With funerals being a fundamental cultural expression of ritual, mourning fashion is a delicate challenge. Funeral hats, long worn in Western culture, should convey appropriate sobriety that allows attention to be directed to the deceased and not the mourner. However, within this niche is a wide variety of hat styles, from vintage to modern, that will either assist in hiding the tear-streaked faces of the grieving or in showing respect to the departed. Simple, classic styles will reinforce the timeless ritual of the funeral and will help the wearer to avoid making fashion centre-stage at a funeral.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
Things you need
- Black hat, or hat form and hat materials
- Felt varnish
- Black veil of desired gauge
- Black ribbon of various widths
- Straight pins
- Hat pin (optional)
Choose what styles of hat you wish to start with, whether a 1950s style base or a modern, wide-brimmed hat to be paired with sunglasses. Consider offering several different styles that will appeal to a variety of ages. Different styles should also be planned according to the people who will wear them: Plan hats appropriately for the immediate family, like widows, or hats for mourners who will attend the funeral but are not a part of the family.
Craft or purchase a plain, unadorned black hat in a basic material like felt. To craft your own hat, use a basic blocking technique to form the crown of the hat on a form by wetting or steaming the felt and allowing it to dry in shape. Be sure to use felting varnish after the shape has dried. Purchase a vintage or new black hat online or in a store.
Attach black veiling of the desired gauge to the hat, with a few stitches or well-placed pins. Many modern hats feature a larger gauge netting, with fine veil reserved for bridal headpieces. Depending on the style of the hat, cut the length of veil to brush the shoulders, or form a birdcage style to cover the face. Trim the edge of the veil with black ribbon. Consider making the veil a removable feature, so that the hat itself is versatile. For modern Western funerals, full-length or Victorian mourning veils are no longer used.
Use a veil on a funeral hat only if there is no other ornamentation. Ornament the hat with a simple single flat bow in the absence of veiling, if desired. Avoid ostentatious embellishment like sequins or casual hat materials like straw. Consider avoiding funeral fascinators as well, since fascinators may appear casual or even flippant in a sombre setting.
Consider your clients. If you have a large base of steampunk enthusiasts, for instance, craft elaborate or embellished retro funeral hats or fascinators. Consider varying client taste, as well: Funeral hats in different styles will flatter a variety of face shapes and ages.
How to Make Funeral Hats
Tips and warnings
- Remember to include care instructions with your finished hat, especially regarding hat care during inclement weather.
- Consider offering engraved memorial hat pins.
- Be prepared for custom requests. Since many funerals are much more casual than even a few decades ago, mourners may wish to pay tribute to the deceased with a personalised hat or a more casual hat. The hat is appropriate when it fits the particular spirit and personality of the individual funeral.
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