Monday 30 December 2013

Thinking back on 2013

It has been a big year for Tanith Rowan Designs and for me. In this peaceful post-Christmas break, I've been spending lazy day watching the cricket, pottering around in the garden and enjoying my Christmas presents.

One that Rhiannon got for me was Kari Chapin's second book "Growing your handmade business". I really enjoyed her first book, and I'm enjoying working through this one too. It is shaping the way I am reflecting back on 2013, and the way I am planning for 2014. I feel full of inspiration and hope and excitement right now.

So I wanted to think about what I am proud of in 2013.

Starting up Tanith Rowan Designs again. Accepting the honour and challenge of putting my hats in a real shop even though it was almost as terrifying as it was exciting.

Hat display at Crago Mill

Improving my skills, in millinery, photography and editing, blogging and social media. Finding a UK milliner to learn from while I was overseas. Learning as often as I could about as much as I could.

Pink and black jinsin fascinator

Helping launch Wattle Flat Crafts with a group of lovely crafters from the greater Bathurst area. It has been great fun, and I've had to push myself to work on promoting it, and in teaching my first millinery class.

Wattle Flat Crafts at the courthouse

Choosing to be financially sensible and ethically sound by finding second hand hats to makeover and refashioning some of my own previously-made hats that didn't quite work or had damage to work around.

Before and after photos of a straw and sinamay hat refashion

Before and after photos of a red felt hat makeover

Wearing hats more myself, including to a wedding. I think it's important to keep working on this, so I know what my customers need and what is comfortable.

Navy wool felt blocked hat with pheasant feather

Making more hats than ever before in one year (I think about 23). Next year will have many many more!

A collage of some of my hats made in 2013

I can't wait to start the 2014 creative journey and sharing my exciting plans with you.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Craft Workshops at Wattle Flat

Two weekends ago we had our first craft workshops at Wattle Flat Crafts.

On Saturday, I taught a fascinator workshop. We focused on making trims with sinamay, artificial flowers and feathers.

Look at those totally professional-looking notes! (And all the mess!)

After learning a bit about each trim and doing some samples, we spent the last bit of time putting some of the elements together on into a finished fascinator on a comb, clip, or headband.

Then on Sunday, Dan of Saddleworx taught a leatherworking class. Their project was a laced leather key case.

She has such a huge range of decorative stamps!

There was lots of hammering! It looked like fun.

Here is one of the key cases in progress. I love the pattern of leaves chosen for this project.

There will be more classes in 2014!

Sunday 15 December 2013

More of this

I have one week left of teaching. I am taking one year of leave, but without any intention of returning.

Which means I'll have time for more hats, more creative things of all kinds, more baking, and more of all this...



Friday 6 December 2013

Ready for some makeovers

After learning about straw and sinamay, I'm keen to practise some more. But I'm trying to save money and be ethical, so for now I've been keeping an eye out at op shops.

Here are some pieces waiting to have their makeovers.

This was actually not in terrible condition when I bought it for $2 at Vinnies, and I was entertaining turning it into my new gardening hat.

But apparently if I didn't want it eaten by a cat, I shouldn't have gone into the bathroom for 2 minutes while he wanted attention.

This bow was what drew me to the hat in the first place. It's so cute!

Then I picked up this ones from the Salvos for $3. (Along with the blue one from my most recent hat refashion.)

A bit of pale pink sinamay is bound to be useful, and $3 is the right price.

Looks like I got a bargain.

Finally, an old straw hat. $0. Left by someone in the Maths staffroom x years ago, where x is a large number.

Stay tuned for transformations.

Sunday 1 December 2013

A Straw and Sinamay Op-shop Hat Refashion

Some hats are just in serious need of a makeover.

I picked this up at an op-shop, hoping to rescue it from its current, rather sad, state. It turns out this is a hat base from Spotlight (so NOT intended to be worn like this, without any trim or anything) which makes me feel better!

The original price tag: $34.95
Sale price at Spotlight: $5
Price at the op-shop: $3

I was looking forward to having some straw and sinamay to play with, and I ended up using some of each in the new hat. I blocked the straw over one of my lovely new handmade hat blocks, then used the band of sinamay and some (also second hand) flowers and buttons to finish it off.

And I still have the brim and a strip of straw to play with! I love hat refashions!


Wednesday 27 November 2013

Hobby Horse Christmas Tree Ornaments - a Free DIY

I first made my hobby horse ornaments last year, and posted one on the old Jupiter Hollow blog, and I'm finally getting around to sharing the how-to, after teaching them last week at Wattle Flat Crafts.

Hobby horse ornaments are cute, easy to make and are a great way to use up leftover scraps of fabric and trim.

Materials Required:
  • Small bits of fabric for your horse body. Felt is great for not fraying, but most fabrics will do.
  • Tiny bits of matching or contrasting felt for the ears.
  • Beads or very small buttons for the eyes. (Not necessary, you could embroider eyes instead)
  • Something for hair. I used unravelling shoelace and cords and fringed trim. Yarn would probably be very good too.
  • A small amount of stuffing.
  • Other accessories like ribbon to hang them and make a bridle.
  • Some kind of stick. I initially used the sticks left over from my sugar sticks from Fortnum and Mason (pictured). When they ran out, I got some thin dowel and glued wooden buttons on for the end.
  • Needle, thread, glue and scissors.

Fold your fabric over and cut a horse-head shape from your fabric (so that you have two matching ones). I do mine freehand, which allows for variation of species and size as required. Also cut two triangles for ears from your felt.

Prepare your horse hair. My favourite has been unravelling braided cord things. One of which I know I rescued from a shopping bag so a very useful recycling choice! Ribbon can be cut and frayed. Fringed trims can be cool and different. I also experimented with this millinery material I can't even think of the name of, maybe sinamay ribbon? And I think feathers could be fun too, although if you have cats they probably don't need the extra incentive to attack your tree decorations.

Cut enough horse hair for behind the ears and a little bit for in front of the ears. Leave a bit blank at the bottom back because that bit will be gathered up anyway and bits there are most likely to fall out as you sew.

Place one horse head piece flat on the table. Arrange your mane along the back, facing in. Place your ears facing in too.

Place the second horse head piece over the lot, lining up the two horse head pieces.

Sew around the horse head, sewing the hair and ears in as you go, leaving the bottom open. I handsewed mine, partially because I wanted to sit in front of the TV to make these, and partially to make sure everything stayed neatly in place. I recommend either a second pass of stitches or some glue over the hair if you have something that is frayed and easy to pull through.

Turn inside out and stuff. Trim hair if necessary.

Put a dab of glue on the end of the stick to give it extra hold then put it in place. Run a gathering stitch around the base of the horse head and gather it in around the stick and sew in place.

Sew, glue or embroider some eyes and attach any other trim you like. Include a ribbon for hanging.

Admire. Gloat. Hang. Enjoy.

Try again with different trims, colours and even try a different animal!

Try a reindeer! This fellow's antlers are made from the stalks of artificial flowers that I used in another project. I've also done felt antlers.

 Why not a hobby giraffe?

I also made a unicorn and a dragon queen in honour of our old name, and I plan to keep working on my menagerie.

If you make a hobby horse ornament, I'd love to see it!

Sunday 24 November 2013

Grand Opening Weekend at Wattle Flat Crafts

I mentioned before that I was working with my grandmother Wendy to make a craft space in the village of Wattle Flat. It was an idea only about 6 weeks from first thoughts to the grand opening, which was this weekend.

Here are some of my hats on display in the old Courtroom. It's a beautiful space for craft stalls, with high ceilings helping to create a roomy feel, and access to the front and side verandahs for extra space.

As well as the hats, I've got a few Christmas ornaments on the tree. Mostly they are hobby horse ornaments, although not all of them are horses! I was also teaching how to make them, and I'll be sharing a tutorial here soon.

Wendy was an absolute star. She's been spreading the word for weeks, cleaning the house, tidying the garden, and coordinating all the crafters. Then she had a busy weekend making everything flow and warmly greeting all the visitors. And she does a stellar job of modelling that little Wattle hat.

Wattle Flat Crafts is now open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am - 4pm, and in two weeks we have our first classes:

I'm exhausted! Time for bed.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Wattle-themed crafting for Wattle Flat

It's getting very wattle-ish around here.

Wattle Flat Crafts is opening on Saturday. I'm spending my afternoons painting signs, making hats, making Christmas decorations, preparing for my mini-craft-class for the opening (hobby horse Christmas decorations), and planning a longer (millinery) workshop for the 7th of December.

3 more sleeps!

Monday 18 November 2013

Handmade Hat Blocks

I started by playing with some scrap wood in the workshop myself. Just simple pillbox shapes with a uniform cross-section. Things I could cut on the bandsaw and sand and use right away. I made a simple cylinder that I used to block the black pillbox with the veil circle. I made a heart shape and blocked this little pillbox that I've yet to finish. It's wrapped in blue veiling but I don't know what else to add.

Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I asked one of the TAS teachers if he could teach me to use a wood lathe so I could make some more blocks. I thought I'd like to have a nice button fascinator.

After talking through some ideas and showing him some pictures he came to me with a bag. "I made a set of these in the smallest dimensions. Is this what you wanted? And just one stand, but I can make more."

A week later it was "I made some more in the larger sizes. And a bigger stand. Just let me know what else you want. Wider? Taller? More stands?"

My block collection has multiplied a lot in the last few weeks. Especially if you don't count sugar bowls.

 Look at all those beautiful shapes!

I even changed my calendar to the correct month for these photos. How is it November already?

The stand in the photo above used to be a school desk. They are all made from scrap, including desks and chair legs.

The stand comes apart too, so you can hold the block either free in your hand, or with one part of the stand like a handle, or on the stand on the table.

A bored woodwork teacher is a milliner's best friend.

And while we're on the subject of generosity, I was also given two lots of vintage trim (one silk and one cotton) by Dan, the leatherworker who is a part of Wattle Flat Crafts with me.

I know some lovely people!
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