Edwardian hat, 2021
Recently I was randomly inspired to make a ca 1905-6 outfit
for a summer event, so a big hat was also needed. Edwardian
hats go from a bit weird but striking to absolutely gorgeous
creations, so this seemed a very exciting project in the
I had a quick look through fashion plates and photographs and
pretty soon realised that the really wide frothy creations I
had sort of had in mind were a few years later fashion. In the
middle of the decade flat hat with a small crown, possibly
with brim twisted upwards seemed more common, but there really
was such a profusion of styles that it was hard to get a good
picture. Iím not generally very good with hats, though I have
learned a bit through trial and error.
I began with the base, however. I remodelled a modern paper
straw hat by taking apart the crown, making a new small and
flat one and filling the space left with rows of straw. Paper
straw is a bit limp but easy to sew.
I wanted to have flowers for the decoration, an easy choice
for a summer hat. I was totally in love with this original
one, and of course shades of pink are always a safe choice
with green and white. It was dated ca 1905 in the ever so
unreliable Pinterest, but to my uneducated eye it actually
looked a bit later.
My next idea was the picture above from Le Coquet 1906.
Unfortunately I had only a short piece of green ribbon in the
perfect shade and was reluctant to go shopping. It reached
just around the crown, but I thought somehow that I could fill
in the lack of a big bow with more flowers. It never really
Modes, August 1904. Photo by Ed. Cordonnier.
Then I wanted to use this effect of the back brim turned
up, which was charming. I added a lot of flowers, tried to keep
it balanced but I donít know if that went very well. Then I
remembered I had a bit of hat tulle somewhere and this if
anything was where I could use it, so I wrapped the whole piece
around the crown and over the slightly turned up brim.
Well, it turned out wearable but maybe not great - there was
just too much everything. I didnít have any time to try
anything else so I wore it like this and was thankful I had
finished my outfit in time and something to shade my face from
the relentless sun. But when I began to plan the photoshoot
(postponed to next summer) I felt that I really needed to do
something to the poor hat.
Les Modes (Paris)
June 1905 chapeau par Alphonsine
I had found some new
favourites by now, including this lovely photograph from
1905. It had the upturned trim I liked but it relayed more
on ribbon than flora.
I took off every bit of decoration and started again. The
basic shape wasnít that bad, though the crown might be too
narrow and high, but the brim could use some support. The hat
edge was finished with an extra row of paper straw tape, and
after some rude words I managed to cram a metal wire inside it
all round the brim. I left it a bit tight so the brim
naturally turned upwards and could be twisted into different
By now I had acquired a good stash of pale pink silk (I had
needed a bit for 18th century stuff and realized how versatile
the color would be for many purposes), and thought it would be
a good starting point.
I made a long, lavishly 10cm wide doubled bias ribbon, wrapped
it around the crown with a twist, pulled the ends over the
upturned brim and finished them in a large four-loop rosette.
Then I began adding
the flowers. I still ended up using a lot more than in my
inspirational photograph, but now I went for a considerably
more subdued colour palette, keeping only the light pink ones
and changing the large wine red piece for a cluster of creamy
greaniums. I kept a generous amount of greenery, though, to
balance the contrast between the dark green skirt and the
white blouse. This second version of the decoration was still
voluminous but a bit more harmonious, I hope.
The fashion quirk of twisting the brim edge into little bends
here and there frankly looks a bit weird to me, but I
carefully tried it here and there in addition to the upturned
On the photoshoot I also tried to wear the hat more tilted on
one side, which of course added a lot of drama at once. It
also helped that my hair turned out a lot better than in the
morning hurry before the event. So, in the end the whole look
turned out pretty decent, at least to my uneducated eye.