Below you will find the 7 stages I used in recreating a retro air stewardess hat. One of the most important qualities you will need to have if you choose a career in film or theatre is the ability to think out of the hatbox!
Often you will be asked to create a hat without having the authentic materials or machinery to do so. Your ability to ‘CHEAT’ the look will be your greatest asset. Every job is different but once you have learned your basics you will find the solutions easier to come by.
Step 1 – Receiving The Brief
To start you will be given an image of the hat which the wardrobe department requires. For this job, my client was needing me to recreate 3 air stewardess hat shapes above in the same color as their chosen uniforms. The hat above is blocked from wool felt. It was impossible for me to locate the matching wool felt color to complete this job. Because I could not find the matching felt color, I decided to ‘cheat’ the shape, by blocking buckram sections and covering the shapes with fabric.
Step 2 – Identifying The Number of Sections To Block – Retro Stewardess Hat
The first stage of replicating a hat is breaking it down into sections. This hat had two defined sections to block, the tip and the band. I first blocked the crowns using buckram.
Step 3 – Blocking The Band
I then blocked the bands using buckram. I had to work in sections since I only had three blocks to work from. Once my blocks were dry I then had to cut, mold and wire each section.
Step 4 – Retro Stewardess Hat – Shaping and Molding
Before covering the bocks I assembled the hat sections to make sure that the final shape would be the same as my sample. I then use my hands to steam and manipulate the shapes. I changed the round crown to oval and I bent the top and bottom of the bands to curve inwards.
Step 5 – Deconstructing and Fabrication
The hats had to perfectly match the uniforms and the uniforms had been bought so I used the fabric from a ready-made uniform jacket. I had no room for a mistake since I only had one extra jacket to cover all three hats.
Step 6 – Lining
I completely deconstructed the jacket. The difficulty came in that the band material had to be cut on the bias and I did not have much room to achieve this. I used the jacket lining to line the hats and the outer fabric to cover the hats.
Step 7 – I Double Checked Every Stage Of My Retro Stewardess Hat Production
Each section of the retro air stewardess hat had to be covered separately and then assembled as a whole. The lining was then added as well as an elastic for secure placement on the head.
I have been in hat-making for many years but I still check and double-check each stage as I progress. This is one of the most important attributes you could possess as a milliner and hat maker. Double-check every stage you are going through and then look ahead to see if you will have any challenges arising.
Figure out your challenges before you start your project. For example, in this project, I had no room to make any mistakes, with cutting my fabric or covering my shapes since I only had one jacket to work with. Before I cut any fabric I first made sure that all sections had been drafted.
When I first started in hat making this job would have had my nerves on fire. As a beginner, I probably would have said it was impossible since I could not find the correct color wool felt. The more you do, the easier it becomes to work out the puzzles.
Working With A Strict Timeline
I believe these hats were needed for a movie, which gave me a bit more time to produce them. Had they been requested for a TV commercial my timeline would have been greatly diminished. The wardrobe department for a movie will start working, at least 3 months before shooting begins.
The first shooting scenes wardrobe is completed first and once shooting begins the wardrobe department then moves on to all the unfinished costumes for later scenes. If this were for a TV commercial then 2-5 days of prep would be the norm.
Delivery and Deadlines Once you accept a job, you must deliver under the prescribed deadline. You will also need to be flexible to any changes that come through from the wardrobe department. FYI there are always changes to be made.
You must be able to work under pressure. Choosing to work in Film as opposed to Commercials is very much a personality choice. I enjoy doing both.