Wednesday, 29 August 2012

My Nana

This has been a really difficult day for me. I wasn't sure I should post this, but I've accomplished b***** all else today, so I thought I may as well.

My Nana was the closest thing I ever had to a real mother.

She brought me up and took care of me all my life. 

She was kind, gentle, never laid a hand on me. She taught me to read, to cook, to sew, to dance, taught me that all people were equal, and gave me an incredibly strong morality. 

She lived through the Great Depression, World War Two when she worked in a munitions factory, took care of her mother until she died (when Nana was 16), had pleurisy, had pneumonia four times, took care of her husband (my Grandad) when he was dying from lung cancer, raised three children of her own, a score of foster kids, and me.

Then without warning, when she was 72, and I was 17, I watched her die suddenly. One minute she was talking to me, and the next she was dead.

That was 20 years ago tonight (at about 9.02pm BST).

So I just want to say, in this post that has absolutely nothing to do with sewing, or with my work, or with hatmaking, if you love somebody, even if you don't always get on, talk to them. Tell them you love them. Give them a hug. Spend some time together. Because it takes just one second for them to be gone forever.

And I love you Nana, and miss you forever.

My Nana and Grandad - Gertrude [Trudi] (1920-1992) and George Lough (1920-1977)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Bridal Hat

It's been a while since I posted - work deadlines...

Now then, I recently made a hat for a friend to wear for her wedding.  We'd agreed on a nice white (off white really) fur felt velour, so I could brush it up nicely, and that it would be an undersized, or mini, top hat.

I don't have blocks for a mini top hat, so I created my own.  For the brim I used one of the polystyrene (styrofoam) rings that you can get for craft work.  My first attempt didn't work, because as soon as I tried to block the felt over it, it snapped into three pieces.
I taped it back together with electrical (insulation) tape, and paper mache-d over it to give it some strength for the blocking, and it worked brilliantly (and I could pin into it).  Then I just drew on  my brim shape with tailor's chalk.  Best part - I can now use this again for a small brim, or as a flat beret block.

I also didn't have a block the right shape for the crown - for this I used expanding builder's foam, sprayed into a clean plant pot, and carved to shape, then papered over the top.  This was a bit less successful (only because I was being picky about the shape - I wanted the sides to curve in - obviously that would normally require a 'puzzle' or segmented block.  I haven't yet worked out how to do that in the foam (am sure it's possible).  Anyway, I wasn't 100% happy with the shape, so I cut some sections out of the base, and effectively sewed darts into the felt.  Much better!  This would have worked even if the main part of the hat hadn't been hidden by the fabric drape, because of the pile of the velour felt, but I'd have had to be more careful about my stitching being concealed than I was.

My friend sent me a box stuffed with goodies that she'd collected - braids, brooches, necklaces, fabrics from her wedding dress, etc, etc.  The stipulations she made was that I had to use the rabbit's foot, for luck, and that I should 'load it up', because she doesn't 'really do less is more'.

So I did.  I sent her several sketches, and she picked the bits she liked from each, and asked for a couple of changes.  And I got to work on putting it all together.

The first set of  pictures are the ones I took, which show the detail from all angles, but not the colours (for some reason my photos glared).  The second set are pictures that guests at the wedding (I couldn't be there due to a clash with a family wedding) have incredibly kindly allowed me to use (credits below the photos).

My favourite part of the whole hat is the hot air balloon earring / pin!

Photo used by kind permission of Liz Hanley

Photo used by kind permission of Christine Simpson

As I said, I couldn't be at the wedding, but it looked completely fabulous, and I'm sorry I had to miss it.

I also wish the 'happy couple' all good things for the future.