Saturday, September 5, 2009

Old Hat Makeover

In addition to making new hats, I collect vintage hats, but until recently I've always been more of a wearer of them than a museum-style collector- In the last year, I've bought a few things (mostly older pieces) because I wanted to study them, or just to own them, but with no intention of wearing them, which is new. I'll more post about those treasures another time.

Every once in a while I come across a hat that is damaged or has missing parts that just screams to me for a makeover. (Those of you with museum sensibilities, never fear- no museum-quality pieces were harmed in the making of this post- anything attached is not sewn directly to the hat and can be removed anytime without damage). Here are a couple of my favorites.

This sweet little Edwardian straw boater was in terrible shape when I found it. It was really dirty and had a real bird body tacked to it that was disintegrating into disgusting dusty pieces. A big patch of the straw around the crown was missing entirely, exposing the interior buckram frame. It had remnants of a tattered silk band, but not enough was left to repair into a full band again. Did I mention it was filthy? I wished I had a hazmat suit every time I opened its box. It had a nice shape and size, though, and I liked that the crown and brim are made of a different weave, which seemed unusual. I cleaned it up to reveal a beautiful shiny black straw with cherry red undertones, and added a ribbon band and cockade to cover the hole. Now I'm not even afraid to touch it anymore.

The next hat is a 1920s style cloche, but based on the tags and the fit through the crown, I think it's actually from the 1960s. When I bought it, it still had the curled feathers (which I love), and a band, but also had a large patch of loose threads to show where some decoration had been removed. I made a big cockade to cover that spot in ribbon matching the band, and voila. It's become one of my favorite hats, I wear it a lot.

The last hat is also an Edwardian boater. It has maker's stamps from Italy inside. It was actually in pretty good shape when I purchased it, but it was dusty and lacked a hat band. The proportions are a little strange- the crown is taller than boaters usually are, and it's too small to fit down onto a head (even a kid's), so it wants to perch at a jaunty angle, and the brim is bigger than your usual boater. It's a bit saucy, and needed something dramatic by way of decoration, so I made a big black and white striped cockade, and wore it with my matching striped Dark Garden corset to the Edwardian Ball in January 2009. I felt like a million bucks.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Great Victorian Womens Hats

I was looking through my collection of hat pictures this morning and wanted to share a few of my favorites from the 1880s and 1890s.

The upsweep to one side on these is very dramatic, I love the movement in the design. Something about the first one is very Alice in Wonderland.

This whole outfit on the lady in the next photo is great. Love the menswear look, with jacket, hat, watch chain and umbrella over that big skirt. Very dapper. Not sure what the hat is called, but it looks kind of like a 'Tyrolese' from The Mode in Hats and Headdress by Wilcox.

The last are homburgs or fedoras. Worn for sportswear at the time, apparently.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Wayne Wichern, Milliner

Last weekend I took a 3-day felt and straw blocking workshop with fantastic milliner Wayne Wichern. Wayne is a spectacular teacher- knowledgeable, generous, patient, thorough, plus just a nice person. Here's a photo of Wayne at work.

He has a lovely millinery studio in Redwood City, filled with amazing supplies and equipment- if you're a gear hound like me, it's irresistible. The size of his block collection was astounding- the closet through the doorway to the right is chock full of blocks, also:

I was too busy blocking my heart out to take more photos than these, but here are photos of a couple of the hats I made during the class. I've got several more to put the finishing touches on and will post photos of those as they're ready.

I made this straw hat to wear to the upcoming Gatsby Picnic. The crown is one of many kooky 1930s blocks Wayne has collected. Very Ninotchka. Hopefully I'll finish the matching dress in time to wear to the event(!):

Here's a pirate tricorn in straw. I'll be selling these on Etsy soon. Maybe I'll add some feathers.

This one has been christened "The Lisa" for my friend Lisa Connelly (of the petite fashion blog Serafina), because she has dibs on the next one I make. I own the crown, but need to find a similar brim, then I'll be selling them on Etsy also:

Wayne also teaches courses in sewing and millinery at CaƱada College and the Sewing Workshop. I highly recommend him!!