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Saturday, 12 September 2015

Pride & Prejudice Inspired Hat

Hat by Wendy Dudley; Pride & Prejudice fabric by eSheep Designs
A hat made out of my Pride & Prejudice fabric!
It's an unbelievably exhilarating feeling when you see something grand, and then slowly come to the realization that you're actually looking at a representation of a dream come true — a dream that you didn't even know you had.

I was lucky enough to have had this amazing experience a couple of weeks ago.

It started with receiving a message via my Spoonflower account from someone who had purchased my Pride & Prejudice fabric. She had completed her intended project with it. When I saw the photos of what she made a couple of hours later, I knew that the results were too extraordinary not to share.

Back in July, Wendy Dudley purchased a yard of my Pride & Prejudice Text (in Black) fabric in a silky faille. (It's a polyester with crisp colour reproduction and excellent drape, as you can see in the photo above and ones upcoming. The basic cotton sample that I have does not show the white text at all as clear!)

Check out Craftsy's latest promos...

At the time, she communicated to me that she was planning on making a Jane Austen themed hat for The Mad Hatters Society Facebook Group's "Booked" Competition and that this fabric was perfect for it. (That is, the challenge was to make a hat based on a book: "I chose to do a hat based on Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. She's my favorite author. I have always admired her sharp, sarcastic wit and think we would have gotten along great. I love the fact that there are many references in Jane's letters to [her sister] Cassandra about hat trimming, which was a common past time for women during that era. My favorite quote is "Next week I shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depends." - Jane Austen letter to Cassandra Oct 27, 1798")

After admitting to being a major procrastinator, she said she hoped that the project would not only get finished, but that it would turn out as envisioned! Now, I cannot vouch for what she originally envisioned, but from my viewpoint, she did an outstanding job. It simply amazed me to see these pictures...

Hat by Wendy Dudley; Pride & Prejudice fabric by eSheep Designs
Side view...

Inspiration for the design? "I have never been a huge fan of the bonnets, so I used the turbans and military styled hats of the Regency era as my inspiration. For anyone who has watched almost every movie & TV adaptation of Austen's work, you will notice a strange thing: the main characters are relegated to bonnets... but the antagonistic, busybody, and downright catty women have the most fabulous hats! That was another inspiration."

Hat by Wendy Dudley; Pride & Prejudice fabric by eSheep Designs
Opposite side view...

As for the final result, Wendy said, "I fancy Lady Catherine de Bourgh wouldn't turn up her nose at wearing this!" I totally concur!

Hat by Wendy Dudley; Pride & Prejudice fabric by eSheep Designs
Rear view...

Interested in knowing a bit about millinery and how to make hats? Well, first, I suppose it helps to have the right equipment... like this antique wooden hat block.

Wooden Hat Block
Wendy's hat block...

For this hat in particular, the first step was to mold something called buckram — which is apparently a sort of woven interfacing that can be creased to hold a specific shape — over the hat block. This was then covered with the fabric. A product called crin (horsehair) is used to create the wrapped "turban" effect. Oh, and — woe is me (given the confession that I shared last week about this) — apparently everything is hand sewn!

Wooden Hat Block
Hat block covered with buckram...

A bit of background about the hat's creator... "I consider myself a beginning milliner and enjoy creating hats as a hobby; after all, one can never have too many hats! For the past several years I have been making hats and taking classes to expand my knowledge. Before I started making hats, I collected them and now have close to 80 hats (mostly vintage, some new) in my (ever growing) collection... There's a lot of hard work that goes into making them, so it makes me feel good to know people like my hats."

Hat by Wendy Dudley; Pride & Prejudice fabric by eSheep Designs
Top view...

Oh, and see what I mean about the text being very legible in this polyester version of the fabric?

Pride & Prejudice Text (in Black) fabric by eSheep Designs
Close-up of text on the top of the hat...

Back to my first statement above, it never occurred to me that it would be such a "high" to see my own fabric be brought to life as a functional item by someone else. All along, I had been anticipating that it would be cool for me to make something out of my original fabric. In hoping for actual sales, I also knew that people who buy fabric often buy it just to have it. (Yes, all you terrible fabric hoarders can admit to that!) So to have someone purchase the fabric and then make something so stunningly original out of it — in a span of a month — is totally mind-blowing.

This journey of mine continues to amaze me in ways I never could have imagined.

Thank you so much, Wendy, for making a dream that I didn't know I had come true in such an astonishing way! And of course, best of luck in the competition... :-)

UPDATE Sep 14: News from Wendy: "I just found out... I came in 2nd place in the contest! Lucking out & finding your fabric must have spilled over into the judging." WOW! Double wow!

To everyone else reading, if you like what you see, please show some love for Wendy and leave a comment. She'll be lurking in the background here, I'm sure.


  1. What a lovely article! Thanks again for sharing my hat with your readers.

  2. Wow Rochelle this has to be so thrilling to see your fabric designed into something so awesome such a hat, but oh not just any hat to be sure! Wendy obviously loves making hats and it totally shows. I have no idea what other creations will be made for this competition, but Wendy has my vote for a winning creation in her fabulous hat!!! Kudos to both of you, Rochelle & Wendy.

  3. I say WOW, too--Rochelle, your fabric looks fantastic as a hat.--SO fashion forward!! Thanks for introducing your readers to Wendy and her talents. It's an amazing work of art. And I'm not just saying that because I am a huge Jane Austen fan as well. To me, that's a perfect collaborative blend of creative efforts. :)


  4. Wow! Wendy, that is a spectacular work f artistry and craftsmanship right there. It is absolutely stunning for sure. And Rochelle, I can imagine how it must have felt for such beauty to have Ben created from YOUR personal designed fabric. Wow, just wow. As for me, my biggest success? I once saw something I had made (and not in the far off past!) in the garbage can at one of my local thrift stores...(sigh)...


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