How to Make Victorian Hats for Spring



"Lesson No. 1 -Straw Braid and Shirred Hats" 

from The Delineator, March 1899

Fancy straw braids will be extensively employed during the Spring and Sum­mer. Their use adds considerably to the labor of making hats, but when a fine effect is sought, the difficulty of the weaves employed to attain it should not be re­garded. Wire frames are invariably chosen for braid hats: in fact, all frames for Summer use are made of wire, their lightness and flexibility making them superior to the buckram frames for airy headgear.

Illustration No. 1.

Illustration No. 2.

Illustration No. 3.
Illustration No. 4.

Illustration No. 5.

Illustration No. 6.
Illustration No. 7.

In braiding a hat begin at the back, with the end of the braid a little in from the edge of the brim, so that the braid may be made to follow the out­line easily. Sew round and round the shape to the crown, with very long stitches on the inside and short ones on the outside, holding the braid lightly so that it will readily conform to the curve of the brim and making the rows overlap each other slightly. (Illustration No. 1.)  Sometimes very rough, coarse braids become too brittle to bend. To prevent their breaking and to make them more flexible it is necessary to dampen them while the sewing is in progress. The loose edges of wide braid frequently stand up after they have been applied to the shape. In such a case a thread may be run through each upstanding edge, though it should not be drawn tight enough to produce a stiff or pinched effect.

The top of the crown is made by it­self. Turn under the end of the braid in a point and then sew round and round just as in making a lamp mat, folding an occasional plait in the braid to form a perfect disc, which makes as large or as small as the shape requires, letting one row of braid extend beyond the edge of the brim to lap over the side.    (Illustration No. 2.)  When completed, sew the crown in place, flat and smooth, using as few stitches as pos­sible. Many milliners make and apply the crown first and then cover the brim and sides.

It is quite possible that only after repeated trials will success be achieved. The work is tedious and the amateur may have to take it apart when not well done, until a satisfactory result is attained.

In making fancy shirred facings of tulle or other tissues now in vogue, turn under the edge about half an inch for a heading and shirr it, two to two and a half times the measurement of the brim being required for the fac­ing. More of tulle than of mousseline or chiffon is needed, because it is softer and crushes more easily. Then plait or gather the fabric at the base of the crown, the edge being covered by the lining. If desired, several rows of shirring may be made at short distances apart beyond the heading, remembering always to take short stitches when shirring sheer mate­rials and to use button­hole twist for the sewing. Draped or straw braid crowns are combined with shirred brims in many of the new hats, tulle and other diaphanous tex­tiles being used for such brims. It is impossible to give instructions for draping a crown. The drapery is always arranged on a rice-net foundation and both experience and taste must come to the milliner's aid to produce an artistic effect. The same measurement of the shirred brim is taken for the material as for the shirred facing. First join the ends of the material, and then fold the width in half. Mark with pins or thread the center of the front and back of the brim and again the center of each side and pin the doubled material to each point thus measured. Then begin to shirr the material at the doubled edge for a heading. Slip the brim between the two layers of material to the heading and then shirr over the first wire. (Illustration No. 3.) Shirr similarly over the other wires, and then gather the edges to the base of the side crown. To make tuck shirrings, fold the material over each wire about a quarter of an inch and shirr as before, (Illustration No. 4.)

A stylish and much admired finish for a hat is a narrow quilling of chiffon or tulle. The material is doubled and gathered simply along the center and then sewed at the edge. Another admirable way to cover a brim is to twist very narrow, flexible straw braid around the wire or apply it plainly or else plait or gather lace the width of the brim over it, tacking the lace here and there to the covered wires. (Illustration No. 5.)

Milliners' and plain folds of velvet and satin are much in vogue, but unless arranged by fingers professionally deft they are likely to mar the effect of a hat otherwise satisfactorily trimmed. All folds are cut in bias strips, and when it is neces­sary to make a joining in the strip the ends must be put together so that the sharp points come at opposite ends when the mate­rial is laid face to face. Once the joining is made the points must extend the depth of the seam beyond the edges. (Illus­tration No. 6.)  For a narrow, plain fold a three-quarter inch strip is cut, and for a wider one a one-inch strip. In sewing the fold the edges of the velvet should meet, and the sewing should be with strong cotton in large over-and-over stitches. The folds may be placed underneath a brim or around a crown.

For a milliners' fold the strip should be cut an inch and a half wide. Both edges should be turned under; then the lower edge is lapped over the upper and slip-stitched to it very care­fully. (Illustration No. 7.) Not a single stitch should show outside the fold.

...from "The Delineator"...  March 1899