This is the hat I made for last year’s Stroll with a Hat (Passejada amb Barret).
Whether or not to sketch before making a hat is something that is often discussed in the forums. I think it simply depends on the type of hat, and possibly on your working process. I enjoy sketching although I’m not particularly good at it, but it works for me. Many sketches don’t get to become a hat, but I often review old sketches for self-inspiration. From sketch to finished product it’s often a long process with many changes. In this case the hat started as an open hat box, and it was only later on that I decided to add the top hat:
My choice of material for the structure of the hat was “toile gommée”, a very stiff canvas that is sold in France and that is very hard to work with, but that added the stiffness required for the hat box. It’s very hard to sew through, so it’s not my material of choice. It can be blocked because the stiffener softens with steam and water, but it takes muscle!
The hat box is made of tie silk that comes in narrow bolts intended to make gentelman’s ties. I think this silk is what inspired me to make the hat because it just talks hat box to me. The “tissue paper” inside of the box is silk organza (from a leftover piece that my friend Paco Peralta gave me), and the hat is made of silk shantung to match the green cape that Paco made for me.
The most difficult part was the top hat, making sure all stitches where hidden and the fabric was nice and tight. Going “miniature” makes life very difficult, particularly with such a thick material as the toile gommée. But that stiffness of the material is what allowed me to flare the top of the hat with my hands with some water and when it dried it was rock hard.
Another important moment when making a hat is deciding where and how to sew the elements that make it. I used two plastic headbands, covered with elastic cotton velvet ribbon, and I played a little with the position of the hat…
I wore this hat in Madrid for the Head over Heels event organized by Value Retail Spain at Las Rozas Outlet. Stephen Jones was the mentor of that event and we had the good fortune of getting an inspiring talk from him. I love that he praised those of us (all milliners) that were wearing a hat at the moment, if we don’t wear hats who is going to? And the big surprise? There were a few of his hats on display and one of them was a hat box with hats, how crazy is that?! Here you can see it, on the left, behind the great man himself. Could they be more different and yet spring from the same idea?:
And here I am, wearing the final product, on the day of the Stroll with a Hat, next to my good friend Nina Pawlowsky: