Gemma Sangwine

Unique and bespoke millinery and hair accessories


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Parkin Roadshow – a sort of convention for Milliners!

This weekend I took a rare Saturday off to visit the Parkin Roadshow in Bristol.

Parkin Fabrics are a family firm based in Lancashire. 14484959_1327825540569693_7383953612802224056_nThey sell mail order, so the roadshow is a great chance to see lots of millinery materials and supplies up close in real life and quiz the team about any technical issues regarding using them.

I also learnt more about the history of the company and the lengths they go to to source materials from the UK and around the world. For example, in 1993 renowned milliner Mitzi Lorenz gave Parkin a small sample of woven fabric which she said was called Cinnamon, and asked if they could source it ….this turned out to be Sinamay, which is made in the Philippines from the Abaca plant. weaving-sinamay

Parkin work directly with the Filipinos who harvest and process the Abaca leaves to make a fine, strong yarn which is knotted together and hand woven to make sinamay. This is an incredibly laborious process, all done by hand, and is a craft which dates back centuries. It also ticks the eco-friendly box as Abaca is a renewable resource and the production process is carbon-neutral – completely fossil fuel free!

But it’s not just about sourcing materials from overseas, at Parkin their Buckram is 100% cotton and is woven, bleached and starched here in the UK, in the North West of England.

So, all in all, I got to go shopping and learn a bit more about the craft I love. Being able to label my millinery products as Made in the UK, or carbon neutral is a great bonus too!

 

 


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Pearly Queen

I have been collecting up old pearl necklaces, initially thinking of using them for flapper style head bands or tiaras, but after playing with coiling one round on a sinamay base and adding a diamante brooch for a bit of sparkle I came up with this design;

bridal montage

This particular one is available at my new stockist in Bristol, Cox & Baloney (more on them later!) and received very positive comments, which has lead me to develop the design into a range using different coloured bases and necklaces.

vintage bridal trio

The middle one has handmade flowers made with pink satin fabric with vintage earrings in the centre, I have made lots of felt flowers before, but struggled to find a design that works with lightweight fabrics, and have been experimenting with different shapes before finally coming up with these.

I’ve enjoyed making them and am looking forward to creating more over the coming weeks, I always need to put time aside to just play with new ideas before the product clicks and I have something I’m happy with, it’s all part of the creative process, and can be equally frustrating and rewarding!