Sunday, 6 August 2017

Hats in Vogue (patterns)

I’ve been doing lots more hatmaking* at Hat Works recently, but as I haven’t yet finished any of my creations, it will be a while until I blog about them.

When I was deciding which blocks to use at the fabulous Summer School (three whole days of hatmaking - bliss!) it struck me that I’m becoming more adventurous in my choices. Partly this is down to experience; initially it’s hard to envisage what a finished hat will look like just by holding a lump of carved wood above your head. But I think it’s also partly down to seeing hats with complete outfits on vintage pattern envelopes.

For years hats featured heavily in pattern illustrations, only disappearing as hat-wearing became less common. Patterns for blouses and more casual clothing such as housecoats were hat-free, but with dresses and suits a hat was almost essential. In fact, so many of my vintage patterns feature hats in their illustrations that for this post I decided to look only at Vogue patterns.

What follows is a very picture-heavy post; so make yourself comfortable, and prepare to enjoy lots of hatting goodness!

Naturally outdoor clothing such as these capes would be worn with a hat.


There may have been a war on, and hats may have been expensive and hard to come by, but Vogue Patterns clearly saw no reason to let standards slip.

1940 (left) and 1942 (centre and right)

Post-war, hats were definitely back. From large (and carried) . . .


. . . to small . . .


. . . to medium-sized and veiled.


Occasionally, the odd hat-free illustration began to appear (although being without gloves for a formal occasion was clearly unthinkable).


But hats were still the norm.


Designer patterns seem to have featured especially extravagant creations, in both drawing and photograph.


I particularly like this example (although I imagine it would be very hard to make!).


There is a block very similar to this shape in the Hat Works collection. Unfortunately it's a bit small for me.


At first glance, this Vogue Basic Design appears to be hat-free.


But the illustration continues on the envelope back.

Not one but two hat examples

In the early 1960s hats still appeared in illustrations.


But the increasingly bouffant hairstyles which also featured just don't look compatible with hat-wearing.


Not that this troubled the 'young fashionables', or perhaps the hat was chosen to accommodate the hair. I love the way the previous owner of this pattern has experimented with different crown shapes!


A beehive-shaped crown seemed to be the solution on this pattern as well (with a illustration "Photographed in Rome").


Massive halo brims were obviously also a feature of the late 1960s.


They weren't just a flight of fancy by the illustrator, either. Blocking this hat must have been very hard work.


By the early 1970s, more pattern illustrations were hat-free. Not all of them, though.


But by the late 1970s even designer patterns, which tended to be more formal, often did not feature hats in either the photograph or the illustration.


And by the 1980s pattern envelopes were back where this post began, with hats only appearing with outdoor clothes.


* - It is indeed hatmaking, because I am making hats from scratch. My step-great-grandmother, Granny T, and my great-aunt, were all milliners however, because they were trimming hats which had already been made.


  1. Oh now I want to pull out all of my patterns and look at the hats on them! I do the the super wide halo hat in the centre of the three from the early 1940s.

    I went to Guy Morse-Brown's open day a couple of weeks ago and fell in love with a really quirky hat block. Georgina from Atelier Millinery was there and told me it's the most complicated block to make a hat on that they produce. Typical me, always got to choose the hardest one to do! xx

    1. Why am I not surprised about the hat block (in a good way of course!)?

      Believe me, this was only a selection. Pretty much every one of my older patterns has a hat in the illustration. xx