Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Workshop Retrospective: Advanced Millinery Feather Ornaments - part 3

Curled and Gathered Plume 
Sample provided by Lynn McMasters
This project was based on a vintage feather ornament owned by a student.  She had asked Lynn about it in a previous class, and Lynn was able to determine how it was made.

Gathering the ends of a fluffy ostrich feather into a ribbon to make it into a tidy curled plume is much easier said than done.  Lynn had a template and some sticky paper to hold all those recalcitrant fronds still while we trimmed, then sandwiched them between two layers of sticky ribbon.  It sounds easy, but those wavy little bits of feather kept escaping the sticky ribbon, like fly away hair from a pony tail on a windy day. 

Once the fronds were (mostly) encased in ribbon, the quill was curved and the ribbon sewn with a gathering stitch and gathered.  Warning – if you sew through sticky tape, your needle will get all gummed up.  I ended up with an uneven running stitch, a gummed up needle and the feather equivalent of “messy ponytail”.

I ended up cheating and trimming the worst of the ‘fly aways’ with scissors.  This was definitely a technique that I need more practice to master, and I would have never figured it out on my own.  This ornament would look great on Victorian and Edwardian styles.  Which I am not currently making.  Unless someone requests something, in which case they can have as many curled plumes and faux wings as they could ever want.  I’ll throw in some bows too, gotta have bows with all those feathers.
My plume, after trimming

To Be Continued:
One of the projects Lynn walked us through, but we did not have time to do in class is a spray of faux exotic feathers made from burnt ostrich drabs and matching turkey flats.
Example by Lynn McMasters
I burned ostrich drabs according to the directions on Lynn’s webpage ( and got great results.  Burning the feathers was fun and surprisingly easy.  I was so much fun that I immediately ordered some more feathers so I can do it again.  You know how quilters have fabric stashes?  Well, I’ve got straw/felt/fabric/buckram/flower & feather stashes.  Fortunately the hubby likes building race cars, so he can’t object to my collection of critically necessary supplies, since he has his own to play with.  But I digress…

Lynn did provide some burnt feathers and turkey flats dyed to match.  She described how to strip the turkey flats (after the pompom we were all pros at stripping feathers) and sandwich the tip of the burned ostrich feather.  I can’t wait to make this, I think the end result is really unusual, but would look great on my 20’s style cloche hats or on a fascinator.

She also gave a demo on a method for wiring a large plume to a hat, inserting a piece of floral wire through the brim and the ends back into the hollow quill of the feather.  I think this would be great for huge picture hats, Kentucky derby or historic reproductions.  I’m feeling inspired to branch out a little.  I’ll add that to my very long and excessively detailed project list.  I might get to it sometime in 2016.

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