Sarah Havens' Profile

About

I am a milliner who designs and builds hats using two different methods of millinery. One is the traditional old-world method of hand blocking that uses felt or straw to create custom hats. The other method is called "cut and sew" in which I use custom drawn patterns and assemble the hat from fabric. Using these two methods and sometimes a combination of the two, I create hats for men and women for everyday wear and special occasions.
Hand blocking is a fascinating process of soft sculpture in which the application of steam to a shapeless felt or straw hood makes the fibers malleable, allowing the milliner’s hands and a wooden tool called a tollicker to freely form the material. While the formation of the body of the hat is a creative task that only the trained eye may perceive, the decorative trims added by the milliner projects her individual sense of form in a more spectacular way…

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  • Female
  • Joined April 11, 2010

Favorite materials

Fur felt, leather, vintage broaches, feathers, waxed cotton and wool, vegan

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About

I am a milliner who designs and builds hats using two different methods of millinery. One is the traditional old-world method of hand blocking that uses felt or straw to create custom hats. The other method is called "cut and sew" in which I use custom drawn patterns and assemble the hat from fabric. Using these two methods and sometimes a combination of the two, I create hats for men and women for everyday wear and special occasions.
Hand blocking is a fascinating process of soft sculpture in which the application of steam to a shapeless felt or straw hood makes the fibers malleable, allowing the milliner’s hands and a wooden tool called a tollicker to freely form the material. While the formation of the body of the hat is a creative task that only the trained eye may perceive, the decorative trims added by the milliner projects her individual sense of form in a more spectacular way. Materials are potentially unlimited and I find my initial inspiration primarily in the individual’s personality. When the client comes to pick up the hat, it is further styled to complement the face. Whether the hat is a traditional style or freely-formed one–like my cloche hats for women–I strive to make each one unique.
My business is driven in part by the tradition of wearing exuberant hats to the Kentucky Derby and the Oaks, but I also respond to popular shows like Downton Abbey (Victorian), Ms Fischer's Murder Mysteries and The Great Gadsby (1920s’ modernism/Art Nouveau). The women’s cloche and men's fedora style of hats, so characteristic of the 1920s has become my signature hat, both because I am fascinated by the period and because it is easy to wear and can be molded for a variety of facial types. In the spirit of the times, I often add a flare of dramatic shape or color to the classic style (the Cloche or the Fedora).

All my hats are well made and well designed with the intent to last a lifetime. The classic look of these hats endure not only because of their lasting impact of fashion history, but the purity, simplicity and beauty of their forms.

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