Monday 20 May 2013


Milliner and author Mary Jane Baxter's inspiring new book, The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking (Kyle Books), features a wealth of vintage millinery projects for the novice hatter. Her down-to-earth approach to creating jaunty confections, often using hand-me-down hats, is enchanting and she is quick to stress that you don't need expensive tools and materials to create and customise hat designs. 

Mary Jane's mission is to get Britain hatting again! She has honed her skills as a milliner by researching the construction, fabrics and trims of vintage hats, and uses these timeless millinery techniques to create her own hats and headdresses. The easy-to-follow projects featured in the book are perfect for anyone wanting to personalise a much-loved hat or for creating a design from scratch. Many of the projects can also be adapted for weddings and other special occasions.

With a collection of over 15 vintage hats, Mary Jane finds it hard to pick a favourite, 'I’ve got a 1950’s headpiece that’s covered in artificial flowers in various pastel colours. It’s just so over-the-top!' she explains, 'I made my own ‘modern-with-a-vintage-twist’ version covered in tiny white lilies and when I wore it, I was stopped over and over again by people wanting to talk about it. It seemed to spark all sorts of memories!

'I’m also a big fan of the Vintage Millinery and Fashion section at the London College of Fashion library,' continues Mary Jane, 'There’s a wonderful selection of old hatmaking books there – and I find them fascinating. I love reading about the way hats used to be constructed. Many of the methods used in bygone years have fallen out of favour and these books are a fabulous resource.'

Mary Jane's own book is beautifully illustrated with many images featuring her collection of vintage hatstands and hats, plus photographs of her hatmaking projects. I love the image of the wooden hatstands, below, topped with beautiful 40's and 50's hats. Shot against a floral picture painted by Mary Jane's father, the image perfectly sums-up the ethos of this unique book.

You can read my Vintage Spy Q&A with Mary Jane for Harper's Bazaar at:

Photography by Claire Richardson

Divine inspiration; highly collectable vintage hatstands with
covetable 40's and 50's hats

Sunday 19 May 2013


Sainsbury's Magazine has introduced a new page to its editorial mix, focusing on favourite websites, downloads and apps. Editor Helena Lang, who I worked with at 19 Magazine, very kindly included my blog on the inaugural page in the May issue. 

A big thank-you to Helena and her team for their kind words!