I was at a Goodwill in Pensacola with Loving Husband last month when I saw this horrid hat (below) on a shelf. It has a black felt form, which was almost entirely covered with glued on chicken feathers! What didn’t have feathers on it had silver studs riveted all over it, and then there was the HUGE black net bow that was also covered in rivets. The shape was weird too, saucer-ish; sticking out on the sides. I went to put it back and when I did the weight of all those feathers bent the brim a little and its potential flashed in front of my eyes! Recovered and reshaped, this could be a perfect Regency BONNET! I think the hat form was $6. I figured if I could keep it under $25 then it would be far cheaper than purchasing one for a Jane Austen-esque costume! I’ve never tried my hand at millinery work, but I can hand sew fairly well and decided to give it a go.
The next day we went to the JoAnn’s and they had a couple of their ivory bridal silk display swatches left over at the bottom of the remnant pile. I bought 3 of them, two matte finish and one satin finish. I think I paid $5 for them, which wasn’t bad seeing as how I got 3 12″ X 12″ pieces and it’s normally $30-some-dollars a yard. I spent about $6 on the velvet ribbon and the ruffled satin ribbon with the velvet on top and about $5 more on feathers and the dove because that stuff was 50% off. I already had the thread I needed. When we got back to the room, I proceeded to remove all of the feathers, the netting and the studs. The next part was the hardest by far… seamlessly covering the hat form with the silk. I used a lot of folds to get it done and did end up with four seams; 2 along the back of the brim, one around the cap and one along the edge of the brim. I covered all of these with ribbon. Then I took the rest of the silk that I had, made a sack like shape out of it and attached it inside the cap of the hat.
Once the hat was completely covered, the folds evened out, and the ribbons attached to it securely, I finished it up with the feathers. The flouncing feathers are always my favorite part of the Jane Austen style bonnet. I simply curved the metal stems on the feathers to match the curve at the base of the hat cap and slid them into a slit on either side of the neck of the hat. The stems were well hidden under the silk except on the one side where I added the tiny feather dove. The velvet necktie is an extension of the seam covering ribbons on the brim. It’s bent outward for the photos, but when you curve the brim around it looks really cool! Not too bad for my first try at hat making, if I say so myself. Just a warning if you try this at home, it is very hard to hand sew through stiffened felt! I also managed to come in under my $25!