Sunday, 23 March 2014

First Spring Thing

My brand new skimpy brim pattern. This one is in natural linen with a painted self-fabric cord and a hand-bashed aluminum centrepiece. I love it, but I want your opinion. Do you like it? Please tell me and be honest!

Friday, 28 February 2014

Tea and Iced Cakes

I have a box of old papers and photos that belonged to my late grandmother and aunt. It's a source of instant nostalgia. Many studio photo portraits of members of my father's family are in there, which are wonderful; lockets, trinkets, recipe collections and more. (Looking at the way people used to eat always astonishes me. It's a wonder anyone's arteries functioned at all!) My aunt's teenage diary faithfully lists the songs and bands in the weekly Hit Parade. When I hear them on our own weekly big bands radio program, I think of her, and imagine her as a high school student in Montreal during the war years.

This treasure trove also contains newspaper clippings, mostly obituaries and social notices. Despite the view within a certain sector that a lady should never be mentioned in a newspaper, save when she was born, married or died ("bred, wed and dead"), back then there were apparently many respectable opportunities for seeing your name in print. There are columns mentioning the family simply for checking into a summer resort. Or when when there was a tea party, always mentioning the occasion being celebrated, and who poured (or who was "Mother", an English colloquialism).*

Social notices in newspapers aren't what they used to be. Of course, our internet age renders them redundant. While the social notices describing them may be no more, I'm glad that there are still such things as bridal teas. What a charming way to celebrate an upcoming wedding, perhaps even as a charming wedding itself.

This is the inspiration behind my nostalgic, new bridal collection, "Tea and Iced Cakes." I hope it whets your appetite!

Silk callas, sinamay leaves and ostrich

Peau de soie gardenia with beads and crystals, sinamay leaves, hackles and shaved coq feathers

Organza rose with beaded centre, hackle feather pad and beaded wire spray

Ostrich, sinamay leaves and filigree jewel

Sinamay filigree, ostrich quill and vintage jeweled button

White sinamay diskette with lacy cornucopia, ostrich and sequined spray

White peau de soie rose with beads and crystals, goose and ostrich mount

Each piece is created afresh and customized for each individual bride. Please email me for prices and further enquiries.

* Rant alert: You will notice in these social columns that the term "high tea" is never used. That's because the term was unknown in North America, because it was a substantial meal belonging to the working class British. It still is, people! Please stop misusing that expression when you're thinking of tea in Downton Abbey-esque settings! Say "afternoon tea" instead! The cognoscenti will thank you for it, and so will I. Rant over. I thank you.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Sharing the Love

I love my customers, fans and followers. I want you to be warm, cozy and stylish this brutally cold winter. And since it's Valentine's season, I've cooked up a special little promotion.

If you buy one of my women's hats at the Arts Market, 846 College at Ossington, ask at the checkout counter for my Sweetheart Deal and you'll get 50% off!*

A customer emailed me recently and said "I have received many compliments for the red hat you made. It is among my favourite hats this season." It's the same style as the photos below of (some of) the ones at the Arts Market.

*Just to be clear, this only applies to hats.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Hearts and Flowers

Love is in the air, and it looks a lot like snow. I'm telling myself that so I think of all the snowdrifts as accumulations of affection. Because otherwise, it's just a whole lot of street-clogging inconvenience beyond our control.

The calendar proceeds regardless of atmospheric conditions, reminding us that Valentine's Day is next week and we'd better get our warm, fuzzy feelings on. Chocolate helps. Special events may, too. Maybe you have one coming up on your personal calendar that warms your heart with sweet anticipation.

In that spirit I've created a mini collection of Valentine fascinators, available now at the Arts Market, 846 College Street at Ossington. It's a sweetheart of a deal, too: just $25 each!

If you have somewhere to go this Cupid-ridden season that's a perfect excuse for millinery folly, maybe one of these confections of felt and sinamay would satisfy that sartorial sweet tooth:

And I'm at your service for custom creations, too. But if it's for Valentine's, better contact me quick!

Sunday, 2 February 2014


It's not all ladies, you know. I do make hats for men, too, mostly bespoke.

So it was with Tim. He needed to replace his best beloved hat and couldn't find one ready-made in the fabric and band colour he wanted. What he did find was me, through an online ad. He brought the hat to meet me, and I knew I could make him a close copy. So I did.

"Oh, yeah," Tim said, as he tried it on. Music to my ears! Thanks, Tim!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Is It Spring Yet?

Well, it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon.... At least, I hope it was. I wasn't actually there, where they're fictional, yet used to deep freezes. I've been here, in Toronto, freezing and semi-thawing my all-too-real self along with everyone else. Polar vortex, polar shmortex... I tell you, we're rusty when it comes to real winter weather. Remember, two years ago winter was a teeny blip amid a long stretch of meh. Now it's over-corrected itself.

Spelunking on the couch. One cat's winter survival strategy.

The indispensable Scott, the cats and I survived the pre-Christmas ice storm here in the Beach very well, considering the plight of some of our neighbours. We're blessed by a wonderful tree canopy in our neighbourhood, and, of course, a lot of it came crashing down the night of December 21, taking power lines down with it. Our gorgeous, big oak in front of our house lost very little, but our power was out for just over a day, leaving us in the dark until midday Monday. Sunday night we sought warmth, food and company at a Kingston Road restaurant, amid many other refugees of the ice, and had a nice convivial chat with some neighbours at the next table. When we returned home, we lit a fire in the fireplace and lots of candles and played Trivial Pursuit until bedtime, bundled in duvets fireside, confounding the cats who are creatures of routine. Quite toasty, for one night. The next morning the house was much colder, so we were thrilled to find the heat and light restored after we came back from our morning hot breakfast forage. With light hearts we tidied up and carried on with our lives already in progress.

Past the boardwalk in Balmy (?!) Beach.

We kept thinking what the pioneers would have thought of our plight. They are much on our minds, with the release of Scott's book, "Willowdale: Yesterday's Farms, Today's Legacy". When they had ice storms, they probably couldn't even make it home, if they lived up a hill. If they were lucky, an enterprising neighbour down the incline may have built an inn to stay in until the roads were passable.

(BTW, if you want to follow the adventures of "Willowdale," there's a Facebook page where you can do just that:

A dad and kid demonstrating the pioneering spirit.

So we survived, Christmas came and went, New Year's, too. And since then I've been unusually busy with millinery work for this time of year. I love it! I'll take it! Old clients and new. I'm so lucky, and grateful.

As I do every new year, I take stock of the year that's past and look ahead to the year to come, trying to formulate plans and put them into action. It's encouraging to have actual work to accompany the theoretical planning. It's like the fruition of planning past, or maybe just what happens when you slog it out over a period of years.

Besides my commissioned pieces, I've been working on a bridal collection. It's been lovely to be cozy and warm inside my sunny-yellow studio, up to my elbows in silk and feathers, crystals and beads, while the snow swirls outside my window.

The before picture.

Then after a quick (?) whip-round tidy-up, my studio becomes my showroom for a visit from a client:

The after picture.

So that's the kind of month and change it's been around here. I'm still at the Arts Market, in case you still need a cozy, ear-covering toque or cloche. Last time I was there, my sculpted red felt cloche was in the window:

It, too, pulls down over your ears, if you have a petite head. (The inner head band keeps it from being itchy.)

As seen by moi chez moi:

Happy New Year, everyone! Onward and upward!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Different Hats and Holidays

It's been quiet on the blogging front lately. I've been too busy in the real world to keep you posted as I should have. You may have heard me tweet, though, if you follow me (@hattierthanthou).

My Twitter profile pic

First, as I've mentioned before, I moved my hats and hair toys into the Arts Market on College at Ossington last month. So exciting to be among the local talent of makers of so many kinds, and vintage wallahs, too. My St. Lawrence Market friends, jewelry maker Maria Lopez and photographer Roberto Rivieros are there, too! It's a fantastic place to do your gift shopping, because there is something there bound to please most people on your list, and wonderful prices. Everyone shopping there looks like a kid in a toy store! Smiles, wide eyes, a palpable sense of delight. I'm not kidding. Go and be among those happy shoppers!

BlogTO shot of Arts Market, College Street exterior

Scott and me moving in

As soon as I was set up at the Arts Market, from late November through early December I was wearing my minion hat (not literally), working for Joanna of Belle Boutique at the One of A Kind Show. It's the second year I've helped her sell her beautiful and popular jewelry belts at the biggest craft sale of the year. Over 800 vendors stuff the space inside the Direct Energy Centre at the Exhibition grounds. Good thing they let patrons come back a second day for free. You need at least two days to see everything. I had nine days, which was great. So much talent in one place at one time. Awe-inspiring is an understatement.

(And so much noshiness to sample, too! My favourite new discovery there was Smoke Fine Foods, of Quebec. They do wonderful things with smoked herb mixtures that make fantastic dips, and smoked roast garlic which I put in almost everything. To. Die. For. Word.)

No sooner had I recovered from that marathon, than the indispensable Scott had his long-awaited book launch! "Willowdale: Yesterday's Farms, Today's Legacy", published by Dundurn and released November 23, was officially launched at the offices of the Ontario Historical Society on December 10. It was the Society's 125th anniversary, and their offices are in a historic house in Willowdale, so it was a match made in heaven. So many people came to congratulate Scott on the fruition of years of labour of love, nibbling delicious scones, sipping tea and punch, and buying lots of books which Scott signed. I couldn't have been prouder of him.

Me (in a Belle Boutique belt, btw) and Scott, newly minted author, at his book launch

And now we're in the countdown to Christmas! I have been fluffing my little spot at the Arts Market, dressing it for the holidays and adding cozy cloches and wee hats for the tree. Just added some more today, as it happens. The store is open late, until 9 p.m. tonight through Monday, so get yourself there if you can and browse and shop and be mighty impressed by your local makers of all things.

Wee hats for tree (or anything, for that matter) ornaments

Cardinal cloche

I've also been booking a bunch of appointments chez moi for bespoke hats and fascinators. Finding time to do any Christmas baking (my favourite seasonal activity) is becoming a bit of a challenge. But I have made one batch of shortbread, so that's good. Mince tarts and egg nog (really, really good egg nog) are yet to come. And they will, so help me St. Nick!

If I don't blog again soon, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for all your support in 2013!