Victorian hats were elaborate works of art produced by milliners. Although times have changed since the Victorian Era, the tools and supplies needed to recreate one of these masterpieces are quite similar to what a milliner of that time would have used. Some supplies are more accessible than others depending on how detailed you wish to make your hat. You will need supplies for the shape, covering, decorations and fastenings.
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Supplies for the Shape
Straw or felt hats can be purchased at craft stores and thrift stores. Don't worry too much about the hat's original appearance -- its main function is to serve as the base and shape of the hat.
If you wish to make the shape of your hat from scratch, you will need a very stiff fabric called buckram, that can usually be found in stores that carry upholstery fabrics. Once buckram is wet, it will become pliable. When it has dried it will retain the shape you formed it into when it was wet. You will need something to serve as a mould for your buckram. If you want a small box-shaped hat, use a small box as your mould. If you want something to fit closely to your head, use a bowl or ball roughly the size of your head. Milliners use wooden head mannequins called head blocks. But these are hard to come by and can get quite expensive.
Supplies for the Covering
Once you have the shape of your hat complete, the next step is to cover it. If you purchased a straw or felt hat and you are happy with the original look, you don't need to cover it. Victorian hats were usually covered with very rich and luxurious fabrics, like velvet and silk. You can use these if you wish, or you can take advantage of new synthetic and less expensive fabric.
You don't always have to purchase your fabrics from fabric stores. Buy an old prom dress from a thrift store. Cut it up and use the fabric to make a gorgeous covering for your hat. Traditionally Victorian hat coverings were sewn to the hat shapes. You can sew on the covering, but it takes time and skill. Another more modern option is to use a glue gun to apply the hat covering. Be sure to test a small scrap of your fabric with the glue before you apply it to your hat. Some synthetic fabrics do not react well to heat and will melt or become discoloured.
Supplies for Decorations
Victorian hats were decorated with everything from delicate lace to stuffed dead birds. Let your imagination and creativity guide you as you decide what decorations to use. Craft stores will have a variety of items to choose from to make your hat truly spectacular. Or if you desire a more thrifty approach, hit the home goods section of your local thrift store. Look for lacy curtains or fake flower arrangements. Once you have your decorations, use a needle and thread or a glue gun to apply them to your hat.
Fastenings for your Hat
Hat pins and ties were used to fasten a Victorian hat to its wearer. You can make your own ties with two pieces of ribbon secured to the brim of your hat. Hat pins can be found in antique stores or ordered on line.
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