June 1, 2009

Gathered side beret from vintage block

One of the many things I find amazing about hat making is the fact that those casual bumps and folds that certain hats styles have are anything but casual and really owe that look to the artistic carving of the block maker.

This is very obvious when looking at this vintage block. If you look at the finished hat you might think that the straw has been gathered to form the pleats, and actually looking at the block it gives this strange impression of folded wood because the quality of the carving is so good!

To reinforce the folds I used reed, also around the head entry to keep the straw evenly tight. I figured out that reed would be great for this purpose myself, only to find out later that reed is what milliners have always used, talk about reinventing the wheel!… You can buy reed at basket making suppliers, and if you need the reed to take a particular curve you should soak it for a while in water which makes it very pliable and easy to bend into shape. I’ve used short pins to hold the reed in place.

The material I have used is straw braid that comes sewn into a cone. These cones are very stretchy and just perfect for this kind of detailed block. After cutting out the excess I did a zigzag stitch all around to avoid the whole thing coming undone. Although I’m one in favor of hand sewing, if the job is going to be done better by machine sewing I see no point in doing it by hand. This is the case with the sweatband because the material is folded under so the underside stitches of the sweat band will not be seen from the outside.

The only trimming on the hat is a vintage button (a gift of my friend Nina), it looks very nice although because it has a shaft it kind of wobbles a bit instead of staying nicely close to the hat.

This beret, in addition to looking nice is extremely comfortable (I can lean back with no problem which means I don’t have to take it out in the car). I’m happy!


  1. The Hat is SUPER! The block is really sweet, it is amazing how the craving does make it look like folds. The reed trick? I’m going to try that! Thanks Cristina! You’re the best.

    Comment by Montez — June 2, 2009 @ 4:43 am

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog and linking to your post on making millinery flowers.
    I loved seeing the fantastic flower you made for your hat…..
    This world of hats is a new one to me….and just amazing!

    Comment by Allison Aller — June 2, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  3. Your hat looks great and I love the pictures of your block. Will have to try the reed trick.
    K Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — June 4, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

  4. Lovely, lovely beret!!!!

    Comment by prima — June 5, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  5. hello, i’m not sure how i came across your blog, but i’m in love. i’ve always loved hats and somehow managed to store all 35 hats of mine in my very very tiny east village apartment in manhattan. i go to parsons for fashion, but never had the chance to take up millinery. i’m trying to pick up millinery on my own while referencing the book “from the neck up” and yes, it is a little hard, considering i want to make hats of so many unique shapes i’ll probably have to find a way to make those blocks on my own. (which is even more fascinating to me how you made some of yours out of clay or cork). i don’t have the resources, ie, money, to buy a lot of hat blocks and such, so it is hard to do everything i want to get done, but i guess i’ll find a way! i’ve probably surfed and read through like 20 pages of your blog so far and i feel like i need to look through the rest! the pictures are really inspiring and every 3 photos i’m thinking, “i want that hat!”

    thanks for the blog. please update tons! i wish there was a way i could subscribe so that it could get delivered straight to my inbox, but i’ve bookmarked and will surely be back!

    Comment by gilda — June 6, 2009 @ 11:10 pm

  6. I really love these beret… what a great shape hat block. I hadn’t thought of using reed before to hold my hats in shape while on the block. I would love to see what the beret would look like in felt. Thank you for the great inspiration.

    Comment by Beck — June 11, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  7. Chuli, chuli. Me encanta porque es muy del estilo de los que yo suelo llevar.
    Un abrazo.

    Comment by Blanca — June 15, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  8. Light bulb time: I have always been frustrated with indents, not knowing reeds were the answer!

    The beret is fabulous. The block is gorgeous. And I am putting on my thinking cap (tee hee!) about the wobbly button because I have had that issue too. There has to be an obvious answer…or it will be obvious once we figure it out.

    Comment by jill — June 15, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

  9. Your hats are so gorgeous and I love this blog! This one is great. I really like doing hats with creases etc. I did a very cool 50s style cap but I did get big pin marks where the reed was pinned in. Next time I go to class I will find out why. When it comes to buttons I’ve used them a couple of times but the first time it was a fabric covered button which means you can catch the edges and sew those down. The second time it was a swirl made out of the spare straw and then sewn flat. Sorry neither one is a fix for your button wobbles! But maybe there is something about attaching some felt to the bottom of the button which you could catch on the edges – hmm

    Comment by Liz — June 15, 2009 @ 10:25 pm

  10. Wow, I’ve never seen a straw beret before! I’ve only begun knitting them out of silk/cotton yarn for the band and angora/wool for the main part of the hat. Yours is so wow! Thanks for sharing this technique.

    Comment by Sharon — June 18, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  11. Could you please add a RSS feed button? I’d love to keep up with what you are doing through my news reader.

    Comment by Sharon — June 18, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

  12. There is an RSS button for posts and comments on the bottom of the side bar!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — June 18, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

  13. Wow – what a great hat! It’s utterly charming! 🙂

    Comment by Kelly Dunlap — July 3, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

  14. That is amazing – I saw that block and almost bought it but I couldn’t see how it would look made up in my head – that really is beautiful! You are so skilled.

    Comment by Alison — July 27, 2009 @ 8:28 pm

  15. I am in love with this hat and the block too!

    Comment by mchats — August 8, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

  16. Buf me encanta! donde puedo encontrar tus sombreros? Haces cosas para novia?

    Comment by Julia — May 3, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

  17. Hola Julia,
    Me alegro que te guste!
    Puedes ver mi trabajo en http://www.cristinadeprada.com
    Un abrazo,

    Comment by cristinadeprada — May 3, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  18. Me encanta tu blog,
    aunque no nos conozcamos suelo mirar tu blog, por lo menos lo consulto una vez a ls semana.Y es un puntazo que sea en ingles(muy bueno por cierto)es la unica manera de tener mayor alcance.Tambien me gusta mucho las cosas tan cctidianas, y que presentas de manera tan facil.Excelebte trabajo, de ver, y no es facil.Hay que ser una muy buena comunicadora.
    El caso es que me gustaria que vieras mi 1ª coleccion, la 1ª comercial, despues de algunos encargos.Ahora estoy acabando laa coleccion 2:Lutus, mucho menos comercial.
    De momento espero que te guste la 1ª, en cuanto este acabada la 2ª te lo hare saber.
    Un abrazo, y es un placer tener a alguien cerca tan experimentada.

    Comment by Carlos Contreras Millinery — December 4, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  19. This beret is just beautiful, if possible where might I purchase this block.
    I have several although not of this style. Just love reading your work. You inspire us all.

    Comment by Sandi — April 16, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

  20. Thank you Sandi for your compliments on my blog.
    Concerning the hat block, this one is old, no idea where you could get a aimilar one!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — April 16, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

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