Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Hat: Ideas and Intentions

Some of you may be aware of (and may be participants in) The Sisterhood of the Vintage Dress, hosted by Joanna at Dividing Vintage Moments.

The dress is going to travel the world, being posted from participant to participant, and each person wears the dress, takes photos, and posts it on.

I would have liked to participate, but I'm not in a great position to fit into regular clothes. I love the idea however, and I immediately thought about sending one of my hats on such a journey.

This is what I would like to do: Design and make a hat, and send it around Australia and the rest of the world, with people wearing it and sharing photos.

I'd love to hear whether this is an idea that appeals to people, and any suggestions or requests as to what kind/period of hat I might make for it. I'd like to do something vintage, as my main interest at the moment, but I don't know beyond that.

I'm going to try to make it something relatively small so postage isn't ridiculous, something that will fit any head size and be quite versatile with regards to styling. If I can find a small-but-pretty box, the participants can sign that as it travels, too.

Some thoughts about portable hat possibilities:

  • A small hat - e.g. a fifties half hat, small pillbox, small tilt hat

Hats in this style are not always tiny, but aren't too big. (AWW 1953)

Hat from Saks Fifth Avenue, 1940s (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Etsy seller MyVintageHatShop, sold. I've wanted to make one since I saw it!

  • A felt hat, but made with thermofelt, so it can be packed flat - e.g. a cloche, tilt hat
"Nita Naldi and Friends c.1927" (maudelynn.tumblr.com)

Nancy Carroll (1920s Writer blog)

  • A fabric hat, that can be packed flat - e.g. a fur hat, cap, beret

Maybe something similar to this black Dior number could be done in a flattenable form? (AWW 1952)

I couldn't find this except on Pinterest, but apparently it is actress Merle Oberon

  • A whimsy (I do like the name "Sisterhood of the Travelling Whimsy"...)

Etsy seller vintagehatgalore

Etsy seller foundundertheeaves

  • A headband - e.g. a 1920s beaded band 

Alma Bennett, 1926 (Valentino Vamp on Tumblr)

Etsy seller, AntiqueLaceHeirlooms

Would you participate in a Travelling Hat experience? What kind of headwear would you like it to be? Any other suggestions for portable hats?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Announcing the Competition Winner!

After much individual consideration, the voting panel have submitted their votes, and we have arrived at a winner. This was really hard, as we loved all the entries!

And the winner is...


...who chose the "Countess Charlotte" Miniature Tricorn.

Congratulations Penny! Send me an email at tanithrowandesigns@gmail.com and I will get your hat to you ASAP.

Thanks so much to all who entered. I really loved reading about how and where you would wear my hats and could imagine all these outfits. It was great fun for me. I hope you all enjoyed it too. Also big thanks to everyone who shared the competition around, and my lovely voting panel (I know we all had trouble choosing).

Did you have your heart set on the hat you wanted from the shop and making it a part of your dream outfit? Have 20% off for the rest of August, with the discount code dream when buying any hat from my online shop. I'll be adding some new things before the end of the month too, and they will also be included in the sale!

To entice my newer readers to keep coming back, here are some things you will be seeing on the blog in the near future:
  • Photos from another 1950s shoot, including my designs and genuine vintage hats
  • A few vintage maternity outfits
  • A look at a truly tragic vintage hat I'm going to be restoring
  • A bit of Steampunk and fantasy Victoriana fun
  • More 1950s millinery research and inspiration, including a review of a free pattern from 1954
  • A new exciting project that my readers can be involved in (I'll be talking about this next week and I'm very excited about it!)
I do have a draft schedule worked out from now until after my maternity leave, but I would also love to hear from you! What do you want to see more of in my designs or blog posts?

Again, thanks everyone for a fun competition!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Cloches, Forties Felt and Draped Satin

The final sequence from my wonderful photoshoot from June with Dee and Mel! These hats are all already sold, some to my lovely models, and some through the Blackheath Hub. But the photos are so lovely, I still wanted to share them with you.

I have since made a copy of this green cloche in blue for someone who fell in love with it when they saw these photos on my facebook page.

I showed you this pink cloche on me earlier, but this is its new owner, looking fabulous in it, and showing how well it can work with a non-1920s outfit.

I hardly ever attempt the same hat design twice, but this post features two! Not only did I remake the green cloche, but this mottled brown felt is a copy of a previous hat.

The original was in grey felt, and was a gift for a friend at work, whose generosity with her time and expertise helped me through a difficult year finding my feet teaching in a new faculty. I'm partial to this design for that reason, along with its charming simplicity. It is a hat that doesn't look like much by itself, but looks gorgeous when worn. I may have to make a third one!

This little red felt cap was inspired partially by a 1940s hat, but I strayed off into my own realm with it. I still feel a forties vibe from it, but I'm not sure whether that is the best way to classify it. I love the button and tails detail, which I would like to use again, whether I repeat this overall design or not.

This hat is another one that has been on a long journey from the beginning of its creation to a good photo shoot and a new owner! I began with the main front piece, inspired by this 1950s photo, almost a year ago, when I chronicled the recycling of an old costume dress project into this hat.

I wasn't happy with using an elastic on it, and so it sat unfinished until the International Millinery Forum, and a class with Jan Wutkowski about vintage bandeau styles. I fell in love with "figure eight" attachments after trying on one of her examples and feeling how comfortable yet secure it was. This was the project I worked on in that class, but it took until June to get great photos of it!

Again, I want to try to make something similar, although I wouldn't attempt to repeat the exact design! Too much chaos (not to mention specific parts of the old dress!) went into its making to be able to replicate it. It has been one of my favourite creations, however, so I'm sure to revisit some aspects of it.

Really, this has been quite a post of favourites! So many delightful ideas - drapey fabrics, sweeping felts, little bows, and vintage buttons! Which of these design features do you like best?

(Entry to the competition is now closed. The winner will be announced here on Friday!)

Friday, 8 August 2014

A Vintage Shopping Haul!

I've never done a haul post before, but I had such a fun day shopping recently, that I thought I would do my first.

So this haul is from a local vintage/antique shop that is closing down. The older lady who has owned and run the shop for years has unfortunately gone into care, and her daughter and family were conducting a sale day to clear as much out of the shop as possible. If I had a spare $800,000, I would have had the shop, house and garden too, because the whole building is for sale and it is a beautiful spot. (I like to daydream about my own bricks-and-mortar retail and studio space, even though it will not be a realistic plan for some years, if ever.)

My lovely sister came up and had a baby-free night in our soon-to-be-abolished guest bedroom so we could get there at 9am when the shop opened. She got a surprise bonus of snow, some of which was still lingering by the following afternoon, in shaded enough spots.

We fell onto the patterns and magazines first. Here are the ones I got, at $1 each.

 Toddler coat! So adorable. And I couldn't go past flower-making directions.

I probably shouldn't take parenting advice from the 1930s, but I love the heading "Building A1 Babies."

There are some lovely pictures, both for fashions specifically, and illustrating the fiction too.

Buckles, some new hat pins, a brooch, and other miscellaneous trims.

A roll of vintage veil! There are many metres of this stuff, and it's a lovely pattern. Score!

Vintage baby stuff. I basically took all of it (that was left - another mother had swooped in before me!). I can hardly be disappointed with this though. (I don't think I've revealed the little one's gender here yet, but you can probably work it out from this!)

There were lots of long low cardboard boxes stacked on shelves behind the counter, with enticing labels like "Taffeta", "Brocade" and "Lace". After finding the "Felt" box to be a bust, with just thin craft felt, and not much exciting in "Braids and Cords", I was a bit disinclined to ask the very busy woman to pull down any more, but I was still curious

"Do you know what's in the box that says "Straw"?"
"No. Let's find out."

"So....how much for the whole box?"

Worth it!

Also, recently, I 'accidentally' bought some new-to-me vintage hat blocks via ebay from a lovely dealer from the Sydney-ish region (the same way I'm from the Sydney-ish region - I'm close enough to go into the city for a day!). In case you don't know, 'accidentally' buying is the result of bidding at the opening amount, maybe a bit over, without any expectation of winning the item.

Also, you can do this simultaneously on multiple items. Oops! Still, they are lovely, they were cheap, and I regret nothing!

I don't know whether to feel like this post is glorifying spending that I didn't need to do, or celebrating it and making sure I get a lot of enjoyment out of these items. To be honest, I think that one of the problems I have with shopping to much is in getting a rush from the buying moment, but not taking enough time to enjoy the purchases once they are mine.

Which, in the case of craft supplies, just means an ever growing hoard of materials and trims that I haven't used yet! I'm planning to do some "stash-busting" sewing days soon, and try to get this mountain under control.

Have you entered the giveaway competition yet? Check out the available hats here and then enter at the competition blog post. Entries close on Tuesday 9am AEST, so get in quick!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A Heart-Shaped Pillbox

Something simple and sweet to share today. A pillbox in the shape of a heart, with a covering of blue veil and a ruffle of black silk.

This hat has actually been in progress since last year, and I posted about making the block myself. I finished it in January, to wear at a social event for the International Millinery Forum, but it took a long time to get some good photos of the completed item.

I have quite a weakness for the simplicity of a pillbox with minimal trims. I like downplaying the cutesy shape with subtle colours and trims, although it is tempting also to make an all-out over-the-top heart-themed look too! Or leopard print, perhaps?

P.S. We are one week into the competition to win one of my hats, so there is only one week left! Make sure you enter here.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Adventures with Thermofelt

Before I start to rant about the hat and the material, I think we should just all enjoy/envy this glorious photo of my friend and volunteer model, Dee, doing her accidental best to look like Kate Middleton.

Actually, Kate has something to do with the creation of this hat. Shortly after I did a photoshoot and post about 1960s pillboxes, Kate, William and George landed in New Zealand. My husband came into the craft room and said "Princess.....Princessia...is wearing a red pillbox hat!" Princess Princessia is her name in this house now, and she was indeed wearing a red pillbox hat, and I was quite impressed with him for noticing, and for thoughtfully keeping me informed of the hat-wearing of important celebrities! So, having this burgundy/red felt to work with, I thought I'd play with a pillbox shape.

At least, it started as a more-or-less pillbox shape, but it ends up with a softer feel. This has to do with my material, which is no ordinary felt. It is a wool felt with 10% thermoplastic fibres in the mix. Thermoplastics are a big buzz material in Australian millinery at the moment, although the term is causing a lot of confusion, because it represents a range of products. I'll bring out my inner engineer here and state that thermoplastics are just a class of plastic, whose pertinent characteristic is that they can be deformed and shaped with heat (as opposed to charring and burning).

So the fun thing about thermofelt over plain wool felt is that when you deform it with heat (as you do in the blocking process) the plastic fibres are very good at keeping that new shape unless heated again. It is thinner than regular millinery felts, so I don't find that it keeps as crisp a shape. You can, however, smoosh it, flatten it, sit on it, pack it in a suitcase, and then remove it and plump it up back to form. I think that is pretty awesome, especially from that packing-it-away perspective. Hats can take up a lot of room at home (especially if you have, ahem, many), and when it comes to travelling, most of us don't take a suitcase and a hatbox wherever we go.

From an environmental perspective, although I'm keen to play with new materials, plastics naturally make me a bit edgy. Some of the materials, like Worbla, which I made a flower from at IMF2014, have the benefit that you can take all your cut out scraps and heat and squish them back together to keep using, a like you do with gingerbread dough after cutting out your shapes. With the felt, it's not so easy. What I've done instead to soothe my spirit is make this (and the other thermofelt hat I made, but sold at the market before taking any photos) a zero-waste design. The felt comes in squares, and I used one complete square, with no cutting at all, to make this hat, leaving no waste, for at least the length of the hat's lifetime.

This hat is currently at The Blackheath Hub, but don't forget that if you like any of the hats in my online shop, you can enter my competition to win one of them!

Thank you to everyone who has shared my competition around so far, and I'm really enjoying the entries that are coming in! So much fun!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Win a Tanith Rowan Designs Hat in my First Competition!

It's here! My first competition/giveaway, and I'm very excited. I get a big kick out of seeing my hats find their way into the world and come to life on a wearer who will love them.

The Prize

I'm going to give away one of the hats that is currently available in my online shop. You will find a range of my work there, including vintage-inspired hats from the 1920s to the 1960s, costume hats inspired by older history and imagination, and modern pieces suitable for a day at the races. Go and have a look at what's on offer and think about which one you would love to have for your own head. The prize will include postage to wherever you are, worldwide.

How to Enter

Easy. Comment on this blog post. Your comment should be a maximum of 500 words and specify the following:
  • Which hat from my online shop you would like to own
  • A description of the outfit you would wear the hat with, and/or to what event you would wear the hat

That's all!

Entries are open from Tuesday 29nd July 2014 9am AEST and close on Tuesday 12th August 2014 11pm AEST. (Please note these are Australian Eastern Standard Time, so if you are overseas, it may be an earlier time and date for you)


I have assembled a judging panel that includes myself and a number of members of my family. We will each vote for our favourite entries, and the votes will be tallied to detemine the winner.

The winner will be announced on this blog on Friday 15th August and will then need to contact me with their address.

Other Details (Terms and Conditions)

  • Prize is not redeemable for cash
  • Although many hats are one-size-fits-all, some are for a specific headsize. Please check details in the shop listings
  • If the prize you chose is no longer available (i.e. it sells during the competition time) you will be offered a second choice from available products or a similar replacement hat will be made for you
  • I am not responsible for the prize once it is dispatched
  • I am willing to post to anywhere in the world, but please use your superior knowledge of your country's import restrictions and customs requirements and choose sensibly. Some hats do contain animal products (e.g. feathers).
  • My family members are not eligible to enter. For goodness sake ask for something for Christmas.

Is That It?

You might have noticed that I didn't make you like or follow me on any of my social media places, or envy products on Storenvy or anything like that. I don't need followers who don't really want to follow me!

But if you are here for the first time, please do look around the blog posts and the gallery and have a think about whether you like my work and want to keep in touch.

If you want to keep seeing my hats and creative process, information about vintage hat styles, and be informed of discounts, special offers, giveaways and other fun stuff, you can follow me on:

Almost Lastly...

Please share this giveaway! It would mean a lot to me to have heaps of fun entries to read. Whether you want to tweet it, share on facebook or instagram, or just mention it to a hat-loving friend, that would be much appreciated.

Actually Lastly...

Good luck to everyone who enters! Have fun with your answers!