{JennylaFleur: Millinery}

Cap it All: a bergère style hat of the 18th century

a bergère style hat of the 18th century

Hat Base :
craft straw hat

silk dupioni, ribbon

My first silk covered 18th century hat.

Completed June 2005.



The Results:

January 2007
The hat re-trimmed.






November 2005
At the Gunston Hall outing. More photos from this event can be found here.






July 2005
At the Spotsylvaina County Forth of July Bash..


June 2005
At Under the Redcoat in Colonial Williamsburg.
More photos from this event can be found here.


June 2005
The finished hat.



The Diary:

June 2005

I splurged today with the last of my G Street gift certificates and bought a bit of duponi silk to cover my new circa 1770s hat. I know slubbed silk isn"t exactly period but this piece isn't too flawed and the color, weight and fiber content were exactly what I wanted. So there it is. Casey was kind enough to pick up some more of that red/green shot ribbon for me, so with the addition of some more ribbon from the stash I should have all the supplies I need for that accessory.


I started work on it earlier this week by picking apart an old straw hat. In a former life it was B"s childhood reenactment chapeau. I decided I wanted a 14" hat, so I sized the brim down accordingly. I then removed the crown, and flattened the inner brim down (using water and weights) so it was a smaller size. I also reshaped and flatted out the top of the crown, so I can have a more square type crown. I did the dampening and weighting today so the pieces are still sitting under a layer of books and my sewing machine drying.

June 17 2005

This hat project has turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. I've been rather lazy about it though, so it"s taken a while to do.


When you last saw my hat I was dampening the straw to flatten out the roughly reshaped brim and top of crown. Once everything was dry I stitched the brim with running stitches to the correct size (14" in circumference), making sure the shape stayed round (that was the tricky part!). I ended up having to add more to the inside of the brim, to match the size of my crown. I used a length of straw left over from the outside of the brim and pieced it. I dampened it again at this point and dried it under books and a sewing machine again to get it as flat as possible. I used another section of left over straw for the bottom of the crown, butting the edges together and whip stitching it in place. I then attached the finished crown to the brim with more whip stitches.

Ta da! Okay I know it"s really not that attractive but it was a cheap ugly hat to begin with and it"s a covered hat so it"s okay. I've included a pic of what the hat looked like originally so you can be even more impressed with my handiwork. Ooh... ahhh... *hahaha*

I decided to add a little shape to the brim so I dampened it once more and left it to dry for a few hours.


I started pinning the fabric on last night. I started with the brim because I wanted to make sure I had enough fabric before I started chopping out pieces for the crown. I'll probably just crease the fabric well, remove the pins at the crown"s base and then do the crown, pinning the brim fabric back once I'm done. I didn"t get too far with it as you can see. I was tired last night so I decided to make it an early night. I did get as far as deciding how wide the pleats should be spaced (took a few tries that did). At least that is my theory so far.

Oh yes, I used doubled hand quilting thread and a large milliners needle for the straw stitching.

June 18 2005

Yay! My hat is finished. Well, I still need to trim it but the basic silk covered shell is complete. *whew* A much more time costuming and boring project than I anticipated but I adore the results.

Lots of pics to come. I hate to tease but I'm too tired to bother with the fuss of getting pics online but too excited not to announce my achievement. Hopefully tomorrow I can get the trimming on and the hat finished. My trip to Williamsburg is in 6 days my do-to list is long. Never heard that from me, now have you? *rolls eyes*

Oh dear, I seem to have a spot of blood on my hat, right on top. Not surprising with all the pins sticking out at odd angles and the self infected needle jabs today. Ahh, the suffering for my art... *hahaha*

June 19 2005


This is how close I was to trimming the hat without piecing. :P I used the width of my fabric (54" wide) and a little over half my length (a generous 1 yard), plus the square for the crown. So a 14" hat (using slight 3/8 – 1/4" pleats at the brim) takes about 60" by 22" of fabric, plus an 8" square for the top. Those are fairly generous measurements too, as I ended up trimming away quite a bit as I worked. Good news is I have a nice bit of fabric left over, maybe enough to cover the bottom of another hat - à la the hat I'm so fond of in Affair of the Necklace.


Once I had pieced the silk (with a running stitch) and manipulated the pleats so they all looked okay, I gently pressed the pleats down with a warm iron and marked the silk with a pencil at the base of the crown. I then removed the pins and folded back the fabric so I could access the crown.


I originally tried laying just the silk over the straw but I didn"t like how bumpy and uneven it looked so I cut two squares of plain white flannel to use as a lining. I roughly pinned the flannel onto the crown, traced the correct shape onto the corners and trimmed them.


To create a smooth line on the sides, I cut little notches in the flannel until it was as flat as possible. Once the flannel was nicely shaped, I basted it on and laid the silk layer on top.


I carefully pinned the silk, taking care to stretch the fabric as much as I could.

Once that was sewn down I trimmed the raw edges.


I then pulled the brim pleats back into place, a surprisingly easy thing to do as the silk duponi held the creases perfectly.


The once disadvantage of silk duponi I discovered however, is that it ravels like heck. With this in mind I needed to make sure each edge was finished. I ran a basting stitch along the pencil marks I'd made earlier. (I later discovered I really should have basted a little lower than that mark but with a bit of fudging I made it work anyway.) I then tucked the edge underneath and pinned the pleats in place at the base of the crown before sewing them down.


Turning my attention to the bottom of the brim, I shaped the pleats and trimmed the raw edge (I ended up trimming it further after I took that pic). I then smoothed out the pleats at the brim edge and tacked them down.


I originally tried a running stitch along the edge but that looked sloppy so I then opted for a simple little stitch at each pleat. I then sewed the bottom pleats at the crown. Again, in a desire to finish the edge of the ever raveling silk, I made a strip of binding tape from the scraps left from trimming the bottom pleats. The top edge of stitching was a little tricky, as I was trying to make sure the stitches didn"t show from the outside of the crown but the duponi proved to be very forgiving in covering up stitches. A good thing as I'm planning changing the trimming on this hat frequently.


So here you are, the finished hat. Preedy ain"t it? I adore it, the sheen of the silk is so elegant and I love the way the color seems to change in different lights. *sigh* There is just no substitute for silk. You can"t even tell it"s a slubbed silk from far away, which makes me happy. Not that I mind slubbed silk. I wish it was more accurate, as I love the weight and "hand" of duponi. Yep, I am one happy costumer right now.

I must give credit where it is so richly due, I could not have completed this project without Katherine's excellent making of page. Without it I probably never would have never even tried. So if you"ve been getting tons of hits on that page this week Katherine, it"s probably just me, checking it constantly.

June 21 2005


Ta da! The finished hat... or finished until the 4th of July anyway. *grin* It"s taken me a couple of days to do, mostly because it took that long to decided what I wanted to do. I tried all sorts of things but found in the end that the simple arrangment was the most elegant. I'm happy. It goes very well with the red stripe, helps to calm it down nicely. I'll take some pics of it on me later.


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