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.And finally, a few photos from the weekend with the hat in action.
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.
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!