A vintage(ish) hat

I feel a bit silly making a sun hat this week, we’ve just caught the tail end of a tropical storm, and it’s been torrential rain for the past three days! Hopefully we’ll get some sun in time for the weekend. A little bit of context might be need before I get into this weeks post, so here goes. In 1931 there was a massive earthquake (and subsequent fire) which destroyed the city of Napier in the Hawkes Bay. It remains the worst natural disaster in New Zealand’s history, with the greatest loss of life. When they rebuilt the city, they did so in the art deco style, which had only just made its way over the Atlantic. Apparently, Napier is now one of the best examples of art deco architecture in the world. Every February, the city holds a week long art deco festival commemorating the earthquake, and celebrating the city and the people who rebuilt it. And every year, for the Friday-Sunday of the festival, swing dancers from around the country descend on the Criterion Hotel on the main street for a weekend of dressing up, parading around, and dancing al fresco to the many jazz bands who play throughout the city. Its pretty much the best weekend of the year! I try to have at least one new outfit every year, either handmade or actual vintage (though dancing in Napier, in the middle of summer, in the sun, in a vintage dress is not the best!). This year I’ve bought a dress, and I’m halfway through a Colette Jasmine blouse, which will be another post. I’ve also refashioned a straw hat into a 1920’s cloche, because I catch fire in direct sunlight, and because I love hats, and there really aren’t enough chances to wear them in Wellington!


This is the hat I started with, just a cheap paper straw one. I cant quite figure out what I should call it. Is it a straw bowler hat? Its the wrong shape for a fedora. Anyway…I followed some of this tutorial by the Dreamstress, though I didnt need to reshape the crown, as it was already round. First I ripped off the band, then I used the iron with plenty of steam to flatten off the brim, and to angle it down to give the hat more of the bell shape I was after.


Then I tried the hat on, pulling it down over my forehead and folding the brim up at the back to make it more close fitting, and to ensure I could still move my head the whole way back without my hat popping off (so annoying!)


Once I had the shape I was after, I pinned the back if the brim up and hand sewed it in place. This was the part of the procedure that caused the most pain and swearing, i stabbed myself with pins so many times! I doubled the thread over and sewed in backstitch to make sure it was strong enough.


I still didn’t have the deep curve that I wanted in the back where the hat sits around my neck, so i got the iron back out and steamed it into the right shape


Finally, i sewed a pale yellow velvet ribbon on in place of the band I removed at the beginning. Because I want to wear this hat with two different outfits, i chose a colour that shows up in both my dress and blouse, and I’ll add a different embellishment each day to mix it up a bit.



I’ve just attached a pair of hair clips which suit each outfit (the hat is sitting on the dress and blouse, respectively), I’m not sure if i’ll just use them or if I’ll make some more decorative bits. I think that it looks pretty good though, I’m looking forward to wearing it! There will be a few more art deco related posts between now and mid February, I’ve got a parasol to decorate, a slip to make for under the blue and yellow dress, and some other little bits and pieces to fix up or make.

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