'Stitch me up' was my entry to the american milliners competition in honour of Bes Ben, Chicago's mad hatter. It took place at the beginning of this, 2022, year and I entered this, my first, compettition because I was inspired by Bes Ben's history.

Benjamin B. Green-Field (1898-1988) was a Chicago born hat designer who opened a boutique in the 1920s with his sister, Bessie. Their shop was very successful, but in 1941, with the onset of the war and a new scarcity of materials, he changed his style and began creating the humorous and whimsical hats we think of today when we hear Bes-Ben. He used anything to trim a hat - kitchen utensils, figurines, playing cards, cigarette packs, and more.

The scarcity of materials is what triggerd me most, I think. As a beginner in hatmaking, there are many tools that you need to acquire and that takes time and money. Aside of that, I love to upcycle and work with untypical materials ever since I started making clothes, way back, like 31 years. My favorite item from back than is a plastic swimming pool that I turned into a dress to use as a candy girl on house parties. I actually found a picture the other day, I'll see if I can somehow share that.

But back to my fascinator 'stitch me up'. I used donated bobbins and thread cutt-offs to make little flying birds. With their thread, the birds are adding colour to the the black buckram characters that put together say 'stitch me up'. The buckram characters are wired and trimmed with black straw braid and sit on a wired base shaped to the heads form and are worn with a diademe tripod.

It was a steep learning curve, from making the lace like bird wings, to working with wire and all the things you don't think of before hand( like time managment:)) and I loved it! I didn't win anything but I learned a million.

In the past before making hats I did many other things. One of them was designing and producing costumes for various artists.
A while ago one of these artist came by to take some pictures of one of those costumes. It was a real treat to see my old work, I was a bit flabbergasted by the craftsmanship and somehow surprised that I had made it. It is funny how fast you can forget certain things, but I do see this back in my hats too, I am a very neat worker,  even though I say so myself.
Now she is selling the costume which is a 2 in one, with all small attributes to click on and off so that in the end you can at least create 3 looks. It’s a great costume that would also work great for a wedding.
She presented it to thenextcloset.com who sell vintage and second hand Prada and Gucci and they were happy to accept this ‘beautiful brand’( not my words) to their exclusive site. I feel honoured! http://thenextcloset.com/maxi-jurken/xpozai/594571

For some time I have been looking for a place to move with my studio. Working from home has, beside a serious shortage of space in my case, pros & cons which everybody who hadn’t experienced it before, is now, after corona, more than aware off, so no need to go there.

After long searches my husband tipped me for a space and OH MY GOD!!!

I had totally forgotten what it is like to go to work and be surrounded by people, not to speak of there being no dishes, no laundry, just no distractions, except for all these new artists & designers that come with the space. I actually have met more new people in 3 month than in the last 5 years. Talk about inspiration and than this place is actually next to nature thats like…..

p.s.: did you know the translation for 'broedplaats' is breeding ground? To me that sounds like animal breeding, I mean we are, but maybe there is another term? Anybody?

p.s.s.: my first ever window, still need to do some painting but doesn't it already look great?

Ok, I'm fishing:)

Spring 2020 was when I produced my first 100% upcycled brimmed hat, made from upcycle denim. I was really happy with it except that due to the material it was not water-resistant, which in a country like the Netherlands is simply not handy. As I like to say to my relatives abroad, it rains all the time!”.

After some research I ended up at the store Bever, where an enthusiastic young lady pointed my attention to this (environmental friendly) product, made of beeswax and paraffin. It comes in cardboard packaging and looks kind of little for such a big job, but who knows. Fjäll räven developed it back in 1968 to impregnate their own main material called G-1000 which is a mix of 65% polyester and 35% cotton. So my thought is that for modern denim, which often is also a mix of different synthetic materials with some natural fibres, It should be perfect.

It is easy to apply, by stroking the block of wax in a regular pattern over the hat. Once that is done all over, all that is left is to heat the wax, so that the product melts into the material, for this you can either use an iron or a hair dryer. And than, your ready to go and enjoy the rain!

For real it works just like with those canvas tents in the 1970ies. I tested it in rain and with just 1 layer my buckethat was water-resistant and a lot more isolating to wind. So let spring come I’m ready:) Are you? If not here is where to be https://www.bever.nl/p/fjaellraeven-greenland-wax-LBABXX2003.html?colour=5806 and don't forget to buy your buckethat currently @ http://re-bell.nl/contact/

The pleats jeans serie came to mind when a befriend designer gave me 10 meters of left over jeans, from their now closed factory. This is such beautiful material, especially for the pleats that I stitch into each design, that the chance that I will get hold of something like this again, is very small. If I have to buy an equivalent material, the endproduct’s price will hit the roof. Before my friend moved from Amsterdam back south, she gave me another 10 meter of this great material. So in total there is about 12 meters left, if you are in doubt about a pleats jeans product, don’t be, after these 12 meters, they will be sold out, until another deadstock angel comes on my way again. So I would say this is a limited edition:)

One visor 4 ways, the real feminine alternative to the long elastic visor. Great for the dutch cooler summer and because it’s rollable, great to just have in your bag when on the road. The idea is to wear it like a hairband, you could even just knot it in the back and have the advantage of the visor without the drape around the head. Depending on your styling it can go from beach to city. Great with any colour, with slippers aswell as gumshoes, earrings and glasses. Each visor is reversible, with a lighter/ darker colour at the revers side, giving you even more options:)

You might have special needs, based on health issues. This can vary from having allergies to becoming bold. Often it is difficult to find the right headgear, especially because we might feel uncomfortable to try headgear in public. Aside you see different mock-ups in a variety of turban designs all in different materials, that I made for a young girl who has an auto immune system disease. She wanted something she could wear in class. Before making mock-ups she told me her wishes considering materials & style. This is what was waiting for her when she came to the studio. Can I help you? Feel free to contact me for more information.

The german designer Judith Lehthaus started her studies at the Witte Lelie, learning about hats here first, in hope of a teachers degree, before she went to the Rietveld academy. She enrolled with the idea of studying theater costume but ended up studying fashion. It was a tough choice, for a than young girl without finances or parents, in this for her foreign country. Working part time and officially also studying part time, she enrolled for 7 subjects every semester. This took it’s toll and half way through she got ill and had to stop her studies for a year. To her a lot had changed in the academy in that year and when she enrolled again true to her system of 7 subjects a semester, she felt estranged but didn’t give up. It was during this time she started working in a hat store down town Amsterdam. This is where she started to learn even more about hats, but still her main focus was on her studies and an offer to learn for milliner she passed. Only after she had a hidden burn out she stopped her studies. Years later she finally decided to study millinery just to find that she was seriously ill, with poor perspectives to ever work in the creative industry again. Against all odds she is now again able to use her hands for 4 hours a day and spends them all working her hat magic, trying to make timeless, slow fashion pieces of quality and with service. All her products are made by her in Amsterdam.