Anatomy of a Hat Makeover

What follows is a work in progress, but I thought it might be interesting to show a little of what goes on in the Steam Cat Labs.

It all started when a friend gave me this hat:

hat redo 001.JPG

Gwladys Pendlebury (my model) does not do this justice. It was fairly ratty looking, and the fabric was rotting in places. Of course, I needed to decide what to do with it. How about this?But of course. The link is now gone. Let's just say I had the Dowager Countess in mind.)

Here's a look at the inside:

hat redo 005.JPG

Kinda nasty. Still, it seemed to have good bones. I had to take it apart to find out:

hat redo 008.JPG

The buckram was stained, but it was solid. Even though I'd disinfected this hat previously, I zapped it in the microwave for a couple more minutes, just to be safe. It may have been overkill, but I wasn't about to take any chances. (Note: if you want to disinfect a hat in the microwave oven, be sure the wiring and ALL metal parts have been removed. Ask me how I know this!)

Next stop, the ironing board:

hat redo 009.JPG

That's my handy-dandy steam generator iron in the background. You can see that the frame looks pretty ugly. Those discoloration spots are mostly glue. But I needed to reshape that frame just a bit, so I used the iron, the tailor's ham, and a pressing cloth.

When that job was finished, I let the frame dry for a few minutes and then cut more wire and glued it in:

hat redo 011.JPG

That picture came out a little fuzzy, didn't it?

The next job was to cover the crown. I used some synthetic velvet and a remnant of upholstery fabric.


I've just tucked the fabric underneath, which is why it's not terribly even. Yes, the seam is in the front, because the decoration will cover it.

I decided to cover the decoration in buckram, meaning I had to draw out a design:


Looks a bit rude, doesn't it? ;-)

After that I made the lining, which you don't see here. It's a satin-ish fabric of a similar color.

The next trick was the feather. Sadly, I don't have any pictures. And I couldn't find a feather in the color I wanted. So I used a white feature, which I placed between two felt pads, and attached the pads to the back of the decoration. I can pull the pads off later and replace them and the feather when I find something I like better. Hey, I said this was a work in progress.

Here's the hat as it looks now:


Yes, the feather is definitely going to be replaced. I wanted it to be in decent enough shape to take to ConDFW to show at the hatter's panel.

It doesn't look exactly like the reference picture, but I think it came out (mostly) okay. What do you think?

Filed under: Techniques   Hats         
3/2/2014 11:03:00 AM