Sunday, August 14, 2022

Weekend Review: Studio Secrets Millinery


Studio Secrets: Millinery / Estelle Ramousse & Fabienne Gambrelle
trans. from the French by Cicero Translations
Tunbridge Wells, UK: Search Press, 2010, c2007.
119 p.

This book is an interesting mix; it features a French milliner, sharing her story and her workshop, as well as a touch of millinery history from France. It even visits the workshop of a 92 yr old milliner who still works out of her home. The second half of the book then shares patterns and instructions for 5 'cut and sewn' hats, 2 that are more complicated and need to be blocked, and some ideas for customizations. 

There are lots of images, particularly for the instructions in the pattern section. This is very helpful if you want to give one a try. There are a variety of styles, from a headband to a cap, beret and wide brimmed hat or even a cloche. They talk about the technique and show each step as well as including a gallery at the end of all the hats being worn on heads. If you have any interest in trying to make a hat, this would be a fun book to check out. 

I enjoyed the French feel of this book as well, particularly in the visit to 92 yr old Madame Galanter's studio -- although this is only two pages she comes across as quite a character. The reliance of hats in general has dropped in our social milieu but the skills are still being practiced by a select few and it was great to read about them here. 

The patterns included are generally wearable ones, and I was pleased that so many styles that can be easily sewn at home are featured. You don't need many specialty items to make them up either, aside from some quality grosgrain or adhesive interfacings. The two that need blocking are definitely for the more advanced amateur as they require more skill and more supplies as well. The only thing that put me off a little was the inclusion of what they called a "Chinese style cap", influenced by the Maoist style. I'm not a fan of taking inspiration from oppressive regimes no matter what purpose. The cap itself is quite nicely made & doesn't look militaristic, and the introduction talks about many different styles of caps, so not sure why they went with this reference.

In any case, overall this was a fun little book with some good patterns and lots of visual inspiration. It was well laid out and would give any aspiring home hatmaker some solid starting points.


  1. What an interesting looking book! And it is available in the Tasmanian state library. I have only made one hat before - a bucket hat which I went to a great deal of care with, but hadn't realised how critically important size would be for such a hat. It is very hard to elegantly make one smaller once it is totally completed. But a learning experience.
    .... Sara

    1. That's my hesitation to try making a hat - I have a huge head so I worry about fit! :)


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