Category Archives: Hats I Have Made

Model Millinery

Model Millinery – Tea Cup Cocktail Hat Continued…

Phase 2 – How To Create a Tea Cup Hat

After completing an initial sample for the Tetley Big Tea promotion, I was told that the client had changed their mind as they no longer believed the idea would work. I was initially disappointed but realized that not every sample would produce an order. I consoled myself with the fact that the opportunity of preparing this sample had taught me a new trick or two. Once I came to this understanding, I received a further email from my client in Durban to ask if I could produce a larger sample. I was sent a picture and asked to reproduce it to the best of my ability.

In preparing my second sample, I had to find a way to create the large Tea Cup hat so that if the order was approved, I would be able to replicate the design 30 times over. Since we had already been working on this idea for over two weeks, the deadline was drawing too near for comfort. I could not use the base structure of my previous sample, as it was too small. These are times when thinking out of the box is a necessity. After a closer examination of the photo and the base structure, I discovered my way forward.

Since the actual Tea Cup was over sized, I had to increase the base size to give the hat a stable fit, while cheating the tilt of the cup. I love these challenges!!! I completed the sample and had it couriered to Durban.

The order was immediately approved and I had less than 2 weeks to create 30 Tea Cup Hats! In order to successful complete the order on time, I worked according to mass production. I began with the plates and then completed the cups. Once the the cups and saucers were complete I began blocking the bases. I then attached the plates to the bases, to achieve the correct tilt. Once that was complete I attached the cups, added the tea fill and finally attached the handles. The cups and saucers were covered with Duchess Satin. My greatest fear was that the fabric would be soiled through all the handling that was needed. I scotch guarded both the cups and saucers before they were attached and luckily my fears were unwarranted. I completed the order 30 minutes before the courier arrived! There is nothing more satisfying to me than the successful completion of a job well done!

**** Please note the Yellow Silk Tea Cup Cocktail Hat on the main blog page,  was a personal challenge to see how eloquent I could master the design. Often when asked to create something I will always take the design one step further in my own time. This is a perfect example of how I teach myself to create unusual Model Millinery Hats!


A Practical History Lesson On American Hats!

At the moment I am working on making hats for a Discovery Channel Drama Documentary. I have been asked by Diana, the movies Wardrobe Mistress to fill some of their head wear gaps. Diana is also responsible for the wardrobe of Section 9, Story Of An African Farm, King Solomon’s Mines among countless other productions.

I have been given the opportunity of working with Diana several times and have always learnt something important from the experience. This time I have been asked to produce hats for an American history movie which begins in 1640- 1940. I have completed a Confederate style hat which is similar to the Canadian Mountie Styled Hat. I had a great time hand blocking this shape. In order for me to get the styling correct I had to understand the reason for the structuring and style. As I began to block and steam the crown in the Mountie style, I also placed the blocked shapes prematurely on my head and suddenly came to understand that the dents were for resting an enlarged crown on the head and that the protruded pocket at the center of the hat acted as a heat conductor. It has been proven that the human body looses 80% of its heat through its head. This brilliant style utilized that fact to act as a heater. If the style had sat flat on the head, it would not create the same warmth effect. Once I understood this, my blocking became a natural form of sculpture.

I also used this opportunity of working with Diana to connect with a local hat factory to block the shapes that i felt could be Hydraulically Blocked  with their blocks. I am hoping to form an empowerment initiative in the manufacturing Millinery industry. This is my first step forward in this direction and I feel the opportunities for all could be bountiful with the proper backing! My vision is to create a Millinery business where the workers are the owners!!! Its the only natural and correct way forward in the manufacturing sector. It is time that the creatives and the workers were rewarded and not just the Big Title Holders! I can see how my vision could work especially with the entertainment industry and the movies that will be shot here using our new film studio here in Cape Town. At the moment many hats are brought in from costume houses in the UK. I am also doing some stitch work for the American Civil War Caps. I really love the fit of this style of hat also. It is snug and just feels good on the head. I am learning that there is a great deal to be said for the so called ‘old fashions!’ It was not just about exterior appearance but also mechanics and sensibility. I think I am going to enjoy exploring these possibilities further!

Once I complete the Caps, I will be producing some Tri-cones. I will be contacted to produce more hats as they continue filming. Hats were big in America from 1640 to 1940….lucky for me!


The Making of a Tea Cup Hat

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Creating A Tea Cup Hat From Scratch

Last week I received an email from an advertising company in Durban, asking me if it was possible to make 20-30 tea cup hats! I had never made a tea cup hat before but the idea has been in mind for some time. I had planned initially to design a tea cup hat for the Top Billing magazine photo shoot, which I did last month. In the end I decided that I would rather go with the sophistication of a miniature top hat.

The advertising company sent me some photos, with the instruction that their client was looking for an air of sophistication and glamour. The photos that I was sent looked more comical than sophisticated and the challenge was just up my alley! I love trying something new and always aim to produce a superior product to the one I was originally shown.

I suggested that we first begin with a sample and then look at the full production . The shape of the cup was my biggest challenge but I soon discovered the perfect trick. I really did have to think out of the box for this one and I am sure people would be amazed if they knew what I had used for the blocking bases of both the cup and saucer!

Once I had worked out the base level construction, everything just fell into place. I chose to do the cup and saucer in silk and the tea in chiffon, with the base finished in black satin. I completed the sample yesterday and it is now on its way to Durban, for a client briefing. If all goes to plan I will be swimming in the construction of Tea Cup Hats for the next few weeks!

If the customer decides differently, at least I will have learnt a new trick or two! That’s why I love my work! I don’t mean to sound mysterious but all the information on the full construction of on my Tea Cup Hat will be in my next Ebook, focusing on the construction of Miniature Top Hats. If you are interested in learning more, please forward me your contact details with the subject line Miniature Top Hats.