Hats make a statement about the way a person thinks and feels and how they want others to think/feel about them. They enhance character and set a mood and help identify time periods. • While practical hats are still worn, the wearing of decorate hats have declined.
Decline in Millinery Trade • Millinery is the making of individual hats by hand, but not commercially produced hats. • Lack of interest in decorative hats has led to the decline in the millinery trade and the availability of millinery supplies. • There is a critical lack of teachers. • Retailers must cater to the bridal or Western markets and material suppliers no longer import materials.
The only remaining millinery studios are located in New York, London, and Paris and cater to theatrical, film and couture needs. • Fashion however, is changing as more subcultures and the general public look for hats that express their individuality and more retail opportunities are created in which to sell them (Esty, eBay). • Ironic situation—As the interest in millinery increases, the availability of supplies and teachers has vastly decreased.
Millinery Skills • According to From The Neck Up, there are several traits necessary to becoming a successful milliner: practice, patience, confidence and a light touch. • I would add having some skills in hand sewing helps too as well as skills in patternmaking (many historical hat patterns are printed in books on grids and you often have to make your own pattern) and the ability to see 2D patterns as 3D hats (although both are skills that can be learned).
Traditional Supplies • Buckram- What is sold in chain stores such as Hancock’s or Joann’s is very lightweight and usually needs to be doubled in order to create a strong base. Doubling buckram can be done with water or glue. Either technique makes the material hard to sew (the glue method is very difficult). If you can find it, mid-weight to heavyweight millinery buckram is best. Sometimes it is possible to find pre-made buckram hat bodies.
Wire- Wire wrapped in thread, sometimes called ‘brim wire’ • Crinoline bias tape • Milinery needles- Similar to tapestry needles, but beware, they’re SHARP! Curved upholstery needles can be used. • Flannel fabric or ‘mull’ • Millinery hams- Like hams used to press curved seams, but smaller
Traditional Method • Traditional millinery begins with a buckram base that is reinforced with wire and then covered or mulled with flannel fabric. Sometimes this can be done by machine, but most often requires a great amount of hand time. Not good if you lack time or have physical limitations. Sewing buckram is very difficult for me and requires a great deal of strength and finesse. I needed a better method!
Peltex • Heavy-duty stabilizer, firm and smooth, designed for accessories, crafts, home decorating and quilting. • 20” wide. • Made by Pellon in the USA. • Easy to cut with either scissors or a rotary cutter. • Easy to sew in layers and with fabric. • Comes in black and white, with or without adhesive. • Does not distort with pressing or steaming. • Peltex has NO GRAIN and a felted texture.
70 Peltexis ultra firm and non-adhesive. This product comes in 20” by the yard widths or in single 15” x 1 yard pieces. • 71F Peltex® I One-sided Fusible • 72F Peltex® II Two-Sided Fusible • 70 and 71 Peltex can be used with Wonder Under, a fusible web also made by Pellon. • Peltex 70- $6.50 Peltex 71, 72- $9.99. Check the internet—local stores seem to have a widely fluctuating price.
Why Peltex? • Although slightly more expensive than good buckram, it is cost effective. • Widely available. • Cuts out many steps of traditional millinery—no wire, no mulling and less hand work. • Requires fewer materials. • Can eliminate many problems with traditional hats, such as adhering fabric to the buckram frame. • Easy to sew, allowing for flexible design and construction processes.
Making Hats With Peltex • Any hat you can make with buckram, you can make with Peltex. • If you don’t like how the adhesive looks, it is easy to tear apart or tear off. • Find a suitable pattern. Cut out the pattern or copy and cut out of pattern paper your required size (check instructions to see how to measure your head or how the hat should fit). Peltex adds ¼” or more to hat band size. • Make a mock up out of poster board to check fit and styling. • Make alterations to your poster board mock up and use that for your new pattern.
Things to Consider… • Before purchasing your Peltex, you need to layout your pieces- remember Peltex has no grain, so you can use LESS! • Decide whether or not you will want a double or single layer of Peltex. I usually double up my layers for hats that require a stiff shape. • Decide what type of Peltex is right for your project. Peltex with adhesive allows you to join layers and adhere linings on difficult to line styles such as top hats. • Like Peltex, this process is very flexible. Read through the instructions first and then decide which method is best for your project.
Trace your pattern onto your Peltex. DO NOT use Sharpies or permanent markers, use pencils. • Using an applique mat to protect your iron and ironing board, adhere your Peltex layers. • If you double your layers, you may wish to use one layer where parts of the hat connect. (For example where the brim adheres to the side band, etc.) • I DO NOT use seam allowances (SA) on seams that abut (like the side band joint)as overlapping layers of Peltex get bulky. Use ¾” SA for the interior of the brim. • Use ¾” SA for all fabric edges. Be sure to follow the grain lines for fashion fabric!
Sewing • If you wish to adhere the lining to the interior side band of the hat, do so now. Leave about 1” un-adhered to the center edges. • Fold over the lining to the right side of the side band. Straight stitch as close to the edge as possible, stopping ½” from the edges. Clip the excess on the folded edge. • Lightly adhere the outer fabric to the lower half of the side band. Leave about 1” un-adhered to the center edges. • Sew the fabric to the lower edge of the side band as close to the edge as possible.
Seams that would normally overlap can be abutted and sewn with a zigzag stitch, eliminating bulk. Use the largest stitch setting. Use this method to sew the side band together. • It is also usually possible to machine stitch most, if not all of the crown tip, side band and brim together. • What you can’t machine sew, sew by hand. Peltex is not as difficult to sew as buckram. DO use thimbles. In these examples, I preferred the look of the hand-stitched crown tip. I didn’t need to do this on the bonnet.
For the crown tip and the brim, be sure to mark center back (CB) so you can match up the fashion fabric to the Peltex and the Peltex pieces to each other. • Sew the fashion fabric to the Peltex for the brim after adhering, if desired. If you adhere, only adhere to ½” from the edge on the top layer. Sew both layers of fabric to the interior opening, but only the bottom layer to the outer edge. Pin the top layer back so you don’t sew it accidently. • Trim the bottom layer and clip the interior SA if you have not done so already.
For the crown tip, adhere the fashion fabric to the interior, sew close to the edge and trim. • Adhere the top fabric to the crown tip, leaving about ½” un-adhered from the edge. • Sew the brim to the side band. Tabs can be sewn inside OR outside the side band for a proper fit. Tabs can be hidden by a hat band. • Sew the crown tip to the side band by machine or hand.
Turn edges on all fashion fabric seams and finish by hand. Most will need to be trimmed. Trim with self fabric or bias tape. • Finish the interior with a grosgrain hatband. Outer hat bands can be made from decorative ribbons.
Decorate your hat with ribbons, feathers, hat pins, buttons, flowers, etc.! • When adding feathers to your hat, wrap a small piece of electrical, duct or painter’s tape around the base so that you will have a base to sew/pin your feather onto your hat. • Decorations are a good way to hide parts of your hat that you don’t like. • Make small ‘corsages’ with pin/clasp backings so that you can mix and match your hats and decorations.
Clean Up • Be sure to clean your iron during and after this project! Even when I used the applique mat, I still got adhesive on my iron. (Some seemed to transfer off the mat.) Dritz’s Iron Off product works well.
Special Thanks • Lynn McMasters for her assistance in creating the white top hat. Her pattern “Arched Brimmed, Straight Sided Crown Hat Pattern” was used as the basis for the demo samples. Please visit her website lynnmcmasters.com for more great patterns! • Denise Dreher’s great millinery book From The Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking. • My original millinery teacher, Mela Hoyt-Heydon.
Thank You! Please share your creations! Questions? Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org www.lisaklassen.com