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.

May 26, 2008

Didn’t you know you needed one of these?

Filed under: Millinery material,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 11:05 pm

I love wacky vintage millinery tools (and there’s a lot of those).

Nina was using this one today:

Vintage millinery tool 

It’s not a torture device although it looks like one. It’s meant to be used when you block a hat in one piece (instead of separating brim and crown). This way you can remove the crown block (and use it again if you need to) and use this contraption to make sure the headize oval does not lose it’s shape. Cool eh?!

Here are some more pictures:

Wider view of the tool in position Close up of the brand and patent mark

March 12, 2008

Japanese Easy Hat Templates from Clover

Clover hat patternsApparently something that has existed for years, I discovered today some fun looking hat templates made by the Japanese brand Clover.

I came across these while I was (as tends to happen) looking for something else. My current project is a sewn fabric trilby hat from a Japanese book (Stylish Cloches – スタイリッシュクロッシュ) that I’m doing at the same time as Jane, from Glorious Hats. She bought the book because she saw it here, in my blog, and then we decided to try one project together (although we’re in opposite sides of the planet). One doubt we had was whether the patterns came with seam allowance, but I was pretty convinced (after doing some research) that all Japanese patterns come without the allowance, that has to be added later on.

Well, now I have my doubts about that, as I’ve already made the lining for the hat and it seems huge! I wish I could read Japanese!!

Anyway, I started a search on Internet trying to find a Japanese milliner that might be willing to help us with this dilemma. I’ve posted comments on a couple of blogs and I hope something comes out of it. While doing all that I have found these fun looking templates. The beauty of them is that they are made of hard plastic, and come with a little wheel to mark the seam allowance. So you trace the stitching line first, and them roll the wheel around the template to mark the allowance… pretty clever!

Take a look at the promotional video. Alright, it’s in Japanese, but it’s really fun to watch!

If only we could buy this stuff… anyone for a trip to Japan?

By the way, this is the hat we’re going to make:

Trilby from Japanese book

March 9, 2008

Organizing vintage veil samples

Filed under: Millinery material,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 1:09 pm

Little pieces of vintage veil that came with the lot

Years ago I bought on eBay a vintage veil lot. It was really exciting when I received a huge box filled to the rim with veils of all kinds and sorts.

Some are in very poor condition, but some are great. I have little bits of some, and a big bolt of others. With such an amount of veils it was difficult to have a clear idea of what I had in order to use it on my projects.

I had thought of cutting pieces and glueing them onto cardboard, but the veil is so fragile that I decided against it.

Samples of my vintage veils, cleverly organized.Then, the other day, I saw this Martha Stewart tip for using a business card organizer to keep the spare buttons, beads, thread, etc., that come with store bought clothes (and that tend to be missing when one needs them)…

Back to my veils, the minute I saw that on the Martha Stewart website I realized it would be great for making a sampler of all the veils that I have. I have temporarily labeled them with a white piece of paper that I’ve inserted along with the veil on the business card slot. There I have written a description of the veil, whether it’s wide or narrow, and how much I have.

Because I’ve taken the sample out of the end of the bolt (which is the part that is wrinkled and has been exposed to light), the sample often looks faded and wrinkly, but I prefer it that way, I refuse to cut out a square piece from the center, good part, of my veil stock.

Isn’t that great?!! I’m really happy with this solution, and it can be applied to so many other things!

Here are some more pictures (click to enlarge):

Samples of my veils, neatly organized. I already had these at home!

February 25, 2008

Embellishing a veil with chenille

Filed under: millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 11:14 pm

Chenille used for making veil

Today I’ve been helping my friend Nina in her workroom. I’ve been cutting feathers, sewing a sweatband, but my favorite bit has been adding colorful “dots” to a veil.

I had no idea it was so simple. You just have to cut 1.5 centimeter lengths of wired chenille, insert them in the desired hole and fold over right and left. The result is great! For this veil (that Nina will use in a hat for a theater play) I randomly positioned the dots, and the veil will later be gathered in a bunch at the side of the hat.

Here are some pictures:

1.5 cm lengths of chenille wire Detail of the chenille veil dots General view of dotted veil The veil gathered up

 Nina has given me a bunch of chenille of different colors (no red left unfortunately) so that I can try this at home!!!

Searching for a supplier of wired chenille online I have found this supplier from down under: http://www.torbandreiner.com/hat_making_veiling.htm but I don’t know if they ship overseas. I suspect that the chenille stems and pipe cleaners sold in the US don’t have the finish required for this job, but correct me if I’m wrong (the chenille from Nina’s has a very silky touch).

Are you going to give this a try?

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.

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