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Subject:Hat Party
Time:04:39 pm
Current Mood:accomplishedaccomplished
...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!MilitaryPrussia cosplay (done before there was an official Nyotalia Prussia depiction, i.e. guesswork so it's going to have to be considerably tweaked, thankyou...) and I grew quite attached to it. It had to be plain black for sensibleness but with an extravagant red rose hatpin (I crocheted one), and of course some lace (pink and black rose-motif Swiss embroidered net trim, oversprayed in silver), and an extravagant brim for Gilbird to perch on. And there is nothing like striding about in a big daft hat to get your day going. It survived being a perch and a considerable amount of rain without any floppiness.


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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euphoricstimuli
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Time:2011-08-29 05:22 pm (UTC)
pretty!
Please post again if you manage mini ones. I will so have one off you! i've been after one for years, ever since the japanese lolita brands went through a spate of making them, I couldn't afford one at the time, and I haven't been able to find one anywhere since! There isn't even anyone doing them on etsy!
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euphoricstimuli
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Time:2011-08-29 05:24 pm (UTC)
oh, if you are using a polystyrene head as the base for the big ones.... I have a miniature phrenology head that I got from a junk shop that my mini top hat sits on and fits on perfectly. Maybe you could look out for one of them,to use as a base for the mini hats? Mine was only £15.
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euphoricstimuli
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Time:2011-08-29 05:27 pm (UTC)
oh and hat blocks sometimes come up second hand on ebay for about £20 or so. I got one that way (and then was too tired to use it! :-( ) , & they have some nice shapes if you wait long enough. I know £20 is not super cheap, but given they cost at least 60 new.....
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stockingshock
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Time:2011-08-29 06:54 pm (UTC)
That gives me hope, 'cos whenever I've been watching one they always go for some improbable price! £20 is much more like it. If I get seriously into this (which may happen... they are *hats* after all, and hats is lurvely) I was going to wrangle my dad into helping me make some wooden blocks. I can do enough basic woodwork to construct one, I just need some overseeing and access to all the tools I don't have at home. That way I can make really daft shapes that you couldn't buy, and they'd be unique. I haven't yet seen a mini tricorne block; I think there was a mini top hat block, but it was over £200.
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stockingshock
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Time:2011-08-29 06:50 pm (UTC)
I think I have one of those; about this size?
They're good for display (well, I like them) but for a block you need something that'll take pins. I've seen some polystyrene blocks which I presume are made to withstand heat a little more, and they look good but so far I've not seen exactly the shape I need.
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euphoricstimuli
Link:(Link)
Time:2011-08-29 09:20 pm (UTC)
yes, thats pretty much identical to mine :-) I hadn't thought about pins! :-(
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stockingshock
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Time:2011-08-29 09:22 pm (UTC)
I can't see how wooden ones survive as long as they do, with pinning and damp and stuff- they must be made of some supertough unwarpable wood. I think you can use a plastic bowl if you don't mind getting holes in it; or maybe even a glass bowl if your crown is really long, so you pin it up underneath so it doesn't slip. I've not tried that though... I haven't found any bowls which look remotely like heads!
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stockingshock
Link:(Link)
Time:2011-08-29 06:47 pm (UTC)
Working on it! :-) I love them too, but since I couldn't reliably find strip felt it's been an unattainable thing until now (I am making them from wool felt hoods instead). I made an attempt from wired buckram, but it was a bit too much work for a fairly basic hat. If this works it should be a lot easier.
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boykitten
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Time:2011-08-29 07:06 pm (UTC)

Yay hats!

I love hats, but I must say that it does take quite a bit of encouragement to get me wearing one, which is silly when I have over a dozen taking up a lot of space in my cupboard! (In pretty red chinese silk hat boxes for the most part too.)

I always feel like a bit of a twat when wearing a hat unles it's obviously part of a costume, which something I have never understood as I feel comfortable in wigs and with mad coloured mohawked natural hair. :-/
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stockingshock
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Time:2011-08-29 07:10 pm (UTC)
I like to encourage hat-wearing; mostly by waving them at people, but if someone else has a stoopid hat it's easier for the unhatted to join them.
I have no boxes, though they have a dedicated wardrobe section.
Sometimes I wish they were more of an everyday thing in society, but in more of a personal choice way than they used to be; when they were 'proper' attire, it was somewhat scandalous to go without, and I doubt many people were able to exercise hat-wearing out of choice. That's not fun. But I don't really like the way that they are now considered a bit daring, or extremely formal. The interest in vintage seems to have upped the frequency of fascinators; hopefully it'll extend to full-size hats too.
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boykitten
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Time:2011-08-30 06:39 pm (UTC)

Very true.

I am very fond of fascinators and mini hats but find they look silly on my short hair. :-/
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emperor
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Time:2011-08-30 10:31 am (UTC)
I have a black tricorne I bought in Venice, which can be teamed with the implausibly heavy cloak and mask I also bought there, but only on Very Cold Days...
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stockingshock
Link:(Link)
Time:2011-08-30 10:37 am (UTC)
Venice! nice. My hats don't have such a pedigree; the supplier's near Luton.
Btw. the chilli sauce recipe is up, but under 'sambal ulek', if you're still looking for it.
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scrabblemouse
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Time:2011-08-31 02:44 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous hats! I want to order one but can't for the life of me decide which colours I like best.
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stockingshock
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Time:2011-08-31 10:20 pm (UTC)
Think about which one you'd get most use out of. Black is the obvious choice, but it really does go with everything. I made the brown one to match something specific, but it goes with quite a lot of outfits too; something really daft like bright pink or orange is less useful (that's not to say I'm not making a bright pink hat too...)
You can always dress up a black one with colourful hatpins/feathers and that, to customise it.
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[icon] Hat Party - Knickers to Rollercoaster
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