Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The hat is done!

I finshed my megahat last week, and I'm so happy with it. Considering that I've never made a hat before I was quite scared about how I should pull it off, but I managed it in the end.

I had planned to use the hat for my entry in the HSF challenge 10: Art, but now I've read the post about the challenge and fashion plates don't qualify as art, but on the other hand that means that I can post about the hat before the challenge is due. I have found a small thing that I can pull off in less than a week for the Art challenge, it's going to be small and not as spectucal, but at least it qualifies.

In my last post I had gotten the main hat done and it was "only" the decorations left to do. The first thing I did was to create the big cap. I used a yard of silk/poly blend taffeta. I simply the biggest circle possible, meaning that the diameter was the full width of the fabric. I interfaced it with two layers of soft tulle that I had in my stash. I would probably have preferred use a heavier tulle, but I used what I had. I then gathered the big circle of fabric and sewed it on to the hat where the crown meets the brim.

The leftovers of the fabric was enough to create five ribbons of the fabric. These ribbons were used to make the hatband and the bows in the back. One ribbon is the hatband, one ribbon forms the dangling ends of the bow and two ribbons make out the bows. In order to create the bows I simply made two loops and each loop was scrunched together in the middle and covered with the ends of the ribbon that formed the hatband.

The fabric cap and the bows and ribbon in the back
 With that done I turned up the brim at the front, using steam, and fastened it with a couple of stitches to the crown. Then came the challenge of creating the big bow in the front. In the original fashion plate I could count to at least six individual loops, and the were puffy and standing out from the hat by themselves. I had used up the ribbons made of leftover fabric, but I had a piece of wide poly satin ribbon that matched the cap fabric really well. In order to get them keep their shape I read up on starch and mixed up a potato based starch, and put the ribbons in it. I think I overdid it because the ribbons really felt like paper afterwards, so if the starch just looks like a gooey porridge it's probably too strong. With these very stiff ribbons it wasn't very easy to form bows though. In the end I made three fairly large loops and tacked them together in the middle. The bow still looked too flat though.

In order to make the front bow more lively I took the last scraps of red taffeta and cut into smaller loops that I could tack in between ribbon loops. The taffeta scraps were too narrow for me to hem, but instead I painted the sides of them with woodglue, diluted with water. The same thing I used for the pleated trim on my blue anglaise.This also had the benefit of strengthening the fabric enough to help it hold its shape.
Finished front bow
The last stage was to attach two plumes of ostrich feathers. I couldn't get hold of the very loooong plumes in the original, the size I have is more practical I think. In order to make the plumes bigger I sewed three ostrich feathers together to make one plume.

Here is my finished result, worn with the linen cap over my black wig.

And the fashion plate that I used for inspiration.

Just the facts:
Fabric: 0,5 m double buckram, 0,5 m blue cotton velvet, 1 m red silk/poly taffeta, 1,5 m poly tulle
Pattern: Lynn McMasters Universal Round Brimmed hat
Year: 1788
Notions: regular sewing thread, buttonhole sewing thread, millinery wire, ostrich feathers, 1 m poly satin ribbon
How historically accurate is it? The final result really looks the part, but I really don't know how correct the technique of making a buckram based hat is. I also used quite a few poly blends in it. It is mostly handsewn, but where I could I did use the machine. In the end 60%.
Hours to complete: It went together a lot faster than I had thought. I started on Sunday and it was finished by Thursday, working on average 3-4 hours every evening.
First worn: For the photo above
Total cost:ca $60

What I've learned with this project:
The whole thing of making a hat was a totally new thing for me. I'm definitely hooked and I have enough buckram left to do more hats. I also think the knowledge of how to shape buckram will come in handy for other costume projects as well. I already have thoughts about using buckram as a base for hairpieces and such things.

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