft supplies or my existing Halloween decorations. I can't remember why I bought them originally (possibly there was no particular reason), but I had a lot of these skeletal hands.

I paired them with a thin strip of veil, just for the eyes and perhaps the nose, as in this 1950s-style evening hat.

I did put a longer strip of veil than I intended, meaning that the hands can reach further around the head. I was aiming for them to just sit above the ears on both sides. The effect, however, is not bad!

I'm not going to go into tutorial detail here, but you could easily make this yourself, and use any kind of Halloween prop on the ends. They are just glued to alligator clips (with a layer of felt in between, which does help them stick better and give you something to sew the veil to) and the veil cut to size, gathered at the ends, and sewn to the felt.

2. "Tears" Hairband/Whimsy

The other concept I knew I wanted to explore for Halloween was felt shapes on veils. One manifestation of that idea became this headband veil with tears of blood.

Getting the positioning of the tears correct is the hard part, and the scale would be very different on different people (and is very different on my mannequin too!). I would cut the tears smaller if I made it again.

The shape and other trims on the headband are inspired by a 1950s one from AWW, although I only added a bow to one side rather than both.

As you can see, the tears are also very much about the angle too!

3. "Blood" Hair Flower with veil.

Another felt cut out idea was, of course, drips of blood from the corner of the mouth. How could I resist? I paired this with a deep red hair flower to keep to an elegant vampiric style.

As with the skeleton hands, the veil is gathered at each end and attached to the clips, with the flower attached on top of the clip at one side.

I'll show you the two half-decent images I took last night, but you can see how fuzzy they are! They do show that the blood drips look better on a real person than the mannequin (in my opinion).

I did not edit this green in! It was legitimately provided by frog-shaped green fairy lights! (Very spooky.)

I did, however, use PicMonkey's lovely Halloween themes to play with the background in this one.

4. "The Birds" Whimsy

I've been wanting to execute this idea for a long time now! I watched "The Birds" at my local cinema this year, and thoughts have been simmering in my brain ever since.

The fabric "flower" on top is one I removed from a little knit bolero cardigan, and I think it looks much better as part of a whimsy than it did in its original place.

As with all of these, there is plenty of room for adjustment that shifts the position of the felt shapes to find the most flattering look.

As these were quick projects, I've just glued the felt shapes to the veil, so forgive me for that laziness and ignore the visible glue in the next photo!

I was bursting with Halloween ideas. I wanted to make them all! It was hard to restrict myself to just a few that I could achieve quickly while I finish off my last pre-maternity-leave pieces. So I have a lot of ideas left over for next year!

I look forward to being able to show you some better photos of these later, but for now I hope they provide some inspiration for the Halloween season! I'd love to hear if you try any of these for yourself, and hear all about your costumes, whatever they are, so I can live vicariously through others!! (I'll be at home on the couch, "costumed" as a large tired pregnant lady.)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Another 1950s Photoshoot: My Creations (Part Two): Flowers and Leaves!

This is finally the last of the photos from my wonderful photoshoot with my friend and gracious model Ruanne! I strung that out pretty well, I think.

First up is a little hat of leaves. The foundation is a wire frame wrapped in ribbon. I bought a few vintage wire-frame hat bases earlier this year, but this one I made myself, using the vintage ones as a guide for how to shape my wire.

The leaves are velvet, from two sets that I have been given as gifts. I believe they are vintage (or at least some level of not-new) but I don't really know much about them. I wanted to keep this one clean and simple, so along with the leaves it only has the red veiling and a small brown velvet ribbon bow.

This hat is so light and so comfortable to wear, and the wire can of course be adjusted so that it fits various head sizes. The leaves strike me as grape-vine-like, which, along with the red and brown, give it a very autumnal feel. So that's for you Northern-hemisphere types to enjoy. Down here, I think we need something more suited to Spring.

That will do nicely. Not only very Spring-like, but also distinctly Australian! In 1954, Aage Thaarup (milliner to the Queen) showed a range of hats inspired by the Royal Tour, which included an Australian-inspired hat "made of yellow organza and trimmed with wattle (Australia's national flower)". After trying out a few different colours of trim on this pink velvet half hat, I saw the artificial wattle and had to try it. If it's good enough for Aage Thaarup it's good enough for me. (I'm going to do a post about him at some stage. I took an interest after being given a book by him, and he features in a number of other British Pathe videos.)

I know that I'm often too timid with colour, so I love this bold contrast. Plus, it's just so bright and happy! It makes me want to go on bush picnics or throw an inappropriately glamorous barbeque!

Which is speaking to you more? Spring or Autumn?

Other posts from this day of photos were My Creations (Part One), My Genuine Vintage Collection (Part One) and (Part Two), and 1950s Hat Patterns.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Millinery Trends of 1958-1959

My last Millinery Trends for the 1950s!

The Australian Women's Weekly, 26 March 1958

The March 26th issue of AWW has a special on Paris hats. After the small hat focus in 52-54 and the shift to larger proportioned hats in 56-67, there seems to be a healthy mix in fashion in 1958.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 26 March 1958

This fairly small hat, covered in white flowers, is from Guy Laroche. That shape and the total flower coverage I'm starting to see as the definition of late 50s and early 60s hats, but it has a soft elegant feel that links it firmly to 50s style.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 26 March 1958

Here we get a bit more out there with Dior, with this red basketwork hat. In a coolie-hat shape but with such a rough and open texture. I love how this hat looks, but I'm not sure how well it would translate to real-life wearing. If you had the confidence, it would be a show-stopper. The article also reports that all shades of red will be big for Spring and Summer in 1958.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 26 March 1958

If you are after something more practical, how timeless is this hat? I could comfortably wear this to any manner of picnic, barbeque or pool party, or out to the beach or around the garden! I'm not sure I'm a "matched to my ensemble" kind of gal, but I know it could be a stunning look that way.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 26 March 1958

As well as the current Northern hemisphere Spring trends, the issue looks at styles suitable for Autumn, mostly evening styles, with lots of turbans and whimsies. If you are after a project, keep an eye out for these ring-style bases. I bought a box of vintage hats (I'll be showing you later, don't worry) to fix up, and it included a number of this style, but without the trims. I think they'd be the kind of thing you could pick up cheaply, and then adding and veil and flower would be very easy!

The Australian Women's Weekly, 26 March 1958

Two more glamorous evening looks for Autumn. For the most part, we keep seeing small and simple styles for late-day and evening, leaving the big and bright statement hats for day.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 9 July 1958

This Orcel hat, for our "mid-season" wardrobe is described as a "mob cap". If you said "a mob cap made of veil" I don't think anyone would be very enticed by that description, but the picture tells a very different story. I adore this one!

Plus I stand behind this quote from the article:

"You can have almost any kind of hat - a cloche, turban, sailor, beret, tall-crowned fez - but you must have a hat."

The Australian Women's Weekly, 17 September 1958

I had to share this image from a Kayser commercial. The theme is the "One-Color Look" that you can achieve with "nylons, slips, panties and gloves" to match the rest of your outfit. I might change my mind on super-matchy outfits!

The Australian Women's Weekly, 12 November 1958

I had to include these for their entertainment value. Made from real flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables and shown at the Red Cross Chelsea Flower Show, they still show suuch distinctive 1950s style! The hat on the left is made from the leaves and berries of a custard apple tree, and sprayed with hair lacquer. On the right is a sparterie base covered with shallot and brussel sprout leaves and trimmed with a range of small veggies.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 4 March 1959

The Autumn Fashion Report declares 1959 to be "The year of the colored suit", with models in red, pink, blue, brown and purple. It certainly doesn't look set to be "the year of the hat" with millinery barely rating a mention, and absent from a number of outfits. Although some beautiful hats are shown, they are not described in the captions.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 1 April 1959

In April, however, we are loving our milliners again, with a cute little article on a young Mr Smith leaving London to become head milliner at Lanvin. While winning over top clients, he keeps doing his bit in the workroom when required and remains a shy young man. Awwww.

And there is no question that hats are still an important fashion etiquette issue. The July 15 issue of AWW reports that the first female M.P. in the South Australian Legislative Assembly, Mrs. Wilfred Steele, had a big decision to make in setting the "Hat or no hat" precedent. In the end she wore a small, closely-fitted turban that matched the blue in her suit.

Then, as now, Melbourne Cup time brings out the hat-lover in many Australian women who otherwise never go near a hat, but I've left out the racing fashion reports to cover at another time.

I'm nearing the end of my 1950s focus, with just a couple more of my hats to show you! Of course I'll be back to the 1950s in the future, including some milliner-spotlights I've been planning for a long time. I'll be picking up the Hats of the Past series early next year with the 1940s!

I'd love to hear what you love most about 1940s hats so I can make sure I explore the best bits! Do you have a favourite 1940s style or designer?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Another 1950s Photoshoot: My Genuine Vintage Collection (Part Two)

It's time for part two of my genuine vintage 1950s hat collection. If you missed part one, you can find it here.

This little pillbox and the pink hat below were among my earlier buys, just two I ran across on ebay for a cheap price. Even though this pillbox could also be 1960s, I'm inclined to think fifties because of its small size.

I love the colour and fabric, and the simple details and trim.

This one is also adorably simple.

A basic wired buckram frame that sits comfortably on the head, decorated with fabric swirl flowers.

Along with the hat, my frilly umbrella and "honeymoon case" make great accessories to Ruanne's gorgeous vintage pale purple dress. I love having models that come with their own wardrobe (and do their own hair and makeup!).

This one is actually one of the first vintage ladies hats I ever bought. (I have to say ladies, because I think my first purchases were some men's military hats.) It came from a local vintage and consignment fashion shop that has unfortunately since closed.

My mother and I always called this my "Jackie O" hat, but my husband calls it the "Brain" hat. Also I used to wear it more with the bow at the back (less girly!) but I saw a 1950s magazine piece on hats almost exactly like this, with the bow at the front. The most frustrating part of this discovery is that I can no longer relocate that article. I'm 90% confident I didn't dream it.

We started to have a lot of fun with props and different poses in this photoshoot, and I think this last one is my favourite!

This is the last of the vintage hats from this photoshoot, but there is still one more set of my own creations. Plus, I've since acquired some more vintage hats, so another photoshoot will have to be done!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

2 years...

I'm feeling nostalgic and sentimental lately. Two years ago today I got married, and before too long, we will be adding a daughter to our family.

I've been thinking about our wedding a lot for other reasons too. I recently made my first bridal headpiece. The bride wore it for her wedding last week, in the same beautiful historic gardens where I was married. (I'll have photos from her later to show you!)

For now, some of my own (hatless I'm afraid) wedding pictures are my flashback gift to you today.

Meanwhile, as this is automatically posted, I'm wandering these gardens again with my husband, reminiscing and looking to the future.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Hat Patterns from the 1950s

While researching vintage hat styles in The Australian Women's Weekly, I also found quite a few sets of patterns and instructions for making some simpler hat styles. I've attempted one of them, and I want to share it here with you today.

The Australian Women's Weekly, 9 June 1954

It is described as a Butterfly Cap for teenagers for late-day or later. I found the teenage label unusual, because the woman in the article photo looks very sophisticated and grown-up to me. Once I made it myself, however, I found it looking much more youthful.

I think the hair and outfit styling will have a large impact on whether this little hat looks young and playful or elegant and sophisticated.

You can find the pattern and instructions for The Butterfly Cap in the 9th of June issue of Australian Women's Weekly, on page 30, which you can access here.

Like most vintage patterns, especially free ones squeezed into a small magazine section, the instructions are sparse and assume you can fill in the gaps. On the other hand, it's quite a simple one, so you would have a hard time going too wrong.

Tips about Materials:
  • Velvet or velveteen. (I used velvet from a second-hand skirt. The thickness of the fabric helps give the shape volume and hide stitches.)
  • Sparterie (It's hard to get your hands on this vintage millinery material these days, but there are plenty of substitutes. I used what we tend to call buckram or leno or 20/20. Any stiff-but-shapable millinery foundation material or stiff interfacing should do fine.)
  • Millinery wire
  • Thread and needles
  • Hair comb (Not called for in the original instructions, but mine didn't like to stay in place without. I added a plastic hair comb, cut into 3 pieces and stitched onto the inside. My advice - make the cap as instructed, try it on, shape the wire, and if more is required, try a comb.)

Construction Tips:
  • The good thing about this design is that it's nice and clear what look you are aiming for! If necessary, fudge it, as long as it keeps looking like a bow!
  • Experiment with the final shaping. Mine sits out like a more puffy bow, rather than sitting flatter like the magazine example. Both work fine, so play around to find the look you want.

The best thing about this pattern is that it "is guaranteed to highlight your hair and make you look prettier".

There are lots of other patterns and instructions for hats (and other accessories) in the pages of Women's Weekly, and even some newspapers. Here are some others from the 1950s that I like the look of:

And there are so many more. I found some of these while searching again for ones I had previously found!

What do you think of The Butterfly Cap and the other hat patterns? Anything take your fancy?

I'd love to hear if you try any of these, or of any other free patterns you recommend.