HSF #15: 1920s Wide Brim Hat

One of my recent projects lined up with an HSF challenge! I’m excited! My new hat qualifies for the HSF #15: The Great Outdoors. I enjoy making hats, partially because it is always nice to keep my hat making skills in use so I don’t forget them and also because I like putting those skills I’m practicing and remembering to use. The more you do things, the better you do them and the easier it is to remember how to do them!

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c. 1920 wide brim sinamay hat

The crown of this hat was pulled over a wooden form and then liberally brushed with sizing multiple times before being removed. The brim is a circle, wired on the outside edge, covers with French elastic to keep the poky edge bits from being poky and then bound in bias cut sinamay. The brim is also well sized. There is an inner millinery grosgrain hat band which covers the join between the crown and brim. The exterior hat band is made from bias cut cotton scraps from my stash. The flowers are some of those I purchased awhile ago for super cheap.

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Here is my only in progress picture, of the crown just after being removed from the hat block. The bottom edge was eventually trimmed off to make it even.

Fabric: ½ yd or so of sinamay* yardage.

Pattern: None.

Year: c. 1920.

Notions: Millinery wire, French elastic (½” wide bias cut tricot), millinery grosgrain, cotton scraps, faux flowers, and thread.

How historically accurate?: Let’s go with 90%. Sinamay has been produced for hundreds of years and was certainly known and used in America by the early 20th century. I don’t know for certain that it was used for hats at that point, but I have encountered images and extant examples of hats which certainly look like they could have been made from sinamay or some other similar looking material. The style of the brim and trimmings are consistent with the variety I’ve found in 1920s hats.

Hours to complete: 5ish, spread over about 3 months.

First worn: To the Crane Estate Lawn Party in Ipswich, MA at the beginning of August.

Total cost: Entirely a stash project, which makes it free! I probably paid about $5 for the amount of sinamay I used about six years ago when I bought it, but I used such small bits of all of the other materials that it is pretty hard to estimate how much they cost.

* Sinamay is a natural fiber woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree, a banana palm native to the Philippines. It is woven in a variety of weights which produce a variety of qualities from rough to very fine, but regardless of the weight and quality it is always very strong. Historically, it was used to make twine, rope, and cordage because of its strength and resistance to salt water. More recently, it has been used for specialty items such as the production of tea bags, floor mats, and furniture, as well as for clothing, and hats!

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This picture was taken using a Petzval lens, which produces the unique blurred effect.
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I shaped the wire to create the slight curve down on the sides which I’ve often seen in 1920s hats.

You can see some inspiration here, in this post about making my long handled parasol. And here are some more examples: c. 1920c. 1925, and 1927. I’ve got more pictures of my whole ensemble, including my new long handled parasol, which will be coming soon!

15 thoughts on “HSF #15: 1920s Wide Brim Hat

  1. Lovely! I can’t wait to see the whole outfit. 🙂

    Oh, and what do you use for sizing in your hats? We haven’t done much with millinery, but the warnings of toxicity in most supplies have been a bit of a damper on delving into the hobby… 😛

    1. I use the sizing that can be ordered here: http://www.hatsupply.com/sizingstiffeners.htm. Toxic problems are certainly a thing in millinery (Mad Hatter’s Disease got its name for a reason!), but if one takes adequate precautions and only makes hats on a limited basis rather than as full time employment, my feeling is that the risks are limited, and certainly no worse than they are when I use modern chemical dyes, which is also a thing that I do on a limited basis. I make sure to have adequate ventilation (or at least be in a big room rather than a small one) and make sure not to get the sizing on my skin. I usually apply it with a brush, which keeps it from being airborne (so I don’t wear a mask), but if I was to use it in spray form I would probably wear a mask so I wouldn’t be inhaling the particles. You can also buy shellac at hardware stores and use that mixed with denatured alcohol for sizing. Of course, sizing is flammable, so storing it in an appropriate location is important, too. But it works wonders for hat stiffening!

  2. SQUEEEE!!! I adore your new hat!! It is so light and airy and beautiful!! Yo uhave done a most fabulous job on it…and I love the sweet pink flowers! The shape of the brim is so 1920s perfect!!

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