I've had a few queries about how the mini boater was made (and I desparately want my own) so I've decided to make another one and show you how it's done...
I'm making this one with some sinamay I've been dying to use for ages rather than silk-covered buckram, but the concept of blocking it is much the same. The silk covering is a bit more complex - maybe I'll do another of those and show you as well - do you want it?
Ok, to begin with you need to think about the shape and size of the hat. I haven't got a mini boater block so I searched around the house for things that would do. The crown of the hat is blocked on a metal wine cooler and I've based the brim around a side-plate. I needed a flat piece of wood to block the brim on so I've used an old drawer. Here's what I based the hat on:
I covered the drawer and the cooler in cling film (just normal food grade stuff) to protect them from the water and to prevent the sinamay sticking to the blocks. I'm blocking both the brim and the crown in one go, but if you've not done much blocking before I'd suggest doing them separately (do the crown first, then when that's dry take it off and do the brim.
Next I cut out 4 pieces of sinamay. This was as I'm using a patterned sinamay - if I was using a normal one I'd cut out 6 pieces and if I were using buckram I'd cut two pieces. I took the size of my hat (remember the plate) and cut them out an inch or so bigger on each side.
Cut a hole in the middle of two pieces about an inch smaller than the crown block.
Now wet the first layer of sinamay (I use that spray bottle you may have noticed) so that it's nice and flexible. Pull it down over the block, making sure some of it still sticks up - you'll be attaching the crown to this later. Repeat with another layer of sinamay. With 'normal' sinamay this should be at 45 degrees to the first layer and a third should be in same direction as the first. To keep the pattern of mine I blocked just two layers in the same direction as one-another. Secure the centre with a hair band or some elastic.
Pin out four poles using millinery pins like these or household pins (you'll need a thimble to get them in the wood, but they work a treat). Stretch the sinamay flat, but remember to keep your shape.
Now use a few more pins to flatten the sinamay out across the wood. This should be nice and easy as you're just flattening it back to its original shape.
Now that that's done, onto the crown. You'll need the rest of the sinamay. Again get it nice and wet, then drape it over the top of your 'block'. Use another elastic or hair band to hold it in place as low down as you can without missing bits. If you're using three layers of 'normal' sinamay, the middle one should be at 45 degrees to the others.
Now gently ease the folds of sinamay. If you pull it on the bias, it will stretch that way allowing you to form it into the shape of the block. This also gives beautiful patterns which are great fun to play with - go on, have a go.
Now it's time to pour a glass of wine, pop on Film Four and watch the end of The Day After Tomorrow (oh no apparently not - my husband's come down and switched it over to Mock The Week based on the fact we've got The Day After Tomorrow on DVD...he may have a point.
I'll be back at the weekend with part 2.