Sunday, 23 June 2013


Sometimes a good hat can really finish an outfit. Hats aren't something I'd looked into much in my SCA garb, but when Aodh started talking about wanting a hood to keep off the rain during archery, I thought that an excellent idea, though a hood didn't appeal.

In 16th century Italy, hatwear on women was frowned upon, mostly because the women adopted a very masculine style of hat. This, however, made it a little easier to research, as there's a lot more portraits with men wearing their headgear than women. In the end, I decided on an Elizabethan or Italian style bonnet, made with black brocade.

I used two different tutorials to construct my hat pattern - a guide on making a fitted hat brim from, to ensure I could have a hat that actually fits on my funny shaped head, and this guide on bonnet making from, as the look of the top of the hat appealed to me.

As I had mentioned, I used a black brocade as my fashion fabric and lined the hat with black linen.  Essential to this style of hat is an interlining which properly supports the fashion fabric and gives body to the folds and pleats. Modern felt is much thinner than felt that was used in period, so I decided to make my own felt. I used three layers of fibre, knowing that my felt when fulled becomes very fluffy, and that turned out to be just the right thickness.

I made up a separate piece to use in the brim, enclosing it between two pieces of buckram using a technique I like to call "messing" or "mucking about".

The hat itself came together very quickly, delayed mostly by waiting to sew with a friend who I was teaching as I went. Already I want to make more though. I just need to figure which colours go with my existing wardrobe, or what kind of embellishments I can get away with. I'll need a very elaborate type of hat for June next year...

Finally, what hat is complete without embellishments. This is where my love of costume jewellery comes in. A local shop sells very cheap, very colourful costume jewellery that is my Achilles heel. I can't resist the big, brash jewels! Pictured here are the three items, two rings and one brooch I picked up as possible finishes for this hat. In the end I went with the green ring, to match it in with the  colour of the dress I'm currently making. I squished the ring band so I could sew it to the hat brim, mounting it over the bare quill of the pheasant feathers used as part of the embellishment.

And behold the finished hat! It counts as the first of my accessories for the Realm of Venus costume competition (though I have to submit it as completed yet). But I'm very pleased with it. Especially as the hat decor will match the fletching on my arrows. And this outfit is intended to be my archery garb...

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