Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen
So, during my tinternet searchathon, it occured to me that this new habit of mine might actually end up being proper expensive. Semi-private tuition by a master of millinery can’t come cheap, can it? And not to mention all those top-quality materials I love to visualize…
In an attempt to save myself some hard-earned cash, I decided to tread slowly into the learning process.
I invested in a few couture tutorials online, to see how I would fare at a beginner’s level. I went for the higher-end tutorial, not a ready-to-make kit, and chose a couture flower (how hard could it be?!) as my first challenge.
There were a lot of skills involved in the making of this flower (most of which only harmed me), including cutting fabric on the bias, curling the flower ‘petals’ (without an egg iron, a contraption that I later discovered is used to shape fabric in a round way, rather than cook eggs without creases), folding and shaping the petals together and, the most important attribute for a milliner… patience.
The couture fabric flower that you are about to admire, took me a whopping 6 hours to make. Yes, 6 hours of painstakingly cutting the fabric and trimming off the ends, curling and re-curling (because curling manually with a wire is not easy) and trying to stitch neatly and wondering why the silk keeps fraying.
Couture Flower I
Another valuable lesson. Do not believe everything the fabric/haberdashery/supposed experts tell you in store. The silk I went crazy on (ambitiously buying 10! different colours – for 10 different flowers, ha!), was cheap even though I was told it was the best in store.
Cheap = low thread count = fabric losely woven = fraying. As soon as you cut it, it’s frays galore and as roses are meant to have lucious thick petals, the effect was more watercolour rose than real. There is a way around this, I have since been told (by the Guru, but more on her later); either spray the cheap silk in fabric stiffener, or dunk it in gelatine. Gelatine works best, and is probably more fun to do (I will be experimenting shortly, so watch this space).
I loved the flowers I made though; especially in creative colours. For my birthday, I decorated the hat below, a genuine Panama, with a cluster of couture rose, and feather-made bird, butterfly and feathers to a really satifisfying effect.
Not quite the intro image, but just you wait.