While watching Sofia Copola’s Marie Antoinette, I got the urge to make another mini-tricorn hat, but this time larger than the two I’ve made before… and this time in candy-colours like the colour story of the movie. Don’t even ask me why, since I own very little clothing that is in the candy-colour family… but still – who cares! Like confection, millinery doesn’t need to be practical!
I had read somewhere that if the mini-hats didn’t suit, that a 3/4 sized hat might be more attractive. Thus, I was on the lookout for a 18″ hat block to start this off. I couldn’t find one, but in our instructor’s collection I did find a 20″ hat block, which would have to suffice. Since I was only going to use the very tip – I figured that the slightly larger size would be fine.
I draped the buckram on the block and then once it was dry, trimmed off the excess and wired the edge. Then I covered the wire with bias tape. I slightly pulled the bias as I was applying it, with the vague hope of tightening up the edge just slightly. The whole frame is nice and sturdy once the wire is on there.
I shaped the wire by putting the hat on my head (at a variety of jaunty angles!) and then traced the finished edge to create the pattern for the brim.
Covering the base
I chose a blue/green shot with gold silk taffeta for the fabric (yummy!) . I don’t actually remember where I got it. I probably should have interfaced the fabric first before adding it to the buckram base, because you can see the texture of the buckram through the fabric. Live and let learn!
I very carefully pinned the fabric to the bias tape, keeping all of the pleats very tiny and as even as possible, and then stitched them down close to the wire.
I then was thinking about how to do the lining, and took a chance… I sprayed the inside of the hat with temporary basting spray glue (you can find it at quilt shops), draped the fabric over the block, and then popped the hat on top of the fabric. This worked out almost perfectly. There were a few tiny spots where the pleating wasn’t as even as I would have liked, but since the glue is temporary, it was short work to gently peel it back and re-pleat, and stitch down the lining along the inside edge where the bias tape is as well. The only part that I DIDN’T like- was that some of the glue came through the (very fine) fabric – it’s kind of splotchy. Ok.. it’s just the lining, but again, I think that I’d need to interface the lining if I were do use this method again.
I started off by making the brim pattern with a 4″ brim, but then after holding the paper pattern up to the covered buckram form, I wasn’t so pleased, so I trimmed off another inch from the outside edge. I then cut the brim out of buckram, and two circles out of the silk (with seam allowance) and knit fusible interfacing (without seam allowance). I wired and bias-trimmed the buckram brim outside edge, and then used a glue stick to attach the fabric to the buckram on one side and gently basted the fabric to the buckram on the inside edge seam line to mark the fabric.
Then I used a glue stick to attach the other side, and trimmed off the outside edge excess fabric. I made matching bias trim, and attached the bias by hand. (SO time consuming!)
After the hat was done, I realized that I should have applied a more even coating of glue. The glue doesn’t show through the fabric, but where the curve of the tricorn is convex (curling in on itself) there are bubbles and spots where the silk was not glued to the buckram. A more even coating would have fixed this problem. I address this differently on the next tricorn I made.. the red silk tricorn (post coming soon!).
I cut out the inside circles of the fabric along the edge of the inside of the buckram, and clipped into the curve, then folded the tabs, and set the crown onto the brim.
It might seem kind of redundant to make a paper pattern for a brim that is only going to be used for THIS hat (because I wire and shape the crown edge, it’s possible that another hat from the same block wouldn’t have the same shape) but I think that it’s a good step for those ‘just in case’ or ‘I want to change my mind’ moments.
Attaching crown to brim
At this point I realized that getting the brim onto the crown was more complicated than I thought, and that with this way both the inside and the outside would be messy…. so I used the remainder of the self-bias-binding to trim the crown as well. I removed any of the visible basting stitches from the outside and lining fabric around the base of the crown after adding on the binding.
I didn’t do the greatest job of this, and wasn’t entirely happy with the result. On one hand I knew that I could cover the seam with trim, but on the other hand I would have been happier if this were neater.
This was ridiculously hard to pin down into place, but eventually I did, and began to sew the crown to the brim through the ‘band’ of the crown and the little tabs tucked up inside the crown. I tried to hide most of the stitches on the outside in the ditch of the bias binding on the band, but I’m not 100% happy with the result.
With all of my comments about my errors, perhaps I should have posted a stunning photo of the finished product to start off this post!
Next, since my stitches were about 1/4 of an inch into the brim tabs, and the tabs were an inch long, I trimmed them down to about 1/2 an inch. This will be covered by the sweatband, and this way they will be fully covered by the sweatband. (Which is only about an inch wide itself.)
I started to stitch in the sweatband, did two different attempts, and then realized that because the crown is domed, that the straight grosgrain wasn’t going to go in properly. Luckily the instructor had mentioned that getting rayon grosgrain would be shapeable with the iron/steam, and luckily, the grosgrain I picked up was the rayon kind… so I shaped it on the ironing board and it went in much better. Still though, it was agonizingly challenging – nothing like how simple it had been putting the sweatband into the red pillbox hat I just finished.
I’m guessing that having a brim is what makes this more challenging – the needle just doesn’t go in the same direction. I have the sneaking feeling that a curved needle would be very useful here, but if I have one (I think I do… but with the renovations, looking for something that I don’t know EXACTLY where it is… is even more challenging that sewing on the sweatband!) it’s a very large needle, and would create holes too big in this fine silk. So, instead, I just suffered through it…
From there I removed the basting stitches on the interior of the brim, and then ended up folding up the sides of the tricorn. I really probably should have waited, but after the agonizing work of the sweatband, I needed a little instant gratification!
The overall shape of the hat is good – I’m very happy that I took the extra inch off the exterior edge of the brim. I don’t love the place where the crown meets the brim, and with such a short crown I think it will be challenging to trim.
So this is where I am leaving the hat for the time being. I need to decide on the trim, and figure that all out…. once I do, I’ll post a finished photo!
Have any ideas for me? Leave a comment below!