Sunday, 18 May 2014

Hat progress

This is my progress on the mega hat so far. I'm using Lynn McMaster's pattern for a universal round brimmed hat.
I'm not going to go through every step by step with pictures, since that's in the pattern,but rather just point out some things I felt were difficult or where I deviated from the instructions.

I cut out all the pieces needed in buckram, mull and fabric. I then sewed the millinery wire onto the edge of the brim. Then I realized I had been idiot and hadn't ordered enough wire to be able to attach it to the crown sides and tip. The pattern said 2-4 years, and I had just ordered 2. I'm hoping that it won't make such a big difference, and in worst case it's going to be covered by the fabric cap.

I sewed the millinery wire on by hand, I was afraid that my machine wouldn't be able to handle the stiff buckram. The same goes for joining the ends of the crown sides together. When the instructions called for staystitching a line around the head opening I did change the needle on the machine to the heaviest that I had, and could use to to machine sew the seam. It did groan a bit though, so I'm probably going to stick with using as much handsewing on the buckram as possible.

I was amazed how stable the brim feel in buckram and with the wire attached, no buckling or not the least flimsy. It actually looks like a proper hat brim!

The next step was to clue a piece of bias binding over the outer edge of the brim, and where the crown tip and sides meet. I used wood glue. The pattern calls for "white glue" and wood glue is white, and since I have had good results before with using it on fabric I figured it would work now as well. I hate gluing stuff. I can do most things with a needle and thread, but as soon as I leave that comfort zone it feels like wonky things happening. I can only hope that the bias will actually stick to the edge and hold its place.

Two days later I continued. I added the mull to the the crown tip and sides and sewed the outer fabric for the crown and pull it over the crown. This was fairly easy, so I felt really confident going forward with the brim. Adding the mull was fairly easy. I used felt and it stuck to the buckram so that it didn't buckle when I sewed it on, for this I used the machine. One one side you had to add glue to the mull. I got really worried when the pattern warned about weakening the buckram with too much glue, so I think I probably didn't add enough. Covering the brim with the outer fabric was a lot trickier though. The pattern said to do exactly as with the mull, and I ended up with a wrinkly mess.

Here I've ripped half the stitching,but you can see the wrinkles on the left side, it was a lot worse on the right. After that experience I realized that since the cotton velver I'm using as an outer fabric was too slippery and stretchy I hadto sew it on by hand.

The next step was to cover the edge of the brim. In the pattern it says to use self bias, grosgrain or lace. I didn't want a visibly different edge though, and I didn't think it would work to make self bias out of the velvet, due to the nap. Since I had used quite a lot of seam allowance I simply turned it under and attached it to the other side of the brim.

I then added the other outer fabric on that side of the brim and slip stitched the outer edge in place. Thankfully the velvet is really forgiving so it's almost impossible to see any stitches. Having come this far there was one thing that I started to worry about that and that was the sturdiness of the brim. I could feel that it had a crease/dent across the middle, and that the brim had a tendency to flop there, but only in one direction.

The top picture here shows that one side was a lot floppier than if I turned it the other side up. Unfortunately that meant that I had to use the side where I still had some wrinkles on the velvet as the top part, on the other hand it was just at the center back, where I' going to add a lot of decoration.

Then it was on to attach the crown to the brim. It took me a full day to handsew it, and my hands were really sore from pushing the needle through all the layers of fabric,including the buckram. In the end I finally had a hat though. Interestingly the floppiness almost disappeared when I added the crown, and I'm guessing it would have disappeared completely if I had had millinery wire around the crown as well.

Now I had a hat, but I wanted to shape the brim, and I was worried about some buckling that was still visible on the brim. I decided to try and shape the buckram. To be honest I couldn't find any really good instructions for shaping buckram on the net, so I had to make a try for myself first.

Here are my test pieces. The one laying down I simply wet in the sink and then pulled it over a shape. Wetting the buckram didn't harm it, or dissolve the stiffening. The other piece I held over pot with boiling water until I could feel that it started to get sticky, and then I shaped it and put some masking tape on it to help it  hold its shape until it was completely dry. So both steam and water worked. For the hat I thought that steam would be a gentler method, since it's a lot bigger than the test piece and it would also involve all the other fabrics in the hat.

Here is the hat after being held over the boiling water. The towel is there to help it hold it's shape while drying. Unfortunately that gentle method didn't work,or I guess the velvet and the mull was too heavy, so it couldn't hold it's shape when I removed the towel and the stitching that kept it turned up. The steam did wonder with reducing the buckling on the brim though so that it is completely flat.

And with that it's just the decorating left, first off is to create the big blob of fabric to go top.

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