Sunday, 20 March 2016

Feathers (and fur)

Yesterday I went to another course at Hat Works, this time on feathers.

A number of feathery items in the museum's collection had been bought out of storage for us to see.

A selection of feather plumes

A large plume, and a small 'bird'

1960s feathered hat

There were several of these feathered hats, some in a better condition than others. They all consisted of a buckram base with feathers attached with glue.

Showing the buckram base

The tutors, Sue Carter and Marie Thornton, had also brought along lots of examples of feather trims for us to look at.

Assorted feather trims

Curled peacock swords

I was amazed how this peacock feather, which had been bleached and then dyed, still retained some of its original colours.

Bleached and dyed 'eye' feather

Then it was time to have a go ourselves, designing and making a feather pad. We cut out a shape from buckram, and then selected feathers with which to cover it. This quickly proved trickier than it sounds. For a start, there are left and right feathers, depending on where on the bird they come from. Most feathers have a natural curl, and this has to be taken into account when selecting feathers for the pad. We also had to strip off the fluffier part at the bottom of the feather, and trim the quill.

Left and right feathers, stripped (top) and unstripped

Once the feathers were prepared, they had to be glued onto the buckram: a very messy job.

The feather pad in progress

I was really pleased with the end result however. It goes perfectly with some spotted veiling in my stash, and I plan to make it up into a headpiece.

The completed pad with the veiling

It took a long time to make a small pad, and we all ended up with renewed respect for the people who did this as a full-time job. I certainly don't think I'll be attempting anything like this Edwardian hat in the History of Fashion exhibition, which boasts an entire pheasant for trimming!

Hat, with pheasant

So that's the feathers, what about the fur? We are provided with disposable plastic aprons on Hat Works courses, but I've been thinking for a while that I wanted something less wasteful. Then I came across a remnant of this cute (mostly furry) animal print in Sew Vintage in Wells, which was perfect for the retro apron I had in mind.

Michael Miller fabric

I used this tutorial for the pattern, with a few alterations. In particular I changed the neck strap, making it a single piece, and angling it to make it lie better.

Apron close-up

I found the ribbon in Stitch 45 in Malvern. As well as being a perfect match for the stripes, it's to scale as well! I think the measuring tape print makes this very much a sewing apron rather than a cooking apron. Once I'd trimmed the bib and the waist, I had just enough ribbon left to finish off the ends of the waist ties.

I used the full width of the fabric for the waist ties

I wore the apron yesterday (having finished it on the train journey to Stockport!), and it did a great job of protecting my clothes from the fluff of stripped feathers. I think I'll use the remaining fabric to add a pocket though, because clothes are always improved by the addition of pockets.

The almost complete, but pocketless, apron

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