Course Review – Making a 1950s half hat

Feb 18, 2016


This blog post was originally written back in 2015, when I didn’t have a domain name, let alone a website. As I started pulling material together for my own website, somehow, somewhere I found two old blog pages stored in a directory I’d copied over from an old laptop.

Since my original post I have taken many more millinery courses, including several more at Morley College. I still have this hat, and still wear it.

The original post

Morley College in Central London, near Waterloo station, run both full-time and weekend courses in Fashion and Millinery.  In 2014 there was a series of three ‘Cut and Stitch – Vintage Hats’ .

The original post

My favourite of the three was the ‘1950’s’ Half Hat, probably because it is the period of fashion I like best, and that style of hat seems to suit me best.

The tutor was Karen Shannon, who has a background in theatrical millinery and making hats and headdresses for film, theatre, tv, opera and ballet.

Karen started by showing us an original 1950’s hat, which she had used as the basis for the class. I loved being able to see how the actual hat was constructed!

This was the smallest class at Morley that I had been on, and all of the students had some sewing, and most had some millinery experience, and thus Karen was able to go into more detail about how she had made a ‘flat pattern’ from a three dimensional shape.

We cut out our flat pattern in Paris net, which is something that none of us had used before. Karen explained that we could use a couple of layers of sinamay if we didn’t have Paris net.

After sewing the base together, we attached millinery wire, and covered this with a tarlatan binding, and that was the end of Day One.

I had a funeral to go to the week between week one and week two, and decided to try out Karen’s tip on using sinamay as a foundation. I’m really pleased to say it worked well, and I was able to get the whole hat completed in just over a day,   I didn’t get round to lining it, (and still haven’t!) , but at least it means I can show you the ‘inside’.  I covered the frame with a cream satin, before then covering again with a black devore velvet and finishing with trimming with some vintage flowers and some veiling.

The following weekend saw us covering our frames… In order to mimic the ‘model’ we all had gathers down the centre of the hat, distributing the fullness out around the wire. This took quite some time to get even, plus then making the ‘bow’ for the top.

Here are the photos from the end of the course… as you can see there are still quite a few pins in most of them!

Pros :- Good Value for Money

Cons:- Class size can be big, with very varying abilities