It’s been fun to make this hat and brush off my millinery skills, so much so that I’ve been spending a lot of late nights in the studio working on it, even though I don’t plan to wear it before late June. As a result, I finished it much sooner than I expected! I took advantage of having Holly around during daylight hours to get some shots of me wearing the hat, so that you could see the scale of it on a real person. It definitely ended up big!
I don’t really have progress photos between the mulled frame and the completed hat, partly because the change from ivory batting/flannel to white velvet wasn’t really dramatic enough to bother taking pictures of, and partly because I got caught up in the work and forgot to stop for pictures. The top of the hat and crown are covered with white cotton velvet, and the underside with aqua silk taffeta, with more taffeta binding the edge of the brim. Here is it after assembly but before most of the trim was put on. I opted to pleat the underside of the brim, even though I could have saved some hours by using a flat lining. I am happy with the finished effect, however, and glad I put in the extra time. I also fidddled with the hat band for hours, trying to figure out the best way to cut it out and stitch it on, and ended up with a shaped band barely stitched down at all. It was the only way to have it lay smoothly across the crown and not distract from the shape, which I wanted to show off as much as possible.
I figured a floofy bow and some feathers were the obvious choice for trim, but they needed to be big enough to suit the hat. I wanted something full like the bow on this hat, which I ended up constructing of 2″ wide tubes of silk, to match the width of the band at the base of the crown. After playing with the silk for a while, it was obvious that the large loops I was making would need some extra support, so each one is individually wired and gathered. The wire isn’t very noticeable, but gives just enough support to keep some fluff in each loop. Each loop was stitched to a circle of buckram, padded and covered with a scrap of silk. This gave me something to stitch the loops to firmly, as well as a bit of dimension to build the bow around. It also means the finished bow could be stitched to the hat itself with a minimum of stitching, which in turn meant less handling of the hat during construction.
I also spent some time building the feathers into something lush enough for this hat. I used three ostrich “plumes” in total, each made up of three feathers pulled from an assortment of 18-24″ plumes and 17-19″ drabs. The first was a 24″ long beauty of an ostrich plume which had a graceful natural curve to it, backed with two slightly damaged plumes. Then I built two shorter “plumes” from 17-19″ drabs topped with a shorter, less pretty plume. Each was then shaped and steamed and fluffed before being attached to the hat. The longest plume wraps around the back of the hat, arches up, and droops delicately over the edge of the brim, where the tip of the plume is secured with a swing tack so it can move, but not too far.
I set the feathers and the bow fairly far back on the hat, to keep most of the tall sloped front of the crown visible. I placed the bow about halfway up the crown, rather than flat on the brim. The feathers were arranged so that the two largest sweep around to the side opposite the bow, and the final one crosses over the back of the hat in the other direction. I may eventually add some other trim in the back, but for now I am really pleased with how it turned out! The inside is lined simply with white taffeta and a grosgrain band.