leather rowan berries

Rabbit fur pillbox hat with leather rowan berries for 2016 Hatalk hat making competition

rabbit fur pillbox hatI created this white rabbit fur pillbox hat decorated with a cluster of leather rowan berries for the 2016 Hatalk hat making competition, where the theme was Connections.

My fantasy rabbit fur pillbox hat for a millinery competition: the why

The theme Connections is very broad; however the first connection I immediately thought of was a cultural connection, connection with my roots and traditions.

I live and create in the UK now, but I grew up in a small town in the Far North of Russia, lost somewhere between permafrost and the Northern lights. The climate is so harsh and cold locals have to wear clothes and boots made of fur in order to survive severe frosts and snow storms. I chose white rabbit fur for my hat thinking that it would represent snow of my childhood so very well.
Rowan is a meaningful symbol in the Russian culture. Numerous proverbs and poems, paintings and even recipes are dedicated to this symbolic tree that is so dear to the hearts of Russians. Touched by the first frosts rowan berries unlock their potential and become sweet and delicious to eat. They can be used in a variety of dishes and drinks. It is not uncommon to see clusters of rowan berries covered with heaps of fresh snow as part of winter scenery throughout Russia. Those snowy clusters of bright red berries were the vision I had in mind when I was working on my First Snow Fur Pillbox hat.

rabbit fur pillbox hat

My fantasy rabbit fur pillbox hat for a millinery competition: the how

To make First Snow Fur Pillbox hat I blocked 2 layers of buckram, rabbit fur pelt and silk satin over a pillbox block (each material at a time). Then I wired the buckram base, put the blocked fur on top of it and stitched the two together around the bottom edge. After that I sewed in the lining and the petersham ribbon.

The cluster of rowan berries and leaves are made of genuine leather or several colours. All the leaves are backed with golden metallic lame fabric and shaped with millinery tools.I joined the berries in the cluster with hand dyed rayon pongee strips. The rowan berries and leaves are finished with a brooch pin. They can be removed and used as a separate brooch.

The result?

Alas, the white rabbit fur pillbox hat has not taken any prize in the competition, but with hope in my heart I am planning on taking part in other forthcoming hat making (and other!) competitions. Watch this space for more details.

leather hat

Leather hat for a millinery contest

Contests are a great moving force. Well, for me they are. I have been thinking about creating poppies out of leather for a while. So when I read about a millinery contest devoted to the First World War Centenary I immediately imagined a little leather hat with impressive red poppies and accepted the challenge.

poppy cocktail hat 3 (800x623)

Because I am only a budding milliner impeccably crafted flowers were supposed to become the focal point of my hat. To make the headpiece more unusual and the challenge more complicated I opted for leather instead of fabric as a main material.

poppy cocktail hat 1 (800x685)


I enjoyed blocking leather and working on this cocktail leather hat. The winners are going to be chosen by the middle of next week. Fingers crossed my leather cocktail hat will be noticed by the contest judges 🙂


If you would like to own a leather hat with poppies you could place your order here


leather poppy flower tutorial


If you wish to learn to make leather poppies yourself, you can now do it with the use of our brand new tutorial.

Leather poppy kits are available separately.

To read more about the tutorial and purchase please click here