Monday, April 4, 2011

Mad Hatter on the Tilt-O-Whirl

There is something inherently wacky about taking a bundle of tulle or veiling, horse hair, ribbons, flowers, buckram, wire, and other assorted miscellany and smacking them down to perch like a deranged bird's nest on the front of one's head.  Perhaps that is the very reason why wacky tacky so fully embraces the tilt and "doll" hats of the 1930's and 1940's.  Straddling the line between chic and totally insane, they are incredibly stunning and make a bold statement about the lady underneath the hat.

Rosalind Russell in The Women (1939)

Available at unionmadebride on etsy.

Eve Arden in Cover Girl (1944)

photo from:

She knew how to wear a hat!!!!

Available at RoadLessTravelled2 on etsy

Some of the very best hats that film has to offer are found in these movies:

Cover Girl (1944)
The Women (1939)

DuBarry was a Lady (1943)

Inspired by the hats in these and other films, I have tried my hand at homemade millinery.  The results are marginal, but I think I am improving with each attempt.  Some of these photos have been posted before, but they reflect the hats that I have made that have actually been worn outside!  I have looked around for millinery classes and they are either non-existent or strange and far away.  Does anybody know of good millinery instruction in Southern Callifornia?

A pint-sized witch's hat for Halloween
with black tulle and rhinestone spider adornment.

A smart, little topper made with vintage, green veiling
and antiqued, silk magnolia blossoms.

Matching marabou hat and muff in black.
Tell me she doesn't look like a Russian spy.

The Lily Pad hat in navy.

The Victory Garden hat of
miniature roses in patriotic hues.
I know, I know, victory gardens were not for roses.
Photo by Nicole at Paper Moon Vintage

I'm thinking about adding a few of the Lily Pad style to my etsy.  What do you think?  Are they too weird?  Probably.  Don't tell me.  They're weird, right?  Tell me, tell me.  No don't.  Okay, tell me...

California Millinery is a great (and probably the only) millinery supply resource in Southern California.  One could spend hours foraging through dead-stock supplies and vintage velvet ribbons.  Plus, the people who work there are very nice.  I have also heard about a shop in Morro Bay, CA that sells millinery supplies but I can't recall the name and the shop was closed the one time that we were in the area.  Please let me know if you are familiar with that store as I will want to stop again the next time we are on the central coast.

My next adventure in hatmaking comes courtesy of Lauren at Wearing History.  Wearing History is the source for amazing, reproduction vintage patterns in an easy-to-understand format with clear instructions.  These two hat patterns are so cool and I can't wait to dive in - pictures to follow!!!

My very favorite is the Peter Pan style with the lacing up the crown

California Millinery
721 South Spring St.


Mr. Tiny


  1. I love hats, and these are beautiful! Good job!


  2. I would totally rock more hats if I had them. Although I don't think I can pull of the mile high ones like Roz. BTW The Women, as I have told you, is my all time favorite movie ever. Ever.

  3. I am a milliner by trade and am so glad to see people posting about hats!!! As to classes...I have a friend who teaches a class at Saddleback College in South Orange County in the fall. Also at Fullerton Community College, Mela Hoyt Heydon brings in a lady from England to teach a workshop, I think she is coming in August this year. Mela's email is: if you want to contact her about it. This is a great site for stuff: Also at EvaDress patterns site ( in the 1930s section she has hat patterns and one or two in the 1940s section. I love this one, fun simple: Also get ahold of "From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking" by Denise Dreher, its every milliner's bible. Ok sorry...overload on info. I'm just excited when people are interested in hat making. Awesome, tailored hats should TOTALLY make a comeback!!!

  4. Reagan - thanks for all the info!!!! This is such great information. I am halfway between Saddleback and Fullerton so maybe I will try to do both!!

    Thanks Dollie!

    Emily - you can do it!!!