Monday, 25 June 2012

A tutorial for a 40's style tilt hat

About this hat
I made the hat without a precise plan to where I was heeding and it wasn't until I was halfway done that it dawned on me that others might find the process interesting. That's the reason to why there aren't many pictures from the early stages and you have to make do with some me-made drawings. The hat is not a copy of an existing hat, but rather draws on numerous pictures of tilt hats as inspiration. I don't claim any historical authenticity at all.

Consider this tutorial as more of a template for making a tilt hat of your choice rather than for one specific design. That is why there aren't any exact measurement and often more than one suggestion to how to treat a certain step. I hope I will manage to explain clearly what I mean, but if there is something that seems unclear, please ask! It is surprisingly difficult to write tutorials, so I hope I have managed to write something that is understandable. Hat making is surrounded by an air of mystique, but making hat is actually not hard at all. Being, by it's very nature, a rather small project, making it doesn't take long and if you make a mistake you don't loose so much if you have to start all over again.

1 hat capeline/hood in felt.
Millinery wire
Sharp needles
Grosgrain/Petersham ribbon
Optional: Extra decoration of your choice.

Capelines and hoods comes in various shapes and sizes. The capelines I used was rather small, if you use a larger your brim gets wider. Capelines can also be found in straw and banana fibre, but I specified felt as the hat as both brim and top gets bent and turned a lot, which may make other materials break. However, if you keep straw/banana fibre damp and apply heat by steam, then I think it would be possible to use those materials too.

Grosgrain ribbons are commonly used in hat making as they are sturdy and you can shape them into curves with the help of steam and heat. You can use other kinds of ribbons, but bear in mind that when a straight grain ribbon is sewn to something curved, like the outer end of the brim, there will excess fabric that you need to ease or pleat to make the ribbon fit. A grosgrain ribbon is easier to work with.

Millinery wire is wire that has an outer "shell" of tightly wound thread. I have used ordinary wire in a pinch, but I prefer to use millinery wire for hats.

Making the hat
You don't need a hat block/Styrofoam head for this project, though I used one to give the crown shape. But then my plans for this hat was a bit different in the beginning, so consider the first step optional.

1. Steam the capeline and pull it down on the hat block, letting it dry. The easiest way is to use a kettle to get steam, but you can boil water in a pot or use the steam from an iron. In all cases, be careful so you don't burn yourself and if you use an iron, don't put it into direct contact with the capeline.

2. Cut the capeline so the crown and the brim becomes two separate parts. I cut it a bit slanted as I wanted an asymmetrical shape to the brim, but you can cut it straight if you want an even design.

3 Steam the brim and pin it to the iron board to dry flat. It looked something like this:

4. Sew the millinery wire along the out edge of the brim. I do it by hand, but I know people who use the zig zag on their machine to attach it. Whatever you choose, make sure that the edges overlap, and stitch the overlap rather closely.

5. Now mark out an oval or round circle on the crown of the hat. I opted for about 10 cm across, but I didn't measured it, I just draw out a shape I liked. The one important thing is that it should be placed right at the bottom of the crown, like this:

4.It's time to attach the brim to the crown, but you need to consider a few things first. My brim has the hole placed asymmetrical and the hole is larger than the shape on the crown. This means the brim will be wider on one side (the upper part) and also that it needs to be pleated to fit. You could make the brim even and/or opt for no pleats. or more of them. You can make a couple of brim mock-ups in paper and play around with to see how different shapes look to find one that you like.

5. Attaching the brim to the crown was the most trying part of making this hat. The pleats make it bulky and pushing the needle through several layers of felt is hard work. I made the pleats and basted them before attaching the brim and I didn't use any pins as the layers where so thick- I held it together with my fingers as I went. When you are finished with this part, the hat probably isn't very pretty. The seam between brim and crown looked rather unsightly on mine, but that's what decorations are for.

The following two steps are just the order I made them in. If you opt for a more fragile decorations than I did, then do the top last.

6. I made my decorations out of grosgrain ribbons in two tones of turqoise.I made my decoration like this: I folded about 1/3 of the dark band and ironed it so the crease got sharp, I also gently stretched it so the curved slightly. Then I folded the other ribbon, but didn't press it and put it into the fold on the darker ribbon:
Then I attached it to the joint between brim and top with as most invisible stitches I could muster.

The hat now look something like this:

7. Sew ribbon along the edges of the brim and crown. I folded the ribbon in half and pressed it so it curved nicely.

8. Now you can start to shape it. The wire allows the brim to be bent to create crisper pleats and a neater outline.

9. The hat is almost done, apart from the final "trick". Turn the hat upside down and it should look like this:

Now turn the crown part of the hat inside out:

The turning hides all the stitches in the crown and gives the hat a more elegant outline. Shape the crown so it's neat and even and then make a few invisible stitches so the hat keep the shape.
10. The last step is to figure out how to keep the hat on your head. You could stitch in a thin rubber band to go under your hair at the back of your head. Sew in a comb on the inside of the hat. Or fasten it with a smart hat-pin.


What do you think?


Second Hand Rose said...

Wow this hat looks amazing, you're so talented! XxxX

Isis said...

Second Hand Rose: Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's lovely! I wonder if these techniques wouldn't prove useful to change the shape of an existing hat, as well - I have a too-large Tyrolean hat that I've been considering raising and tilting the brim of. Hmm...

Isis said...

pimpinett: Thank you! Very possible. :) It did made the hat smaller as well as changing the angle. :)

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