Every milliner should design and make a Mad Hatters Hat and this is my version.
I just watched the movie Alice in Wonderland on DVD that we picked up at a Redbox today. I had been wanting to watch it because I love the combination where human’s and computer generated movies are combined. I would love to visit a studio where they make these movies but I am realistic enough to know that that will never happen. I also wanted to see this movie because I want to design and make a real Mad Hatters Hat. I already thought about how to get the shape and the movie was more inspiration.
Back view shows the vivid red bow at the back.
There were a few scenes I found exceptionally funny in this movie and one of them was the Queen of Hearts calling for a pig as her footstool. It was even funnier when the pig rolled over for her to put her feet up. I also couldn’t help but stare at the faces of Tweedledum and Tweedledee and whomever did the animation for Matt Lucas, hit the nail on the head. I have seen him on the Graham Norton show on BBC America and he was a perfect fit for these characters.
This hat is 12″ tall.
I also loved the animated frogs who were part of the Queen of Hearts court and I would love to add one of them to my own frog collection. I have many frogs along with fairies who decorate my bedroom and bathroom. Call me nuts and I won’t mind. It is quite okay to be a bit balmy at my age and I’ve earned the right to decorate my part of the house in a way that makes me smile.
Of course we can’t forget to add the 10/6d sign and I left the band open at the top to allow the sign to be placed in it.
What does 10/6d mean you may ask. It means ten shillings and six pence. When I was a child until shortly after I married, English money was in pounds, shillings and pence. One pound was a lot of money in my day, so I imagine 10/6d (d stood for pence) was a huge amount of money in Victorian times. To buy a hat was a major investment and poorer women had only one in their closet.
As crazy as it sounds, I loved this movie and found it was a great one to watch on a hot Sunday afternoon, here in Texas.
I lined this hat in the same satin as the trim.
In case you have wondered where the phrase came from “as mad as a hatter”, I Plagiarized the following off of the Internet.
“The origin of the phrase, it’s believed, is that hatters really did go mad. The chemicals used in hat-making included mercurious nitrate, used in curing felt. Prolonged exposure to the mercury vapors caused mercury poisoning. Victims developed severe and uncontrollable muscular tremors and twitching limbs, called “hatter’s shakes”; other symptoms included distorted vision and confused speech. Advanced cases developed hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.
‘Twas the hatters, not the wearers of hats. The hatters were exposed to the mercury fumes, which would have been long dissipated (or of insignificant strength) by the time the hat was worn. This use of mercury is now subject to severe legal restrictions (if not banned) in the U.S. and Europe.”
Now my design notes.
Yesterday I watched and wrote about the Alice in Wonderland movie and this morning I got up and went to work. I could see the hat in my head and was pretty sure how I planned the buckram frame in my head would work in practice, so I sat down with cardstock, pencil, and ruler. I need very simple tools to design a hat and my method of pattern design isn’t from any book that I have read. I am one of those weird people who come up with my own methods by playing around and then expand from there. I find reading millinery books very boring and most are written from a past era and although I love costumes and shows from the past, I prefer to work in the here and now.
When I first started making hats I didn’t know anything about buckram and was a bit dubious of working with it. However, my experimenting has told me what a great medium it is and I have gained so much knowledge from designing with it. I have learned by teaching myself this art how and when to wire and add support. You can read up on anything, but only experience will make you learn.
I want to make my hat tall and of course have the correct style and shape. I decided on making a 12″ tall vamp and the lower part would be straight upright before it veered off to a wider angle at the top. That meant building it in two parts. Twelve inches tall is a lot and I decided to divide this hat in three and wire it in three stages. Here you can see how it looked after I cut out both pieces.
Next was the brim. Because this hat is taller than usual and there would be more weight on top of the brim I decided to double it. Here you can see both pieces and note only one of them has the inside part that would attach the brim to the vamp. If I had left this on both of them it would be very stiff to bend and glue.
Once I glued both brim pieces together, I wired the edge.
This photo shows how the two vamp pieces look after joining them together. To add extra support, I cut and glued a narrow strip of buckram all around the joined area.
Next was the lid or crown of this hat. It is larger than normal crowns so I wired it down the center from top to bottom. This way it would not bow inwards under the weight of the fabric.
This photo shows how the lid will sit on top of the vamp. I turned it upside down to glue it and that made it easier to work.
Finally, every part is glued together with plenty of millinery wire to support it’s own weight and the fabric that it is covered in. You can see the brim is flat, but it will turn up at the sides once it is covered.
Now to cover it.
I chose a really busy velvet fabric, with black background and orange and red flowers. How you cover a hat is all about interpretation and Disney did theirs much differently than the original story. I chose this fabric because Alice first met the Mad Hatter in a garden setting and had a tea party with him. This fabric reminds me of an English garden. I then draped the lower vamp in red sparkle satin and hand sewed it at the back. I made the tie separately so that it hung down the back properly. If I had made the tie longer, in one piece, it would not have sat right at the back after tying it.
Now for my cup of tea.
My sister Norma in England sent me this cute little teapot with a door mouse on the front and a birthday card with the same theme for my birthday at the end of this month. It is a perfect teapot for my Mat Hatter’s Hat blog.