Wednesday 30 April 2014

Black and Pink Pillbox for the Races

Do you have times where you fight what comes naturally to you?

One of my ex-colleagues commisioned me to make her a fascinator for a birthday party at the races. First up, I want to share the hat with you, before I get a bit deeper into its story.

Handmade custom fascinator for the races

The outfit was a black dress with white polka-dots, worn with pink shoes with bows. We discussed a few options and settled on a pillbox base with a bow.

Pink and black felt pillbox hat

I love felt. I thought of using felt at the start, but I had doubts. If I use felt, I have to stick to the shapes I have available to block on. If I use felt it will be stuck as an autumn/winter hat rather than being more versatile. The bow would look better in fabric...

Black and pink pillbox fascinator for the races

I went with my doubts. I drew up the pattern for the pillbox shape I wanted, constructed a foundation from buckram and wire, and set about covering it with the fabric I had purchased. Begin disaster. The fabric wouldn't do what I wanted, it didn't sit right, it didn't look nice enough, and then my brain started to sabotage my work when I sewed some fabric together for the bow and didn't leave any gap to turn it through. (Not that this has to be a sign to give up, but on top of my other frustrations, I couldn't handle it.) There may have been tears.

Autumn winter raceday hat

So I looked at my felts. I had black. I had pink. I was set to go. In one day I created this hat from start to finish. I blocked. I shaped. I enjoyed the process, including the little quibbles I always have with the materials and design along the way. I sat back and looked at my work and was happy.

Felt pillbox fascinator for autumn winter races

I seem to face this issue again and again without really ever learning it. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow, and do what you are good at. Of course, you still have to challenge yourself, but picking the right time to do so is critical. On a commision with a deadline, maybe not so much the right time.

Also apparently I love covering pillboxes with lines. This one makes three, joining the 1940s custom pillbox and the "Pink Dragonfly" sinamay makeover hat.

Tantih Rowan Designs hat

Do you have this kind of creative self-sabotage and doubt too? More importantly, do you have a 'go-to' material or method that can usually rescue you from these downs?


  1. The final result is beautiful. This hat is gorgeous! Sometimes we have to walk a strange path to reach the perfection. I also have many doubts along my creative process... oh, if I do. But usually I do it all in my brain, or paper, then the final work results. In college I passed many hours what seam to the professors "doing nothing", but I was working - in my brain! :)

    Your works are beautiful! You are very talented!

    Miss Beta xx

    1. Thank you! That "doing nothing" time is very important - I often do the same thing. Staring off into space while I imagine solutions to a design problem. Perhaps I should follow your example and plan more thoroughly in advance, but I guess I'm quite a hands-on experimenter at heart.


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