Ideas Sprout – a Flower Hat
The Crazy Vegas, Creamsicle-colored, Flower Hat began as a breezy ‘why not?’. It was to be fun – a creative, boundary-pushing challenge, similar to my Earth Day Headdress. (I like to give myself these challenges!)
This time I asked myself, "Could I make an over-sized, felted flower which sprouted from the wearer’s head?"
Right? You probably have seen some of the fantastic floral hats worn at horse races. I wanted to make an oversize, felted version.
In theory, my idea was easy; excepting, that this felted flower hat morphed into an almost insurmountable engineering challenge.
The Power of Felt
As you probably know, wool felt can be a super strong non-woven material. But, when used to support, it’s usually thick or wide.
However, as you can see, the neck of my flower hat is rather slender. It indeed wasn’t able to hold up the heavy, multipetaled, flower on its own. It drooped quite sadly and resembled a sleeping python instead of an upright flower hat. Why hadn’t I envisioned challenging gravity to be an issue? Perhaps, because my hats don’t typically become heavier the further, they get from the head! After all, flowers are supposed to be light!
But, as you can see my felted flower is enormous and thick. Here’s a top view of the flower.
After brainstorming through the millinery techniques that I know, I ended up using the following THREE methods to help keep that flower up: wire, stiffener, and stuffing! (Not the kind with celery).
First, I tried using millinery wire. Even doubled up, the neck still drooped pitifully. Desperate, I went down to my garage to see if there was anything useful. Maybe it was there, but I couldn’t find it in the mess.
The Solution is Near
Later, while putting away shirts, I realized that ‘help was near.’ A white coat hanger! While ‘No Wire Hangers’ might be what Hollywood Stars (and milliners) shout, it worked for me.
Of course, I had to handle it just like the way I would millinery wire. I smoothed it out so that there were no kinks. Next, I bent the ends back on itself so that they wouldn’t poke through the hat. Then, I wrapped the ends in wool and covered that with strips of cotton fabric. It was a bit of a process. Through much trial and error, I figured out that wire needed to spiral up and be hand sewn to the inside to support the heavy flower.
More Help Needed
Still, it didn’t seem to be robust enough. There was a bit of wobble.
So, my next millinery tool was used: Hydrolac stiffener which I painted on the inside of the neck of the flower. (I had first done a test on pale colored felt to see if it would drastically discolor. It didn’t).
After the stiffener dried, I stuffed the slender neck with quilt batting, covering my somewhat unsightly engineering work with a ‘cap’ of matching orange-colored felt.
It looks okay. The grey is the adjustable headsize ribbon.
That the hat had to be ORANGE was my other design challenge – just in time for Halloween and all things pumpkin-colored. Plus, I used some of the shiny, orange Leicester wool from Susi Ryan of TheFeltedGnomeKnows. The white wool is Merino from Dharma Trading Co. Probably, there is some orange from Outback Fibers in there too!
Orange may be the new black, but it isn’t a color that I work with a lot.
Initially, I listed the hat in my Etsy Shop, but was unsure there would be any adopters of my creamsicle-colored fantasy. Later, I applied to exhibit my hat in XTerrace's London Hat Week - and it was accepted.
Lastly the Hat Attack
To celebrate Style Crone’s October Hat Attack, I took the Crazy Vegas Creamsicle Hat out for a local adventure. Alas, I was unable to find actual Creamsicles at my local grocery stores. But, these popsicle brand Popsicles at myTarget are rather a festive backdrop. Do check out Style Crone’s hat of the month – it is quite fun!
I probably need to get a selfie stick if I’m going to make more super-tall hats!
If you have made or worn an over-sized, flower hat, please scroll down and leave a comment below.