Monday, April 17, 2017

18th Century Pleated Silk Hat--A Tutorial

I've been wanting to make a confection of a hat for some time now.  Having recently returned from Colonial Williamsburg where the milliners there made a lovely, white pleated silk hat with blue ribbon trim, I decided that I needed to make one sooner rather than later.  My inspiration comes from the hat I saw at CW plus the one in the painting below.  I've always loved this hat.  

Here you can see a close up.  I'm not sure how the ribbon trim on the brim is ruched but the silk seems to be simply gathered in cartridge like pleats,  and the blue ribbon that trims the crown is simply ruched with a bow of some sort.

Here's another hat with blue ribbon trim but this one looks like it may be on straw.

I love the wide ribbon ruching on this one.

Here's another with wide ribbon or perhaps silk taffeta for the ruched trim on the crown with lace on the brim.

Then there's this lovely example which looks like it has pleated silk trim and wide ruched ribbon at the crown.

I decided to make my hat similar to the one in the top painting with blue trim on the brim which is what the one in CW had.

I began with a typical flat hat--15 inch diameter.  I measured the width of the brim and the diameter of the brim.  Likewise, I measured the diameter of the crown.  I cut a  strip of silk--one width of fabric (43") by 5 inches wide.

I felt it would be easier to pleat the crown and the brim separately.  I began in the middle of the strip because there was a crease there that I needed to hide.  I made my first pleat--about 3/8 inches wide at the base and secured it with a pink, also using one pin at the center of the crown to anchor the pleats there.

Pleats were not measured--just done by sight.  I ran out of fabric and cut another strip.

I just began the new strip by folding it under and treating it like a regular pleat.

When I got back to the beginning, I cut the fabric and tucked it under the first pleat.

Crown pleating completed.

Here is where you can choose to secure the pleats by hand or you can use a machine.  Since all machine stitching will be hidden, I chose to do it with my machine, using a zipper foot.  I used a size 14 needle.  Sew slowly when using machine so as to minimize broken needles  If sewing by hand, use straw needles and a backstitch.  So as close to the base of the crown as you can, pulling out the pins as you come to them,

Trim the fabric at the base of the crown to about one half inch.  Pin each pleat at the center of the crown, pulling them snug.  By hand, stitch a back stitch in a small circle securing the pleats.  Stitch the pleats twice,

Cut off the extra fabric at the center of the crown.  Cut it as close as you can.

Now the brim needs to be covered.  I cut two widths of fabric by 5.5 inches wide.  The first pleat was started simply by folding the edge under about a half inch.  This pleat was lined up with one of the crown pleats.  I continued pleating the brim, making the pleats about 3/4 inch deep where they meet the crown and about 1/4 inch deep at the edge of the brim.  Each pleat was lined up with one on the crown and perpendicular to the brim edge.

When the fabric ran out, I trimmed the edge to the same angle as the pleats, folded under the edge of the next strip of fabric and laid it on top as if it was a new pleat.

I used the machine to stitch the pleats to the brim about 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the brim and again about 1/4 inch from the base of the crown.  The excess fabric was cut from the edge.

Completed pleats.

For the underside of the hat, I cut a flat piece of fabric bigger than the hat and pinned it to the brim in 4 or 5 places.  From the top side, I stitched again 1/4 inch from the edge of the brim and at the base of the crown.  I then, trimmed the excess fabric from the edge of the hat and from the center.

Binding the brim is next.  This technique can be used to also bind a plain straw hat.  First determine the width of the finished binding then multiply by 6.  Add 1/4 inch to allow for the thickness of the brim.  My finished binding is 1/2 inch wide so 6 X 1/2 = 3 inches.  With the 1/4 inch added, I needed a bias strip 3 1/4 inches wide by 46 inches long.  I ended up cutting two shorter lengths and had to piece them.  When piecing bias, cut the end at a 45 degree angle, match the seams, forming a right angle, and stitch.  Press the seam open.

The entire strip was folded lengthwise, one end was trimmed at an angle and turned under 1/4 inch.

Starting with the folded end (wrong side of fold facing up). I matched the raw edges of the bias strip with the edge of the hat and stitched using a 1/2 inch seam.

When I got to the end, I just overlapped the strip over the folded edge.

Flip the hat over and pull the binding to the underside.  I had to pull the binding tightly, making sure that it covered al of the machine stitching.

The top side of the binding is finished already.

Whip stitch the underside of the binding in place.

Now is the time to add trimming.  I had 5 yards of 2 inch wide blue double face silk satin ribbon and I used all of it.  I made simple ruched trim at the crown and I added a loopy bow then I made shell trim for the brim.  The crown trim was stitched through the straw to secure it.  The brim trimming was only stitched through the silk.

 I wanted to finish the crown edge of the underside.  Normally, I would stitch a circle of silk to cover it but I decided to keep it open in case I needed to restitch the trim.  I used some 5/8 inch wide padusoy ribbon and whip stitched it over the machine stitching to finish it.

The last detail is a fabric covered button at the center crown to cover the center stitches.   I used a 1 1/4 inch form, covered it with silk and stitched it through the silk only--pulling the stitches tight so the silk was flush with the button.   The ties are 1 1/2 inch silk ribbon.  I stitched them to the silk, taking a few stitches through the straw to really secure them--hiding those stitches under the pleats on the top so they can't be seen.

Here is the finished hat!  I'm very pleased with it and I have several outfits that this will go nicely with!  

It seems fitting to make a confection of a hat on Easter weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful hat! Definitely saving this post for when I need a hat like this one day.