Sunday, May 6, 2012

Hatstruck Couture Millinery Diamond Jubilee Hat Submission

It is almost 5:00 a.m. and I'm exhausted.  I'm babysitting Ms. E'.  She's a one-year-old teenager, stays up all night and sleeps until midday.  I've danced to  the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song for maybe six times or more, and I've gone  through the basic colors, numbers, and shapes with her.  No she can't talk (except for momma, daddy, no, and a few other words), but she can point.  Anyway, I started this post earlier yesterday, but lost it somehow, and I dreaded doing it over again.  So here I go.

Below are a few details concerning an international millinery contest I entered.  So, if you would please, vote for me by following this Talenthouse link or by clicking on the red hat in the right-hand column.  Your vote will be greatly appreciated.  

The Details

I entered into the the international Dillon Wallwork and HATalk e-magazine millinery competition in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee--her 60 years on the throne.  The contest directive was to create a hat inspired by this wondrous event.  After a few weeks of daydreaming and purchasing materials I would never use for this contest, I finally created "Elegant in Red."

While in London in 1999 I remembered seeing Windsor Castle guards from a distance.  One of the most noticeable things, not including the enormity of the castle, was their red coats and straight backs.  From television and books I saw beautiful jewels, opulence, and elegance, all bundled up into what seemed a fairytale.  So, the hat I wanted to create had to be elegant, rich, and for me, something outside of myself--a fairytale.  I also had to represent 60 years of the Queen's reign on the throne.  I had purchased some rather nice red and blue velvet for this project, but I did not use it because I had thrown out  my original design(s).  I sketched another design and insisted to myself that this final design had to go forward because NOW!

The Final Design

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to represent 60 years of the Queen's reign.  I didn't want to put a big 60 atop my hat because I wanted it to be a bit refined (not that she would even be caught in a dark room with it on).  I remembered from numerology that six and 60 still equaled 6.  So I sketched a stylized six and attached it to my display head.  Yes, yes that's it!  I thought.  From this point I carved a Styrofoam hat block to block my materials on.  The velvet I had purchased would not work for this project, at least not with the ease I would want it to for this shape.  With this design I needed something that was also malleable to accommodate my design.  Well, in walked Ms. Suede.  Actually she had been living with me for months and years.

I collect suede and leather scraps that are large enough to make hats.  Suede and leather are two of my  favorite materials to work with.  They can be easily shaped and manipulated, something that is not easy to do with almost non-stretch velvet.  Just a little note, I learned that leather and suede actually have a grain.  Yes, it stretches in one direction more than the another; try it.  I learned this while researching and making gloves.

I also purchased glass pearls.  Well, in one of my previous designs (I will not say how many I had) my plan was to construct an elaborate crown.  O.K., given the time I had left to make the contest entry deadline, this was just not going to happen.  Given the results of my final project, I'm  happy I didn't have the time.  So I decided to create a wire frame in the form of something.  The reason I say something is because I didn't know what I was going to construct.  All I know is that when my fingers stopped moving, I had an appropriate crown for what was to become a side-mounted cocktail hat, and atop that crown was a big diamond crystal.  Yes, I also purchased a diamond shaped crystal, but it was to be placed in that crevice you see in the bottom center of my Styrofoam block.  In that position the crystal looked horrible, but it looked fantastic atop my wire frame crown.

The Trim and Wire Fram

Although I purchased two strands of pearls in different sizes, if you will notice, I only used one pearl.  With me, less is more; less turns my head.  Actually, I've been known to put one crystal on a hat at a strategic location.  With the richness of the red suede, I had to use Swarovski crystals, but not so many as to overpower the red suede.  I wanted them to stand together equally.  I really need to take a photography class to better capture the details in my images.

For the underside of my hat I used black suede and trimmed it with crystal yardage, the same yardage I used to trim my large diamond crystal.  The crystal was supported by the wire frame crown I created, as mentioned above.  The frame was then wrapped in vintage chenille.  The wide horsehair braid complements the underside view and the outside view of the hat, yielding two themes, sort of like darkness to light.  As a child I feasted on King Arthur and Sir Lancelot novels--medieval times; that was a long time ago.  Thanks to my grandparents and aunt for letting me daydream all day, etc.  I really enjoyed this journey!

 Below is a video I've prepared showing multiple views of my hat. 

Good luck to all contest participants!


  1. MY FAVORITE "I've danced to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song for maybe six times or more, and I've gone through the basic colors, numbers, and shapes with her."

    Lee, you out did yourself. What an AWESOME, and REGAL and ELEGANT design. Like my mom would say "I can't see for looking." Rose

  2. Thanks Rose, I would appreciate a vote. Thanks

  3. Good luck, heading over to the website now!