One of my favorite ways to finish off an outfit is with a hat or fascinator.
In most cases, they take very little fabric, and they sure do elevate a look!
Step 1: Finding a Pattern
I often cannot find the exact look I want in a pattern that I own, however, if you look beyond the styling, you may end up with exactly what you want. Just remove a brim, shorten a crown, or add a decorative band, you can dramatically alter the finished look of a design.
Step 2: A Good Foundation
Buckram is a very commonly used as a sturdy foundation for a hat. Buckram hats forms can be purchased in many different shapes and sizes.
You can also make your own.
I do not have a proper wooden block, but I make do with a styrofoam wig head - it's not perfect, but it gets the job done. The buckram should be dampened so that it can be shaped. To protect the wig head, and to make it easier to remove the buckram after it dries, I cover it in saran wrap.
A combination of t-pins and elastic bands are used to keep the damp buckram in place as it is molded into shape. When it eventually dries, it will retain the new shape. Edges are then trimmed away, and a wire is stitched to the edge to help keep the shape. I like to use masking tape to join the ends of the wire so it does not scrape me as I work with the form.
Step 3: Fabric
The buckram form is then covered with fabric, inside and out.
I would recommend underlining or interfacing your fashion fabrics when using a buckram form.
I prefer to line the interior with fabrics like felt. I find that slippery fabrics do not help to keep a hat on my head!
[Stitching the fabric to form can be done by hand or machine. If you do use a sewing machine, make sure to keep your needle clear of any wire edges or you will end up with a broken needle.]
Step 4: Pellon As a Substitute for Buckram
Craft weight Pellon interfacing may be used instead of buckram. This particular product can found at most craft or fabric stores.
Depending on the style of hat, I have had quite a bit of success using a thick interfacing as a form for hats.
The stuff can be a bit of a bother to work with, but I find that stitching things together by hand gives me more control over the inflexible material.
For this pink hat, I also interfaced my fabric with a layer of fabric weight interfacing so that the texture of the heavyweight Pellon would not show through.
Step 5: Embellishments
Now for the fun part!
Embellishing a hat is definitely my favorite part of the process. And after wrestling with buckram and wire it is my reward!
I love flowers, so floral embellishments feature heavily in my hat collection. Feathers or ribbons or beads are great options as well. And sometimes simply manipulating and folding a piece of fabric gives a really lovely finish.
I am not a fan of using glue, so there is a fair amount of hand sewing involved, but I think this really gives the best result. And, if you want to make changes, removing a few stitches will not ruin the hat (the same cannot be said for glue).
Step 6: Help Making That Hat Stay in Place!
There are many ways to help keep a hat in place, and what works for one hat, may not work for another. Also, depending on your hair, or a particular hairstyle, the same hat may require a slightly different means of affixing it to your head from one day to the next.
Stitching a comb, or perhaps two, inside the hat is one of my favorites. As an alternative, you can stitch a piece of elastic in place on the inside of a hat and slide the teeth of a comb into that elastic.
A small strip of nylon horsehair braid or elastic can be folded in half and stitched in place - a bobby pin is then used to secure the hat to your head.
Some smaller hats or fascinators are attached to headbands. I personally prefer to stitch a hair clip to the back of the piece because wearing a headband for more than an hour or two will give me a headache.
And, of course, there is the hat pin option!
The larger the brim, the more likely you will have lift off in a windy situation, so keep that in mind!
But most of all, enjoy your hats, and take them out for a spin every once in a while.