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 beginning.

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 worked, though.

Les Modes, August 1904. Photo by Ed. Cordonnier.
(Kuvaa rajattu)

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
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 shapes.


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.

edwardian hat

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.

edwardian hat

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 side.


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.

          summer outfit

Back to the Projects page