Two weeks ago I went on another weekend course at Hat Works, this time to make a Gatsby-style cloche. To be honest, every cloche I've ever tried on a has looked entirely ridiculous on me, so I was firmly expecting this course to be a learning experience rather than coming away with something I would actually wear. But . . .
As ever, Sue the tutor (sadly Marie couldn't join us this time) had brought along lots of illustrations of different styles of cloche to inspire us; both from the 1920s and modern interpretations.
|Just some of the 1920s examples|
The big difference from previous courses was that we used unstiffened hoods, as we were aiming to create a softer look than, for example, the percher hat. We used basic domed blocks, and could either stretch the hood entirely smoothly, or add pleats and/or pinched folds. I decided to add both.
|Showing the pleat on the left, and the pinched fold on the top|
The blocked hoods were then left to dry overnight, and we moved onto making feather pads for trimming the hats. I made mine from partridge flank feathers, as I loved the colours and the markings.
|The complete feathers, only the top section is used|
When I got home on Saturday evening I had a look though my button box, and selected a few buttons inherited from Granny T, which I thought I might use when trimming the hat.
|The button I eventually used - balanced on a small cotton reel to photograph it|
On Sunday we took the hats off the blocks, and experimented with how much, if any, brim we wanted. The brim is part of the hood, not separate as with the brimmed hat. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, so just folded the excess felt up, with the intention of cutting it into a narrow brim.
But actually, I quite liked it as it was. In the end all I did was cut off a tiny strip to smooth off the edge.
|The pleat on one side, and the turned up brim on the other|
In order to keep the pleat in place, and to stop the hat from stretching out of shape, I added a petersham band inside.
|Inside view and the petersham band|
The one problem with my turned-up brim was that visually it just merged with the crown. I decided that it needed to be trimmed with a contrasting petersham.
|Before trimming - too plain|
None of the petersham ribbons for sale in the Hat Works shop looked quite right with the hat and the feathers, but one of the staff kindly let me have a rummage through an extra box of ribbons which weren't on display. Bingo; the perfect match with the feathers and one of the buttons, and just the right contrast with the hat!
|Ribbon, feather pad and button|
The one problem with the ribbon was that it was ½" wider than I wanted. Fortunately because the brim is so close to the crown, the inside doesn't show, so I pressed and attached the ribbon with ½" on the outside and 1" on the inside. Sewing the ribbon on had to wait until I got home, in order to get the right colour of thread.
|The brim is now obvious|
I was able to press a bit of a curve into the ribbon, and once it was all sewn on I used a tip which Sue had told me; dab round the edge with a damp sponge. This shrinks the petersham just enough to smooth out any bumps.
|The ribbon trim completed|
I didn't sew the ribbon all the way round, as I had other plans for the base of the pleat.
|Pins mark where the edge of the brim should lie|
I positioned the feather pad on the hat, and marked the outline with yellow pins. Then I sewed down the brim at the ends of the ribbon.
|The brim stitched down so that it comes to a point|
Then I folded up the pointed section of the brim. Before I attached it to the crown, I cut a slit in the felt and pushed through the shank of the button. The idea was to make it look as though the brim is buttoned in place; but I'm not sure if this really works. I still like the effect, though.
|The completed hat|
And the thing I really like about this hat? I can actually wear it!
|A wearable cloche hat!!|
|The pleat is just visible in the side view|
Because we used unstiffened hoods the crown isn't rigid, so I can wear it with the feather pad slightly to one side (above), or centred.
|Slightly turned round|
|From the other side|
Because the crown is so deep, the hat stays on and keeps my ears warm. A definite success!