Friday, October 7, 2011

How to make an 18th century hat. A tutorial in pictures.

So after making the little striped pierrot and the embroidered petticoat, I thought it was time to make a foray into millinery and try out the hat, too. See above. I have never made a hat before, so with a little common sense, and a peek at this and this, I took a shot at it. So here we go:

I started out by studying the picture above. From what I can tell, the main hat seems to be made of black silk. It is a fairly basic shape, with no fancy curving. Easy enough for a first attempt. It is also worn atop the hair, not the head, so it doesn't have to fit a certain size. All one needs is a couple of hat pins to keep it on.

To start, I made up a pattern. Three pieces: the crown, the vertical part and the brim. For the crown I started with a piece that was 5 3/4 inches. I used a compass to make the circle. I added a 1/2 inch selvage to the pattern. From that, I went back to math class - okay, I googled it, but here it is - and took the formula c=πd (circumference = 3.14 x diameter). In this case: c=3.14x6. I rounded up. It's 18, so the next piece, the vertical part, needs to be 18 inches long. It also needs a selvage, but only on one side, since you overlap it. For the brim, I measured out five inches from the crown, and made a circle. On the inside of the brim, I made a second circle that was the same circumference as the crown, then I added a selvage inside, too.

The crown at 5 3/4 in.

The vertical piece.

So this is what I had so far. See above. It seemed a little teeny and sad and not too grand, so I decided to add on to the crown and make it an inch larger. Now it's 6 3/4 inches. I did not change the size of the brim. Note: If you enlarge a piece, make sure to do it from the actual pattern measurement, not from the edge of the selvage, as your future measurements will be off. See below.

Now this looked much better:

I redid the circumference formula and extended the vertical piece to 22 inches (22=πx7). Below you can see the three pieces. You can also see where I added 
on to the long piece when I change the dimensions of the crown.

For the body of the hat I used needlepoint canvas. I sandwiched two sheets of 16 count, 100% cotton canvas together - get the cotton, not plastic, because you will have to iron the canvas, since it comes out rolled up and crazy, and if you get plastic you won't be able to.

So I cut out the pattern pieces, two each. Then I pinned them together in layers and passed them through the machine, using a zig-zag to secure the layers together. I spiraled the crown piece, for the vertical piece, I did three rows, and for the brim I did three rows, not spiraled. There are reasons for this:

The crown was spiraled because it was quick, easy, and that is all it took.

For the vertical piece, I did the rows away from the edges, leaving room all around to sandwich the messy bits of the other pattern pieces under. It will show better in later pictures.

For the brim, I did three seperate rows (not spiraled), because in between two of the rows, I snipped open a slit and inserted two pieces of millinery wire for stability, and for flexibility if I ever want to cock up a side... I didn't have joining tips for the wire, so I covered the very tips with a small piece of duct tape so they wouldn't catch on the canvas, then I used extra wire to overlap the ends inside the hat's channels, so there wouldn't be a funny spot where the wire tips meet inside.

To join the pieces together, I made up the vertical piece first and pinned it. I cut the selvage edges on the inside of the brim and on the outside of the crown. Just little snips so the edges can curve. I started with the brim. I folded up the snipped selvage edges, sandwiching them inside the two layers of the vertical part. Then I pinned them in place.

The picture below shows a better view of the "sandwiching." This is where I folded down the selvages of the crown and tucked them into the 2 layers of the vertical part. The picture below shows the two layers separated.

Then I folded the outer layer back up and pinned it in place. You can see below how this creates a neat line for the hat.

To sew the layers together I used a tatting thread. It was the heaviest weight thread I had, without getting into embroidery floss. I would recommend using an upholstery weight thread, but I didn't have one at hand. This method worked just fine, however. I used a curved needle but it can also be done with a straight needle. The curved need just makes it easier to sew from one side. I used a back stitch.

For the fashion fabric, I used the same pattern pieces (2 of each piece: one outside and one lining). However, I added an extra selvage to the vertical piece and to the outside of the brim. I snipped the selvage on the inside of the brim so it could mold around the hat base, as in the picture below. Sorry it's sideways...

For the vertical pieces, inside and out, I sewed them up the side, pressed the seam open, and then folded under the long sides at the selvage and pressed those too. For the lining, I tucked the crown piece in first, secured it with pins, added the brim, secured it with pins, too, and then placed the vertical piece, covering the raw edges (and pinned it - lots and lots of pins for this project). Where the pins are shown below, I used a whipstitch to join the pieces together.

For the outside, I pinned down the crown and the brim and then smoothed the vertical piece over those raw edges as well.

Then I unpinned (and re-pinned) the top, because I found a better way... I folded down the vertical piece and sewed down the crown first, catching the inside layers as I went. I used a running stitch.

After that I folded the piece back up and whip stitched the vertical piece to the crown.

For the brim, I sandwiched the raw edges between the canvas layers, then stitched the edges together.

So far this is what I've got:

Next will come sewing the brim to the vertical piece on the outside (where the pins are in the pics above). 

For trimmings I ordered a bunch of silk ribbons from MJ Trimming and William Booth Draper. I have to see them in person to choose the right color. I also ordered a great assortment of millinery flowers and bits from Judith M Millinery Supply. I can't wait!

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