Part I: Making a lace hat
- Millinery wire
- Lace fabric
- Petersham Ribbon (not pictured)
- Pins or pattern weights
- Press cloth
- Fray Check
The lace, tulle and millinery wire can all be purchased at Britex Fabrics. I chose a navy lace because it’s versatile and can go with a dress or jeans. But this lace has some stretch to it and the tulle has no stretch, which is not ideal but I didn’t really have any problems sewing them together. The tulle is a contrasting color so you can see the lace. If you get a matching color, the lace will just blend in and you won’t see the design of the lace.
I’ll be using a couple of hat terms: 1. The crown, the part of a hat that covers the head. 2. The brim, which attaches to the crown. Brims can be small like the version D or wide, such as version E of this pattern. The millinery wire is inserted in the edge of the brim and that’s what makes it stand out from the crown.
There are only three pattern pieces for this hat – two pieces make up the crown and then there’s the brim. The tulle is the lining and interfacing for this hat. Because tulle is semi-transparent and not very stiff, the pattern has you cut each two of each pattern piece. I traced size L rather than cutting out the pattern pieces. This means that if I want to make a hat for a friend with a smaller head, I can trace that size from the original pattern pieces.
You can use pins or pattern weights to hold the pattern pieces in place. This is a synthetic lace so I wasn’t worried about the pins damaging the lace. If you use a delicate lace, you probably want to use pattern weights.
I used scissors to cut this piece because I have more control on the curve.
And here’s the side of the crown – cut on the fold.
The brim is also cut on the fold. I used pattern weights on these two pieces and cut them with my rotary cutter. The curve of these pattern pieces is easier to handle with a rotary cutter. You can use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut lace; it all depends on your personal preference and what you need to cut.
I cut two pieces of the three pattern pieces from the tulle. For the crown, one piece of tulle acts as the interfacing and the other is the lining. The brim uses both pieces of tulle on the inside.
Warning: There’s a LOT of pinning and basting for this pattern. You pin the tulle pattern piece to the lace piece for the crown (top and side) and baste them together before you sew. You pin and baste each pattern piece together. I used a safety pin to mark the center front of the crown. The seam is in the center back.
I used a universal Schmetz needle 70/10 and a stitch length of 2. I didn’t have any experience machine sewing lace – only hand sewing it – but this was easy to sew. I didn’t use a special needle and it was fine.
I won’t go into every step because you can just follow the pattern instructions. But there was one part that was tricky to figure out, even with the instructions. After you’ve stitched the crown together and sewn the tulle lining (steps 1-8), you pin the lining of the crown to the lace crown wrong sides together. It looks like this.
The you turn it right side out and you’re ready to attach the brim.
You cut two pieces of the brim from the lace for the top and bottom of it, plus two pieces of tulle, which go on the inside. After you sew the lace pieces right sides together (tulle is basted to the inside) you turn it inside out. This donut shape is the brim, which will be stitched to the crown after you’ve carefully topstitched the edge of the brim 1/4″ from the edge. The space between the topstitching and edge of the brim becomes the channel to insert the millinery wire. The seam allowance gets trimmed to 1/8″.
Attaching brim to crown (washi tape is my seam guide). You can sort of see the topstitching on the brim (to left of foot).
In this photo below, the brim is attached to the crown and I’m inserting the black millinery wire through the brim edge. I just poked it through the center back seam and shoved it through the small space between the outer seam edge and the topstitching Lace won’t unravel so it was fine to poke a hole through it. Other laces may have larger openings in the design so you won’t need to create a hole.
In some spots my topstitching got a little too close to the edge, which made it hard to push the millinery wire through. I just shoved it through.
After the millinery wire makes it through to the entire brim, use wire cutters to cut the wire. I cut it so it overlapped about an inch and then inserted it though the initial hole so the ends of the wire overlapped.
The wire makes the brim stand out from the crown. Lace isn’t very stiff so the hat has no shape to it when it’s not on. It’s just a floppy circle.
I’m holding the hat inside out here. You can see the tulle lining and the crown of the hat is only held up by my hand. Otherwise, it would just collapse.
In this photo, you can see that the seam allowances are on the outside where the crown and brim meet. But it gets covered by a ribbon. The seam allowance is trimmed to 1/8″.
Before I attached the Petersham ribbon, I steamed and stretched it slightly so it would lay flat on the crown. This step is not in the pattern instructions. Petersham ribbon has little notches on both edges, which lets you stretch it around a curve – unlike grosgrain ribbon, which has straight edges and won’t stretch – unless you have 100 percent cotton grosgrain. I’ve also heard hat makers refer to Petersham ribbon as grosgrain – but it’s millinery grosgrain (Petersham). Britex carries a wide range of Petersham ribbons.
On most hats the crown is widest around the forehead and gets more narrow as you go up. This means that a ribbon won’t lay flat against the crown. If you have a pattern piece as we do here, you can use it as your guide to stretch the ribbon. Line up the ribbon with the bottom of the pattern piece – add an extra inch so you can overlap the ribbon at the center back – and pin the top of the ribbon in place, making sure it lies flat. (See How to Make a Removable Hat Band to be published on 7/12/2016)
Then put your iron on a steam setting – not too hot because most Petersham ribbon is rayon, then gently pull on the bottom edge of the ribbon and press. Use press cloth to protect the ribbon. I used a scrap of silk organza as my press cloth.
Then I pinned the ribbon to the crown of the hat to hold it in place before I stitched the back. Use Fray Check or Fray Block on the ends. Fray check dries a bit stiff and hard. It fine on ribbon that isn’t going to touch your skin. Fray block isn’t as thick so I prefer that when I’m using it on a garment.
These quilting pins are a bit large so don’t leave them in for long because they can damage the ribbon. Or use slender pins but again, don’t leave them in for a long period of time or you may end up with visible holes in the ribbon.
I lined up the ribbon with the center back fold. The place where the ribbon meets will be covered by another piece of ribbon. The pattern instructs you to fold the ribbon at the top so it forms a point, like so…
… and sew it to the center back of the ribbon band.
And here I am wearing the hat. As you can see the ribbon lies flat against the crown - and it goes well with my jacket.
Chuleenan Svetvilas lives in Berkeley and blogs about sewing and hats at C Sews. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.