I have admired the art of millinery for many years and always longed to be able to create beautiful headwear. It has always been a mystery to me…. the way a hat could sit up on a head a particular way, or how trims appeared to be floating. And how did she get that feather to look like a bouquet of flowers?

Many hours were spent googling different techniques, but being a very visual person, I still found it difficult to learn. My skill set was limited to curling quills and painting flowers.

Enter, Ian Bennett.

ian bennett hat making workshop

Image credit: @thehatteruk

Most of the millinery workshops advertised on Instagram, from milliners I follow and admire, were in Melbourne. I live in Queensland.

So, when the Ian Bennett workshop came up- with a class held on the Gold Coast, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.

Ian Bennett’s Fireworks hat colourful fascinator

Image credit: Richard Shaw photo of Ian Bennett’s Fireworks hat

Ian is a world-renowned milliner from the UK, who has made hats for the Queen, Madonna and many other celebrities. He was the winner of the 2016 Myer Millinery Award with his stunning firework inspired creation.

Ian was out from the UK hosting a number of workshops around Australia, ranging from beginner to advanced classes.

Workshop vs Online Tutorial

There are many millinery courses offered online, which is a good option for anyone without access to a school. You can study at your own pace and can refer back to a video tutorial at any time. Video tutorials are great as you can pick and choose specific skills you wish to learn.

On the other hand, studying from a video means you can’t stop and ask questions if there is an area you are unsure of. The learning process can be slow, and it can be difficult when you can’t view the process from all angles. It’s easy to miss minor, but important, details that get lost during filming.

Personally, I think attending a workshop in person provides far more benefits than watching it all online. Being able to watch different techniques up close and ask questions to clarify the process is a great advantage. Most likely there will be other people in the class and their questions may be something you hadn’t thought of before, providing you with more information.

Being so close to the craft, you get to see things from all angles and having a teacher in front of you means you can be helped with anything you are having trouble with. And most importantly, during a workshop you get to be hands-on, and, in my opinion, the best way to learn is by doing.

What to Expect at a Millinery Workshop

Until now, my millinery skills have been quite basic. Even though I am a creative person and have revamped many hats, my actual skill set was very limited.

Ian Bennett’s workshop was a beginner’s course, to learn trims and techniques and was held over two days, from 10am to 4pm each day.

Day 1 – Dyeing Feathers and Blocking a Base

We were provided with study notes to write on, as well as the option of purchasing Ian’s (personally signed) book. I had already ordered mine months earlier and was ecstatic to receive it on the day!!

millinery workshop sketch book art

We were given a list of what we needed to bring to the class. For those attendees, such as myself, who had no millinery supplies, everything we needed was available for purchase.

colourful beads beading embellish

All the materials I needed for the two days cost me around $70 and included a variety of feathers, crystoform, sinamay, wire, glue, etc.

The workshop was very hands on. Ian would demonstrate and explain the techniques he was showing us, then we all had a turn ourselves, asking questions along the way.

ian bennett dying feathers

green dyed feathers

Here, Ian demonstrates the dyeing process, as well as how to prepare feathers. Would you believe that each feather has to be individually dried by hand!! No blow dryers allowed, just a whole lot of rubbing and shaking!