Sunday, August 13, 2017

A month in Paris: Hats, dyeing, felting, and feathers

About half our time during our month at the Paris American Academy was spent doing something other than sewing our couture dresses: the fashion shows, attending museum tours and special exhibits, and taking special topic workshops.  The workshops were a nice break from all-day hand sewing, and we were able to learn new skills and create beautiful items to take home.
We spent two full days working with Jean Pierre Tritz (who designs hats for Jean-Paul Gaultier!).  On the first day, we stretched and worked felt hats and created fanciful sisal fascinators.
My brown wool hat (above) and a few from my table mates (below):
The sisal hats were so much fun to work on!  I wore mine "out" to our end of the summer celebration, and was so pleased to have successfully gotten it home from Paris (very carefully carried in my hand!) in hopes of wearing it in California.

I'm happy to have gotten a photo (in my sisal creation!) with one of my favorite professors, Agnes Rannou (below) at our wrap up celebration.  As an Art and Fashion History professor, she brought us around to all the museums and fashion exhibits and gave us the most wonderful history and information.  It will be hard to go to a museum without her now!  
The second day of hat making included sewing a felt beret and a tiny fascinator.  With the floppy felt, our berets looked a bit more like chef's hats!

This itty-bitty fascinator (below) took 4 hours of sewing time!  And, quite unfortunately, I must have left it in Paris because I couldn't find it on our last day of school.  Wahh!  Here are some photos of the process....first stretching the fabric over the form....
 Sewing wire around the edge....

...And then skip a bunch of steps to finished fascinator!
We also spent two days with instructor Sandi Keiser dyeing fabric and wool felting.  On the "dyeing day" used various Japanese shibori techniques, which resulted in some gorgeous silk scarves.  Below, my scarf has been initially dyed grey and then wrapped around a wine bottle (there are a few to spare in Paris!).
 My friend, Irina, working on hers.
And after some color-removal of the base color (grey) and redyeing with the yellow and greens, the scarf is complete!
We had the opportunity to dye a second scarf, using whatever techniques we wanted to try.  Truthfully, I don't remember exactly what I did here, since the first go was unsuccessful and I went back to do more to it.  The end result is pretty, though!
Wool felting to create flowers was day two with Sandi.  Here are some in-progress photos of my first flower:

....And a photo of the other three I made!  Felting was so much fun and resulted in such beautiful objects.  
Our last "special project day" was working with Maude Ruby, a feathers expert.  We created lovely butterflies!  Mine was probably the least exciting, colorwise, of the group, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.  Now, I need to attach this beauty to a headband!
We learned so many amazing skills and techniques and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to try all these new things!  


  1. Nicole!!!! This is all so incredibly cool! The hats, the felted flowers...ALL of it!

    You look so Parisian you know...petite stature, beautiful large dark eyes and your hair CHIC!

    I'd really like to learn to make a French there a technique that makes the felt stiff?

  2. Love all of this! What fun, and I agree that Paris suits you!!

  3. Sounds like an incredibly fun and creative week! I would love to do that! Thanks for sharing!

  4. First thought, Audrey Hepburn!!! Glad you had a great time. Love the things you made and LOVE Paris as well!!

  5. fantastic and that butterfly is amazing!

  6. What a unique experience! Did everyone speak French? Or English?

  7. Wow! What an amazing experience.

  8. Sounds like you had a fantastic time!