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Placemat Hats (3D+8C)
We use straw placemats at UAF to make an assortment of easy straw hats, especially 1920's style hats. Used thrift store placemats made of fine straw fabric are much cheaper than straw fabric on a roll, and often come with ready-made design motifs and decorative edging that saves build time. Rolls of straw fabric we will use for large projects, but for a quick small 1920s style straw hat or early 19th century bonnet, placemats are an easy conversion, since they can be easily steamed or dampened and wrapped around a head block or form, then sewn as shaped.
This 1920s garden party hat was made from two straw placemats of similar colored straw. One was a series of overlapping straw circles, which were taken apart and re-sewn together over a wooden head-form to make the crown of the hat. The other was a flat oval with a decorative edge and floral embroidery. This piece was cut in the center and sewn to the other piece to form a decorative brim:
This simple 1800 bonnet was made from a placemat made of a spiral sewn piece of straw braid. The oval placemat was pulled together at the back and sewn to a circle of cloth to give it the scoop shape of early bonnets, then green lace was sewn inside the "brim" to make a lining.
This late 1930s "doll hat" was also formed from a single oval of straw. The straw was soaked in water, then wrapped tightly around a wood hat block, like a turban. The excess bits were then folded around themselves forming the big rose on the front. The straw was pinned in place on the block overnight to "set" it, and hot glued together in the morning, making the shape permanent. Painting, fake flowers and fabric were added to trim it.
Larger items like this straw "mob cap" are made using sheet straw over a buckram bandeau and net.
While this soak, drape, pull and sew method is the one we use for straw placemats, vinyl placemats like this one should be treated like vinyl, and used for its stiff properties, not for soft forming. Vinyl placemats also have their uses, but are not really suitable for the methods described in this project.
You will need
If you don't have a steamer, soak your straw mats in the bucket of water for at least 30 minutes before starting.
Take your straw mat(s) and drape them around the head in a pleasing shape, use pins to help. If you are using a steamer, steam the mat continually during this process or the straw will either fight you or snap and break. Experiment with the shape, and the way the straw "wants" to form into certain ways.
When the mat is in a shape you like, use extra pins to firmly hold it in shape and let dry. When it is dry, unpin the mat from the head, recover the head in plastic (if you will be using glue), and then glue or stitch the shape into a permanent one.
If you want to use another mat to make a brim, cut and attach it now.
Sew or glue decorative elements like feathers, lace or flowers to the hat to finish it.
When it is finished, photograph the hat as jpeg files and post them to your File folder at the class eGroup. Post a message to the group letting everyone know you have posted these pictures so you can get feedback.
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This Page is part of The Costumer's Manifesto by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D. Copyright 1996-2010. You may print out any of these pages for non-profit educational use such as school papers, teacher handouts, or wall displays. You may link to any page in my site.