Wednesday, January 28, 2009
So this sweater came not from a thrift store but from my closet. I got it three or four years ago from H&M, an angora and nylon blend. I loved the color and the fuzziness and wore it absolutely to death. Finally this year I had to acknowledge that it was pilled beyond wear, but I still wasn't ready to give it up. I decided it was perfect for a hat. I washed it in hot and dried it in the dryer to tighten up the weave. The "before" pic on the right was taken *after* that step--I wasn't wearing it around with my belly showing.
Cidell gave me the book Saturday Night Hat on extended loan when I first become obsessed with hats on the condition that I review it, so here goes.
The first thing you have to do is not hate the author. If her introduction is to be believed, she was one year out of college and unemployed and stopped into a fancy boutique wearing one of her hats. By the end of the month, Barney's had placed an order for her line. She talks a fair amount in the book about how she could neeeeevvvver have a real job like a regular person. While I don't (necessarily) begrudge her success at the age of 22 or whatever, I find the whole "I'm so special and artistic! I can't live like the rest of you peons!" thing pretty irritating.
But the point of the book is not Eugenia Kim (luckily), the point of the book is hat projects. The focus of the book is mostly sewn hats, with some projects that are just embellishing a purchased hat; there is no information on blocking. There are patterns for a nice variety of projects--cocktail hat, baseball cap, engineer cap, sun hat, cloche, and newsboy plus instructions for drafting your own beret and pillbox. In addition, there are embellishment projects for pre-made cloches and fedoras.
A weakness in the instructions is her information on how to size for your head. Rather than, say, shrink or enlarge the pattern on a copy machine in proportion to the difference between the pattern (drafted for a women's medium 23" head) and your own size or use other pattern-scaling methods, she tells you to make the project as is and then use an iron to steam shrink or stretch the finished product. Huh? I find it much easier to do some simple math--my 21.5 inch head is 93% of a medium 23 inch head (21.5 divided by 23), so I copied the pattern on a copy machine at 93%.
Many of her decoration ideas are very clever and the instructions are well-detailed with accompanying illustrations. There is also some basic information on things like the type of feathers used in millinery and other supplies. In enjoyed reading the book and I'm sure the ideas will be percolating in my brain for a while.
So, I had this sweater. It wanted to be a hat. What kind of hat? Although I am way, way late to the party (3 or 4 years) I really liked the newsboy hat project. After I made the hat I started paying more attention on the street and while the newsboy may or may not be out of high fashion, it is still going strong in street fashion so I don't feel out of place wearing my hat.
The instructions in the book are pretty good, though they result in a pretty unfinished interior, which is not generally my style. You make the crown and the lining and then sew them to the band as one. The raw edge of the bill is added to the mix. The whole mess is covered with grosgrain ribbon. I wasn't in the mood to figure out a neater way to finish all this (which would be to hand sew the lining down over the seam) so I just followed the instructions.
She recommends buckram or cardboard to reinforce the brim, but I used my standby shaper, plastic needlepoint canvas. I placed the pattern underneath the canvas; luckily the pattern has both a cutting line and a seam line marked. I traced along the seam line using a highlighter, cut out the brim, and covered the edges with duct tape to soften them as seen at left. I should have blunted the corners, and will probably need to open out the seam the cut them off at some point. Next time, though, I'll probably use a couple layers of buckram so the bill can be curved more. Cardboard is just asking for trouble because the hat will be ruined the first time it gets wet.
This hat is very fun on the inside. When thinking about linings I decided one of my tie silks from Fabric Mart that I split with Cidell (they still have some tie silk bundles) would be perfect. Silk is quite warm, and I wanted this to be a functional hat. It is also pretty and easy on the hair. I used the leftovers of some colorful ribbon to line the hat band. Indeed, this turned out to be much warmer than I expected and I've worn it on very cold days with no trouble.
Although I'm not sure this hat is *quite* the fashionable shape, I really like it. As shown on the on the model in the book it is perfect, but if you really look at the picture you see the hat is only barely sitting on the top of her head, and that's the only reason the crown poofs out as it does. When pulled over the ears (necessary for warmth!), it's not as full and almost has a rasta hat vibe. Of course, the difference in texture between my sweater and a traditional tweedy wool has something to do with it as well. Next time, though, I will try to build in a little more fullness. I have seen a few berets that are basically a newsboy without a brim and would like to try that--I don't usually wear hats with brims unless I need sun protection because I am so short that I can't see anything out from under them!
All photos are here and the pattern review is here. This will be my entry in the Reconstruction/Recycling/Refashion Contest on PR--I was eager to do the project but I made myself wait until January 1 so I'd be eligible to enter! I will write more about the coat, but I had to do this review before the end of the month to enter the contest.