vintage millinery ribbon

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To | Modern Millinery

Millinery Operations with Kristin Silverman

When I became a milliner, I became something else, too: an addict.

I am addicted to … buying vintage ribbons, trims and millinery supplies.

vintage millinery ribbon
A small selection of vintage ribbons.

In a world that has seen the advent of 3D printing and powerful computers small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, it’s strange to think that some technologies have regressed. As weaving mills have closed down and looms have been dismantled, there are certain things that are not being made anymore. Sometimes it’s just because there isn’t the demand, and so no one is making them. Sometimes it’s because the techniques have actually been lost!

I live in Vermont, which means I buy virtually all of my supplies online. You just can’t get quality ribbons or trims at Jo-Ann’s or Michael’s. So, when I went down to New York City a week ago — to see “Hamilton” — I knew that I had to make a side trip to East Coast Trimming.

I’d been following East Coast Trimming on Instagram for a while. Some of the most spectacular vintage ribbons and trims you will ever see! There is so much eye candy that I could have spent hours (and thousands of dollars) more than I did.

After feeling overwhelmed on Friday, I went back on Saturday for the silk and metal snake-skin pattern at the top right. It was more than I’d ever spent on a yard of ribbon, but it was so unique and so stunning, that I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Any craft has a learning curve. Part of the learning is how to actually make the thing. And part of it is sourcing supplies and learning about the materials you are working with. I had seen metallic trims. But it wasn’t until I became a milliner that I discovered vintage trims made with real metal threads. It’s easy to find modern nylon veiling. Finding vintage silk veiling, with delicate threads and lovely patterns, is more difficult.

So I’m addicted because I want to hoard as much as I’m able to snap up. Sadly, with many of these trims, once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

vintage silk faille ribbon
Vintage silk faille ribbon. And look at that label!
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