Guest Article by Gina White
Hours and hours have gone into the creation of your hat. (In my case blood, sweat, tears, frustration, and a few choice words go into the making as well….)
You have worn your newly crafted chapeau to your event to the delight and amazement of your fellow event goers, and you feel really good about what you have accomplished!
Maybe you tried a new pattern, or the era of this new confection was totally new to you. This time you used an antique bird of paradise plume, or a fabulous cut steel buckle. Perhaps the fabric used for its construction was that glorious shade of pistachio green silk you have been saving your pennies for.
Whatever the case, you have a hat or bonnet that, after the event needs a place to reside. What do you do now?
There are several things that you can choose to do with your hats and bonnets while they are awaiting the day when you once again employ them to complete your outfit.
I often give my hats personalities and treat them as acquaintances. Weird, I know, but after spending so much time on them and with them, they feel like old friends. I imagine them sitting in their boxes or on a shelf peering at me, sending subliminal messages…“Pick me!!! Pick me!!!” Sort of reminds me of the inanimate objects from Beauty and the Beast. But I digress….
A couple of things that can be done with hats and bonnets are to store them away or display them for the entire world to see their fabulousness!! Displaying them also encourages me to create more!
For years, after I would wear my hats to events, I placed them in cardboard or Rubbermaid boxes. This was a nice storage solution as these boxes can hold many hats.
But I soon discovered that the protection for my carefully constructed hats was non-existent. There was too much opportunity for the hats to do harm to each other and the embellishments that I chose to put on each hat.
I then discovered in my storage some antique hat boxes that my Great-Grandma had given me. Hello!!! Hat boxes! Brilliant!! I stored my hats in these until they became too brittle to carry out this duty.
Enter Michaels, Ross, Marshall’s, and Tuesday Morning. These places sell lovely hat boxes in all sizes. I have even found boxes that can hold the super tall flowerpot hats from the second bustle era of the Victorian Era!! Huzzah!!! This is a wonderful storage solution for hats and bonnets. I am able to store a couple of hats in each if the hats are small or one in if the hat is rather large.
A bonus for employing hat boxes for storage is that there are some incredibly lovely specimens to be had! I was at TJ Maxx the other day and they have some lovely ocean themed hat boxes currently available! For a long time, I had several hat boxes decorated in purple pansies and violets that I used in the décor of my bedroom!
My current solution to “What do I do with all of my hats?” is as decoration for my bedroom/sewing room.
One of the issues I had with storing all of my hats in hat boxes is that I simply forgot what I had made! Crazy I know, but I am quite serious. “Out of sight, out of mind” really rings true in this instance.
Since my house at present does not allow for me to have a sewing/costuming room, my husband is graciously putting up with me making our bedroom into a millinery shop.
He has taken a plank used for shelving in a closet and affixed it to my wall. I decorated the edge with vintage handkerchiefs from our Grandmothers and then displayed my hats on top. Some of the hats simply sit on top of the shelf while others sit on hat stands.
My sewing cabinet is also home to many of my hats. They are displayed as I believe they would have been displayed in a milliner’s shop in days of old. I like to imagine that my little set up would fit in quite nicely at the Pratt Sister’s store!
Other display techniques, (if technique is the correct word here…) is to pin the sturdiest hats to the wall. I use silk pins or some of my mourning pins and just pin them in place. I would not recommend this for use with antique hats as they are much too delicate.
I do display some of my mourning bonnets on hooks that are reinforced with cloth covered Styrofoam balls for protection for the inside of the bonnet. I have an antique doll house that sits in my bedroom that is a wonderful display piece for my hats. They fit so well together.
Hats make a wonderful decoration to just almost any room of the house! I have a pith helmet in my husband’s library/TV room! They can add a wonderful accent.
One thing that is a drawback for “open air” hat displays is dust. I do have a solution that I learned back when I was making silk flower arrangements. A hair dryer set on low and cool works wonders. Canned computer spray also works rather well in short bursts and while holding the can well back from the fabric.
Until a time comes when I grow weary of looking at all my hats, I think that I will continue to display them in my bedroom. I do keep some of my “not so neat-o” hats in hat boxes in the hall closet, and as before I am always surprised at what I find in them! Ha! Some things never change.
My name is Gina White and I’m a Victorian Geek. It all started with my Great-Grandmother, Hazel Prudence Palmer Chriswisser. She was incredible and introduced me to a love of all things Victorian and Edwardian. Because of her, from a very early age I contracted the crazy love of Victorian fashion. I adore researching Victorian fashion and re-creating the gowns, hats and the foundation garments that are needed to make the dress look era correct. I have graduated from solely making Victorian fashion to Edwardian, Teens, and even those Roaring Twenties! Oh, and did I mention the fabulous husband and family I have that allow me to cloister myself in my room to make my creations? Yeah, I am pretty blessed!
How do you store your hats?