February 24, 2013

The making of my "cache-chignon" hat with a green bow

Filed under: Cache-chignon,Hat Designer of the Year competition 2011,Millinery projects — Cristina de Prada @ 9:54 pm


I want to share some of the details of the making of my chignonette (cache-chignon) hat with a green bow (it’s about time, I’ve had this blog entry half written for more than a year).  I’ve made several versions of this hat and I really love it. I’ve never been much of a fan of 60’s headwear, but since I did my research for the Hat Designer of the Year 2011 competition whose theme was La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini’s 1960 film), I’ve grown to enjoy ,respect and be inspired by the hats of that era.

By the way, if you feel an irresistible urge to own one of these, and you are in Los Angeles, you can buy one at The Millinery Guild boutique!

This picture is of the first cache-chignon hat I made, for the Hat Designer of the Year competition.

Chignon cover

A similar one (no veil) made it to the press (La Vanguardia), when I wore it to a 50’s themed party at the Fashion Museum of Barcelona. In the picture I’m chatting away with my dear friend and colleague Nina Pawlowsky:


I did a lot of research for the competition, because it was such a specific theme. Research is something I enjoy doing because it forces me to plunge deep as I try to understand why fashion develops a certain way at a certain time. Here are some of the images I collected during my research:

InspiracionConcursoHats(sorry for the repeated image!)

click on “more” to see the rest…

Hats of the 60’s were very much an echo of the hairdos of the period, and believe me, big hair was the thing, which explains why some hats have huge crowns or bubble shape.  Bubble and helmet hats also accompanied the “space age” fashion inspired by man’s conquest of space. In any case, big hats either accomodated the big hair underneath avoiding crushing it or they echoed the shape of the fashionable do’s. Although, more often than not, hats were simply not worn at all.

As for this project, my bubble cache-chignon (also known as chignonette), I started with a sketch of the hat I had imagined in my mind. As opposed to the hat I made for the competition, pictured above, this new version is larger,  has no veil, and the bow has a completely different shape.


Once my drawing was ready I made the actual “cache-chignon” with my straw braid sewing machine and black vintage braid.  It’s perfectly possible to sew the braid by hand, you just need to pin it in shape and then carefully stitch it, hiding the stitches. A good tip is to sew a row of horsehair (crin) at the bottom edge, so that it peaks some 3mm. This will allow the wearer to use hairpins (bobby pins) to attach the hat to the head effortlessly. For which, the wearer must have long hair tied up in a knot (sorry ladies with short hair!), otherwise the pins would not hold. It’s the best solution I could come up with to hold the hat in place an I’m pretty pleased with how well it works. Making an inner frame of corset boning will help the hat hold its shape.

With the base hat made, I traced the outline onto a piece of paper, to get a feeling of the dimensions and to be able to draw a proportionate bow.

bow sketch

Next step was drawing the actual bow, adjusting the size and cutting it out. From that cutout I was able to carefully trace out a first version of  the flat pattern for the whole bow, which as you can see did need some adjusting, folding and coercing to get it just right.


After that, I traced out the final version of the bow, and moved on to making it out of marevelous japanese obi silk. Two layers are stitched together carefully (no glue is used) to get a finished look on both sides.

The bottom picture shows the the bow ready to be sewn together! A piece of fabric goes in the middle as a fake knot, and the whole thing is sewn securely onto the base.


Et voilà! One very classy hat!


  1. I love It!! But you know that.. That Pierre Cardin 67 is excellent .. Fingers crossed for Spring for your lovelies at the shop..

    Fan #1 Forevers.

    Comment by Montez — February 25, 2013 @ 1:16 am

  2. Thank you dear!! They couldn’t be in a better place than in your shop!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — February 26, 2013 @ 11:59 am

  3. Heel erg inspirerend! Very inspiring!
    I found your blog because I googled for information with the tag “Turban”
    Last week the husband of Marianne Jongkind told me about you.
    I love your enthousiasm and passion.

    Hettie Heijnis

    Comment by Hettie Heijnis — April 4, 2014 @ 9:19 am

  4. Bedankt Hettie!!
    Je website is ook erg leuk!! I love your history section 🙂
    Marianne Jongkind and her husband are wonderful people, I’m sure you’ll agree.


    Comment by Cristina de Prada — April 4, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

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