Embracing Change....

CHOICE, CHANCE, CHANGE

For the past 15 months I have been travelling around Europe, the UK and America. Building teams and collaborating with artists to find myself, my signature and what I want to tell the world. 

I have always known I wanted to be part of the fashion world, as a designer or stylist. What I did not know is what made me different from the thousands of other artists with the same dream.

After my travels I came back home to Sydney to find myself starting all over again. I had no real home, no job, no clients, no headpiece collections and the biggest change was my decision to leave my partner of 5 years.

Although everything that was happening to me was because of my choices I still could not help but feel defeated and lost in my own hometown! I had lost all confidence in myself on a personal level as well as in my work. I had lost confidence in finding new clients and being my creative self. I just did not know where I belong.

I attended the MD College of Australia Launch with a close friend Celle from Glam it up by Celle back in February to help me network again. We heard from many inspiring speakers from the beauty industry and I immediately felt at home again. Sometimes you need to surround yourself with people who have the same passions as you. I soon realised to me this makes any place I am in my home. Although I was not an aspiring makeup artist like the rest of the crowd, I was still touched and inspired by every single one of them. Why? Because as an artist or creative soul we all have one thing in common, the desire and passion to excel in our chosen form or art! 

Thanks to the organizer Martha Mok for her inspiring speech! Learning about the three C’s Choice, Chance and Change has really helped me to EMRACE all the change in my life that I was facing and take action.

I remembered hearing about this course called MASTERED from a nail technician Kristine who I collaborated with during a project in London! Kristine had told me how it was the best decision she had ever made and it brought her plenty of opportunities. 

I decided to I take the first step CHOICE and researched about the Styling course.

With no job an only some savings and the money from the car I sold I took the CHANCE. Mastered started in 19 days! I applied and hoped to be accepted.

AND I WAS!!!!! Just over a week into the course now and I am loving it.

There is definitely a lot of CHANGE in my life at the moment but I am ready to face it and learn as much as I can to get my confidence back!!! “Do what you love and the money will follow”

Joining Mastered is a BIG life changing decision personally and for my career. I am so excited to learn from everyone!!

The best work is work created as a team. We are all in this together so let us continue to create, share and Inspire.

.   .   .

How have you embraced change?

What choices did you make to overcome this change?

Are you willing to take the chance? If not, what are you afraid of?

 

 

CREDITS

Image 1 – “Christmas Magic”

Photographer - @Sam_Goodridge

Stylist/Designer/Set Design - @helenarose_travellingstylist

Hair & Makeup Artist - @gabriellafloydmakeup

Model - @phowoods

 

Image 2 – “Romance is Dead”

Photographer - @irin4encetu

Stylist/Designer - @helenarose.travellingstylist

Model - @lora.kehayova

Makeup Artist - @__s.e.v.___

 

Image 3 – “Kamala”

Photographer - @talabergeza

Designer - @kamala_kaftan

Hair and Makeup - @nancyrado

Models

@kirakapusi

Lili Kisteleki

@gabiberecz

Zsuzsi Erdos (@kamala_kaftan)

 

Image 4 – “ILLUSIONS”

Photographer - @mocaneko

Stylign/Design - @helenarose_travellingstylist

Model - @bolemene

Makeup Artist - @mackenzie_mua

 

Image 5 – “Paper and Smoke”

Photographer - @mateuszsandomierski

Stylist/Designer - @helenarose_travellingstylist

Model - @olgaszelc

Makeup Artist - @magdarusnarczyk

Makeup Supplier - @skinandbonesbeauty

 

Image 6 – “Fairytale”

Photographer - @essyadelyde

Stylist - @helenarose_travellingstylist

Designer - @audrey.ashley.couture

Model - @liruotongmia

Makeup - @dianavmakeup

Makeup Supplier - @skinandbonesbeauty

Hair - @toshinarikokubun

 

Image 7 – “The Capitol”

Photographer - @atlos.photo

Stylist/Designer - @helenarose_travellingstylist

Model - @e_a_potter

 

 

 

 

I am Grateful!

#helenarosetravels | New York City - FRIDAY THE 13TH

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. However I feel today was one of the best and luckiest days ever for me.  

Here are 13 things I am grateful for from today.

1. Woke up to find out my documentary is ready! ( Cannot wait to share it with you all!) 

2. It was so sunny and beautiful in NYC.(perfect day for exploring)

3. I got to wear my new my pretty dress.

4. I had a lunch date with an amazing girl Wilma Garci from this travel group!! Who reached out to my message a few weeks back.

5. As Wilma works for Loreal I had the opportunity to visit Loreal USA, (with a super cool visitor pass) and have lunch with Wilma in the cafe there with amazing views of NYC!!!!(33RD FLOOR)

6. The opportunity to shop for makeup with staff discount, thanks to Wilma also! Woooo 

7.Grabbing the last urban decay pallete ! (This is important, a girl needs her makeup)

8. My bf Josh. For always being there for me and making this travel lifestyle possible!. He met me at the city and we had a great spontaneous day, exploring and trying new foods together. 

9. My beautiful friends Tinka Weener and Menno Yap surprised Josh Dzarir and I and are in New York !!! (Cannot wait to see them tomorrow)

10. I Survived two days without gluten so far and still manged to eat what I want. 

11.I got to try my very first gluten free ramen andddd icecream cone! 

12. I got to share my story and inspire another person. As well as here their story and be inspired.

13. TRAVEL. Because without it, most of the above would not have happened today. Travel allows me to share my story with others, inspire and be inspired by so many amazing people that I have met along the way! 

#tgif Best day ever. Better yet, best Friday Ever. I LOVE NEW YORK CITY.

How was yours? What are 13 things you are grateful for?

I believe in Golden Dreams - New York New York

Waking up to the noisy streets in Jersey I had one goal today. To spray a green hat gold. While cooking breakfast I was so excited, I had already visualised what I believed the felt hat needed to look like. My own personal touch. With no studio space I was determined, I planned to lay some garbage bags outside over the snow, spray the hat and leaves, leave to dry, flip them over and spray the other side, simple right? WRONG!

It was so windy! The design I had in mind just would not work without the leaves. There was no way I could secure them. As a designer you learn to improvise but at that moment I was ready to scrap the whole idea, not just the leaves. On the verge of giving up, I reminded myself why I was standing there, outside my airbnb in the cold, freezing my butt off. Because I BELIEVE. I believe in creating, I believe in inspiring, I believe in achieving my goals. Most of all I believe in myself.

Every since I was a little girl I dreamed of visiting New York. I have always had a curious nature when it came to design and creating just came naturally. With a strong desire to one day share my passion with the world, here I am, after 14 months of travel, In New Jersey, (only a bus ride away from New York) creating and inspiring once again. So you see this hat is no longer just a green hat that I turned gold but it is the beginning of something much greater. It is the beginning of my Golden Dream.

Tiny goals, lead to big dreams.

What was your goal today? Big or small did you achieve it?

Helena Travels to Paris - Part 2

Day 2 - Millinery Workshop with Estelle Ramousse

2.jpg

Rise and Shine everyone....another big day awaits! 

I wore my pretty butterfly dress and bow fascinator and off I went for another day full of learning. I felt like dressing up today, most likely to make up for how tired I was feeling. I could not believe how exhausted I felt from all the new knowledge I had learnt yesterday, not to mention all that hand sewing. I was a little nervous that I would run out of time today so I spent a few hours at home last night sewing, so you guessed it, I hardly got any sleep! 

Are you excited to see the finished hat!?!?...I know I am! 

.   .   .

The air was crisp, not too cold but refreshing and definitely woke me up. During my walk to the metro station I could not help but be drawn to the amazing aromas coming from the bakery. Hot coffee and delicious fresh pastries for breakfast anyone? I sure could get used to this! I grabbed a coffee and handmade quiche from the bakery and took a detour through a beautiful park, where leaves had fallen along the footpaths and the colours of the trees were breathtaking. Although I could have spent hours here, I had a train to catch! 

Estelle met me at the station as I didn't want to get lost and we walked down to her studio together. When we reached the studio we started the day with a coffee (my second one, shhhhhh) and some yummy croissants that she had bought for us. The chocolate filled ones were especially yummy! She complimented me on my dress, which made me smile; it showed she noticed the small details. 

After the morning wake me up and delicious treats we could now tackle the tasks ahead. These included covering my hat base with fabric and adding an embellishment.(Which I soon decided would be a bow of some sort; see the funny video below that Estelle took of me deciding on a bow).

Oh! And of course, the toughest task of them all, completing the lining. I had never lined a hat before so this would be interesting. I was a little nervous to say the least. 

Click HERE TO Watch the video.

.   .   .

For the next few hours I felt like I was hand sewing for days! Layer after layer, it felt so repetitive. I now understand why you need to be so patient. I couldn't believe how much energy you needed for hand sewing. I was starting to get a little restless to be honest and even with a thimble my fingers were starting to hurt! Not to mention I felt like I was so slow; I was trying to be as neat as possible.

.   .   .

In the background, Estelle had the French news on, although I could not understand what they were saying, I could still feel their shock and outrage from the tone in their voice. I could see the sadness in Estelle's eyes for her country watching this. I too, felt sad and disappointed in the world. Every channel was talking about Friday the 13th 2015 Paris attacks. This was such a sad time for everyone not just in Paris but also around the World. #prayforparis

It is moments like this, as painful as they are that I feel people from all around the world work together, where language is no longer a barrier and where everyone is supporting one another. If only we could do this all the time, Crisis or no crisis. I still want to have hope in the World and mankind but times like this make it hard. 

What really amazed me about French people is that even after this tragic event, they all held their heads up high and continued with their life. They did not allow fear to stop them from living. I admire them for this. 

Another amazing thing about French people is their food! As I completed my last stitch, Estelle had cooked yet another delicious lunch! Perfect timing, don't you think?

.   .   .

Over lunch Estelle and I talked about travelling and all the opportunities and inspiration it brings! She asked me about my travel plans. I told her how each month I move to a new country, to learn, experience a new culture and gather inspiration. "WOW, a whole month? How amazing. Where to next, Helena?” she asked.

"ICELAND!!! I exclaimed. It will be the first time seeing snow....my first white Christmas"

Estelle shared my love for travel and we shared our experiences. She told me about her month-long vacation to Mexico, A destination I definitely have on my list! She spoke so fondly of the place, the food and the people there. You could see the spark in her eyes as she shared her experience. She loved Mexico so much that she took inspiration from the Mexican Culture to create some of the pieces that filled her beautiful shop.

We discussed how travelling was such a nice way to meet other creative people and make friends. We spoke about the chance of hopefully meeting again in a different country one day. 

"Staying at the same place is survival but travelling is living"

"Staying at the same place is survival but travelling is living"

A full tummy, another cup of coffee and a little break, it was time to tackle the lining! This was very fiddly and the smallest error meant that the lining didn't fit properly! It took us a few tries to get the pattern correct before we could move on to cutting the lining out of the actual fabric. All the pattern making skills that I had learnt from my fashion design days 5 years ago were starting to come back to me and funny enough I still found patterns frustrating!  

After some patience Estelle and I finally managed to make the pattern fit, about time I say! Making the lining did show me that no matter how many years of experience you have, everyone has days where they get stuck! 

Smooth sailing from here. A little more hand stitching (which by now I was a pro at ha-ha) and the hat was complete!

Overall I think Day 2 was a success. I managed to complete my very first pillbox hat...blocked from scratch and completely hand sewn. No glue and no pre-bought bases. Properly lined and not felted. I just could not believe my eyes. I did it....Me...Helen Maalouf had made this hat from scratch in just two days!

I was in shock really, full of adrenaline and truly fascinated. I wanted to jump and down with joy and do it all over again! Can I ???  (I am sure my fingers would not agree) My grin was huge and I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to share my new creation with my friends, my followers, my mum and my partner. I wanted to see their reaction! This was truly nothing like I had made before.

Blocking a pillbox hat ✓ Mission accomplished. One step closer to becoming a better milliner. 

After I had time to reflect on my recent achievement I had a thought....

"There are so many different hat blocks".... Oh my.

To all the milliners out there...There is still so much I don't know about blocks and Hat blocking!

Do you invest in all the shapes?

What hat blocks should I start with? 

What blocks do you find most useful?

Do you have to buy the blocks in different sizes??

What is your favourite/most used shape?? 

....................................................................................................................................................

Some of the things I learnt on my second day.

·       When you hand sew every detail it looks so amazing and totally worth it!!!

·       My Fashion Design background is a huge advantage when it comes to pattern construction and design.

·       That it is worth spending time on a pattern to ensure it is perfect.

·       Three Haute Couture Finishes

1.      ALWAYS use pure cotton grosgrain ribbon for the inside edge of a hat.

2.      Finish the inside with lining.

3.      Mark the front of a hat on the inside with thread. (so customers know which way is the front). How clever is that!

·       If you can’t get your hands on different coloured elastic, simply buy white and dye it the required colour. 

·       How to make a pattern for the lining of a hat

·       That couture hat making is life changing and that I love the art of Millinery even more than before.  

Click HERE TO Watch a video.

PICTURE DOCUMENTARY

(Click on images for larger view)

I decided I wanted the top of the hat to be covered with a gold mesh fabric. This would create contrast and give the hat a more couture look. 

Step 1. Lay the mesh over the top of the hat and cut a square piece big enough to cover the whole top. Cut out the square piece of mesh.

Step 2. Tack down the square piece of mesh to hold in place with a bright coloured thread. This will be removed later on. 
"In sewing, to tack or baste is to make quick, temporary stitching intended to be removed. Tacking is used in a variety of ways: To temporarily hold a seam or trim in place until it can be permanently sewn, usually with a long running stitch made by hand or machine called a tacking stitch or basting stitch."

IMAGE 4
STEP 3 & 4 - Stitching guide.

Step 3. Now hand stitch the mesh fabric down. Stitching inside the groove and around like an egg shape. Hand stitching needs to be invisible, very small stitches and very neat. Refer to image 4 for stitching guide.

Step 4. Once you have stitched the inside line down all the way around. Repeat the step stitching a second egg shape on the very edge on the top of the hat. Refer to Image 4 for stitching guide.

Step 5. Once you have completed both rows of stitching cut excess Mesh fabric.

Step 6. Using the patterns made on Day 1 cut out the fabric for the side of the hat. Remember to always cut on the bias!

Step 7. Place your hat on the block and stretch the piece of fabric you just cut around the hat.

Step 8. Pinching the two ends together pin the excess fabric down centre back.

Step 9. Now the piece of fabric is tightly wrapped around the hat and pinned in place.

Step 10. Fold and tuck in the top edges of the fabric to create a nice edge around the top of the hat.

Step 11. When you are happy with the position of the folded edge pin in place.

Step 12. When you get to the excess fabric at the back trim down and then fold both edges inwards to create a seam down centre back. Hand stitch the two edges together. Hand stitching needs to be invisible - very small stitches and very neat.

Step 13. Hand stitch the edge of the fabric to the top of the hat. Hand stitching should be a light catch in the fabric and also invisible. Once again very small stitches.

Well done your hat is now completely covered with fabric!! 

TIME FOR LUNCH
Estelle made another amazing lunch for us! We had salad, a variety of cheeses and fried potato with bacon! YUMMMM

14. Turn over your hat and fold and pin the fabric. This will become the hem for the grosgrain ribbon and lining to attach to.

15. Stitch around the edge of the folded hem about 5mm in form the hat edge.Once this is complete you can remove the pins.

Using Grosgrain ribbon on the inside of a hat is an optional step. It is known as a Haute Couture method and is used as a finish in all high end hats. If you want to use This method follow steps 16b - 19.  If you did not want to insert grosgrain prior to the lining the elastic would be sewn in next following step 16a and skipping Steps 17-19.

16a. To insert the elastic tie a knot on either end of the desired length and stitch down in place.

16b. When using Grosgrain ribbon as a finish on the inside of a hat, first you need to iron the grosgrain so that it stretches and curves. It is important to ALWAYS use 100% cotton grosgrain ribbon.

17. Work your way around the hem and attach the grosgrain in place with pins. Place about 5mm away from the edge.

18. Once the grosgrain is pinned down in place, stitch the top edge of the grosgrain to the fabric (Hand stitching very neatly with small stitches ever second groove)

19. The top edge of the grosgrain is now attached to the hem and the hand stitching should be invisible. To insert the elastic, tie a knot on either end and thread the ends through (between the grosgrain edge where you stitched and the hat edge) so that the knot sits under the grosgrain and is hidden. Stitch each knot in place so that the elastic will not detach from the hat.

Lining time! 
20. Using the pattern pieces made earlier quickly tack the pieces together to form the lining shell prototype.

21. Place the lining shell in the hat to make sure it fits well. Make any adjustments to the lining pattern if necessary. 

22. Once you feel the lining pattern is correct undo the tacking and use the pattern pieces to cut out the proper lining pieces. (in the fabric that you will use)

23. Once you have cut out the lining pattern pieces use a sewing machine to stitch them together to create the lining shell.

24. Place the lining shell inside the hat. Lift the bottom edge of the grosgrain upwards (unsown edge). Fold the edge of the lining and attach to the fabric hem under the grosgrain ribbon. Neatly hand stitch in place and when complete push the grosgrain back down and it should cover the hand stitching. 

25. Now your hat is complete and you can add any embellishments, bows or feathers. I decided to cut out a bow from the same fabric and attach to my hat. 

26. Estelle sewing my bow together on the machine.

27. Bow pattern sewn together now to pull it inside out, iron it and tie it. Then stitch onto the hat.

HAT COMPLETE. Close up images of the finished product! 100% handmade!. 2 days of work approx 20+ hours!!! 

Nothing is complete without a selfie right? 

Tout le meilleur Estelle, thank you for teaching me to hat block and make my first very own hat from scratch!

Helena Travels to Paris - Part 1

Day 1 - Millinery Workshop with Estelle Ramousse 

I anxiously hopped off the train that morning and walked out onto the street. This was my first time meeting Estelle.There she was! I immediately spotted her, waiting across the road for me talking with a friend. She was wearing heels, Dressed head to toe in Denim. Denim pants,denim jacket. I thought to myself, interesting! DENIM on DENIM, That's Bold! I would never.....but before I finished that thought, as I got closer, I realized how trendy and confident she looked! 

There she was in her denim ensemble, heels and her red hair, not to mention the big grin on her face and bag of pastries in her hand.

Helena! she called out, waving at me. Kiss, Kiss (Greeting friends with an exchange of kisses is perhaps the most essential French gesture) and off we went walking down to her studio. Did I mention CONFIDENT??!!??!  She looked so fun and well.....Like a true artist! I always believed how people chose to dress was a true reflection of their personality. My first impression of Estelle.....outgoing, funny, kind and very welcoming. Lets just say, I liked her already!!

I soon discovered she truly was all those things and more!

The view from our apartment, Père Lachaise

The view from our apartment, Père Lachaise

As we walked down to her shop she asked me about my time in Paris and what neighborhood I was staying in. I told her about my beautiful flat in Pere Lachaise and how I loved the area so much as it was quiet and full of locals. With plenty of parks, bakeries and little coffee shops near by, the area was a perfect place to experience the full Parisian lifestyle.

 *Side Note: When travelling, Air BNB has been an amazing experience. If you are ever in need of an apartment in Paris I highly recommend Frédérique Et Jeff. They are remarkable hosts and their apartment was incredible!

Estelle told me about how her neighborhood was also very friendly and small and how everyone knew one another. I soon discovered that Estelle's shop and studio was located on a block that hosts a number of other artists! How brilliant to be surrounded by other creative souls......how could you not love the area and be inspired!!

I could not believe how lucky I was to learn millinery in Paris with the very talented Estelle Ramousse. Spending two whole days with Estelle taught me so much about the Millinery world, the creative Industry as well as the struggles and lifestyle of an artist. The time spent with Estelle was a huge eye opener for me. I discovered just how much hard work and dedication I would need to invest into my craft if I wanted even the slightest chance of success. However this did not discourage me, instead it ignited my burning desire to keep fighting for my place in this Millinery world. 

Estelle Ramousse's Studio/Shop - November,2015

Estelle Ramousse's Studio/Shop - November,2015

Estelle Ramousse's Studio/Shop, November 2015

Estelle Ramousse's Studio/Shop, November 2015

During the time we spent together we had so much fun. Sharing stories, talking about sewing, millinery, teaching, living in Paris and how she discovered her love for hat making. I asked Estelle many questions such as how she finds clients, how many hours go into making a hat, how she decides on a price for her hats and how long she has been making hats.

I loved Estelle's story about how she discovered her love for hat making. She told me how when she was young she had a party to go to and she needed a hat. So she decided to make her own however she spent the whole night making the hat, lost track of time and ended up missing the party!!!.....20 years later she is still making hats and loves it. This story made me laugh and I felt I could relate on such a personal level. When designing and making hats, I am in my own world, so deep in thought and creativity that nothing else matters, working for hours on end and paying no attention to the time. 

.   .   .

On the first day I was taught how to use a wooden hat block (pillbox shape), make a base from scratch and create the pattern to start covering the hat base with pretty material.

Until now I have always designed my hats without blocks so this was all very new to me. To create the shape I wanted in the past, would take me hours of cutting, sewing and layering and my background in pattern making did help to some extent. I would use sinamay, wadding and wire....whatever it took really... to achieve the desired base or shape that I needed. I now realise why it was always so hard....most likely spending unnecessary hours just on the foundation! Discovering how to hat block felt like a revolution.....all this time not knowing how to hat block was like cooking without the right utensils, peeling potatoes without a peeler; grating cheese without a grater!!!.....boy did I wish I had mastered this skill earlier in my journey! I felt as if I had been making hats a little backwards! Two years in and I had no idea how to hat block...ha! Better late than never right? Time to rewind and learn the basics.

With this discovery you can't help but think "has everything I have made before this moment, been a waste of time or incorrect?"  NO.

In my opinion the beauty of art, designing and creativity is that nothing is ever a waste of time; but simply an investment, nothing is wrong; but simply another experiment to test ones talent, dedication and curiosity and most importantly nothing is perfect; as there will always be a better technique or way to do something. In regards to my hat making journey I decided I was still very proud of all the pieces I had created, even if to some, they may not be considered as true millinery.

 

I once read a saying "The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday" This reminded me that all those little experiments, all those attempts and all those pieces that I created are the reason I am here today. Trying to seek more information, more guidance and gain more skills to become a better milliner, not for the world but for myself. 

I am finding all the new skills I am learning so fascinating and I now look at the creation of hats so differently than before. I want to explore traditional millinery techniques over the next two years and this workshop was only the beginning of something greater. The long road ahead is exciting and I look forward to sharing my design journey with you all. 

After only the first day into the world of Millinery with Estelle, I felt I had so much to learn and discover. 

...................................................................................................................................................................

Some of the things I learnt on my first day.

·       Buckram is awesome!

·       Hats are even more work than I already knew when making from scratch. (Classic techniques - True Millinery Style)

·       Water is a Milliners best friend

·       ALWAYS cut fabrics on a bias

·       Good quality fabrics are vital

·       A well made hat can last up to 25 years if not more (CRAZY right ?!?!) 

·       Iron on interfacing is a lifesaver

·       The type of wire used is so important

·       I need to invest in a thimble

·       Hand stitching - Blood, Sweat and Tears LITERALLY

·       This passion requires patience, to have patience you must have passion

·       Some hats can take 300 + hours

·       I need to invest in a hat block...or 2...or 3....and that's how the collection begins!

 

Estelle was kind enough to let me document the process of the hat. Below are the steps completed on Day 1. 

I have tried to be as clear as I can but sometimes I was to busy making the hat to take enough pictures or notes. 

 

PICTURE DOCUMENTARY

(Click on images for larger view)

 

MATERIALS (not all are pictured)  

1.      Wooden Hat Block (always cover with cling wrap otherwise buckram will stick to the block.)

2.      Ruler

3.      Scissors

4.      Pencil/Chalk

5.      Buckram

6.      Weight to hold down materials

7.      Pins

8.      Hammer

9.      Thread

10.    Millinery Sewing needles

11.    Bowl of water with a cloth

12.    Iron

13.    Elastic

14.    Bamboo Stick

15.    Interfacing

16.    Millinery Wire (Covered in cotton)

This is Buckram. Buckram is a stiff cloth, made of cotton, and still occasionally linen. Millinery Buckram is impregnated with a starch, which allows it to be softened in water, pulled over a hat block, and left to dry into a hard shape. White buckram is most commonly used in hatmaking, though black is available as well. Millinery buckram comes in three weights: baby buckram (often used for children's and dolls' hats), single-ply buckram, and double buckram (also known as "theatrical crown")

Step 1. Cut a strip wide and long enough to stretch around the hat block. ALWAYS cut on bias. 
Draw a line on the bias of the buckram the length of the circumference of the block. Measure the width of the block and then draw a parallel line beside the first line to create a strip. Cut along the lines.

Step 2. Cut another piece big enough to cover the top of the block. Use the block as a guide. Now you have two pieces ready to block.

Step 3. Using the bowl/bucket of water and cloth wet the long piece of buckram. Dont wet to much just enough to spread all the glue and soften the buckram.

Step 4. Now take the strip of buckram and wrap around the block. Start to stretch as much as you can occasionally using water to help stretch further and to eliminate any bubbles. WE HATE BUBBLES - as Estelle would tell me. NO bubbles Helen. 0 bubbles. Sooo......it is very important!

Step 5. Hammer in special blocking pins where necessary to help hold down the buckram as you stretch it around the block. 

Step 6. Once you have finished stretching the piece tie a piece of elastic around the bottom edge to hold it in place. Also hammer in a few pins into the elastic for extra support.

Step 7. Now using an iron press over the sides working your way around the block. Move the iron in a quick circular motion. Do not hold the iron in one place as it will burn through due to the glue on the buckram. Occasionally use water to dab on as you iron to help eliminate any bubbles. 

Step 8. Now that the sides are free of bubbles and the buckram has set around the block use the iron to work on the top edges and groove. Remember to still move the iron in a quick circular motion so it will not burn through the buckram. Occasionally use water to dab on as you iron to help eliminate any creases or bubbles. Use your fingers to also mould the buckram so it takes the shape of the block well

Step 9. Now cut the excess buckram off the top edge

Step 10. Lightly dampen the second piece of Buckram and stretch over the top of the block. Use pins to hold down.

Step 11. Insert a piece of bamboo to help the buckram mould around the groove of the block well. Also use pins and hammer down to hold everything in place.

Step 12. Cut the excess buckram leaving about 1.5cm/2cm from the bamboo. Using the iron and water press down the loose edge and mould it into place. This will also connect the top of the hat to the bottom and smooth off all the edges.

First layer of the block is complete!!! All bubbles and edges smoothed out with iron. Buckram has taken the shape of the block very nicely.

LAYER TWO. Pretty much repeating all steps 1-12 but with a different fabric. This was Estelles favourite fabric !! Here she was showing me just how stretchy it is. It also has a thin layer of adhesive and works in a very similar way to buckram however it is much thinner and you need to apply the iron even faster as it melts so quickly! 

Step 13. Cut another strip to stretch around block.

Step 14. Now using an iron press over the sides working your way around the block. Move the iron in a quick circular motion. Do not hold the iron in one place as it will burn through due to the glue and this fabric is very thin. Occasionally use water to dab on as you iron to help eliminate any bubbles and allow the fabric to take the shape of the block.

Step 15. Now that the sides have been ironed down remove the bamboo and pins as you go.

Step 16. Using the iron again press down on the top edges and groove. Still moving the iron in a quick circular motion so it will not burn through the buckram. Occasionally use water to dab on as you iron to help eliminate any creases or bubbles. Use your fingers to also help mould the fabric and push it into the grooves, as you move the iron along smoothing out any creases. 

Step 17. Add another piece on the top of the block, Stretch into place and Using the iron again press down on the top edges and groove. Still Moving the iron in a quick circular motion so it will not burn through the buckram. Occasionally use water to dab on as you iron to help eliminate any creases or bubbles. Use your fingers to also help mold the fabric and push it into the grooves, as you move the iron along smoothing out any creases. 

LAYER TWO COMPLETE. Repeat a second time.

THIRD LAYER - Repeat steps 13,14, 16 and 17. You can do as many layers as you like of this fabric. The more layers the more stability the hat will have. For stage hats 4-6 layers are recommended. For this hat we decided to do 2. (This is not including the Buckram layer)

Step 18. LAYER 4 - We decided to add one more layer this time using fusible Interfacing. This extra layer will give your finished hat base extra support and a soft smooth finish. Repeating steps 13,14,16 and 17.

Step 19. Using a marker, draw a dotted line to indicate the centre of the hat. Draw a second line to indicate the depth you would like. Draw the line all the way around the hat as this will be your cutting line.

Step 20. Cut along the marked line you have drawn around the block. 

Step 21. Separate your hat base from your hat block. Trim the edge again to tidy up if not a smoothly cut.

TA DA !!! Hat base complete made from scratch using a wooden hat block!!! It is our first time so we are a little excited...Can you tell??  

Step 22. Using the Millinery Wire cut a piece long enough to sit along the hem of the hat all the way around with 2.5cm extra on either side which will overlap at centre back.

Step 23. Hand stitch the wire to the edge. Making sure the wire sits directly above the edge not to the side. Hand stitching should be tight enough so there is no space left between the wire and the edge of the hat.

WIRE COMPLETE around edge

Step 24. Cut a strip (approx 3 cm on the bias) of the Mesh fabric used for the second and third layer to cover the wire. Place along the edge of the hat, 1.5cm on either side of the wire to create a casing and clip in place.

Step 25. Hand stitch the casing in place.

LUNCH. Estelle made us a beautiful and yummy lunch!! Spaghetti with mushrooms and a type of bacon plus some yummy cheeses and bread! 

Step 26. Now to create the pattern for the outside layer of the hat. Using calico cut a piece large enough to cover the top of the hat. Pin down and stretch into place with no puckering.

Step 27. Using a piece of elastic mark the center line. Pin down the elastic and then mark a dotted line beside it.

28. Draw the shape you would like for the first pattern piece onto the calico (top of the hat).

29. Remove all the pins and fold the piece of calico along the dotted line (centre line you marked earlier).

30. Cut along the pattern shape that you have drawn. Pattern piece 1 complete.

31. Cut another piece of calico big enough to cover the bottom half of the block. Draw a dotted line as a guide of the shape required. This will become your cutting line. Fold any excess fabric into a dart to pivot out.

32. Cut out the second pattern piece. You would then normally cut out the fabric of choice out of the pattern pieces to cover the hat. In this instance Estelle and I decided to cover the hat directly (drape the fabric) with no patterns required. This is simply a personal preference and both methods will give you the same result. The type of fabric you choose can also be a factor. As the fabric I had chosen frayed very quickly and easily not using the pattern seemed like a more suitable option.

33. Cut a square piece (from the fabric of choice) large enough to cover the top of the hat base and pin down in place.

34. Use the first pattern piece as a guide to hand stitch the fabric down, stitching inside the groove and around like an egg shape. Hand stitching needs to be invisible, very very small stitches and very neat. 

35. Once you have stitched the inside line down all the way around. Repeat the step stitching a second egg shape on the very edge on the top of the hat. Refer to the stitching guide Image.  IMAGE #3 - Stitching guide

I highly recommend this course! Click here to book a workshop with Estelle.