Ask the Milliner #1

For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of an “Ask the Milliner” post. I hestitated because I though it would seem silly or self-centered. Then, this past week, a friend asked a question that told me this “Ask the Milliner” idea was something I should go ahead with. I mentioned the idea on Facebook thinking I would get a couple easy questions I could put together in a cute post. Well, the questions are so good, it looks like I will be doing several “Ask the Milliner” posts.

Let’s start with that persuading question:

“Do you sew all this by hand, or can you do this on a machine?” Babette

11053063_10153772832307846_4973229385807063098_nEvery inch is by hand. Or, I should say every half inch, as that is the stitch length. I love the smell of straw. I find it very calming. Sometimes, it is so calming I lull myself to sleep mid-stitch.

The tip and the wiring are the parts that take the most hand strength. The tip, being a continuous coil takes a lot of control. This tires the left hand. Wiring is my least favorite part. I’ve wacked myself in the face a few times. Binding is where I tend to stab myself and break needles.The crown and brim are easier on the hands unless there is a tension control for shape. I used to be really obsessive about hiding the stitches in the plait itself. I still have to tell myself they didn’t worry about it and I shouldn’t worry about it.

When I decorate, sometimes I will machine sew one seam on the bavolet so I can get a crisp line. Otherwise, that is all by hand too.

“Do you use a thimble? Or a sailor’s palm? What sort of thread do you use? What sort of needle?” Babette

I kept these together since they really do go together.

10408573_10153774091377846_5114040626592264257_nI don’t actually use a thimble. Some straw plait is really tight. Some straw is dense. This means the needle can get stuck in the straw. It takes a bit of strength and grip to get the needle out. That is a big part of it. Another is that I’ve found I’m not an ‘end pusher’. I push the needle from the sides as I grip it. There is very little finger injury from that. The finger and hand injury I do get is more from running the thread along my nails or bending my nails from holding the needle. The side tips of my fingers get tender and my nails split from that. The actual snags and pokes from needles happen when I am tired, distracted or holding something funny.

I prefer straw millinery needles. These have flat heads, strong length and are very sharp. I am a needle bender when I sew. I am learning to catch them before a snap them.

I’ve been using Gutermann’s 100% cotton thread the last couple years. I found a shade that nearly disappears into the natural straw. I find it has decent strength (I am a tense sewer that pulls tightly) while not tangling too bad. When it hasn’t disappeared into the depths of the couch, bees wax is helpful.

Next, I’ll do a few questions on shape. 

Published in: on March 31, 2015 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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