Thursday, 14 April 2011

Alternative Corsetry and Crafts Weekend

It gives me great pleasure to advertise this UK based creative weekend, these courses are run by a friend of mine and I'll be there helping out with projects and techniques.

11/12 June 2011
Alternative Corsetry and Crafts Weekend

  • Need room to work on your latest project?
  • Fed up with crawling round on the living room floor to cut out large pieces of fabric and wish you had access to a really large table or a vast amount of floorspace to lay things out on? We have a whole barn to use to set out big projects.
  • Want to learn simple embellishment techniques for costume and jewellery?
  • Fancy getting to grips with the history and mysteries of corsetry?
  • Need access to a sewing machine, overlocker or knitting machine for a couple of days? Want a hand from experienced seamstresses to finish a project?
  • Want to try silk painting, feltmaking, have a go with a Victorian sock machine, or just enjoy browsing our extensive library of costuming books?

Come along to our alternative making and modifying weekend and have a great time getting on with your existing projects or trying some new techniques.

All food and accommodation (camping barn or bring your own tent) included, expect good farmhouse cooking, plenty of homemade cake, and cosy evenings round the woodburning stove (feel free to bring your own alcoholic drinks, endless tea, coffee and herb teas provided).
Price just £85 per person (arrive from friday evening, depart sunday late afternoon)

Located on a beautiful Welsh smallholding in Carmarthen, easy to reach by road, rail or bus
To book, visit
This will be a very relaxed and friendly weekend, catering for everyone from 'make do and mend' vintage fashion interests through historical costuming, steampunk or alternative streetwear.

The same site is also running several excellent value Fibre Retreats this year, aimed at those who want to get away from it all for a few days and be marvellously fed whilst working on their spinning, knitting, crochet or dyeing (or any other textile based craft) projects.

It would be lovely to see a few of you there!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Kilmarnock and Hummel Bonnets

I've always got several 'new' hat projects on the drawing board, in some cases spending months or years looking at surviving portraits and where possible extant examples whilst working up numerous test versions in order to work out a pattern that I feel gives an appropriate interpretation of a historic style. A recent request from a re-enactment regiment encouraged me to get a move on with a couple of styles I'd been looking at for the last year or so, and get them polished up into a functional hat.

Here are my latest two projects, I've been working on Kilmarnock and Hummel Bonnets for Napoleonic period Highland Regiments, and I think I've got these just about right now. The plain blue Kilmarnock bonnet pictured below is a little shorter than most of the ones I've been working on, they usually need to be about 6inches tall, (but I rather like the shape of the shorter version as well, and its a better picture than my taller ones, hence its inclusion here.)

There are some great portraits that survive showing Hummel caps in wear, I found this collection particularly interesting, note how variable the size and number of the dice (checks) round the hat are? There are also surviving Hummel bonnets in several museum collections, so I was able to balance portrait and physical evidence when coming up with my version.

I never consider any of my patterns to be a final version, there is always the chance that I'll get to examine a 'new' extant hat in a museum collection or will see a portrait that I havent seen before, or in the case of military headgear, be directed to a set of regulations and supply guidelines that will help me make small modifications to continually increase accuracy and appropriateness for use in historic impressions today.

I gather that Deb Pulliam did an article on Hummel bonnets for Piecework a few years ago, but I havent yet been able to track down a copy, will be interesting to see if she has any additional details that will help me polish my versin even further. Will update in due course if I ever manage to get hold of a copy to have a look at.

In the meantime, if you know anyone that might be in the market for a new bonnet, point them at the shop site (