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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"Hat of the Week": Vintage Treasure and Signature Style

Bottle green fedora with vintage silk faille ribbon.

This hat is a perfect example of why the cost of materials can be more relevant to the price of a hat than the exact amount of labor. This hat took no more effort than a wool hat with cotton/grosgrain petersham ribbon would have. It's all about the supplies.

The supplies ... Oh! These supplies!

They are what make this week's "Hat of the Week" truly special.

The felt is a flat fur felt hood. Nothing too noteworthy there. But the beautiful color — bottle green — isn't really available here in the U.S. There aren't very many millinery suppliers around. Three main ones in the U.S. that I know of, and a smattering of other sources. So for a felt this color, I had to order from Germany! And, yes, that means the cost of the felt was a lot higher than ones I buy domestically. I got only one felt in this color, so this is the one and only (for now) bottle green hat I've made.

This fedora also has semiprecious stones: a jade bead surrounded by green goldstone beads. (Beads and semiprecious stones are a frequent feature in my work.)

Silk ribbon from Columbia Ribbon Co. of Haledon, N.J.
 Columbia Ribbon hatband ribbon

The most rare and stunning part of this hat is the ribbon. I don't know the exact date of this ribbon. It is possibly as old as 1910s, and certainly pre-WWII. It comes from the Columbia Ribbon Company of Haledon, N.J., a silk mill that made hatband ribbons.

I wish they still made ribbons like this nowadays! Everything about it is gorgeous, including the copperplate etching label. My vintage-loving heart is swooning.

What's not so gorgeous is the yellowing paper. The paper separating layers of vintage ribbon looks charming and seems like it would protect the ribbon. But the acids from the paper can cause vintage ribbons to deteriorate, sadly. Fortunately, the amount of ribbon I used on this hat was in excellent condition. I will be removing the rest of the ribbon from the roll for its safety (and also so I can see how much is left).

It is silk faille in a perfect color match (just a shade darker) to the felt. You might not be able to see in the photos, but it has a beautiful fine ribbed texture (i.e. faille) with a satin border. Vintage ribbons of this type typically cost $12-$30 per yard!

My original plan for this hat — and the reason I got this specific color of felt — was to make a hat for myself. The ultimate "me" hat.

... And then, when I was finished, I discovered rather than keep it for myself, what I really wanted was to share it with the world. So, I added it to my shop.

I have a lot of thoughts on signature style, which could take up a full blog post. Some milliners have a very distinct signature style; some don't.

I don't have a signature style per se. But, if I do have anything close to a signature style, this is it. Vintage trims, semiprecious stones, beaded embellishments and ribbon cockades are some of my favorite elements to work with. The felt was blocked on wood hat blocks — but additional shaping of the brim and crown was done by hand.

This hat is 25% off through June 29. No coupon code needed.

Questions about my supplies or process are welcome.

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