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, most of the time. 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.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. 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.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Storing & Identifying Your Hat Collection

June 28, 2012
Once again my blog entry comes from a conversation I started on Facebook, as I complained that my tower of unstored hats had come crashing down. These are ones that I don’t have hat boxes for them yet. Other friends commiserated with me, and gave suggestions. I do have a method to my madness, just not enough boxes to contain them. So here we have proof of my OCD with costume hats. Each of these boxes have small photos of the hats inside them. It’s hard to see but there’s a tall glass vase between the first row that I have my extra long hat pins in. It held many more than those cute little hat pin holders you can buy.

 That’s not all of them but they’re reached the ceiling already. There’s still the short stack of hats behind me, and a square hat box that is temporary housing since it’s not very strong. It’s similar to that white one up the upper shelf on the left. That one contains a bunch of blank straws, derbies, and a top hat.  Surprise to me that in that box I found some already reshaped small straw hats I had and could have saved me some time when I had to run around looking for regular straw hats and then steam and reshape them. *sigh*
After reading an article on organizing your stash, one of the suggestions was to make a list of hats in each hat box and tape it to the box. Except it took me too long to read, and that list changed sometimes where I was scribbling all over it. For my hats I came up with the idea of attaching photos of each hat to the box with just bits of Scotch tape so if I moved the hat to another box, the photo went with it. The photos are mostly about 3x3 inches. I have a photo album in my computer of all my costume hats. Most of them were just taken by holding them in front of my camera but some were taken with me wearing them. I just printed the photo and cut off the portion I needed. I use a Word document and Insert my photos onto it, then print it out and cut them to the size I want. 

They don’t have to be fancy, just clear enough that from about 4 feet away you can see them right away on the boxes. I have about 76 hats, and that includes tiaras, day caps and little hair ornaments.
**ETA--at the request of one of my readers, I downloaded photos of most of my hats onto my Pinterest board. I left off the hat blanks, tiaras and day caps.  **
I wrote an earlier post about organizing my pattern collection into a small notebook I can carry with me when fabric shopping.


  1. Brilliant! I often have to open all the hat boxes to find the one I want.

  2. 76 hats? Gracious, that's getting towards the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins! :}

    Hmm, methinks I need hatboxes and those nifty photo labels too. I have perhaps 10 hats but only two are in boxes. The rest? Catching dust...

    Very best,


  3. What a great tip! A local fashion guru once told us at a talk that she kept all her shoes in boxes with photos on the end so she could find them and I was just gobsmacked at the notion of owning that many shoes!
    Now I am gobsmacked and also intrigued by your 76 hats. Would you do a few post about them? I always love the ones you've done about building hats and bonnets. :)

    1. How about I do one better than that? I started up another Pinterest board and am downloading photos of all of them. It will take me awhile as I'm only at 21 and have to stop now.

  4. I have the same problem of storage with my hats!!!! But 40's and 50's hats are most of the time smaller so I manage to put about 10 in a large hat box... so it's hard to tags my boxes... moreover I own more than 100 pieces!
    But I think it's a good idea for shoes, I must think about that!!!

  5. Hi Val, I just joined your Time Traveling blog. Love making costumes but not near as advanced as you. Love the blog on hat storage and only have a few.

    I too would love to hear more about building the hats. Do you do video tutorials?
    Thanks for sharing, Janet W.

    1. Thank you, Janet. No I don't have any video tutorials. I mainly just trim my hats that I buy the hat form for. I have tried making a wire & buckram frame bonnet, but its very hard on my hands, so prefer to leave that to the professionals. I'm not experienced enough to do a tutorial on trimming either. Most of mine are fly by the seat of your pants but I did take a beginning millinery class at my local college to learn the basics. Even tho hot glue guns are your friend, they are not the best when the weather gets hot and the glue melts. If you really need to glue, I suggest E6000 clear glue, available at Michaels and other craft/hardware stores. Most of mine are handstitched on so they're removable if I want to re-trim the hat.


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