This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**



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HI, my name is Val. I'm a membor of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Steaming & Reshaping a Straw Hat


With 3 days to go before my next event, an 1870s Bustle Picnic, I’m finally finishing up my black and white polka dot bustle gown that is trying not to be just another polonaise. More on that in another post after it’s done. But I still need a hat. With no hat forms in sight that would work, I decided to make my own using a technique I read recently of dropping the straw hat in boiling water and then reshaping it over *something*. I found a couple 12” straw hats at a craft store, which are probably larger than I would have liked. 10” would have been better. But we make do.


 I found a couple hats in fashion prints that it would work for. The one on the lady on the right wearing the blue plaid gown, which btw I think I have to make; and the lady on the far right in the group of three. So this showed me what shape I wanted to do, and the 12” hat that I had would work for this.



Following the directions posted in the other blog, I brought a large pot of water to just a boil. *A friend just told me she only used hot water in her sink. So I think that's worth trying too.*  I put on rubber gloves with a pair of tongs nearby if I needed those too. I dipped the hat in halfway and it immediately softened up and started to sizzle; probably just absorbing the water. My hat was a little larger than the pot but when it softened, I could actually have pushed it all the way in. But I didn’t need the crown of the very front of it reshaped. I only left it in about 30 seconds. I pulled it out just using my rubber gloves.
Then I put out 2 glass mixing bowls on my counter, one larger than the other, placed the hat over the larger one, bent the back up and pushed the sides down. Then I put a smaller bowl on top to hold the tilted up part in the back.


 Once it had cooled I took the bowl off to let it completely dry out. *Another hint from my friend; set it out in the sun to dry. I left mine on the counter overnight and its still not completely dry.* 

So now begins the excavation into my stash for whatsits to put on the hat.  



11 comments:

  1. That is really cool! I wonder if you could do a similar thing with felt.

    It also raises the possibility of dyeing the straw. If you had dye in the pot instead of just hot water, you could even change the color of the hat.

    What a creative idea, and one that sparks the imagination!

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    1. yes you can do that with felt hats, they also require a little bit of steam to help set the fibers and then pinning and cooling.

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  2. Hmmm. I'm going to have to try that....

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  3. I have seen people reshape felt hats and I have reshaped a doll-sized straw hat just by wetting it and pinning it into place. Thanks for another way to get a fabulous bonnet!

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  4. This is pure genius! Thank you for sharing! I'm going to try this with a hat for me, but first, I'm going to do this will a doll hat for a commission I have. Thank you so much for such a simple and adaptable technique.

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  5. Thank you for the pic. I lirn better from pics. this is very helpfull.:)

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    1. You're welcome, Jessie. I'm very much the same way.
      Val

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  6. Wonderful tutorial! I've been doing this sort of reshaping with just a spray bottle and cool water. But hot water seems to be the way to go. Thanks!

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  7. Laurel Hampton-HuntJune 27, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    It's not that hard to turn a 12" straw hat into a 10" if that's what you want: First, locate the end of the straw spiral that the hat is made of (along the brim) paying attention to how it was finished off. Start undoing the stitching holding the spiral together and when the hat is down to the size you want, just cut the excess straw off and sew the end down like it was done originally. This is MUCH easier than trying to turn a 10" straw hat into a 12"! :)

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    1. Thank you, Laurel. That's good to know. I still have two more of the same straws that I would like to have smaller.
      Val

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  8. Might be a way to build some interesting armor or military helmets, shape it then use fiberglass and/or brush-able latex rubber to make something unique.

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I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!