Creative Phases: Obsessed With Making Hats & Totes

I prefer small creative projects over larger ones; small, as in something I can complete in a day or two and in a small space, which often translates to small results sans a lot of detail. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m assuming we all go through creative “moods.” Recently, after watching only a few episodes of the fabulous TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which is set in 1920s Australia and features the most exquisite period-inspired fashions, I decided to make a hat. And no, I’d never ever made a hat before. And no, I do not have sewing skills beyond basic 1970s high-school Home Ec class figure-it-out-as-I-go skills. But, I do have a cedar chest filled with lovely fabrics collected over the years that need to be used, so I dove in.

I tackled hat #1 while watching more of Miss Fisher’s mysteries and decided to try another, then another. I consider most of these as practice hats while I’m learning.

I’ve made several more since the first one. I enjoy making them and they don’t require very much fabric so if I mess up while experimenting, its not that big of a deal. Five months later and I just finished hats #6 and #7.

For Hat #6, which my husband dubbed as The General, I used a plush and shiny cos-play outer fabric. The brim reverse is red ultra suede. Lining is red linen. (I use what I have on hand.) I had the opportunity to wear it the other day while running errands; threw on a long black sweater and the hat was a fun add-on. I do like this hat.

Hat #7, which I call The Raven, is the first hat I’ve made using tracing paper to mark all the pleats and while it saved a lot of time (there are a lot of pleats in the hats I seem to prefer making), it made them all so precise that I didn’t realize how off they were in the other hats, even though I like where the pleats landed on the others. I love the end results of the pleats, but they’re extremely tedious to mark, fold, and pin if they’re to work as intended.

I wanted to incorporate the purple organza somewhere in the hat but also wanted to play with color blocking so I did a 3/4 – 2/3 double layer of organza over the under-brim. I definitely want to do more with that idea on a future hat. I snipped the purple faux gem beads off of a dress scrap my sister sent and added them to the crown and top. Love all the mix of textures on this one. I was putting the finishing touches on it when I got the idea to make the matching totes. 

I normally am not a fan of anything too matchy matchy but with these two, I couldn’t resist. I mean, there are exceptions as in the case of these yummy cos-play fabrics. Besides, I remember that the fabrics were pricey so I wanted to use as much of it as possible, of course.

Will do more on totes in another post. Back to hats! Hat #1, my very first, I call The Green Crunchy. My sister appreciated the humor, so I sent it to her. The green shiny outer is a crunchy fabric. I used orange satin for the lining. When I set it over the lamp to photograph, I saw the orange shine through the crunchy cutouts; I had not noticed the little cutouts when cutting it. I thought it was a terrible hat, but my sister thought it was a hoot. “Oh, that’ll be so nice if my head ever lights up,” she laughed. I mean, it was the first one; and I still think it’s terrible; but we’ve enjoyed the laughs over this one, for sure.

Hat #2 Purple Garden I also sent to my sister. She sent the lovely flower brooch to use on a hat and I thought it worked well on this one. The hat is reversible to purple.

I learn all kinds of things every time I make another one; especially how the different fabrics “work,” for lack of a better work.

This is Hat #3 The Teal & Tan. The outer is a slick upholstery fabric with a teal linen top and lining. I made the rosette by twisting a piece of chiffon print cut from a dress that no longer fit. The hat is too big for me, unfortunately. I over-compensated the pattern after realizing they were running small.

I start with a grouping of fabrics and textures that resonate with my mood and then, through process of elimination as I go along, I work from that grouping. I like this hat; wish I’d made it smaller.

Also, I add padding to the tops and sometimes to the brims, which the pattern doesn’t mention. Thankfully its a fairly simple pattern. Playing with the different textures, thicknesses; learning how the different fabrics move is part of the fun.

This is Hat #4 The Sawaya, which I made for a friend who collects hats. I asked her for a color preference and she immediately said “red.” I had such fun with this one. I mused it as a travel hat in exotic lands so added removable accessories: one hat, four looks. Oh, and I added a secret pocket inside for a favorite poem, ID, and emergency folding money. I made the crown a bit too tall, but it scrunches down when on.

I use the pattern pieces as foundations and then make changes around those pieces; for example, I extend the brim on the pleated bucket hats because, as you can see, I like to turn them up with contrasting fabrics and doo-dads. The brim is low over the eyes in the original pattern; by extending the brim, it turns up in a variety of configurations.

Hat #5 The Little Peacock is made from all kinds of odd scraps. Yes, I do like that teal linen, but only a few small bits of it left. My sister sent some peacock feathers. I think its cute.

Another thing? As with the pleats on the hats, I love satin linings, but do not like messing with it; its slippery and fussy and never seems to match up with the heavier outer fabrics. But its so lovely; not sure if its worth it yet; we’ll see how often I use it going forward. Sigh, the satin is so soft and lovely.

Now that I’ve made those two little totes, I expect I’ll make more of them before I tackle the next hat. Totes don’t have pleats and I like not needing a pattern in order to make them. And they take less time to make than the hats. 

Creating while problem solving, sorting thoughts as a I go seems to be an important part of the process. Or something? Either way, I do enjoy creative time therapy.

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