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BARGAINS / GERI COOK

A Chance to Learn Hat Tricks : You can create your own at this store, or buy millinery supplies at near wholesale prices.

January 07, 1994|GERI COOK

With the start of a New Year, it seems that our creative juices get moving, and many of us want to jump into a new hobby or craft. I always feel a twinge of guilt that I didn't make the Christmas gifts I gave, and I'm determined that next year all my gifts will be my own creations. To get those creative juices going, a visit to Hats By Leko may be in order.

What started out as a small retail outlet for hats and hat-making classes has evolved into a complete millinery supply store for designers and manufacturers, as well as a domestic source for imported straws and felts in many shapes and sizes. Anyone into hats--or ribbons and flowers and feathers and trims of all kind--will be in hog heaven at Hats By Leko.

Prices are wholesale, whether it's the hats or trim, and volume buying brings the prices even lower. An elegant wide-brimmed ribbon straw hat is $10.50, without trim. Once you add your own color and flowers, it could end up around $20. At an upscale women's shop up the street, the same basic hat is $100. Parasisol (a kind of straw) hoods, milliner's terminology for the unblocked shape, come in a palette of colors and sell for $11.50. A crocheted cloche is $7.50; a raffia-braid brimmed hat is $10, a twisted toyo (a type of straw) is $7.50, and a twisted sea-grass straw is $6.50.

Millinery supplies are wholesale or slightly above. A two-millimeter silk ribbon runs $2.35 for a five-yard spool. A millinery grosgrain, seven-eighths of an inch wide, comes on a 50-yard roll for $17. Beautiful, handmade French ribbon pansies that retail for $7.50 are $6 here, but they are $3.65 each if you buy a dozen. Some antiqued gardenias, about two inches wide and in luscious tones, range from $2.50 in satin to $4.50 for a satin and velvet combination.

Sandra Leko is the creative force who can design a hat for you or teach you how to make your own in one of her classes.

Free-Form Straw, a four-class series, covers the basics of hat-making. The next class is scheduled to begin Feb. 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The $165 class fee does not include supplies, although students can buy them at the volume rate. Students make six to eight hats during the course--which makes the class seem a lot more affordable.

Leko also teaches classes in felt blocking and has more than 300 hat blocks from which to choose. Her shop is the only place in the West where hat blocks are available for rent, Leko says. She rents them to students for $15 a week.

A good collection of books, which run from $5 to $35, is available on the art of making hats, ribbon work, embroidery flowers, buttons, cushions, tassels and costume masks.

There's a Dickensian charm in this cluttered little shop, and it just might ignite a hidden talent.

Geri Cook's Bargains column runs every Friday in Valley Life!

Where to Shop

What: Hats By Leko.

Location: 14106 Ventura Blvd., No. 106, Sherman Oaks.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Cards: MasterCard/Visa.

Call: (818) 905-8456.

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