Lace Hat – Vogue pattern V8891 by Patricia Underwood

I bought a few Vogue patterns earlier this year, including this Patricia Underwood pattern for a lace hat – V8891. If you’re new to my blog, you may not know that I have a big hat collection and I usually never leave home without wearing one. I’ve made a few hats on my sewing machine and I’ve taken a few millinery classes, learning about embellishing hats, covering buckram hat frames with fabric, and making a shaped buckram hat.

Patricia Underwood Vogue pattern 8891

I got this pattern because I really liked versions A and D. C is also cute. Not long after I got the pattern I was asked to do a guest post on Britex Fabrics blog. So I immediately thought, “I’ll make a lace hat and blog about it!” I ended up writing three millinery posts, with the first guest post was about making this lace hat and the other two were about making removable ribbon hat bands, which I reposted on my blog. (Here’s part 1  and part 2.)

Below is most of what appeared in my guest post for Britex, with a little more information about the millinery wire.

The materials

  • Millinery wire
  • Thread
  • Lace fabric
  • Tulle
  • Petersham Ribbon (not pictured)

Hat materials

The lace, tulle and millinery wire can all be purchased at Britex Fabrics. I chose a navy lace because it’s versatile and can go with a dress or jeans. But this lace has some stretch to it and the tulle has no stretch, which is not ideal but I didn’t really have any problems sewing them together. The tulle is a contrasting color so you can see the lace. If you get a matching color, the lace will just blend in and you won’t see the design of the lace.

I’ll be using a couple of hat terms: 1. The crown, the part of a hat that covers the head. 2. The brim, which attaches to the crown. Brims can be small like the version D or wide, such as version E of this pattern. The millinery wire is inserted in the edge of the brim and that’s what makes it stand out from the crown.

There are only three pattern pieces for this lace hat – two pieces make up the crown and then there’s the brim. The tulle is the lining and interfacing for this hat. Because tulle is semi-transparent and not very stiff, the pattern has you cut each two of each pattern piece. I traced size L rather than cutting out the pattern pieces. This means that if I want to make a hat for a friend with a smaller head, I can trace that size from the original pattern pieces.

You can use pins or pattern weights to hold the pattern pieces in place. This is a synthetic lace so I wasn’t worried about the pins damaging the lace. If you use a delicate lace, you probably want to use pattern weights.

I used scissors to cut this piece because I have more control on the curve.

Crown top of lace hat Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

And here’s the side of the crown – cut on the fold.

Crown pattern piece - lace hat Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

The lace hat brim is also cut on the fold. I used pattern weights on these two pieces and cut them with my rotary cutter. The curve of these pattern pieces is easier to handle with a rotary cutter. You can use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut lace; it all depends on your personal preference and what you need to cut.

Brim of lace hat Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

I cut two pieces of the three pattern pieces from the tulle. For the crown, one piece of tulle acts as the interfacing and the other is the lining. The brim uses both pieces of tulle on the inside.

Warning: There’s a LOT of pinning and basting for this pattern. You pin the tulle pattern piece to the lace piece for the crown (top and side) and baste them together before you sew. You pin and baste each pattern piece together. I used a safety pin to mark the center front of the crown. The seam is in the center back.

I used a universal Schmetz needle 70/10 and a stitch length of 2. I didn’t have any experience machine sewing lace – only hand sewing it – but this was easy to sew. I didn’t use a special needle and it was fine. 😉

Lace crown piece - marking center with safety pin - lace hat Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

I won’t go into every step because you can just follow the pattern instructions. But there was one part that was tricky to figure out, even with the instructions. After you’ve stitched the crown together and sewn the tulle lining (steps 1-8), you pin the lining of the crown to the lace crown wrong sides together. It looks like this.

Attaching tulle lining to lace hat - Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

The you turn it right side out and you’re ready to attach the brim of the lace hat.

You cut two pieces of the brim from the lace for the top and bottom of it, plus two pieces of tulle, which go on the inside. After you sew the lace pieces right sides together (tulle is basted to the inside) you turn it inside out. This donut shape is the brim, which will be stitched to the crown after you’ve carefully topstitched the edge of the brim 1/4″ from the edge. The space between the topstitching and edge of the brim becomes the channel to insert the millinery wire. The seam allowance gets trimmed to 1/8″.

Brim of lace hat - Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

Attaching brim to crown (washi tape is my seam guide). You can sort of see the topstitching on the brim (to left of foot).

Sewing brim to crown of lace hat Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

In this photo below, the brim is attached to the crown and I’m inserting the black millinery wire through the brim edge. I just poked it through the center back seam and shoved it through the small space between the outer seam edge and the topstitching Lace won’t unravel so it was fine to poke a hole through it. Other laces may have larger openings in the design so you won’t need to create a hole. In some spots my topstitching got a little too close to the edge, which made it hard to push the millinery wire through. So I just shoved it through.

Inserting millinery wire in brim of lace hat Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

The instructions don’t say anything about what you do with the ends of the wire. A milliner would overlap the ends and bind them together with wire or use a joiner to attach the ends. But you can’t do that unless you remove the topstitching. So I just cut the wire so the ends would overlap about a half-inch. I’m sure my millinery teachers would be appalled at the lack of binding/joining of the wire ends but it would have been difficult to remove the topstitching.

The wire makes the brim stand out from the crown. Lace isn’t very stiff so the hat has no shape to it when it’s not on. It’s just a floppy circle.

I’m holding the lace hat inside out here. You can see the tulle lining and the crown of the lace hat is only held up by my hand. Otherwise, it would just collapse. Be careful when you handle the millinery wire or you will have an uneven brim. You can bend it back in shape.

Lace hat - wrong side out - Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

In this photo, you can see that the seam allowances are on the outside where the crown and brim meet. But it gets covered by a ribbon. The seam allowance is trimmed to 1/8″.

Petersham ribbon for lace hat Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

Before I attached the Petersham ribbon, I steamed and stretched it slightly so it would lay flat on the crown. This step is not in the pattern instructions. Petersham ribbon has little notches on both edges, which lets you stretch it around a curve – unlike grosgrain ribbon, which has straight edges and won’t stretch – unless you have 100 percent cotton grosgrain. I’ve also heard hat makers refer to Petersham ribbon as grosgrain – but it’s millinery grosgrain (Petersham). Britex carries a wide range of Petersham ribbons.

On most hats the crown is widest around the forehead and gets more narrow as you go up. This means that a ribbon won’t lay flat against the crown. If you have a pattern piece as we do here, you can use it as your guide to stretch the ribbon. Line up the ribbon with the bottom of the pattern piece – add an extra inch so you can overlap the ribbon at the center back –  and pin the top of the ribbon in place, making sure it lies flat.

Making Petersham ribbon go around a curve

Then put your iron on a steam setting – not too hot because most Petersham ribbon is rayon, then gently pull on the bottom edge of the ribbon and press. Use  press cloth to protect the ribbon. I used a scrap of silk organza as my press cloth. (See Part 2 of this post for instructions on steaming a curve in Petersham without a pattern piece.)

Pressing Petersham ribbon using organza as press cloth

Then I pinned the ribbon to the crown of the hat to hold it in place before I stitched the back. Use Fray Check or Fray Block on the ends. Fray check dries a bit stiff and hard. It fine on ribbon that isn’t going to touch your skin. Fray block isn’t as thick so I prefer that when I’m using it on a garment.

Using Fray Check for raw edge of ribbon

These quilting pins are a bit large so don’t leave them in for long because they can damage the ribbon. Or use slender pins but again, don’t leave them in for a long period of time or you may end up with visible holes in the ribbon.

Pin Petersham ribbon to brim

I lined up the ribbon with the center back fold. The place where the ribbon meets will be covered by another piece of ribbon. The pattern instructs you to fold the ribbon at the top so it forms a point, like so…

Pressing Petersham ribbon

… and sew it to the center back of the ribbon band.

Ribbon in back of hat

And here I am wearing the lace hat. As you can see the ribbon lies flat against the crown – and it goes well with my Pilvi Coat, which I blogged about here. (The pattern is from the book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style, affiliate link).

Finished lace hat - Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

And the back view…

Back view of finished lace hat - Vogue 8891 - V8891 sewing pattern

Have you made any hats on your sewing machine?

Making a lace hat with Vogue sewing pattern V8891 - by Patricia Underwood

Making a removable ribbon hat band – tutorial, Part 2

Hi, last week, I republished the post I wrote last summer for Britex Fabrics’ blog about making a removable ribbon hat band. That post showed my first design and discusses Petersham ribbon in detail. This is the second ribbon post I did for Britex. Though I added a couple of more photos and more words.

Here are the steps I took to make a second removable hat band for my old hat – combining a black-and-white striped Petersham ribbon and a solid black Petersham ribbon from Britex Fabrics. (Here’s a link to Petersham ribbons at Britex.)


How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I cut a 25-inch length of the striped and black ribbons for the crown of the hat and gently stretched and pressed them. (In my previous post, I had measured the circumference of the crown where the ribbon would go.) The striped ribbon wasn’t as pliable as the black ribbon so I required a little more tugging to get it to curve. (Please see my earlier post, which gets into pressing to make the Petersham ribbon curve. The ribbon won’t lay flat unless you slightly stretch the bottom edge.)

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon - pressing the ribbon

Next I pinned the solid black Petersham ribbon to the striped ribbon and used a ladder stitch to baste it in place.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

It’s called a ladder stitch because the other side looks like a ladder. The striped Petersham was a little slippery, which is why I used the ladder stitch rather than a running stitch to baste the ribbons together.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

Next I machine-stitched the ribbons together with two lines of stitching. I really like the look of the wide stripe in the middle!

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

Then I folded over each end of the ribbon twice, about 1/4 inch – just enough so that the length was a little less than the crown circumference of 23 inches. I’ll attach the ends to a piece of elastic to bridge the gap.

I machine-stitched the ends and then attached a 2-inch piece of wide elastic, securing it with a double row of stitches. One row of stitches follows the stitch line I made from sewing the ends of the ribbons. I used a longer piece than I needed because it makes it easier to sew. Then I just trimmed the excess after it was sewn.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

The elastic looks like this. The elastic is the key to making a removable ribbon hat band. It’s like a headband for your hat!

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

Now I needed to figure out how to hide the elastic. I liked the idea of a pleated rosette but the two ribbons together were rather thick so I opted to hand stitch and gather one side to make a flower – just like making a fabric yo-yo. I basted one side of the ribbon using small stitches, about 1/8 inch long.

IMG_4859How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

Then I pulled on the end of the thread with the needle, gathering the center. You can easily add more stitches to the ribbon if you want to made it even fuller.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

When you decide it’s enough, stitch the ribbon together at the center and secure it with a few extra stitches and knot it. Then cut the ribbon, leaving an extra 1/2 inch so you can sew the ends together and make it seem like it’s natural pleat in the flower. I made sure to match the stripes.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

Here’s the completed “flower.” You can barely tell where the two ribbon ends meet. It’s that fold on the bottom left.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

To secure the center gathering, I stitched through the gathers to make sure they would stay in place. Then I attached it to the hat band, just in front of the elastic. The back of the hatband looks like this. You can see that I trimmed the elastic down to an inch.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

And the completed hat band looks like this!

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

And here I am wearing the hat. I get a lot of compliments whenever I wear this hat. This ribbon completely changes the hat. The solid gray ribbon is a different look altogether. I need to make more ribbons for this hat!

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

You can play around with the placement of the embellishment and move it to the back or the front. Traditionally, the And that’s how you can easily make a removable ribbon hat band!

How to make a removeable ribbon hat band - Petersham ribbon, elastic

How to make a removable ribbon hat band – tutorial, Part 1

Hi, I wrote a three millinery tutorials as a guest blogger for Britex Fabrics over the summer. I’m going to repost them here over the next few days or so. I wrote two posts on how to make a removable ribbon hat band and a post on a lace hat. Here’s the first one, along with some additional information about Petersham ribbon and made a few minor changes.

I’ve had this hat for years and then the hat band began to show some unfortunate discoloration. It turns out the manufacturer used a double-sided adhesive to attach the hat band to the hat. The adhesive became greasy and leaked through the ribbon. A high quality hat would not use adhesive of any kind. I got it because I liked the shape and the small brim. It goes with a lot of my wardrobe. My solution was to remove the old hat band and the adhesive and make a removable replacement hat band. I decided to make two. This is the first one.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

My first step was to choose my Petersham ribbon. Petersham is a type of ribbon that has little notches or scallops on the edges that enable it to go around a curve (see photo below). You can manipulate Petersham so it goes around a curve and lays flat against the crown of the hat (the part that covers the head) as you’ll see in this tutorial. You could also be use Petersham along the edge of a hat brim to add a contrasting color.

Grosgrain ribbon looks similar to Petersham but the edges are straight and it isn’t as flexible as Petersham. However, if you find a 100 percent cotton grosgrain, you could get it to curve if you press it with a hot iron. But most grosgrain ribbon is polyester. It’s really best suited to straight edges.

A milliner I know refers to Petersham as grosgrain. Among hat makers, Petersham is sometimes called grosgrain but it’s millinery grosgrain.

Britex has a huge selection of Petersham in solid colors and even striped Petersham, which isn’t as common as the solids. Most of the Petersham they carry is 100 percent rayon.

I just saw on the website of Judith M Millinery Supply House that the U.S. factory that makes 50 percent cotton / 50 percent rayon has closed. So Judith M will gradually be running out. Bummer. You can see their current stock here. The company is letting people buy up to one 50-yard roll per customer but some ribbons are only available by the yard.

Judith M has found a European company that makes a 56 percent cotton / 44 percent rayon Petersham but says there “will be a significant price increase.” 🙁 I have to admit when I read that, I thought, I must buy some Petersham now! But I don’t make that many hats so it doesn’t really make sense to stockpile 50 yards of Petersham.) But I digress – back to the tutorial…

Here’s the ribbon I selected for the first hat band: A solid gray, 1.5 inch width of Petersham. (Note the scalloped edge.)

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

First I measured the crown of the hat at the widest part – about 23 inches there. Make sure your tape measure is at the same level around the widest part of the crown, where the ribbon will go. I moved it slightly up so you could see the measurement. Cut a length of ribbon the circumference of the crown plus two inches. You won’t need more than an inch or so extra but you can always trim the excess. I like to have a little extra for safety.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - measuring the crown - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

When you put the ribbon around the crown, it won’t lay flat because the crown is wider at the bottom. You will have a slight gap at the top of the ribbon, like this photo.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

To make your ribbon lie flat, you gently stretch the bottom edge of the ribbon as you press it with your steam iron. Start at the center and pull it to one side and then repeat on the other side in the opposite direction. You just want it to be slightly wider at the bottom, about 1/8 inch on each side of the ribbon. Don’t forget to use a press cloth to protect the ribbon. If you don’t it could get shiny. I used a scrap of organza as my press cloth.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - pressing the Petersham ribbon - tutorial, millinery

Now the ribbon will lay flat against the crown because of the slight stretch you gave it. Look, no gap!

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I had two yards of the ribbon. The extra yard was for the embellishment that would cover where the hat band pieces join.

I usually hand stitch the hat band in place where the ribbon ends join and tack it to the hat. The next time you see a ribbon on a hat, check out how it’s attached. It’s usually tacked in place with a few stitches – or in the case of a cheap hat, some adhesive is used. To make a removable ribbon hat band, I decided to use elastic to join the ribbon ends. My initial idea was to attach a small piece of wide elastic to one end of the ribbon and use a hook and eye to attach the ends. To hide the hook and eye, I’d create an embellishment from the rest of the ribbon.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I knew the ribbon ends needed to be sturdy to handle the stress of the hook and eye and elastic. With this in mind, I folded over each ribbon end twice so, about 5/8″ with each fold, sewing the folds in place. I attached the elastic to one side and hand sewed the hook to the elastic. In the photo above, I marked the ribbon for where the eye would go. But I discovered that the ribbon didn’t lie flat where the hook and eye attached. So I scrapped that idea and decided to just sew the ribbon ends to the wide elastic (a little over an inch wide) – like a headband.

I removed the hook and eye. Then I put the ribbon around the crown and used a marking pencil to mark where the other side of the ribbon ended on the elastic, and sewed it down. You can see the pencil mark below. I used dark thread so I could show the stitch lines in this tutorial. Normally I would use thread that matches the ribbon.

Tutorial- how to make a removable ribbon hat band - Petersham, millinery

The gap between the two ribbon ends is a little wider than I would like but that’s because I started out with the hook and eye idea. Note: The exposed elastic is slightly wider at the bottom to accommodate the curve.

Next up: The embellishment to hide the elastic and the stitch lines. It’s fun to play around with ribbon pleating to come up with a design. I didn’t want to do a traditional bow.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I made some folds, held it in place with pins, and put it against the hat to see how it would look. You want something that is in proportion to the hat. I think this is a little too big and busy given the size of the hat. If the hat had a wider brim, this might work but it’s too much for this hat.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

So I removed one pleat on the left and made the pleats smaller so it looked like this. The center of the ribbon is about six inches of the ribbon tightly rolled. I used my finger to push up the ribbon so it sticks out at the top, which makes it stand out a little more.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I hand stitched that center roll in place, sewing through all the pleats. Then I sewed the embellishment to the ribbon band, just in front of the elastic.

Tutorial: How to make a removable ribbon hat band - Petersham ribbon, millinery

And here’s the completed removable ribbon hat band on the hat.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

And here I am wearing the hat.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, millinery, Petersham ribbon

I really like this ribbon and I get compliments whenever I wear it. I love that I can switch ribbons on this hat. The other ribbon is a black-and-white striped one, which is a completely different look from this one. I’ll post that tutorial soon.

How to make a removable ribbon hat band - tutorial, Petersham ribbon, millinery, hats

My millinery tutorials for Britex Fabrics

Millinery tutorials for Britex Fabrics: How to make a lace hat + making a removable ribbon hatband -

Hi, I wrote my first tutorials for Britex Fabrics blog this month! I decided to focus on millinery because I wanted to make a lace hat from a Patricia Underwood Vogue pattern (V8891), plus I wanted to replace a ribbon on an old hat. It was initially going to be one post but it got really long so Britex decided to break it up into three separate posts. Here are the links to those posts:

  1. Making a lace hat – I used a navy lace from Britex to make version D of Vogue pattern. (I made another Vogue pattern of hers, a while ago, which you can see here.)
  2. How to make a removable ribbon hat band – I show how to make Petersham ribbon go around a curve and  how to make a ribbon hat band that you can remove. Typically, ribbon hat bands are sewn to the hat. I designed one that uses a small piece of elastic so you can remove it.
  3. How to make a decorative removable ribbon hat band – This tutorial is nearly the same as the other one but it uses a striped ribbon and a solid black Petersham ribbon and a different design to hide the elastic.

If you follow my blog or my Instagram feed (@csews), you’ll know how much I love hats, which is why it was fun to write these tutorials. But it took a lot longer than I thought it would to put it all together so I hope take a moment to visit Britex Fabrics blog and read one of them. 🙂

Millinery tutorial: Making a lace hat with V8891 - C Sews for Britex Fabrics blog

Millinery tutorials: how to make a removable ribbon hat band - C Sews for Britex Fabrics blog
Millinery tutorial: How to make a removable hat band - C Sews for Britex Fabrics blog

How to Keep Your Hat on Your Head with Hat Elastics

hat elastic inserted -

If you like hats, even if you only  wear one a few times a year, you don’t want it to blow off your head on a windy day. Nothing’s worse than chasing your hat down the sidewalk or watching it drift into traffic (yes, that’s happened to me). To keep your hat on your head, you can attach a thin elastic cord made specifically for hats – like I did on this velvet and linen vintage hat (pictured above), which I got at All Things Vintage in Oakland. (The lovely ladies there sell beautiful vintage hats and they actually gave me a hat elastic so I didn’t have to buy one.)

Here’s what one looks like.

Hat elastic -

These elastics are 11 or 12 inches (28 to 30.5 cm) long and have small metal barbs at the ends, which lets you secure it to the inside of the hat. You can buy them at Lacis in black, white or beige for 45 cents each at their retail store in Berkeley or online on this page (scroll down until you see “Hat Cord” 12″) on their website. (You can also buy 11-inch ones ( 12 for $6.50) online at Judith M Millinery Supply House on this page: 11-inch hat elastics.) Choose the color that will blend in best with your hair color.

You can also make your own hat elastic by buying elastic cord in pre-cut packages or by the yard at a fabric store or online. I got a couple of yards of this black elastic for 30 cents a yard at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. It’s about 2 mm thick.

Elastic cord -

Cut it to the length you need, insert it into the hat and knot it at the ends where the metal barbs would be on the pre-made hat elastics. But you need a big knot to make sure it stays in place. You can also knot the ends around a small bit of wire, which will do a better job of keeping the elastic from slipping off. (I wrote a post about this in 2012. Back then I didn’t know where you could buy hat elastics so I made my own.)

Black elastic cord -

The pre-made hat elastics are primarily for “fitting” hats – hats with a crown that comes down near your ears. If you have a “sitting” hat, such as a pillbox, which sits on the top of your head, the pre-made elastic won’t be long enough so you may either want to make your own or explore using a hat pin or clip to keep it on your head. I’m not sure how a long elastic would look; I think that depends on how much your hair hides the elastic.

To insert the elastic, you need to make two small holes in the ribbon (usually Petersham – or millinery grosgrain) inside the hat. Most hats will have this ribbon, which operates as a sweatband, preventing perspiration and oil from staining the hat.

The elastic goes underneath your hair, not under your chin, so the holes should be made in the ribbon at the midpoint of each side of the hat near your ears. The elastic will go behind your ears so you want to place the holes slightly closer to the back of the hat.

I’ve used a large needle to make my initial hole and then taken the point of my small pair of embroidery scissors to make the hole large enough to slide the elastic through. As you can see this hat came with combs inside but I don’t like using them. You can see my hat elastic.

vintage black hat with combs -

And here’s a close up shot.

Hat elastic inserted -

And here’s a shot of the hat, which I love.

Black linen and velvet vintage hat -

UPDATE: I posted a photo from this post on my Instagram account (@csews) and @_sarawaters commented that she read this post but couldn’t picture how te elastic helps keep it on your head. So this update is for you Sara!

Where does the hat elastic go? It goes under your hair in the back. When my hair was longer, I just put the hat on my head with the elastic hanging down in the back and pulled my pony tail through. Or you can grab your hair, put the elastic under it and put the hat on your head.

I’m wore the black vintage hat in this photo. You can’t see the elastic here but it’s going from the crown of the hat and under my pony tail. (I’m wearing my red Anna Dress in this photo. You can read about that dress in this post: Finished: My Red Anna Dress.)

Red Anna Dress - back - By Hand London -

You can sort of see it in this photo – the elastic is that thin black line going from the velvet loop at the brim and goes down at a slight angle.

human hair 613 blonde wigs

I also wore this hat with the first Anna Dress I made. It was windy that day as you can see from the photo but the elastic did the job. My hat did not fly away! If you have very short hair, shorter than chin length, I’m not sure if the hat elastic will stay down because you may not have enough hair to keep it in place; it might ride up the back of your head and then the hat will fall off. Hat elastics are probably best suited for hair that’s no shorter than chin length which is my current length. I purposely didn’t go any shorter because then I wouldn’t be able to wear a lot of my vintage hats. 😉

Vintage black hat with Anna Dress -

This vintage chapeau is not quite a sitting hat but has enough of a crown so I could use a pre-made elastic. (You can read more about the dress here: The Anna Dress: Celebrating Sewing Indie Month.)

I hope you found this information useful. One of these days I’ll write a post (or maybe make a video) about using hat pins.

Do you like to wear hats? I wear them every day, vintage and contemporary. What hats do you like to wear?

How to keep your hat on your head with hat elastics - DIY, hats, millinery -

The Sun Hat and the Silent Auction

Sun hat for silent auction -

I made this sun hat more than a year ago (Vogue 8405, version B) but I never got around to lining it because I realized that it really didn’t go with my wardrobe. The expensive lacy trim I got from Britex Fabrics looked great – a nice complement to the quilted home dec fabric from Joann’s – but it wasn’t really me. So Natasha, my mannequin head, wore the unfinished hat and it remained a UFO (unfinished object) until this past weekend.

I finished it because I heard that a silent auction was being held to raise money for Ben Pesta, a dear writer friend who has cancer. A friend of theirs organized the auction, which starts today. The funds are to help cover Ben and his wife Monique’s daily living expenses and the cost of his medications. Friends of theirs have donated goods (a handmade quilt, custom crochet, jewelry, pet portraits, wind chimes, and more) and services, such as WordPress website setup, a tarot reading, dog training, and photography. I’m donating this sun hat.

Here’s what went into the lining.

On Friday I posted a photo of the hat on Instagram and asked folks whether I should pick a bright or dark color for contrast. Both Rachel of the House on Pinheiro and Laura of A Make It Yourself Mom’s Diary thought I should go bright, which I agreed with. The hat is a cream color so I thought maybe purple could be a good contrast. I didn’t have anything in my fabric stash that was appropriate so I needed to do some fabric shopping.

After work I dropped by Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley to pick a fabric. Maybe a solid purple cotton sateen but I didn’t like the shade of purple and a solid seemed boring. So I wandered over to the cotton prints and saw that several bolts were 50 percent off. I didn’t want anything synthetic, which wouldn’t be breathable and would make the hat too hot to wear.

Print fabrics at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics -

The trim has roses so …

Trim on hat

I picked this fabric with tiny roses, which I then cut, pinned and sewed into the hat lining. (I had to rip out my first line of stitches around the crown – :/ – because I didn’t read the instructions and sewed a 1/2″ seam instead of 1/4″ seam. All other seam allowances are 1/2″.)

Lining fabric pinned

Then I hand sewed it to the crown of the hat and then sewed rayon Petersham ribbon inside for the sweatband.

Hat lining and petersham sweatband

And voila! The hat is done. I like the contrast of the lining and the hat fabric. It’s like a secret that only the hat wearer knows about. What lining fabrics do you like? Something that’s a surprising contrast? a complementary color? a matching color? Stripes or prints?

You can see three views of Natasha wearing the hat I donated on the auction goods page. Please help spread the word about the auction. It’s not too early to start your holiday shopping – and help Ben and Monique! Bidding ends on Friday, Nov. 15, 5 pm.

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Wool Newsboy Cap and Beret – Final photos!

Wool tweed newsboy cap - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas |

A couple of weeks ago, I finally took a bunch of photos of the wool newsboy cap and beret that I made for my husband Kofi. However, he only liked a few of the photos. So here are the “approved” photos. (If you want to read the nitty gritty details on my draft patterns, see Sewing Pattern for a Wool Newsboy Cap and Beret.)

Oh, and I should mention that I made his lined vest (with small patch pockets) earlier this year. I think I was from a Simplicity pattern that looked pretty dorky on the envelope. There were six variations of the vest and I think I combined elements from two of them to create this version. This is the second one I made for him. I used a nice grey-blue wool on the first one. This one is a brushed cotton with a small houndstooth pattern, which you can’t really see here. I haven’t blogged about either vest. If you want to know what pattern it was, let me know and I’ll see if I can find it. Maybe I can get him to model both of them for a future post. 😉

Here’s the beret. There are three rows of top stitching around the bottom. One row of stitching looked odd. It’s amazing how much better it looked with the additional rows.

Wool tweed beret - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas

I’m happy to report that my husband told me that he got a compliment from a stranger on the cap. A woman told him she really liked it and asked him where he got it. He proudly told her “My wife made it.” This is the photo I used in my earlier blog post but I thought I’d use it again because so many people liked it on Instagram. 😉

Wool tweed newsboy cap with brim - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas

A vertical shot so you can see more of the beautiful tiles behind him.

Wool newsboy cap - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas

Have you made anything for your significant other? What did you make and did they wear it?

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Sewing Pattern for a Wool Newsboy Cap and Beret

Wool tweed cap with brim - photo by Chuleenan Svetvilas

Waaaay back in June I started working on a six-section cap for my husband Kofi. For months he’d been asking me, when are you going to make something for me? So I told him I’d make him a cap. I thought it would be a good learning experience. I’ve either made hats without a pattern (like this red velvet hat) or from patterns I’ve bought (like this one I made from a Patricia Underwood Vogue pattern). Last spring I bought a couple of books on hats (see Books on Making Hats) so I began drafting a pattern for a six-section cap based on instructions from Fashion Hats by British milliner Karen Henriksen. My goal was to create a sewing pattern for a wool newsboy cap. The beret is just the cap without the brim.

I bought a protractor (remember those things from grade-school geometry?) to make sure I’d get the correct angle. A cap is a circle (360 degrees!), which means that one piece of a six-section cap would comprise 60 degrees (6 x 60 = 360).

My first pattern piece looked like this, which created an oversize hat that was more suited for a woman with a lot of hair. Though I suppose if you were aiming for a 1970s look – the Apple Cap, which has been described as a floppy newsboy cap, would be fine. Here’s my mannequin head (we call her Natasha) wearing that hat, which as you can see has a bit of a high crown. Kofi thought it was rather pouffy on him but fine on me. So first cap to me!

First draft - 6-section cap pattern Woman's 6-section wool cap with brim on manny head

So I began making adjustments to the pattern and drafted four more before I got one that he liked. The frustrating part was that each time Kofi tried one on, he said stuff like, “I don’t get it, why can’t you make it look right?” and Why is this taking so long?”

Then I’d try to explain – “Because I’m experimenting and these are DRAFT patterns. I don’t know what it will look like until I’ve sewn it together and that takes TIME.”

On Draft No. 2 I adjusted the curve, thinking this would help take down the pouf but the angle was too steep so it didn’t curve right when I sewed that one up.

6-section pattern piece - curve too sharp

I’m not sure where this piece fits in the chronology but I forgot to add the seam allowance to this piece. Look at how it fits on Natasha! Oops. No way that hat fits on my head.

Beret pattern piece - too narrowWool beret - too small

However, I did discover that if I folded up the hem, I had a cute beret! Natasha’s head is small so that’s not how it looks on my head. On me, it’s more of a “sitting hat” as opposed to one that goes completely around my head. (Uh, another hat for me.)

Small wool beret - hem turned downCute wool beret on mannequin head

A couple drafts later I finally had a cap Kofi liked. I made the pattern piece shorter (below right) so it would fit more closely to the head. That’s the cap Kofi’s wearing in the photo at the top of this post. I was finally done. Whew!

Draft pattern pieces for 6-section cap

Construction issues

The ongoing problem I had with these wool muslins was that this fabric had a rather loose weave so by cutting my pattern pieces on the bias, the finished versions were all wider than the circumference I was aiming for. Darn it.

There is indeed a lot of stretch along the bias so the hats were anywhere from one to two inches too big. This meant a rather loose fit on my husband’s head and making adjustments to the subsequent pattern pieces. The thing you need to remember when you make adjustments to the piece is that your change will be multiplied 6 times. To explain, I’ll use metric measurements – if you make your pattern piece 1 cm smaller (say, 0.5 cm on each curving side), you will be making your cap 6 cm smaller (6 pattern pieces, 0.5 cm per side) in circumference.

Material notes

Wool tweed fabric ($2/yard)
Interfacing – I used what I had on hand – a lightweight as well as a medium weight cotton woven fusible

Brim – I tried a few different things with the brim. I used the same fusible interfacing on the pie pieces of the cap but it needed additional stiffness so I also inserted a couple different things:

Heavyweight craft interfacing

Heavyweight craft interfacing for brim

Heavyweight craft interfacing and quilting mylar (no melt) $4.85 for a 12 x 18 inch (30 cm x 45 cm) sheet.

The mylar gave it a bit more stiffness but using just the craft interfacing was fine too. And I’m sure if I added several rows of top stitching on the brim, that would also have given it more stiffness.

I’m still not sure how to accommodate the bias in a pattern piece for this cap. I made another version last week for my husband in a different wool fabric but it was also a loose weave and I ended up added two darts to take in the excess fabric. If you have any suggestions please comment below. I’d like to create a pattern piece that gives me the size I want!

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My First Hat Fitting

I won the drawing for a straw hat fedora! Last weekend I was thrilled to go to my first hat fitting.

How did this happen? Well, I donated money to hat designer Elwyn Crawford’s Indiegogo campaign and one of the donation levels was to contribute $5 to be entered into a hat drawing for a straw fedora. I had already made one contribution to her campaign but when she added that perk, I couldn’t resist.

Elwyn wanted to raise funds to expand O’Lover Hats, her custom hat business, and start an internship program. I interviewed her last month about her hat business (“Q&A with Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats“) and about her campaign (“O”Lover Hats Indiegogo Campaign“).

I usually buy ready-to-wear hats – either vintage or from a store or craft fair. As some folks may know, I wear hats everyday. (You can read more about my love of hats on my Hats page.) It was a new and exciting experience for me to actually be fitted for a hat.

The hat-fitting experience is similar to what you would do when you sew a garment. You choose your fabric, your pattern, and you have your measurements at hand. In this case, I was choosing which straw form would be made into a fedora.

4 straw hat forms
A range of straw hat forms to choose from

The first thing Elwyn did was to measure my head. Then she brought out a stack of straw hat forms. There are many different forms woven in different patterns and with straw of various shades. Elwyn will then shape the hat into a fedora (cutting down the brim, shaping the crown, and so on). She told me to pick out a few that I liked and then we would narrow it down. I chose these four. I really liked the lacy look of the two hats above. Elwyn has pushed in the crown of three of the hats in a fedora-like shape to give me a sense of what it would look like.

The white straw form that will be made into a fedora
The white straw form that will be a fedora

I put each one on but the lacy ones had more of a yellow tone that didn’t do much for my skin. The white hat form looked the best so that is the one I chose.

Elwyn brought out a few hats for me to try on to see which shape and brim width were the right shape for me. She took into consideration the height of the crown as well as the width of the brim and how the hat shape went with my face. We decided that the black straw hat fedora was The One (see photo below).

I wanted to give Elwyn a sense of my style, which would help her decide what hat design is best for me. I decided to wear something that I would wear to work. So I wore my Cake Patterns Hummingbird peplum top along with a silk polka dot skirt. (You can get this easy-to-make sewing pattern at Cake’s Etsy shop.) I finished making this top last week. I made a blue one in June, which I blogged about (“My First Sewalong – Hummingbird 30 Minutes a Day“).

Elwyn asked me if I had any fedora hats and I told her I had one wool one but hat I didn’t wear it very much. Fedoras are a rather masculine hat. She assured me that she would make sure it had a feminine look to it. She also asked me if I wore polka dots a lot. I told her I just had this one skirt but that I had other skirts with circles and swirls on them.

Creating a hat is a personal endeavor – and Elwyn strives to make something that is not only the right fit but suits the client’s personality.

So now I’ll be waiting a few weeks for Elwyn to do her magic and then I’ll meet her again to see how the hat fits and to decide on how to trim the hat. I can hardly wait!

Here are some more photos of Elwyn’s studio, which is part of the 25th Street Collective in Oakland. She not only creates her hats here, her creations are also on display. As you can see, she’s very talented!

My Hummingbird top (pattern by Sewing Cake) and black straw fedora by O'Lover Hats
My Hummingbird top (pattern by Sewing Cake) and black straw fedora by O’Lover Hats
Hats on display at O'Lover Hats, designs by Elwyn Crawford
Hats on display at O’Lover Hats, designs by Elwyn Crawford
Hat blocks
In Elwyn’s studio: Hat blocks Elwn uses to shapes hats

O’Lover Hats Indiegogo Campaign

Elwyn Crawford of O'Lover Hats
Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats

Oakland hat designer Elwyn Crawford is dedicated to her craft. She didn’t take a vacation for eight years. “I was OK with that,” says Elwyn. “I knew I wanted to grow my business and source my materials.”

As a result of Elwyn’s singular focus, in 2011 she was finally able to work on her hat business full-time. Her creations under the label O’Lover Hats are made to order. As a result, Elwyn says, there is no waste. “My hats are made to fit people’s lives,” notes Elwyn. “We throw away so much.” And the last thing she wants to do is create more landfill. (To read more about her hat-making process, see my earlier post “Q&A with Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats.”)

Elwyn is also part of the 25th Street Collective, a artisan business incubator comprised of a group of artisans who share warehouse space and more in Oakland. “We share production space, showroom space, resources, and knowledge,” says Elwyn.

Hat by Elwyn Crawford of O'Lover Hats (photo by Lauren Warner MUA)
Hat by Elwyn Crawford, O’Lover Hats (photo by Becca Henry Photograph, makeup by Lauren Warner)

“As artists we really want to affect change,” continues Elwyn. “And one way is through building up economic development to create small-scale ethical production in Oakland.”

I spoke with Elwyn last Saturday for more than an hour about her hats and her company.  This is Part 2 of our interview, in which we  discuss how she would like to expand her business and offer apprenticeships in hat making. [Full disclosure: I donated a modest amount to Elwyn’s crowdfunding campaign.]

You are right in the middle of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign [O’Lover Hats: Think global – hat local] to expand your business by starting an apprenticeship program to create more jobs in Oakland. How did you pick Indiegogo?

It’s a San Francisco-based women-owned company and part of our story is that I”m a woman-owned company – so there’s a direct line there. Also with Indigogo, you get to keep all your money even if you don’t make your goal. If you make your goal, Indigogo takes 4 percent. If you don’t make your goal, they take 9 percent. When I created my high goal [$23,000], I thought it was realistic.

I’m trying to bring in more some larger donors and spreading the word. I have some presentations lined up and I’m reaching out to small business organizations.

The number one goal of the campaign is to generate more public knowledge about what we’re doing.

How would the apprenticeship program work?

It’s a six-month program – the first part being an introduction and shop support, observation and small-skills development. The next step would be learnignthe craft of hatting. The goal is to really train someone and then there’s a job waiting for them with the company. I want to start the apprenticeship program immediately. I want to find one student to come on this summer. I have had a few apprentices in the past. Now I want to get it formalized.

I’m young to be doing it. But it’s the only way to do it.

To pass on the craft of hat making.

O'Lover Hats, design by Elwyn Crawford
O’Lover Hats, design by Elwyn Crawford

Yes. I started teaching workshops in 2008, 2009, a couple years after I started doing free-form blocking. I just love teaching. I come from a family of academics.

I want to continue this craft. We’re working to bring more equipment in so we can have more tools and blocks as well as get in the materials to create more hats. We’re moving towards sustainability.

I want to maintain the craft by training young people for jobs as we grow, to develop computer skills in 3-D designing and use artisanal techniques to create quality hats.

 Will you offer scholarships?

The first part would be unpaid and then it assesses the fit. Is it really a god fit for this person? Then it will move to a paid apprenticeship at minimum wage and then to wages for an entry-level sewer. We hope to offer a living wage. That’s sets us aside. There’s not a lot of places that could support that.

We have a love for hats, arts, and crafts. There’s a strong artists’ presence there [at the 25th Street Collective]. There’s a large group of makers that have been coming together and saying, “We can make a difference. Give us a chance.”

 To learn more about O’Lover Hats crowdfunding campaign or to donate money, visit the Indigogo page: “O’Lover Hats: Think global – hat local” and be sure to watch the video.



July 12: Evelyn raised $5,196 from her Indiegogo campaign. You can check out the details on her Indiegogo page. I ended up donating a second time when she added a new perk – $5 to enter a drawing to win a white straw fedora. And guess what? I won!! I’m going to my hat fitting tomorrow. I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos! 

Q&A with Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats

Elwyn Crawford of O'Lover Hats (photo by Tara Layman)
Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats (photo by Tara Layman)

Elwyn Crawford of O’Lover Hats has been making custom hats in Oakland, California, for nine years. Today I had the pleasure of interviewing her in person at Farley’s East cafe in Oakland. I first met Elwyn at a street fair about five or so years ago in Rockridge, an Oakland neighborhood, where she was selling her hats. I remember admiring her creations back then and recently got back in touch when we found each other on Twitter (her handle is @oloverhats, mine @csewsalot).

I decided to interview her when I learned that she was in the middle of an ambitious Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, “O’Lover Hats: Think Global – Hat Local,” to expand her business and start an apprenticeship program. (Full disclosure – I made a modest donation to her campaign because I love to support local artists and crafters.)

This is Part 1 of our interview. I typed as she spoke so any errors and omissions are the result of my slow fingers! The transcript has been edited and condensed. On Monday, I’ll post Part 2, which will include Elwyn’s comments on her campaign. All the hats in the photos below are original designs by Elwyn. The felt hats are truly works of art. I need to start saving for a handcrafted hat! They are gorgeous.

O'Lover Hat by Elwyn Crawford (photo by Lauren Warner MUA)
O’Lover Hats, design by Elwyn Crawford (photo by Becca Henry Photography, makeup by Lauren Warner)

How did you get started making hats?

I got started by going to flea markets, getting vintage hats, and taking them apart and putting them back together again.

Describe the first hat you made.

The first hat that I made was a cranberry wool felt that I got at the Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco. I had been steaming and cleaning hats and beginning to work with this hat. Every hat that I worked on I wanted to change and make my own. The relationship I wanted to have with them was giving them a new life – make them fresh and new. So I cut the brim and reshaped the crown and put some trim on. It was easy because I wasn’t working on any  blocks. I was just doing hand sewing.

It was just something I wanted to wear at my cousin’s wedding. I was still sewing it in the car as my brother was driving. I got a lot of compliments on it at the wedding. I got to say, “I made it!”

Were you scared about cutting up a vintage hat? Or were you just fearless?

I felt fearless – I wasn’t thinking about selling them at all.

When did you start making hats to sell?

I started selling my hats less than a year after I started playing with them. The first time I sold them was at end of 2005 – at Chillin, an annual design event in San Francisco. I sold two hats – they had a very strong vintage look at that time. I sold at Chillin for first five years of my business. [Chillin, organized by Irene Hernandez, celebrates its 15 anniversary tomorrow! There will be 200 artists and 80 fashion designers this year, along with plenty of live music. Tickets are $15 at the door – 444 Jessie St. in SF.]

I was doing reclaimed vintage with increasingly daring designs. They were like a mashup, a combination of elements of different hats. I worked as a DJ for a while so it made sense. putting together different hats together.

How did your work change?

I met a milliner Jasmin Zorlu, who told me I should put hat size in my hats. I didn’t know how to do that and she said she would teach a workshop. She invited me to her apartment for a private workshop – and it went from there. She taught me hand blocking and a new obsession was born. You block it, you steam it, and you can just play. I thought wow, I can do anything and make a hat.

 As an artist that felt really liberating. I thought, I’m going to start a business doing this. I was doing assemblage. I love to do things in three dimensions. I was quickly obsessed – blocking everyday. There was so much freedom.

O'Lover Hats, design by Elwyn Crawford (photo: Becca Henry Photography)
O’Lover Hats, design by Elwyn Crawford (photo by Becca Henry Photography, makeup by Lauren Warner)

How did you make a living?

I waitressed at first and I worked at the farmer’s market. I tapered off waitressing after a couple of years and just did the farmer’s markets. Then two years ago I made the leap and went into doing my work full-time. I was busy all the time. I went through The Women’s Initiative program and graduated with a business plan.

I wouldn’t advise someone to do it the way I did it. It was more of an intuitive process. I that first year, I still did some odd jobs I’d pick up here and there – gardening, catering jobs. Then those became less and less. That was when it became really important to have a business plan – to really beginning to moving from part-time to full-time and know how much you need for your rent and materials.

In the last several years it’s been more about learning to create a stronger business and how I can have wonderful creativity and go in new directions, how can I do things that are reproducible.

Are your clients people who wear hats a lot or people who are looking for a one-of-a-kind hat for a special occasion?

My clients fall into a couple of categories. My clients are people who love to wear hats. The love to know the artist and participate in the creation process. It’s customized and they don’t have to worry about where it came from and they can feel good about it.

My clients are also people who have really small or  large heads. They have already been looking for hats for a while so when they find me they are like, “Ding!”

O'Lover Hats, design by Elwyn Crawford
O’Lover Hats, design by Elwyn Crawford

Are your clients in any particular age range?

They tend to be in the mid-30s to 50s, people who are established in their style. They know who they are and what they like. They also have a predictable  income.

What should people know about handmade hats?

To embrace a handmade hat is an investment. If somebody is not really sure about getting a handmade hat and they are just curious, I will tell them to explore elsewhere first.

I used to try to take any client who showed an interest, but now I know that can be a very hard job for me to create a hat for that person. The pressure’s too much. I don’t want there to be a “Oh, I might wear it” response. I want to feel like I’m doing a service.

How much time do you spend with a client to determine what’s the right style and color?

It really depends on the style of the hat. I have at least two meetings with clients. The first meeting usually lasts 45 minutes. I do a style consultation. I learn about their intentions and hopes for the hat. I present materials, do a color and style analysis, and take into consideration their build and shape.

I build the mock-up of the hat that we’re doing. Then we have a fitting and we see what type of modifications have to be made. I finalize the trim and then there’s a final fitting.

Sometimes there will be a special feature, such as buttons or a family heirloom. We’ll put that on and maybe make a couple nips and further fitting. Custom hats take four to eight weeks to create depending on how much I have in tow at the time.

The average time to make a hat is about six hours, sometimes a bit more or less. With hats, it’s gotta fit right. If it’s too loose it won’t look right. If it’s too tight, you’re going t o get a headache.

 The head is made out of bone so hats are very customized to fit.

What you do is very similar to what a custom dressmaker would do – with the measuring and fittings. How much does an O’Lover Hat cost?

Custom hats start at $250. I have headbands and bows for $55. My fascinators start at $100.

I really want to develop the under $100 product line. They still take time to produce though. The hats have kept me busy.

 What inspires you?

Nature. The oceans and all the life in it. Growing patterns of plants. Spirals. Symmetry. I really get inspired by material: how each material has a personality and feel to it, my relationship to the material as an artist and how it relates to other things.

I’m inspired by people, personalities. I’m inspired by Oakland now, the challenges it faces as city with a really vibrant culture.

In Part 2 of the interview, which I’ll post on Monday, we discuss the expansion of her business and her Indiegogo campaign “O’Lover Hats: Think global – hat local” and more about her hat-making endeavors, including where she sources some of her raw materials.


Books on Making Hats

Sewn Hats, Design & Make Fashion Hats

I’ve made a few hats on my sewing machine using Vogue patterns or just experimenting without a pattern (see “Sewing a Patricia Underwood Hat“). But I want to get a better understanding of construction. So I bought a few books on making hats. They each offer different levels of hat-making skills. Here’s my brief run-down.

Liesl cloche by Mary Abreu (Confessions of a Craft Addict)
Liesl Cloche by Mary Abreu

Sewn Hats by Carla Hegeman Crim of The Scientific Seamstress, is just that – a book focused on hats you can sew on your machine. You’ll find nearly three dozen hat designs — everything from adorable baby bonnets and cloches to driving caps and fun party hats. The author includes nine of her own designs and the other are by a variety of contributors, including Kaari Meng of French General, Jennifer Paginelli of Sis Boom, Bari J. Ackerman of Bari J., and Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studio.

All the patterns are PDFs that you download from the publisher’s website (the URL is in the book). What’s cool about many of these hats is that most come in a wide range of sizes – from XXS (baby) to XL (adult) – and some are unisex. Plus there are plenty of great photos so you can see what the finished version looks like.

Delmar Driving Cap by Carla Crim (Scientific Seamstress)
Delmar Driving Cap by Carla Crim

I’ve picked out a least three hats I want to make, the Liesl Cloche by Mary Abreu of Confessions of the Craft Addict and the Raindrop Hat by Alexia Marcelle Abegg of Green Bee Patterns, for myself, and for my hubby, the Delmar Driving Cap by Carla Crim.

Fashion Hats (Design & Make) by British milliner and hat designer Karen Henriksen, covers techniques on making hats from felt, sinamay (a type of straw from a banana plant), straw, and fabric. Making these hats (except for the fabric ones) requires specific equipment such as specially formed wood blocks to shape your hat material. Just think of a wool hat with those indentations in the crown, sort of like a fedora – you get that shape from dampening the wool felt and shaping it over a dome crown block and then steaming and making the indentations with your fingers, holding them in place until they’re dry. hat instructions in Deisgn & Make Fashion HatsThere’s also lots of pinning involved with the brim. But I’m not ready to invest in any wood blocks just yet but I will try making some of the fabric hats.

Though patterns are not included, Chapter 8 has instructions on how to draft patterns for a wide-brimmed hat, a brimless hat, a cap with a peak, and a beret. It’ll be fun to draft hat patterns and understand how the pieces work together to form a hat. And you can sew those hats on your sewing machine!

Hats by Sarah Cant

Last but not least is Hats: Make Classic Hats and Headpieces in Fabric, Felt, and Straw by British couture milliner Sarah Cant. This book is full of step-by-step instructions on how to make shaped hats with hat blocks. Some of the designs are quite fancy, with ribbons, feathers, and flowers. This book is for people who want to block hats, a meticulous and time-intensive endeavor involving plenty of hand stitching, steaming, pinning, and ironing.

Velvet Coolie HatOne hat that took me aback was the so-called “Velvet Coolie.” Yikes – the term “coolie” is rather offensive. It had been used back in the 19th century to refer to Asian slaves or manual laborers but today it’s considered a racial slur (see the Wikipedia entry for Coolie). The book says: “The term coolie originally referred to the conical hats worn in East and Southeast Asia. In the west, the shape became popular with Dior’s iconic New Look movement in the late 1940s and into the 1950s.” Uh, OK but do we still need to use that term to refer to this hat shape?

I’ll be working on drafting my own hat patterns and will post about that experience (hopefully) next month. I promised my hubby that I’d make a hat for him.