...and mine is the grandest of all.
I've mentioned my fondness for hats; somewhere at the top of the 'good hat pyramid' must rest a) top hats, which I can't really make at home and b) tricornes, which proved surprisingly easy. They were a really good introduction to hand blocking, and I no longer feel intimidated by that whole subject.
Obviously 'pirate hats' have been in wider currency generally for a good few years, and it's an easy shorthand for people who don't know the word 'tricorne'. However, since 'pirate' style is popular shorthand for 'male clothing, roughly 18th century' it can get confusing. And unnecessarily limited. Tricornes weren't worn only by pirates of course; most use was probably land-based (as everyday wear, and then continuing as ceremonial getup once they became unfashionable) and tbh. since pirates were not in a position to regularly launder, repair, de-louse or otherwise care for their wearables, I prefer not to channel them.
Oddly I started off blocking with a bicorne, which I actually don't care for that much. They're not so publically recognised either, the best you can do for shorthand is 'Napoleon hat' (essential asylum wear) which has fewer pleasingly raffish associations.
Anyway, I needed a bicorne for my Fem!WarofAustrianSuccession!MilitaryPrus
I was happy with it at the time, but now it looks lacklustre.
Like Urmston, there are two ways to block wool hats; from strip felt (felt being non-woven and therefore shapeable), or base shapes, either hoods (sort of conical), or capelines (with a basic crown and wide brim. Cartwheely). And I couldn't find these for less than about £24, which is too damn much for this tight-pocketed specimen. Strip felt can work but it's usually used for smaller, irregular shapes and is monstrously hard to get hold of (working on this). I did have some regular (woven) felted wool stored up to be used for a winter coat, so I tried that. I am quite used to shaping wool for sleeve caps etc. and this is a similar process. It didn't exactly shape like nonwoven but it assumed an approximation, then I shellacked* the hell out of it when I was satisfied.
However. You are meant to block on a wooden form which absorbs a lot of heat- and steam- related abuse. All I had was my polystyrene head. Polystyrene won't exactly melt but the head now has a slightly deformed, holey area round the forehead. Hopefully it's not too visible when I'm getting pictures of it wearing prettypretty headdresses. Also, the head is very slightly smaller than a human one- no hair, after all- and the crown ended up far too shallow. Sort of a perching hat.
This year, for my similarly !WarofAustrianSuccession!MilitaryHungary cosplay, I needed something better. It's a somewhat buckety hat, but if you put a tricorne on with the straight edge facing rather than a corner, it looks the same. And it's green, which is my favourite colour if I'm forced to choose.
End result was this:
The difference is: finally finding an affordable supplier for hat shapes! This was blocked from a capeline, obvs. You start off with this great floppy thing and end up with quite a neat hat. I used my polystyrene head again to block the crown and give an approximation of my own (scaldable) head, but you only need to round the capeline crown off a bit and not sculpt it completely, so that's simple. The brim obviously needs some work, but it's a regular shape and quite easy to work with. I'm not using an actual brim block for this- I don't have one, and you can block by hand if you're sure of what shape you want, so I just ensure all the corners are regular/symmetrical and measure it a lot. I leave it pinned up overnight or until it's dry, then varnish. I try to get a graceful swept curve to the brim, rather than just a plain triangle, so it follows the shape of the crown a bit more. It's finished with grosgrain ribbon binding. This one has green ribbon, with fancy gold lace (present from Mandi!) and a gold guipure rose motif. I might trim it up anew once I've got some cosplay pictures, but I d'know; it's quite wearable as-is.
But I needed a dedicated 'sample' hat so that I can start selling them.
Here's the latest: brown with black binding, Cluny lace edging, lacy ribbon and duchesse satin rose hatpin, and feather. My standard hat design will be the lace frill with a detatchable rose, the plume available as an extra; and maybe a plain version for minimalists. I'm looking forward to making an overly-accessorised superfancy black one, though, to show off allll the potential extras.
Also working on some mini ones, 'cos I *really* want one, but they're a little more tricky. Will update if there's any progress there.
*Used for French polishing, various lacquers, and also a good hat varnish. Made from beetle secretions.
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