Saturday, July 02, 2011

The 1795 Morning Dress Hat, Completed*

* for all intents and purposes.

So, here it is! Am very pleased with it. Thanks to Lynn McMaster's article on 1790s turbans, in which she uses part of a coat hanger on which to put the ostrich plume, I was able do something similar to not only make these plumes really stay put, but be able to remove them without effort or damage so that they can be employed in evening wear.

As always, please click the images to see them larger.

Here below is how this all was achieved.

Last you saw, the hat lacked plumes and the trim was just laid on to see how it looked...

Oh, here are the model hats, from June 1794 Gallery of Fashion. As you may recall, I am doing a combination of the leftmost and rightmost figures' hats. The only thing I am not entirely happy with on mine is the size of the composed bow; it's a little small. I thought it should be as tall as the crown, but really, it's an inch taller and perhaps contains yet another bow, although I have four and the thing is some inch and a half thick!  So I added a small coque feather aigrette to add fullness and cover and to provide some snap, crackle, and pop to otherwise single-color trim. After all, I am not so rich in good plumes right now to consider dying any as on the originals.

A typical costuming error, to go too small. Ah, next time, eh?

Attaching the Ostrich Plumes

Preparing the plume holder:
  • Curte used strong wire clippers to cut the end of a wire coat hanger into a sort of "U" shape.
  • I bent the wire such that it followed the front curve of the hat crown.
  • Using strong linen thread meant for stay making, I overcast the wire on to the hat, using plenty of stitches to hold it securely.  The extra amount of wire serves as extra security.
  • I left three quarters of the vertical wire unsewn.
Plumes attached to the wire holder.
Attaching the plumes:
  • The plumes are actually four quality wing plumes, bought last year. To me, it's worth it to purchase good feathers. Well taken care of, they can last more than a lifetime, and be used on countless hats. Plus, those plumes are almost the first thing you notice in a 1790s ensemble, or on an Edwardian one, for that matter...
  • Each final plume is composed of two feathers, the back of the front feather's quill shaved and properly sewn along the quill to attach them to create one very full plume. Lynn McMasters has an excellent tutorial about this on her site.
  • The plumes are wired together heavily with thread, and then jewelry wire.
  • The connected plumes are then pushed down on top of the wire holder, such that the wire holder goes between them. Had I but one plume, I'd have pushed its hollow center down over the wire holder. They are tacked a bit above with thread to keep them from swivelling.
  • Voila.
Adding trims:
  • I added a group of black-green coque feathers from my friend Polly. The feathers come in long strings attached with thread near their bases.
  • I fanned them out, and inserted their bases into a little pocket made of silk ribbon wrapped round and round and sewn together, then sewed them into the pocket and made a little constructed bow in front to hide the handiwork. This coque aigrette may be removed and used for evening wear, too. However, it's tacked to the hat with sewing thread.
  • The hat band was slipped round the crown. It's not tacked, having enough cling in it to hold, I hope.
  • The puffy constructed bow is tacked dead center on the hat front.
  • One-inch wide lengths, selvage to selvage, of silk gauze are cut with pinking sheers, lightly ruched, and tacked to the under-brim of the hat. Since silk gauze frays like mad, I should have cut on the length of grain, but forgot in the heat of things. So I starched it, and as it was still fraying, after attaching it to the hat, I hair-sprayed it (gah!) Severe issues require severe measures. Yuck; well, I'm sure to retrim the hat before the spray yellows or stickifies the ruche, which is worth perhaps two cents total, anyway. In the day they may have treated the gauze in some other way, such as dipping it like crazy in gum arabic or something.
I still lack a bit of ruching on the brim, but the hat is showable.

Time estimate to complete: 6 hours. Good grief, who knew? Of course, that counts the failure hours, and the rest was done in wee smidges of time, between everything going on. Phew...

Additional Resources
For those of you interested in feathery details:

Next up, last bits before the festival. A quick self belt for the evening gown, the evening gown's lace tucker to tack in, hair, packing everything...

This evening I leave you with a typical cat pose: on top of feathers, Ladybug is almost asleep.

A very happy Fourth of July to those of you in the States, and a very happy weekend to those of you across the ponds!


Jenni said...

It looks beautiful, Natalie. I'm so glad that it finally came together for you. I'm still fighting my's just not looking "right" to me.

Isis said...

Looks great! Now I want to see it on! (Some people are never satisfied.) :D

ZipZip said...

Thank you both! Isis, there will be lots of people pictures in a week or so, for the the Jane Austen festival is less than 7 days away! Eep!!! :}

Oh Jenni, your capote is so pretty that it doesn't need a whole lot. Peacock or pheasant would be really pretty, with one of those vintage ribbons tied on the side and back.

Very best, and now off to a busy day! Company coming from Atlanta,


Time Traveling in Costume said...

The feathers made me smile. Lovely.

ZipZip said...

Dear Val,

They do me too...every time.

very best,


Kleidung um 1800 said...

The feathers are gorgeous and extra fluffy - where do you get them?!
And Ladybug is so cute - my cats would have tried to catch the feathers and played with the trimming while I'd fetch the camera...;)

ZipZip said...

Dear Sabine,

Ladybug is a bit to lazy in the heat to play with feathers :}

As for those plumes, they come from Plumes N' Feathers at They have been good to work with. Two feathers are joined in the traditional manner to make a single, fluffier plume. Also, I wrote up some research notes on Edwardian plumes and how they were made, here:

Very best,