Monday, September 14, 2015

Cream Silk Covered Hat, or, I Made a Cream Puff to Wear on my Head

I decided a few weeks ago to make a new hat.  I haven't had time for many big projects this summer and was really missing sewing, and craving some silk.  I love that a wider variety of headwear is being represented in Rev War reenacting--that you see bonnets and silk-covered hats far more often than you did a few years ago--but there still aren't too many big, fashionable, silk-covered hats floating around in my neck of the woods.  It's appropriate for my officer's wife persona, so I decided to create one.

It's a bit of a monster, in a good way, on the order of the giant hats you see wandering around Vauxhall Gardens in printed form, and a little bit like a millinery cream puff.

An in-progress shot.  Step one is covering the top of the hat, and you can see the stitches along the edge of the brim here.  I then added decoration to the crown and edge of the brim.  The "poufs" around the crown are a tube of matching silk, and the brim edging (you can see it further down) is pinked and pleated silk.  

After getting all the decoration stitched down, I added the covering to the underside, stitching it to the silk that was folded over from the top to keep stitching from showing on the outside of the hat.  Then I added ties. I recommend pinning them first to do a test run--where you set the ties will affect how the hat shapes.  The further toward the crown, the flatter the hat will lie.  I wanted a little bit of shaping, so stitched the ties down a couple inches out from the crown.

Even though this isn't a Historical Sew Monthly Entry (it doesn't fit the current challenges), I'm stealing the "about this project" format here :)

Fabric: Cream Silk Taffeta from an ebay seller.  This project used less than a yard.
Pattern:  None.  You can just trace out the hat, adding an inch or two for seam allowance.  If you do want a pattern, what I did is very similar to the patterns and methods used in the Larkin and Smith pattern, which I recommend.  
Year: Late 18th century.  These big "statement" hats seem to get pretty popular by the 1770s.
Notions: A hat blank--this one is a straw hat I'd had for years and wanted to make over--and silk thread.
How historically accurate is it?  100% handsewn, and based on images and extant.  I never say 100% because I'm sure I've missed something, but it's pretty darn accurate.
Hours to complete: Probably 4-5.  The process is really simple, but stitching down the  top silk cover, the trim along the brim, and then the bottom silk cover took some time.  
First worn: Last weekend! And it made an impression on the public--I was asked about the hat, its significance, how it was made, and other questions more than anything else.  It created a great gateway for talking about clothing norms and the differing social statuses the visitors could notice in camp, and opened some great conversations.

Total Cost:  $12 total.  The fabric was $8 for the one yard--yay for sales! The thread was about $4 for the spool, and I already had the hat blank.  
 And finally, a few photos from the weekend with the hat in action.

The Husband and I in front of our unit and our cannon:

And another one.  (Chilly morning--I spent most of it in my short cloak and gloves.)

Finally, a close up that gives you a good look at that pleated trim, and the fact that I actually fixed my hair:

All in all, very pleased with this project!


Connie Keller said...

Gorgeous! You did lovely work.

Rowenna said...

Thanks, Connie!

Cassidy said...

Very pretty! I keep meaning to try this sometime.

Rowenna said...

Thanks, Cassidy! It's a pretty easy project--time consuming on the stitching down, but a good on-the-couch evening project over the course of a few days.

Nessa said...

That is one cute cream puff!