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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Downton Abbey Cloche Hat Works Today - Making My Own Part 1 (Hats, Millinery)

Do you remember when Lady Sybil wore this cloche? It was in the episode when Branson drove
her to a political meeting she wasn't supposed to attend. So it wasn't a super dressy occasion.
I want to create a head fitting pattern out of multiple 
pie-shaped wedges like this. 
I'd also like it to have a nice rolled brim
that displays some kind of lovely lining.
I'm thinking about trying for something like this in lightweight denim.
Sybil's hat appears to have some kind of ribbon around the crown as well.
I'm enchanted by the cloche hats on Downton Abbey. A lot of them would be very wearable for modern times, especially for folks like me who live in a mild-winter California climate and walk a lot. We need to protect our skin (in addition to our SPF 50!) and keep the sunlight out of our eyes. So far I've mostly created fabric caps for this purpose. I like those, but I'd also like something with a brim that goes around an entire hat, not just a bill in the front, like a cap has.


I use an inexpensive foam wig stand for
storing this straw hat I produced from the first millinery class I took (Wayne* blocked the straws for us, we trimmed them).
See the tissue sticking out underneath?
I need that because my head is 2 inches bigger than
the crown of the stand. My hat is 3 inches bigger than the
stand (for comfort)
It's important to store hats on something that holds the material of the hat in place,
because otherwise eventually, they will collapse.
The wig stand is only 21" around the crown
The crown of my head is 23" - and that's a very tight fit
When I make a hat, it's 24 or 24 1/2 inches, for a comfortable fit.
I want to create a pattern for a cloche hat.
This one measures about 24" around, after I strapped a number of layers of duct tape tightly over my head.
My cloche will have some kind of a brim to keep the sun out of my eyes,
but the first thing is to get a well-fitted shape around my skull
I made this one out of duct tape and a nylon stocking (the knee high kind)
The stocking (more or less!) kept the duct tape from sticking to my hair
I got my ideas for this form from this post on Crafster


After I peeled the duct tape form off my head (pulling out a few stray hairs along the way!) and trimmed the knee high stocking, the rest of the stocking started to peel away, so I applied leftover (tee shirt) cotton knit scraps on the inside. Then I reinforced the edge all the way around with more duct tape. It was actually helpful, making the head/hat block more stable.
The cloche form needs to be stuffed with something to fit well on the foam head block
I could use leftover cotton knit scraps

 (I left the scraps sticking out in this photo just to make the point)
Or I could stuff it with tissue scraps
 (again, I'd actually stuff the tissue all up inside)
At this point, I can start creating a pattern that fits my head, with or without a brim.


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Web Resources
My tapestry cap inspired an Enchanted by Sewing show. In August of 2014 I recorded an entire audio podcast about sewing fabric caps, including technique and pattern talk http://www.enchantedbysewing.blogspot.com/2014/08/ench-by-sew-023-capping-off-summer.html

*In this posting I talked about my experiences in Wayne Wichern's millinery class. We focused most of our time on a fabric-covered buckram hat. http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2013/09/matters-millinery-making-my-own-hats.html,  Early this year, I'll be taking a three full day hat making workshop from Wayne in his studio in Burlingame. I expect to block my own straw and felt hats there. 

My first fabric cap in 2013, was a lovely subtle denim print. I've just about worn this out! http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2012/06/caps-off-chewing-bun-with-tuppence.html

Alvan's Crafster post about making a duct tape cloche hat form helped me with my form. Thanks! http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=gjkdubsculiivgd9tu5t1g50k3&topic=361109.0

Floracraft makes an Inexpensive form for base of a head block - a foam wig stand http://www.michaels.com/floracraft-wig-head/10315631.html

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