HSM #7 – The Edwardian Summer Hat was Done….I Thought

Well, getting the floral garland the way I want it took longer that I thought it would. Not that that’s a real surprise, though. I have a tendency to be obnoxiously picky when it comes to getting things to look the way I imagine them in my mind. But since it’s not taking away from anything else important and I’m the one who is going to wear it, a day here and there is just the way it goes.

The other option is to call it Finished, take tons of photos, write the blog article, post it to the HSM Facebook album…then tear it all apart three weeks later when I can’t stand it anymore. At least I know that much about myself. I’m still learning to ease up a bit with my inner Task Master but, as they say, “it’s a process.” After all, for the most part, I’m the only one who’ll ever know what I was trying to achieve. Unless I blab.

So there I was this morning, feeling stupid happy that I’d gotten it all together, starting on the last round of photos…

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…when an unbidden thought started whispering. It arose from the memory of seeing an extant hat with a very nice little something applied to the brim.

It needs lace.

Uh…pardon me?

Lace. You know. Around the edge to soften it up a bit.

That will add an hour or two of hand work.

But it will look soooo nice. And, now that I’ve reminded you, you know you’re going to do it.


Just buck up, kiddo, and get going.

Oh, for crying out loud. Where’s the needle and thread…

And that’s what I’ll be doing this evening – watching old British television programs on Hulu and hand sewing a lace edging around the brim. Both sides, of course. If I’m going this far, why start cutting corners now?

Crocheted lace (with clipped end dipped in genuine "vintage" FrayCheck (TM).

Vintage crocheted lace with dimensional floral center motifs, perched on the edge of the brim – clipped end dipped in genuine “vintage” FrayCheck (TM).



PS – As you can see, I finally broke down and bought watermarking software for my photographs. I’ve been running into photos from the blog in all sorts of places – not always attributed correctly, if at all. I hate it when photographers plaster watermarks through the center of their work, making it impossible to see what I’m supposed to be seeing. I understand why they are pushed to do it, I just don’t like it. So I’m putting my watermark at the bottom center. For now. Yes, the unscrupulous thief can always crop it off without damaging the essence of the image. If I find that happening, I’ll make changes accordingly.


HSM #7: The Edwardian Summer Hat is Nearing Completion

OK, I admit that I’ve not been very…um…active this month. My attention has pulled in a dozen different ways and both the blog and the hat suffered a bit of “back-burner” time. I’m glad I’m not an octopus, but sometimes those eight arms look like a pretty nifty management tool. For me the problem is time management – I’m just not that good at it unless I really push myself and now that I’m not a slave to the alarm clock I’m loathe to push myself unless I really have to. Yes, that sounds a lot like “lazy” but I figure I’ve earned a bit of slowing down after decades of shift work and running like a maniac.

During this time I decided to replace my still missing camera. For far less money that I’d spent on my point-and-shoot pocket-sized Olympus – thank you, eBay – I was able to get a much better camera with more features AND leap from 7.1 megapixels to 16 megapixels. Hopefully the photos will reflect the improved equipment – subject to operator error since, at this point, I’ve only had it three days.

Suddenly the end of July is here and my project for HSM #7 was looking pretty…pathetic. I still had a blank base hat with two staples sitting on my mannequin head looking pretty pathetic, which it isn’t, and ignored, which it was. Happily, in times like these, “push” looks a lot like “play.” So play I did. (Please excuse the poor light – the weather has turned again and now we’re in the midst of cool, grey and rainy. The light is about as flat at it can get and the indoor lighting skews the colors. Oh, well.)

Even though I planned on pretty much drowning the hat in flowers, I decided that a hat band would be a nice touch for any areas that showed through. Trying to find something locally, for once, I ended up going with satin blanket binding. The Mercantile had it in the right shade of pink so I figured it was worth a try – especially if it saved an hour or so round-trip on the road.

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The first thing to change was the idea of a shaped brim. I recently cut my hair super-short, à la Dame Judy Dench, and having a raised side would fully expose the haircut. So I removed the staples, which I had to do to put the band on anyway, and decided to just let the brim fall as it was designed to.

Knowing the band would be mostly hidden with flowers and leaves, I wasn’t particularly worried about having a tidy seam in the band or using stealthy stitches to sew it to the hat. I used a couple of spots of fabric glue to hold it in place and used a pin to secure it while the glue dried. I’m not worried about the discoloration – it will be hidden beneath the flowers.

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Then I started dismembering flowers and leaves. I only had a few stem’s worth: one peony, two bunches of mums, one bunch of daffodils, one bunch of lavender (I think it’s lavender), a sprig of cherry blossoms and some loose bits left over from my 1908 hat. I worried about running short – until I freed the individual stems from their bunches. Suddenly I had a floral Disneyland on my hands… way more than enough.

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On the stems they don’t look like a lot…

..but once pulled apart, there was actually quite a lot to work with.

..but once pulled apart, there was actually quite a lot to work with.

Now it was just a matter of playing around with the flowers and leaves until I had layers that I liked. They are fabric, not paper, so they withstood the shifting and piling up without wear and tear.

I knew the insanely enormous peony was going to be the centerpiece, so I started there.

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It’s heavy and I was worried about the weight causing the hat to continually want to shift to the right. A couple of straight pins in the mannequin’s head work wonders during the construction, and I was (and am) pretty sure I’ll need a hat pin or two to keep it level when I wear it. Everything else that went on had to balance the weight distribution and hopefully make the wearing a bit easier.

However, as much as I loved the peony, and no matter what I tried, it was just too heavy and kept pulling the brim down. Hiding a contemporary haircut is one thing – hiding my face entirely is another. So I set it aside to await a creation with a bit more heft to it.

Uh...where'd everybody go?

Uh…where’d everybody go?

Once the peony was gone, the hat lightened up considerably. The rest of the flowers were more in balance with both size and shape. And, since they weren’t being overshadowed, their colors really popped. Once the peony was gone I could clearly see just how disproportionate it was in the first place. I mean, I knew it was big. But I didn’t anticipate how much so. I never ceased to be amazed at how willing to let go of a design idea can make such a difference.

On the other hand, though, I really wanted to use the peony. What to do, what to do. Turns out it was the massive wire in the stem that the source of the weight. I cut it off and most of the weight disappeared. But the flower itself was still enormous. So I started playing with it and remembered something I’d heard or read a long time ago – these large flowers are often made in modules. I started poking through it and, sure enough, it could be taken apart and broken down into smaller units.

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I pulled two layers of the large back sections to make a bed for the smaller core body and used glue to set them in place. (It looks kinds hibiscus-y, but that goes away when the rest of the body is in place.)

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Then I added a sprig of peony leaves on the right. On the left I nestled the spray of baby cherries, wired and placed a spray of 3 daffodil leaves and did the same with three sprigs of lavender. Finally, I set a daffodil in place to see how it looked. At the end of the day here’s what I had:

Right side.

Right side.

Left side.

Left side.

This morning I glued a plastic thingy that separates the sections onto the back of the core peony body and let that dry.

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Then I lost my internet connection. I couldn’t add to the blog or upload any photos of yesterday’s work. I figured I’d play around with making a short floral garland for the back base of the crown – except that I was out of all my thin wire, let alone thin green wire.

So I made lunch, took the dog for a walk, went to City Hall to pay my water bill, and read a book for a few hours.

Now the internet connection is back – finally! I’ve glued the (much smaller) body of the peony in place and have some pins to hold it while it sets. Now about three-fourths its original size, the proportions work with everything else and there’s very little weight so the brim isn’t sagging over my eyes.

As of this afternoon, the hot (for up here) sunny weather is back so hopefully tomorrow’s photos will be better lit. Assuming the internet is still up, that is.

New Project – HSM #7: Accessorize

The Historical Sew Monthly Challenge for July is Accessorize – The final touch of the right accessory creates the perfect period look.  Bring an outfit together by creating an accessory to go with your historical wardrobe.

I need a hat that’s appropriate for my upcoming Edwardian event. 1912 is a great time from which to “shop” because hats came just about any way anyone could want. Hat, toque, tricorn, bicorn. Vertical, horizontal or wicked slant. Ribbons, bows, feathers, flowers. Lots of drama everywhere you turn. Here are a few examples that got my mind turning.

Woman's hat, circa 1908-1910

Easter Flower Hats 1912

124, 1912, pages 119 and 124, from Winterthur Museum Library


The base I’m using is a floppy white paper straw hat I bought at a local thrift shop for $8.95. A band of natural color runs around the edge of the brim. My head is way bigger than the mannequin’s, but you get the idea.

Big ol' floppy thrift store hat.

Big ol’ floppy thrift store hat.

Since trying to pick a favorite hat from all of those extant examples to reproduce is next to impossible, I am blending the concepts. I love “making” hats. This is gonna be fun.

First, I used a stapler to lift the right side a bit. Not only does this lend a fashionable air, it also helps to stabilize the floppiness around the brim.

Can you tell I'm miserably hot? Sorry about the spots on the mirror. Worst selfie ever. But it shows what just two staples can do for the shape.

Worst selfie ever!!

Can you tell I’m miserably hot? Sorry about crummy photo and the spots on the mirror. But it shows what just two well-placed staples can do for the shape. If I have to, I can always run some millinery wire around the brim. But for now it’s looking good.

Now it’s time to start adding the goodies.

The event theme is roses and the color of roses. This is the fabric I’m using for the dress and the antique Edwardian brooch I’ll be wearing with it.

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I want scads of flowers. When I was at JoAnn’s I had four coupons and a lot of their fabric flowers were already marked down. I got the rose-pink satin blanket edging at the local mercantile. I know that in many cultures, chrysanthemums are only used for funerals and memorials for the dead. But that’s not the case here, so I got two bunches…lots of volume at a great price

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Here’s what the flowers look like on the dress fabric.

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And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Big Edwardian Hat without a couple of big ostrich plumes.

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Play time! Now…where are those wire cutters…?

Challenge Completed: Edwardian Hat, 1908-Style.


Note: For the purpose of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, ‘historical’ means 75 years or older, so pre-1938.

The Challenge:  #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashiondue September 9.  Sew something that pays homage to the historical idea of re-using, re-making and re-fashioning.  Turn one thing into another.  Re-fit or re-fashion an old gown into something you would wear again.  Re-trim a hat for a new outfit, or re-shape a modern hat to be a historical hat.  Re-purpose the fabric from an old garment (your own or a commercial one) into a new garment.

Fabric: Contemporary black base hat (à la “Kentucky Derby”) made of straw and net, with ginormous shiny black plastic net bow, a huge milliners’ black rose in the center of the bow, and the black feathers.

base hat "before"

Base hat “before” – from the same maker. This one has green plastic netting instead of black.


Base hat “before” – I also started with the striped coq feathers already on the crown.

Pattern: Inspired by fashion plates, sketches and period photographs.

However, I personally draw the line at whole, dead, stuffed birds.

Personally, I draw the line at whole, dead, stuffed birds. <Shudder>

Year:  1908, Autumn

Notions: Thread, hot glue, glue, lots of vintage millinery wire. Band-Aids. Antique and vintage millinery supplies, consisting of coq feathers, pheasant feathers, turkey feathers, hand-made Italian straw flowers and sprays, tinted glass berries, silk and fabric thistle heads, textured tiny pink berries, cotton-and-wire floral sprays.

How historically accurate is it? Very reasonably so, considering the difficulty in finding antique, period millinery supplies.

Hours to complete: I’d started this before entering the challenge, so I don’t have an accurate record…best guess is approximately 9 – 10 hours total (removing original decoration, preparing hat base, affixing decorative items)…I had to use wire clippers to cut through lava flows of hot glue and strip off all the black plastic netting in little pieces.

First worn: Not yet worn

Total cost: Approximately $130.00, including base hat and vintage supplies.



The Challenge: Hatsdue in September 2013. Most every historical era before the 1960s had lots of hats. They complete the outfit. Make one from scratch or buy one to reshape & trim out.

The Accessory:  An Edwardian-style hat.

Historical Period:  1908, Autumn

Style of Outfit It Accessorizes:   

Edwardian dresses "suitable for the working woman."

Edwardian dresses “suitable for the working woman.”


1908: S-curve is in fashion

Materials Used:  Thread, hot glue, glue, lots of vintage millinery wire. Band-Aids. Antique and vintage millinery supplies, consisting of coq feathers, pheasant feathers, turkey feathers, hand-made Italian straw flowers and sprays, tinted glass berries, silk and fabric thistle heads, textured tiny pink berries, cotton-and-wire floral sprays.

Techniques Used:  Thread, hot glue, glue, lots of vintage millinery wire. Intermittent removal of feathers hot-glued to fingers.

My Fine Feathered Friend-in-the-Making

Update on my progress with the combined challenges of the Historical Sew Fortnightly #18 (re-make, re-use, re-model) and Accessorize from Head-To-Toe (September – Hats).  With twelve days to go, things are looking good.

I started with something that looked a lot like this. Instead of a humongous satiny bow, it had a humongous plastic netting bow. It had more of the black feathers, and there were coq feathers on the crown. Underneath it all, however, the base black is identical.

Very similar base hat, side view

Very similar base hat, side view

Very similar base hat, front view

Very similar base hat, front view

I cut of all of the plastic netting (through lava flows of hot glue) and tidied up the feathers. Next was a series of eBay adventures until I found the vintage, handmade millinery supplies I wanted. I found some old (not rusted) millinery wire. Soon afterward, I discovered the usefulness of bandages for holes created in fingers by said old millinery wire. Happily, I’m up to date on my tetanus boosters. (And I never thought I’d be using the word “tetanus” in a blog about hats. Live and learn.)

I did the first round of transition from black hat into Edwardian Hat a few months ago, but it still wasn’t “right.” After looking at it for a few more months, I figured out what I want to do and the re-model/re-make is well underway. Teasers:

Teaser #1

Teaser #2