‘Autumn leaves’ hat


That was quite a long post, and yet still quite an edited down version of the ‘making of’ from start to finish. I wanted to include these images because I’m as much taken by the process as by the finished product, so I hope I’ve conveyed some of that. The sewing is all done by hand so it takes a good deal of time (I totted up about 17 solid hours on this hat) but it is very meditative and satisfying. And I get a new hat that fits my massive hair – a first for me 🙂


9 responses to “‘Autumn leaves’ hat

  1. This looks fantastic! I am taking a millinery class right now myself, but we haven’t started on felts yet. I am sizing up a wooden block for my own (large) head (with large hair) but I love seeing that your foam solution worked well. I imagine that the hot wire foam cutter is pretty vital to the success. Even though you edited down the post – I’d love to see the full process!

  2. Hi Dawn, thanks for your comments! Where are you based? Looking at the hats and fascinators you have made I am sure you will love felts when you get started, the process is a lot of fun and very tactile. As to the block, you could sculpt it without a foam cutter (a finely serrated edge and some sandpaper would work) but I think using the cutter made it easier to get a good finish (and much faster). I may try to put up a few more detailed posts of the blocking stages if I find the time. We’ve just started on straws so I am working on a sinamay hat, quite exciting! Have fun on your course and I’ll look forward to seeing more of your hats too! T

  3. You’re so talented, T! Love this… My Swedish grandma was a milliner. She used to make hats for the theatre as well as for regular people, so my mum basically grew up backstage watching her… She died when I was quite little, but she was incredibly magical. One of the things I have wonderful memories of is us making hats when I was a little girl. She would do all the practical bits, and I would sit and chat to her while she did either in Swedish or English. And even though she didn’t speak a word of English, we always understood each other perfectly. And then I would get to stick decorations on the hats. Looking at this, and how much work she must have put in just to entertain me, shows me something that I hadn’t fully realised; something I can’t quite express, but which dances around the edges of how special and patient and creative her love was. And how incredibly lucky I am to have grown up with that sort of love. Thanks for bringing that back – courtesy of a story of your new very fetching hat! Ella

    • Thank you Ella! What a lovely story, your grandma sounds fascinating… I love the image of you talking to each other through hats and trims and the language not mattering at all. Amazing that my little hat brought that back to you, that makes me really happy. It strikes a chord with me too as I was thinking of my grandma after a family gathering this weekend. She died about ten years ago but she taught me to knit when I was small and she loved to make clothes and other things, and I often wish I could show her what I’m making now. Here’s to grandmas 🙂 T

  4. Hi Towera, Lilybow & I loved the overprinting of the lattice smocking. It gives the smocking pizazz! I’m thinking something grecian with smocked underbust waistline with ancient style shoulder clasps. In the 60’s, this smocking was done on the crown of cotton sunhats using gingham and though a bit “daggy”, I really pined for one. This style of smocking and overdying could be pushed even more. By the way, I am loving everything and very impressed with the milinery, please don’t stop, Love Genevieve XX

    • Genevieve, thank you for your kind comment – and sorry I never replied! Not usually my style so I hope it’s better late than never. The idea of smocking on a hat hadn’t occurred to me. I’ve looked for some images but no joy as yet, maybe you know where I could find one? The idea of combining the hatmaking with textile surface techniques intrigues me as it would put together some of what I like to do. Do you work with textiles too? Thanks again, Towera

  5. Pingback: Picking up the thread – start again if you have to | Towera Ridley | millinery, prints, textiles·

  6. Hi Towera, I just found this lovely blog of yours, and I have been wanting to make a styrofoam block for ages, could you tell me the best place/cheapest to source the dense stryofoam? thanks

    • Hi Ana, thanks for your kind comment! I don’t know what country you are in so it might depend a little on that. I got mine on ebay from a UK company called Phoenix Polystyrene, but that was a few years ago. Alternatively you could search for dummy cake bases (used in cake shop window displays etc) and you should find some good (and affordable) high density blocks that way too. Hope that helps, happy block making!

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