I had three beautiful vintage mink hats which had belonged to my late mother. I couldn’t wear them because they were too small for me, but I had held on to them for many years because they carried a lot of sentimental value.
After doing some googling, I found Sue Wood Millinery online and wrote to her asking for help in making my mother’s hats wearable. My mother’s hats were very old, so I was a little worried that Sue would not enjoy working with the old materials – opposed to sparkling new ones - but Sue said she liked a challenge and was more than happy to see what she could do.
One of the mink hats was resized to fit my precise measurements – and it looks delightful. As well as being too small, the other two hats had no brim – and I don’t suit brimless hats. Sue and I decided to combine them into one superb winter hat, inspired by a striking winter bag I took along to our consultation.
In our consultations, we discussed the style, colours and materials. Despite my 87 years, I didn’t want my hat to look old-fashioned so I wondered whether I should go for a “mod rocker” style hat but Sue carefully and tactfully guided my back to my usual classic and elegant style, which really made me smile. In the end, I opted for a full brimmed hat made from dark brown leather with a cream silk lining – using the fur of my mother’s hats on the crown.
It was so easy to build a strong rapport with Sue and I really enjoyed her company. We kept in touch over the phone and via email and I trusted that the end result would be what I was looking for and oh, it was…
I went to collect my hat from Sue in her glamorous new studio at Brimstage (which was feminine and fantastical). When I went in, there were my hats. Wow! They were stunning and absolutely drop dead gorgeous. My mother would be so pleased with the outcome. Sue has so wonderfully captured the style of my winter handbag and created two elegant, glamorous hats that I can wear.
The latter part of the year can be a difficult for me but now that I have these hats, I have found another very happy way to remember my mother.
Dorothy Monk, 87 years old.
How these hats were made...
Hat 1: Dark brown brimless mink fur hat
Hat 2: Lighter brown brimless mink hat
Inside Hat 1: So old the interfacing had disintegrated and turned into powder
Inside Hat 2: Shows how the strips were placed over the crown
Hats 1 and 2 deconstructed. Notice how different the lengths of fur are - it was a challenge to combine them into one hat.
Bespoke leather brim made to suit Dorothy
Planning the layout using the two different colours of fur.
Dorothy's bag which inspired the design of the hat
Left: Resized hat
Right: Upcycled hat