The Art of Custom Millinery

I am often asked what goes into creating a custom chapeau by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®.

The creation process for each of my hats is as unique and individual as the women who will wear them.

To demonstrate the process of custom hat creation, I like to tell the story of the time I received a Derby hat request from a lady named Suzanne who lives in Kentucky. Suzanne was especially interested in my black and white polka dot Chelsea hat that she needed for her Oaks/Derby adventure that year.

Suzanne sent me her head size and her payment, and we were good to go!

With anticipation I headed into the studio, got out my tools and cranked up my tunes (Brandi Carisle and Yo-Yo Ma have been two of my favorites this summer).

As in painting, my fabrics are my paints. They can be textured, bold and bright or soft, silky and subdued.

The Chelsea foundation would be created out of a polka dot fabric with hot pink taffeta for the underbrim. A double bow with tails and a sash needed to be fashioned out of just the right pink trim taffeta.


The excitement started to build as the fabric was marked and cut.

Stitching for the Chelsea got underway and a delightful polka dot “canvas” was soon created.


Time for Chelsea to get her trimmings!

Each trim element was carefully pressed and hand stitched together, one piece at a time.

For the finishing touch, a custom MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® label was sewn into the lining of the hat.

One of the fun surprises with this particular Chelsea design is that the polka dots of the fabric shine through when the hat is held up to the light!

At last our Chelsea was ready to make her journey to Suzanne in Kentucky.

In the morning before she was shipped, Chelsea received her final “tweaking” to make sure everything was just perfect.

At last the moment had arrived for Chelsea to be carefully settled into her custom MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® hatbox that was lined with vanilla colored tissue to create a comfy “nest” for her travels.

A garment tag was enclosed with a postcard.

The shipping box was addressed and taped.

Another MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® chapeau was ready to set sail from Cape Cod!

In a few days, Suzanne let me know that Chelsea had arrived and that she loved her new Derby chapeau.

Suzanne and Chelsea are indeed ready for the amazing Run for the Roses adventure that awaits them at Churchill Downs!

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses and letting me share this behind-the-scenes creation of the Chelsea Derby hat with you.

Until next time,






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