I’ve been trying to tame my straw braid sewing machine and here are the first results. I have used vintage straw braid from my personal stash.
These two hats have been created using a block that I have made myself. The block is made with Plastilina Jovi (a non hardening modelling clay similar to Play-Doh). I buy it in packs of 350 grams, and in this case I have used a long plastic container as a base to minimize the waste of material (and give it extra stability).
Using a block is important when sewing straw as one goes back to it repeatedly, removing the hat from the machine and trying for fit, checking that the hat is adjusting to the block (and undoing rows of work when it’s too narrow or too wide). When the hat is finished the block allows us to iron the hat and stiffen it.
My block has a serious drawback (but a design decision) and it’s that the distance between the center of the tip to the front edge is bigger than the distance to the back edge. That means that I have to add extra strips on the front (where the brim begins) to compensate for that. Adding those strips is a pain!
As for the way to wear these small hats, I did try fitting an elastic band (which is the most comfortable way to wear these small hats and hides nicely under the hair) BUT the elastic pulled the sides of the hat apart (because it’s pretty soft) and deformed it.
I used straw stiffener (before trimming) but for some reason it doesn’t stiffen the hat as much as I would want it too.
I had to think of another way of holding the hat on the head so I added a piece of elastic velvet ribbon, long ends sewn together to form a tube and then sewed the ends to the hat (being careful not to close the entry!).
That allows me to thread a metallic headband, with the advantage that I can move the hat to position it and I can change the headbands colour to adapt it to the wearers hair.
I will post some more on this subject soon. I want to share with you what I’ve worked hard to learn on my own, since (and it shouldn’t come as a surprise) there’s nothing written on the subject on the Internet or in print and many of those who know don’t feel like sharing. As an example, I recently had the opportunity to talk to a person who makes straw braid hats (father and grandfather also did so) and when I told her that I had problems when starting the hat because it tends to curl up too soon she said “yes… yes…”, turned around and went on her merry way. Nice.
Be on the look out for more soon! All (that I know) will be revealed!