Winners 2017-08-07T14:14:21+00:00

2011 First Prize ‘Bridport Rope Hat’ by Alison Lang

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Having recently moved to Bridport I wanted to make a hat to celebrate the town. We knew about the rope-making history of the town, and my husband suggested: “Make a hat out of rope”. The challenge was to use rope in an elegant way.It had to be Bridport rope, of course, and I found a supply. I began to coil the rope, sewing it with thread at intervals. It was difficult due to the angle of the needle to the angles of the coiled rope and I realized I had to make several loose stitches before several pulls to tighten all at once. The first dome was fairly steep so I used that for the crown. The top dome I made shallower. This was attached forward on the crown so that the hat would tilt forward slightly. I sewed them together.

I decided to decorate the hat with a sailor’s knot. I tried a few and soon realized that it would look much neater if I used only one strand of the rope. This enabled me to tie a Carrick Bend. There are four strands from this knot so I decided to hide two by knotting them together. I needed to stiffen the remaining strands so I dipped one end in water-based matt varnish, skewered the knot and hung it upside down to dry. The next night I dipped the other side. A neighbour, Sophie Gibson, models the hat.

First Prize £500 sponsored by Snooks the Hatters

2011 Second Prize ‘The Alice Roses Hat’ Made by Tess Piggott

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My hat is inspired by themes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The paper roses started life white but are in the process of being painted red by order of the Queen of Hearts. It is her playing cards who are doing the painting, and the paint brush itself is tucked in amongst the roses. The Queen is shown overseeing proceedings, and red and black feathers are cut to the shape of the four suits – clubs, hearts, diamond and spades. Different versions of the Alice story sometimes show Alice with striped socks, echoed in the black and white striped quills which give the composition shape and variety. The hat base itself is heart-shaped; it is made from blocked and wired Sinamay covered with shiny red latex, with a red felt backing and Petersham binding. The hat is mounted on a metal comb. I wanted to make a piece that was fun and light-hearted, and the Alice story fascinated me as a child. Roses are often used on hats but the story behind these ones makes this piece a real talking point.

I’m an amateur milliner based in London and have been making hats for the last two years, around my day job at a university. I love the craft and history of millinery, and the creative freedom. My portfolio can be seen online at:

Second Prize, £250 sponsored by Whitely Fischer Ltd,