Can’t buy a new hat block? Then make one!

I have been looking around for a classic Dior brim but haven’t had any luck finding just what I was looking for. I researched purchasing one, but it just isn’t in the budget right now. In fact, the budget is pretty much non-existent since so many of the art shows have been cancelled.

During the lock down, I visited Hat Academy, an outfit that provides online classes, and purchased a class on how to make a hat block. It is taught by UK milliner, Ian Bennett.

The wire frame brim in progress

It took some calculating (not my strong point!) and help from my intern, but we figured out the placement of the spokes on the wire frame. Next came covering it in paper and a boatload of masking tape.

Wire frame finished!
We first covered the block in long strips of paper and tape
Then more paper in small squares and more tape
Masking tape layer finished!

The next step was to cover it inside and out with packing tape, which helps to waterproof the paper and add another layer of strength.

Packing tape layer finished!

All that was left to do was take it for a test drive. Here’s the finished hat!

Hat blocked on handmade hat block.

All in all, a great project. I was happy to have another set of hands, however. It took the two of us a total of about 15 hours just to make the block. But the materials were a tiny fraction of the cost of a wooden block. I’m not sure how many hats I will be able to make on my handmade block; it won’t last forever like a wooden block. But in the meantime, I’m happy to have a new tool that didn’t cost an arm and a leg!

More fun in the What a Great Hat studio

Special thanks to Natalie and the crew from Fox8 Cleveland for featuring What a Great Hat in their New Day Cleveland Fairlawn/Copley Road trip show. I always enjoy time spent with these professionals and of course never get tired talking about hats! Click here to see my segment.

What a Great Hat on New Day Cleveland

It’s always fun to talk about hats! I was recently on New Day Cleveland to talk about Kentucky Derby Hats, which are such an integral part of the Derby experience.

There are a few ads at the beginning of the clip so please be patient! The entire clip is less than five minutes. Please click on the link below to see my segment.

Kentucky Derby Hats!

One correction…(I guess I was nervous!)…I was one of three hundred milliners from 68 countries in The Great Hat Exhibition, not one of 67 milliners. And the host, Natalie, threw me for a loop with the question about where I get my hats. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights! But she steered me back on course gracefully. Always fun to “be on set,” and work with the wonderful professionals onscreen and behind the cameras at Fox8 Cleveland.

The Great Hat Exhibition Part 2

What an honor it has been to have one of my hats included in the Great Hat Exhibition in London. A friend of mine went and was kind enough to send me some photos of my hat “in action.” Very grateful to have shown my hat in one of the leading fashion capitals of the world. Until next time!

Custom Hat For Preakness

Custom Race Wear – Preakness

It all started with a skirt. A really great skirt that’s perfect for a horse race. My customer wanted a hat to go with it that had a touch of whimsy and a lot of impact.

The biggest challenge was to dye the parasisal straw to coordinate with the pretty pear green in the skirt. Through trial and error, I was able to come up with a color that worked great. From there it was a matter of pulling in the other colors of the skirt, including a terra cotta riding pant on the women featured on the skirt. Fortunately, I had a ribbon that was woven with terra cotta one way and green the other for a perfect complement. Dotted netting, black, white and green feathers, a custom made silk and striped band and dotted ribbon finishes the look.

An added bonus: the hat looks great worn as intended with the embellishment on the right as well as turning it around and wearing the embellishment on the left. Such a fun and colorful ensemble!

Blocking a Wool Felt Hat Workshop

Creating a hat with two hands and your imagination is rewarding and fun. Three students recently completed the Basic Wool Felt Hat Blocking workshop at What a Great Hat! Each completed a hat from start to finish in the two-day class. The hats were completely hand blocked and hands sewn for a true couture experience. Well done everyone!

2016 kicks off a workshop a month at the What a Great Hat studio. Next up is how to make a Valentine’s Day fascinator on February 6 and then How to Embellish a Kentucky Derby Hat on April 2. Please email Paula at whatagreathat@gmail.com for details or to sign up. Happy hat-making!

Hat of the Week

The hat of the week is inspired by fashion from the 1920s. I’m currently creating a hat for a historical costume from the 1920s and wanted to try this shape, since both the crown(top) and brim are traditional 1920s shapes. The costume hat will be made of felt to go with the outfit but I made a prototype in straw to take it for a “test drive.”

Will bring you photos of the final hat when I’m finished with it. In the meantime, enjoy this pretty summer hat and learn more about it in my Etsy Store.

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Hat of the Week

Hello hat lovers!

I just finished this dramatic hat for a fashion show in Alliance this coming Sunday. The free-form brim makes a unique style statement. Coupled with the fabulous feathers and handmade silk flower, it’s a real show-stopper. Is this your next Kentucky Derby hat?

Left side

Left side

Front

Front

Left front

Left front

Vintage Hat Friday

Good morning!

Today’s vintage hat is all about summer. Such pretty, delicate roses and violets are perched on the wavy brim of this garden-inspired beauty. It does not have a designer label and it’s completely stitched by hand, including the grosgrain ribbon edge. I’m guessing 1950s or early ’60s. It’s available in my Etsy store.

purple1

purple2