A Round-Up of 2021 Millinery Projects

At the end of 2020, I spotted that Morley College were running a number of short millinery courses online and, having always been intrigued by millinery, decided to give it a go. I took advantage of a discount to book a place on three different courses during 2021 – two flat pattern courses, and one blocked hat course. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I’m already booked on a first 2022 course at the end of January, with the intention to book more during the year.

I think I’ll mostly stick to flat-pattern hat making, since it requires the same tools and skills as garment pattern drafting and sewing, and only a few millinery materials, but I did enjoy learning the basics of blocking and I might create or invest in the odd hat block. My brother 3D printed me a vintage pillbox hat for Christmas which I’m looking forward to trying out.

I thought it would be fun to share a round up of the hats I created during 2021 here on the blog – some created as part of my classes, some created by following tutorials, and some I made up as I went along!

The first online course I attended was a Vintage Pattern Cut Hats course with Vesna Pesic. During the course I made three hats based on vintage magazine patterns, which Vesna had tracked down and slightly updated. Two of the hats (my versions both in a blue wool) were more unusual percher designs – picked by Vesna as more interesting / more of a challenge – so they aren’t the most wearable hats, but were fun to try out while I learned the basics of flat-pattern hat making. The third hat was a fitted cloche, made in a grey millinery felt below. This vintage magazine pattern included a pattern piece for the brim, and instructions on the measurements for three rectangles which made up the rest of the hat. I’d like to make a further version of this hat, as it’s really wearable and could be really cute with a neater finish and in nicer fabrics.

The saucer hat below was made outside of any class, using a tutorial from HATalk magazine. It was made by pleating a rectangle of jinsin fabric, then bringing the ends together to form a circle and securing. I finished the edge with some narrow bias binding from my stash and attached it to a headband to wear. I’ve found this a particularly wearable hat – I’ve worn to to a wedding and also on holiday – and it has probably had the most wear of any hat pictured here.

Also made by following a tutorial from HATalk magazine, this bow hat is made from silk abaca fabric, joined to create one long strip, formed into a bow shape and secured to a headband. I have an idea for another bow hat (inspired by a hat worn in the film Ziegfeld Girl) which I wanted to but didn’t get around to making for New Year’s Eve, which I’ll make during 2022.

The next hat was the result of my second Morley College course, on creating hat blocks from flat patterns. We all used the same flat pattern, provided by our teacher Sarah Lomax, which was for the brim only of a percher hat. The course was focused on the (quite involved) process of creating a hat block using buckram (i.e. as an alternative to using a wooden hat block), but following the class I blocked a grey felt fabric on my brim block – and blocked a matching crown on a polystyrene ball. I find this hat harder to wear, as it looks more formal, but I ought to reuse my brim block and see what alternative types of hat I can create with it as a base.

The last course I attended with Morley during 2021 was a flat-pattern hat class on caps, baker boy hats and berets with Vesna Pesic. The focus of the course was teaching us to draft a multi-section crown based on our personal measurements, and tweak that to create different types of hat. The first hat I created following the course was this ear flap cap. This was my first wearable version following a couple of toiles, and I will go back and tweak my pattern slightly as it ended up a little large. The fabric is a coating fabric which I accidently felted, but it works great for this hat I think!

Finally, the last hat I finished during 2021 was a heart-shaped pillbox to wear on Christmas Day. This hat was an idea of mine, as I love a pillbox and thought a heart shaped design would work well. It’s made from two pattern pieces – the side and top – which I cut in a plastic for durability, and covered with fabric. This hat is also on a headband to make it easy to wear.

So, that’s eight finished hats in 2021. I have a few ideas for hats to try out in 2022, and I’m also looking forward to continuing to learn more skills with Morley College.

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