Ages ago I posted the construction details for a Mad Hatter style hat for an event – however I ended up getting sick right before the event, and never finished off the last few details of the rest of the costume – and ended up not attending the event. Continue reading
Before taking a little break to show you how to wire buckram for millinery, I was talking about the construction of the (twisted) Mad Hatter’s hat. Let’s get back to it!
Once the Pillbox hat that would go inside the Wellington was (essentially) completed, it was time to move on to the Wellington!
(Want to start from the beginning? Click the Mad Hatter`s Tea Party category for all of the posts!)
Constructing the Wellington hat
Adding the Wellington band to the Pillbox hat
I started off with the Wellington band cut out of buckram, which then I fused the inside (what would normally be the lining) of the band to more of the black stretch panne velvet. I normally don’t love this fabric, but since it’s not really seen, it will work well for the inside of the hat – adding some depth and texture, plus a slightly ‘luxurious’ feel. This was actually cut out of used clothing – my back-up high school graduation dress!
Next I pinned the band to the band of the Pillbox hat, matching up the edges. I knew that if I sewed up the seam first, and then tried to put the Pillbox inside, I might have a challenge, so I actually sort of went back and forth with these steps, basting the two bands together, then hand-sewing the back seam of the Wellington band, and then finally wiring the bottom edge of the Wellington band where it met the Pillbox band.
Once the lower edge was wired, I wired the top edge as well. I could have used a heavier wire for this, but I’ll know that for next time! (Want to learn more about wiring buckram? Check out my previous post, or click my Millinery category tag for all posts about hats and hat-making.)
Attaching the brim
Once I had the band of the Wellington added to the Pillbox hat that would sit inside, and the edges wired, I was ready to attach the brim.
I started off by cutting out the buckram, and sewed a line on the machine where the seam allowance was. I wired the outer edge of the brim, and then clipped the curve so that it could fold upwards.
This folded edge is what attaches to the band of the hat. By hand I sewed the brim to the hat.
Covering the hat
Next up I was ready to cover the outside of the hat.
For this I really was interested in a) a fabric with a bit of a stretch that would be a bit forgiving b) a fabric dark and dense enough to cover up my hand sewing and marks and c) a brocade or damask fabric that would be somewhat similar to the fabric used in the Tim Burton movie hat.
I settled on more used clothing – this time a shell and cardigan (way too small for me) made in gorgeous stretch velvet with a purple, gold, bronze, red and orange brocade/paisley-type print. I was really lucky a few years ago to inherit from a family friend, a whole stash of gorgeous high-end clothing made of beautiful fabrics – given to me expressly for sewing and crafting. (Although a few moved into my wardrobe too!)
I cut out the velvet fabric for the band, and for the brim (a second brim was cut out of the same velvet, but this was treated as “lining”. I draped the band fabric around the buckram to test the fit and pinned it in place. Once the fabric was fitted I sewed the seam (because I didn’t have enough length of fabric, I did this in two pieces, so I needed to make three seams (and that’s why I had to double-check the fit too). Once I had a tube for the band, I sewed it by machine to the fabric for the band. If I had been using yardage and could have just cut out the Wellington band from fabric, I wouldn’t have needed to test the fit.
Once I had the outside of the hat sewn up, I (carefully!) put it over the wired buckram frame.
Adding a lining
Now I was ready for the lining! Using the same pattern as for the Pillbox hat, I sewed up lining with a tip and band for the lining of the pillbox. I used red taffeta for this, rather than regular lining fabric because I wanted this to ‘match’ the trim I’d be making for the hat, which was intended to match a different part of this costume. Plus, I didn’t have any dark purple or dark red lining on hand!
Once I had the Pillbox hat lining sewn up, I was able to attach the velvet band piece. Then I dropped the lining into the inside of the hat and pinned the seam edge to where the brim meets the band of the hat.
Little by little I folded the brim lining fabric back into the lining of the hat (see below) and hand-sewed the lining to the buckram.
After that, I fused the top edge of the brim buckram to the velvet fabric, and then popped the hat onto a headform and gently shaped the brim into the curved sides shape I wanted. Then I basted the brim fabric and brim lining fabric together around the wired brim, and trimmed off the excess velvet.
I also needed to finish the top edge, where normally the tip of the hat would be attached. For this I ended up just folding over the seam allowance of the patterned velvet over the top wired edge, and into the inside of the hat. Since the velvet is a knit, and not prone to fraying (not that it would get a lot of abuse even if it was) I didn’t need to finish the edge. I simply hand-sewed the fabric down (very neatly!). I could have added a trim in here, and I actually contemplated doing just that – adding a layer of lace to cover up the ‘hem’, but I found that with the lining, and the evenness of the hem, it really wasn’t necessary. Plus, I’m tall, and the hat is tall, and most people won’t even see the inside of the hat when I’m wearing it!
Making the Wellington tip
With the bare bones of the open Wellington done, it was time to focus on the tip of the Wellington. It was only going to be attached at one point, so it was a bit different than a regular tip. I didn’t need seam allowance for the buckram for starters…
I cut out and marked my buckram tip for the Wellington, and then wired the edge. After I was done, I realized I could have probably used a heavier gauge wire for this edge, and maybe even doubled-up on my buckram, but the hat works as is anyways.
Next I used the pattern to cut a rough circle (the tip plus some seam allowance) and fused the lining to one side of the tip.
Once the lining (the black panne velvet) was fused, I more carefully cut the outer fabric (the patterned stretch velvet) for the tip, and hand-sewed it in place to the other side, treating the ‘hem’ the same way I had treated the band.
Then I just slip-stitched the tip to the band at the location I wanted it to go, popped a stuffed animal in to test the “fit”, and added a few more secure stitches as needed. The hat pretty much looked DONE at this point! (This is also the point that my camera battery died… so while it was charging I kept working…)
Adding a sweatband
So while the hat looked done, but it still needed a sweatband. This is pretty simple, just cut Petersham ribbon to length, steam-iron it into a very subtle curve (more subtle/less of a curve than when applying a Petersham binding), and then hand-stitch the band along the lower edge to the inside of the hat where the lining meets the fashion fabric. The sweatband can collect dirt and oil, and can be “easily” replaced (easily is subjective!) compared to replacing the entire lining. The sweatband can also be folded out to let it “air out” which is why you only sew it to one edge.
To see another example (with photos) of adding a sweatband, check out my red silk Tricorn construction post.
Trimming the hat
Finally the basic hat was done and it was time to trim!
Instead of a classic Petersham hatband (steamed into a curve like the sweatband) I opted for a long tail with fringe, very much like the Mad Hatter’s hat from the Tim Burton movie. From the same red-shot-with-black taffeta that I used for the lining, I cut a long rectangle, and sewed it right sides together into a long tube. On the short ends before sewing them closed I sewed in a length of black fringe.
I folded it a bit to give some dimension, and then tied it around the hat where the hatband would normally go, securing the knot invisibly with a safety pin in the back (mostly in case I totally changed my mind and wanted to do something different later…
Then, just time for my event, and the hat is done!
Stay tuned.. and I’ll show a post with the finished hat (although not the finished outfit…)
Once I had the pattern for my “twisted” Mad Hatter’s hat, it was time to get started on cutting it out and constructing it!
It might be a good idea to cut everything out at once, but I didn’t… partially because it was really an experiment, and I knew that things might change between the pattern drafting and the final result.
Cutting out the buckram
Instead of trying to pin into the buckram, I used tape. This means I could trace around the paper pattern with a pencil, without having to fuss around with trying to get pins through the tough material. I also transfered my centre front (CF) and centre back (CB) marks with pencil onto the buckram too. Since I’d be fully covering the buckram with solid, dark fabric, I didn’t have to worry about the marks showing through to the final product.
Constructing the Pillbox hat
The steps for constructing the Pillbox hat part of this hat included:
- Sewing together the Pillbox hat band by hand. (I used binder clips to hold these pieces together, and then taped them before stitching. This works better than trying to use pins.)
- Wiring the top edge of the Pillbox hat band
- Clipping the curved edge of the Pillbox hat tip to the seam line (in the photo I’ve actually sewn along the seam line so it pops out) so that the seam allowance will fold down
- Taping the tip down onto the band to fit it. This works a lot better than trying to pin the two pattern pieces together.
- Hand-sewing the tip to the band, covering the wire.
- Hand-sewing a large oval of stretchy black panne velvet to the tip of the hat. The band will be covered, but the large seam allowance goes well down the sides of the band. The stretchy fabric allows the fabric to smoothly cover the curves without needing much gathering along the sides.
Stay tuned – I have a quick demonstration of how to wire buckram coming in an upcoming post, and then I’ll continue with the next steps in constructing this hat!
Inspired by the figures of polymer clay artist Nicole West, I started off with this hat with a concept sketch. Honestly, the sketch wasn’t much at all – just something to keep me on track. I wanted to do a top-hat, but without a proper block this wouldn’t really work, so instead I would go with a Wellington design – similar to the classic Mad Hatter’s hat.
The Wellington is one of several kinds of top hats, but lacks the hourglass shape – instead it has a “V” shape, having a larger tip than the headband. You might remember the miniature Wellington I made a while back – before I took the millinery class.
With the open tip, I knew that this hat would lack some integrity, plus if I wanted to have something sitting inside the hat (I was thinking of either making my own March Hare or White Rabbit, or perhaps buying one of the Cheshire Cats from the Disney store) I would need to have it sit on something other than my head. With this in mind, I decided to have an internal Pillbox hat inside the Wellington. This would give the hat the structure it would need, would let it sit properly on my head, and would give the critter inside somewhere to sit.
This means I’d need:
- A Pillbox band
- A Pillbox tip
- A Wellington band
- A Wellington tip
- A Wellington brim
I’ve sketched up a quick illustration kind of what the pattern pieces look like. This is so TOTALLY not to scale, so if you want to make your own, you’ll need to draft the pattern yourself, based on your measurements, the desired height of your hat, and the desired width of the top of your Wellington, along with the width of your brim.
In the above illustration, the first oval is the Pillbox tip. The second is the Wellington tip, and the open oval is the brim of the Wellington. The long rectangle is the Pillbox band, while the curved shape represents the band for the Wellington.
The letters indicate which areas are going to match up with others, so, A-B is half the head size, C-D is half the size of the Wellington tip. The Pillbox and Wellington band heights are your choice – I originally made the pattern for the Wellington band about 4″ taller, tried on the paper pattern, and then trimmed it down.
Stay tuned, soon I’ll show you some of the construction details for this hat. Keep following the Mad Hatter`s Tea Party category for all of the upcoming posts!
June 2014 update
This post has been getting a LOT of attention from my friends over at Pinterest – but I’ve noticed a few people have pinned the pattern as a top-hat pattern… Just to clarify, if you use the bottom curved piece, plus the middle large oval, plus the brim, you’ll get a Wellington-style top hat – if you want one with straight sides, you’ll use the straight band, smaller oval tip, and the same brim. If you use the pattern – please post a comment and share your results!