DIY Victorian Hats

Updated April 17, 2017

Who can imagine a Victorian woman, with her corseted waistline and her bustled bottom, without her quintessential hat? Victorian hats were the capstone of woman's fashion, often sporting ribbons, feathers and flowers (both dried and silk). Unlike their Edwardian predecessors, though, Victorian hats were smaller-brimmed and perched on top of the coiffure (or hairstyle). Toques, sometimes called "pillbox hats" were centred on the head, while slightly wider-brimmed hats shielded the face from the sun in summertime. Most hats were secured to the coiffure with elaborate hat pins.

Untwist and straighten the wire coat hangers. Cut one wire so it measures 20 inches long and discard the rest. Cut from two of the remaining hangers three wires measuring 12, 14 and 16 inches long. Cut from the last remaining hanger four wires measuring 8 inches long.

Bend the 20-inch wire into a circle and twist the ends together, soldering them closed with a soldering gun. This will be the base of your toque, so fit it to your head with the twist in the back and shape it to the natural contours by pressing down on all sides until it feels comfortably snug.

Bisect the circle of wire from the twist to the front with a piece of 8-inch wire, twisting the ends to attach to the front and back of the hat and solder in place. Fit it to your head again and flatten it to the contours.

Twist the 16-inch wire to the bisecting wire 1 inch from the twist at the base of the hat and circle the entire hat to come back around on the other side. Twist the other end of the 16-inch wire around the bisecting wire to finish the circuit and solder in place.

Repeat Step 6 with the 140-inch wire 1 inch above the 16-inch wire, and again with the 12-inch wire 1 inch above that one. Fit the whole hat to your head and flatten to the contour.

Bend an 8-inch wire perpendicular to the bisecting wire 2 inches from the twist at the base of the hat and twist the ends to the base of the hat on either side. Repeat with the remaining two 8-inch wires, each 2 inches from the last. You have now created the wire shaped base for the toque.

Cut a strip of green silk 8 inches wide and at least 40 inches long. Twist the strip of silk around the wire base of the toque and knot at the front. Cut off any excess.

Repeat Step 7 with the 16-inch wire.

Flip the hat over and press a piece of black netting into the hat's shape so it lays flat against each wire, starting with the 16-inch wire and working toward the middle, unwrinkled, and hot glue in place. Trim off the excess netting.

Adorn the crown, or top of the hat, with baby's breath flowers by pressing the stems through the netting. Add silk or dried violets to taste.

Top the toque with a green velvet bow in the centre of the baby's breath toward the front of the hat facing forward and hot glue in place.

Cut the brim of a straw hat so it is 2 1/2 inches wide on all sides.

Hot glue 3-inch wide lace trim to the crown of the hat on top of the brim, covering the straw with the lace.

Cut a strip of white satin ribbon to the exact diameter of the bowl or crown of the hat plus 1/4 inch for overlap and hot glue it to the bottom of the bowl just above the lace trim.

Add feathers and flowers to one side of the hat with hot glue.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 wire coat hangers
  • Measuring tape
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Soldering gun and solder
  • 1 yard green silk
  • Hot glue gun and sticks
  • 1/2 yard black netting
  • Bouquet of dried baby's breath flowers
  • Small dried or silk white violets
  • 1 green velvet bow
  • Wide-brimmed straw hat
  • 3 inch-wide lace trim
  • 2-inch white satin ribbon
  • Long feathers
  • Silk flowers
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About the Author

Araminta Star Matthews began writing in 1994, and editing in 1998. She has been published in "Learning through History Magazine," "Dark Moon Digest" and the "Sandy River Review." She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Maine and National University respectively.