Thursday, May 17, 2012

Greetings from Hat Land

Hello, readers! My brain is out of town this week. It's currently residing in the strange, magical land of Millinery 101 at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where finals are due tomorrow. That's when I will present my first collection of hats to the class. I'm somewhat terrified.

You see, at the beginning of the term we had to present a "mood board" (I've come to loathe that term) and the instructor wasn't very taken with mine, to say the least. Here, you can see it if you want. (Click to make bigger.)

My theory was that I would make a collection of vintage-inspired hats that are wearable today. Emphasis on wearable. I don't think I've quite succeeded in that, but I have kind of learned how to make hats, which was the aim. Here are a few of my favorites.



Anyway. I'll admit to being in kind of a dark place about the whole thing. It's so hard starting out at something, wanting it to be perfect, and not being able to really make your vision happen. It's so much like learning to sew! I don't mean to be so negative, but I knew you all would understand.

I have tons of finishing little finishing touches to do, so my brain and I are going back to Hat Land. I hope to be back in Dress Land next week!

98 comments:

  1. Love the dark blue one, the pleats are amazing. Keep up the good work, nothing worth doing comes easy....

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  2. I think you are doing fine. The middle one is my favorite, I should think hat making is hard, so I commend you on trying something new!

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  3. These all look so beautiful and professional! Can't wait to see more. :)

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  4. I love your mood board and the hats look wonderful to me!
    (I got put off sewing by a teacher at secondary school, despite my mum doing lots of sewing. Then there was a gap of 40 years and now I love it.)
    Your hats all look chic and wearable!

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  5. I really love that blue hat!

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  6. What didn't your instructor like about your 'mood board' (odd name....shouldn't it have been something like 'inspirations board'?)? I think your hats look wonderful..especially for given the class level. Will you be taking another?

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  7. I know doodle about hats. In winter I don a knitted something or other so I don't freeze, that's it. I just don't have the head for hats, but your collection may force me to reconsider. I think hat-making is difficult and rather a lost art. Love the blue cloche with the pleated brim. Beautiful.

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  8. I LOOOVE the pink one in the top photo! More pics please!! Also I would totally wear the last two, the black/red one and the blue cloche.
    I just got a millinery book from the library because I want to learn to do the little pillbox hats, or some little round buckram fascinators with the veil pieces?
    I'd really love to see more of these, modeled of course! Keep up the good work.

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  9. What a fun thing to do! Gertie, you are an inspiration. And I am dying for that blue hat. So effing charming.

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  10. I loved your mood board, and the hats you showed are amazing! I would wear them in a heartbeat!!

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  11. Pretty inspiring. I have a hard time not getting completely depressed while Im learning to sew. The best thing is to keep doing it though. Practice does make perfect even if I hate that phrase.

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  12. I'm curious about your instructor's comments on your mood board. Did they want you to go bigger/more artistic and less literal? That could be the difference between an art school class and a more technique/craft based class.

    I personally am all for literal versus the artsy stuff in that I like to be able to wear what I make to work and the grocery store and whatnot.

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  13. hmmm... I think your hats look amazing!! and what's wrong with the mood board?! I'd be curious to know what the teacher is expecting and what your classmates produce. Are you the only one adding a vintage flare to your designs? shame on the teacher for doing anything other than to encourage and teach you techniques!

    Good luck in hat land Gertie, it looks like you are finding your way quite nicely!!

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  14. I love the blue one and would totally wear it! (Maybe minus the flower, but I'm not really a flower-in-hat kind of girl). I love wearable but vintage-y hats. My favorites come from Goorin Bros and I have quiet a collection going! Yay hats!

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  15. I love them! I'd wear 'em.
    Wish there were a class where I live...or on "craftsy!" for hat making. I love to make hats, but rely on "book learning" on my own.

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  16. I think your hats look lovely! And no worries about it not being perfect. Everyone has to start somewhere. I'm sure that in time, you will be making the most amazing hats!

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  17. Thanks for the encouragement, readers! It really does help. As for the teacher's comments, I didn't want to "tell tales out of school", but whatever, I'm adult. The teacher didn't understand my "customer" for the collection, and didn't think there was anything contemporary about it, just vintage. Also, the wellies on the board confused her because she said you wouldn't wear them with any of the hats I pictured. We have different taste, I guess! :)

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  18. So beautiful! Millinery is next up on my list of things to learn...now just to find classes.

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  19. They are fabulous and your teacher should be encouraging you with your own style not trying to enforce conforming to a standard.

    It's difficult learning a new skill but it should also be inspiring and fun at the same time. I can't wait to see what you create from hat world next as I love it so far.

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  20. I think your teacher needs glasses? I looooove your mood board! You and my daughter could be fashion twins - she loves vintage (and how I hate trying to decipher the Vogue patterns she keeps arriving here with! :-D)
    I love your hats too - so clever, making hats. The two blue ones are my favourites even though I "don't do hats" other than big thick chunky knitted ones in winter. Son is getting married in the Autumn though so I am looking for inspiration for that - the first blue one could be that inspiration. Thank you.
    Stumbled across your blog a couple of weeks ago and I'm loving it. :-)
    Jude.

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  21. I'm so jealous that you are taking a millinery class. I agree with Ruth that there should be a Craftsy class for it. I personally love the blue one in the bottom pic, but I feel you on the difficulty in making a "wearable" hat with a vintage feel. Vintage hats were meant to be shown off, and since hats aren't as popular as they used to be, ANY hat seems conspicuous now, let alone a bright blue one with fuzzy berries.

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  22. It's interesting how we all have our favorites. The first hat with the netting was mine. That's why we need designers like yourself that can create a variety of designs and are not bound by one idea of what's right. I love your hats!
    Sheri
    www.cherishedneedlecreations.com
    cherishedneedlecreations.wordpress.com

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  23. Those hats are gorgeous! In particular I love that cloche with its pleated brim detail. I'd buy it in a minute! Good luck... just keep moving forward and you'll surely hit your groove just as you did when learning to sew!

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  24. I think they're gorgeous! Does the teacher not realize that there's a huge vintage/vintage-inspired community? I'd like to know what they were expecting.

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  25. Loving the little black number with the red trim and, I think, the red bowler ?? just peaking in on the side.

    I'm glad to see these since I love hats!!

    Keep up the good work.

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  26. How neat! I dabbled in a weekend felt millinery class years ago, and loved it. Though I never felt I quite got a handle on it (and the supplies/tools were too expensive for me to pursue it). But I love the hats you've made; that second number with the bright leaves is darling!

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  27. Your hats are beautiful! I'd love to learn to make hats. In a cruel twist of irony, most of the women in my family love hats, but we all have a "long oval" head shape, meaning 99% of the hats on the planet are way too small!

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  28. The blue cloche is amazing. I'd wear it in a heartbeat.

    As a teen, I worked for a small dance school, after school, and I remember asking the owner why she'd be so hard on one girl in class but not correct another girl who had worse form. She told me that girl A had the potential to do much better, while girl B was doing the very best she could. She only wanted to push people as far as she knew they, personally, could go and that it makes no sense to expect from everyone, the same level of achievement.

    My takeaway from that is that, as hard as it is to take criticism or be told one's work could be better, it's also, in some ways, a real compliment. The person sees a talent in you and doesn't want to let you off with less than they know you can deliver.

    All of which is way easier to say to someone else than it is to employ in one's one life, says she who agonizes over every bit of criticism she receives :)

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  29. I think they are darling! I love wearing hats and have actually been known to do so once in a great while. I admire your desire to enhance your skills!

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  30. I just recently started sewing and have been reduced to tears more than a few times... My man makes me watch this little Ira Glass video every time... It really does help! http://vimeo.com/24715531

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  31. Love the 20's flapper inspired hat!! Good Luck with you hat project!

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  32. I don't dress in vintage apparel, and I like your hats. I wear hats almost daily, winter and summer.

    There were hats on your moodboard which I would wear with my wellies. (I would love to own that olive green one toward bottom left.) Maybe your instructor only thinks of wellies as items worn with trousers, but I wear mine with my everyday skirts.

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  33. Isn't the mood board supposed to represent *your* mood and inspiration? Just because your inspiration doesn't match someone else's doesn't mean that they should critique yours.

    I love the navy blue tilt hat. If I had somewhere to wear it (the CA Bay Area is very, VERY casual) I'd totally buy it.

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  34. I, too, would wear the blue one with the pleats! So pretty! The hardest thing for me when I start something new is letting go of the idea that I have to be good at it immediately. Good for you for doing something new.

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  35. I suspect your instructor is used to more conventionally "arty" types, so your mood board was probably a bit eccentric for their palatte, SO WHAT! You are designing for yourself and likeminded souls...and we know there are loads of them!
    As for the hats you have made the look freaking amazing! I could kill for about four of them, the rest I just want...a lot!
    So go look in the mirror...go on...and say to yourself "I am fabulous, and brilliant my hats reflect that, and I love them" now do it again and again until you believe it.
    Good luck with the presentation, we are all holding your hand in spirit x

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  36. Pfff, the tutor wasn't impressed by your moodboard? Well, it's not like you're there to learn how to do moodboards, is it?!

    PS If you can make wearable vintage -inspired hats (ie, ones that don't look like costumes and ones that don't require a perfect period coiffure), then I would probably give you a whole ton of money for them.I love those pictures, it looks like you're doing pretty cracking so far!

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  37. LOVE the blue cloche. If it is missing, come to my house. :) Do try to remember that the first ones are practice!! I like the idea of wearable hats. I would love to know how to make them stay on while walking outdoors in breezy conditions. And like someone else said, a modern wearable hat that fondly *recalls* the 50's without being too literal about it would be a fabulous thing. I love hats.

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  38. Iknow what yo mean, but I don't know why your teacher doesn't like your "mood board", I think it's great. And I definitely WOULD wear these hats - all of them. In case yo are very unhappy with them, just send them to me... ;-)

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  39. I hope you continue in your hat making journey because just like the clothing you make they are wearable works of art!!!

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  40. I think the hats look great and there is a market for your style hat...target had a vintage-y looking line like that out around Xmas time. Forget the designers name for the life of me...

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  41. They are all wonderful! I'd wear them. I think it would be lovely if more women wore hats and gloves. Keep up the great work!~

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  42. The hats are cute! I personally have found that making hats isn't a breeze. The daughter suddenly decided that I could make her a darling hat with a birdcage veil 2 months from her wedding. I couldn't find a ready made buckram teardrop base locally so I attempted to make one myself following directions from a Threads article and a Vintage Vogue hat pattern. My attempts at shaping the buckram were pitiful at best.I was to the point that I was searching for millinery classes anywhere in Texas. She finally decided that she just wanted the veiling on a comb. Someday I will take classes in Austin or San Antonio.

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  43. Well, your hats look awesome--and that's coming from the daughter of antique dealers and sister of someone who collects vintage hats--so I've seen a vintage (and modern) hat or two! Some people don't seem to be able to show enthusiasm beyond their own personal taste, don't let that stop you, those are gorgeous hats! I'd steal that blue one right off of you...and maybe the pink one too... ;)

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  44. I really, really, really like the blue one!

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  45. Even if your hats don't satisfy your vision or standards right now, you should still be kind to yourself. It's hard for someone who is an expert in one skill to try something they are a beginner at. But you've already shown yourself that you can learn, so that should give you confidence. Keep at it!

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  46. I think that blue one is just lovely. Can we see it sometime on a head?

    I have always wanted to learn how to make hats. You are very lucky to live somewhere where you can access these kinds of courses!

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  47. Hey Gertie and all you fellow-ette Gertie followers ! I know this is a strange place to post this...but there is an IPhone app called Poshmark, where you shop from other Poshmarker's "closets". I have a bunch of original vintage and some really cute, self designed and sewn vintage recreation (think high waisted pencil skirts) skirts and dresses I've posted. If anyone is interested, my tag is @pinupgrl76 on the poshmark app. I think you can look online if you go to their website. I am just trying to find some other like minded ladies to join, so we can shop eachothers creations !!

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  48. Gertie! Your hats are lovely! It's just too sad that your teacher did not appreciate your vision. You wanted to target a specific audience but, it looks like, she had a completely different idea in mind. In this case it's not a proper teaching. Hope you are having as much fun in Hat land as in Dress land ;)

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  49. I can't claim to know anything about hats or what the instructor is looking for, but I like yours. The blue cloche with the sweet rosebuds tucked inside the bow is so lovely!

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  50. Ok. If you only ever made the blue , your time as a milliner has been well spent. Honestly, your vision is inspired.

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  51. I love the black hat in the middle. It reminds me of Chanel from the 30's. The hats are really lovely.

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  52. WOW!! Love your hats, especially the blue cloche. I love the 1920's & 1930's hats--so cool (I actually bought the "Mrs Bradley Mysteries" series--set in the 1920's) on DVD's so I could copy the hats. And it is an age-old dilemma for all artists (sewing or otherwise)--the gap between our vision and our output. Only sometimes do we achieve synchronicity.

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  53. I would so totally wear any of the beautiful hats you made. You're so talented! Seriously, let me know if you ever want to sell any :)

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  54. What is it with instructors, that makes them thinks they are judges, instead of teachers? This should be about what you did well, what you could do better, did you follow the instructions for the assignment. Not about her liking your style. I think you are amazing for trying this, and there are definitely a few in your photos that the females in my house would love to try on.

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  55. I LOVE them. Especially the more cloche style ones. I'd love to learn millinery and I would totally buy your hats

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  56. I don't like cloche hats, but the others look terrific!!!! :)

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  57. I love the hats! The pink one, in the collection photo, and the blue, pleated cloche are my favorites. I don't know a thing about hat making but from the view of one who appreciates pretty things, I say you are doing great with your class!

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  58. Well I love them all and who says you can't wear a hat with wellies!! I think if you wore the right dress say with the hat and wellies, you could look really cute and keep your feet dry (especially with the weather here in the uk at the moment)

    Ann

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  59. I would take a human life for that blue hat. If it needs a home, let me know.

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  60. The blue cloche is gorgeous! Love it. The pink one in the top photo reminds me of the hat my grandma wore for my mom and dad's wedding. Yours has an updated shape, though so it looks like it could be the granddaughter of my grandma's hat.

    I wish I could take a millinery class. It's on my to-do list for when I have more time for myself. So far, I've only read books about hat-making, though at one point I was obsessed with the idea, since I collect vintage hats.

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  61. Really beautiful work- it's hard to believe, from the photos, that you're a beginner.

    I love hats, but have a hard time finding ones that work, since so many of the ones out there are cloches, and I have long hair that I cover for religious reasons (but don't want to cut). Hats that have space to accommodate some hair would be such an amazing thing, but they're nigh on impossible to find.

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  62. I think you have done really well my favourite is the blue one really pretty :)

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  63. Your hats...I want. Them. All. Gorgeous! What I wouldn't give to be a milliner of your stature. The last hat I attempted looked like a lopsided pancake with a bow.

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  64. " . . . wouldn't wear boots with . . . " ?? Has this person looked at some of the whacked-out combinations shown in modern fashion magazines? Or, for that matter, at what's parading around the local high school . . . or the campus outside your classroom?
    I want the flat-brim blue one, only with a pale silver flower, because I'm not comfortable with flamboyant, and I will wear it with a pale silver-gray wool jersey dress (or cashmere pullover and coulottes), and pale gray suede knee-high, high-heeled boots. Well, maximum 2" heels; my knees aren't so great anymore. Class projects aren't about the teacher's taste; they're about can you make hats? It only becomes about taste if you discover that your customer doesn't exist.

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  65. Hmm....The mood board is to represent a customer. Just because the professor wouldn't wear wellies with the hats, doesn't mean the customer wouldn't. Frankly, I can think of a few gardeners/landscapers/garden-lovers who would most assuredly wear your hats with their wellies.

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  66. I love the third hat. Absolutely wonderful that you have a new skill. I would love to take a class like that. Or at least I think I would - yours does not sound too fun!

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  67. I love the blue cloche hat!

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  68. Those hats are darling, Gertie! I love love love the blue cloche. So beautiful. I think it's attitudes like this teacher's that stop people from wearing hats more often. Why should they only be paired with strappy heels and work to the races? Good on you!

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  69. That blue cloche is FANTASTIC.

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  70. Remember that wonderful quote from Ira Glass on creativity? You're normal. You're doing exactly the right thing. Keep going for it!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC4gqZGPSY

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  71. That blue cloche is GORGEOUS!

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  72. Well, your instructer obviously has no taste :P the mood board looks great. And I LOVE the blus cloche, would definitely wear all three of these :) x

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  73. I know every one here loves and supports you! Plus I liked your mood board very much! Maybe your professor is just intimidated by your success.

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  74. I never comment but I had to chime in and say that they are all great, but the blue cloche is fantastic, and I would totally wear it around my vintage phobic husband.

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  75. Oh Gertie!!!!! I think your hats are wonderful and isn't a mood board personal?
    If nothing else, you have learned what NOT to say to your sewing students, right?

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  76. Yep; that's the trouble with being good working with your hands (and machine,of course), you expect to be able to do everything perfectly. And, when you don't, it's disappointing. Carry on,my dear. The blue cloche is to die for!

    Brenda

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  77. They all look so beautiful, you should pat yourself on the back for that fab collection! I understand the negativity when something doesn't turn out perfectly...I reckon many of us were/are perfectionists. I was a hyper perfectionist, but I'm better now. I'm making an effort now to be a good friend to myself and not so critical. I frequent your blog and have taken both your courses, and think your work is fabulous and so are you! :)

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  78. Wonderful collection of vintage hats, and all of them created and constructed by you, WOW!
    I rally cannot imagine how to shape, give volume to those materials, you make semispheres, and all kind of forms (with no seams apparent) with the fabric... HOW??? ironing? shapeing them wet?
    Maybe you could share your knowledge somehow???
    Congratulations for yur collection and you new learnings!

    http://mertxeshomesewing.blogspot.com.es/

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  79. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  80. What gorgeous hats! you really are multi-talented!

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  81. Gretchen,
    Congrats on your hat collection! I think it's wonderful. My mom wore many stylish hats in the 40s,50s,and part way through the 60s. She said the only thing that made women's hats go out of style was big hairdos. Now that we prefer simpler more natural styles, she sees no reason for hats not to become a popular accessory again! I would wear any of the hats you made. More photos please.

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  82. Gertie, Do not fret!! I go to school at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, and they are so discouraging about my vintage vibe!! Don't be hard on yourself, people in the art and fashion world can be very pretentious, but you are fabulous!!

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  83. When I was studying textiles our mood boards were just a starting off point of inspiration and colour, at the end we would do a product board featuring a finished design and showing how it could be used. I am not a hat wearer but I love many of your designs, and what universe is your teacher living in?? Vintage is so desirable and by definition a finite resourse :)

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  84. I think you have done great. I hope you post some tutorials. I am very interested in making hats.

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  85. The dark blue cloche is gorgeous! I don't know anything about millinery, but from a consumer's perspective your hats look marketable and definitely wearable. Good luck on your evaluation.

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  86. Can I also say, I love the blue cloche and wish there was a Craftsy class? I love hats, and somehow, hats just want to be vintage. I'm not crazy about more modern hat designs.
    Maybe you could blog a bit about hat making - it seems a lot of us would like more information. I'm trying to learn from books and youtube videos since there aren't any classes where I live, either.

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  87. Oh, Gertie, I love love love your hats, and I'm sorry you have to deal with such a negative teacher. I am so jealous of you taking a millinery class. I wish I had a whole wardrobe of gorgeous hats and fascinators, and that I had the chutzpah to wear them every day, standard fashion be damned!

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  88. So what is wrong with your instructor? Your hats are brilliant!
    Maybe he/she just can't see your vision! And just goes to show; if we all have the exact same vision in life, it would be pretty boring around here. I really like your colors and the all you've done with your hats. Really they are great!
    And in the end... who cares what "grade" you get... as long as you have learned what you needed/wanted to learn?

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  89. I absolutely love these - I've just done a 3 day introduction to millinery and I'm now hooked. Just my sort of inspiration too.

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  90. Love the blue one! I'll buy it from you! :-)

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  91. I know what you mean. I design and make costumes . . . some of which never seem to have the impact I was looking for. Others always like them -- me, not so much. So frustrating!

    Your hats are beautiful!

    Evilqueen

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  92. hey lots of tricks and tips on my millinery blog....if you need some inspiration check it out as I photograph myself making all the time and you might see some things you can put into practice!

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  93. Your hats are so beautiful and creative! So for all the fabric crafters out there...if you do any sewing, knitting, quilting etc. make sure to brand, "claim" or label your special items with the finest fabric labels. There is no setup fee and we can accept your photos, logos, graphics, artwork or text-only projects. Guaranteed not to fray! Visit www.CustomLabels4U.com and search for our fabric labels

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  94. I LOVE ALL OF YOUR HATS! I think they are so gorgeous. I just adore vintage hats especially those with veil netting. I think there is something just so mysterious, seductive and glamourous about them. Unfortunately, I've never been able to quite pull them off! I always feel awkward and a little embarassed like I'm calling unnecessary attention to myself. Lol. Maybe it takes a special attitude and a good bit of self confidence, both of which you definitely have as it shows in your beautiful designs. Chin up! They are gorgeous. You have so much talent. Loved your work at Burdastyle and loving your blog!

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  95. Ha-ha- the funny thing about some design instructors is that they believe that THEIR personal preference or taste represents the totality of THE potential trends or customers. Nonsense. She was projecting her views and twisting them to make it sound like 'constructive criticism'. All that is old becomes new. There are niche markets and tastes for every taste and style and if you examine upscale 'contemporary' hat design you will find more that not, hat designs begin with features that are VINTAGE!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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