One of the hats I made for the Hat Week exhibition was this Bird of Paradise in felt.
I’ve been thinking about having birds on my hats for a long time, and after having a lot of sketches done I decided to try and give it a go. My idea at first was to cut a silhouette of a bird to then appliqué it on a hat, but once I had designed and cut out this bird I decided it deserved to be on its own.
It’s made with one of the felt cones I bought during my escape to Kopka in Germany. It’s a beautiful peach bloom fur felt cone off white in colour. With the idea of making the most out of the cone I folded it in four selctions and then traced the shape of the cone into a piece of paper. I drew the shape of the bird within that space, using up as much of the felt as possible. The result is pretty good, and the curvature of the cone is ideal because as a result the bird sits very nicely on the head (with the help of a metallic Alice Band).
The tricky part (one of the very many) was the cutting of the felt. I traced the shape with a pencil on the wrong side and used small curved scissors for the intricate parts. Once I had my first bird cut out, is when I decided I wanted it to be a hat on its own, which meant that I would have to cut another one identical and sandwich them together with some millinery wire in the middle to allow me to adjust the position of the wings and tail.
I must confess that I didn’t expect this to succeed, so I stopped taking pictures altogether (no one really wants to document a complete disaster), but here is what I did:
- I wired the bird following the contours, and sewing with a curved needle without going through the felt.
- I cut the second bird, but this time I cut it slightly outside the line, so later I could trim it to exactly the same contour as the other one.
- I cut a section of narrow tubular ribbon and inserted the thin metallic Alice band into it.
- I tried on the hat and decided on the position of the Alice band, and I pinned the ribbon in place (the idea of the tubular ribbon is to allow the band to be adjusted, and even to replace the band with one of a different the colour).
- I glued the two birds together section by section. I used a glue called Copydex by Pritt. It’s nice because it comes with it’s own brush attached to the cap, which minimizes the mess, and it makes a great bond.
- Once it was glued together and dry I trimmed the edges of the felt to even them out, and I sanded the edges slightly.
This hat (and I call it a hat because I do not like the word fascinator) had a lot of attention during the exhibition, and one of the visitors, a young lady, unpinned it from the chair and tried it on (see picture below)… next time we will have to chain them on!