Hand Dyeing Silk Abaca for a Bespoke Millinery Headpiece

This week I’ve been experimenting with colour to bring some sunshine into my West Sussex millinery studio. It’s the first time I’ve hand dyed silk abaca and I must say I’m delighted with the results. Would you like to see?

This photo shows the ivory silk abaca as it is placed into its bath of Jacquard acid dye – to make this colour I mainly used ‘yellow sun’ with a little pinch of ‘cherry red’. I just love how the colour slowly creeps up the fabric as it is submerged.

Silk abaca dyeing with Jacquard acid dyes

Whilst the fabric was in it’s bath, I couldn’t help myself – I had to pop in a variety of feathers too!

Once the fabric had dried it turned into this beautiful daffodil yellow.

Perfect for making some gorgeous silk abaca flowers for one of my bespoke hats.

With a little bit of shaping and millinery magic it wasn’t long before the petals could be seen in all their glory – can you see that gorgeous yellow as the underside of these flowers?

Silk Abaca Flower for Bespoke Headpiece – Isabella Josie Millinery

And as for the finished handcrafted  headpiece, would you like a sneaky peak?  It will form part of my Spring  / Summer 2019 collection, such an elegant design for the racing season. It’s a hat that looks stunning from every angle, it’s  sure to be one of this years favourites.

Top Tips for Finding the Right Hat

The Amazing World of Hats

A hat is a stylish accessory that frames your face, it flatters and protects. A hat can give you confidence and transform an outfit, it makes a statement about how you are feel and who you want to be.

So how do you find one the right hat for you?

When choosing a hat, be open minded – you need to try on lots of different shapes of hats, until you get one that wants to make you ‘stand a little taller. 

  • View yourself in a full length mirror – you need to make sure the hat balances your body proportions.
  • Try on the hat with the outfit and accessories you will be wearing it with. The  hat will need to complement your outfit as well as the colour of your hair, eyes and skin. 
  • Think about your face shape, do you want your hat to highlight your best features, after all, the hat is the most photographed part of your body. If you are wearing glasses, how will they work with the brim?
  • Try positioning the hat at different angles – worn horizontally a straight brim can be rather harsh, but at an angle, it can bring height.
  • Think about the occasion, is it formal or casual? Check out the dress code – some race meetings have a minimum hat base size. Will people need to see ‘over your head/hat’? 
  • How will you have your hair? If you are having an elaborate hair style, you might prefer a smaller cocktail or saucer shape hat that perches to one side of your face to avoid a full crown squashing your hat.
  • What sort of head-fitting do you prefer? There are some many possibilities – millinery elastic, comb, alice band, slip or a deep crown? 

If you would like to commission your own hat and have it uniquely made just for you so that the size, shape, fabric, trim and colour combination suits your appearance and personality please get in contact.

Fascinator Making Workshops in West Sussex

As you may know, some of my hats and headpiece are available to buy through
Bosham Walk Art and Craft Centre in Bosham, a picturesque costal village in West Sussex. If you are in the local area, both Bosham and Bosham Walk, with its amazing treasure trove of beautiful art and craftwork, are lovely places to visit. Bosham even has an ancient church that was mentioned in infamous Bayeaux tapestry.

I’m delighted to announce that I’m going to be offering Fascinator Making workshops at Bosham Walk. The Fascinator Making workshops are great fun and are ideal for hen parties, birthday celebrations and ‘get-togethers’ with friends. If you would like to book one, just let me know – sessions are available at the weekend and in the evenings. Fascinator Making Workshop West Sussex


A Step by Step Guide to Making a Felt Cloche Hat

A helpful post for Felt Cloche Hat Making


Felt cloche with side swept brimStep 1: Select the blocks you are going to use to shape the fabric and cover them in plastic. Make up a water-based stiffening solution (8:1 for felt). Soak the felt hood in this stiffening solution.

Step 2: Stretch the felt hood and pull the base of the hood over the brim block. Pin the hood roughly in place (North, South, East, West) to hold in place.

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Millinery Flower Headpiece with Worbla Black Art

Worbla Black Art Thermoplastic Millinery FlowerWould you like to see my latest thermoplastic experiment with Worbla’s Black Art?

Worbla Black Art, like Worbla mesh art and finest art becomes flexible at around 90 degrees Celsius, but has a much smoother finish. I’d previously seen a great article by a cosplayer on the Worbla website on how to make leaves using a silicon cake flower mould. I totally loved this idea (especially as I’m not great artist) and started to play. Continue reading

A Step by Step Guide to making a Sinamay Hat with an up turned brim

Where it started!


sinamay hat from frontI have recently been to London to learn about traditional Millinery techniques from the great Rose Cory. Rose is often referred to as the “Milliners Milliner” and during her forty year career and has made fabulous hats for many celebrities including the late Queen Mum.

I’m writing this post as a personal record / memory jogger of how I made my Sinamay Hat under Rose’s guidance. What has become apparent over the last few months is that there is no right or wrong way to make a hat, every millinery has their own preference, tips and techniques. If you have any of your own, please send me your comment – I would love to know.

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Making a Pillbox Hat Using Worbla Mesh Art

Worbla Meshed Art with Heat GubI’m very excited to be writing my first blog post about experimenting with Worbla Mesh ArtWorbla’s Mesh Art is a thermoplastic which when heated  to 90 degrees Celsius becomes flexible (and tacky) so it can be easily moulded – it’s often used to create amazing Cosplay costumes. Worbla Mesh Art is smooth and shiny on the ‘right’ side (shown in the photo) and reinforced with a flexible mesh on the other side to makes it less easy to tear.

This post is about my first experience of using a thermoplastic product (and a heat gun!), many thanks to Cast4Art for the sample.  I must admit I was pretty nervous about working with this new product, I looked at the sheet for days before summoning up the courage to have a go. There are probably lots of different (and better) ways of working with this product that I’ve yet to find out about – I would love to hear about your thermoplastic experience. For any ‘wanna be’ Worbla users, I would recommend checking out the tutorials and how to guides on the Worbla website before you get started. Continue reading