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 for details or to sign up. Happy hat-making!


Vintage Hat Friday

Happy Friday!

Today’s hat is a sweet little toque that reminds me of a layer cake. Or a fancy energy dome if you’re a Devo fan :o)

It’s completely hand sewn with layers of vintage straw and netting. There are some holes in the netting but they don’t distract from the hat at all. An interesting pyramid-shaped Aurora Borealis rhinestone embellishment sits at the front. The maker is Helen Brounet, California. I’m guessing early 1960s. It’s for sale in my Etsy shop.

Have a wonderful weekend and stay cool under a wide-brimmed hat!

Brounet 1

Brounet 2

Vintage Hat Friday

This is one hot hat! No designer label, just a union-made label. It’s blocked on a base of cape net and covered one-by-one with neon pink feathers. This one just makes me smile.

I once made a one-by-one feather hat. It was about half the size of the hat below and it took HOURS to assemble. First, the feathers must be “gone through” and the fluffy bottom sections stripped away. Then each feather, one at a time, is carefully glued to the base, overlapping artfully. This one has the added beauty of the side feathers flipping over the top to create sort of an Elvis-like ducktail swoop.

As usual, I’d love to have seen the original owner decked out in this hat and her finest dress. Fun!

pink 10


Vintage Hat Friday

I love this hat! The base is cape net so it’s light and airy. It’s covered with fine maline and the maline is also ruffled over the small brim. Black silk flowers surround the crown. So simple but super cute. The maker is Cathay of California, probably 1950s.

Cathay of California

Cathay of California


Cathay label


Vintage Hat Friday

Hello Hat Lovers,

This hat is so interesting. When I first saw it from a distance, I thought the pom-poms were made of fur. Instead, they’re made of straw. The base of this hat is a very fine black straw, blocked into a sassy shape. The “under-brim” is an orange crepe fabric. The label says Veola Modes, NY. It was sold at Wm. Taylor Son & Co, London, Cleveland, Paris. Since the original owner lived in Cleveland, I’m guessing she bought it there.What era do you think it’s from hat specialists? I’m guessing 1950s.

Such a fun and elegant hat. (From my collection.)

black orange 1

black orange 4black orange label

Vintage Hat Friday

This funky little hat is by Sally Victor. I’m not sure how much fun it was to wear; the feathers draping around the face could get to be a bit annoying, I would think. Anyway, here’s a little cocktail hat for your enjoyment this Friday.

Sally Victor Front

Sally Victor

Sally Victor Label

In-Studio Perspectives

It sure doesn’t take long for me to make a mess of the studio. Before vacation, I had put everything away, tidied up, cleaned even. Today has been a blocking marathon with some other projects mixed in.

The biggest project I’m working on is my entry for the Kentucky Derby Museum Hat contest. It’s coming together with the red hat on the block, the polka dot sinamay and feathers. I will post a photo of the finished product next week.

Here’s a look at my formerly orderly workroom….

block 2