Hi everyone! My name is Nicole and I run The Artyologist, a blog about vintage, sewing, fashion, lifestyle, and art. I've been following Chronically Vintage for a few years now, so I was thrilled when Jessica asked me to write a guest post for her while she is on holidays (to Edmonton)!
I love vintage style, and have worn it for about five years now. However, I have a confession: I don't own many real vintage garments! I mostly rely on what I can alter or make myself, adding in accessories to get a vintage-style look.
Many of my "vintage" garments are actually ones that I have sewn myself, or are thrift store finds that I have changed up in some way in order to look vintage, whether that means adding embellishments, changing buttons, hemming to a better length or altering to fit.
The sad, but true, reality of vintage is that there is a finite amount of it left in the world. Does this mean that those who can't afford or find true vintage have to miss out on this wonderful fashion style, though?
No way! Just as with any other trend or style, as in centuries past, women have made for themselves what they couldn't afford or find, and in my wardrobe, I live by this principle today too, "vintageifying" things so they fit my style.
Hats are great accessories for really pulling an outfit together, but sometimes it can be hard to find good hats that are not in disrepair (shattered veils, in-washable stains, moth holes...) and putting together a hat collection, when a hat that is in good shape costs a lot, is just not feasible for many of us vintage lovers.
This is why, in recent months, I have turned to refashioning hats: so I can get that vintage look, without spending a lot. (And it is also why I am seriously regretting getting rid of those hats I didn't like, instead of altering them! Save yourself- don't do that!)
I picked up this little black hat for a song, earlier this spring, from an antique store, along with a couple other hats that really needed some help. I remember seeing this hat a few years ago in West Edmonton Mall (I recognized the label) so I know that this hat is not actually vintage.
When I saw it new, a few years ago, I thought the embellishment on it was soooo boring, that I passed on it, thinking that, although it would be a good starting point for a refashioned hat, the price wasn't worth it.
However, when I saw it for sale second hand, in good condition and at a much better price point than it was new, I picked it up thinking, like Lydia from Pride and Prejudice, "Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better."
Soon after buying this hat, I came across this image from Philip Treacy's Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, and fell in love with it. (In case you are wondering who Philip Treacy is, he is a UK milliner who designs hats for the Royal Family.)
Go and look at his hats- they are jaw droppingly gorgeous! ) I absolutely love this hat: it is so outrageous and over the top, and really what's not to love about mint?
As soon as I saw it, I started thinking about how I could make something similar, and I decided that a large flower on my black hat would be just the thing. So, here is how I created the flower, and how I styled the finished hat for a 1940's look.
I decided to make the flower out of chiffon, as we happened to have scads of it left over from a past project. You could use stiffer organza too- which would give you a rounder pompom shape, or tulle or netting, which would be softer. I cut out a ton of circles, 5 inches in diameter.
You will need 30-50 circles depending on the material and stiffness, and how full you want the flower to be. Don't worry about being too precise, as the edges will be melted and the pieces will be gathered for the final flower. And definitely do cut your circles through several layers at once, to save yourself time!
I didn't want the fabric to fray to pieces, so I decide to finish the edges by singeing them. Singe the fabric by CAREFULLY holding the material over a candle until the edges start to melt and curl. Be very careful with this! You are literally holding a meltable material over top of a flame!
You will need to hold the fabric about 6 inches away from the flame and slowly dip in and out and across so the heat starts to curl it. You don't need to bring the fabric too close, otherwise the heat will start melting the whole circle, rather than just the edge. (Voice of experience. . . )
Once you have singed the fabric, you will be left with curled lily pad shaped petals. Take a circle and fold it into quarters. Stitch through the corner of the folded piece, catching all 4 layers, and loop to tie a knot so it won't pull through the fabric.
Continue to string together the folded circles using the same method, until the flower is at your desired fullness. Once you get a fuller shape, you can gather some of the centre petals so they are fuller, as the soft fabric likes to "flop".
If your fabric is stiffer you can continue stringing until you get a pompom shape. For mine, with the soft chiffon, I gathered the entire flower together in my hand and stitched through the entire bottom of the flower to give it some shape. Really just play around with the fabric and arrange it into a nice shape.- there isn't really a hard and fast method.
Sew a little round felt disk to the bottom, to keep the flower in shape. If possible, do not glue the flower onto your hat! I have other hats which have been hot glued, and it is just nasty to try and fix later on. Sew it onto the hat with cotton, or other natural fibre, thread.
Don't use a polyester blend thread, as over time polyester can cut natural fibres, and you will be left with a hat full of holes. You could also add a brooch pin to the flower, instead of sewing it directly to the hat, so it is removable.
And that is it!
This hat was so completely and utterly boring to start with. They really had a good thing going with the veil and the leaves. . . and then it's like they ran out of ideas, so they just plunked a little brooch on top. (At least it was removable so now, not only do I have a hat, I also have a brooch!)
I don't even have a before picture of this hat on my head, because it was severely unflattering. However, the giant pompom like flower in Philip Treacy's hat, is really what this hat was missing.
Mine turned out a lot smaller than I was planning, and less poufy, but I think it totally works for the style of the hat, and I really like it. By simply adding some embellishment, this hat is now completely revitalized and it will be a great addition to my winter wardrobe.
I've paired it here with an 80s does 40s dress, and some retro accessories, which makes it look quite vintage. If I hadn't told you, I bet you wouldn't have known. :)
Well, that's all, and I hope this has inspired you to look at the garments and accessories you have, with an eye towards how to make them work for you.
Maybe it will inspire you to pick up that ugly hat or dress you would usually pass up in the thrift store, and refashion it to become your new favourite piece. Maybe all it needs, like this hat, is a large and obnoxious flower!