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Finalist in International Hat Contest! / Hat of the Day – Cuttlefish Cloche by Ginger Strand, 2010

April 13, 2010

I entered my first millinery competition in January of this year, sponsored by and National NonWovens to promote their WoolFelt line of felts.  My inspiration was cephalopods, particularly octopi because I LOVE octopi for their intelligence and beauty – but all of my octopi designs looked like an octopus attacking one’s head, so I changed my source of inspiration to the cuttlefish and my final design was the Cuttlefish Cloche!

Imagine my excitement when Ms. Mishler (JudithM herself) contacted me to say I was one of seven FINALISTS in this international competition!  The final judging was completed and the winners did not include my hat, but I was so honored and thrilled that my hat made it to the finals among international entries, especially as it was my first contest.  I don’t know yet how many entries they had total, but I do know that it was open to anyone in the world who was on the JudithM email newsletter list. featured the winning entries in their April e-newsletter on their website here.

In the meantime, rather than drawing a Hat of the Day, I decided to post my contest entry hat instead.  I’ve also posted the JudithM photo of my finalist hat on their model at the end of this post.  My entry was for the Flat Pattern category (there were Flat Pattern and Blocked categories).  I took a basic cloche pattern and altered it according to my sketch, then decided to make two brims because one didn’t feel like enough to convey the movement of cuttlefish fins (the wavy things on the sides of their bodies).  I lined the hat and topstitched around the edges.  Once it was all sewn, I painted the outside of the hat; the underside of the brims; and all the edges with fabric paint emulating various patterns that cuttlefish display.  The entire process was strongly reminiscent to me of the ceramic process; painting the hat particularly reminded me of glazing a ceramic pot and the aesthetic decisions you have to make when glazing to ensure the design and colors fit the personality of the pot to enhance, rather than detract from, it.

The icing on the cake was the brooch I created which sits on the left side of the hat and can be removed.  The shape and painted pattern is like the chambered nautilus (also a cephalopod) but the feathers in the brooch also refer visually to the cuttlefish tentacles when they are gathered up tight.

We also had to submit an artist statement about our entry – let me know if you want to read it!

About WoolFelt:  I enjoyed working with the WoolFelt.  It was thin enough to sew with and not give me too many issues, even when I had several layers sewn together as with my two brims (there were 5 layers of WoolFelt plus the lining where the two brims attached to the crown and I was still able to sew with a regular needle and I believe I used standard thread, too).  Because it can also be blocked, the WoolFelt gave me enough stretch to mold and sculpt it a bit; you can see some of this in my Cuttlefish Cloche in two places: on the right side of the hat (left side if looking straight on) where I steam pressed the crown in two places using my tailor’s ham to create a wavy effect on the side of the hat.  You can also see some “sculpting” of the WoolFelt in the topmost, smallest brim right in the center top of the crown – I finger-pressed the brim to be a little more wavy than what my pattern made it do naturally.

I had enough WoolFelt left to make another hat and I’m curious about what it feels like to block it.  This fall, I’ll be working with WoolFelt again, I’m sure.  You can purchase WoolFelt from and I recently saw some of it in a local JoAnn’s Fabric store.

As always, please feel free to comment on this post below.  If you like what you see here, subscribe to this blog for more great millinery stuff!

The Cuttlefish Cloche by Ginger Strand, 2010 model in Cuttlefish Cloche, press photo

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2010 7:30 pm

    That’s very impressive. Congratulations!

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