Thanks! I've read through all of the advice and those documents, and I think the only way I'll be comfortable is to really work hard to create something on my own. It might have typical elements (most hats do, like similar ways to decrease the crown, rolled brims, etc) but also some elements I make up.
I've started one hat which will hopefully look a bit Victorian...Pics coming when I'm done! You all can help me weigh in as to whether you think it's too similar to something you've seen out there, or if it's original enough to call my own!
Of course, I'd be sharing all of my patterns for free....with copyright protection of course.