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London Hat Week: Nautilus Workshop

Back in March last year, I attended a workshop at London Hat Week to learn how to make Nautilus trimmings. It was run by the brilliant Leanne Fredrick of Hattin Around and I was very excited to be attending.

Many moons ago, when I first started using Pinterest, I kept seeing the most amazing ribbon trims created using a pleating method. 

Very quickly I learnt that these amazing ribbon shell-shaped motifs had the very apt name of “Nautilus” after the sea creature they resemble.

Nautilus- Leanne Fredrick Hattin Around
Nautilus- Leanne Fredrick Hattin Around

Some of the images I have collected over the years show these vintage style trims used simply as decoration. However, I’ve also seen multiple nautili (Google says this is the plural!) in different shapes and sizes used to create 50’s style half hats.

For years, I’d seen these trims on Pinterest, but despite my best efforts, I simply couldn’t hunt down a “how to” guide. When I saw Leanne’s workshop being advertised, I knew I just simply had to be there!

(If you are a Pinterest hoarder too, and want to see just how bad my Pinterest habit is, check out my Ribbonwork board here!)

The workshop was immense fun and creating my first Nautilus brought with it a huge sense of achievement. It was far from being as accomplished as those created by Leanne for her workshop samples, let alone the glorious half hat she made using the technique. However, practice makes perfect.

Nautilus Workshop - Sample Progress

As soon as I got back to the studio, I settled down to try again. Needless to say, I was very eager to trial using my newly learnt skill on a hat. 

My sample from the workshop may be a little rough and ready, however the mismatched thread was a conscious decision. I knew I would need a reminder of where my stitches were supposed to be!

Naturally, on the finished nautilus my aim was make my stitches as invisible as possible.

This plum felt mini button hat was designed with the specific goal of mixing a variety of textures.

Felt is a wonderfully versatile material and this deep plum purple shade is perfect for autumn.

It features a veiling overlay, felt loops for a little height and the star of the show, a nautilus!

I confess, I still have yet to get a full set of images of this design, but as soon as I do, it will be available in my online shop!

Plum Felt Button Hat with Nautilus

Fast forward again to June 2019…when I finally got chance to revisit my practice again! It’s fair to say this learning process has been a slow burner, however, it truly has been worth the wait.

During the course of a week I experimented using different widths of ribbon, playing with the size of the pleats, altering the length of the ribbon all in the quest for the perfect nautilus. 

There were certainly a few Goldilocks moments during this process!

Nautilus Workshop - Further Sampling

However, this isn’t the end of my Nautilus journey, in fact it’s just the beginning!

In August I visited Stockport-based milliner Bronwen Simpson and we had a wonderful chat about this technique and what little we knew about its history and usage.

I should mention that Bronwen isn’t just an award-winning milliner, she also happens to be Museums Officer at Hat Works, the Museum of Hatting. Yes, she does have a pair of dream jobs!

Bronwen very kindly invited me to visit the museum for some behind the scenes access to their collection as well as the museum’s reference library. Knowing there are hats in the collection that use this technique, how could I possible refuse?

As for where this adventure of discovery went next, I’ll save that for my second blog!

End Note:

I don’t know if Leanne is running her Nautilus workshop at London Hat Week 2020 (16-22 April), but check out their website for further updates of the full workshop programme when it is published. Maybe I’ll see you there!

UPDATE: You can now find the fruits of my labours in store! Check out my new designs featuring the Nautilus technique here.

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