More free vintage hat patterns

While my dressmaking languishes at the moment I have getting familiar with the equally interesting and challenging worlds of knitting and millinery. However my first hat making class of the term was cancelled, boo hoo. In the meantime I have been making a few plans.

I posted my first hat experiments. I really love the old hat patterns you can find, for free, online. These vintage hat patterns sum up an age when making or trimming your own hat was ubiquitous. These magazine articles indicate that putting a hat together used to be seen as something almost any woman could do, even if she wasn’t the world’s best seamstress. If she could find a sensational feather, or a small bunch of cherries or ribbon violets, she could transform last years look into something up to the minute and striking.

I found these patterns on Vintage Pattern Dazes Past, which has lots of free knitting and other vintage patterns. The first two require a buckram frame – similar to the white “swimming cap” I created from Fosshape at Morley college. I have discovered you can buy these bases on the internet, but perhaps not in exactly the vintage shape you need. The Brocade Turban requires a buckram crown “that sits well down on the head”, whereas the Don Anderson elegant velvet Kerchief cap sits back and on top of the head. If wearing hats ever came back into fashion these bases might be mass produced, allowing home dressmakers to just cover them with the fabric of their choice. But without a base it is not possible to create these more structured looks.

However others are “dressmaker hats” that don’t need a block of any description. He is one that you can make with about 1.5m of ribbon. But hang on, it’s six inch (in width) ribbon! Maybe there was a lot of it about in the 1920s but this product hardly exists today. Except in hessian, or lace, or rather nasty stuff for wrapping around cakes. I did have a look on eBay for wider ribbon but you need to find a vintage supply. If you have some nice wide ribbon it looks quite easy, and I think the folded rosette at the front would be fun to make.

free vintage hat pattern
1920s ribbon hat pattern

The next pattern looks really nice – it’s made up in a dark velvet and would make a very sumptuous evening hat. I like the trimmings – diamante ball buttons perhaps, or maybe hat pins.

Free vintage hat patterns
Impossible Velvet hat

I could see this was written in French and enlisted my friend Nat who makes hats and can read French (she is French).

Nat in a hat 2
Nat in a Hat

Despite trying hard Natalie couldn’t decipher the writing. Nor could I. I tried enlarging the page. I also cut out the pattern, stuck the darts together and tried it on a dolly. I know Dolly is rather vile in terms of her sexy look – I wanted to modernise her, but I haven’t got round to it. Maybe a paper hat is enough.

The final free hat pattern I found is this one. I find the very stark line of the brim – echoed by the straight nose and face of the scary looking model, unappealing. It’s a bit tyrolean, isn’t it? But I like the simple design and the top stitching. It just goes to show that you can make most shapes of hats to fit your own head with nothing more than fabric and stitching.

free vintage hat patterns
1940s vintage hat pattern

Also I have been closely following Australian milliner Tanith Rowan. She is strongly influenced by vintage hats and has been running a series of blogs about snoods on her interesting blog. There is pattern to crochet one, as well as a snood made from fabric. On 23 September she provided a pattern which is basically half an oval, with a base of about 30 inches, by about 18 inches. I love snoods, but they do work much better with longer hair. I have got a Pinterest board now with these and other free hat patterns on them, and (in due course) I will try some of them out. In addition I bought a vintage hat book (1962) Millinery by Anne Southern. She has two chapters that I am currently interested in – covering pattern cutting and dressmaker hats.

I am going to read up as well as attending the class and will share any learning I get out of this book and a few others I have acquired. I am determined to include hats in my wardrobe in a way that works with my hand-made clothes. I had some ladies around for lunch the other day and we had some fun trying on my different hats and discussing what it takes to get a wearable hat.

Old Exodus party for lunch
Old Exodus party for lunch

Also, now I am learning to knit, I might even knit a nice little Fair Isle beret, or even something with pom poms on.

11 Responses

  1. Sam

    I love the hat made of 6″ wide ribbon. I’m wondering if you could use 6″ wide strips of fabric instead? I’ve seen similar style hats made from boiled wool or something similar. I wonder if that would work?

    • fabrickated

      I think the point of ribbon, Sam, is that it has selvedges and won’t need finishing. It might be worth trying a wide bias strip – which probably won fray much – or possibly narrower ribbons zig zagged together. Let me know if you try it. It is a nice looking hat.

  2. Cecily Graham

    I was sent a link to your blog by a friend, yesterday, and have really enjoyed looking around. I love the elegance of the vintage patterns and photos, and also the care which went into choosing and/or making far fewer items each season. As for hats, I have a gorgeous teal felt cloche which I long to wear but never quite feel merits a simple walk to the shops. The knitted ones always win. Maybe I’ll take the plunge this winter!

  3. Kim Hood

    It would seem that millinery is another skill in danger of being lost forever. Thanks for such an interesting post. I love hats but so rarely wear them. Wouldn’t it be nice if they became fashionable again?

  4. SJ Kurtz

    Thank you so much for the hat patterns; as your tiny model shows, it’s a great exercise in building a 3D thing from 2D materials. Hats really lend themselves to the paper modeling in scale (heads come in different sizes but rarely need FBAs).

  5. Ruth

    Officially – you have now admitted to having too much time on your hands!!
    But the very best wishes with your knitting and millinery; I am sure you will succeed with these skills too.

  6. Stephanie

    I have no immediate interest in making hats other than knitted toques and berets, but I enjoy these posts. I imagine the French hat is in a book that might turn up somewhere else, or at least in a French archive. I could guess at some of the words, as your French friend could I am sure, but man the article is blurry!!

  7. Joyce Latham

    I like that kerchief hat. I think I would find a hat that sits on the back of the head very handy. Usually I have to wet my hair and blow dry it for some volume…especially because of one ” bed head” parting in the back. This kerchief style would solve that issue and I could wear it without being too warm indoors or stores . My ears seem sensitive sometimes too, especially in fall and spring so I often like to wear a wide headband indoors, as well as outside.
    I am looking forward to all of your hat adventures…bring it on!

  8. Giorgia

    I wonder Kate, when did hat stopped being in fashion and why?

    Hats, for men and women, are one of my favourite accessory and I do struggle wearing my most classic pieces due to the fact that they do stand out, sometimes uncomfortably, and are a bit cumbersome. For instance, when I wear my small rim felt hat around town I never know where to put it should I sit at a coffee shop or in a restaurant (often too crammed to have a spare seat to use as wardrobe).

    Like you, I look forward to a time when hats will be a little bit more than a knitted tam or beret, and that more sizes and stiles will be available. I have a child-size head and have never been able to buy hats in the big accessories retail stores; the few I own have been bought at specialised millinery shops.

    Personally I am more intrigued by shoe making than hat making, and equally likely to get into either. If I keep collecting hobbies I will need to get myself a separate workspace than the living room table!

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