Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hats for Decoration Day

My only historic sewing projects this month are also my contributions to May's theme for the HSM; "Specific to a Time of Day or Year". For this challenge, the project had to be something that wasn't a year-round kind of garment but, for instance, one that was worn seasonally.

I really don't do many events that require a specific garment like that. I did have a few ideas for this month but due to time limitations I had to save them for later on when I'm less busy. 1. A summer sheer with a half high lining made of sheer grey and white plaid cotton 2. A silk dancing dress made with the length of blue-green silk I've had saved for soooo long now! 3. A black wool dress appropriate for mourning (specific to a social custom, though could otherwise be worn as normal daywear). 
I'll need to take a tuck in Rose's petticoat before our next event.
This was her first time wearing a hoop skirt and she was thrilled!
But the petticoat is a bit long for the dress Benjamin passed down to her. :)

Since none of those could realistically materialize, I at least wanted to make time to make hats for the girls. Straw hats! They each have a sunbonnet but in the hot, humid weather we typically experience in spring and summer and into the fall, a sunbonnet can sometimes be too heavy. Sheer sunbonnets are always an option but do not provide so much protection from sunburn. 

I didn't have much money to spend on these admittedly superfluous projects but I got two $1 paper straw hats from the dollar tree and had enough scraps in my bin to decorate them and at least try to get something that looked passable for the upcoming Memorial Day parade and cemetery service we participated in as part of the historic society. 

The paper straw hats are cheap and floppy; not great candidates for a remake but well, it's what I had. They were far too large so I separated the brim from the crown on each one and made both quite a bit shorter. I then sewed them back together, soaked them and shaped them with a lot of starch and then wired the brims. I lined inside the crowns with lightweight cotton leftover from my round gown I made for the recent rendezvous (and additionally lined Rose's with pleated ribbon, to make the size a little smaller) and bound the edges to cover up the wire. After that I had just had to sew on a band and decorations to cover the seam between the crown and brim. 

A last minute addition were some narrow twill tape ties to help keep the hats on. Since my girls have 4 brothers, they are definitely not demure and ladylike! ;) They are loud, jumping, running, yelling little girls so ties were necessary. 

We ended up with two very serviceable hats! They worked very well for our parade and service and I was extra grateful for the shady brims to keep their faces and necks somewhat protected from the sun, since we were out on a really hot day in full sun, with no shade anywhere to take refuge in. 

It was a very wonderful honor to be able to come together with other local groups to honor those we lost in service of their country. I am so grateful for the opportunity and so glad my children were able to see what a solemn, somber day it is. 

For the HSM information: 

What the Item Is: Straw Hats
Material: Paper straw hats, scraps of cotton and silk for lining and binding, silk flowers for decoration
Pattern: None, inspired by images of hats from the mid-19th century
Year: Early to mid 1860's
Notions: Wire
How historically accurate is it: The shape is ok and the overall look is ok, but hat bases are not, the construction is not. I'd say maybe 50%
Hours to complete: A few here and there. Maybe 4-6 all together.
First worn: Sunday, May 27th 
Total cost: $2 and scraps :) 


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