Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bring Back The Whimsy!

Today I'm launching one of my big projects for 2015, and I'm pretty excited about it. I hope you will be too, and will maybe join me.

While researching vintage hats, and the 1960s in particular, I became familiar with the idea of a "whimsy". My grandmother, Wendy, first mentioned it when I asked her about her memories of hats in the 1960s. Since then I've seen plenty of vintage whimsies for sale online, and pictures in the Australian Women's Weekly while researching.

What is a whimsy?

Essentially, a whimsy is a veil with some kind of trim. It might be, at its most simple, a flower atop a gathered veil. More often, there are decorations on the veil itself - rhinestones, felt cut-out shapes, more small flowers, chenille dots, or feathers, for example. Flowers and bows seem to be the most popular "main" decoration at the top.



Some styles with a bit more structure are also called whimsies by some people. They might have a small wire frame structure to hold the whimsy to the head, or the fabric-covered "rings" that sit around the head. Ultimately though, the veil is the main event on the hat, and it lacks a traditional crown or brim.

My research shows the first hats that resemble whimsies appearing in the late 1950s, as in a few of the images in this 1950s millinery research post. They were, however, at their most popular in the 1960s.

The #bringbackthewhimsy Campaign

How cool are whimsies? Right? The correct answer is "Very cool, Tanith, now that you mention it."

So my idea is that it's time we brought back the whimsy. The word itself says it all; whimsies are about fun and silliness in your head wear. I'm sure we can all appreciate that and use a little more of it in our lives.

I want you all to join me in having a go at wearing a whimsy, sharing the photos on social media with the hashtag #bringbackthewhimsy.



I know many of you won't already have a whimsy, but the cool thing is that they are both easy and cheap to buy, and also fairly easy to make if you have some basic sewing skills (and we're talking hand-sewing, here, and nothing fancy). I'm going to do future posts on both making and buying whimsies.

Or alternately, if you want something a little different, there is another option...

The Tanith Rowan Designs Whimsy Collection


Each month, I'm going to release a new whimsy design that will be available to order. This is the first design, for February, called simply "Bumblebee".


I wanted to have a little fun project to work on as well as my other design collections, and this is it!


You can order yourself your very own "Bumblebee" from my online store.


Since genuine vintage whimsies are easy enough to find, I wanted my collection to be different and move beyond the simple styles traditionally found. And since I love fun themes, each one will explore a theme or idea. I became a bit obsessed with creating bees recently, so that had to be the first theme!


I have a lot of fun ideas for the future, with inspiration from animals, plants, movies, colours, prints, foods, and more.


Although I do have a lot of ideas, I'm also really keen to hear any suggestions you have? What theme would you like to see me explore?

I hope you will join me in bringing back the whimsy!

31 comments:

  1. I figured that's what a whimsy is, but now I learned something new!! I wanna have a go at making one now!!
    But but but, your bumblebees are so cute, and I'm terrified and allergic to bees, but when they're cute like this I get all happy (if my typing wasn't evidence enough)


    ....I also just realized how much of a hassle this will be for the glasses wearing person. All in the name of fashion.

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    1. Glad you like the bees despite your fear and allergy!!

      As for the glasses, I think you just have to make sure the veil is big enough to comfortably sit over. Or, even though they are usually worn over the eyes, you could have the veil stop above that level maybe?

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  2. Dear Tanith, I always learn so much about hats with you. It's a wonderful idea! And I love so much your "Bumblebee", how cute, fun and delicate - beautiful! :)

    You are a truly talented "chapeleira" (someone that creates hats, in Portuguese).

    Beta x

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    1. Thanks Beta! I love the title chapeleira! Sounds so fancy :) I am still learning so much every day that I want to share it with everyone :)

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  3. I have a few vintage patterns for crocheted veiling and it is tempting to try to crochet a whole whimsy.

    Your Bumblebee is so cheery and cute yet still with an elegant edge from the veiling.

    I have a question: were whimsies intended for daytime wear? Evening? Either? Were they particularly summery, or could you wear one even with a heavy coat?

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    1. Ooh that sounds like a fun and crazy project!

      According to Wendy, my main source of information, they were evening. For a dinner out at night or perhaps out to the movies. We didn't discuss season, so I might have to research that, but I think any. I guess because it would be for evening, it would be indoors mostly, so you would wear your coat with them but only on the way to your event.

      I'd like to make more daytime option ones like this one, although veiling is somewhat inherently fancy I suppose!

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    2. I looked up the veiling pattern, and it is part of what could be a whimsy, I think, called "Afternoon". It has the crochet instructions for a band, a crown, and the veil, then instructs you to place "a hat ornament" on the crown. That's all it says in the materials list: a hat ornament. The picture appears to have some ribbon flowers in that role.

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    3. I love the vagueness of vintage instructions!

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  4. I used to have a bunch of whimsies (they're pretty easy to find in flea markets around here, no one dares to wear them!), but I didn't really wear them. However, I love the whimsical aspect, most definitely! I used to have a pink one with a pink veil, large bow, and giant pink rose that curved, stem and all, over the top of the head. Pretty whimsical, indeed!

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    1. I think that although we love pretty evening items, most of us are looking for more everyday items, and whimsies don't really fit that bill. But I think we can still have fun with them! The ones you had sound like they were pretty fabulous!!

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  5. I think this is a fantastic idea, and I will definitely be joining you in trying to bring back the whimsy! Just before my shopping ban went into effect I bought a very pretty veil headpiece with butterflies that I'm very excited to wear, and I also have a heart shaped mesh hat with a short veil in front that I think will be perfect for Valentine's Day. I don't think either thing is a traditional whimsy, exactly, but I think they're close enough to join in the fun.

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    1. Yay! With all millinery, I feel the definitions are guides at best, because you can (and milliners usually did) do whatever want! They sound whimsy-like to me :)

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  6. I never knew this style of hat was called a whimsy! What an adorable and appropriate name. I always see them in vintage stores or op shops but a lot of the time the veil is pretty worse for wear :(
    I'm totally down for bringing back the whimsy, I'd love to try and make some of my own.
    LOVE your adorable Bumblebee!

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    1. Yes, sadly veiling does seem to be the first thing to go. My understanding is that it was mostly silk on vintage hats, and consequently suffers with age. Still, they are good for ideas!

      I'm so glad you'll be joining in! Fun times ahead :)

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  7. I love this idea! I can't wait to see all your designs. Considering that it is currently 37* BELOW ZERO, the idea of wearing just a veil on my head is not appealing. This idea and your designs make me long for the summer months. I could put a fun veil and some extras on one of the felt hats I just made. It wouldn't be a traditional whimsy, but in these frigid temperatures it would be the best I could do.

    She Knits in Pearls

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    1. Oh dear, fair enough! Yikes! Sounds like a compromise is the best idea until you get warmer weather :)

      Or you could have an around-the-house whimsy. Now I want to make one that is baking-themed...

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    2. That's it! I NEED a baking whimsy to wear in the kitchen...birthday present please, Tanith. Love the bumblebees. Mum x

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  8. Gorgeous! I love the name "whimsy" ~ never heard of them before, but I do love it! Actually, I think that I made a hat once that might technically be counted as a whimsy. maybe? I'll have to see if I can dig it up and wear it for a Valentine's Day outfit...

    Your "Bumblebee" whimsy is super sweet though Tanith. I wonder if you could do like a tea party/picnic whimsy to match? I'm thinking red gingham, a little teapot and teacup with a saucer type thing... You know ~ à la Mad Hatter style! ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

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    1. I think the name is part of what made me fall for whimsies! I hope I get to see the one you've made :)

      That is a great idea! I'll add it to the sketchbook :)

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  9. Oh my goodness, your bumblebee whimsy is adorable! I have a vintage whimsy (although I didn't know that's what it was called until I read your post!) with a big pink bow on top. The veiling is stiffer than modern veils, and I'm afraid I packed it for a long trip and it got bent out of shape. Do you have any experience with reshaping veiling? I don't want to ruin the whimsy, but it's no good to me if I can't feel confident wearing it!

    Naomi
    teenyboppinalong.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you :)

      I was thinking steam, because steam is a cure-all in hats, but I did some research and apparently pressing between wax paper is recommended. I've only really ironed modern veiling, which is nylon and that works very well. I would want to be more careful with vintage, of course. Start at a low heat!

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    2. Ooh, thank you, I'll definitely try that!

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  10. Ohhh I want a whimsy! They are so fun looking and I love the one you made, gorgeous! How is it staying on your head? Bobby pins?

    Okay I need to make something with my lack of craft ability. Stay tuned..maybe for something that may or may not look like a Whimsy lol :)

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    1. In these photos it has a clip on the underside of one flower, but that was quite awkward so I've changed it for a comb. My grandmother informs me that combs were the standard method. Bobby pins should work too :)

      I'm sure you will create something fun, but I will be posting a bit of a tutorial if you need some tips!

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  11. I love this bumblebee one! Such fun. I am very excited about your plan to bring back the whimsy and look forward to seeing the rest of your creations. If you do decide to show us how to make one I would definitely give it a go. I am a glasses wearer so will have to find a way to make them work together.

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    1. I will be posting a bit of a tutorial, in the next two weeks sometime!

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  12. I can't even begin to adequately put into words how much I adore your flower and bumblebee topped whimsy. It's sweet, cute, creative, and fitting, uber whimsical! Amazing creation, sweet dear!

    ♥ Jessica

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  13. Found you via Chronically Vintage's "Vintage Link Love" for March! I just love these little Whimsies! How very sweet. :D

    ~Miss Michelle
    Delightful Handwork

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    1. Glad to have you here, Miss Michelle! :)

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