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Making a Grey Taffeta Hat

31 Jul

We’re onto the final post about my Ana de Mendoza costume! This piece of the costume was the most time consuming, but it ended up being my favorite part so I think the effort was worth it.

In the painting this costume is based off of Ana is seen wearing a large hat – I tried to research women’s hats of this style from the 16th century but came up with very little information. So I decided to make it up! Sometimes I’m all about research, and I’ll try to read as many blogs and books as I can find before taking on a project. But for this one I was a little impatient, and I wanted to skip that part and get straight to it. So I did. How hard can making a hat be?

I started by drafting a pattern. I made mine a circle at first, then realized it should probably be more of an oval shape. So I trimmed the sides of the brim and crown to make them slightly less circular.

It took me a few tries but eventually I came to a size I liked. Looking back I would have made the crown slightly smaller (maybe by a half inch) so it would have more of a tapered profile, but i’m pretty happy with how this pattern worked.

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Then I cut all the pieces out from fusible felt interfacing. I chose this because i’m still out of buckram, and this stuff is available at Joanns. Buckram has to be ordered online and I was far too impatient for that!

I didn’t need the felt to be fusible, but it’s the same price as non-fusible felt interfacing and the glue makes it a bit stiffer. I figured that would be a good thing when making a hat of this size.

I originally added seam allowances to the crown and brim. I figured I could clip these the way you would a curved seam and have them tuck into each other, which would add stability to the hat. I did something similar when making my buckram bonnet and it worked really well. But this material is way thicker than buckram, and this technique would prevent the crown from fitting in place, so I trimmed the seam allowance off.

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Then I sewed on the wire! It went around the edge of the crown and brim. I felt like the brim was really floppy still, so I added another piece two inches away from the first one. This was all whip stitched in place by hand, with heavy duty upholstery thread.

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The felt doesn’t have a very nice texture, and I was worried it would show through the polyester taffeta I wanted to cover it with. So I placed a layer of flannel between the taffeta and felt. This added a LOT of weight to the hat, but I think it improved the appearance a lot as well.

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I used binder clips to hold the fabric in place while I was sewing around the edges.

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I repeated this process for all the other pieces as well. The crown was harder to cover because it’s smaller, I managed to do it but it sure doesn’t look pretty on the inside!

Then all the pieces were sewn together, which was not an easy task. My fingers did not appreciate the struggle this involved.

After an hour I had a hat! It’s rough around the edges (literally, the edges are really rough) but I was pleased with it. I got to try it on for the first time and luckily the proportions were perfect – it doesn’t really resemble the one in the painting, but that’s ok. I like the shape and size of my creation better.
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I didn’t take photos of this part earlier, but once the taffeta was sewn onto the top side of the brim, I stitched a printed denim on the inside to serve as lining. This was right by the cutting counter and caught my eye. I bought a yard and a half because I liked it so much. Even though you don’t really see it when the hat is worn, I like that this adds a bit of texture.

Here you can see how messy the interior looks, It took a lot of thread to make it look smooth from the outside…

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When I was sewing the pieces together I noticed something kind of bad. There was so much tension on the polyester taffeta that every stitch binding the pieces together caused little tears in the fabric, which revealed dots of red flannel beneath it. Probably not bad enough that anyone else would notice, but I couldn’t stand it!

So I cut strips of wool suiting, which doesn’t fray, and wrapped those around the edges.

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It got sewn down. My fingers were once again, upset by this process, but that’s okay.

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Here is a photo of it worn! It doesn’t fit on my head that well, but I can walk without it moving around. I think a hat like this is more for decorative purposes than anything else, as shown by the way Ana’s is precariously balanced on top of her hairstyle in the painting.

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I liked how the wool trim looked better than the tiny tears, but from the top of the hat it was a little puckery. So I hid that with a bit of braided blue trim.

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Then I made a matching sash out of silk chiffon. The sash on the top is for the hat, the two smaller ones were ties I made for the sleeves. All of these had the edges carefully turned over and sewn down by hand. No easy task when working with small strips of bias cut silk chiffon!

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I tied that around my hat and into a big bow. Then the top and bottom portions were stitched down so it won’t be going anywhere.

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I lined the interior with white cotton gauze, but I extended my lining too far out and it was visible when the hat was worn. So I sewed a three quarter inch wide strip of wool around the cotton, which hid this.

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Now it was time for embellishments! And feathers! I bought four white ostrich feathers from Joanns and a pack of spiky black geese feathers.

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I glued them down in an arrangement I liked. On the left side, which doesn’t have a bow, I hid the ugly bases of the feathers with a bunch of light grey fake pearls.

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And that’s it for my beautiful hat! I really love this thing. It’s made me realize how much headpieces complete historical ensembles, and how they can really bring to life a simple costume. I consider millinery to be a little bit out of my skill set and it seems intimidating to learn. But the fact I figured out the process of making this on my own, even without research, has been a big motivator for me.

I have a few costumes coming up that should be worn with hats, bonnets, and a 15th century hennin. I think i’ll put the effort into making them all, and hopefully be happier with the finished costumes.

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I also made an eyepatch for this ensemble. I used a sticky note for a pattern and scraps of the fusible interfacing for a base. This eyepatch has a very specific shape, with a sharply pointed bottom. I think I spent longer trying to pattern/shape this than I did on the hat! I wanted it to be perfect.

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I ironed the damask print denim onto one side, then tucked all the edges over and sewed them down. I was originally going to use cotton as a backing, but I switched to black wool suiting since I figured the white gauze might be visible.

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I sewed some coated black cord overtop and it was done!

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And that’s it for this costume. I’m so pleased with it. I think this might be my favorite costume that i’ve made this year. I was so determined to spend months making costumes I’m really proud of, but so far I like my week long projects a lot more than the ones that took months. Funny how that works out, huh?

If you want to see this in motion I filmed a short video on it (it really didn’t come out how I intended, but I know some people might prefer it to photos) which can be watched here.

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And that’s it! Thank you for reading!

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11 responses to “Making a Grey Taffeta Hat

  1. Breenah

    July 31, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I love this. Definitely one of my favorites.

     
  2. Celia Valdez

    July 31, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Angela,! Oh my goodness no doubt you need would be a huge success, heck I believe Hollywood would love your creations. I have been showing so many peop

     
  3. Molly

    July 31, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Just beautiful, Angela! The costume too, of course. 😉 Thank you so much for graciously bringing all of us strangers along during the planning, construction and big reveals of your amazing costumes. I’ve only ever taken on one grand project and that was my wedding gown many, many years ago. It truly delights me to be a bystander marvelling at your progress and skills.

     
  4. Linden

    August 1, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Wow, you are so incredibly amazing and everything you make is so beautiful. I have really liked this creation, especially the hat and those cute little sleeves.You make it look so easy that at times I’m convinced I could do it too.. no way in a million years… That’s how talented you are. I love it when I wake up and your blog has popped into my inbox, I so can’t wait to see what your next creation is going to be. As a Grandma can I just say your family must be so proud of you 🙂

     
  5. Neena

    August 1, 2015 at 1:38 am

    enjoyed reading all your steps that you took to make that beautiful hat. I learn so much from you. Keep up the great work, I love it.

     
  6. isabel

    August 1, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Ahh! Love the hat and eye patch 🙂 I love any millinery work and love to see different techniques people come up with

     
  7. megamikamisama

    August 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Really beautiful! I love the second photo 🙂

     
  8. ann

    August 1, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Another fabulous creation! I have to assume you are creating a portfolio and intend on showing the portfolio to the ‘right’ people so your talents can find a home Where the heck do you store all these large and cumbersome (long full skirts, broad brimmed hats, etc.) beauties? I am constantly intrigued and amazed by you ingenuity in puzzling out design issues and substituting fabrics where necessary. Keep at it Angela, you have a real talent

     
  9. Andrea

    August 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Have you ever tried using a hat pin or two they make hats stay in place while still looking like the hat is just perched on top of the hair. I don’t know when they became a thing so not sure about historical accuracy but well worth bearing in mind if you want to move around with this hat on your head.

     
  10. Katrina

    August 2, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    i LOVE the shape of the dress. the simple fabric really makes the pattern stand out.

     
  11. Miss Dottie Demure

    March 5, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    This came out amazing!!
    Feel free to make a huge 1940’s hat to share with us hehe
    I’d love to make my own but I’m not quite sure where to start.

     

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