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.
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.
I could see this was written in French and enlisted my friend Nat who makes hats and can read French (she is French).
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.
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.
Also, now I am learning to knit, I might even knit a nice little Fair Isle beret, or even something with pom poms on.