Behind the Millinery Q&A

Since I have had a variety of questions in the last couple weeks, I thought it would be a good time to do a Q&A.

When will you start making hats and bonnets again?

After 2 plus months, I started sewing hats this past weekend. I am making just a couple styles at the moment because only a couple crown blocks are unpacked. I will expand the styles I am making as I unpack more blocks.

I will start making bonnets when a couple criteria are met. A. I need a place to put the bonnet blocks. My bonnet blocks, especially the plaster blocks, are more delicate than the smaller, wooden hat blocks. B. I need a good place for bonnets to dry on the blocks. Previously, I put pieces on the washer to dry during the blocking and sizing processes. Here, a washer and dryer still need to be purchased. While I have made drying mats for the hats to dry on the counter, the kitchen counter just isn’t going to cut it for bonnets.

Will you make men’s hats?

In the nineteenth century women’s hats and men’s hats were different beasts. They where made by different people. WhilenI would love to offer men’s hats, I just don’t know if doing so is viable cirrently. In order for me to make men’s hats, I will need to find and purchase an assortment of blocks in men’s sizes and men’s styles. Ideally, I would have a minimum of 3 to 4 sizes of each style. This would be both a matter of expense ($60-120 per block) and space for storage.

So, the short answer is: Not any time soon.

Why have some prices increased?

The prices of most hats and bonnets has increased because my costs have increased. The main cost increase areas include: Etsy fees, the per hank cost of straw, and the shipping fees on most materials.

Please keep in mind each hat takes 8 to 12 hours to sew by hand, block and size, while mid-century bonnets take 10 to 15 hours and larger Regency bonnets take longer. Each piece also has the time to find and cost of blocks, millinery research, wire, and sizing. I have to be reminded to consider the “over head” expenses: tissue paper, bags, tape, labels, cards, storage, soaking containers, towels, scissors, sd cards, etc.. When I actually do a spreadsheet, the materials and time totals come out to $128 to $137 per piece. So, I am still trying to make them affordable. I do anticipate an increase with the increase in tarriffs coming.

Will you be making head-dresses this year?

Yes, I plan to make head-dresses this fall and winter. That is actually what my November workshop at the GVCM Domestic Skills Symposium is on. Following that workshop, I will be putting pieces in my shop.

Why the change in seasonal sewing plans?

Usually, I switch to making winter millinery from mid fall through mid winter. This year, I will be sewing straw all the way through the winter. This is because I have a significant budget change and need to sew and sell an absolute minimum of $550 each month. Ideally, I will do more each month so I can save for July to September when I don’t have a school paycheck.

Published in: on October 10, 2018 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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