Monday, 3 February 2014

How to Make an Enormous Edwardian Hat (Tutorial- Part 1)

Introduction
I always say it makes all the difference to a costume if you get the hat and shoes right. Many museums, heritage sites, re-enactment societies, schools and theatres are gearing up for WW1 centenary commemorations this year (and for the next four years).My Pinterest page here has lots of examples from historical pictures.
If you are female and you work in any of these areas, as I do, the chances are at some point in the next four years you may be needing a Very Large Hat.

Disclaimer: This isn't a professional hat-making tutorial with wooden blocks and damp felt and all that specialist stuff!! Oh no, this is for mere mortals. If you were a professional hatter you wouldn't need this. And you'd be too busy having tea parties with Alice anyway...

What This Tutorial Does
This tutorial shows how to convert an ordinary cheap straw hat into one of those enormous Edwardian/WW1 hats, using fabric, cardboard and heaps of ingenuity. I've done it in two parts to allow time for Actual Real Life (mine as well as yours).  So here goes:

Creating the Enormous Edwardian Hat shape
You need a reasonably stiff hat as a base, preferably one you can get a needle through. I used this cheap theatrical straw boater:
Then I drew around it on a sheet of card to create my new mega-sized brim (it was just a flattened-out cardboard box- but avoid the creases if you can). You need enough card to make two brims, but just draw on one for now.


The circle you've drawn will be the same as the outer edge of the existing brim. You now need to draw the inner edge on your card. This will become the hole where your head goes. I drew it by measuring the brim width, then marking the same distance inside the circle on the card- the picture to the left shows this.


Join up the marks to complete the template for the inner edge of the brim. Then mark out the new external brim edge- oval or circular is fine, but if it's not a symmetrical shape you'll need to remember where the front is supposed to be!
Cut out the inner circle and outer edge, then use this card as a template to make an identical second piece.

Put one card brim over the hat, turn it over and tape it lightly into position with something like duct tape (normal sticky tape won't stick easily to straw or fabrics).

Take your second card brim and sandwich the original hat brim between your two cardboard pieces.

Tape the outer edges to hold them, then bind all the edges with duct tape all the way around.

Hats from this era hat a large crown measurement (to hold all that Big Hair) so to create this effect and to soften the original hat's shape, cover the crown with a layer of wadding. Hold it in place with big stitches going through the hat.

Covering the Enormous Edwardian Hat

Cut a circle of your base fabric about 15cm larger than the hat.
Lay your circle of fabric centrally over the hat...
Use a large elastic band or loop of elastic to pull in the fabric at the crown.
 Pull the fabric carefully through the elastic until the edge of the fabric aligns with the brim.
 Staple the fabric close to the brim- even out the creases as you go.
Your basic hat is made! 
See part two of the Enormous Edwardian Hat tutorial for the next stage.

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