Making hats is an elusive process – at least in the research portion. So anytime a tutorial pops up online showing how to make one, we rabid costumers gobble up each and every delicious photo trying to decipher which piece is what and where it goes in relation to other pieces.
Well… unfortunately this is not one of those tutorials.
Seriously, I covered & decorated this hat in about three hours, most of that time in the car while my husband was driving to the event. So needless to say, I don’t have any construction pictures.
However, I don’t want to leave my devoted readers salivating with no applicable tips for making their own. So I will do my best to describe the lightning quick process…
Two weeks ago panic mode set in realizing I desperately needed a hat for my new dress if I was going to wear it outside at a picnic. I mean, I preach in earnest to have something on your head so your costume looks a little more complete with this vital accessory.
Pawning the question to the wide world of Facebook, I was given the source of Theatre House. I’m not one to generally use theater props in my historical costumes, because, well… they can be costume-y. But remember I was desperate.
So off to wander their virtual hat wall when I did find something I could work with. This Gibson Girl hat frame:
It was so inexpensive (and really quick shipping too) that I went for it.
Alas, time was eaten up the day before with finishing my dress (isn’t it always?!) that it was 9 pm before the 11:30 am picnic call time when I picked up my frame to get to work.
My stash yielded a green dupioni silk that worked wondrously well against my cream bodice and deep purple skirt. I had already ordered the 2″ purple/magenta moiré ribbon from The Ribbon Store in anticipation of using it for hat trimming. It was a marriage waiting to happen.
I wanted some cream berries or spiky trim thingies, and low and behold, my stash again produced the rough wheat end bits (really have no idea what they are but they worked).
The hat frame is starched straw mesh blocked over a generic shape with tiny 1″ brim. Even with my thick silk, I decided to cover it with flannel to smooth it out. I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I had skipped this step. I KNOW how flannel over a hat produces quality results.
The Fabric-Tac glue was opened, bias strips cut, and the top, crown, and brim (both sides) were covered with the white flannel. I then cut a piece of silk large enough to cover the top, sides, turn over the brim with enough left to gather up inside. Done, 9:45 pm. Time for bed… as soon as the cookies are out of the oven.
In the car the next morning I whipped out the large piece of silk and stretched and pinned the silk smooth all around the top and down the crown sides, pinning at the crown/brim intersection.
I used a double thread and stab stitched the silk around that crown intersection. Next I tortured the silk into place around the brim making little gathered tucks all around, wrapping the silk to the underside in even more gathers. This took the most time to get it smooth along the edge and to look nice. Pinning was mandatory.
Once pinned I again stab stitched but this time I worked from the inside brim/crown intersection to secure the silk around the brim.
The extra silk (and there was quite a bit), I roughly trimmed to cover the bottom and just stuffed it in there. I still need to tack it down but it held up just fine just hanging out on the inside. In fact, this is one of those “I need to finish that” projects that may never get done. You know what I mean.
Now for decorating…
I folded the ribbon to about 1 ¼” and wrapped it around as a band. I quickly slipstitched the top edge in ½” stitches. Done.
Since I still had time before we arrived at the park, instead of pinning the trim (which is period accurate and what I thought I would do), I started tacking the spiky wheat things in place to create a fan shape. Unfortunately one fell out so that ended up getting pinned down later.
After the spiky wheat was in place I just started folding the ribbon in loops and pinning. I tacked them quickly in a few places to hold their shape. I cut two really long streamers, oh… maybe a couple feet long, trimmed the bottoms into an angle and tacked them under the loops.
I couldn’t quite figure out how to end the looping part and cut the ribbon off the spool when I realized I could simply let a third streamer hang down the center. Perfect! I cut it about 12″ to 15″ long, finished tacking it to the hat and it was done!
I love this hat. It turned out really good for a cheap frame and limited time. My only issue is that the crown is too high and wide and the brim a little too narrow for a true early 1870s. Next time I’ll make my own frame.
But for now I think this works splendidly!