Sunday, July 8, 2012

Skills Lab: Flowers

I find one of the hardest things for me to do as a self taught milliner is to keep learning.  I always seem to have great ideas lurking about in my head but never seem to get the time to sit down and figure out how to make the idea a reality and I often find myself glaring dumbfounded at the latest royal/Ascot/Lady Gaga hat thinking 'how the hell did they do that?'.

Having moved steadily from buckram to felt to sinamey I decided last week to force myself to put the hat blocks aside and dedicate a whole week to learning new tricks.  One thing Japan has in abundance is amazing craft books (yes they are all in Japanese but they tend to have lots of pictures and they also force me to study which I generally manage to avoid) and having found an amazing little craft store in Sapporo this week I returned home with a brand new flower making book.  

In Pre war France, Paris alone had 350 flower making Ateliers supplying up to 70 couture houses.  Today there are only 11 registered members of The Chambre Syndicate de la Haute Couture and only three flower and plume makers left in France.  The most well known of these is possibly Bruno Legeron and his small team of "Les petite mains".

In these few remaining atelier houses les petite mains stiffen, dry, cut, paint and assemble by hand the beautiful flowers we see adorning the Haute Couture catwalks during fashion week.

Well I may not live in Paris but I do have little hands and stiffen, cut, shape and assemble they did. 

and some even made their way onto hats.

And finally the piece de resistance (no accents on a Japanese keyboard) my kimono silk wildflower posy hat blocked on my brand new pork pie hat block (I haven't actually sewn the flowers down yet hence the pin heads in the picture).


  1. Oh my gosh, they are all so gorgeous! I am self taught, and definitely still learning millinery techniques. This is truly inspirational...

  2. Your flowers are so beautiful. Do you use any flower making tools?

    I read your piece about the olympic outfits. I am from Cameroon, and I was quite surprised and happy you liked our outfit. The fabric they used is common to the english speaking people from the North west region of Cameroon, and the fabric is called the Toghu.

    1. I loved the outfits and think they put everyone else to shame! Does the hat have a special name?

      I do use flower making tools which I found for a reasonable price on ebay a few years ago. They are the electric ones that you plug in but they get very hot so you have to switch them on and off as you work so as not to burn the silk (or your fingers).

  3. Hello - Thank you for your lovely blog and wonderful info.
    I am really interested in making flowers using traditional french methods.
    Can you recommend any books on flower making or do you have a resource for flower patterns - I have seen a few on - Any Japanese books that you would recommend.
    I am a florist and I have started making bouquets of handmade silk flowers for brides.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Jill,
      I have bought a few books and to be honest most of them are pretty basic. The book I got these flowers from is a Japanese book called コサージュの本 it doesn't have an author just the company that made it and all the info is in Japanese which, unless you have a Japanese keyboard, will be of no use to you. Maybe you can find it though it's ISBN number which is: ISBN978-4-579-11152-7
      If you can find it it is a great book but you will need flower making tools to do most of the designs. Although the book is in Japanese there are lots of pictures so it is pretty easy to follow. Hope this helps and good luck:)