Sunday, 4 June 2017

'Making do' on the hat front - part 2, the hat

So, having made our hat blocks on the 1940s course at Hat Works, it was time to use them. There was a selection of hoods for us to choose from - I went for one in a dark olive green, to go with my 1938 suit (when I finally make it).

The block was covered in cling film, as usual, then taped to a board to hold it in place. Because the hoods were unstiffened, they were quite easy to shape over the blocks. I used a twist of calico to hold the centre fold down, and a strip of wide elastic to hold the hood round the block. The excess felt was folded up out of the way while the hoods dried.

The blocked hood drying in the window

Unlike the brimmed hat I made, the brim was made as one with the crown. When the hat was taken off the block, the first thing I did was sew a petersham band inside, to stop the crown from stretching out of shape. Then I could manipulate and trim the rest of the felt to form the brim. I loved this 1940s hat by Danish milliner Aage Thaarup, so used that as my inspiration.

"Rosewood felt" with a sequin trim, 1941
Perhaps it was the green, but in its untrimmed form, my hat leaned rather more towards the Errol Flynn look!

Feared by the bad! Loved by the good!

We experimented with trims on the course, including making feather pads, and some people actually got as far as completing their hats. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but decided to leave it until I got home and had the space and time to do it properly.

Trim idea - pleated silk

I cut bias strips from the two silks, pleated them, and joined them at what would become the back. I angled the join slightly so that the band would sit better against the sloped crown.

The silk strips joined together

Sequins definitely felt like overdoing it for the trim on the side, so I used two vintage buttons from my stash as the basis for a figure-8-shaped cockade. The petersham ribbon I was planning to use turned out to be too stiff, so I used grosgrain instead.

The button and ribbon trim

And here's the end result!

Another completed hat!

Bizarrely, when I came to photograph the completed hat, it was actually too bright outside for me to take pictures. (For non-UK readers, I should explain that where I live in the north-west of England, this is as improbable as the Antarctic being too warm, or the Sahara being insufficiently sandy.) So I was forced to wander round the house for a bit, trying to find a suitably plain background.

Plain side

Cockade side - I need to do my hair better when I wear this!

Back view

Initially I though that I might trim some more off the brim, but looking at the photos I'm happy with it as it is. All in all, a definite success!



  1. I love it! It's so cheeky!

    1. Thank you Chelsea, I know what you mean! That wasn't the plan at all, but sometimes hats just take on a life of their own as you're making them!