Inspiration for outrageous hats comes from all different places.  Last year, I was thinking about creating a wedding collection of hats. Traditional bridal hats were easy to create but I was looking to go beyond.  As I thought about the collection, I kept thinking about a wedding cake.  Not really sure what to do with the inspiration, I ignored it.  Well, not really ignored it.  Rather, I stuck it in the back of my mind to percolate.

Making outrageous hats is like making bread, you need time.  You mix the ingredients, put them in a warm place to rise, wait, kneed it, let it rise a second time and only then is it ready to bake.  Making outrageous hats is similar.  An idea pops into your head.  You’re not quite sure what to do with it, or even how to begin.  So you print out the pictures and let the idea “rise.”  I wish that I could tell you how long ideas need to “rise” but each hat is different.  It might be a day or it might be several weeks.  You’re waiting and waiting when suddenly, you “see” the hat.  You get a clear picture of what you want the outrageous hat to look like.  Many times, there’s a story that comes with the inspiration.

As I thought about the wedding cake, I started to see the hat.  I knew that I wanted to make an outrageous hat with tiered layers.  At first I imagined a wedding cake with a bride and a groom cake topper.  Then as I started creating the story, the hat was about the first encounter of the two people who would be getting married.  At the top, was a bench.  Perfect for reading a book.  At the bottom was the bicycle, ready to ride to the top.  It was a matter of time for one person to encounter the other.

As I started to think about the technical challenges, the initial idea of tiered layers wasn’t going to allow the bicycle to climb to the top. Instead, the hat needed to be a layered spiral which created the impression of tiered layers but allowed for the bicycle to climb to the top. I had found a delicious green buclé fabric which reminded me of grass and just felt right for the hat.  The bicycle path needed to be a different color and a gold colored fabric coordinated beautifully with the other fabric while differentiating it at the same time.  The Italian fabrics were quite expensive so I needed to figure out the technical aspects before I cut anything.  I decided to make a paper mock up so I could tweak the angle of the spiral and work through the technical issues.  For example, the width of the fabric was 58″ but the spiral of the path was about 170″ so I needed to figure out the best place to seam the fabric.  The nice thing about working with paper, is how easy it is to change.  After multiple versions, I finally had something that worked.

Then it was time to start sewing.  The thing about outrageous hats is that it requires lots, and lots of hand sewing.  As the pieces started coming together, all that was left were the finishing touches.  Painting the bicycle, the bench, adding beads, ribbon and veiling.  As it all came together, something was still missing.  That’s when I realized that a miniature hat on top of the bench was the perfect finishing touch to the outrageous hat.