Wednesday, 5 June 2013

My "evaluation" of our 'James Brindley' brief.

For the 'James Brindley' part of this brief, we were given a lot of silk pieces - ex-trade samples mainly (the returnable metre or half metre that is sent out for a client to check the colour and drape, etc).  Now, given we were given this fabric for free (approx two pieces each), it feels churlish to complain about it, but to be honest, it wasn't the best for millinery.  Or really any garment / clothing application, come to think of it.  The patterns were big and bold (for which read ginormous!), and the fabric (for the most part) stiff and taffeta-ish.    Of course, since James Brindley sell silk for interior design, (so for covering furniture, for curtains, for wall coverings, etc, etc), we should have expected this.  I'd looked them up in advance, and sort of did have an idea of the sort of stuff we might be getting.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that their fabrics are wonderful on sofas and in big drapey curtains, and indeed, some of the pictures on their website of the fabrics in use are simply stunning, but really, for hats?  Not the easiest proposition!

Anyway, the day came to dish out the silks, and we were each given two pieces, at random, in a sealed brown envelope.  I opened mine and found one piece of pink taffeta with giant embroidered flowers, and leaves printed with some sort of rubbery feeling... stuff...  Thankfully, I also struck almost lottery-level lucky, because my other piece was just under half a metre of pure wild silk matka, in a lovely pinky raspberry colour.

I decided to use the matka to create a hat using a technique that Sharon had shown us a few weeks earlier (that she'd learned while on a course with the eminent Rose Cory).  I had been doing something else the day Sharon demonstrated it to us in class, rather than working along, and I wanted to give it a try, because I liked the effect.
This involved making a base in foundation materials (canvas, although I used buckram, because it was what I had), and domet (though I used tarletan, as again, I had it (and the matka has enough texture to not need a perfectly smooth surface on the foundation layer)).  I then had to cut the matka into lots of bias strips, which are applied over the top of the foundation, anchored in place at the centre point (or whatever you decide will be the centre of the pleats), and then arranged.  I decided to use a flattened beret / cap shaped block to make it more interesting than your basic round beret (also I have that block at home - the only round beret shaped block I have at home is teeny).  I wanted to try curving the strips - I did so without adding any steam or anything, just by gently curving the fabric by hand and pinning in place.  I was also limited in how much of a curve I could create, due to the amount of the silk that I had - the greater the curve, the more strips I found I needed.
I'd like to try the technique again, perhaps using a dupion, or a satin, but steaming and setting the bias strips to a much more pronounced curve.  I'd also like to try it out on a beret block (a plain one).  In case you haven't spotted it yet, I **really** like this technique.  I think something about the mathematical nature of it, and the cleanness of it suits me.

Originally, my plan had been to use the 'leaf' shapes from the taffeta fabric to create a trimming.  I cut them out, and cut a backing layer for each from the plain parts of the silk, and it was my plan to bond them together, with a wire between the layers, to create a 3D trimming, coming out of the hat at the point at which the pleats meet.  Sharon suggested that it may be overkill, and she was right (it also wouldn't have been very 'me').  So I gave up on that, and went through my button and trimming boxes to find something to cover the apex of the pleats.  I found a pair of beautiful turquoisey blue Czech glass buttons, made in vintage moulds (what would have been 'Bohemian glass' years ago), and decided to use one of those.

I'm glad I decided to keep it simple, it was much more effective than if I'd tried to complicate it.  There is one 'pleat' that is slightly off - slightly wider than the others - but I decided that was acceptable for a first attempt (and so far nobody has said that they've noticed.  :)

And as for all those pieces I cut out - I think I'm going to use those to make *something* over summer, when I have time.

The 'James Brindley' hat (behind the scenes shot of photo shoot, taken by Jack Tyson, an incredible make-up artist )

On the catwalk at Wetherby Ladies Evening

Another shot of the pink hat - this one probably the most true to colour (based on my  monitor)

Final picture of the 'James Brindley', showing the texture of the silk, and the button.

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