The time has come! It is finished! Here we are, the final portion of my 1870s Ravenclaw-inspired outfit. You can read all about the gown that goes with this hat in my Ravenclaw Gown posts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
As soon as I decided I needed a hat, I knew exactly what kind I wanted. I absolutely adore these jaunty, curled-brim numbers. The first two images are where I got most of my inspiration.
I patterned the hat myself, since that’s something I’ve been wanting to practice more. Mostly, this was done through a couple evenings of trial and error using posterboard mock-ups. With each try, I adjusted the width of the brim, the curve of the crown sides, and the size and shape of crown until I was happy.
Mocking-up the brim was a bit of a guess, since the poster board doesn’t hold curl the way that wired buckram does, so I had to basically guess that it would actually make the shape that I wanted once it was wired, since I couldn’t get the center front to bend down at the same time as the sides were curled up.
I used the posterboard pieces as the pattern to cut my buckram. Since I couldn’t find double buckram anywhere (apparently it has gone from this world?), I ended up using some buckram interfacing to beef up the heavyweight buckram I had, Two pieces each on the crown sides and crown top, and one piece on the outside of the brim.
I just basted the buckrams together, making sure to hold the crown sides and brim in their curled positions while I pinned and sewed to make sure there wouldn’t be any trouble getting the shapes.
When the buckram is prepared, there is a piece of millinery wire stitched around each edge except for the inner brim with a modified whip stitch. Instead of just wrapping the thread around, moving forward each time, there is a stitch around the wire, then a stitch around the wire moving forward, then a stitch around the wire in the same place, then a stitch around the wire moving forward, you get the idea.
In order to protect the outer layer of fabric from the potentially damaging buckram and wire, there are several barrier layers put in place. Firstly, each of the wires is covered with a piece of bias tape.
Once the bias tape is in place, the three pieces are ready to become one.
The seam allowance on the inner brim is clipped all around so that it can bend up inside the crown and be stitched down.
Now that the wire is in place, and the hat is all once piece, it’s time to really finalize the shape of the brim. I did this by curling the brim sides around a rolled up towel, and steaming the buckram with my iron. Since buckram is stiffened with a starchy glue, it softens up with steam, and hardens again as it dries. Bending the wire got the edges of the brim where I wanted them, and the steam helped get an elegant curve into the buckram itself.
The second layer of protection is called mulling, and usually consists of a layer of flannel or other soft fabric all over the buckram form.
Finally, after all this, it’s finally time to put the outer fabric on! In this case, the hat is covered with dark blue velveteen, except for the inner brim.
The brim is clipped at the seam allowance and stitched around the edge. I don’t love using glue for covering hats, so velveteen is a great material for me, since stitches disappear easily in to the pile. I used concentric rows of stitches to make sure that the velveteen stayed smooth against the inner curve of the brim.
The crown top is nice and easy. The velveteen is simply smoothed over the form and stitched around the edges.
The crown sides are also simple in concept, but more tricky in practice. The seam allowances are all pressed to the inside, and then everything gets smoothed down and stitched in place, with the center back seam edges carefully butting up against each other, not overlapping. All these layers create enough bulk without adding any extra.
The inner brim is a bit more fun, since it is covered with ruched bronze taffeta. It is simply a long strip of fabric, three times longer than the circumference of the crown/brim seam, with a gathering stitch run along each edge.
In order to cover up all those raw edges, the brim is bound with blue taffeta bias tape.
The inside of the crown is lined with linen, with a few loops of hem tape in the seam so that I have a way to pin the hat to my hairstyle.
After that, it’s all trimming!
The hatband is made from bronze taffeta, twisted and folded in order to create something a bit more interesting than a plain band. Let me tell you, it takes a lot of futzing around to make something look artfully disheveled.
The join in the back of the hatband is covered with a sort of half-bow in the same fabric–one loop, wrapped in another piece, with one long trailing tail.
Finally, I played around with feathers for a long while before I settled on one Lady Amherst pheasant tail feather, curled on a scissor blade like ribbon so that it follows the curve of the crown.
I gotta tell you, I am completely in love with this hat. It’s so exciting!
Keep an eye out on my social media in the next couple of weeks! Next Wednesday, I’ll be doing a big, fun photoshoot with both this gown and my Adora Belle Dearheart costume. It’s going to be an exciting day!