Favourites of me from the photoshoot

These are my favourite photos of me from my photoshoot with Theresa.

She got some wonderful images, and it’s great to see the Japonism dress in action.


In other news, we’ve had crap, cold, grey, wet windy weather since this photoshoot, and I have too much to do and am feeling a bit flat (unlike my bias silk crepe seams, which is part of the problem). So sorry if my posts aren’t as perky as usual.

Magnolias in springtime

To me, springtime in Wellington means a glory of magnolia blossoms in the suburb of Thorndon and the botanical gardens, an obsession I share with noted NZ artist Rita Angus.

The magnolias were at their absolute peak when Theresa and I visited the gardens last Friday, and some of the best photographs were taken against the serene mauve petals, or in the dappled shade of the twisting branches.

Aline’s bonnet part II

So, Monday I told you about beginning Aline’s bonnet, and getting all the basic construction done.  Here are the finishing details.

The finished hat, side view

After cutting the brim down a lot, I bound it with blue and white tartan bias ribbon (from Nana, her stash is the gift that gives and gives!) that I folded into bias tape.

Bias bound brim

I like the way it works with Aline’s skirt fabric, without matching exactly.  And it’s hard to find two tartans that work with each other!

I sewed a piece of florists wire under the the bias tape around the upper brim of the bonnet, to help it hold the tight curve of Aline’s bonnet and my inspiration bonnet.  First I zig-zagged on the wire, and then bound it with the bias tape.  The tension of pulling the wire through the machine actually curved it into the perfect curve.

You can clearly see which parts are wired, and which aren't, in this photo. Also, doesn't it totally look like The Scream?

The brim didn’t hug the face enough once it was bound, so I ended up taking in little pleats where the brim meets the back of the hat and tacking them down under the back.  Not as beautiful and tidy as my inspiration piece for sure, but I’m still working on my hatmaking skills!

You can just see the little folded in pleats at the inside bottom of the hat

With the brim bound, the hat looked finished, but untrimmed, from the outside, so I decided to ignore the inside for a while and trim the bonnet.  So as of now there are still raw zig-zagged edges inside the hat.

Bad me

For my trimming, I took inspiration from Aline’s bonnet, but didn’t follow it exactly.  I meant to, but I started messing around with other stuff, and it looked good, so I just went with it.

Aline's hat

First I used extra blue tartan bias ribbons for ties to go under the chin.  I realised they held the hat better if they wrapped under the chin, and up around the top of the hat and down again, and it looked cool on too.  So the hat has lots of blue tartan ribbons!

Ribbons wrapping round and round the bonnet

Then I felt that the crown stood up too high from the brim, so I folded it down a little, and tacked it to the seam of the brim.  It gives it a bit of a military look, like early 1860s Confederate forage caps.

The ribbons slide between the folded down crown and brim

And then, of course, I noticed that the top of the crown is not at all perfect.  I wonder if wire would have fixed that?  Or if I could have found some way to iron it?  Oh well, something to work on next time!

Ughsome. Totally not perfect!

For trimming, I used a bunch of silk samples that I had in a dozen delicious shades of darkest blue: indigo, slate, midnight, prussian, inky, royal…


I bunched them into two rosettes, and tucked one under the brim of the hat, and one on the proper left side.

Scrummy colours on the outside.

I felt the hat was getting a little too blue, so I did another bunch in pale blues and neutrals: alice and ecru, ivory and cream.  This went below the first rosette on the outside

Pretty in person.

It looks fabulous in person, but unfortunately, it doesn’t photograph well:

Another unsatisfactory photograph

This is among the (numerous) flaws of the hat.  I’m not sure how I feel about this though.  After all, ladies in 1882 didn’t usually choose their hats to photograph well!  Still, I think that since that is a part of how I sew, I should re-do the trimmings, with the white lace of Alines around the brim, and a rosette with more contrast under the brim, so it shows up against the hair with the shadows.

So in a few weeks, or months, or hopefully not a few years, you’ll see me re-do this hat.

But for now, it’s done, and tomorrow you can see Madame O rocking it and the whole Aline outfit :-)

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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