Thursday, 19 November 2009

Making an emergency 50s hat

Talking to my friend at work yesterday (the one who picked out the fantastic colours for my sinamay headpiece at college) she said she'd been invited to a fancy dress party and didn't know what to wear. And the party is TONIGHT!!! She'd decided on 50s with a pencil skirt and fitted top, but she was worried it wouldn't look like she'd made an effort.

Well, there's only one answer to that - any 50s outfit is topped off with a hat. So I offered to "knock her up" a little pillbox hat.

First question, what have I got enough of in my sewing room? The outfit is black and dark red. I have a red hood, but it's not been stiffened, and I'm not sure I can manage a felt hat in an evening...all my sinamay's the wrong colour...I could knock something together with buckram and cover it...the only black I have is polyester lining fabric - that won't stretch nicely, but I could go for this sort of style (this is a beautiful example from an etsy seller):

I decided it "must" be possible to block buckram, but seeing as it's SO stiff I'd soak it in water first. Ended up with completely floppy buckram and a bowl of black water - hmmm maybe that's not the best way forwards...still, it blocked fairly easily (it doesn't have the open weave of sinamay so I didn't manage to get all the lumps and bumps out, but that's no problem as the pillbox would be less than half the height of the block and I had it pretty smooth down to there.

An hour later, after making a delicious roasted veg lasagne recipe here the buckram was still dripping wet (and dripping black all over my kitchen floor!) Out came the hair dryer and I discovered that if you use that on coloured drawing pins, the plastic covers fall off and your kitchen ends up looking like you've had a smartie-masacre!!!

But after all that, a beautiful pillbox shape. It twisted slightly (I guess that's because I only used one layer) so I wired the brim and that pulled into shape nicely.
I then traced the top of the block onto the black lining, added a seam allowance, cut a strip a little longer than the distance round the block and made a tube with the oval sewn to the top. I stitched the top into place so it stretched out, then ran several rows of running stitch down the tube.

When the running stitch was all done, I gathered the fabric and sewed it into place over the wire. It's not great, but it's pretty good for just a few hours' work in the evening (and on the train this morning) - I hope she likes it

Update: She loved it and here she is looking fabulous wearing it:

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