Millinery: Cloche

Early in the millinery class, the instructor said that we’d be doing cloche’s as one of our projects.  I wasn’t too enthusiastic about that, because I never found a cloche that looked good on me. However, I figured that I would do a little research and see if I could come up with an alternative that might work.  My thought was perhaps none of the cloches that I had tried on worked because they weren’t fitted correctly, so if I were to make my own, I could fix that problem.

Cloche’s are most well known as the “flapper” hat from the 1920s, however the basic shape of the cloche was in fashion from about 1908-1928 (Fashion  Helmet-like and closely fitted to the head, the hats were easy to produce because of minimal shaping needed by milliners.

My first inspiration came from the BJD Magazine blog.  (Ball Jointed Doll) I really liked the shape of the oversized hats and the embellishment, and thought that something like this (rather than the very closely-fitted hats I’ve seen examples of elsewhere).

Ball-Jointed Doll in a cloche

Click for original image

Another cloche example

Click for original image

Click for original image

Click for original image

click for original post – from the 1920s wedding blog

Next up, there was a fabulous decorated cloche on the 1920s wedding blog.  I love this hat so much!!! Ok.. I wouldn’t likely make it up in this colour way for myself (now that I’ve seen it with ‘wedding’ attached, that’s all I’ll be able to see…) but I love the shape, the colour scheme, and the decoration.  I think the white/taupe lace is really the key element in the decoration, setting off the wide satin ribbon, the bias trim, and the flowers.  (The design is symmetrical and there are flowers on both sides of the hat.)

I think this would look amazing in dark charcoal grey and black….. or soft heather grey and mauve…. (ahem, like the first photo at the top of the blog…)

There are also a few examples of nice cloches on the Victorian Trading company website.

More inspiration

I published this in 2011, but then later on when I was making another hat, I did a little more research, so wanted to add in a few more photos.

Straw cloche from

Straw cloche from

Making a cloche

Marking the shaped hood with tape

After millinery class #6 I had a black straw to play with, and I decided that I wanted to use it to make the cloche.  We hadn’t really had any instruction until then (or after for that matter) on cloches, so I imagine that the instructor’s initial comments about one of the styles we would be doing being a cloche was somewhat wishful thinking rather than lesson plan, but after doing the research and seeing some of the very pretty options, my mind was made up to make a cloche after all!

I started with blocking the straw using a head form and steam from my kettle, and got the crown shaped.  From there I tried it on and thought it might have been too big, so I put it on my smaller Styrofoam head instead, pulling the straw hood down to re-shape the crown and get more length out of it.  Although I can describe this in only a few sentences, it really was more work than just that!

From there I tried it on again, and looked in the mirror, marking the areas I wanted to trim.  Right above the eyebrows for the front, and dipping up just slightly at the back (to accommodate my ponytail, bun, or however else I want to deal with long hair + short hair style-friendly hat).  I kept the sides as long as the hood would allow.

From there I folded the hood in half to keep the shape symmetrical (without crushing it of course – while it was still warm from the steam it was quite flexible) and quickly trimmed the hood away.  I then quickly took it to my sewing machine to keep it from unraveling – handling it as little as possible.  From there, another chance to try on, and really see the shape.

trimming away the straw to create the shape

I hated it.

I took it back to the steam and reshaped the crown, and tried it on again.

I hated it.

But… it looks so cute on my Styrofoam head!

It just didn’t look good on me at all!  I popped it on my Styrofoam head – it looked so cute!  I asked my mom to try it on – it looked so cute!  I tried it on me again – and I hated it!  I pinned bias tape around the edge, lace, trim… no good, no good, no good!

Ultimately, I figured that the head-hugging, low style just doesn’t suit me at all.  I am guessing that I have too tall a forehead, and the space between my eyebrows and the visual top of my head is just too long for this style to work on me.  It ends up making me look vaguely like a conehead.  Boo.

So, back to the drawing board with the black straw I went!  Hopefully I’ll have a happy ending to share in a future post!

4 comments on “Millinery: Cloche

  1. […] love how luxurious the fur felt looks… I didn’t like cloche hats on me when I was working on straws, but as soon as I put the hood on my head, I knew this would work […]

  2. […] love how luxurious the fur felt looks… I didn’t like cloche hats on me when I was working on straws, but as soon as I put the hood on my head, I knew this would work […]

  3. […] Unfortunately the only thing I could really think of to make with it was a cloche, and after the disastrous cloche attempt with the black straw hood, I wasn’t too keen on repeating the adventure since I was quickly […]

  4. […] shape with my features.  For a review of the process up until that point, please read my post on the cloche. […]

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