Wednesday, 6 April 2016


I've been doing more tambour embroidery.

The can-do spirit of supporting my frame between two tables (or table/windowsill/desk/rolling rack) had lost its charm. I tried to buy a frame stand that Robert Haven (tambour teacher par excellence) designed and makes, but his teaching schedule was keeping him too busy to sell me one. Instead, he very kindly shared the plans with me. So I made my own, with help from the indispensable Scott.

(Cut wood. Power tools. Love!)

Every time I opened my studio door, that smell of freshly sawn wood wafted out invitingly, beckoning me. The scent lasted for ages. Now that I could sit and embroider for hours at a time in comfort and olfactory self-indulgence, I did.

The fruit of this labour of love is my latest bridal collection.

Every bride is unique, of course, and will inspire a unique piece if she would like to incorporate tambour elements in her wedding millinery.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

So Vicky

The first client of last year was the last one I heard from. Our story took about a year to unfold.

Vicky was the first bride-to-be who came to see me last January. She was getting married in July. (Oodles of lead time - my favourite!) She and her sweetie had decided that a city hall wedding was what they truly wanted, and artisan suppliers who they felt a connection with. She remembered me from one encounter, more than a year before, at my St. Lawrence Market stall. Vicky is ebullient, warm, funny and quirky. I loved her energy, and I knew I was going to love working with her.

Playing with my Queen's Plate hat.

Vicky had chosen a lovely dress, and she would be wearing an exquisite necklace - an heirloom traditionally worn by all new brides of her fiance's family.


And to shake things up, a pair of wicked Fluevog shoes.
A party on her feet!

We did what we do here, played with samples and elements until we had a kinda/sorta plan for what she wanted to wear on her head on her wedding day.


The heirloom necklace was so enchanting to me that I wanted her peau de soir rose to complement it, and her dress.

Her shoes would march to their own drummer.

I stretched my repertoire making elements that satisfied Vicky's vision. Her polite determination (and reluctance to wear leaves that reminded her of claws) challenged my skills, which ultimately rose to the occasion. Because I hate to disappoint.

Vicky picked up her completed piece in May. Her wedding was in July. I could certainly wait that long to see the photos she so kindly promised me. That's just par for the course.

But not so fast. It seems her wedding photographer was having some computer trouble and the photos were long overdue. At least she hadn't forgotten about me.

Fast forward to the new year. I opened my email recently to find Vicky's wedding photos, at long last! "...I finally got the pictures. You are actually the first one to see them..."

The pictures, by AnniaVee Photo are gorgeous. Worth the wait. I hope you'll agree.

In a cold January, what a delight to be reminded of summer, and love, and fun, and new beginnings. And why I love making bridal millinery. Thanks, Vicky!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Sarah's Wedding

Sarah and Tristan had set the date! The plans for their intimate bistro wedding were underway.

Sarah found me through a web search looking for fascinators, as so many of my clients do. She gave me several weeks' lead time, which is ideal, and very much appreciated.

Her hair was short, and the fascinator was going to play the part of her 'do. I got a sense of Sarah's taste before we met, so our time together was spent playing with elements she knew she liked. Together we concocted a combination of rose, filigree, leaves and feathers that was uniquely hers. "This is way more fun than choosing my wedding dress," she shared. What a great thing to hear!

Millinery decisions made, Sarah could turn her attention back to the other preparations for her wedding. I went shopping, then got down to work.

I chose three different shades of peau de soie in blush tones to give her rose focal point subtle depth and nuance. Crystals and beads added the bling.

Sinamay elements and feathers contributed rhythm, movement and texture. It was working for me! But Sarah's opinion was the one that counts. Thus the nail-biting wait for the verdict began.

She liked it! The milliner exhaled. A teeny tweak and it was done. Sarah came to collect her fascinator and make sure she could clip it in. Indeed she could! Another millinery exhalation.

Sarah told me she loved the process of working with me on the most "bridal" element of her contemporary wedding look. She kindly promised photos to share with you (all wedding photos by Connie Tsang), and she was as good as her word. Thanks so much, Sarah! It's been a pleasure!

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Hat Lady and Arni

Arni found me through Catherine Curtis, where I have some promotional postcards. Catherine was making a dress and jacket for his wife, Sheila, to wear at a family wedding in St. Martin. Sheila needed a hat to go with it.

Arni and Sheila, warm, friendly and charming, came to meet me at my studio. Sheila gazed at the hats on the shelves and called them my babies. "That's what I call mine," she explained. It's quite the nursery she's got going, too - about three hundred hats! No wonder they call her the Hat Lady!

Catherine had given them some fabric cuttings from the dress she was making. Sheila knew she wanted something like a cloche, in white straw to go with the white background of her dress, embellished with the fabric. We talked and laughed and played dress-up, as I took notes. One sample in particular made Sheila smile, and I knew that would be The One. Arni wasn't so sure, preferring another, more traditional sample under consideration. Sheila pointed out that her choice was distinctive and unique. Arni had to agree and Sheila's choice carried the day.

Sheila really enjoyed the creative process of seeing her hat come into being. She had a clear vision of how her hat should be, and I worked to realize that vision. Many hugs accompanied her thanks when she came to collect it.

And Arni had to admit that he really liked it, after all.

The Hat Lady and her husband left with more than what they had commissioned. The "babies" at home welcomed a bunch of new siblings that day.

Just as well they don't need to be fed. Just loved.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Give and Take

I've been waiting for Carol to come back for several months now. Or a few minutes, depending on how you look at it.

Last winter I made Carol a cap decorated in appliqu├ęd felt ginko leaves. She loved its inspiration, a black felt blocked hat, but a cap was more practical. "I'm not a hat person," she confessed. It's okay. I'm open-minded.

Months ago, Carol told me the cap needed taking in. She has been welcome to bring it back to me ever since. It pleased the stars to align today to bring us finally together. She parked, knocked on my door, and then Carol asked if she could check out my neighbour's garage sale. Who am I to say her nay?

It was worth the few minutes' wait, because Carol came bearing gifts! At an auction she bought a trove of vintage "whimsies" (or cocktail hats of the 1950's and 1960s) and a lovely brown felt hat I can remodel. How kind of her! The fine vintage veiling on some of them is bound to get reused on a new creation in due course. In the meantime, they can join my collection of little black vintage hats on display in my studio.

As if that wasn't enough, Carol wasn't done. Her eagle eye spotted amongst the garage sale remnants a pretty little tin which I also scored, and which will store something soon enough. I am quite the sucker for pretty little tins. Carol intuited this somehow. She is an artist. She knows things. I tried to resist (that cleaning kick I wrote about last time), but it was futile. The tin is mine! Mineminemine.

I take in a cap, Carol gives me lots of cool stuff. All this bounty for something that's all part of the service -- a hat that fits. Thanks, Carol!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Photographs and Memories

Now that I'm all grown up (officially, anyway) back-to-school time always triggers two reactions in me. The first one -- I'm not gonna lie -- is relief that I, myself, am not going back to school. (I love learning! I really do. But I prefer choosing how and when and where and what, thank you.)

The second reaction is a strong impulse to clean, purge, and organize. Consequently, my shoe collection has just undergone a ruthless cull, and the rest of my wardrobe is quaking with fear. So is the mountain of fabric scraps I've accumulated over the years, remnants of hat-making and other sewing projects.

(You want a pile of fabric scraps? You can have it. Contact me and come and get 'em.)

A recent beneficiary of my seasonal categorization craze is my photos. At St. Lawrence Market, craft sales and my home studio over the years, I've taken lots of pictures of customers and visitors wearing my hats, bands and fascinators. The photos been seen here before, post by post, but now I've created a Client Gallery on Photobucket, with categorized sub-albums:

All Dressed Up
Chez Moi
Fascinators and Bands
For the Guys
Summer Hats
Winter Hats

I like the Story view best. It's an attractive way to see a bunch at a time, and still zero in where you like.

It's been a lovely exercise, triggering lots of happy memories of all those shows and visits, of the many people I've had the pleasure to meet, and who have done me the honour of becoming clients and customers, some repeatedly! I'm so lucky.

Wondering how my hats, etc. look on actual human heads? Wonder now more! How wonderful.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Brock's Hat

If only he'd wanted a fascinator, Brock would have had little trouble finding me online. Ironically, since he wanted a hat, the search took longer. Go figure.

He did find me in due course (of course!), in search of a hat for sun protection.

Brock came to meet with me with his spouse, Anne. It turns out that this genial couple live right around the corner from my home studio!

We chatted about how much we love the Beaches and the changes to it we've seen over the years. And condos. (Torontonians always talk about condos, whichever neighbourhood they call home.) It's always great to meet my neighbours, and extra nice when I can render them a millinery service.

Brock quite liked the hat I had made for Tim last year, but needed more brim. He tried on a few samples and I took some measurements. We decided on fabric and trim, and then I was ready to get to work.

Once construction was underway, I decided a fitting would be a good idea, so Brock and Anne returned. For about two minutes. Because the fit was fine. Thank goodness they didn't have far to come!

Brock's hat was finished shortly after the fitting, and he was happy with it. He described the whole process as an adventure. For me, it was a pleasure.