Middle and right picture is the replikate hat made by Brandi, for sale at Girl Fabulosity for US$ 205
But looking at those gorgeous hats, Brandi wanted more to do than dream of those gorgeous hats, she wanted to make them! That is why she started the Etsy shop GirlFabulosity, where she sells very beautiful replikates of the hats worn by Kate. I always like to hear more about the 'story behind the store', so I thought it would be fun to meet and interview the girl behind GirlFabulosity and learn a bit about her process of making Kate's hats.
Hi Brandi! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 31 and I live in Winston Salem, North Carolina, which is a very small town in the very middle of the state. I hold a full time job as a manager at Walgreens. When I am not making hats or working, I like to do a lot of online shopping, and I scrapbook, which I haven’t done in about a year because of the hat-making business, which has become more successful than I ever anticipated! In the spare time I have left I love watching Bones and Law and Order SVU re-runs. And last but not least: I have been married to my fabulous supportive husband for four years now. Together, we have two small dogs, my maltipoo Ziggy and my poodle Nessie.
You have been an active member of the so-called ‘Kate Appreciation Society’ (a.k.a What Kate Wore and all other Kate-related blogs and facebook pages) for quite a while now. When did your love for Kate’s style begin and why?
Kate has a style that is classic and timeless, and it falls in the lines with Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly along with Princess Diana (even though I don’t like to compare her to Princess Di). She has an effortless style that any age girl/women can wear and look great in it! I mean, who can honestly just put on a pair of boots and jeans and a t-shirt and look immaculate?
Right: large black sinamay hat with ostrich feathers made by Brandi and for sale at GirlFabulosity for US$ 280.
GirlFabulosity started completely out of a whim. I had no idea I would be doing so well with it as I am doing today! In 2011 I got very ill and for nine months I was out of work off and on. I could not exert much energy, and basically laid on the couch sleeping, or browsing the web. It was then that I stumbled across Etsy and several great stores that sold supplies to make fascinators and hats, so to keep busy I ordered some feathers and a couple of round bases from England and just started from scratch. The first few I made were for dogs and not people, but the more I played around with what I had I wanted more, so I ordered more and bigger stuff. Then I decided to order a hat block, which was really exciting for me because those are quite pricey. One hat block can cost up to $400. Luckily I got mine from someone who didn't need it anymore, for only $150. By now I also ordered a few new hat blocks, so I have a good collection to work with. I never took any lessons in hat making, as there are none offered anywhere near me, so I basically study a picture and duplicate it. I had some vintage hats so I could see how they were sewn together. If I cannot figure out how to do something I can normally google it or ask a fellow milliner. By now, I love experimenting with different kinds of fabrics!
I love hats, but I have no idea what it actually takes to make a hat. Can you tell me a bit about the process? What do you use? How much time goes into one hat?
The process of making a hat is mostly the same for all types. First, I start with straw or sinamay and wet it so that it is playable. Then I stretch and pull it over the hat block and make sure that it is pulled nice and with no bumps, and then I pin it. This base then needs several layers of stiffener, until it reaches the stiffness that I need. When I make a felt hat, this process is basically the same, except then I use steam to shape it. The more steam, the more stretch the hat has.
After the base is dried and shaped I carefully remove it from the block and put wire around the brim and trim it with petersham ribbon, or I just turn the brim over the wire and sew it. When this is done, I add the decorative trims of feathers and such. Then you have a hat!
All the hats Kate wears are great to make. However, I do get tired sometimes of making the same hat over and over again, because just when I think that I have time to start on a hat of my own design, I get a new hat order and I don’t have time to work on it. But the Etsy business is great, so I don't complain!
The felt hats are the easiest to make and the quickest. The straw hats take more time, but I enjoy making them more because the outcome is so lovely. There are two hats that were really frustrating to make. The first one was the light pink hat with lace trim that Kate wore to the Buckingham Palace garden party in 2012. That hat is made out of two different parts that you put together, but there are these little tails that come out from under the brim, and it has these lace appliques on top. Luckily, every time I make the pink hat I am able to improve it.
The other hat that is really difficult is the nude beaded cocktail hat that Kate wore with the nude lace McQueen dress to the Diamond Jubilee church service. I once started on it, but it has so much hand beading I decided to stop half way. This hat isn't really hard to make because it is a difficult design, but adding the beads by hand is very time consuming, and the more time consuming it is, the more the cost of the hat goes up. I want to try to keep the costs down so I am still trying to find a way to offer this hat cheaper.
Right: straw and lace hat made by Brandi for sale at GirlFabulosity for US$ 200.
Haha, of course I don’t know what the future has in store for me! In theory I would love to be able to quit my full time job and only work on hats. But I would have to sell a lot of hats for that to happen! I would love to be able to go somewhere and take classes and improve my skills further. I would love to go to England some day to shop for supplies there and visit different hat stores. Maybe even get a glimpse of Kate!
But for now, I am just planning on keep adding new hat designs to GirlFabulosity. Currently I am making puppy party hats to sell at a local dog boutique, so I hope to add those to my store as well. Also I would love to offer other hats than just Kate’s, like designs worn by Pippa or Corale Middleton, along with my own designs!
And last, but not least: Who is your absolute hat icon (apart from Kate of course)?
I don’t think I really have one “hat Icon”, not someone particular. I tend to just check blog posts and magazines to see what Kate, Pippa etc. are wearing and pick from there. I do however have a few favorite designers. Jane Corbett is amazing, her hats are very unique and have her signature flare in the folds that she does. Gina Foster has very girly, flirty designs. She uses flowers and feathers in a very beautiful way! And of course Jane Taylor, I love the lines in her designs, very classic and clean. She makes flowers out of feathers and uses veiling in unique ways!
Giveaway of a replikate of Kate's brown St. Patrick's Day hat!
The contest runs from Tuesday 29 October until Sunday 3 November. The winner will be announced on Monday 4 November 2013. This particular giveaway is open to everyone all over the world.
Here’s how to enter:
- Add GirlFabulosity to your favourite shops on Etsy
- Follow Girlfabulosity on Facebook by liking her page
- Follow Tatiana's Delights on Bloglovin
- Send me a message that you want to enter with your name, address and phone number* via this contact form