Every once in a while I realize I’ve been unconscionably neglecting that portion of the mission of this blog that relates to headgear; fortunately, what brings me to realize this is usually running across links that will remedy the situation, and such is the case today. From the cuniculous warrens of MetaChat, I bring you From bunny to brow: a step by step guide to how we make fur hats (from the fine folks at Akubra), as well as a collection of old hat ads; the latter includes a fine visualization of the “bunny to brow” concept.


  1. They omit step 0: peel the skin off your bunny, hopefully killing him first.

  2. As well as the steps of skinning the customer by those sales sharks in millinery departments.
    That’s division of labor for you, JC. Different trades.

  3. marie-lucie says

    Seeing the huge “picture hats” with all those flowers on the old hats webside reminded me of my grandmother. As a young woman before WW1 my grandmother was a telephone operator in Paris. Coming from a long line of seamstresses, she loved clothes and could make herself very stylish outfits, but she had to buy her hats – at that time no decent woman would have been seen in public without a hat. She confessed that she had once spent two months’ salary on a single hat! I would guess that telephone operator in those days must have been a fairly well-paying job “for a woman”, and a single woman could put some money aside if she was careful, but imagine a hat worth two months of your salary! Millinery to create those hats was extremely labour-intensive and the milliners themselves were not well-paid.

  4. In my home town (1950s, pop. 1300, small town Minnesota) there used to be a shop that specialized in custom women’s hats and other sorts of genteel finery for women. I remember that the older women at that time were very particular about what they were at church and other dressup occasions, or even just going downtown. (“Older” = “older than my mother, b. 1918”).
    I just recently read that the daughter of the woman who ran the local hat shop still runs a similar place in Minneapolis. There must be some niche where those hats never went out of style; I don’t think that there are a lot of 120-year-old women in Minneapolis.
    So anyway, the hat is not dead, though these are all women’s hats.
    Now I feel old.

  5. marie-lucie says

    There is still a niche for milliners capable of making all sorts of women’s hats: I would guess that one of them is the wedding market, for brides and their mothers! even though there are lots of commercial choices, many people in the higher-end market want something unique for a wedding, especially for the bridal and the mother-of-the-bride outfits (the latter obligatorily including a hat). And what about events such as the Ascot races in England? Distinctive hats are the rule there, I believe.
    Milliners buy basic, untrimmed hats from manufacturers and adjust and trim them, so that each one looks unique and custom-made for the wearer. Retrimming hats was big in the hat-wearing era too – trims (bows, flowers, etc) could be changed in order to refresh the look of the same basic hat, or earlier “bonnet” as we read in earlier literature.
    In addition to private customers, there are also the theatre and movie industries: there are professionals working exclusively for the studios and large theatres, but smaller companies will often need the services of a shop such as the one John mentions, either for making new hats or for altering and retrimming existing ones.
    From links available from MetaChat it seems that some women are into making their own hats from scratch – apparently a revival similar to that of knitting lately.

  6. Going Dotty in Kansas says

    This is not a nice topic to blog about, what with Easter just around the corner.

  7. where’d you find ‘cuniculous’? this blog entry shows up before any definition on google. i am doubting its provenance. 😉
    (sounds like ‘bunnicula’ to me.)

  8. I found it in the OED—or to be more precise, I deduced from the Latin word cuniculus ‘rabbit; burrow, tunnel’ that there might well be an adjective cuniculous, and when I checked the OED there it was: “Full of holes and windings, like a rabbit-warren; also, full of rabbits.” As for its high position on the search page, that just shows the mighty googliciousness of LH!

  9. From cuniculus to coney to con, with a parallel development of “puss” (which in early modern English could mean either “cat” or “rabbit”) to pussy (with probable influence from OE, ON, OLG words meaning “pouch” or “vulva”).

  10. to me, it demonstrates that perhaps the authors of Bunnicula deserved more credit that i gave them. it also suggests to me that i never should have admitted that i’d ever heard of the book. but it’s too late for that now, so, as long as i’m at it — i read Watership Down, too. there. my conscience is clear.

  11. marie-lucie says

    On this Easter weekend my local newspaper is featuring two large photographs of women wearing large, wide-brimmed hats trimmed with flowers. Actually one hat looks like a giant flower, with a center (off the center of the hat) resembling that of a sunflower and large yellow petals spread over the rest of the hat, so you can barely tell that this is a hat and the woman did not just pick a large sunflower to wear on her head. Someone is making those flowers and those hats! and must be getting paid good money to make sure no one else is wearing the same hat.

  12. Adam, my in-laws remember that when Watership Down came out on film, a butcher’s shop had a sign out front “You’ve read the book, seen the film, now eat the cast.” In England, of course.

  13. That’s great!

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