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.
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.
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.
All that was left to do was take it for a test drive. Here’s the finished hat!
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!
While many of us think of a fedora as menswear, it’s fun to mix it up and create a feminine take on a classic menswear look.
I hand dyed this dark blue and camel straw early this year and purposely let the blue bleed into the camel color. When I was ready to block the hat into a shape, I decided on a fedora style because I liked the idea of the organic shape the dye created in contrast with the structured shape of a fedora.
Now this is not a classic fedora with a pinched crown; this one has an asymmetrical dip on the side. And I left the brim a bit longer on one side for additional asymmetry. It’s edged in navy silk with a silk band and bow.
I had fun mixing up masculine and feminine in this one of a kind hat.
Be sure to wear a hat this weekend for all of your outside activities! Hope you have a meaningful Memorial Day weekend.
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!
I would sincerely like to hear any comments you may have, negative or positive. I will be adding items to the online store daily so rest assured that there’s much more to come on that front. But otherwise the site is more or less finished with the exception of some minor tweaks.
I value your input!
Photo Credit: Black Box Photography; Hats: What a Great Hat!; Makeup and Hair: Beauty Therapy; Flowers: The Budding Tree
Join me at the What a Great Hat studio in Fairlawn, Ohio on Saturday, February 6, 2016 or Saturday, February 7, 2016 from 10 am – 2 pm and learn to make a fascinator that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion. You’ll learn how to make petals that cover a circular straw base, a feather bundle and gathered netting to create a whimsical and unique headpiece.
All materials and instruction are included in the fee of $85 per person. Preregistration and payment are required before attending. Basic sewing skills are helpful but not required.
If you would like to attend, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-592-2295. Preregistration and payment are required.
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 email@example.com for details or to sign up. Happy hat-making!
I’m changing things up a bit and will feature a hat of the week on Mondays, at least for a while. Today’s offering is a hat that I made for “One Hat, Many Milliners,” a project that showcased the diverse interpretations of how milliners approach making their hats. It was organized by The Milliners Guild of New York, which I belong to.
This hat is blocked in two pieces; the crown (top) is black wool velour felt, and the brim is a deep purple aubergine felt. The band is hand smocked and topped with a loose bow, vintage flowers and feathers. I cut away the right side of the brim to make it asymmetrical. Overall, a pretty and unique look. More photos and details may be found in my Etsy store.
One 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!
It took me all week, but I finally got on a roll last Friday. I just ordered these straw hoods and love the black and tan weave. They’re fun to block and so I went to town using my hat blocks and also some free-form sculpting. These are still in progress so you can’t really tell what they’ll end up looking like but stay tuned to my Facebook page (click here to “like” What a Great Hat if you haven’t already!) to see the results. A sneak peek at one of the cloches is found below. Fun, fun, fun.
You know how much I love a good Kentucky Derby hat! Every year I submit a hat to the Kentucky Derby Museum’s annual contest. This year’s entry is hand blocked with a hand-sewn silk band around the brim edge.I made the polka-dot sinamay extensions the same way, attached them to the crown, and topped it all off with an oversize rose and hand-cut red feathers.
If selected, the hat will be on display in the museum for a year. I have been fortunate to have had a hat selected for display each of the past four years. Here’s this year’s entry…wish me luck!