July 7, 2012

Hat Designer of the Year 2012. Part 2: My hats

Did you already see my sketches? Well, these are the hats I was asked to make for the semifinal of the Hat Designer of the Year competition 2012 and that have been exhibited for the final at Première Classe in Paris:

Cristina de Prada's hats for the Hat Designer of the Year 2012 competition

Do you want to know how I made them?… Then keep on reading!


The theme for this competition was LUCK, and this hat is a positive twist on a bad luck omen, a broken mirror that traditionally means 7 years of bad luck has turned into 7 years of HAT luck, and that is very good luck indeed. Initially I wasn’t thinking of writing words with the glass shards but every time I looked at the glass shards (made of plexiglass) my brain saw letters, so in the end I decided to write HAT LUCK on the hat!

Plexiglass mirror pieces spelling HATThe plexiglas has a protective film that I kept until the very last minute, and that allowed me to write notes to know which piece was which!

(click on “more” to see the rest of the entry)


June 26, 2011

Going to the final of the Hat Designer of the Year 2011 competition: The leather bubble cap

Here is the bubble cap:

Collage bubble hat blog

Here is the sketch:


This cap design just came to my mind after seeing lots of beautiful 60’s hats on books and magazines. With all my designs for the competition I wanted to do something new, completely original, and not a copy of something I had seen. The truth is I have never liked 60’s hats. In my mind that era was the swan’s song of hats, with hats being slaves to the crazy hair-do’s of the time. But while researching to make the hats for the competition I came across many extravagant and fun designs that made me change my mind. Perhaps it has also to do with the fact that the 60’s are inspiring today’s fashion more and more and I’m on that wavelength too.

You may feel the need to remind me that the theme for the competition is La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini’s film that premiered in Italy in February 1960), and that the hats there tended more towards 50’s looks that 60’s. Well, that is up for discussion since many hats from the film were pretty adventurous and outrageous, but not only that, the competition called for 50’s and 60’s inspired hats. So there you have it. That is why I came up with this design.

I like my hats to look as good on the inside as they do on the outside, so here you can see the lining of the cap made with a gorgeous vintage kimono silk (disclaimer: no kimonos were harmed in the making of this hat, the fabric comes from an unused  vintage bolt). I interfaced the silk with heavy iron on interfacing to get that structured look also on the inside.


The first step to making this hat was creating the pattern. It is a totally new design and I didn’t know anything like this, so I had to make it from scratch and my favorite method for that is making a plasticine model of the hat (modeling clay that does not harden) and from there make the pattern pieces. It’s not the first time I’ve done this and shared it with you, you can check it out here: flat pattern out of a 3D shape

[THERE IS MORE!! This is a long post with many pictures, click on the MORE button below to see it all]


May 1, 2010

The birth of a gentleman’s hat

I had a bunch of handsome gentlemen in need of a spring hat for the last Passejada amb barret, and decided to start from scratch and design and sew a stylish hat for them.

Do you remember that a while ago I sculpted a hat with plasticine and extracted a flat pattern from it? If you don’t remember or want to see it again, follow this link.

Well, for my gentleman’s hat I decided to follow the same process. I used a round block as a base in order to save on plasticine (aka Play Doh), and as you can see it starts quite messy and seems hopeless, but little by little it takes shape. I like to smooth it out really well when it’s almost finished. Once the shape is ready I cover it with cling film and ideally I use masking (painters) tape to cover the whole shape, carefully following all the curves. When I made this pattern I was out of masking tape (and it was Sunday, so no hope of finding any) so I used packing tape which is messy and does not adapt as well to the shape, but in the end it did the trick.

Then I drew lines with a felt pen where the cuts (seams) were going to be. I think this is the trickiest part of the whole process, trying to visualise where the seams should be, but it’s a process that can be repeated as many times as necessary, covering the form again if we need to, and marking different seam lines. Once happy with the tape pattern it’s time to transfer it to pattern paper and true it up with a french curve.

I believe I got really lucky because I love the resulting pattern (the crown is made from one piece of fabric), but I should point out that the finished hat is not exactly as the plasticine version… if you check it out carefully you wil see that I marked the seam to be on the top edge of the sideband, but on the finished hat the top edge is a fold and the seam sinks down. When I had the prototype sewn I saw that it had to sink down, there was no other way.

If you check all the pictures I’ve taken of the sewing process you will see that I cut the iron-on interfacing without seam allowance, then iron it to the external fabric, and then cut the fabric with the allowance. That minimizes the bulk, and serves as a guide when sewing… I’m not really sure if it’s a good idea of just a crazy one but it worked for me…

In any case, the pattern still needs some perfecting. The last version is the one being worn by Paco Peralta (my couturier friend, the one on the far left picture), and you can see how the brim curves better than on the other ones (Peter and Joaquín).



August 29, 2008

Hat from self made pattern (from 3D shape) – persian lamb


A short while ago I tried to make a flat pattern from a 3D design that I had previously sculpted out of plasticine. It turned out pretty good although the resulting pattern had many darts (in order for it to stay flat). If you didn’t read about that process you can do it now by following this link.

This time I’ve tried to see what would happen if I eliminated the darts and compensated by cutting the pattern pieces on the bias.

First I’ve traced the pattern pieces onto another paper and reduced the width on the sides to compensate for the darts that I’ve eliminated. Only one dart remains, on the back, that will help to do last minute adjustments to the right headsize size. I’ve also modified the pattern so the hat has a nice tilt to the right by trimming the bottom on that side.

Once I traced the pattern onto the fabric and cut the fabric, I machine sewed the side panels together and trimmed the seam allowances. Finally I sewed the top piece on. The result was a bit flimsy and the top piece did not stay nice and flat, so I decided to zig-zag nylon wire to the top edge using the beading foot of the sewing machine.


Finally I zigzagged the seam allowance so that it all stayed in place. That was a bad idea because the zig-zag was visible on the outside. Fortunately brushing the pile with a wire brush helped to hide it, but next time I will do that bit by hand.

The hat is finished on the inside by slipstitching the hem first and a grosgrain ribbon onto it (which also helps to adjust the headsize). For the moment I’m leaving it without lining because it looks pretty neat as it is.


Here are more pictures of me with my hat (I’ve used a American vintage brooch -possibly early 50’s- to cheer it up):


July 18, 2008

Making a flat pattern out of a plasticine 3D shape

You might have been checking the website only to find out the same old posts. That is because both my mother and my mother-in-law have had health problems and of course family comes first.

While looking after my mothers I’ve also been busy working on fall-winter hats, and one of the projects was to make fabric hats out of my own patterns. A warning is due, I have no training or experience in making patterns, and I hope you will keep that in mind when reading this post.

Here follow the results of my attempt (click on the pictures to see them enlarged):

Plasticine hand modelled shape Shaped covered in plastic and then paper tape Pattern pieces cut out

First I bought myself 2kg of play-doh and used that, over an basic wood block, to make the shape I wanted (in this case a 40’s inspired head huggig shape), wrapped it up with plastic and then taped the hell out of it with masking tape (a paper tape used when painting walls and windows and that can be found on any hardware store). The theory is to then cut that open and voila! you have a pattern, but of course things are never that easy. In order to get a flat pattern I had to give a lot of thought as to where to cut, and even after that I had to do some darts (tiny but needed) to get the pattern pieces to lie flat (the picture above is before cutting the small darts).

Pattern pieces traced onto interfacing Sides of hat sewn Sewing the hat

Next I traced the cut out pattern pieces onto some magazine paper, cut it out and then traced it onto some heavy interfacing. I then cut out the interfacing and ironed it onto old curtain fabric (I was not going to use some nice fabric for this!). Finally I cut the fabric adding the allowance, and as a result the seam allowance has no interfacing which has made the seams lighter and easier to sew.

Here is the finished hat:

Finished hatMy thoughts on the whole process are (and I welcome any comment or suggestion!):

1. The question was… is it possible? And the reply is, YES, it is… although it’s hard to get an idea of how the hat will end up looking on the head of the wearer. It might be better to use a working head such as this one.

2. I’ve ended up with a lot of seams… where the small darts really necessary? Would it help to cut the segments on the bias and stretch the lower part when ironing the interfacing so it has a slightly curved shape? Is that even possible?

3. I’m happy I did a prolongation of the pattern on the bottom edge (by flipping the pattern) so that the lower edge could fold under still conforming to the shape. It looks really neat and the lining can then be sewn to that bit.

I believe I will open the center back dart and put an elastic there, so the hat will be easier to put on and adapt to different head sizes.

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