Nautilus Brooches Now In Stock

Nautilus Brooches Now in Stock

Brand new for Christmas 2019 are these little pieces of millinery history; I bring you the Nautilus brooches and they are in stock now!

If you’ve been following my blog series on the Nautilus technique so far, you’ll have seen I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. And these brooches are no exception!

These are a wonderful way to own a little bit of millinery history and would make a unique gift for a hat lover.

I do have more to photograph and I will be adding those to the shop in due course. However, I can also make these in custom colours. If you would like to have a chat about this, please do get in touch.

I have used glass seed beads to add a little extra sparkle to these brooches and this first upload feature two colours. Transparent red glass beads with a foiled centre for extra shimmer and glorious iridescent peacock colour tones in gold, green and purple. Yes, my inner magpie is very happy with these!

These brooches will be sent in a gift box, making them even easier to wrap. It will also help to protect them whilst not being worn.

If you came to visit my studio this month during Open Studios, you will have seen these brooches first hand. Super light and super versatile, you can wear them however you want! Naturally, I just had to see what they looked like on a beret.

I hope you like the new Nautilus brooches that are now in stock. However, if there are any additional colours you would like to see in stock, please do let me know.

New Lines Now Added!

Open Studios at Exchange Place

Imogen's Imagination Open Studios 2019
Imogen's Imagination Open Studios 2019

Open Studios is always the annual highlight of the year at Exchange Place Studios.

Ever wondered what artists get up to in their creative spaces? 

Our Open Studios event is a rare opportunity to find out!

Naturally, my studio on the 5th Floor will be open for you to visit. This is your chance to see where I spend my days working, and catch me doing some demonstrations too…every day is a work day!

This is the perfect chance to come and play with hats as I will have a full display set up. There will be some new designs, as well as firm favourites. 

This will be my only event before Christmas and my card reader will be primed to allow you to start your gift shopping!

If you want to start your wish list, you can see all designs in stock here.

Visitors can venture inside both the Yorkshire Artspace Sheffield City Centre buildings and see over 100 artists and makers from over 30 different disciplines at work. There really is something for everyone!

Open Studios is a chance to catch a glimpse into the creative process, chat with the artists and makers and even buy work direct from the space it comes to life in.

There will also be a chance to view the Painterly Exchange exhibition at Exchange Place during Open Studios.

If you fancy getting creative, there will also be the opportunity to take part in free painting workshops during the weekend.

Need to refuel?  Local cafe Albie’s will serving coffee and cake on site too!

Yprkshire Artspace Open Studios 2019

If you would like a sneaky peek at what you can expect to see during the weekend, check out the fab video from Yorkshire Artspace…you may spot a familiar face!

When I agreed to be filmed, I didn’t know that the footage would be used in a separate project.

Imagine my shock (one dark, rainy and very late Friday night) on seeing images of myself being projected onto the side of the studio!

However, it was a huge honour to be featured as part of the Making Masterpieces project in conjunction with the Big Draw Mural.

Over 300 people took part in creating the mural and you can see it next to Exchange Place studios.

Imogen's Imagination Making Masterpieces

Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th November

11am – 5pm

Exchange Place Studios, Exchange Street, S2 5TR – Find me on Floor 5

Persistence Works, 21 Brown Street, S1 2BS

Facebook Event

Hat Works: Researching the Nautilus

Hat Works: Researching the Nautilus

In my first blog about my Nautilus Journey I told you how it all started…so what happened next? My next, very exciting stop was a trip to Hat Works in Stockport to start researching the nautilus!

Hat Works: Researching the Nautilus

Museums Officer Bronwen (aka Bronwen Simpson, award winning Stockport-based milliner) arranged for me to have access to museum’s research library. But first, she allowed me to see THE MOST delicious hat up close. Yes, I did get to handle it and yes, I was wearing gloves!

Made by Edward Mann in the 1950’s, this hat is just the most exquisite example of the nautilus being used to create a half hat. A hat shape that pretty much embodies the 1950s!

Edward Mann Red Half Hat 1956 - Hat Works Collection
Hat Works: Researching the Nautilus - Edward Mann Ribbon Hat 1956 - Hat Works Collection

These nautili have been painstakingly made using red petersham ribbon, an ongoing staple material in modern day millinery and something which I love working with. The first thing I noticed was the total absence of visible stitches on the outer of the hat. I thought I had been doing so well hiding my stitches in my samples. Now I had to totally rethink my approach!

Luckily, the hat is not lined so ALL the stitching is visible on the inside. This may sound unusual, however, for a milliner on a mission, this was vital information. Also, these stitches were anything but messy! Uniform, neat and very helpful in giving away a few secrets…even if they did test my phone’s macro camera setting.

Edward Mann Nautilus Hat 1956 - Hat Works Collection
Edward Mann Hat 1956 - Hat Works Collection

Realising that I still have a lot of work to do in perfecting my own technique, I decided it was time to hit the library. My goal was to find a reference, an image, anything relating to this trimming technique. So far, all I knew was that it was around in the 1950’s, but how old was it? Where did it come from? Why did it fall from favour?

Before long, it was time for a quick break.

I’m really not one for sharing photos of my meals, but I have to give Laco Café and Bistro a special mention…that was THE best cheese toastie I have EVER had the pleasure of eating. Thank you so much to Bronwen for treating me!

Laco will now be my go-to place for lunch every time I am in Stockport and if you are visiting, I urge you to check it out! 

Laco Cafe and Bistro Stockport

After lunch I knuckled back down to the books to continue my search. As the afternoon drew on, I became a little despondent.

I wasn’t really finding what I was looking for.  I wasn’t expecting to find things instantly (where would the fun be in that?) but I was completely drawing a blank.

Then, I struck gold with these three trade magazines from 1956. The first was actually published by Edward Mann, the maker of the super star hat I’d seen in the morning! The second two were industry magazines featured adverts from a whole host of long-gone millinery companies from across the UK.

However, something became very clear whilst I was flicking through these. These were manufactured hats, the types to be wholesaled to outfitters, boutiques and departments stores. These were miles away from the couture hat I had seen in the morning.

It dawned on me that I was approaching my research from totally the wrong direction.

I had been focusing on fashion trends and mainstream fashion. This was, without being snobby, aimed at the general public. The highly skilled work that I’d seen in the morning was unlikely to be made in a factory. Not necessarily because of the skill level, simply due to the time it would have taken to sew by hand. This was not a viable design for mass production!

Unfortunately, this revelation came to me at the end of the day and it was nearly time for me to get my train back to Sheffield.

However, with a brain buzzing with ideas, I did a quick pit stop via the Hat Works shop.

I’d treated myself to some super wide ribbon when I came in August…and I wanted a little top up for my own nautilus sampling.

The brand colour notebook may also have fallen into my shopping basket – well I do need to keep a record of my sampling!

I had a wonderful day at Hat Works researching the nautilus and my train journey home passed in a flash as I plotted the next stages of my research. I’ll let you know how my new plan of action goes in my next blog.

London Hat Week: Nautilus Workshop

Plum Felt Button Hat with Nautilus

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.

#HATstock: Hatty Heaven with The Hat Stand

The Hat Stand does HATstock

The Hat Stand does #HATstockEarlier in the year myself and my Hat Stand Sheffield collaborators Amanda and Siobhan were invited to speak at the inaugural HATstock at Hat Works: Museum of Hatting in Stockport.

The event was to be a celebration of hat making in the North and we were incredibly honoured to have been invited to not only take part in the showcase, but to give a talk about how we, as individuals, got into millinery and how we got together to become The Hat Stand.


We have been booked by a number of womens groups to deliver this talk in the run up to this year’s pop-up shop, but this was the first time we were going to deliver it in public (not my dining room!). We had the usual normal nerves about public speaking, but then who doesn’t?


Then we found out about who some of the other speakers were and there were some pretty illustrious people in the hatty world. I’m actually playing this down, as I’m still slightly overwhelmed that we were invited to be on the same bill! The other speakers included the organiser of London Hat Week Georgina Abbott; long term supporter of Hat Stand and editor of HATalk Magazine Becky Weaver; and my former tutor from Leeds College of Art, Sharon Bainbridge, a nationally renowned tutor and curator of hat exhibitions.


Yeah, slight quickening of heart rate…until I found out that spaces for our talk had sold out. I’ll be honest, then I just felt a bit sick!


As well as our talk, we had been offered the opportunity to display some of our work as part of the Millinery Showcase at the event. Cue a frantic discussion about how to create a slick and professional display as new details about the space emerged. We genuinely had an entire two hour meeting devoted to photo frames. The style, the size, the cost and how quickly we could source them. This was a whole new world for us, we know the pop-up shop so well now we can just rock up and set-up! This proved to be a useful example for our talk when discussing how collaboration, co-operation and compromise works between the three of us!


The extended chat was worth while though and we were really pleased with our final display.



The next task was actually delivering our talk. We knew what we wanted to say…we just needed to do it! Despite all our natural nerves, I was so proud of us all for how well we worked together to offer an insight into our girl gang. We backed each other up, prompted important points, but equally gave each other time to say what we needed to say. Kinda just like we always do at meetings!


Our audience were lovely and friendly, they laughed in the right places, gave a tremendous applause and even came to compliment us on our delivery afterwards. Needless to say, this reaction has helped buoy our confidence to deliver this talk in the future, just as well as we are booked for another two sessions on this topic!


HATstock the audience


Once this scary bit of the day was out of the way, we were free to enjoy the other goodies on offer at HATstock. We were able to enjoy the other talks, chat with the other millinery showcase participants, do a bit of supplies shopping and meet the huge numbers of hat enthusiasts who came from all over the country.


However, the total icing on my cake that day was selling a hat that I had specifically chosen to bring to HATstock.


I actually made the base shape of the hat a year ago when I attended an open blocking session at the museum (You can read my blog about it here). This was when I first met Bronwen, the brains behind HATstock, so it seemed very fitting to bring the finished piece.  Despite completing the design last year, on Friday morning I decided it was missing a little something. Nothing like a last minute design change to help with increased stress levels. But I’m so glad I added the gold painted edging to the petals on the hat, it really did make all the difference, and it’s new owner certainly though so too!




Blocking a straw hat

HATstock Imogens Imagination

I also chose to wear a rather special hat myself (I would have been totally under dressed without one!) and that too had a Hat Work link too.

It was another of the pieces that I had blocked at the same session last year, but that had remained completely unfinished until the Friday before HATstock! I really didn’t think any of this through.



We had a simply fantastic day at HATstock and we have to offer our gratitude and huge thanks to the amazing Bronwen and all the Hat Works staff who worked so, so hard to make the event happen. We were so honoured to be invited to take part and it was such a privilege to be involved in such a brilliantly organised event.


Hats off folks, you nailed it! Thank you so much from The Hat Stand

HATstock The Hat Stand Sheffield