January 10, 2008

Finishing the Homburg hat – Final details!!

Finished Homburg... yipeee!

The Homburg hat is finished, pfiuuu! I cannot believe it, I’ve been dragging this project for weeks (months?).

The inside sweatband is in. I pinned it in place, marked with a pin where it should join a the back, took it out and sew that bit by machine. The sweatband itself (grosgrain) has been slip stitched in place (well, more of a stab-slip stitch because the felt is too thick to do a real slip stitch and I didn’t want the stitches to show) .

For the outside I’ve used a wide grosgrain ribbon, same color as the edge and the inside band. I’ve curved it with the iron (spraying first some water on it), and it has required some adjustments to get the right curvature so that the ribbon sits perfectly flat on the felt. Where the ends meet I’ve stitched by hand but before that and to avoid unraveling I’ve machine stitched a few millimeters from the edge on both sides (it also has helped to keep the fold in place).

Hand stitched sideband, bow will go on top. Click to enlarge.After that, it was time for the bow. I’ve done some research, and in these pictures (click on the picture to enlarge) you can see different bows from Stetson hats (taken from this wonderful book).

As you can see from these close-ups the bow itself is not really a bow (a real bow would have three thicknesses plus the thickness of the ribbon underneath. These bows are made with a single layer of ribbon, ends tucked under half a centimeter. The knot of the bow is also made separately. The whole thing looks surprisingly professional in the end, but a real bow would have been too bulky.

Click to enlarge - frm the Stetson book of Schiffer PublishingI find it quite peculiar that the fold of the bow goes towards the underside, but I think it’s done like that for a practical reason, because otherwise dust would gather there very quickly.

I have chosen a folded central knot because I think it looks much nicer.

What I have not done is iron any of these because it would have taken the fluffyness and natural look away. When stitching every end the whole thing stays very much in place.

Here are pictures of my bow (click on pictures to enlarge):

Underside of bow, tucked edges, click to enlargeThis will be the knot - do not iron! - click to enlargeThis is the knot sewed on the back

Back of the bow ready to be sewed onto hatBow pinned on hat ready of hand stitching (stab stitch)Finished bow1

Have you see the wonderful initial? I got that one from Nina, she has a wonderful stash of vintage initial letters and I think it’s a wonderful final touch!

Vintage metal initials for man's hatsHere is a bunch of initials, so you can get an idea how they work. Basically you just push them through the ribbon and fold the metal edges (quite soft).

You can take a look at all the pictures related to the making of the hat by clicking on this link.

You can take a look at all the pictures related to the making of the cork blocks that were used in making the hat, and the making of the hat itself by clicking on this link.

Thank you everyone for your support! I hope to post pictures of Peter with his hat on soon!

The Homburg hat is finished!… tomorrow the details!

Finished at last!

More on this tomorrow…

January 4, 2008

Homburg hat – ribbon on the edge…

Filed under: Homburg for Peter,Millinery projects,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 2:28 pm

I’ve redone this posting because the html code had gone completely crazy and the more I tried to fix it the worse it became! 

I’m happy to say the hat is progressing (finally!):

Homburg with the edge binding finishedI’ve used the sewing machine to stitch the inner edge. I realized too late that the two ends had to be sewn in advance (I thought first to fold one edge over and put the other one on top, but the three thicknesses were too much). I fixed it but it was a tight spot to sew with the machine so it was not easy to (and I did not) make a straight line.

New sewing machine!

My new sewing machine has done a great job stitching through the felt and grosgrain. The foot can be lifted really high and that makes it easy to work with felt. Obviously the crown was on the way but I worked around that somehow, and I had to stitch further in than I wanted, because otherwise the feed dogs would not drag the felt.


Grosgrain pinned ready for machine stitching


Machine sewn edge before turning over

  Here you can see how I cut the top corners of the grosgrain to reduce bulk (they were popping out when I folded the ribbon which looked terrible), I carefully dabbed some white glue on the edge to avoid unraveling. I have also cut a notch on the felt so that the extra thickness can sink in there and be less obvious.

Ribbon trimmed - felt notched!

In the next picture you can see the edge turned over, ready for slip stitching by hand.

Edge turned over ready to be hand finished


The back looks pretty neat, all things considered. 

View from the back of the finished binding


Next thing is the sweat band… working on it! 

January 1, 2008

Homburg hat – ribbon on the edge (deleted – check the updated one)

Please check the updated posting here (I had to delete the one here because the html had gone crazy).

December 29, 2007

Update on the Homburg hat

The crown block is finished. I have adjusted the shape a little bit more and have called it a day!

Remember I made a detachable base for the block? I was trying all along to “save” the verticality of that base and I think that might have contributed to the hat not sitting comfortably on the head. My last (EVER) modification to the block has been giving some angle to that part so that it sits nicer. In these pictures you can see the work halfway. The right side has been given an angle, while the left side is as it was, before sanding:

This left side is still straight on the base

Right side has been given an angle from the bottom


Check the difference between the base on the right and left sides

Notice that I have traced the edge of the headsize with a pen, that way I will immediately notice if I start sanding that by mistake.

I’ve already reblocked the crown and it’s drying, so my next posting (soon!) will be about trimming the hat.

December 10, 2007

The never ending story: still fiddling with the block

Hat after making changesI’ve been under the radar for quite a few days because of a family trip to Holland, but I have now a few hat stories to tell you. Before I do that I want to give you a little update on my homburg block/hat.

After some heavy sanding and filing I blocked the hat crown again.

Ironing to reshape

No microwave this time, instead I put the kettle on the stove to get some old fashion steam. Then with the help of my small travel iron and a wet cloth (which in combination produce a lot of steam) I managed with no problems to reshape the felt. On the down side, when I tried it on Peter again I could see that I had improved but it was not yet comfortable to wear, so I will give it another go soon (some more sanding and reshaping) because I want to be finished with it and move on to something else (possibly another hat block for myself this time).

Top view of the modified hat

You might look at the pictures and think that the hat looks exactly the same as it did before, but I can promise you that I retouched it so much as to produce a thick layer of cork dust covering the floor of the balcony.

It’s a fact that it sinks in too low for it to be comfortable, but I’m getting some doubts on whether the inner top of the hat should really rest on top of the head. I’ve seen some old pictures of men with high hats and it seems pretty obvious that the top of the head does not reach the top of the hat! Follow this link for a clear example! How on earth they were made to be comfortable I don’t know… perhaps once the headsize is the right one then the hat stays in place, but with the ribbon still to go it could be that the hat is now too big.  Another thought I’ve had is that possibly it would be more comfortable if the sides hugged the head a little bit, so my next modification of the block will go in that direction.

I am open to suggestions, so please let me know what you think!    



November 28, 2007

Making a brim block out of cork – Felt out of the block and oops…

Finally I took the felt out of the block but not before trimming out the excess felt with a new toy I recently bought myself at a craft fair. It’s called a chenille cutter made by Olfa. It’s similar to the paper cutter from 3M that I showed you on this post, only this works much better because it’s intended for cutting several layers of fabric, and the manufacturer even says that’s good to cut felt. I thought it was made to cut chenille, but after looking around on the web I see that it’s meant to make chenille, or at least something that looks like it, pretty cool actually.

Me, using the olfa chenille cutter

Well, back to my hat. I was very proud of myself after I unblocked. It looked like a hat! It looked pretty darn good!


The felt out of the block

   It does looks like a hat… I know it sounds silly but I was imagining everything that could go wrong and was not so sure about the whole thing.

I unblocked while at Nina’s workroom and immediately realised that it was too soft and needed some stiffener. I used the chemical smelly stiffener because it would not have been a good idea to use the waterbased one since the hat might have lost it’s shape. I felt wonderful and held the hat in my hand all the way back home (in the bus)… people must have thought I was nuts.

The BAD news. Either I have to chop off the top of Peter’s ears by one centimeter or I need to re-do the crown. BWAAAHHHH! Entirely my fault because I DID measure the distance between the top of his ear and the top of his head, wrote it down, worked it into my sketch and then FORGOT all about it until the moment I put it on Peter’s head. The underside of the crown (crease) has to slightly sit on top of the head, otherwise it will not be comfortable to wear. Or would it? I think not, but then I think about a top hat and that does not sit on top of the head…

Soooo… this is the plan (possibly doomed to failure). I am reworking the crown block. The height will go down, but mostly the crease will be deeper. I hope I will be able to save the brim, and just steam the crown, put it back on the crown block, tie the base with string and with the help of more steam I should (hope to) be able to work it into the new shape. What I reckon I cannot do is to simply lower the height of the crown without going down on the central crease because if I do that I will have excess felt and I wont be able ease it into shape. Even so, I will have excess felt and don’t have a clue how it will work out… possibly a mess…

Stay tuned…

November 26, 2007

Making a brim block out of cork – Blocking the hat!!!!!

It seemed like the day would never come, but finally I have dared to block the felt on my wonderful new blocks.

Still too lazy to dig up my jiffy steamer from under a pile of boxes I have popped the water sprayed felt, wrapped in a wet towel, into my microwave.

This is the fur felt capeline I have used, bought at the German supplier KOPKA, it’s a special capeline for man’s hats. It’s special because because it’s thicker felt and heavily sized.


Man's capeline furfelt


Here are some pictures of the process:

ready to be  felt in the microwave

Yes, crazy enough to nuke the brim after the crown was blocked (no pins in there, just string!), also a picture of the plastic bags I’ve used to protect the block:

Crown block in the microwave Plastic bags used for protection of the block

And here the blocked brim. You can understand now what I meant before when I said that the brim block goes upside down. The block is in the oven for drying (I have an air oven and it’s set at 50ºC). I did put my marble dust bag on top and some weights on top of that to keep the top crease in place, but I had removed them when I took the picture so that it would dry:

Blocked hat in the oven for drying



Here are some pictures of the blocked brim:

Blocked brim, top view  Underside of brim

I might still get a decent hat out of this… who knows!

Blocked hat


Tomorrow the unveiling/unblocking… I hope to have time to post about it!

Powered by WordPress