Sometimes i get to go riiiiiiiiiight back to the start of my Millinery journey and do actual hats (don’t be fooled by my baby face, that was a really long time ago!). Nothing bridal, just a cute race hat or something special for the stage. There is small part of me that gets really excited when i get to make something that isn’t bridal. It feels almost like i’m using a part of my brain that i haven’t used in a while, so i dust off the cobwebs and dive right in! It makes me realise that i miss the challenges of blocking and shaping a hat from scratch and then sitting down to make all the trims and flowers.
So when an enquiry came in to see if i could make a boater hat, i jumped at the chance! One of the parts that clients don’t see is the hours i spend looking for materials, this one was no exception. My client wanted it to be as close as we could to one he had in mind. So off i went, researching materials it was made of and how it was made. Unfortunately i was unable to match it exactly, so we did the next best thing. Straw boater hats are generally made from fine straw, the best is Florentine straw which is weaved into braids, then into a hat shape. Milan straw is mainly what is used now. This straw is weaved into beautiful straw braid and then sewn together into a hat shape with an amazing straw braid machine (most of these beauties are from early 1900’s, so they are rare but super sturdy!) Once the braid is sewn into a hat shape (capeline in this instance, which looks like a floppy wide brim hat) then it’s time to shape the hat.
Boaters have a lovely, slightly oval shape with straight sides and a short flat brim. In the pictures below you can see the blocks that i used and an example of a Milan pedal straw braid capeline. So i’m sure you can see, that there is a lot of work blocking a hat to perfection! Once the shape is all done, then the inside and outside bands are ready to go. Since this one will be used in a stage show, i put a beautiful, soft napa leather sweat band in to stop the straw from absorbing perspiration and losing its shape. On the outside is a nice wide grosgrain ribbon with a tailored bow (my favourite of course!).
Can’t wait to see it live on stage! I’ll keep you posted with pictures later…