Tag Archives: brim

The ‘Jeff’ – English flatcap, Vol I

This milliner is also a journalist – as you can imagine, the link between the two isn’t that obvious, so I needed a hat to bridge the gap between my two worlds. Also, I needed some fabric hat experience; the Guru advises that making a fabric hat is imperative for developing couture millinery skills.

Andy Capp

Inspired by one of the most popular newspaper cartoons (and a bit jealous of the man’s Barbour cap that is too big for me), I ventured to make a classic British flat cap.

First, the fabric; I am not a fan of cheque, unless it’s really chic. So I went for a 100% cotton velvet cord, in a lovely coutnryside forest green.

To get started, I was lucky that the Guru had the right block – she, too, is a classicist, so we went for the very basic gentleman’s flatcap shape with the block

Block chosen, it was swiftly put to one side, as the first steps of the flatcap making actually involve mainly the ‘cap’ part of the flatcap.

The cap is made very much like a couture headband. Using tarlatan, stayflex interfacing and millinery wire (medium, as it’s for the brim effectively).

First I cut out some fabric using a pattern, drawn out by roughly tracing around the cap part of the block.

Jeff: Cap, stage 1

Then, I ironed on the interfacing and tarlatan (allowing a 1-2cm seam allowance all round), and attached a wire to the brim and covered with the outside seam of the fabric, like so (stage 1).

In order to allow the curve of the cap to join to the rest of the hat, I cut 5mm indents into the inside part of the brim. I was careful to stitch a guide, so that the indents didn’t go too far in.

Jeff cap, stage 2

Finally, it was time to cover the inside of the cap with the matching fabric. Using the same pattern, I cut out another piece of the fabric and lined the inside with interfacing (ironing very carefully, as the fabric had a pile which could easily lose it’s shape). The result was then stitched to the rest of the cap, using an invisible stitch (stage 2).

Once both sides of the cap were covered, it was time to iron it using the special velvet board. The technique for this is as follows: instead of your traditional ironing by arm stroke, just softly place the iron onto the cap and lift every now and then, so as not to damage the fabric pile by sweeping the iron around. Any indents/creases in pile fabric are usually not fixable and, especially in this case, would be on the front and, therefore, most visible part of the hat.

Vintage velvet board

Et voila, Jeff’s cap finished! Stay tuned for Jeff, Vol II.

Jeff cap, final

x

1 Comment

Filed under Skills

The First Hat, Vol II

Previously, on the First Hat, you were treated to this blossoming beauty:

The First Hat, Vol I

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.

Use medium millinery wire

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…

The First Hat, Vol II

Stay tuned! x

3 Comments

Filed under Materials, Skills