At the end of January, I got an opportunity to volunteer for a local Regency event, to which I enthusiastically agreed shortly into February. I immediately started planning my gown, wanting to both wear my new stays, and also not wear last year's gown for the 4th time in a row. Not the least because last year's gown has a lower back, and my stays would be very visible over the neckline. Oops?
I wondered how I could possibly fit my gown and/or accessories into the challenge theme. It only occurred to me late in the month that the pleating required to fit the skirt width into the center back would absolutely qualify, because up until then, I had already started another item that was "done enough" to also work. And, I think, be more suitable, since the challenge info states "make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration", and this item is most definitely shaped by the pleats.
Introducing: The Market Hat!
You've likely seen some version of this hat around the internet before. I first saw it way back in summer 2013, in photos of the Curtain-Along meet-up at Costume College that year. Oh, what a lovely hat Loren wore! Then, in 2014, I realized I needed a similar hat in order to recreate an art piece for the Art Challenge (which I still have yet to complete). Where could I find a pattern for such an enchanting object?
At the time there wasn't many. I scoured the internet and came up with a few ideas -- Kannik's Korner has a similar item, that I could probably use to suit my needs, and The Sign of the Golden Scissors. But, both of them seemed awfully expensive at the time, especially since I couldn't find shipping rates. I thought I might get around to developing my own pattern, if I ever decided on what I was actually looking at. I had a hard time imagining the 3D object laid out like a 2D pattern, so I put off thinking about it for a long, long time.
I did not get around to drafting one. My chosen pattern was not any less expensive, but several factors made it the best option. Maggie of Undressing the Historical Lady put out a pattern in between these two in cost, and unlike the others, was a print-at-home pattern, so at least I wouldn't have to pay shipping! That pushed into the "best option" category, in fact, and I bought it last summer when the exchange rate was sliiiiightly more reasonable than it is now.
I tried to look at options for the brim board at Michael's, but all I could find was a humongous sheet of material that I didn't feel comfortable purchasing, even if I used a coupon. It was 24" x 36" and I only needed a fraction of that. I used a found-item from work that would otherwise have been recycled, sheets of super thin cardboard that came on top of a stack of loose paper to protect it. But since they were only 8.5" x 11", I had to use several sheets (three, in fact) to get a piece wide enough and stable enough to go into the brim. And even though I followed the directions for the brim, pressing in my seam allowances and stitching by hand, my brim board was just too big to fit into it. I had to trim and trim and trim until I could stitch up the seam allowance for the caul to attach to. (I take full responsibility for this issue. The pattern pieces fit just fine together, and I think my board ended up being thicker than the recommended material which took away from the fabric too much.)
The caul's shape, as directed in the pattern, is achieved entirely by pleating. One could theoretically play with the pleats, how many and how deep, to achieve a different look. I have 9 pleats on either side of a central box pleat. And then I immediately had to run to the mirror to try it on!
It's been languishing ever since, waiting for the final two steps (finishing the caul/brim seam and then decorating), but I would not feel bad about wearing it should the need arise at this exact moment. I used some of the leftover fabric, actually in a separate cut, for one of my accessories for my ball outfit, but saved the rest from this cut to make a "ribbon" to decorate with. Partly complicated by the fact that I could not find my pinking shears for most of the month. They had decided, for the last 6 months, to make their home with my partner-in-crime.
And since this post is ONLY 6 months late (HA!), it still hasn't been finished... and I've misplaced the spare fabric... but I could still totally wear it right this moment!
The Challenge: #2 Tucks & Pleats
Fabric: 100% polyester
Pattern: 18th Century Bonnet/Market Hat
Year: late 18th century
Notions: thread, ribbon, bias tape, thin cardboard
How historically accurate is it?: Looks great! I don't know if this type of cardboard was being produced in-era, and we won't even touch polyester.
Hours to complete: 10 or so.
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: $27 CDN for the pattern, materials were all free-to-me! I would expect to spend roughly $30-$40 CDN (without the pattern) on this if I were to buy all new materials. Silk is difficult to get in Edmonton, and with the exchange rate being so poor right now, even "cheap" silk is expensive to ship in. Americans might be able to do this project for under $20 US.
Want to admire more market hats? Maggie's own market hat, which you can see on the Etsy listing, is also visible here at American Duchess; Lauren of American Duchess has a lovely one (this is more of a research page, so be sure to click through to entries at the beginning of July to see the finished item in action!); The Couture Courtesan has a beautiful piece made from her own pattern; Peryn's gorgeous hat (and dress); and so did Festive Attyre with Maggie's pattern. Got more? I'd love to see them! Even after looking at them all summer, I still think this hat is adorable!
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