Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Trove Pattern Project - 1953 Scarf Hat

Our pattern today comes from The Australian Women's Weekly, April 22, 1953. Exclusively designed for the magazine by a leading Australian milliner, Henriette Lamotte (no, I've never heard of her), this scarf hat made for an elegant and appealing cover photo for the issue. It drew me in.

If you are subscribed to the newsletter or follow me on social media, you may know that things did not progress well from there.

You can probably see what a simple hat this should be. If you look at the pattern, you might wonder how something so simple even could go wrong, but I managed it.

I muddled my way through my "quick" mock-up version, and there will be no "proper" version. I've done my best, with the help of my very soft-focus phone selfie camera, to make it look good, but the real story follows.

I feel like I have been spoiled by modern patterns, and even by vintage printed patterns, as to the level of instructions I expect. I want something to say "Attach scarf piece to headband piece along the front edge from A to B, right sides together....etc etc" not "Sew jersey scarf around headband over padding". And if I have to sew pleats, I want more than "...finishing with two small pleats to sweep scarf backwards." What? What? Where?

See those pleats? They are wrong. I couldn't work out what to do with them. Why would I even want the scarf to sweep backwards if I'm wrapping it around the front. When I put it onto my mannequin head and wrapped it, two pleats magically appeared on each side. Hallelujah! Now I get it. But they are definitely sweeping it forwards. Darnit.

Also, I need to warn you that you have to wear this draped or tied at the front. You can't just wear it loose. Unless you want to look like a nun. In which case go right ahead.

I suppose you might have a Sound of Music sing-a-long to attend or something.

So to sum up:
  • Confused the heck out of me.
  • I would have been better off taking the vague shape and idea, not reading the instructions and making it up for myself. I had to do a lot of that anyway and at least I wouldn't have felt I was being stupid for not understanding it.
  • I didn't try the instructions for making your own fringe. "Cut 200 15 inch lengths" didn't appeal to me.
  • I neither tried the instructions for making tassels nor used tassels at all. I am not a set of curtains.
  • It seemed like the headband pattern fit really well, but when I wore it today it was a bit too small. It was ok at first but kept sliding back. So test that out on your head before you start.
  • I was really stingy and bodgy on the padding so mine isn't as pleasantly plump as the original. 

Having said all that, it is kind of cute, and if you go for a lot of rides in open top cars in big sunglasses and big coats, it could be just the thing for you. I can actually imagine a number of you stylish vintage ladies in this, but I don't think it is the hat for me!

Let me know if you give this one a try!

If you missed the previous instalments, you can find them here: 1949 Pixie Hat, 1954 Scarf Hat, 1954 Butterfly Cap.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

"Selling Millinery" August 11, 1943

Today I'm bringing you some more snippets from the trade publication "Selling Millinery". This time it is the issue from August 11, 1943.

There are similarities, in both the trends and the type of information offered in these pages, to the 1942 issue I shared with you earlier.

Interestingly, they both talked about customer types, but the types given are different. For a start, no one has to panic about classifying themselves as the "careless, ungroomed" type any more. Phew.

Now you can be The Teen-Ager, The Colleger, The Camp Commuter, The Civilian Worker, The Youthful, Sophisticated Woman or The More Conservative Woman. In addition, they look at the most common outfit types too, and create suggestions based on how customer and costume type combine.

I'm generally not keen on admitting my type. I suspect I'm The More Conservative Woman. But with hats like these, I'm actually happy with that!

In addition, both papers talk about face shape. The 1942 issue talked face shape and body type, this one addresses face shape and features in combination with, well age I guess, although they don't say it precisely that way.

I feel like all the little magazine quizzes I used to do and all the little infographics the internet is now filled with, have a longer history than I realised. We have, apparently, always loved to know our "type", and always loved little charts.

I have an urge to write a quiz entitled "What mythical creature are you, what colour is its aura, and what kind of hat should you wear?"

This lady's inner mythical creature is an angry one. But she gets to wear a great hat.

Another similarity between the issues is in the trends themselves. They both report on military influences and "Good Ally Influences". What's new in this issue is the "7-Point Millinery Plan", a voluntary agreement from the millinery industry in the USA, restricting the amounts of different materials that can be used in a hat. While they talk in terms of restrictions, the rules are not exactly harsh!

They are also big on promoting retail to a noble art that has an important role to play for The Nation. Which, of course, it very much can be, but we don't often see it described in those terms.

It does come across as somewhat humorous to us, in a world where hats are not seen as a necessity, that they say "Sell only what your customer needs...every woman should own at least one tailored and one dress up hat."

I love that we get to see the photo of this turban and also the illustration in the classic 40s style sketch above.

Any favourites from these styles? I think I need both a Chesterfield Coat and the hat to go with it!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Millinery Movie Moments: Mr Lucky

The classic movie in the spotlight today is Mr. Lucky (1943). I was struck very early in the film by this tall sculptural felt hat that we see Dorothy (Laraine Day) wearing in her first meeting with Joe (Cary Grant) and in future scenes too. Look at the size of those loops.

Unlike my previous movie reviews, The Bishop's Wife and Dark Victory, the hats have no particular significance in the plot of this one. They're just lovely. I mean, seriously. Look at that hat again. I'll admit that you really need to see it in motion to get the full effect. I might have to make one.

Also, you get to see Cary Grant being taught to knit.

Dorothy only wears a few different hats, and that first one is my favourite. Mind you, we don't get to see much detail of this one.

This next is elegant, but not that exciting to me. Joe doesn't care for it either, actually.

This is one of those movies that makes me want to shout "Stop! Wait! Zoom in on that extra!"

I'm quite taken by this turban, for example.

Of course, the men look pretty dapper in their hats too.

There's a lot of knitting.

Now this isn't a hat. But I know some of you like your brooches, and this is a display you have to see.

All in all, since I'm a total sucker for a romantic comedy, I rate it "Adorable if Implausible" and recommend it if you like slick witty dialogue and cute couples. And hats you could drive a truck through.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Sisterhood of the Hat - Jessica Cangiano

The travelling hat has been very busy lately! Just before she visited Joanna, she was spending time in Canada with the lovely Jessica of Chronically Vintage. Jessica, as you probably already know, is a super-sweetie and mega-stylish. Hers is one of the first vintage blogs I started to read and she also became one of the first to comment on my own little blog. I'm very glad she chose to join in the travelling hat project.

Jessica in the Travelling Hat

Naturally I recommend you pop over to Jessica's blog to see the rest of the outfit and some gorgeous close-up shots too.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Sisterhood of the Hat - Joanna

This member of the elite hat sisterhood is a very special one (well they all are, but still), because it was actually her travelling dress project that inspired me to start the travelling hat, and make Adelaide.

Yes, it's Joanna from Dividing Vintage Moments. And not surprisingly, if you are familiar with her style, Joanna has paired the hat with one of her many stunning coats. I have serious coat envy whenever I see Joanna's outfits, and this is no exception. What a perfect ensemble.

Look at the hat from this angle! What a great shot.

You can see more photos from Joanna on her instagram, and I also recommend you check out her blog, particularly the stylish adventures of the travelling vintage dress.

As for Adelaide, she has one more stop in the USA before she comes back to Australian shores! So exciting! Don't forget to keep up with the travels by signing up to the newsletter, as well as getting heaps of bonus content too.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

How I restored a crushed and battered 1950s hat

If you see a pathetic hat and think it is past hope – don't despair! While there may be some cases that are usable only for study or for remnants, I think most are better able to be rescued than you would think.

I have heard too many people tell me about the vintage hats they threw away because they were in a bad condition. So I wanted to really see what could be done.

When I saw this hat for sale online, I knew I had to have it. It was perfect. Just what I was looking for. It had promise, but was in such bad shape that I didn't have to feel too nervous or guilty about setting my inexperienced hands to work. So I bought it.

And I'm so glad I did.

I hope I can inspire you to look twice at the truly sad cases too. With that aim in mind, I'm going to share the steps I took to bring this beauty back to life. Each hat is different, of course, and this is not necessarily the best method, or exactly what I would do again - I learned a lot from this experiment!

The Process

1. I removed the attached hat pins and the trim they were holding on. Then I unpicked the stitching to remove the petersham ribbon and the velvet covering. It was at this point that the hat's foundation started to reveal some of its secrets. There was clearly an edge on one side, as shown by a crease that was too regular to just be crushing damage. This was also where the separate strip of velvet had been. So I decided that this might actually be the front of the hat.

2. I worked on straightening the waves and kinks in the wire, and it became apparent as I worked which had been intentional bends, and which were damage, leaving me with an even clearer image of the original hat.

3. As I got the wire into shape, I also pushed the buckram out and started to see that shape emerge.

4. Placing the hat on a block (a Styrofoam head would have worked too) covered in cling film, I started to stuff newspaper under the cling film to fill out the hat shape to what I thought it had once been. I continued to shape the wire and the buckram during this process, and also pinned the buckram down at a few key points as I worked.

5. Once I had a shape I was happy with, I got some fabric stiffener (just the water-based kind you can get at craft shops, watered down as well) and painted it all over the buckram. (This is why it was important that the cling wrap was between the hat and the newspaper and block, or else they would all end up stuck together.)

6. When it was dry (I left it until the next day) I removed the hat and peeled off the cling wrap that was stuck to the underside.

7. Trying the hat on, I adjusted the wire again so that it would actually fit and stay on my head.

8. I chose to bind the wired edge with bias binding. This is something I do with new hats, and I thought it would help keep the fraying edges of the buckram from poking through the velvet, creating a nice smooth edge, as well as being a back-up for holding the wire in place (although to be honest that stitching was still in excellent shape).

9. The velvet was a bit crushed and dusty, and thin in some places, but mostly still fine. I brushed it down with a clothes brush, and steamed it with the iron, but didn't press.

10. I reattached the velvet covering fabric, pinning it in place with a lot of pins to get it just right before proceeding.

11. Stitching the velvet in place, I was able to use the bias binding to secure my stitches in some places (another benefit of that step) which meant I was often able to keep the stitches on the underside and invisible from the outside.

12. Then I cleaned up the petersham ribbon (hand-washed and ironed) and sewed it back into place.

13. Deciding where to attach the trim was tricky, since they were not attached when I bought it, just pinned on with the hat pins in an apparently random location. So I played around with it occasionally (for a few months) then asked an ex millinery teacher for her advice, and followed it.

14. To clean up the hat pins, I scrubbed the pin section with a dish-washing scouring sponge (this is how we used to clean fencing foils, so I figured it would work) and brushed the ends.

What excites me most about this project is that the end result is better than I imagined in my most optimistic frame of mind. I imagined this hat becoming a tolerable but plain little cap, and instead it is a really pretty piece with a charming shape and gorgeous features. Not only that, but it is quite sturdy and ready to be worn and loved again.

Friday, 4 March 2016

6 easy ways to temporarily trim a plain hat

I'll bet you have some favourite everyday hats, and that they are fairly plain. The kind that go with everything and suit you really well, but maybe aren't the most exciting in the world.

I want to inspire you to change them up a bit, but don't be frightened, because today we are all about temporary trims!

I've mentioned that I'm a fan of ethical fashion once or twice, and a big part of that is to reduce what we purchase, and make the most of what we have. Being content with our possessions has psychological value too, especially in the face of seeing everyone else's amazing wardrobes and collections online.

But we do want novelty, and we are programmed to do so. Which is way making over our current possessions is such a fabulous solution, and hats have long been a target for refashioning attentions. I am a big fan of serious makeovers, as you know, but today I want to look at the little, temporary, easy options for transforming a basic plain hat. The kind of things you could change day in, day out, do for a special occasion or each season or even each outfit! No cutting, no sewing, no special purchases.

Meet the Hats

I've picked four plain hats to experiment with, and trimmed each one in a few new ways. Let's meet the "before" shots.

A plain black felt beret. Flattering, versatile and easy to wear. I find this a great go-to hat in the autumn and winter.

My recently rescued boater hat. I love wearing this as it is, and I left it plain to make it less daunting to wear to the supermarket, but it could occasionally stand to be more fun.

A navy felt cloche that belonged to my mother (before I stole it/was given it). Classic, elegant and easy to wear in winter.

A plain straw hat I picked up second hand. This one actually isn't in my own wardrobe, but in my makeover pile. It's not super-exciting, but it is serviceable and would be a good gardening hat or casual going out hat.

So let's take these hats and play dress ups!. Here are my six suggestions for temporary trims to spruce these guys up.

1. Tie on a scarf

Scarves are something many vintage fashionistas love and most people have hiding in their accessories pile somewhere. Failing that, they are easy to find for a few dollars at any op shop. They are perfect for tying around the crown of a hat, and it takes mere moments.

I've trimmed my boater hat with a long rectangular sewn head band. The band is wider than this, so I've folded it over before tying it on, then spread out the width in the bow to give the loops a fuller look.

This one is a small square scarf I picked up at an op shop for a couple of dollars. I feel like this takes the hat from "scungy gardening" to "stylish gardening" at the very least, right? With a nicer hat and an ironed scarf it could look even better!

2. Pin on a Brooch

Brooches are like some beautiful locust plague sweeping through the vintage fashion community, but even if you haven't succumbed to this particular addiction, you are bound to have one or two. If not, again, they are abundantly available second hand.

Brooches are such a ridiculously easy trim option. Here I've gone with a scarab on my cloche for a 20s Egyptian revival feel in a very light way!

This little fox was a gift my sister made me for Christmas. So cute!

Of course a lot of these trim suggestions are great combined, like a brooch and a scarf together.

This strawberry brooch wasn't quite enough by itself so I tucked in a few velvet leaves too.

3. Add a flower

Hair flowers. Again, spreading like cane toads but with more style and posing less of a threat to native wildlife (as far as I'm aware). I'm talking about the ones with combs or alligator clips on the back, because how convenient that they already come with a method of attachment, but any artificial flowers can be pinned on in the same way.

Maybe this is a little too much look, but you get the idea.

This is one of the first hair flowers I made, and I kind of hate it, but worn like this I might actually be changing my mind! It blends in so nicely and looks a bit more subtle this way.

Just some small blossoms for the boater. Apparently I like to keep it fairly plain.

4. Belts and Buckles

I love using vintage buckles as trim on hats, so why not do the same for a temporary trim?

Loop some ribbon or a scarf through the buckle for a super simple attachment method with a bit of extra class.

Then once I was playing with belt buckles, why not actual belts? I happen to have some fabric belts. To be honest, they aren't the best belts in the world, and I may end up using them more for hats than my waist.

5. Hat Pins

While great for holding hats on, they can be absolute works of art, so why not wear them just for decorative value?

This is a new favourite (purchased recently from the Chronically Vintage Etsy store) and it may be a scarf or jabot pin rather than for hats, but I love it as a hat pin.

6. Whatever you can find!

That seems like a pretty poor suggestion, but you may find, as I did, that as soon as you start playing with trims, you think of more ideas to try.

I'm lucky enough, for example, to own this beautiful family piece of 1920s beading that I already have attached to elastic to wear as a headband.

Since I also have a lot of unused millinery trims, they make a great temporary solution too. Apparently I like my boater hats with cherries so I tried that again with some cherries and velvet leaves, all just tucked in to the hat band.

There we have it. I hope these have given you some food for thought!

(In future I do plan to bring you some more permanent options too, so stay tuned! - and sign up for the newsletter so you don't miss out.)

Do you do any of these already or do you have other ways you like to trim your hats? Will you be giving any of these suggestions a try? I'd love to hear if you do!