Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hatmaking 101

Hats! Hats! Hats!

Good morning! Just a quick note about the flavor of the month at She Was Bird-- cloche hats!

This page from Everyday Fashions of the 1930's as Pictured in Sears Roebuck Catalog (THE. BEST. BOOK.) had me seeing stars about the bell shaped hats. I know my head is fundamentally bucket shaped and unsuited for this style, but it doesn't keep me from wanting to Norma Shearer it up!

Cloche hats date all the way back to 1908, though were most popular in the twenties' and early thirties'. In college, when this shape made a come back for ladies' winter headwear, LORD KNOWS I must have tried on a hundred different types, all too small for my unusually shaped skull. Picture college me, stalking around the accessories section of many a department store, fuming at the smaller-headed customers buying adorable red wool cloches to pair with their peacoats. I started thinking about it the other day and realized really, there isn't much to the actual construction of one of these hats. Would it be possible to make one on my very own for my egg head?

Show 'em how it's done, Norma! Inspirado!
After scouring the web for something that looked vaguely like a 1920's/30's era hat (as opposed to the millions of polka dotted, pastel, be-ribboned things that are out there in sorority colors for some reason unknown to God or man), I found this pattern, but it looked a little difficult for a novice-level sewer. What I ended up using was a pattern a book called Saturday Night Hats that's reproduced online via this website.I started out going "There is no way this is as easy as it says it is", expecting the finished product to look like a whole lotta hooey. HOWEVER! I don't think it turned out half bad!

The only materials I used:
  • Regular felt wool from Joann's that I had sitting in a bag at the foot of my bed in my "craft box" (a cardboard box filled with glue gun sticks, sharpies, sequins, and old children's textbooks)-- 3 sheets
  • A pair of scissors from my desk (gummed over with tape residue, making the whole "cutting" portion of the project far more difficult that it should have been)
  • A stapler (some of us do not have pins on the handy, okay?)
  • Needle and thread
Seriously, that is it. I cut out six felt panels according to a 128% enlargement of the pattern (photocopier works for this, I told you my head was unusually large so I went for an extra 8%), stapled them in place so they wouldn't scoot around while I was sewing, hand stitched the pieces together by seam, and then at the top where they came together. I made a little felt bow to place on one side, and voilĂ ! Hat. I couldn't believe it didn't look like something a child had made, and actually appeared hat like when I plonked it down on my head. Wasn't able to take very good pictures of it this morning (due to excessive hangover death pallor and rush to get out the door resultant of this condition), but here's an idea:

I look hungover even in black and white. Where's my Hollywood makeup artist when I need them?
As said, part of my whole problem is the Cone-head like dimensions of my cranium, and yet I don't think it turned out too shabby! Imagine this same hat with a lace collar flapper dress (why, of course I have one of these selected in my wardrobe to be paired with this hat-- you can't start an accessories craft without a mental image of what it'll go with to keep you going when you have to re-stich a whole row because you pinned the material back to front!). And maybe some fake flowers patterned to one side, I haven't decided. Now, if I could only figure out how to make shoes...haha....

The idea of do-it-yourself millinery opens up a whole new world of headwear options for me! Here are some textbooks from Internet Archive about the millinery trade...click any cover to see the inside of the book. Which should I try? Which looks the most promising to you?


Do you do any kind of craft it at home accessories? Do you wear hats with any regularity? Which of the early thirties' styles at the top of this post appeal to you the most?

That's all for today, see you guys tomorrow! Possibly with more hats! :)


  1. Wow! That looks really good! I had no idea it could be so easy and as a big headed girl who can NEVER find hats, I am thoroughly intrigued!

  2. Looks awesome!! I am also in the "big headed" club. Most vintage hats don't fit. :(

  3. I have a copy of Everyday Fashions of the 1930s, as well. In the days before we started using Amazon, the arrival of the Dover Books catalog was an event at my parents' house. Everybody made a list and my mom compiled everything and made the order. My dad went straight to the architecture section and I usually made my way through the costume books and the Dover Classics. I thought it was really awesome to be able to get a brand new book for $2!

  4. it is so cute! i can never find hats that fit my melon head either! also, your death stare in the first picture is pretty good.



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