Purple silk ‘shoe’ hat

As I was making this hat, I really couldn’t help but see it having a vague ‘shoe’ shape.  It doesn’t LOOK like a shoe, but it has the curve almost of a high heel.. so I keep thinking of it as the ‘shoe hat’.

This hat was made very similar to the Purple Velvet faux-vintage hat I made at the same time – in fact the reason I made one was because of the other.  I originally wanted to make this hat, but didn’t know if my buckram could handle the shape, and cut out two layers of buckram with the band shape.

When I went to stitch the two together, I realized that they were going to shift a lot, and that once I wired the buckram, it would be a lot more firm than just the fabric by itself, so I found myself with two bands instead of just one!

The fabric

Again with this hat I had the shape more in mind than the fabric when I was designing the pattern.  Once I had the buckram form, I needed to figure out what to cover it with.  The basic shape sort of suggested 1940s/50s air hostess or vaguely military, but since I wasn’t interested in exagerating that (or making a costume hat) I wanted to stay away from camo green or navy blue…   Instead I initially picked a teal shot with black taffeta, but when going through my stash of small silks, I picked out some fabric left over from a dress I made.

The main fabric is a subtle purple and grey thread stripe, and the lining is a brighter solid pink-purple fine silk.  I used the solid fabric to line the dress and add contrast piping and binding.  I bought both from Dressew in Vancouver a few years back.

Completing the pattern

Traced the pattern onto buckram

Because this hat would have a tip, I designed the pattern for it by measuring and analyzing the paper shape that I developed the pattern from.  I drafted the pattern for the tip, and played with it along with the paper mock up to ensure it would fit the way I intended.  When I had wired the buckram in the construction stage, I also traced off the shape, and found that they were very, very similar.  (Which is good – it means the wire didn’t skew the shape much!)

Constructing the frame

Like the purple velvet hat, this one started by:

  1. Cutting out the buckram using the pattern and adding an overlap for the centre back seam.
  2. Stitching the centre back seam overlapping the buckram.
  3. Attached the wire to the lower edge of the band.  Since I had learned my lesson on the purple velvet hat, I shaped my wire as I stitched.
Then for the tip of the hat, I had the pattern, so I:
  1. Cut the pattern out of buckram, tracing the edge and adding a seam allowance.
  2. Shaped the wire along the traced edge before stitching it on.

    Stitching the wire onto the buckram, following the pencil line. I've clipped the buckram where it will fold down

  3. Overcast stitched the wire along the traced edge.

    The reverse of the tip, showing the stitches holding down the wire.

  4. Clipped the seam allowance to the wire, and folded the edges of the buckram so they would go over the band of the hat
  5. Stitched the tabs of the tip down to the band, with the wired edge of the tip inside the hat.
  6. Covered the corner where the tip met the band with wide bias trim to soften the edges.

Adding fabric to the hat

To cover the hat and add the lining I:
  1. Cut the tip and band out of fusible interfacing (mostly to support the fine silk) fused it to the silk, and cut it out with seam allowances.
  2. Stitched the tip fabric down over the tip of the frame, in the same method I did on the Red Silk Pillbox.

    covering the tip with the silk fabric

  3. Cut out the lining using the pattern pieces, and hand-stitched them together.  With a few little stitches I secured the lining into the hat just because of the strange shape.
  4. Covered the band with white felt, using the pattern I had used for the buckram (no seam allowance).  I did this largely to keep the silk very ‘flat’, rather than showing all the bumps of the stitching, wire, bias tape, etc, since the fabric is very fine.
  5. Made bias strips of the lining fabric and inserted cord to make piping.  Basted the piping flange to the felt at the top of the hat. With the piping, the hat will match the dress really well I think!

    shot of the piping between the tip and the band

  6. Pressed the top edge down on the band fabric, then stitched the centre back seam and re-pressed at the seam.  (I find with such a small piece it’s easier to press the majority when it’s flat rather than when it’s already sewn together.) I stitched the back centre seam by hand, and once I was finished with the hat, I really think I should have done it by machine instead, because the stitches are a bit too visible for my liking.
  7. Pulled the band fabric over the felt and slip stitched the band to the tip fabric through the piping with tiny invisible stitches.
  8. Basted the lining and outside fabric to the hat edge at the bottom of the band, pulling the fashion fabric inside the hat.
  9. Made bias strips of the fashion fabric to trim the bottom edge of the brim.  Stitched on the outside first right sides together, then turned it and slip-stitched it on the inside.

Finishing and trimming the hat

The sweatband was going to be incredibly challenging.  The instructor told me that I could pin it in place, pin little darts into the grosgrain ribbon, and then sew the darts and replace the ribbon back into the hat.  That sounded a bit bulky to me, and I figured that I could at least try steam shaping the rayon grosgrain ribbon with the iron to start.
The key apparently is using rayon grosgrain, rather than polyester, which won’t shape as well.

I loosely measured, and then did a series of S-curves with the iron – some of them very tight to get the shape of the ribbon to fit in the hat.  Ultimately it’s not perfect, but the result is really good and I’m happy with it.  I think I’m much more happy with it than if I had done all of the tiny darts.

The shaped grosgrain ribbon as the sweatband inside the hat. (Interior shot)

Trimming the hat

Front view of the hat

Once the hat was done, I really was at a loss of how to trim it.  I was concentrating so much on the shape of the hat itself, that I didn’t really think about the embellishment at all.  I don’t like the notion that somehow you make the hat for the sole purpose of showing off the embellishment – that the hat is only the canvas for the beauty of the embellishment… and yet, when the hat was made, it needed…. something.

Side view showing the shape

In class, the instructor had suggested a large (tall) feather on the centre back.  There was a green feather pad in her collection that worked for me, but for the colour.  At home I made my own feather pad with a similar shape (using some scrap buckram, covered in black felt on both sides, then selecting feathers and gluing them on.  I would have used regular white glue, but I have no idea where my glue is right now with the renovations, so I used a low-temp hot glue gun instead.)I held the feather pad up against the hat and I knew that I’d need to cover the end of the feather.  I started off with a filigree motif grouping from Michael’s Bezels Frames and Filigree collection – a silver grouping that suggested a flower.  I didn’t really like the feather at all.  It just was… wrong.

Back view of the completed hat

So… off went the feather, and instead I gathered up some black French/Russian veil material, and fussed with it for a while, finally attaching it to the centre back of the hat with the silver filigree over it where it was gathered.  Both were sewn on, not glued.

2 comments on “Purple silk ‘shoe’ hat

  1. Lucy says:

    Gorgeous! Need I say more..? I would have loved to have seen it modeled on your head to see the full effect..but I love it!

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