Friday, 3 September 2010

If the Hat Fits..... How to make a large hat smaller.

Modern hats seem to come in just one size which is always way too large for me. Vintage hats were made usually in at least 3 sizes ranging around 20-23 inches.

The easiest way to start is by sewing small tucks into the hatband, if it doesn't have a hatband then, obviously, sew one in, this can be made of any fabric depending on how much too big the hat is. Many 1930s hats have a piece of chintzed cotton-like fabric, after the second world war grossgrain ribbon became most popular.





Sometimes the hatband is too stiff to successfully sew tucks, so another idea is to sew in a second hatband on top of the first, this can be made of any type of ribbon, though mostly I've seen velvet as it has bulk but is comfortable. If you don't need to reduce the size by much sew in a single layer of ribbon. If it is much too large you could double over some velvet fabric or ruche the ribbon as you sew it in.





In one extreme case I saw there was velvet ribbon and a piece of cotton wadding safety pinned to the hatband at the back, this worked quite well because the wadding was soft enough not to form a lump and mis-shape the hat.
If you don't want the change to be permanent you could tuck some concertina'd newspaper behind the hatband.


Making a small hat larger is very difficult unless you have a hat block and can steam your hat. However you can gain a small amount by removing the hatband but if you're looking for more than half an inch it's not going to work.

6 comments:

Miss Peelpants said...

I have the opposite problem. Beeg heed lady, I am.

I have two lovely felt hats, and one Emma Peel-style Edward Mann one, which I will never sell because they actually fit me, and otherwise I have to just stick with berets and the like...

I should really try the steaming thing I guess...

Miss Rayne said...

You can do it without a block if you're careful, take off the band and
steam over a kettle till warm/damp then pull gently all round, alow to cool on a 'head' so it doesn't lose shape. But you can only get about 1/2 an inch before the felt starts to
stress or the brim starts to go out of shape. (Yes I've tried it!)

Sarsaparilla said...

Like Miss Peelpants, I've discovered that I apparently have a big head (must be all those brains!) because most vintage hats that I buy are too small.

Thanks for the steam tips!

JahTeh said...

This took me way way back. My beautiful hats from the late 60s,a green stetson, orange fedora, mustard breton, flat top sombero and many more but going with the fashion trend, I had my long hair cut. All my hats then fell down over my eyes. After keeping them for some years, I bit the bullet and donated them to the local school theatre group.

Miss Rayne said...

Orange fedora!?! sounds fantastic, I sometimes wear an orange hat that was my Mum's from that period, alas its a bit too small, but i grit my teeth and take paracetamol:-)

JahTeh said...

I wore it with an orange and green tweed Chanel suit with lime patent shoes, squared toe and heel. The green stetson went with this outfit as well. I had a mother who sewed as I was an impossible fit for ready made. I remember every dress and matching hat.