Sunday, March 5, 2017

Natural Form Era Hat--a tutorial

Victorian dress is not my area but I ventured into that era as outlined in this post for our Maryland State DAR Founders Day celebration in October of 2015.  I chose a Natural Form Era outfit since no bustle was required and I like the line of the skirts--narrower in the front with the bulk of the fabric in the back.  Some  friends organized a Victorian Tea for this weekend so I had occasion to wear the outfit again.  I felt I needed a hat so I did some research and found some great links on Lynn McMaster's page.  There I found a link to the google books upload of the London and Parish Ladies' Magazine of Fashion 1881-1882.  There were pages and pages of fashions and I focused on several that showed closeups of possible hats and neck treatments as I also need a dickie or chemisette to fill in the low neckline of my bodice.






 The hats in the last picture looked like something I could make from an existing straw hat.  I also liked the chemisette in the left hand outfit.  I decided to make the bonnet type hat in the center of the above picture.

I found a nice plain straw hat at the thrift store for $3.

Some supplies I find helpful when working with deconstructing straw hats is wonder clips (found in the quilting notions at Joanns), Size 4 straw needles (purchased from Judith M millinery) and spray starch (also from Joanns).  You can also use plan Knox gelatin to size hats but it takes longer to dry.

One thing about natural straw is that you can use moisture and / or steam to completely reshape it much the way you do with wool felt.  The brim is about the right size on this hat but it needs some changes.  The crown, is too tall and needs to have more squared angles.    I cut the crown off and made it shorter, completely wet it and put it on a container that was the size I wanted.  The crown was bigger so I wrapped it with twill tape to mold it to the container and I left it overnight to dry.   When I took it off, I cut another half inch or so off of it.   


I looked at the brim and found it had a double layer of straw on the edge so I used a seam ripper to rip out the stitching for about 6 inches.  I wrapped the brim around the crown to check the fit and I ended up cutting a few inches of the brim off as I needed a gap in the back of the hat.

Once I determined the right size, I trimmed the ends of the hat into a curve and sandwiched the edges of the hat between the two edge pieces of straw--steaming with my iron to shape the straw.  I used wonder clips to hold the edge in place so I could stitch it on using regular sewing thread in a color that matched the straw.

I then had to block the brim to fit the crown.  I sprayed it with starch and steamed it, holding it in place until it took the shape I wanted.

Here is the stitched brim so far.

I used a running stitch to stitch the brim to the crown, putting the edge of the brim inside of the crown.

Next, I cut away a small arch in the back of the crown and cut a scrap of straw from leftover pieces of straw.  I curved the insert to a pleasing shape and clipped it in place, stitching it to the brim ends and the crown.


I had some leftover pieces of edging straw so I cut a piece and stitched it in place.

I ended up blocking this hat by saturating it with the spray starch, steaming it well and shaping it the way I liked.  I wrapped it with fabric to hold it in place to dry.

Next came decorating the hat. First I tacked some 2 inch wide double faced satin silk ribbon on.   I normally order ostrich wing plumes but didn't have time to get them from my usual supplier in CA so I ordered cheap ostrich drabs 20 for $20 on Amazon.  The feathers were sparse as I expected so I used my half inch diameter curling iron to curl the fronds and stacked 2 together then layered another group of 3 stacked together to cover most of the hat.  



Next I cut a 5 inch wide piece the width of my silk (54") and did a machine rolled hem on each edge.  I tied this into a multi loop bow and tacked the bow in the center so it wouldn't come untied.  I pinned the bow on the hat so I would have the option of using other bows or decorations as well.

I also glued some pleated ribbon inside to cover the stitching.

Here is the finished hat:  


To complete my outfit, I found a glorious piece of 14 inch wide French lace in my stash.   I decided to pin it to my corset and arrange it to make a temporary chemisette. 

The outfit was also upgraded with the addition of an overskirt.  I had ended up with 4.5 yards of silk left over from the original outfit and the overskirt just took three yards.  


We had a wonderful time at our Victorian Tea!  The food and the company couldn't be beat!




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