Royal Ascot Hat Highlights

With the racing season in full swing, I thought you might like to see a few photos from my first Ladies Day at Royal Ascot. It was an amazing experience with a brass band playing on the lawn, singing at the bandstand and a fashion feast for the eyes. Here are a few pictures of some my favourite hats, of course I had to include a couple of my own designs too. I was so excited that one of my sculptural headpieces recieved some lovely media attention!

A look ahead to the next few weeks, on 29th September I will ‘launching’ my first bridal range at the Wedding Showcase at The Guildhall in Priory Park in Chichester – its a free event so please do pop along. I’ll also have a variety of my hats and headpieces on display too so if you have a special event coming up or just want to pop in to say hello it would be lovely to see you.

I have also been busy updating my website to make it easier to see examples of my handcrafted hats and headpieces, please do let me know what you think.

Until next time, happy hatting!

Beauty and the Business

Please excuse the title of this update, but it seems rather apt as over the last few months my millinery adventures have enabled me to work with some amazing local beauty and styling businesses.

It all began when I was invited to take part in a garden based wedding photoshoot to create two different bridal looks: ‘Boho’ and ‘Glamour’.

The weather was spectacular and it was great to work with so many local suppliers. Here are a few of the beautiful images taken by Charleigh Victoria Photography and our ‘dream team’ Hair: Sam Orwell Bridal Hair, Make Up: Kiri MUA, Cakes: Jen at Crafted Cakes and Bakes, Paper Flowers: Clare at Petal and Bird, Prop Hire- Hollie at Love from Hollie, Dresses- Bijou Bridal Boutique and hats and headpiece by me! If you would like to read more about the bridal photoshoot check out the blog post on Girl Gets Wed.

Yesterday I found myself co-hosting a Summer styling event with the very glamorous Vicky Booker, a personal stylist and coach, it was great fun to share my ‘top tips’ for hat wearing, answer lots of ‘hatty’ questions and help everyone try on their favourite hats and headpieces.

I’m also in the process of updating the ‘Frequently asked Questions’ section of my website. If you get the chance, please check out what’s already there and let me know what other questions you would like answered.

A little further afield, the talented Make Up Artist, Lauren Anderson, has also featured my handcrafted hats in her first ever hard copy magazine / look book. There is still something very special about seeing your business ‘in print’, it really made my week.

Online, Eclipse, a magazine which highlights the social side of racing – has recently featured our red, white and blue percher hat in their ‘Best of British’ gift collection.

Eclipse magazine are currently giving away one of my handcrafted headpieces in a free prize draw as part of their summer bonanza. The hat in the prize draw is this beautiful black and purple handcrafted headpiece which would look stunning at any wedding or race event. For details on how to enter the draw click here.

It has been a busy few months and there have been lots of fabulous people to meet with hats being created for clients in the UK and in France and America for weddings, Ascot and ceremonies at Buckingham Palace. When things get a little busy, I do end up neglecting my website – over the next few weeks I’ll try my best to to make sure you see lots more photos of my creations in action!

Until next time, happy hat wearing!


London Hat Week

I hope you are all having a fabulous and very sunny Easter weekend. It’s such a beautiful time in the garden seeing the flowers spring into life.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to see some amazing handcrafted flowers at The London Hat Week’s X Terrance ‘ World Garden’ theme hat exhibition. Here are a few of my favourite hats and headpieces – I just love how millinery combines such a wide range of crafts. As you can see from these images, felt work, silk flower making, feather work, embroidery and hand sewing skills have all been used to create these masterpieces.

As part of London Hat week, Sarah at the John Boyd Atelier in Knightsbridge held an exhibition of some of John Boyd’s work within her working millinery studio. John Boyd was one of London’s best loved milliners, making hats for Princess Anne and Diana Princess of Wales.

As well as visiting the exhibitions, London Hat week is all about milliners from around the world getting together to learn from each other and having the perfect excuse to wear a hat. At the weekend there is a suppliers fair where you can stock up on hat making materials and dream about the next hat block you want to buy! I’m currently developing a bridal collection based on some of the amazing techniques and fabrics that inspired me during London Hat Week – pop over to my insta or Facebook page to capture snapshots of their development!

Photo Shoot – behind the scenes

February has been a very exciting month here at Isabella Josie Millinery. If you have recently checked out the ‘shop’ section of my website, you will see that it has been updated with some beautiful photos of my hats and headpieces.

The images have been taken by Steve Ellis, who specialises in millinery photography and I’m delighted with the results. I love how each hat has come to life, each with its own personality. The clean background and composition of the photo draws your eye to the shape and line of the headpiece. This was my first ever photo shoot and I really wasn’t sure what to expect – incase you are wondering too I thought it would be fun to show you some of the behind the scenes action.

Once the photo shoot date had been confirmed, my main job was to package up my hats and headpieces in a sturdy postal box to ensure they arrived safely and in time for their big day. Although Steve has lots of experience working with hat makers, I wanted to make sure I also included lots of information on how the hats had been designed to be worn along with preferred styling to support the model (Molly Estellia) and Hair and Make up Artist (MUA), Lauren Anderson.

On the day of the photo shoot itself, the team were amazing – through the power of instagram and some great ‘insta’ stories it felt like I had joined the shoot – here are just a few of the images captured during the session. If you want to see more of the team’s work, just check out their instagram accounts @mollyestellia, @laurenanderson_makeup,

A few days after the photo shoot I was emailed over 96 images on a series of contact sheets – it was a tough job shortlisting my favourite 20 for editing! To access the final photos (a set of high and low resolution photos – for website and social media) I just needed to download them from a cloud storage site. Here are a sneak peek of some of the final photo’s – just check out the hat descriptions in the shop section of my website to see some more!

Hand Dyeing Silk Abaca for a Bespoke Millinery Headpiece

This week I’ve been experimenting with colour to bring some sunshine into my West Sussex millinery studio. It’s the first time I’ve hand dyed silk abaca and I must say I’m delighted with the results. Would you like to see?

This photo shows the ivory silk abaca as it is placed into its bath of Jacquard acid dye – to make this colour I mainly used ‘yellow sun’ with a little pinch of ‘cherry red’. I just love how the colour slowly creeps up the fabric as it is submerged.

Silk abaca dyeing with Jacquard acid dyes

Whilst the fabric was in it’s bath, I couldn’t help myself – I had to pop in a variety of feathers too!

Once the fabric had dried it turned into this beautiful daffodil yellow.

Perfect for making some gorgeous silk abaca flowers for one of my bespoke hats.

With a little bit of shaping and millinery magic it wasn’t long before the petals could be seen in all their glory – can you see that gorgeous yellow as the underside of these flowers?

Silk Abaca Flower for Bespoke Headpiece – Isabella Josie Millinery

And as for the finished handcrafted  headpiece, would you like a sneaky peak?  It will form part of my Spring  / Summer 2019 collection, such an elegant design for the racing season. It’s a hat that looks stunning from every angle, it’s  sure to be one of this years favourites.

Top Tips for Finding the Right Hat

The Amazing World of Hats

A hat is a stylish accessory that frames your face, it flatters and protects. A hat can give you confidence and transform an outfit, it makes a statement about how you are feel and who you want to be.

So how do you find one the right hat for you?

When choosing a hat, be open minded – you need to try on lots of different shapes of hats, until you get one that wants to make you ‘stand a little taller. 

  • View yourself in a full length mirror – you need to make sure the hat balances your body proportions.
  • Try on the hat with the outfit and accessories you will be wearing it with. The  hat will need to complement your outfit as well as the colour of your hair, eyes and skin. 
  • Think about your face shape, do you want your hat to highlight your best features, after all, the hat is the most photographed part of your body. If you are wearing glasses, how will they work with the brim?
  • Try positioning the hat at different angles – worn horizontally a straight brim can be rather harsh, but at an angle, it can bring height.
  • Think about the occasion, is it formal or casual? Check out the dress code – some race meetings have a minimum hat base size. Will people need to see ‘over your head/hat’? 
  • How will you have your hair? If you are having an elaborate hair style, you might prefer a smaller cocktail or saucer shape hat that perches to one side of your face to avoid a full crown squashing your hat.
  • What sort of head-fitting do you prefer? There are some many possibilities – millinery elastic, comb, alice band, slip or a deep crown? 

If you would like to commission your own hat and have it uniquely made just for you so that the size, shape, fabric, trim and colour combination suits your appearance and personality please get in contact.

Fascinator Making Workshops in West Sussex

As you may know, some of my hats and headpiece are available to buy through
Bosham Walk Art and Craft Centre in Bosham, a picturesque costal village in West Sussex. If you are in the local area, both Bosham and Bosham Walk, with its amazing treasure trove of beautiful art and craftwork, are lovely places to visit. Bosham even has an ancient church that was mentioned in infamous Bayeaux tapestry.

I’m delighted to announce that I’m going to be offering Fascinator Making workshops at Bosham Walk. The Fascinator Making workshops are great fun and are ideal for hen parties, birthday celebrations and ‘get-togethers’ with friends. If you would like to book one, just let me know – sessions are available at the weekend and in the evenings. Fascinator Making Workshop West Sussex


A Step by Step Guide to Making a Felt Cloche Hat

A helpful post for Felt Cloche Hat Making


Felt cloche with side swept brimStep 1: Select the blocks you are going to use to shape the fabric and cover them in plastic. Make up a water-based stiffening solution (8:1 for felt). Soak the felt hood in this stiffening solution.

Step 2: Stretch the felt hood and pull the base of the hood over the brim block. Pin the hood roughly in place (North, South, East, West) to hold in place.

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