Life Skills Unlocked · Uncategorized

Life Skill Unlocked: Millinery


If you’ve never heard the word before, ‘millinery’ is the word for the art of making fancy hats and fascinators*.

I actually have never worn a fancy hat or fascinator. Not because I don’t like them – they can be pretty amazing – but because anything small and girlie makes me feel self-conscious and stupid, and anything wide-brimmed makes me look like a peculiarly flamboyant portobello mushroom.

There I am on the left there

Still, as you know, I like to try my hand at new crafts, so when Emergency Sister invited me to join her for an afternoon of millinery at The Design House** on Dawson Street, I jumped at the opportunity.

I have not, in the past, had the best of luck with fabric-related crafts. As a general rule, unless there is a glue gun involved there is a chance that no two pieces will ever come together. The end result of my efforts is commonly a scrap pile of material marred with the sort of stitches you’d expect on Frankenstein’s monster, and bloody phalanges from repeatedly punching holes in my fingertips with the needle.

Essentially for this exercise I will need you to take the image you have in your mind’s eye of a Jane Austen lady quietly, delicately, elegantly sewing in the corner… and replace it with what you might expect to see after a rumpled, chaotic girl has spent hours attempting to remove her own fingerprints.

Thanks to my past experience with fabric, I went into the class with high excitement at the idea of learning a new skill and, at the same time, profoundly low expectations that I would actually leave with a finished piece. Thankfully, as soon as we arrived we were offered a glass of wine to encourage the creative process. In my opinion there is no situation wine cannot improve, and this was no exception. I definitely felt my confidence in my own abilities go up as steadily as the level of wine in my glass went down. There were five of us in the class, and after listening intently to our teacher Bebh, we all picked a colour and got to work.

Five hours, one steamed finger and countless needle-pricks later, I had a finished fascinator.

I even took a photo as proof.


So there you have it. Life skill unlocked! Perhaps not the most practical skill, but a skill nontheless. Now, thanks to the astonishing powers of Bebh and her excellent teaching, I can go forth and make many more fascinators in the future. Despite the fact that I probably stabbed my fingers more than I stabbed the sinamay, and it’s unlikely that I will ever wear my little creation, I had a really good time and would definitely recommend it. I didn’t use the glue gun once!

Also, as it turns out, I have the perfect (if slightly reluctant) model for my work:

Don’t worry, she was paid for this modelling gig.

*If you have ever seen a woman at a wedding who you suspected had a startled bird perched precariously on the side of her head… She was probably wearing a fascinator.

*The Design House is located at 43 Dawson Street, Dublin and they teach a number of classes there. Not only that but you can also get clothes made from scratch, or buy any number of Irish crafts in their shop. Also there’s a cafe downstairs that makes delicious sandwiches (I tried them) and, apparently, heavenly cannolis (I have not yet tried them, but they’re on my list).

29 thoughts on “Life Skill Unlocked: Millinery

  1. OOH! It’s gorgeous!!! As a fellow tomboy, I feel you on not being able to wear girly clothes and accessories. The funny thing is I always see DIY crafts on girly stuff like dresses and fascinators and I think that I’ll be comfortable wearing it so I Pin it and then I go back later like “wth was I thinking?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Turns out it’s still great fun making them even if you only feel comfortable putting them on your family pet. I think you should still do the diy crafts! You can always gift them later?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Just the name fascinator has such a whimsical sense to it. ‘What’s that on your head?’ ‘Just my Sunday fascinator…’ Your model is absolutely stunning! She has the pouty face nailed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think I’ll ever be swayed to the dark side of actually wearing them but making them is a much less dainty process than I thought it would be and, as such, a lot more fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The end result of my efforts is commonly a scrap pile of material marred with the sort of stitches you’d expect on Frankenstein’s monster, and bloody phalanges from repeatedly punching holes in my fingertips with the needle.

    Hmmmm, so how are you in the kitchen… with sharp utensils, like clevers, butcher knifes, blenders, and other maming sorts of contraptions galore!? 😮

    What other pets do you design edgy fashion-hits for? Parrots?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am… alright in the kitchen although I prefer to stick to baking, where the utensils are less sharp and the result is always sweeter!

      Also I would accept that challenge. I feel a parrot eyepatch would be fun to make. Or a hamster hat?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When I read hamster hat I had a weird image of a hat with a stuffed hamster on it…obviously not what you meant and a completely different skill!
        I agree with not understanding fascinators but your pooch models them so well! A x

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Her face is saying, “How long do I have to wear this before you give me that delicious looking treat?”

      I gave it to her straight away. She’s honestly the most reluctant model, but food is her Achilles heel!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Well Done it looks fab especially on that cute model, she seems to have absolutely nailed ‘resting bitch face’. A friend of mine did a course like this a few weeks ago and i thought it looked fun!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is! THe wine definitely made it more fun but it’s way more fun than you might think. I thought there would be a lot more dainty work involved but actually there were curling tongs, steam irons, and lots of folding and cutting… And I can manage all of those!

      Yes, Lia is an old hand at reluctantly modelling things. She hates having her photo taken. I think she believes the camera can trap her soul.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Thank you for teaching me new words like millinery and fascinators and sinamay. I am a better person for knowing them. Now how to weave them into everyday conversations…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I find that a loud and obnoxious “Did you know…?” always does the trick. My did-you-know about millinery is that milliners used to use mercury in the process of their hat-making, and would eventually go a bit mad from mercury poisoning… hence the character of The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This was fun to read! I cannot even do that much so yeah… Guess there’s a lot of unlocking left! 🙂

    P.S. Too happy to be here because starting from your `intro` to your `about`, I feel like I’ve found a space I’m going to LOVE! So, hello, Quinn! (Bear hug?)

    – Maria

    Liked by 2 people

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