Monthly Archives: August 2012

Edwardian Hat Photographs 1913-1915.

I was delighted to find these beautifully-photographed vintage images of women’s hats at Retronaut.

There you’ll see over twenty hats of very impressive millinery artistry – from the sophisticated to the avant garde.

If you enjoy learning about history via imagery, Retronaut is the spot for you – living up to its credo:  “The Past is a Foreign Country. This is Your Passport.”


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Schiap’s Caps: Out of the Box, Ready to Amuse.

Images of Elsa Schiaparelli’s hats always entertain me.  The magnitude of the variety of her workshop’s millinery designs is very impressive.

My favorite Schiaparelli hat, by far, is the Hen in a Nest or sitting hen hat.  I wonder if it might have been inspired by the silhouette of military side caps…, but however Schiaparelli hatched the idea – a chicken hat, perched on the head, is unmistakably playful.

Eric fashion illustration of Elsa Schiaparelli Hen in a Nest hat.

The Shoe hat, Salvador Dali-imagined (and Schiaparelli-produced), seems to me “old hat” perhaps because it appears frequently in our modern media – with a reputation of being one of Elsa Schiaparelli’s more outrageous designs.

Gala Dali (right) in the Dali-Schiaparelli Shoe hat.

Despite its quirky charm, I doubt the Shoe or slipper hat would facilitate standing on one’s head.

Leave comments about your favorite Schiaparelli hat.

For a by-no-means-complete (but a good start all the same) review of Schiap’s caps, see this link at Toile La La, with images and descriptions of Elsa Schiaparelli millinery.



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Hats: Contemporary and of the Past.

Hat-thought has occupied quite a bit of my brain-space – for two years now – though I’ve been intrigued by hats since the unveiling of some my Nana inherited from a Great-Aunt when I was a teen.  I’ve read about, made, and researched hats and millinery history.  For a time, millinery played a wallflower role, but now circumstances seem right again for hats to make an appearance.

Before attending the Savannah College of Art and Design fashion show this year, I created this small dressmaker hat “Cameo” – worn here by my charming model… but you’ll also see it in my shadow silhouette below.

Cameo has an asymmetric design defined with black piping and black buttonhole-twist hand-stitching.

Cameo Hat made this year for SCAD fashion show visit. Millinery design by  Toile La La.

Toile La La wearing Cameo Hat in Savannah, GA.

The Cameo Hat perched fixed at an angle on my head, with the strength of a snapped-in-half dime-store comb and two bobby pins – all of which I stitched inside the hat using thin elastic thread.  Since my hair is straight, not curly like that of my charming model, I twisted it into a ballerina bun and and anchored the hat against it with the comb.  You’ll see the model is wearing a headband under the hat – but that was merely to keep her bangs out of her lashes.

For hat-security, I did consider using a millinery-specific elastic at the back of the hat, but didn’t have time to search for elastic to match my hair – although black would have worked fine.

Recent trips to Chicago, Illinois and Denver, Colorado prompted a lot of hat thoughts – as I wore a store-bought sunhat which was determined to either sail off my head or shield my vision like horse-blinders.  It did however provide good sun-protection, shielding my eyes, face, neck and shoulders.  The problems it created did set the gears of my designing-mind whirring:  Is it better to have a hat that ties under the chin.  How do you design a hat that protects the face without obstructing the vision in each turn of the head?  What materials can be used to screen the sun and still permit air-flow?

As it seems most of our hat-wearing in recent decades has been either decorative (for instance, at the Kentucky Derby) – utilitarian sports or job-specific (baseball-type caps with tight bands or cowboy hats), these practical aspects of hat-wearing have rarely been addressed.

In the past, hat-wearers utilized built-in elastic or ribbon bands and of course – hatpins.  The pinning of the hatpin seems to be a skill acquired through practice, but I did find a very nice Vixen Vintage post with hatpin how-tos, so here’s a link.

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Bebe Bouton’s Real Live Enormous Pompon Zinnia Bonnet.

In case you ever wondered what happened to Bebe Bouton… . She now has a “tuta” suit (like those described by Italian Futurists of the 1940’s), and she is searching for the perfect floral hat. See more of her choices at my Toile La La blog.

Bebe Bouton in Her Enormous Pompon Zinnia Bonnet. Photo Toile La La.

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Early Twentieth Century Sewing Sampler Journal.

Overcasting Stitch Quilting Swatch from Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Sampler.
Scanned by Toile La La.

Small Pillowcase in Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Sampler. Scanned by Toile La La.

Small-scale Apron Toile from Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Sampler. Scanned by Toile La La.

Great-Grandmother’s Apron Toile Close-Up. Scanned by Toile La La.

Closure Techniques from Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Sampler. Scanned by Toile La La.

Buttonhole Samples from Great-Grandmother’s Normal School Sampler. Scanned by Toile La La.

Sock and Stocking Darning Sample from Great-Grandmother’s Journal. Scanned by Toile La La.

“Hem Stitching, Tucking, Rolling and Whipping” – Stitch Techniques from Great-Grandmother’s Sampler. Scanned by Toile La La.

Embroidery Detail on a Patch-Sample from Great-Grandmother’s Journal. Scanned by Toile La La.

“Straight and Bias Darn, Three-Cornered Darn, Darn with a Patch” – Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Sampler. Scanned by Toile La La.

Detail of Cover and Twine Closure for Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Sampler Journal. Scanned by Toile La La.

My Great-Grandmother Myrtle attended a “normal school” (which was a turn-of-the-century training institute) when she was a young teen and there she learned to weave and sew – among other things.  My great-great-grandparents came from meager means and Myrtle was one of thirteen children – and the school was 90 miles away, but somehow she went.  And, somehow this sewing sampler journal survived.

My Nana married Myrtle’s son and must have been impressed with the little booklet because she saved it and I can remember her showing me the miniature pillowcase and apron when I was a child.

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