Previously, on the First Hat, you were treated to this blossoming beauty:
Oh, the excitement – I was about to see my hat taking form, and could hardly wait till the next session. Would I get to design a trim? Would I be putting it together and trying it on?
Sadly not. After escaping several potential scooter accidents (far too excited to concentrate on driving), I rushed into the studio and was somewhat deflated at the sight of a nowhere near couture-like hat on my work bench. There was a smooth looking brim, but that was about it.
The Guru was quick to offer encouragement, insisting that today was one of very important skills learning. So we began. The brim now suitably stiff (remember, three parts to a hat brim, crown, trim – in that order) the next task would be to make sure it will keep its shape.
This is what millinery wire is for; it is sewn all around the outer edge of the brim so that the hat does not flow. First, the hat is removed from the block using pliers to pull out the blocking pins. The extra fabric from the brim is folded under, as evenly as possible. As we are employing couture methods, it is important to start learning to do every little bit as perfectly as possible – queue lots of undoing of folding by me. A link showing some of the techniques for folding and stitching can be found here.
Once we had a even fold all around the brim, I used a visible colour thread to sew a simple guide around the hat. Then came the painful bit (again, there is a lot of unexpected pain involved in this millinery business!). The wire for the brim needs to be straightened. After measuring how much you need, you have to cut the wire off the roll and then using really swift hand movements you tug at the length of the wire in order to remove all shape from it. This hurts. A lot.
Once you’ve recovered from this, you insert the wire between the perfectly neat fold of your brim. Remarkably, the wire is joined together (dont’ overlap too much) by, wait for it.. sellotape. Yes, this is actually acceptable in couture but you have to make it VERY neat.
The you must trim any excess material away as you see fit. You see, another rule is to never use any excess fabric – hats should be as light as possible. The brim is then stitched using an invisible stitch so that you aren’t able to tell it is hand-sewn from the outside. A video of the invisible stitch will come soon, but for now have a look at this, it follows a similar principle.
This took ages, so I had to take my hat home and hope to finish the brim in time to come back and start on the crown during the third and final volume of the First Hat. Here’s a sneak peek…
Stay tuned! x