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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Hat of the Week": Steel Beads!

Jazzy Gray Felt Fedora

Okay, technically it could more accurately be described as a trilby. But how many people know that word? Not many. It's a fedora to almost everybody. In fact, pork pies are even called fedoras by a lot of people. Well, I'll save the nit-picking for another post. I call this hat both a fedora and a trilby in my description. Anyhow, this hat is 30% off, with no coupon code needed until next Monday.

 I have kind of an obsession with beads. I have well over 100 different styles of beads in my supplies. Most of those are glass seed beads. Some are semiprecious stones. The beads on this hat are something special, though.

The gray beads every few columns are just size 15 (i.e. very small) seed beads. But the other beads are what are called steel cut beads or French steel beads. They are tiny. And, yes, they are made of metal rather than metallic colored glass.

You might see steel beads embroidered onto vintage clothing or shoes. But the most common way to find them is vintage purses. Steel-beaded purses were very popular — especially in the 1910s and 1920s.

Want to put together an authentic Flapper costume? Forget the sequined headband and red fringed dress. Get yourself a beaded purse!

For these beads, I had bought a panel from an old purse. Even the vintage purses that are whole tend to need some repair work. And sometimes they have only remnants. I took this picture of the piece I bought. Gorgeous! But you can see how it's falling apart. And the fuzzies along the top are disintegrating, decaying threads.

I used beads from this panel to decorate the side of this hat. Obviously, I have plenty more left for future projects.

The trim is vintage, too. (Or possibly antique. It's very old.) At first glance it appears black and gray. But it's actually dark navy blue and pale mint green. I think it's silk and cotton, but I'm not certain. It's in lovely condition for its age and just beautiful trim.

Despite all the vintage fanciness, this hat is one of the most casual and wearable ones I've ever made. It can be worn straight or tipped forward or to the back of the head, depending on the style. It looks smashing with jeans and a t-shirt.

If you are interested in steel beads, check out French Steel Bead Shop on Etsy for beads and vintage bead purses.

As always, I welcome comments and questions about vintage supplies or the process of making hats.

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