Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Flutter with Embroidery

Evening everybody, I thought I’d share a little embroidery project I’m working on at the moment. A little while ago I mentioned that I am currently drawing a lot of inspiration from Mexican folk art.
 Well this is one of the pieces I’m working on from it at the mo. It started life as this sketch I made of this charm. I have a current obsession about depicting birds in my accessories and I thought that it would make a great motif for an embroidery project
Here are a couple of photos of  my work in progress, it’s still not quite finished and I’m  not sure what it will end up as in its completed life, I really like the idea of  using it as an embroidered necklace, let me know what you think in the comments below!
I’m  still experimenting with stitches  on this one,  as my current repertoire is pretty limited, but next time I think I’ll also  incorporate  some sequins or beads.  I’m really just playing with ideas on this project at the moment so if any one has any ideas or suggestions let me know!
Hope you are all having a great week, it’s pretty chilly hear in Cardiff at the mo (though other parts of the UK are even chillier) so I’m keeping warm inside with my sewing.  x

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Book Talk- Vintage Lingerie by Jill Salen

Hi Lovelies,

Today I thought I would chat about a book that my boyfriend’s mum bought me for Christmas. Now a book on lingerie could be seen as a little bit of an odd present to request from your boyfriend’s mum I know, but me and Sue are pretty like-minded and both love sewing and creating things, so when she asked me for suggestions for Christmas presents in December I mentioned that I really wanted this book and was really pleased when she bought it for me.

Since then I must have read it cover to cover a fewtimes and am always dipping into it to look at the beautiful photographs and read about the history of the pieces featured.

It showcases a variety of examples of lingerie from 1850’s through to the 1970's with lovely crisp pictures of each item and bit of background history about them.

I've always been fascinated by historic dress and vintage clothing and there is something especially enticing about lingerie and undergarments from times gone by (does that sound a bit weird? maybe it’s from watching one too many period dramas as a young girl!)

Now I was a bit surprised when I first looked through the book as from the cover I was expecting the book to be filled with beautifully embroidered corsets and lingerie but items that were probably not particularly practical or owned by the average lady, however the book showcases a wide variety of pieces from the everyday waist cincher of the 1950's to these Tango knickers from the 1920's. I love seeing how every day women would have dressed throughout the ages and the more everyday pieces are  every bit as beautiful as the more lavish and extravagant examples.

What really drew me to the book are the patterns that come with each example featured. They are brilliantly details and give a real insight into how each item was contracted I haven't tried any out yet but there are defiantly a couple that are on my to-do list for the near future.

The book also comes with a great reference section at the back detailing many of the techniques used to construct the items shown in the book and also would be really helpful with other historic projects too.

This book has really provided me with inspiration to get going on some more costume and historic based projects. I hope you find it inspiring too.   Xxx

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

My adventures in millinery - the story so far...

So this week I thought I’d share a bit more about  my millinery work that I have completed over the last few years, chat about the millinery courses I have done and  generally natter about why I love making hats so much.

This is the very first piece of millinery  I ever made back in the depths of time. I was still at Uni studying fashion and textiles and during  a reading week I took myself off to London to do a one week course with Rose Cory. It was a great introduction to millinery and Rose is a super  teacher, at the time I had been toying with the idea of learning hat making for ages but  for some reason I was really nervous about  actually doing a course. I’d always loved hats and accessories  and  seemed to be more interested in designing them  that the fashion designs I was working on for my degree so  I asked for money for Christmas to do the course and buy the materials I needed and I’ll never forget my first  day with Rose when I made this fascinator I was so excited.  

  Well after that I was hooked, during the course I also made  this beige cloche that I  mentioned the other week and I carried on experimenting with the techniques I used during my degree making a series of VERY basic fascinators as part of my final collection.

After  finishing my degree  I did a couple of other short courses over the next couple of years, the course fees are pretty expensive and they are mainly held in London so it always meant travelling up and staying over and usually also taking time off work to attend them . But it was defiantly worth the effort and expense and it was the work I did in these courses that convinced me that Millinery was something I wanted to professionally.  I find the process of creating a hat so exciting , there is always an element of surprise when the final piece is placed on the head and I love the way the  process evolves over time from the initially blocking  of the shape of the hat to sewing on the final trim and lining.

Last year I  did a BTEC level two in millinery and hat design at Kensington and Chelsea college. This was a 6 month course  lead by Noel Stewart. It was an amazing course that focussed on  creating Fashion  forward designs and really developed my creativity and experience. It was great being pushed to complete hats to  high end professional standard and I enjoyed being given an opportunity to combine the millinery skills and my fashion design background.

I  finished the course having created a collection 6  hats based around the woodland creatures and birds. I am so proud of the work I created during those months and it   the course gave me a firm foundation of what I wanted  the signature style of my work to be  and  the confidence to start  making hats and accessories professionally. At the moment I am working on a couple of  private commissions   and also designing a range of accessories that I hope to start selling over the next few months.  Starting this blog was a real big step for me, I’m usually  pretty shy about sharing my work and ideas and it’s great to have a place that  helps  me gain confidence in this.

Thanks for letting me babble on about my work for a bit today, if  you  are interested in  attending a millinery course  here is a list of the  websites  for some of the courses I have booked ( plus some other pretty amazing looking courses:

Rose Cory Millinery Courses :
Short Courses @University Arts London :
Kensington and Chelsea College:

Also if you fancy seeing more of my work please check out my online portfolio at

 Hope you have a great week, Jessie xx

Monday, 4 March 2013

Mr John Pico John - An Artist among Milliners

image courtesy of
Today I thought I would share a little post about a milliner I have only recently come across. Mr John.    Working both for the fashion and film industry John Pico John fashioned creations for  the society ladies of his day along with creating hats for  over 1000  films, including  Gone with the Wind, and   Shanghai Express

image courtesy of

Learning his craft from his mother he initially worked in partnership with Frederick Hirst before launching his own brand in 1948. HIs popularity was at its peak during the 19 40's and 50's. Even after hats declined from fashion during the 1970's he kept creating hats for private clients until before his death at the grand age of 1991.
image courtesy of
I love the timeless beauty of Mr John's hats, they  are steeped in the eras glamour without being fussy or too elaborate.  It's also really exciting to see a Milliner of his time being credited for his on screen creations too, especially a milliner who was so prominent and prolific in his day.
image courtesy of
I think this is my favorite example of a Mr John hat that I have come across so far , it feels so effortless and tactile, I love the way the crepe petals forms  are used, it's not an embellishment I have seen used on any modern millinery I've come across  and may be a something to  experiment with soon.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed my little ramblings about Mr John, I've certainly enjoyed learning more about him, have a great week!   xxxx