At Least It’s Not Easter Yet!

Ho ! Ho ! Ho !

Christmas has come and gone, but I’d rather not wait a whole year to blog this little knitted hat. And my Christmas tree is still up, so…

Fandangle2The pattern is Fandangle by Andi Satterlund, and it was my first real stab at stranded colourwork (this sweater I made in 2014 featured a tiny bit of stranded colourwork). I found it a bit tedious to knit, although not really complicated. I just don’t like dealing with two strands at the same time. But I’m not really happy with the way my ornament motifs look: at first I thought I had pulled the floats too tight (despite making all efforts not to), but I have since realised that I was simply not supposed to cross the strands behind each and every stitch, duh! Ah well, it doesn’t look catastrophic and I don’t even think about it when I wear the hat, and at least now I’ve learnt my lesson!

My hat also fits tighter than intended (a what? A gauge swatch?!), but that’s not really a problem: at least it feels secure on the head, even with the weight of that HUGE pompom I made!

The yarn is Drops Flora (#01 off white and #18 red). It was my first time using it, but I was on familiar ground since it’s similar to Nepal, one of my favourite yarns, only in a different weight.

I started knitting this hat a few days before Christmas last year and finished it two to three weeks later, too late to wear it that same year. So I put it away, and I was very glad to find it waiting for me at the beginning of this festive season. I’m pretty sure I’ll be just as happy to pull it out of its drawer again come next Christmas!


Columbus Hat

Columbus1Why the name Columbus, you ask? Well, I was going for a 1940s hat, but when I tried it on for the first time, this is the image that came to mind! 😀

I started this wool felt hat at the end of October 2014, but then I sort of lost interest in millinery for more than a year. I kept reading about millinery and collecting images and documentation, yet couldn’t be bothered making a hat, or even finishing the one I had started for that matter.


Velvet ribbon around the edge of the brim.

It’s only recently that I understood the reason for that loss of mojo, right when I also got said mojo back: my hair had simply become too long to play nice with the kind of hats I like… Lame but true! From the moment I decided to cut it short, my hands started itching to work again on the hat I had abandoned more than a year before! There wasn’t a lot left to do so I finished it before even getting an appointment at my hairdresser’s.

Columbus3You can’t really make out any details in the pictures of me wearing the hat, especially since the black felt blends in with my hair, but at least you get an idea of how I wear it pushed back.


Petersham ribbon inside, at the base of the crown.

I moulded the crown of the hat on a simple hat block, then I flipped the brim upwards and hand sewed some millinery wire all around the edge (which you can see in this picture – it’s the white stuff around the brim) for it to keep its shape. This is where I took a more-than-one-year break.

Then I hand sewed some velvet ribbon around the edge of the brim to cover the wire and some petersham ribbon inside the hat so that it hugs the head and doesn’t flop around.

Columbus2I wonder if someday it will stop feeling like magic to be able to make a hat that’s in my imagination come true?

Brand New Leopard-Skin Formerly Pill-Box Hat

Leopard2During my millinery training, I made quite a few hats only to learn new techniques and not because I really wanted to make those particular hats. As a result I ended up with a small number of hats that I never wore and that were gathering dust (hats are dust magnets!) and… that started serving as nests for moths, eeew!

So one night I suddenly decided to take action and either simply throw away what had to be or clean and transform what I thought had potential.
Among the dusty wrecks was this leopard pillbox hat:

I thought the leopard print was fun (even though I hadn’t really chosen it when I made the first hat) but that print coupled with that shape looked too matronly to my liking and so I had never worn it, not even once. Come to think of it, I had never even taken the time to add the comb it needed to stay on the head.

I unpicked the petersham ribbon from the inside of the hat and washed everything thoroughly with warm water and soap. That’s what I did for the refashions of my collection and so far I’ve never encountered a problem with that method, be it with felt or straw.

Since the felt was already wet, there was no need for steam and I immediately shaped it on a block. I could have dried it with a blow dryer but I was in no hurry so I let it dry naturally for two days before I took it off the block. After that I added some millinery wire to strengthen the edge of the brim and I covered that with black bias binding, then I added the decoration (I guess all of my hats must sport either flowers or a bow of some sorts) and finally I sewed on the petersham ribbon inside (the old one was just a touch too short so I used a new length), and then I had a new hat!

It actually took me almost two weeks to finish the hat, but that’s because I did not work on it every day. Otherwise I guess it could have been made in two sessions, or maybe even one if I had used a blow dryer instead of leaving it to dry naturally.

Now we’ll see whether or not I wear this new hat more than the old one… Only time will tell! But one thing is for sure, now I store all of my wool hats (except for the ones I wear really often) in hat boxes. So much cleaner, duh!


A Week Of Hats: Que reste-t-il de nos amours?

QueResteTIl1And here’s the last hat of the collection! There’s something of a déjà vu, no? It’s pretty much the same pattern… in that there’s no pattern: I didn’t take any notes the first time I made this hat, and of course I didn’t think to take any notes the second time around! This was more of a try on as you knit thing.

QueResteTIl2And it’s not exactly the same hat either: the turban part of the first one I knit was detachable whereas the turban part of this one is attached to the hat. I actually always wore the first hat with the detachable band on and I lost it and haven’t used the hat since, so I thought it would be better for that version to be in one piece.

QueResteTIl3It was not made in one piece though: I knit a hat (with ribbing at the bottom for it to fit comfortably) on the one side and a turban band on the other side and I joined them afterwards by sewing their bases together.

QueResteTIl4This was an easy hat to knit, and I held the yarn double so it was a pretty fast knit, too, but what was most difficult was unravelling the original sweater to make it into usable balls. The yarn has a mohair quality to it and the sweater had been worn and washed a lot since it was knit at the end of the 1980s, so this was not an easy feat!

QueResteTIl5Turbans were a very popular style during the 1940s so I wanted to include one in my collection, and I also knew I wanted a sewn hat and a knitted hat for my two techniques free of choice, so I thought a knitted turban would be fitting. The result also has a 1920s look to it, I think it will depend how I style it in the future.

QueResteTIl6I named this last hat after this song, another one of my favourites and the epitome of a cold weather song.

And that’s it for the collection, thank you so much for reading!

A Week Of Hats: La Mer

LaMer1Tired of looking at my face yet? I know I am! Let’s concentrate on the hat then. At first I had planned to make a very simple sailor hat, as if borrowed from a sailor by his girlfriend, but then I thought this would be pure reproduction, not creation, so I started thinking about other options.

LaMer2And then it hit me: a lady sailor hat! So I made it smaller, in a more triangle shape (note that at first I wanted the tip of the triangle at the front, but when trying on the hat mid creation I found it looked better the other way around) and I added a fabric covered button at the intersection of the panels and most importantly a perky bow at the back.

LaMer3By some stroke of luck, drafting the crown panels went effortlessly, but the brim, not so much… I spent more than two hours drafting and redrafting and redrafting it again and again, losing my mind in fancy calculations involving the radius of a circle and whatnot, only to realise the pattern piece I needed was… a long rectangle! :-/

LaMer4Once I had that figured out, everything went smoothly. Most of the hat was sewn by machine, the only things I did by hand were attaching the buttons (the fabric covered one outside and a flat one inside), the bow, the lining and the petersham ribbon, and adding little thread loops to fasten the elastic inside the hat.

LaMer5I have already worn this hat once this week (with this dress) and it felt secure on my head, even when I was biking in the wind! Millinery elastic is my favourite way of attaching a hat, which is why I used some on each of the hats of the collection. It’s very secure, yet invisible (especially on dark hair with volume of course, but I’ve also seen it work really well on very short lighter hair).

LaMer6The song that gave its name to this hat is this one, and I guess the reason why I picked it is pretty self-explanatory!

See you tomorrow for the last hat of the collection!

A Week Of Hats: Mam’zelle Clio

MamzelleClio1Last year in millinery class, we learnt to make a fabric hat on a buckram base. I chose a base similar to the one I would later choose for my Hollyburn hat and I used red lace and lining remnants from this dress. It was an exercise, so the result was far from perfect, and the hat got pushed to the back of a cupboard were it got crushed under other objects.

MamzelleClio2I decided to salvage the fabric (and batting!) of the hat to make another one with some new buckram I would buy, and while taking it apart I thought I should try and see whether or not it would be possible to reuse the buckram, too. I was far from convinced it would work, but once wet, the buckram could take any shape I wanted it to take as if new!

MamzelleClio3So I was able to block the top part of the old hat into a new base, and the side/bottom part into some sort of bow (that everyone but me seems to see as a propeller! 😀 ). There is some millinery wire reinforcing the edge of the hat itself and the edge of the bow.

MamzelleClio4The hat once again stays on the head thanks to a piece of millinery elastic, and its inside is finished with some matching red lining and a piece of petersham ribbon (both also salvaged from the original hat).

MamzelleClio5This is not the kind of hat that is very easy to wear on a daily basis, but I think it can be fun to wear on special occasions nonetheless. Its name comes from this song, because both the song and the hat have a silly side to them.


A Week Of Hats: Y’a d’la joie

YaDlaJoie1Remember the old hat covered in dust (and other things much worse than dust!)? Once cleaned and treated with stiffener, the straw looks totally different: stiffer of course, but also less grey and much glossier.

YaDlaJoie2I dreamed of a hat of this shape for my collection because to me there’s no shape more typical of the 1940s than a hat that forms that kind of aureole framing the face, and I was lucky enough to find the brim block I needed at school.

YaDlaJoie3The hat is made of two pieces, the brim in that aureole shape and the crown shaped using only the top of a simple round block as it’s not deep at all. It was not easy getting the two parts to conform to each other afterwards, but I did manage it in the end. It was also not easy sewing anything to that straw, be it the flowers all around the crown or the petersham ribbon inside the hat. I could not stop the thread from getting caught on every irregularity of the straw and consequently forming annoying knots all the time.

YaDlaJoie4But the important is, the hat once more looks like what I had in mind, so it doesn’t matter if the realisation was a bit tedious at times. I also love the effect of the flowers, even though they cost me an arm and a leg! They were actually one of the rare things I had to buy for my collection, so the contrast was even more glaring since most of the hats cost me about €1 each in material (that’s if I’m not including the time it took me to get the materials in a usable state of course).

YaDlaJoie5Once again there are no pictures of the inside of the hat, but there’s a brown petersham ribbon as a sweatband, and both millinery elastic and a comb for the hat to securely stay on the head as it’s a bit heavier than the other ones.

YaDlaJoie6The name is another song (this is the least kitschy video I found of this song, imagine the other ones!) by Charles Trenet, which I think matches the exuberant character of the hat. I want to have an old-fashioned colourful picnic in that hat!

A Week Of Hats: Verlaine

Verlaine1As you may recall, the first hat I made for my Make Do and Mend collection was a winter hat. It used to be a beret, which I bought a few years ago in a thrift store because I liked its style and colour, yet never wore because it was in fact too big for my head.

Verlaine2As soon as I chose the theme of my collection, I knew I would be using this hat. I also knew the shape I wanted it to take, I just wasn’t sure how to embellish it. In the end I settled on the simplest of my ideas, which was to finish the edge of the brim with store-bought bias tape and to decorate the crown with the same bias tape and a cluster of the felt flowers (cut from the same felt as the hat itself) that were spread all around the original hat. I debated using shiny thread, either green or gold, to sew the flowers on, but once again I preferred to keep it simple and chose matching thread in the end.

Verlaine3These are the pictures I put in my presentation album, so they don’t show the inside of the hat, but I was able to reuse the petersham ribbon of the beret. There’s also a piece of millinery elastic attached inside the hat, which helps invisibly fastening the hat on the head.

Verlaine4To shape the hat I used a cylindrical block… and a table: once I had gotten the crown I wanted, I carefully shaped the brim on a table so that it would lay nice and flat. I had to be very careful not to distort the crown in the process. It would have been much easier to make the hat in two separate pieces, but I wanted to see if it was even possible to do it in one… and with a little bit of patience it was, so no regrets there!

Verlaine5I was going to write that I’m really happy with the result of this hat, but I’m afraid to sound like a broken record because I’m pretty sure I’m going to want to write that about all the hats of the collection! But seriously, it’s pretty thrilling to see your vision take shape and get to make exactly the hat you had in your head!

Verlaine6One more thing before I let you go, I gave each hat of the collection the name of a song by French singer Charles Trenet. He’s one of my favourite singers (yep, I was born an old lady!), one I usually listen to a lot while sewing/knitting/hatmaking, and so typical of the 1940s that I could not resist paying him that little homage. The song Verlaine is one of my favourite songs in the whole world, and I thought it suited this hat very well with its autumnal imagery.

Hollyburn Hat

HollyburnHat1Remember this skirt? It was the first project I ever posted on my blog! I had been meaning to make a matching pillbox hat with the fabric remnants ever since I completed the skirt; I even had all of the materials ready, but it took me all of nine months to finally get to it!

HollyburnHat2I used a two-piece premade buckram form which I covered first with a layer of wadding, then with the fabric. Everything but the back seam of the fabric is hand sewn, which allowed me to work on that project mostly from my coach (why do you think I love hand sewing so much?)!

HollyburnHat3Why Hollyburn hat, you ask? Well, first because it’s made from the same fabric as my beloved Hollyburn skirt, a tweed/chevron wool with golden thread woven in, and second because I used the pattern of the waistband tabs of the skirt to add a double tab at the back of the hat! I also used the same wooden buttons as on the skirt: I had bought four especially to make a matching hat!


Here you can see the fabric and double button tab better, as well as the matching skirt…


… And here you can sort of see some of the golden thread that’s woven in the fabric. Much more visible in real life.

HollyburnHat6I lined the hat with the same lining as the skirt, beige Venezia, and I added a beige petersham ribbon. The only thing that doesn’t really match is the ribbon I used to secure the comb (the comb helps the hat stay on the head), but blue was all I had in stock the evening I finished the hat and I didn’t want to wait until the next morning to go and buy some. I don’t know how many of my projects feature that same ribbon: I have a lot of it in my stash, so every time I need some ribbon (to stabilize shoulder seams for example), that’s the one I use.

I’m really happy with the outcome of this hat, which is pretty exactly what I had in mind, and quite proud of the finishing details. The only problem is it’s not the easiest type of hat to wear nowadays (ah, to live in the sixties!), but I can still see myself wearing it from time to time when going out. Though my boyfriend might disagree on that one. His comment when I proudly showed him the finished hat: “Oh cute, perfect for when you go fox hunting!”.

Mulberry Turban

Mulberry2.1Wow, looks like I’ve acquired quite a taste for really intricate knitting projects! Will I be able to knit with needles smaller than 10 mm ever again? Will I even remember how to purl when the dreaded time comes to move past garter stitch?

Mulberry2.2So, I made a turban (more like, a headband that looks like a turban). And the worse part is, it wasn’t even on purpose. I still had a bit of yarn left after completing my Mulberry set, so I decided to use it to knit a big bow for the hat. I cast on ten stitches and I knit until I had almost no yarn left, thinking I’d fold the result in two and gather the center with a small band I’d knit with the very last remain of the yarn. I tried that, and even though the bow was cute, it clearly did not belong on the hat. It was way too bulky and did not look flattering at all from most angles. So I took it off the hat and threw it aside on the couch, much to the delight of my cat who immediately adopted it as a new favourite pillow.

Mulberry2.3It was only a few days (and thus a multitude of cat hair) later that I saw it lying on the couch and had the idea to take off the small piece in the center and see whether the remaining band fit my head so that I could use it as a headband. And, as you can see, it did! I gathered the seam (and made heavy use of the lint roller) and voilà! Instant turban!

Mulberry2.4And look, I can wear it on the matching hat to get extra coverage against the cold! I also really like the retro touch it gives to the otherwise plain hat. Now that looks like a turban!

Mulberry2.5So, this is clearly not the most impressive project, but I have already been wearing it a lot, which makes it a complete success. OK, the only downside may be that I had to rip her favourite pillow away from my cat. Sorry, Olivine!