Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ivory Hat Refashion

Those of you who know me or have been following my blog for a while will probably have an idea of how much I love taking something ugly/old/tired apart and re-making it into something new and beautiful.  Lately I've been focusing this upcycling energy into hats.  I love hats!  My collection keeps growing, and I'm finding more and more confidence in actually wearing hats in my daily life.  After all, the best cure for a Bad Hair Day is a hat.  :p  However, most of my expanding collection comes in the form of decidedly old-fashioned-looking Regency bonnets, and for everyday wear I prefer slightly more updated styles.  So now I want more hats that I can wear on a regular basis.

So three weeks ago, before I came out to Iowa, I decided to tackle this little number:


It's been in my collection since my freshman year in college, when I bought it at a Costume Shop sale the Theatre department would hold every year around Halloween.  I bought four hats that year, all of which I still have, and most of which needed some TLC.  I think I wore this one once, but its floppy brim and lackluster trim really did nothing for me.

I wanted to turn it into a chic cloche, which is my favorite hat style, and also to make it a truly neutral accessory that could go with any outfit.  I started by removing all of the trim and the interior sweatband:

Then I washed it with some gentle detergent, attempting to remove some of the staining from around the base of the crown.  This was largely unsuccessful, so I resigned myself to simply covering the discolored portions with trim.  I rinsed it thoroughly and draped it over my Multi-Way Bell Hat Shaper:

I couldn't get the brim to lay completely smooth, though.  The original brim shape had clearly been more flared than this form allowed.  I solved this problem by flipping up the brim at what I had decided would be the front of the hat, and smoothing down the back portion:

After letting it dry thoroughly overnight, I tried it on.

I was not thrilled.
This confirmed my suspicion that the brim was too wide for what I had envisioned.  I was inspired by several of Lady Mary's hats from Downton Abbey, having just finished the series finally.


Clearly my brim was too wide.  I put the hat on my foam head (with a wig it happened to be wearing) to get an idea of proportions.

When I knew how much I wanted to trim away, I measured and made a small pencil mark just inside the crease made by the folded-back portion.

Then I cut in the crease up to this small mark:

And continued cutting away the edge of the brim all the way around, following the braid of the straw to maintain an even distance:

This gave me an overall shape that I liked much better!

Not being one to waste anything, I did not throw away the excess brim, but instead cut it in two at the crease on the other side:

To be used later:

I sewed in a new sweatband to replace the old one.  I just used some 1" wide grosgrain ribbon I had on hand.

For comparison, here is the old sweat band:

The above two photos were taken under different lighting conditions, which is why the top one looks darker in color than the bottom one.  I swear I did not darken the straw when I washed it!  

In order to keep the edge of the brim from unraveling, I bound it with ivory petersham ribbon.  

First I pressed a crease down the length of the ribbon, curving it slightly as I ironed it:  

This made it curve around the brim very easily!  I held the ribbon in place with clips while I was sewing it:

I had to repair one spot where the stitching from the original hatband had torn through the straw:

First I darned it:

Then I glued it from the inside, and covered it with ribbon!

I only had enough 1 1/2" wide ivory satin ribbon to cover 3/4 of the hat, which is fine because the turned-up brim covers the rest:

Remember those pieces of the brim that I had trimmed away?  I made them into flowers!

I stitched them on one at a time:

And tacked the brim edge to the front one to cover the raw edges at the base of the flower:

And there you have it!  New, cute hat:

So difficult to get decent mirror selfies.  :p

It looks slightly better on my styrofoam head, but I think that's because it's easier to photograph:

I wore it recently for a quick photoshoot with a dress that I made several months ago that I also need to blog about, so look for more photos soon!


  1. Wow, I am totally in awe of your hat-rescuing skills!

    1. Thanks! I like to look for the potential in any garment or accessory. :)