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Made In Chicago: Hat Maker In Bronzeville

Forme Millinery

Forme Millinery

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Working on the sewing machine in her Bronzeville home, Jenny Pfanenstiel practices what has been largely a lost art.

Although she’s always loved hats, Pfanenstiel originally set out to be a fashion designer.

“I started out in the costume industry but didn’t realize you could have a career making hats until I actually met a milliner,” she said.

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So she took classes with that milliner and four years ago, founded Forme Millinery, creating one-of-a-kind hats, many of them, custom-ordered.

She admits when she started, she got blank looks from people when she told them she’s a milliner but says that’s changing.

“Especially since the royal wedding, it’s really coming back,” Pfanenstiel said. “People know what a milliner is now. A lot of people know what fascinators are now. And so I think it’s definitely a dying art that’s coming back.”

She makes all kinds of hats. Her personal favorites: fascinators.

“A fascinator is … what Kate Middleton wears. It just props up on your head … as opposed to a hat that covers your whole head,” Pfanenstiel said. “They’re also called cocktail hats.”

Pfanenstiel sells her hats online and through boutiques around the country. She also teaches workshops on the art of hat making.