Wednesday, 4 February 2009

How to Make a Cocktail Hat. Or, How Not to Make a Cocktail Hat...

We'll see how it turns out :)

Having googled the making of hats, I've sort of picked bits out of a few sets of instructions and combined them to see what happens...

Instruction 1. Buy hat block

Well, instant fail on that one, as they're £150. I know, I think, I'll use a mixing bowl instead, that's kind of head shaped, right...? Turns out, not so much. In fact, a mixing bowl is a very poor substitute indeed for a hat block. Remember that. Having wandered round my house looking for something head shaped, I have a sudden brainwave. Roller derby crash helmet! Well, at least it's the right shape...


Instruction 2. Acquire buckram fabric. Steam over kettle, having removed lid first to prevent it switching itself off automatically.

Aha! That I can do! Well, kinda. Please don't fill up the kettle right to the top, or you'll end up with boiling water flinging itself in your direction. Fact.

So, after tipping half the water out the kettle, I managed to steam the buckram with only occasional squeaks of pain as I put my fingers too close to the steam.

Instruction the third. Cover hat block with cling film. Pull buckram taut over hat block and secure at the bottom with elastic band. Steam each corner in turn and pull down firmly until no bumps are visible.

Doesn't sound too hard right? Well, the difficulties of pulling the elastic band down over the crash helmet (erm, sorry...hat block...) so it doesn't ping back in your face aside, it's rather a challenge to steam corners over a kettle. Aha, I think, I'll use a steam iron to direct targeted jets at the corners. Brainwave! Having consulted the boy on how one uses an iron, this actually worked quite well, and eventually I have a buckram covered helmet with minimal lumpage. Go me!

Next instruction: Draw circles using newspaper template onto the buckram, then remove from hat block.

Well, I used a set of compasses instead of newspaper, just because I seem to have about 5 sets of them for some reason, and this bit actually went rather swimmingly, it not being terribly challenging. Removing the buckram from the helmet was more troubling. I suspect it may be easier if you use an actual hat block. Anyway, buckram eventually removed and circles cut out. Tada! Now it gets a bit more tricky...


Next: Affix milinery wire around the edge of the hat base and bind.

Don't want to. Can't make me. Mainly because I want to finish the edges of the hat when I'm finished by putting it through a sewing machine, which may prove a wee bit tricky and detrimental to the machine's health if it has to sew through a bloody great bit of wire. So yes, I'm skipping this step. Oooh, naughty...

And the next one. Cover hat base with a layer of foam to the edges.

Hmmm. Is felt okay? I don't have foam... Well, seeing as I'm now firmly off-piste, instruction-wise, what harm can it do...? So, cut a circle of foam (aha, the trusty compasses again) and place over the hat base. Put in a couple of stitches to tack it in place, the cut another circle of whatever material you want your hat to be an inch or so bigger than the felt. I'm going with black satin. Just because it's there and this is kinda experimental. So, cover the felt tightly with the black satin and affix on the reverse side by pleating the material and hand sewing so you can't see the stitches on the right side.

So, how did that go? A general fail I would say. The hat base warps where I've stitched it and no longer resembles a nice little curve. Hmmmm. That'll be the point of the wire then :) Nevermind, from now on, let's completely wing it...

Next installment soon, once I've regrouped, fed the instructions to next door's cat, and worked out the best way to make it all up as I go along.

6 comments:

Hannah said...

This really made me giggle. I think you're really funny. I will now try and make a hat for my brothers wedding. I'm already going to be crazy grooms sister so I might as well look the part!

ShinyLauren said...

Thanks Hannah :) I hope it helped with the hat making!

Anonymous said...

I could really relate to this - I searched through the house for a home made hat block too and used a small bowl. I didn't put the wire in either and it looked horrible.

The second attempt was better and the third even more so. I've practised enough now to know what to do ( I think). You can buy cheap hat blocks from student suppliers - maybe call your local college for ideas on where to buy millinery supplies for their students. I bought a fascinator base for $40 and it is absolutely perfect.
Also, the milinery wire (although a pain in the neck) is essential. I just use a zig zag on the edge of my hat base - it makes covering the hat so much easier.

Hope this helps,
Liz

DeniseG615 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DeniseG615 said...

An inexpensive foam wig head makes a decent block for a small hat. I tend to hand stitch my wire to the edge. It doesn't really take any more time, and for me it is easier and makes a stronger edge. Millinery wire comes in different thicknesses and for a small hat I would use a lighter weight (the larger the number, the thicker the wire). If you were investing a lot of time into a small hat to sell and doing beadwork on it, I highly recommend a material called Fosshape for your bases. Fosshape is a thermoplastic which looks and feels like soft, fuzzy felt, but when heated it shrinks by thirty percent and hardens. It can be molded over any form with steam, exactly like buckram. You can still sew through it very easily after molding it and it will not lose it's shape with moisture. Fosshape is sold by the yard and can be expensive, but you can make many bases out of a yard, so it isn't too bad in that regard.

Anonymous said...

just stopping by to say hey