How to Design Victorian Hats

Written by cheryl starr
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How to Design Victorian Hats
Victorian women often handmade their hats using velvet, feathers and flowers. (The girl adjusts a hat in summer image by Arkady Chubykin from

In Victorian times, ladies chose to wear hats in a variety of styles. Depending upon the season, the occasion and the dress the lady was wearing, the hat accompanied the desire of the moment. Tea hats were often worn in a variety of colours to complement the lady's features and dress. Many hats had large wide brims to protect the complexion of the wearer from the sun's damaging rays. Victorian women made and wore riding hats and flower toque hats. The June, 1890 edition of "Ladies Home Companion" provided detailed instructions in how to design the flower toque hat, for example.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Straw hat
  • Tulle, 2 yards, minimum
  • Velvet ribbon
  • Artificial flowers (as many as desired)
  • Hot-glue gun
  • Glue sticks
  • Miniature realistic-looking artificial bird (optional)

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  1. 1

    Choose and purchase a straw hat with a wide brim -- the wider the brim, the better. Purchased a straw hat online or at any craft, costume or hat shop.

  2. 2

    Cut in half the 2 yards of tulle to create two 1-yard pieces. Center one of the strips of tulle over the top of the hat. Glue the tulle inside the hat at the crown, allowing it to fluff out loosely on the sides. Use the extra yard of tulle to glue one end on either the front of the hat for a veil or on the back to drape down in a romantic fashion.

  3. 3

    Wrap a wide strip of velvet ribbon around the brim of the hat, hot-gluing it in place as you wrap.

    How to Design Victorian Hats
    Victorian ladies used parasols and hats to protect their complexion from the sun's rays. (chapeau et ombrelle image by Philippe LERIDON from
  4. 4

    Arrange the flowers on the hat, beginning with the largest flowers. Angle some of the large flowers toward the front of the hat and a few toward the back. Hot-glue them in place, snipping stems off with a pair of scissors or wire cutters if necessary. Arrange smaller flowers into place around the larger ones. In the centre near the ribbon, place a miniature bird, a bow or a spray of feathers for a finishing touch.

Tips and warnings

  • Victorian hats can be as simple or glamorous as you wish. See Reference 1 for another style of Victorian hat to make at home. Experiment with various styles and materials of Victorian hats to discover additional designs. Patterns are also available online or at some fabric and pattern stores.

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