Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Millinery: Five hats in one day: Green Cloche

Daughter Laura RN gave me six parasisal straw "hoods" for Christmas, a "hood" being an hat that has yet to be shaped.
I decided today that I deserved to make the hats.
The house was in reasonable shape, and Bernie was out of town.
So let the hat mania begin!

Below are the hoods before I began.
They are silver grey, navy, brown, olive, burgundy and black.

The first thing I had to do was size the hoods.
The sizing could be bought from a millinery supply place, but I find gelatin works great.
The sizing adds just enough stiffening to the straw that it hold it's shape, and adds a little gloss to boot.
I put two packages of unflavored gelatin into about a quart of boiling water.
I stirred the mixture really well so there were no grains of gelatin left undissolved in the water.

Next step: Dunk the hood.
The dye on the parasisal straw tends to bleed, so I dip the lightest color first, then the next darkest color and so on. I decided not to make the burgundy colored hood this time as I was making an olive green hat, a navy hat, a brown hat and a black hat after the silver grey, so there was really no good place in the line up for a reddish tone.

You can see how dark the gelatin water was by the time I finished dunking the black hood.
I let the hats dry slightly after I dunked them. To avoid dye drips on surfaces I try to remember to line the counters with newspaper, and to wear clothes that won't get ruined if I bump into the drips.
Hats are usually made on a wooden block so the hood can stretch on the wood and pin onto the wood while it dries.
I have some wooden blocks, but I wanted to experiment with "kitchen blocks."
My millinery guru Kate is a big fan of thinking creatively to find alternative hat blocks.
We both go through department stores trying on vases and bowls on our heads, while trying to get a glimpse at ourselves to see how it looks.
It is a wonder we have not been rounded up by the local nut squad and put away in a padded room.
My Dansk pottery deep casserole/soup pot had been whispering to me for awhile, so I decided to give it a try.
I thought it looked pretty good on my head as a hat!
I covered the outside of the pot with saran wrap so the hood's sizing wouldn't stick to the pot as it dried, which would effectively glue the hood to the pot.
Pulling it free would destroy the blocked shape, so it is always important to use saran wrap between the block and the hood.
Since I obviously can't use pins to poke into glazed pottery, I used clothes pins to hold the olive green hood onto the pot, stretching the hood on the bias to get it to take on the shape of the pot. I also slipped an elastic band around the pot just below where the rim began, to make a crisp edge between the crown and the brim.
The hood stayed on the pot until it was totally dry.

Once it was dry, I took the hood is off the block (aka "pot), and I needed to add a sweat band inside the hat.
The band will both make the hat more comfortable to wear, protect the straw from sweat, and most importantly in this case, be used to fit the hat to my head size.
I measured my head with what is called "belting", which looks like ribbon but has a saw tooth edge rather that a flat checkered looking edge. The belting will be used as a sweat band.
Most ribbons now days are polyester or synthetic, and are not usable for sweatbands.
I sewed the belting ends together, checked again to see that the size was comfortable, then divided the belting into fourths.
I pinned the belting equally around the interior of the hat edge, and then pinned it evenly around the rest of the way, and stitched the belting to the hat.
Usually I do that by hand, but today I used my sewing machine.
The sweat band can be used to made a hat fit larger or smaller, even though it is important to have blocks that match a person's head size.
In this case, I just eased the parasisal to my head size.
Next came the fun part: Trimming the hat!

Bernie had discarded some silk ties when he cleaned out his closet awhile back, and they didn't make it to the clothing donation center.
I thought the tie fabric was too cool to give away, and that I could use them in hat making.

Awhile ago I had bought some trim up in Arlington, near Dallas (where the Weather Channel is telling me there is a tornado and rough weather right now....) back when I went up to Victorian Elegance with the two Junes.
The trim was expensive stuff, so I only got about 10 inches.
I had to be clever in how I used it as there wasn't going to be enough trim to go all the way around the crown as a band.

To design my trim I first played with the tie.
I wrapped the tie around the side of the crown of the hat until I was happy with the design, and then I pinned it into place.

Then I played with the trim positioning, and the hat "wearing" style.
I decided to wear the hat as a cloche, and arch the trim on the tie fabric.

In hat making you should work "light", that is, try to eliminate as much weight from the trim as possible. I should have discarded the tie lining to make the trim lighter, but eh, what the heck.

Then I decided the hat needed some feathers.
I tried a few that I had in my millinery supplies, then thought I'd use some of the turkey feathers my dad sent me from one of his successful hunts awhile back.

(That was the cat's favorite part of the whole process. They have been yelping and yowling around the house since I got the feathers out, clearly convinced that SOMEWHERE there is a turkey that they should be able to catch. They keep smelling the feathers, then go tearing around the house meowing like crazy. I finally threw them outside just to shut them up. If there had been a live turkey in the house, it would have beat the heck out of those two ridiculous cats. What were they thinking?)

I curled three of the turkey feathers, gently easing the shaft against the edge of pair of scissors and bending the shaft until it bent slightly, bending it every quarter inch to get an even curve.
I also trimmed down the flues on the downside of the feathers to make the feathers narrower.

Next I decided to flute the edge of the brim.
I measured three inch increments on the brim, placed a clothes pin at each mark, then held the brim over the tea kettle spout to steam the brim, and gently eased the parasisal into a fluted shape, like the edge of a pie crust.

Lastly I attached a vintage silk veil just under the edge of the tie fabric.

And here it is...the finished project:

The point or end of the tie is at the back of the head, and the rest of the tie wrapped twice around the hat.
I used the least amount of stitches possible to tack the trim to the hat.
Hat trim should look as if it could float off the hat, not like it is nailed down with loads of tight stitches.
I couldn't get the hat down into a full cloche level on Joan, as her hair was in the way.
I'll try to get a picture of it on me when Bernie gets home.
Laura requested that I make her a cloche, so if she likes this one, it's hers, although it is probably too big for her.
And I'll bet she won't like the brim...you wanted plain edge, right?
Let me know Sweetie!

Want to try your hand at millinery?
You can get hoods here or here.
They also have traditional blocks and millinery belting.
They just don't have Dansk pots!


LBP said...

That is one gorgeous hat! I have never seen a hat being made. Thanks for sharing.

Lovella said...

You did this all in one day? That is amazing. If the hat dampens by rain does the gelatin get sticky

The hat is beautiful.

Tell Tiggie and Hart that they can come over and join Indee in the feather chase. As you can imagine we have quite a few stray feathers flying around. So far that has been the funnest farm activity for him. They may have more in common than first thought.

Thank you again for the hat making tutorial. You make it look so easy.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Hi Lovella! It really is easy to make a hat. I'll be posting the other four soon, one of them is made just using clothes pins, no block!
The gelatin doesn't get sticky, in fact I often tune up the brim shape to match my mood by putting it over a stream of stream. It softens, but doesn't get sticky. It is possible to fix the hat with a lacquer product, and I usually do that too, but it really isn't necessary. Ever tried to wipe dried on jello from a surface? It is pretty hard stuff. Since it is just gelatin and no sugar, the substance doesn't want to soften, it takes boiling water and soak time to make it disolve. Some times I even make a thicker mix and brush that on the hat if I want it to be really stiff.

Ladygrande said...

Applause!! Applause!! You should be teaching millinery classes. I am sure Kate is so proud of you. That is a gorgeous chapeau! You are so creative and have so much talent.

*For those of you who don't know, Kate Pernia is a wonderful friend and milliner who taught classes at HCC in Houston for years.

Julie said...

Wow, I'm impressed ! Very lovely hat! I've made some hats over the years but just used my own creativity (unbiased by training but also limited for lack of it!!) Although one straw hat I trimmed sold for $800.00 - not because it was worth it! ( I was asked to make it for the shop I sewed for, to match an outfit)

I would love to visit Texas one day and would like to meet you...now I know where and how to find you...I will look for the lady trying all her potential purchases on for size on her head - LOL

I really enjoyed your 'how to make a hat' demonstration! Thank you!!

M said...

Simply amazing! Thanks for sharing. I had absolutely no idea about the steps involved in hatmaking.

Last week, I noticed a beautiful white hat with navy trim and feathers at a local store. At $200, it was out of my price range. Perhaps, I should try hatmaking myself.

P.S. Special thanks to Hope for letting me know about your blog :)

Kathy said...

A very fun read. I was totally caught up in the process. I had no idea it was so much like working with clay - shaping and decorating. I may have to give this a try!

Anonymous said...

I seconded to LadyGrande for teaching millinery class. If you do, sign me up fast!

Thanks for the lesson.

Cristina said...

It's gorgeous!!!!!!! You must be really proud of yourself because to do this beautiful hat in such an ingenious way it's really amazing!
Hats off to you!

Courtney the Knitting Goddess said...

This post made my day. I had been wondering what to do with parasisal hoods, and this was an excellent walk-through. I don't know if I'll ever get around to making my own hats (I need another hobby like I need...), but I thoroughly appreciate yours. Beautiful work on that hat!

Felt Happiness said...

Thanks for the tip about using culinary gelatin! Had been wondering whether worthwhile to ship from US millinery suppliers to the UK == glad that's not necessary!

Felt Happiness said...

Know that this is not a new post - but really appreciate your sharing the use of kitchen gelatin as sizing. Had been pondering an overseas order from the US to UK and glad that's not necessary. Thanks!

Felt Happiness said...

Thanks for the tip about using culinary gelatin! Had been wondering whether worthwhile to ship from US millinery suppliers to the UK == glad that's not necessary!