I have recently been to London to learn about traditional Millinery techniques from the great Rose Cory. Rose is often referred to as the “Milliners Milliner” and during her forty year career and has made fabulous hats for many celebrities including the late Queen Mum.
I’m writing this post as a personal record / memory jogger of how I made my Sinamay Hat under Rose’s guidance. What has become apparent over the last few months is that there is no right or wrong way to make a hat, every millinery has their own preference, tips and techniques. If you have any of your own, please send me your comment – I would love to know.
Ok – here we go. I’ve used 1.75m of Sinamay , gauge 22 millinery wire and 25 inches of Petersham ribbon.
Step 1 – Cover your block in plastic then measure the widest part of your brim block and cut 2 Sinamay bias strips (mine are 7.5 inches) of that width.
Step 2: Soak the bias Sinamay strips in water for 5 minutes until soft.
Step 3: Remove the Sinamay from the water and blot with kitchen towel to remove excess. Pin the bias strip to outside edge (widest part) of brim every 6 inches or so.
Step 4: Use a pin to mark the position where the bias strip overlaps. Remove the Sinamay strip from the block and pin the seam in place. Use a sewing machine to join the strip ends. Trim seam to 2cm. Hand press the seam flat.
Step 5: Repeat step 3 and 4 with the second bias strip.
Step 6: Lay the bias strips with the wrong sides together so that the seams cross. Pin the 2 bias strips to keep them roughly together.
Step 7: Make up your water based stiffening solution (1 stiffener: 3 water), soak the Sinamay strips in stiffening solution for 5 mins. Blot off excess solution with kitchen roll.
Step 8: Pin the bias strip to the outside edge of the block. Remember to place your pins at an angle to help keep the fabric in place.
Step 9: Pin the inside edge of the brim in an opposite direction to the outside edge. Stretch the layers out and pin in place so that the fabric is smooth. Here is a photo from the other side. Put the brim to one side to dry.
Step 10: Take 2 squares of Sinamay fabric (large enough to cover the dome block create the crown) and line up the grain – some milliners prefer to criss-cross the grains. Soak the fabric squares in the 3:1 water based stiffener for 5 minutes. Blot off excess solution with paper towels.
Step 11: Lay the fabric squares over the crown block and secure in place by first pinning the straight fabric edges. Work in North, South, East West direction. Roll a blocking spring onto the crown. Remove any creases by pulling the fabric on the bias. Leave to dry.
Step 12: Take the brim and removes the pins. Lift the brim off the block. Measure the circumference of the outside edge of the brim. Cut some strong (22 gauge) millinery wire 2 inches longer than this length.
Step 13: Place the wire around the edge of the brim and join the ends with sellotape or a joiner. Fold the edge of the brim over the wire. Use a double thread to secure the wire inside the brim edge. I used a ‘short back, long forward’ stitch on the inside of the brim.
Step 14: Cut a 5 inch bias strips and wet in water. Place bias around edge of brim, pin overlap position and join edge on sewing machine.
Step 15: Lay the Sinamay bias strip around outside edge on top of brim. Machine stitch bias strip to the edge approx 1.5cm in from wire edge on the wrong side. It helps to align the machine needle to the left hand side and keep the right edge of presser foot on against the wire.
Step 16: Fold the bias strip over the edge of the brim and tuck the raw edge under. Pin in place. Stitch in place with small stitches and double thread sliding the needle through the folded edge of the top layer as much as possible.
Step 17: Trim the inside top edge of brim to 1 inch above brim height. Cut the Petersham ribbon to size + seam allowance. Oversew the ribbon to join the edges at the correct distance (for me this is a standard head size of 22.5 inches). Pin the ribbon in place inside the top edge of the brim. Sew the Petersham ribbon to the crown with a stab stitch as close to the bottom edge as possible.
Step 18. Mark the centre front of the crown and remove from the block. Cut to your choose height. Pin the crown to the brim then join with ‘small back, long forward’ stitches to the brim behind the Petersham ribbon.
Step 19: Trim the hat. I’ve used rolled edge sinamay bias strips which are then folded in half.
I just need to add a flower and its ready to wear!