I was really inspired by Jessica Clark’s collapsable hennin and thought it would be a very practical dressmaker hat to take to camping events or anywhere else where packing space was going to be at a premium.
From my research discussed in Dating, placing, & dressing the horned hennin, I knew that I could wear a truncated hennin with a Houppelande, a Cotehardie, and a V-neck Burgundian gown. I still need more research to see if I can find evidence wearing it with a sideless surcote.
I noted that the top of this hat would be open, but thought perhaps this wouldn’t be a big deal since the veil will go over the top of the hat, and it’s so huge that only people who stand above me when I’m sitting will likely see it. I also considered a “slipcover” for the hat…
Drafting the hennin
In my millinery pattern drafting class at Borealis Yule 2017 I showed how to draft a truncated hennin. For anyone interested who didn’t attend the class, this should get you started…
I started with a rectangle the height of my finished truncated hennin, and as long as the circumference of my head plus a small amount of ease to accommodate the fabrics inside the band of the hat.
My head is pretty big… so I have to piece my paper for this.
Next divide up the rectangle evenly, and slash from the top of the hat to the bottom, without cutting all the way through the paper.
The next step is to overlap all of the little pieces of paper by the same amount. In my case I did a 3/4″ overlap. I taped this down from the top edge of the band to the bottom.
Finally, I also take off half the overlap from the centre back on each side with a taper from the top to the bottom of the band.
From here I will measure the top edge of the band, and use a compass to draw the circle for the tip/crown of the hat.
Construction of the collapsible hat
I cut the pattern out of two layers of medium-weight linen. This is bright pink (not a colour I want to show off… ) leftover from my Ottoman coat.
I divided the band into halves, then quarters, and then eighths, and marked this with chalk (as shown in this photo. I sewed these channels on my sewing machine with a straight stitch.
Then I divided each of these again to get much narrower channels, marked these with chalk, and sewed the channels. Each of the channels should be approximately the same shape and size, which would make it easier to cut the supports.
Jessica used quilting template for her supports, but I went a cheaper method, and over a few months collected clear bakery containers (mostly from the amazing Kruse’s Bakery in Calgary). I cut the containers apart, and used just the flat tops and bottoms.
Since the material is clear, I drew on the plastic directly with a pen, to get perfect fitting ‘boning’ support for the hat. Shown here are four bakery containers… It took another trip to the store to get one more to finish off the hat. Not all of the containers were large enough, so I taped them together too, trying to stagger where the connection was so that I wouldn’t have a weak spot in the supports. Obviously this material is super NOT period…
… but I’m not even sure if a packable, collapsible hennin is even remotely period either. I DO know that it should be a lot easier to pack to take to events, which is something I need in costume millinery for sure! Too many of my other hats from this era are decidedly NOT travel-friendly.
Once I knew that my “boning” would fit in all of my channels, I trimmed down the lower edges and rounded each of the sharp corners. Then I hand-stitched the lower edge to hold all of the plastic in place.
From here I cut the pattern out of a lovely grey wool suiting I had leftover from another project, (A Viking-esque hood/shawl) and originally purchased for $1/meter from the Grandmother’s Fabric Sale. I cut an extra seam allowance for the top and bottom to account for the turn of the fabric – the original pink linen was cut without this seam allowance; it only had the centre back seam allowance.
I sewed the centre back seam allowance of the grey wool, and finished the top and bottom edges with the serger to finish the raw edge. Then I folded in the top and bottom edge over the pink linen base, and hand-stitched it in place, catching the linen and wool, but being careful not to let stitches show to the other side.
Normally at this stage I would cut a separate lining, with the same pattern (with reduced seam allowances). However, in this case I wanted to reduce bulk (to ensure the hat will pack down nicely. Likewise, I knew that I would be making a seperate headband to wear under the hat – and this will take a lot of the place of the lining – absorbing oil, makeup, etc… and be (hand) washable. With this in mind, I skipped lining this hat. (Plus I think it’s kind of neat to be able to show people in person how it’s able to pack up! )
The hatband is super simple. I used a strip of black linen (leftover from my Viking Age style serk) and folded it in half, sewed, turned, and pressed open, then whip-stitched in place with some overlap. Then I covered a piece of black millinery wire with a narrow tube of the same black linen, and stitched it down and in place on the hatband. Theoretically I could either whip-stitch the hatband to the hat, or wear it as a layered piece, first putting on the band, and then the hennin. For now I’ll wear it layered… and see how I like it.
Interestingly…I like the angle/size of the hat better on my foam head than on my own. I think I like the way it sits lower on the foam head… which might mean if I make another, I will need to make a larger hat to see if I like that better….
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Hopefully in the next month or two I’ll be able to find an opportunity to take some photos in my new hennins with 15th century garb too!