An 1890s half-mourning hat

So for the vast majority of history, when you went out, you wear a hat. And therefore I embarked on my first ever adventure in hat-trimming! Started with a hat from Amazon, a bunch of feathers, black silk taffeta, and whatever black trim I could find in the stash.

1890s hats are pretty hilarious. They basically look like someone dropped a pile of stuff on a hat. While drunk. And they let their 5 year old call the final decorating shots. Piles of fabric, bows, ribbons, feathers, and birds. LOTS OF BIRDS.

Correct state of mind before making one of these hats:


Metropolitan Museum of Art #C.I.40.167.8

When there is a disagreement between the milliner and customer about what constitutes “too many birds”:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, #2009.300.1777

Centraal Museum. #19702/003

I think the hat in the middle is actually about to fly away?

Photo from History In Photos

Making an 1890s hat means you never have to say “I think velvet and feathers and fake flowers and a brooch would be too much”

Metropolitan Museum of Art #C.I.39.119.4

Fun fashion example – even though feathers were clearly in style, sometimes you just want something different!

See more ridiculous hats on my pinterest board.

Started with a straw hat from Amazon.

1 hat before

First I removed the ugly bow.

Then I took about 1/2 yard of taffeta and draped it on the hat. Pinned it it random places until I liked how it looked, and tacked it down.

3 drapiness

I made a lace cockade using this tutorial. It’s 3″ lace, so it’s a pretty massive cockade. I was thinking of putting 2 on the back, but I’m kinda enjoying the look of one (also, lazy. But I can always make another later). The lace was $1 from a theater sale that I bought with no purpose in mind.

2 cockade

I attempted to make a pleated fan thingy, but the taffeta was too drapy to actually stand up by itself, and I don’t have any starch. So no fan thingy for now.

Then some rooster feathers on the back. I left them in the ribbon they came in, since that made it so much easier to attach:

4 coque feathers

Some ostrich feathers on the sides so not all the party is in the back of the hat:

5 side feather

Cover up the back with the big cockade:

6 back

Only thing I’m not sure of is where to put this little guy:

Hanging out next to the cockade?

7 bird one

Peeking coquetishly out by the side feathers?

8 bird two

Thoughts? I wish I had gotten more than one bird so I could have one on each side. I’m really not sure where my mind was when I bought only one.

And uh, this hat ended up HA-YUGE. Like full on My-Fair-Lady-off-to-the-races-sized hat. Not really my intention. So I guess I’ll just call this a really fashion forward hat? Since it is definitely more late 1900s than 1890s.

9 hat 10 hat 11 hat 12 hat

This entry was posted in 1890s, Edwardian half-mourning, Hats. Bookmark the permalink.

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