Sheffield-based bespoke millinery for all occasions


Nautilus Headbands Now In Stock

Pleated Ribbon Shell Headband with beads

Brand new for Spring 2020 are these little pieces of millinery history; I bring you the Nautilus headbands 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 headbands are no exception!

These are a wonderful way to own a little bit of millinery history and would make a unique gift or glorious bridal headpiece. I could mount these shells on a comb and in combination with a birdcage veil, these would be perfect for a vintage inspired bride. 

(I should probably add making a sample of this idea to my to-do list!)

There are currently 3 designs of Nautilus headbands now in stock, however I do have more to photograph. Easier said than done as this ribbon ripples in the light! I will be adding those to the shop in due course.

Aside from the colour of the ribbon and beads, each of these designs is subtly different. By using different widths of ribbon I have created different size shells.

By combining the shells with different feature points, I can create more oval or more scroll-like shapes. Who knew these shells could get more swirly!

However, I can also make these headbands in custom colours of both ribbon and beads. If you would like to have a chat about this, please do get in touch

I have just sent my first bespoke designs to a client in Slovenia, I hope you like these designs as much as she does!

X Terrace Exhibition 2020 at London Hat Week

X Terrace London Hat Week Exhibition 2020
X Terrace London Hat Week Exhibition 2020

The X Terrace Exhibition is the jewel in the crown of London Hat Week and this year, I am incredibly honoured to have one of my designs featured!

My “Nautilus” hat has been selected as one of the 200 designs to be be shown during this week long festival of all things millinery. 

With milliners from all over the world submitting their designs, I am simply over the moon that my hat has been chosen for this accolade.

London Hat Week takes place between 16th and 22nd April 2020 at a variety of locations across the capital. The week kicks off with a Launch Party (naturally!) and the schedule includes exclusive tours, workshops, talks, and social events bringing milliners together from all over the world.

The X Terrace Exhibition: To the Future and Back will run between 16th and 24th April and tickets for admission can be bought here.

Menier Gallery, 51-53 Southwark Street, Bankside, London, SE1 1RU

11am-6pm  (Closed Sunday 19th April)


Frequent readers of my blog will know that 2019 was most definitely the year of the Nautilus for me. 

From learning how to create these extraordinary shells, to researching their history (I haven’t finished that yet!) and creating this hat, it’s certainly been a “journey”.

However, it feels wonderfully apt that this part of the story, that started at London Hat Week 2018, should finish right back where it started.

Click here to read the full blog series to date.

Image: Mark Howe

Beaded Nautilus Hat by Imogen's Imagination

In addition to the exhibition, X Terrace are also hosting a pop up shop where participating milliners can sell their designs. Many of the exhibition hats are for sale, however this shop will showcase the further talents and expertise of the exhibition milliners, at dare I say it, non-exhibition prices!

Sadly, my exhibition hat isn’t for sale. I simply couldn’t put a price on it! I suspect you may spot a familiar theme for my choice of hat for the pop up shop though. 

I shall be in London for part of the festivities and I can’t wait. So far on my itinerary are two launch parties, two talks, a possible trip to Luton, some serious supplies shopping and potentially even a catch up with some family. It’s going to be a VERY busy five days for me! 

If you are visiting London at this time, I hope you will make time to visit the exhibition which promises to be a hat lovers delight. It goes without saying that I will be making a very special visit to see my hat on display too!

My Nautilus Hat

My Nautilus Hat a blog by Imogen's Imagination

I am thrilled to be able to finally unveil my finished Nautilus hat! My blog series about the technique still has a few more installments to come. However, this hat has truly been a labour of love (and occasionally hate!) as I massively underestimated the work involved it’s creation.

Edward Mann Hat 1956 - Hat Works Collection

Whilst I absolutely adore the red nautilus half-hat I saw at Stockport Hat Museum during my research trip, I didn’t want to make this style of hat.

I wanted to create a vintage inspired design, not a faithful reproduction.

However, I was inspired by the construction of this hat for my design. Rather than used a blocked foundation, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. After all, this project has been all about challenging myself!

With this design brief in mind, I decided to pick possibly my favourite hat shape, a boater. A classic shape, reminiscent of days gone by, but fabulously contemporary thanks to a revival on the race tracks of both Australia and the UK

My first task was to create the nautilus motifs. I hadn’t entirely decided how I was actually going to create the shape. The plan was to do some thinking whilst I pleated and stitched. I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time doing that!

I knew I would need a lot of nautili to fit my boater block and it took an entire weekend in the studio to complete the motifs for the brim…even with some sneaky production line techniques

Planning a Nautilus hat by Imogen's Imagination

I used my block to plan the layout of the nautili. This also allowed me to build the design from the brim upwards.

I knew I wanted to create distinct sections to the hat; brim, hat band, crown.

I decided I would use varying shapes and sizes of nautili to create these layers to that hat. I also knew I wanted to add extra embellishment, however that too was to be considered during pleating time!

The next big consideration was the foundation of the hat. I chose to replicate the wire frame of the classic 1950’s half hat. However, there was a significant amount of engineering involved. I used wire shaped around my hat black to create the frame.

This was then wrapped with tulle to add both strength and anchorage for further stitching. I also added tarlatan bias strips to all the areas that would support the next layer of the hat base.

I wasn’t so diligent at recording all the following stages of the process as by this time I was getting a little concerned about timescales. This was my work desk at the end of the second full weekend working on the hat!

Nautilus Work in Progress

Half a wire frame hat made
x2 metres of wire wrapped in tulle
x3 stabbing injuries
x5 metres of ribbon pleated
x10 new nautilus sewn
x10 6mm Swarovski pearls sewn
x16 hours of studio time
x330 2mm Swarovski pearls sewn

After a third, and final, full weekend of working on the hat I’d made good headway. I’d covered the frame with silk dupion and all the decoration was finished. I did wonder whether I should be faithful to the 1950’s construction and kept the gaps between each nautilus. However, my  pledge to avoid an attempt at reproduction won…and I also wanted the hat to be perfectly finished at whatever angle it was seen from.

wire frame for a boater hat covered with silk

The final task was to add a lining to the crown and an inner hat band.

I often joke that millinery is all about hiding your working, unlike maths! However another reason is that the first thing a milliner will do when looking at a hat is to take a peek inside.

We want to know how a design has been made, so we’re always looking for secrets. But we’re also looking to see if the same attention to detail has been lavished on the one part, that no one but the wearer sees. It’s all about the details!


Mark Howe photographing a hat by Imogen's Imagination

After my Herculean labours, I felt this hat deserved to documented for posterity. 

It also deserved to photographed by someone who could capture its intricacies as I really wasn’t the woman for the job.

A huge thank you to my fellow Yorkshire Artspace studio holder, Mark Howe, for taking on the challenge.

As you see from my rather shaky picture of Mark at work, I was absolutely right to leave this job to a professional!

So here it is, my finished Nautilus hat in all its swirly, whirly and utterly unique glory!

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put a price on this hat, nor will I ever be able to part with it. However, if you would like to own a little bit of millinery history, I have just launched a range on Nautilus brooches. You can find them in store here.

STOP PRESS: This hat will be on display as part of The X Terrace Exhibition: To the Future and Back during London Hat week in April 2020. Click here for more information.

Nautilus Boater Hat by Imogen's Imagination
Black and Cream Nautilus Hat by Imogen's Imagination
Beaded Nautilus Hat by Imogen's Imagination
My Nautilus Hat a blog by Imogen's Imagination

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!

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.