Millinery: Black straw

The completed black straw cloche hat decorated with black embellishments

The completed black straw cloche hat decorated with black embellishments

After Millinery class #6, I took the black straw hood home to work on outside of class.  I envisioned the beautiful cloche like in some of my example inspiration photos, but it ultimately didn’t work out.  I just didn’t LIKE the cloche shape with my features.  For a review of the process up until that point, please read my post on the cloche.  

Marking the shaped hood with tape

Trimming away the straw to create the shape

But… it looks so cute on my Styrofoam head!

So… reworking was in order!

I started basically by folding up the brim and seeing what shapes I could create.  I stood in front of the mirror twisting and folding and I’m sure making a lovely mess of things.  This is one of those tasks best done when home alone I’m certain, because anyone watching would have likely thought I was quite a ninny…

Ultimately, I found a shape I really liked, but by then I had turned the hat inside-out, so I turned it right-side-out, and re-folded the hat back into the shape that I had liked.  At this point I just left it sitting alone (so it could think about what it had done!) and only returned later to trim the raw edge with some gorgeous bias I had made for a previous corset project.  (Its purple shot with blue dupioni silk and it’s luscious!)  As with the blue straw, I could have put the binding on partially by machine and partially by hand, but instead I ended up doing the whole thing by hand.

Then I let the project sit – while I worked on other things.

It seems I usually have several projects on the go at any one time…

When I got back to it…

When I got back to the project, even though I’d taken notes about the design, I looked at the hat, and thought “what was I thinking?” Not in a critical way – I just couldn’t see in it what I had seen before!

So, back to the drawing board, I removed the buttons pinning the hat into the shape I had created, and then used a generous amount of steam from my iron to re-shape the hat back into the original cloche shape. I tried this on… and suddenly… it worked! I don’t know if my face shape changed slightly, or if I just became less critical of my tall forehead (I did recently cut in some bangs/fringe, so that’s possible…) but it worked.

So, looking at some of my inspiration photos in the post I originally made about the cloche, I decided on a single-colour scheme with lots of black-on-black texture, and started previewing a number of laces, ribbons, flowers, appliqués, and other embellishments from my collection.

Auditioning the embellishments

Using super-fine pins, I started layering up all of the elements that worked, in the approximate areas where I thought I’d want them to permanently reside.

Once I liked what I had, I grabbed my beading needle (since it’s long and super-thin) and started hand-stitching each element down, working backwards.

In all, I sewed on:

  • A very wide lace trim – originally this was straight on one edge and scalloped on the other, but I trimmed off the straight edge so both edges have a scallop. The way this lace is made, I didn’t have to worry about fraying.
  • A great Venetian (style?) lace trim with rose and berry motifs
  • A vintage black velvet poppy-style flower which I bought from my millinery instructor back when I took the class. The flower was pretty crushed from storage, but she taught us to steam these embellishments to bring them back to ‘life’, which worked well.
  • A new synthetic triple-layer daisy-like flower from an accessories store. It has a pin back and a hair-clip back  (this one I did pin on instead of pinning on)
  • Three synthetic ‘craft’ flowers that I bought in a bunch of 10 or so from Dressew in Vancouver

The finished hat

So, here are photos of the finished hat – what do you think? Let me know in the comments below! Maybe I’ll have the chance to wear it sometime soon and take some action shots!

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