Now then, I recently made a hat for a friend to wear for her wedding. We'd agreed on a nice white (off white really) fur felt velour, so I could brush it up nicely, and that it would be an undersized, or mini, top hat.
I don't have blocks for a mini top hat, so I created my own. For the brim I used one of the polystyrene (styrofoam) rings that you can get for craft work. My first attempt didn't work, because as soon as I tried to block the felt over it, it snapped into three pieces.
I taped it back together with electrical (insulation) tape, and paper mache-d over it to give it some strength for the blocking, and it worked brilliantly (and I could pin into it). Then I just drew on my brim shape with tailor's chalk. Best part - I can now use this again for a small brim, or as a flat beret block.
I also didn't have a block the right shape for the crown - for this I used expanding builder's foam, sprayed into a clean plant pot, and carved to shape, then papered over the top. This was a bit less successful (only because I was being picky about the shape - I wanted the sides to curve in - obviously that would normally require a 'puzzle' or segmented block. I haven't yet worked out how to do that in the foam (am sure it's possible). Anyway, I wasn't 100% happy with the shape, so I cut some sections out of the base, and effectively sewed darts into the felt. Much better! This would have worked even if the main part of the hat hadn't been hidden by the fabric drape, because of the pile of the velour felt, but I'd have had to be more careful about my stitching being concealed than I was.
My friend sent me a box stuffed with goodies that she'd collected - braids, brooches, necklaces, fabrics from her wedding dress, etc, etc. The stipulations she made was that I had to use the rabbit's foot, for luck, and that I should 'load it up', because she doesn't 'really do less is more'.
So I did. I sent her several sketches, and she picked the bits she liked from each, and asked for a couple of changes. And I got to work on putting it all together.
The first set of pictures are the ones I took, which show the detail from all angles, but not the colours (for some reason my photos glared). The second set are pictures that guests at the wedding (I couldn't be there due to a clash with a family wedding) have incredibly kindly allowed me to use (credits below the photos).
My favourite part of the whole hat is the hot air balloon earring / pin!
Photo used by kind permission of Liz Hanley
Photo used by kind permission of Christine Simpson
As I said, I couldn't be at the wedding, but it looked completely fabulous, and I'm sorry I had to miss it.
I also wish the 'happy couple' all good things for the future.