A couple of weeks ago (in November 2011) I went to an evening class at Milliner Warehouse called ‘Feather Dying Techniques’. It ran from 6.30 – 9.30 pm, and was taught by milliner Ian Bennett.

It was brilliant! I’ve been studying millinery for a while now, and finding a good teacher is always a pleasure. Ian clearly has a lot of teaching experience, his explanations and demonstrations were clear and to the point. He was a really nice friendly guy, whilst at the time being full of knowledge from working as a milliner for over 20 years.

When Ian talked about feathers he spoke with real understanding about why they looked or behaved the way that they did. And for me, because he explained things that way, the information stuck in my head.

Topics covered in the class included how to mix dyes, how to prepare feathers for dyeing, names of different feather types and differences in their qualities.  Really interesting information for me to learn was how to correctly dry a feather, and why to dry the feather like that. Also, how to ombre dye a feather, and avoid getting a line where the dye fades from full colour to nothing.

If you would like to know about any up coming classes at Milliner Warehouse, email Ben at ben at millinerwarehouse.net (replace the at with @). Here is the web address of Milliner Warehouse so you can see the location of the shop. http://www.millinerwarehouse.co.uk/

There is a course section on the site, but its worth emailing Ben if you want to do a course as often they get booked up quickly and dont get loaded up onto the site. I found out about this course by emailing him and he emailed me a word document of upcoming courses.

You can see some of Ian Bennett’s work and read about his career on his website http://ianbennetthats.com/

Below are some pictures I took during the class.

The equipment set up ready for dyeing. We used Jaquard dyes, hot water, and some other trade secrets taught on the course 🙂


It took me a while to understand the difference between coque and heckle feathers. The ones pictured below are coque feathers, heckle feathers are similar but have some important differences. (I think heckle are prettier)

An ombre dyed feather – beautiful isn’t it? Imagine a spray of them, they’d look pretty awesome.
Ian demonstrating how to make a feather mount. What’s a feather mount I hear you cry? Well scroll down and find out…
This is the finished feather mount. Made by Ian. But where would I use a feather mount I hear you ask? Well, scroll down…

That is the exact question we asked Ian Bennett. You can use them in couture hat making, and I’m sure now you know what they look like, you will spot them in other milliner’s hats. But I was particularly interested in Ian’s explanation of how they can be used in showgirl headdresses. And then, as if my mind was being read, I walked past this years 2011 Fortunum and Mason Christmas window. And it is full of showgirl headdresses, with feather mounts. Which is the picture below. It’s a fantastic display by the way, well worth a look if you are near Piccadilly / Green Park.

So, all in all, a very enjoyable class that definitely filled the gap in my knowledge. I would recommend Ian’s class A++++++.