Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane



There’s a whole other world out there and it’s called HATS!



These things are expensive – and to wear for just one hour at a wedding ceremony seemed an extravagance too far. I do have a budget for this outfit. You can hire hats here, but really they’re just half the price of buying one and would I ever get the colour and style I wanted?

I tried on fascinators (an item of unknown purpose) and the lady in the shop sidled up behind me and told me discretely that it was on back to front! So that went back on the shelf. Anyway, they only came in black, grey and cream and nearly cost the same as a hat.

So, while at the coast this week we went to Hope and Gloria, a most delightful shop that sells vintage clothing, accessories, homewares: you can get your nails painted and hair styled; a cup of coffee and a bun; and they organise craft and sewing classes too. In a old leather suitcase was a collection of hats for £3 each. The one I really wanted was too small but I managed to select this one – almost Audrey Hepburn and totally the wrong colour.


DSCN4195While having coffee with my teenage son and the teenage son of my friend I wore the hat – just thought I’d embarrass them to maximum effect.

I figured I could dye it or spray paint it to match, wrap a matching fabric band around the brim,stick a few feathers in and I’d be done. However, I had envisaged a large hat – wide brimmed and saucer-like – it’s not everyday you get to wear a hat, so you may may as well go for it.

Royal Wedding - Wedding Guests And Party Make Their Way To Westminster Abbey

Princess MIchael of Kent at a royal wedding

I researched fabric paint, sprays and dyes but colours weren’t right. I was after a particular shade of red – more crimson / wine than pillar box to tone in with the lips on my shoes.



So I did this:

Materials – heavy duty interfacing, 1m fabric of crimson taffeta, grosgrain ribbon, old hat that fits, needle and thread

Measure around your head (mine’s 11″) and cut a strip of the ribbon to comfortably fit around your head with a little leftover for overlap.

Decide on the width of the brim and draw a circle on the interfacing marking the centre point. Do some complicated geometry stuff and draw a smaller circle to fit the ribbon ie. a circumference of 11″. Measure in 1cm from this inner circle and cut it out.

I had bits of corners and strips of interfacing so I machined these to the first circle for extra stiffness.

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Lay the brim on to two layers of fabric and trace around it including the inner circle. Cut out with seam allowances. Sew around the outer edge, trim, turn and press. Wrestle the brim into the fabric making sure edges are aligned and it’s lying flat. Pin excessively to avoid shifting; top stitch the outer edge and around the inner 11″ circle. Clip the excess of the inner circle out to the stitching line.



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Take the old hat, dismantle it and cut off the brim so you are left with the crown. Cover the top and wee bit down the sides with fabric, either gluing or hand stitching.

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Slide the new brim over the crown – glue or hand stitch together. I stitched my hat as I didn’t have fabric glue. Stitching hats is hard!


Make a band to cover the edges of the brim, pleat and stitch (or glue) in place. Position the join where you intend to put embellishments later so it will be covered up.


Sew the ribbon on the inside of the hat to cover the join and make it comfortable to wear.


Now the fun begins –

Make flowers, buy feathers and ribbons and decorate to your heart’s desire. Sew the decorations in place or glue. I’m in favour of sewing them on because then later you can easily cut them off and replace them with new colours or styles.

I used up nearly 1m of fabric to make this flower – using this method – so be prepared.



It’s big!

Not quite Holly Golightly at Tiffany’s more like Eliza Doolittle at the races










32 thoughts on “Hat

  1. Wonderful!!! Give us a sneak peek fashion show 🙂 Please!!!!!!!

  2. Oh yeah..!! phenomenal— you will rock that hat…and dress. I am in total admiration of your sense of self….. and freedom to live life to the fullest. excellent as always and inspiring to this reader.
    Joyce (no blog,but sewing )

  3. You hat is fantastic! I love that you used the thrift store find to make the one you wanted! And you’re right that is a hat for a wedding! Can’t wait to see the final wedding outfit!

  4. Well done Ruth………………..I have to admit my weakness is hats – and big brimmed ones at that!!!!!
    Love how you have worked yours and like everyone else, can’t wait to see the fashion show.

    It is going to be a fabulous day and I hope we get to see you in head to toe, corecouture!! So, do tell, what are you making for the darling in your life to wear on the big day??

  5. Wow! Double WOW! can’t say that I would have tackled such a project. Great job!!

  6. Brilliant! Can we have a sneak preview, please???!

  7. What a clever idea to make your own hat. Love the flower embellishment. Your outfit will be stunning.

  8. How fun and BIG! I am a fan of big hats, hope you really enjoy wearing it, style it to the max!

  9. I do think you could sew just about anything. Are shoes next?

  10. What a great job you have made. I can see you taking up hat -making soon. A new career perhaps??
    Last year I bought a hat from John Lewis and as you say it was only worn for a couple of hours. I had the idea to re-sell it on eBay. Guess what, I got back very close to the original price. Not that you will have to do that with your new found skills!

  11. Brilliant save! You don’t hang about, eh? Are you still planning to make the bag, opera coat and short jacket, or did I blink and miss it? Will your other half be wearing a red bow tie or waistcoat? Your enthusiasm makes this one of my favourite blogs. Well done!

    • Hi Vivienne, the short jacket is now the flower on the side of this hat – that’s how much fabric it used up! So just the bag and coat to do and then I’m done. Thanks so much.

  12. Once again, Ruth, you have outdone yourself! Just wait until they see you all dolled up from head to toe!!!OH MY!

  13. Pingback: Bag | corecouture

  14. What an amazing achievement Ruth. I did millinery at college for a whole term and never produced anything so fine. What you did is really hard and I am astonished how you got it right so quickly. This outfit is going to be amazing!

  15. I loved reading about your hat adventure. I wore hats a few times for different occasions, and never wore a hat as it was – I would always customise it. It’s such fun! You did fantastic job!

  16. Pingback: Bold 2 in 1 | corecouture

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