This post will make more sense if you’ve seen my post about making an 18th Century Riding Jacket, since this hat was made to go with that piece.
This hat was an adventure. It had a lot of ups and downs, but I think the most difficult part was figuring out how big it should be. The ensemble this project is based off of is worn with a very small decorative hat, which I like. But I didn’t think it would flatter my wider frame/face and the proportions of the rest of the costume.
Making a full sized one didn’t hold a lot of appeal either, that seemed too practical to go with the heavily beaded jacket. So I split the difference and made a medium sized one. I don’t love everything about this hat but I am happy with the sizing of it, so i’m glad I took so much time to think about that before getting started.
This is the pattern I came up with for the cap of the hat. I started by drawing out the top then fiddled around with strips of paper until I got a shape I was happy with.
I cut out both pieces from buckram and marked the seam allowance onto the piece that makes up the “taper” (sides) of the hat.
I clipped the seam allowance at the top edge of the taper, then pinned it to the crown of the hat.
And sewed it down with a ton of upholstery thread.
Then I covered it with two layers of quilt batting to round out the shape.
Now it was time to cover the cap with wool. This step made me think back to some wet moulding tutorials I saw a while back, which gave me the brilliant idea to wet the wool and mould it over the cap. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about seams or gathers at the base of the hat.
If I had taken a few minutes to actually google those tutorials, or to think about this idea for more than thirty seconds I might have realized how stupid this plan was. Because the wool i’m using isn’t felt, so it doesn’t stretch, even when it’s wet. But you know what does stretch when it gets wet? Buckram.
The wool quickly dampened the buckram and the tension on the pins securing the wool to the buckram caused the buckram to bunch up at the sides and even disintegrate at points. I tried to salvage it by pinning it to a wig head, but the wig head was too small. It was a complete mess.
I ended up with this lumpy, uneven thing. But I didn’t want to redo it because I had limited quantities of wool and buckram. So I moved forward and hoped it wouldn’t be obvious in the end.
The best part of this whole thing is that a week later I came across a pre formed buckram hat base which was the exact size and shape I was going for. If I had remembered it’s existence a week earlier I would have saved myself some frustration and have a significantly less lumpy hat!
I set the cap aside for a bit and drafted the brim. This part was pretty tricky, I made three or four attempts before coming up with this which still isn’t perfect but worked well enough.
I cut it out from felt weight interfacing, then sewed wire into the edges so I would be able to shape the brim.
I covered the top side with wool then basted it down a quarter inch away from the outside edge. The outside edge will be finished with bias tape later on so it doesn’t matter, but I folded the inner edge so it’s on the underside of the brim.
Then I sewed it down.
And I sewed the cap to the brim. This was a pain since the buckram had warped to a point where it really did not want to fit in the opening.
The end result was pretty bad but at this point I had invested so much time into it that I felt I had to finish it.
So I moved forward! I pinned wool to the underside of the brim and sewed it down with a mixture of whip stitches and basting stitches.
Then I sewed up the back seam and sewed bias tape around the outside edge of the brim. This bias tape was made from a mottled gold brocade which matched the beading on the jacket nicely.
By some miracle the hat looked pretty decent once it was folded into the tricorne shape. I think the front is a little bit long, and the sides could be shaped a little bit differently, but this was a way better result than I was expecting.
To jazz it up a bit I sewed sequins onto the bottom half of the bias tape, then I sewed on a thin gold ribbon a quarter inch below that.
I had four inches of lace left after finishing the jacket, which was just enough to add this decoration to the right side of the hat. I trimmed the lace with sequins and beaded it using the exact same method ghat was used on the jacket. Then I added a beaded tassel and a button.
I still wasn’t super happy with how the sides of the cap looked. So I used my usual method to fix this sort of thing which involves adding stuff until I like the way it looks. On the left side I added two home made chiffon flowers that have fake pearl centers and two bleached peacock feathers.
The other side has three ostrich plumes – two in a peachy color, and one that’s white. The base of the feathers are hidden by another chiffon flower, which has a gold floral cameo center.
And another photo of the lace detail on the side because that’s my favorite part!
I also covered the seam at the back of the hat with gold braid and added sequins to the top side of the centerfront.
And that’s it! The hat is finished.
The underside isn’t too pretty since my attempts at lining it ended badly. Eventually I decided that it didn’t matter since the wool doesn’t fray.
The saftey pin is there so I can hang the hat on my wall – it doesn’t have any structural purpose, I just forgot to take it out!
The plastic comb was a late but very necessary addition to the hat. When we were taking photos of the finished ensemble the hat was a bit of a fail, it had no way of staying on my head and I didn’t have enough range of motion in my arms to pin it to my wig after I got the dress on.
The hat refused to stay where I wanted it and fell off so many times that the brim got really bent out of shape. Which was easy to fix, but not something I noticed when we were taking the photos. So the hat isn’t sitting properly/shaped properly on my head in most of the photos which is dissapointing.
But thanks to the comb that will not a problem when I wear it again!
Here is a photo of how it’s supposed to look when its worn. Obviously the hair and styling isn’t right, but you can get an idea of the shape! I think it turned out really nicely in the end, which i’m pretty amazed to be saying since the construction process didn’t go very smoothly.
And here it is worn with the finished ensemble! I don’t think the snow did a lot of good for the hat – the feathers kind of deflated, and the decorations are hidden by snow. But it adds a lot to the outfit and i’m excited to get more photos of it in the future!
And the last thing I wanted to mention is that I bought an accessory to wear with this costume – it won’t be visible when the whole thing is worn, but the color was so perfect that I couldn’t resist. These are clocked stockings from the American Duchess store. They are so pretty, and red, and pair with this so nicely!
And that’s it! The full photoset of this project should be up next week!