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!


Check Out My New Website!

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Hi Everyone,

I have been working diligently on a new website that gives me more flexibility and allows me to procrastinate without putting other people up against my last minute deadlines :o)

Here’s a link to the new site. The URL is the same –

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



Make a Fascinator Workshop

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Anyone can learn to make a fascinator!

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 or 330-592-2295. Preregistration and payment are required.


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!


Hat of the Week

Good morning friends,

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.

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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!


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In-Studio Perspectives

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.

Straw hats in progress by What a Great Hat

Straw hats in progress by What a Great Hat

Straw cloche with rolled band by What a Great Hat

Straw cloche with rolled band by What a Great Hat