Millinery: 3/4 Sinamay

In the advanced millinery class that I took a while ago I started on an approximately 3/4 scale sinamay hat/fascinator. Like all of the other projects that I started in the class, I didn’t finish the hat in the class, but instead took them home to finish.

Well… a number of my projects sat around in their half-finished state for a while.  I guess that I just wasn’t inspired for a while, but I finally got around to this hat!

3/4 sinamay fascinator with silk trim

3/4 sinamay fascinator with silk trim

3/4 scale

Back when I was making the mini tricorn hats during the first class I considered instead of tiny little mini-hats, to do 3/4 size hats instead. Unfortunately the instructor didn’t have any blocks that were fully 3/4 size, so I used a block slightly larger than 3/4. I thought that this scale would make for a neat facinator – and I love the way the tricorn hats turned out.

Steps in class

I started off by blocking (and then sizing) two layers of sinamay on the crown, and while it was drying I blocked two layers for the brim as well. I only found out afterwards that I could have done this single-layer.

Once the sinamay was dry, I took it off the blocks, trimmed the crown, marked the brim, cut out the centre from the brim, and hand-stitched a sinamay collar (leftover from the trim of the crown) to the tabs on the brim.

Only as I was finishing the hand-stitching did the instructor let me know that I should have use buckram instead. Oops! From there I attached the crown to the brim, and then trimmed and wired the brim edge.  I don’t think that using the sinamay for the collar had any detrimental effect, and I don’t think I was alone making the collar from the sinamay instead of an alternate material. (Plus, we weren’t even working with buckram in this class!)

I also wired the seam between the crown and the brim, for some additional strength and structure for the hat.

Where I left off

I still needed to trim the brim, add the sweatband, add the hatband and any trim.  I planned on using gold duppioni silk, which is the way I went, because I really liked the rougher texture of the silk along with the texture of the sinamay.

Trimming the hat

I did end up selecting a gold-shot-with-black duppioni silk.  I had some bias left over from another sewing project, which easily (but slowly) trimmed the edge of the brim.  This took a really long time, but the stitches are perfect.  (hehe, I’m so proud of my hand-sewing when it works out so well!)

I pressed out the same silk bias, and used it for the hat band, covering the collar and wire where the brim meets the crown. This took a while too, and with the width of the brim, it was pretty fussy too.  I had to trim one small portion where the collar was a bit too wide, but other than that it worked out well.

I didn’t have enough of the already-made gold bias to make the ‘sweatband’ as well, and I didn’t have any petersham the right tone either (I had bright white, but that wouldn’t have worked at all either). I didn’t really feel that I needed a ‘real’ sweatband either, but I also felt that rather than cutting more gold bias, it would be a good idea to have something different for the ‘sweatband’. I selected some off-white shantung silk instead, made up a bias strip, pressed it, and sewed it in (top and bottom) as a sweatband.  The sandwich between the hat band and the sweatband totally cover the collar and wire of where the crown of the hat meets the brim.

adding the silk 'sweatband'

adding the silk ‘sweatband’

Fascinator comb

Since this is a fascinator, and doesn’t actually fit my head… I’ll need a comb to keep it on.  I took a comb, and with it measured out a length of bridal elastic – a braided trim with little elastic loops used on bridal gowns for all of those tiny little pearl buttons.  The little loops from the elastic work perfectly for the combs.  This technique also means that if the comb breaks, it’s easy to replace… a stitched-in comb would require a lot more work. Additionally the elastic adds a bit of “give” so that it’s a bit easier to put the comb in and take it out.

I hand-stitched the elastic to the sweatband of the hat, and then slid the comb into place.

I wrote  a post about using bridal elastic for millinery in a different post – click to read!

Further embellishment

At this point I went to my stash of fake flowers and looked through it, ideally looking for something golden.  I auditioned a few different flowers before settling on an off-white fabric hydrangea.  I hand stitched it on, and didn’t like it… I think that the hat needs something ‘fluffy’ (rather than an embellishment with clean lines and a solid feel) but the flowers just weren’t it.  This might just be an unembellished hat… until I find the right embellishment!

3/4 sinamay fascinator with silk trim

3/4 sinamay fascinator with silk trim

Final thoughts

Although I love the size and proportion of the 3/4 tricorn hats, I actually don’t love this hat.  I think the firmness of the sinamay just doesn’t appeal to me. I think that it’s well-made, but it just doesn’t ‘leap off the page’ for me, so to speak.  I might try to re-consider it as a ‘dinner plate‘ hat in the future, but I think for now I’ll leave it as it is, and see if I end up wearing it.  If I end up taking another millinery class I might also take it to class and ask the instructor or my fellow students for their insight, thoughts, and ideas to get this hat to a place where I’ll love it enough to justify the sheer amount of work that went into it.  I might also consider putting it up for sale – I’m sure there’s someone else out there who might love it the way it deserves!

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