April 21, 2015

Experiment in hat making

It seems like a long time since I posted a proper, well-considered story. You know, a blog post with a head and a tail. You'll have to excuse me once more. This is another update of random thoughts and project ideas. 

I have been sewing. I've finished my suit. There is still an issue with the skirt, which I blame almost entirely on the fabric. 
But, with regards to hat making, I gave up on the view of V8008 I started out with. Vogue's shape didn't even approach my head shape (and I don't have a small head, so I'm really surprised at that floppy disk this pattern created) and I didn't like the way those petals looked. Rather that taking all the binding off, tinkering even more with the shape and still end up with a look I didn't like, I cut my losses and went for the pillbox instead. The little pillbox in this pattern is one of those hats that has to perch on you head so there's preciously little fitting involved. It came together easily and will make its debut on the blog with the rest of the suit (in coming weekend, I think).

Flush with this success, I started thinking about other hat styles I might be able to make. (Last year, I considered signing up for a real hat making course, to learn how to block felt and built hats from braids of straw. Budget didn't allow for it, but I'd still love to do it some day).
Some of the vintage magazines in my collection contain patterns for cut-and-sew hats. And then there was the cut-and-sew fedora which I had bought at H&M (in the sale, for 1 or 2 euros) years ago with the purpose of taking it apart and using the pattern.

I've started out with that one.
Unfortunately, I'm well overdue for a hair cut, so all hats look silly right now because they push my fringe over my eyes. Which is why I'm not modeling the hat right now. 
The original was a bit big (sized M/L, for a 56 to 60 cm head. Mine is 56 or 57 depending on the desired position of the hat) so I took it in a little bit. I used a cotton/linen blend fabric of which I have a lot and fused all the pieces with mid-weight fusible cotton. The original had an interfacing which seemed to be of a similar weight and this stuff worked well for the pillbox.

With the hat finished, I think I should have gone for the heavy weight fusible cotton instead. At least in this fabric. This hat is softer and more floppy than the RTW original and I don't like how that makes it behave. When put on, it gets a sort of dent at the point where it leaves the head which rather spoils the silhouette. And the crown looks a bit too high anyway. 

It's not good but not unwearable. I've made my changes on the pattern and have every intention of trying again. It could also be a very nice hat in winter, made from one of my beloved tweed fabrics...

And then, there are the vintage hat designs. There are two which immediately clamoured for attention in my memory:

This asymmetric cloche from 1928, to be made with or without attached scarf (which is a cool idea but I think the hat would be more practical to me without) for Gracieuse magazine. I first picked this out for my 1920's longlist for last year's Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge.

And this closed turban from Dameswereld from 1948. Turban style hats can be very nice but most online tutorials are for things which are basically twisted jersey headbands. In the tutorial for this thing, the editors distinguish between 'open turbans' which are fashionable to wear with dresses and 'closed turbans' like this one, which are proper hats and should be worn with outerwear. There is a scaled pattern, text and this drawing on how to tie it. It came with the pattern for a 'topper', a short coat for spring. Hat and coat could be made from the same fabric. Which is helpful information for me when considering fabric for this thing.

Oh, and I haven't entirely given up on the skull cap with decoration thing. I think I'll give up on the Vogue pattern and try to draft my own. I know the tiny fascinators you see in party wear don't need much shaping but I'd like to make mine bigger, more of a vintage style hat...


  1. Your fedora looks great so far! Never tried hat making, but it looks very interesting:)

  2. I think the hat looks nifty, but THAT CLOCHE! Make it.
    I recently (like, as of yesterday) was gifted a book called 'How to Make and Trim Your Own Hats' and I'm excited to make a couple of the hats from inside. I made one from... I want to say a new Simplicity pattern that was cute, and I want to make another.
    But anyway, good luck with your hat making adventures, you've got a cheerleader in me.

    -Carla, Tiny Angry Crafts

  3. The patterns you showed below are lovely, I really dig the turban!

  4. Oh, if you do end up trying the turban, I'd love to see what the pattern looks like. Seems like such a nifty accessory.

    the Middle Sister and Singer