Millinery: Green felt

Completed green felt hat

Completed green felt hat

Although I took the Millinery Class a while ago, I didn’t finish everything off right away… recently I finished a few of the projects that had been left to linger, and wanted to share them here.

Green felt

The second felt I worked on in the 7th Millinery class was a green felt.  This has a much deeper ‘pile’ than the other felts, and although the colour isn’t something I’d normally wear, it just feels so nice that I really wanted to work with it.  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 running out of class time.

So, instead I settled on a shaped crown with a tipper, very much like a fedora.

Part 1- The Crown

I started out by padding up the head block with my felt (to bring it up from a fairly standard 23″ to fit my 24″), and then steaming the felt hood.  The felts sure do need a lot more steam to soften them up than the straws did!

I placed the hood over the block, worked it down, and then started hand-shaping the felt into the top shape.  I put the tipper in a bit too early, and there were bumps in the shape, so I re-steamed and did more shaping by hand – the instructor helped me out with this, and her much smaller hands worked much better in the small shape than mine did.  I kept working it, and finally put the tipper in, and when it cooled – it came out nice and flat!

Green Felt on the block with the tipper on top

From there I put the tipper back in just to keep the shape, and worked on steaming the sides of the crown, molding the felt into the shapes – adding small straight pins (quilting pins specifically) into the concave part of the block to keep the felt in the right shape.

It was only later that I found out that often what the instructor would do with those concave shapes, is pad them  on the outside of the hood with clean fabric, and then wrap it all and leave it to dry.  That might have been more effective (albeit more time-consuming overall) than my pins.

Of course, at that point the class was finished and I had to pack up!

Part 2 – The Brim

In class #8, I continued working on the hat – I had hoped to be able to shape the brim and crown in one piece (without cutting the two apart, shaping the brim, and then sewing them back together) but I had no luck with the one-piece method – largely because none of the brim blocks fit my head!

Instead I ended up cutting the felt, steam shaping the brim on a (too small) block, pin-fitting the brim to the crown, basting them together, steaming them to shape them better together, and then steaming the brim itself to get a better shape.  Throughout all of this I re-steamed the top of the crown several times, hoping that by ‘over-steaming’ it, it would become firmer – but it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference.

The edges of the brim were a bit too fluted for my liking, so the instructor recommended wiring the brim, which I put off, because at that point the class was almost over, with just a little time for shopping….

Part 3 – Wiring and trim

With the classes over I continued the rest of my steps at home, interrupted by home renovations, Christmas, and other things.  Eventually though I got the brim wired, but then came the challenge of figuring out what to TRIM it with.  This lovely colour doesn’t lend itself to much at all!  Black is too harsh, white and ivory are too washed out.  Grey just makes the whole thing LOOK grey – and finding an actual matching colour is impossible…

Work in progress green felt hat – the colour is a little off in this photo – it’s closer to the photo above…

Without the trim I really wanted, I basically let this project sit for a while.  I just didn’t know what to do with it, and didn’t want to spend the time working on something that just wasn’t right…

Back at it again

Finally, when I had a few free days and was feeling inspired to sew, I picked the green felt back up again. Looking through my stash of petersham ribbon, I decided to go with the grey after all, since I wasn’t able to find any better colour options in the time since I’d worked on the project last (over a year!).

Part 4 – trimming the hat

I folded and curved the 1″ wide grey petersham ribbon with the steam iron, and then hand-sewed the ribbon to the brim, covering the wire.  I steamed and pressed the trim with the iron to smooth and shape it -this also obscured some of the hand-sewing marks.

Then I shaped the sweatband ribbon with steam, and sewed it by hand inside the hat, covering the seam inside the hat where the crown met the brim. I repeated the steaming, shaping, and sewing with the hat band on the outside of the hat, loosely stitching the band down.

From there I added a purchased grey fabric flower to the side of the hat band.

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Final thoughts

Ultimately, the hat turned out ok… but I’m not absolutely thrilled with it. Although I love the green colour, it just doesn’t ‘do’ anything for me… I also find the turned up brim a bit of a contrast with the traditional ‘masculine’ fedora-like tip.  I might re-stitch the hat band and change the band shape at some point, keeping the sides and back tipped up, and tipping down the front of the brim. Perhaps it will just need some wearing for me to figure it out.

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