Monday, June 20, 2011

Decorating Hats: Not Just for Milliners Anymore -Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post, I lack the money to buy all the lovely expensive hats I see for sale in the steampunk world (I have splurged on one), and I lack the millinery skills and equipment to make lovely hats from scratch.  Therefore, I have made it my goal to make hats using cheap costume hats as bases (where I can find ones that are cheap yet not hideous), and using found and thrifted hats.  The previous post shows what I did with a cheap costume base; today's post is on what I did with a lucky find of a dressage hat at a thrift store.

I have a pricey dressage hat I treated myself to years ago, which I don't want to alter.  Imagine my delight in finding the virtually identical hat at a thrift store, for less than1/4 of the price of a new hat. 
It's a lovely felted hat, with a grosgrain ribbon around the crown and a decorative grosgrain bow on one side.  The crown is slightly dented on the top, which suits me just fine.

To decorate the dressage hat, I browsed through my stash of ribbons, beads, accent pieces, etcetera.
Ultimately, I went for the bronze coloured wide satin ribbon (to the left of the above left photo) to cover the unexciting grosgrain, and that I would make a bow out of it to cover the grosgrain bow.  The bow is not tied, it's an artificial decorative bow made by making a loop of ribbon, which I sewed shut, and then pinched in the centre with a strip of ribbon folded in half and tacked in place with thread.

I used the copper chain (above right photo) to lay over the base of the crown (partly as it helped keep the ribbon nicely flat).  The bow alone seemed plain (sorry, no photo of it at this stage, I wasn't thinking), so I decided to use the brass rose (from the above right photo) to decorate the bow.
Since the centre of the rose was plain and showed a small hole, I selected a burgundy pearl bead, which I slipped into the centre of the brass rose, securing it with metal-friendly glue (Gorilla glue). To carry this colour a little, I decided to use a sheer rusty/burgundy glittery ribbon to place below the rose and above the bow, for a little flash of colour.  The original idea was to use an elaborate rosette of the ribbon, as shown below here.
However, this was easier said than done, and when I tried to tack together the ribbon for this rosette, it all went cattywhumpus.  Every time I tried.  So, after several botched unsuccessful attempts, I opted for an easier decorative effect with the pretty but temperamental ribbon.  (Keep in mind, I have no training in this, have never made rosettes from ribbon, or anything!)  I also decided the simpler accent suited better, as it emphasized the bow, rather than hid it, which the complicated rosette seemed to.
And voila, the completed hat.  I do not yet have a photo of me wearing this hat - I didn't get a chance to wear it at my last convention (tho I wore my other 3 hats!).  I hope to remedy this soon.  Perhaps I need to make the right outfit to complement the hat!
From an angle, no flash
Side on, with flash
These two posts are here to show that you don't need to have millinery skills to trick out a hat.  What you do need is patience in finding the right inexpensive hat to decorate - keep an eye out in thrift and consignment stores, and in costume shops (especially in the month or two leading up to Halloween, when shops bring in extra supplies they may not carry the rest of the year).  And when it comes to inexpensive hats, if you see something you like, buy more than one!  I bought 2 of the one I used in the previous post, and good thing, because I haven't seen it since.  I am hoping it reappears for Halloween this year.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Decorating Hats: Not Just for Milliners Anymore - Part 1

I have been envious of all the lovely ladies' hats I see out there in the steampunk world, and that I see in all the old Victorian catalogues and photographs.  However, I don't have the money to spend on purchasing a plethora of hats, nor the funds and time to embark on learning hat-making, which is far more career than hobby - needing hatblocks, felts, and a skillset requiring training and time to learn.  So I determined to decorate existing hats - either thrifted hats or decent costume hats.  My job is made harder by the fact that many inexpensive hats sold for costuming are unspeakably cheap-looking (I'm thinking of those minihats that look like they're made out of paper).

I have decorated the one hat, as shown in an earlier post, but I wanted to show here what I was able to do with 2 entirely different hats, one a cheap costume hat and one a quality hat found at a second-hand store.

Hat Number One - Cheap Costume Hat to Smart 

I started with this $13 costume hat from Dressew in Vancouver.
And this assortment of ribbons etc.
I played with a few ideas.
I ultimately decided on using the brown ruffle from the infamous blouse which has provided me with trim for a bustle, a parasol, and now this hat, and a cheap dollar store hair elastic that had a flounce of sheer ribbons trimmed with rhinestones on the ribbon tips, and a ribbon rosette in the middle.
I sewed a stitch down the middle of the brown ruffle and pulled it to gather it a bit more, and then sewed the two ends together so it would fit over the hat.  For the hair elastic, I cut the elastic part, knotted it right against the rosette, and then sealed it with hotglue.  I then hotglued the rosette and dangly bits to the brown ribbon.  I then set the ribbon on the hat, and then worked to figure out which accent piece to put on the centre front. 
The keyhole and key seemed the obvious decision, and with its nice black-copper finish, blended nicely with the ribbon. I attached the key with a few links of copper chain, and then firmly sewed the keyhole to the ribbon.
And voila, the hat is done.
 And here is the hat, worn with two different outfits:
Thanks everyone!

Next article will be on Hat # 2, which I made the same evening as this hat.