Tuesday 8 December 2015

"Squirrel and Oak" Whimsy Design for December

Back in August, when I made the Scottie Dog whimsy, I asked for suggestions of other animals that would be cute on the veil of a design. Kate-Em suggested squirrels, paired with acorns, and I just loved the idea. I had been contemplating acorns on a whimsy for a while, and squirrels were the perfect complement as well as being an animal I love.

There are just a few squirrels running around the bottom of the veil, and one sitting at the top near the cluster of leaves and acorns.

My acorns were inspired by some amazing ones my sister made in an embroidery class. I was going to show you a picture of this inspiration, except that it would look like one of those "Saw it on Pinterest. Nailed it." memes and my pride is too sensitive. Still, I think my method was likely quicker, and it was fun to make. Anything that involves blocking felt over beads has got to be good. It felt like I was making the world's tiniest hats.

 It has ended up very autumnal, which I like, even it is currently Autumn in zero places in the world.

My lovely friend Ruanne, who you have seen model for me many times in the past, came up to the mountains with her family for a picnic in the park combined with a modelling session. I'm sure I've said it before, but I have the best friends!

Now I've done something tricky with this whimsy, which I've been planning to do for a while, but I hadn't quite worked out how to make it work. While whimsies are fun and very glamorous, they aren't necessarily something for everyday. So I made this one a bit more versatile.

Ta-da! The top part is a clip that can be removed and worn separately, for when a veil is just too much. Or you aren't in the mood for squirrels? Is that possible?

We also shot some other pieces, including the Christmas mistletoe whimsy, which I had only briefly shown you along with the Mistletoe Brooch tutorial.

It matches so beautifully with this blouse, which Ruanne made herself (from the Sencha by Collette Patterns, I believe).

Working out what type of hat wearer she is. We decided on "The Sophisticated Young Married or Businesswoman".

All of which brings us to the conclusion of the Bring Back the Whimsy series!

Bumblebees, Whimsy Tutorial, Choc Chip, Autumn Leaves, Leopard Print is a Neutral, Strawberry Blossoms, Ladybugs, Scottie, Bridal Whimsy, Candy Corn, Mistletoe, Squirrel and Oak.

Looking at them all together makes me feel pretty pleased with myself! I had such a great time exploring fun novelty themes, trying out new trim ideas and techniques, getting reacquainted with fimo, cutting shapes out of felt, working out how to make bees, and playing with veiling. I'm looking forward to bringing some of these themes and techniques into future hats and hair accessories too.

Thank you all for joining me on my year of whimsies. I hope you had fun and maybe even made yourself a whimsy following the tutorial.

Do you have a favourite from the series? I would have a hard time picking one myself!

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Wearing History's Costume Design Challenge - Part Two

Today I'm presenting part two of my illustrations for the Wearing History Costume Design Challenge. You can find part one here if you missed it. For the second half of the month, I put a more consistent effort into my sketches, although sometimes that meant getting behind and then catching up. Some costumes are (I feel) a more unusual take on the theme, with others they are more obvious and less creative. I had fun doing the sketches either way.

I found that for some eras I knew the fashions better and was able to play around with them more, while others I was in less familiar waters and my designs are more straightforward. I have decided I much prefer the sketches where I went to the effort of finding a photo with a more interesting pose to start from, rather than a straight-on view. And, as you can see, I took the time to colour most of them, and in general I like that much better too.

So here we go!

Romance on the Highlands

I was trying to think away from tartan on this one, but I also really wanted something I could imagine being worn out on the Scottish landscape. Once I could tear my brain away from older historical styles, I could see a hippie look with long flowing skirt and hair among the heather. I based my outfit on a long velvet skirt I have (and photographed with some floral headbands last year) but centred the design on Scottish flowers. Thistle was obvious, but I relied on the internet to give me some other suggestions. You can't really see them anyway, but there are Scottish bluebells and the hat features rowan leaves and berries.

On the Job

For some reason I thought of a young fashion designer in London in the 1960s, working with some friends in the little boutique they own and make the clothes for from their own designs. From there I naturally thought of my friend Nicole of Manic Pop (who I collaborated with last year and who made me a maternity dress). While she isn't pursuing fashion design currently, she has a distinctive style, and it was actually hard at first to try to work in her aesthetic without taking too much inspiration from her work. But she loves rainbows, and I love Yves-Saint-Laurent-style bubble hats and we both love the theme I chose for the dress. Bonus points if you can pick that!

Monaco Road Trip

I have tried to incorporate hats as much as possible in my sketches, and they have often driven the whole design. In this case, my first thought was of a scarf tied around the head, as is traditional for an open top car ride, I believe. From there I thought of where I could take that idea, and then (as I said on instagram) I was watching a Muppet Family Christmas, and then this happened. If you've seen it recently you may know, but maybe not. Anyway apparently Monaco doesn't get very cold, but there are cool winter days and it must get pretty breezy in those cars.

Music Hall Sweetheart

I've done some interesting research for this challenge. Music Hall was one I didn't know much about, and my internet wanderings led me to some male impersonators and so I went with that. This was a bit of a quick late night sketch!

Wild West Show

I thought of Jane Russell in The French Line. At the beginning of the movie she is in a practical western outfit of checked shirt and jeans, and later in the movie she does a dance number in a ridiculous sequinned number. I decided to go somewhere in between, with a shorter, sexier, dancier version of the first outfit, without getting all blinged up.

Venice Carnevale


My entire motivation here was to sketch one of the wonderfully outrageous medieval horned headdresses. Then my gold pen leaked over it. That's all there is to say really.

Vintage Reminisces of the Past

The 1920s loved their Egyptian revival, and that went from high fashion all the way to the elegant nude/semi-nude costumes. They are really so classy, in their own way. And a good excuse to really go all out on the head wear.

Her Dressing Gown

I wanted to go for something wintery, with a lush faux fur collar and a ridiculous turban, so that's what I did. I could handle lounging around in this during the cooler months.

A Transatlantic Voyage

This outfit was inspired by this image of a stunning coat from the 1920s, with an entire cruise ship pictured on the back. To change it up, I translated the ship image to the cloche hat, and kept just the waves on the lush velvet wrap coat.

At the Garden Party

Again my first thoughts were probably floaty chiffon 1930s dresses or all-white Edwardian numbers, so I kept on moving, and settled on some big bold sixties florals again. And the all-over floral hat options that go with it.

The Circus


I'm quite a Marx Brothers fan, but I had never seen "At The Circus" (although I have it on DVD, courtesy of my father-in-law). So I started to watch for inspiration, and it didn't need more than 5 minutes to find an inspirational and lust-worthy outfit, from which starting point I created this.

The Jane Austen Adaptation

Totally motivated by my fascination with this lamp-shade of a hat style. I picture it being worn by Caroline Bingley.

In Palm Springs

Another one that led me to the internet to find out more about Palm Springs. Their tourism website made it clear that Palm Springs is full of young people in bright bold prints. And I love bees. So there you have it.

The Poet


I felt I needed a character for this one. A real story. The first poet I thought of (perhaps oddly) was Augustus Fawnhope, a character from Georgette Heyer's "The Grand Sophy." He's a beautiful young man completely absorbed in his art and dreamily unaware of most that goes on around him. Since I hadn't done any male costumes, I thought that would be fun.

Fairy Tale Ending

I had a few ideas for this, but I couldn't get away from drawing a version of my own fairytale ending. There are of course many facets to that, this was an obvious choice. One day!

This was an epic challenge, that exhausted but also inspired me. It was the first daily Instagram challenge I've participated in, and I enjoyed it, but I would think very carefully before embarking on another one! Maybe a one-week challenge would be better. It would be fun to see some more happening in the vintage community.

Over to you! Any of these outfits take your fancy? And is there any kind of Instagram community challenge you wish existed for you to take part in?
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