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!

Living My Dream

I was recently contacted about partnering with the Ohio Lottery and their InspiredOH campaign to share the story of What a Great Hat. I’m lucky to be an inspired Ohioan and to have the opportunity to talk about my business and creative process.

Please click here to watch my two-minute video and feel free to share your inspired stories on the InspiredOH website.

 

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!

What a Great Hat to Participate in the Great Hat Exhibition in London March 22 – 28, 2018

 

I’m pleased to announce that my fascinator has been selected to be included in The Great Hat Exhibition in London at the end of March. It joins more than 300 hats and fascinators from 37 countries.

My piece was inspired by volcanoes, swirling hot lava and fire. It has a sinamay base and is topped with sinamay and feather “flames,” and swirls of crinoline.

If you’re in London March 22 – 28, stop in and see this fabulous exhibition and be sure to take pictures for me since I won’t be there in person.

The exhibition is a part of London Hat Week. The Great Hat Exhibition 2018 organizer is X Terrace Fashion Platform.  Tickets are available through the X Terrace website. 

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

In-Studio Perspectives

JM2One of my customers loved the two peach cloches I recently created, but peach just isn’t her color. So we took the basic idea and tweaked it. She has been wanting a black cloche with a simple embellishment – something that can be worn every day that also has an understated elegance. We came up with this design – another vintage straw, hand sculpted into a shape that flatters her and embellished with a crinoline (millinery horsehair) bow and band. A pretty vintage button finishes the look. Everyday chic!

JM3

JM Back

Style Monday

Good morning!

I love a great turban and this one is fabulous. Here’s a link to A Stairway to Fashion‘s blog (where I first saw this photo) that includes even more turban images. Love the mix of fabrics and colors. It proves that the hat doesn’t need to match, it needs to “go with.” Enjoy!

Turban black and white

Style Monday

Here are a few of my favorite images from this year’s Kentucky Derby. There were dozens more photos of lovely hats, but the faces were completely obscured. I guess for me, a hat is more than just a hat…it’s an integral part of “the look.” The hat is a success when the person wearing it owns her look with confidence. Enjoy!

derby1Derby2Derby3Derby4Derby5derby6derby7

In-Studio Perspectives

When WVIZ/PBS approached me about donating to its on-air auction, I knew I had to make a Downton Abbey-inspired hat for the membership drive. Here’s the result…a hat that has roots in the past but is still very “today.” I hope it finds its way to the head of a generous donor!

Downton Abbey-inspired hat for WVIZ/PBS Auction

Downton Abbey-inspired hat for WVIZ/PBS Auction

Style Monday

Our lovely Duchess of Cambridge looks as pretty as ever in her red pillbox hat by Gina Foster and coat by Catherine Walker. Kate is wearing her pillbox in the traditional manner, on the crown of her head. As you know, she generally favors fascinators, worn at an asymmetrical angle on the side of the head. She’s gorgeous, as always. Kate Red coat