Brand New Leopard-Skin Formerly Pill-Box Hat

Leopard2During my millinery training, I made quite a few hats only to learn new techniques and not because I really wanted to make those particular hats. As a result I ended up with a small number of hats that I never wore and that were gathering dust (hats are dust magnets!) and… that started serving as nests for moths, eeew!

So one night I suddenly decided to take action and either simply throw away what had to be or clean and transform what I thought had potential.
Among the dusty wrecks was this leopard pillbox hat:

I thought the leopard print was fun (even though I hadn’t really chosen it when I made the first hat) but that print coupled with that shape looked too matronly to my liking and so I had never worn it, not even once. Come to think of it, I had never even taken the time to add the comb it needed to stay on the head.

I unpicked the petersham ribbon from the inside of the hat and washed everything thoroughly with warm water and soap. That’s what I did for the refashions of my collection and so far I’ve never encountered a problem with that method, be it with felt or straw.

Since the felt was already wet, there was no need for steam and I immediately shaped it on a block. I could have dried it with a blow dryer but I was in no hurry so I let it dry naturally for two days before I took it off the block. After that I added some millinery wire to strengthen the edge of the brim and I covered that with black bias binding, then I added the decoration (I guess all of my hats must sport either flowers or a bow of some sorts) and finally I sewed on the petersham ribbon inside (the old one was just a touch too short so I used a new length), and then I had a new hat!

It actually took me almost two weeks to finish the hat, but that’s because I did not work on it every day. Otherwise I guess it could have been made in two sessions, or maybe even one if I had used a blow dryer instead of leaving it to dry naturally.

Now we’ll see whether or not I wear this new hat more than the old one… Only time will tell! But one thing is for sure, now I store all of my wool hats (except for the ones I wear really often) in hat boxes. So much cleaner, duh!


Mon léopard et moi


I wouldn’t think of myself as an animal print person, but our millinery teacher had us design a hat based on a documentary film about the African and Brazilian nature and the image that stuck to my mind was this beautiful Brazilian leopard. What can I say, I love cats!


We were also instructed to use horsehair braid in our design (I can tell you this won’t become my favourite millinery notion anytime soon! – at least not this plasticky kind), and as you may already have gathered from my previous posts, I’m definitely a bow person, so I chose to drape the horsehair braid into this statement bow.

I hesitated between leopard-printed or black horsehair braid, and eventually went with black because the leopard-printed one kind of clashed with the leopard print of the wool felt cone. I now have a few meters of leopard-printed horsehair braid I need to find a use for, ahem…


The base is a one-piece wool felt with hand-molded brim. I had initially planned to leave the edge of the brim raw, but it was a little too soft, so I added millinery wire to strengthen it and I covered it with black petersham ribbon (that’s still a little too wavy to my taste, next time I’ll spend more time ironing it to shape). I think I actually like it better that way as it forms a nice contrast with the background and it echoes the bow.


I finished the hat yesterday (I began working on it in class a few months ago then left it languishing unfinished, oops!) and also wore it for the first time, in keeping with my pledge to wear one me-made hat each week of May. I was kind of expecting to feel self-conscious wearing such a weird hat (well, weirder than what I’m used to), and I was pleasantly surprised by my actually feeling totally at ease and not worrying a bit about people staring or God knows what. So this hat is not as easy to wear as the first three I wore for Me-Made-May, but it’s still much easier than I had first assumed.


Here you can see the inside, with another petersham ribbon (as in any hat) meant to help the hat stay on the head. The ribbon is invisibly sewn by hand, as is the one on the edge of the brim. Every stitch involved in the making of the hat was hand sewn, actually.
Ok, I could ramble on and on about this hat, but I think we’ll leave it at that. I’ll see you on Monday for the next Me-Made-May weekly recap!