Most Victorian hats have these things in common: flowers, feathers and ribbons. This theme can run from the small, such as petite tea party hats, to the extravagantly top-heavy, such as the hats worn to the theater or to church on Easter Sunday. Hat making requires years of practice to perfect, but with the right materials and some good fashion sense, you can make a perfectly respectable Victorian hat on your own.
Items you will need
- Plain felt or straw hat
- Silk or dried flowers
- Hot glue gun
- Hat pin
Buy an unadorned straw or felt hat that fits securely on your head. A hat that fits well will not fall off when you bend over, and you should not have to hold on to it as you move about. Another option is to purchase a buckram hat form in one of the classic Victorian shapes. Lost Coast Historical Patterns has an excellent selection of buckram forms. However, making a hat with a buckram form is more complicated and requires purchasing wire for stiffness and spreading fabric over the form. See the Resources section for links.
Choose the materials you want for adorning your hat. Purchase ribbons, dried or silk flowers, and ostrich, pheasant or peacock feathers at a craft supply store. Consider the season and the event you're attending when choosing your adornments. Spring hats should have pastel flowers, but evening and winter hats should complement the coat or dress and use darker tones.
Hot glue a ribbon around the crown of the hat. Arrange a cluster of flowers and glue them onto the ribbon. If you're using feathers, insert them at a jaunty angle. If you've chosen a tea hat, use less adornment.
Use a hat pin. You can find them at antiques shops and online. Victorian hats should fit your head, but you shouldn't have to pull them down to your ears to secure them. A comfortable fit is adequate, and a hat pin will remove any concerns about your hat falling off.
"Victoriana" magazine has original drawings of Victorian fashion and can inspire your styling and ideas. One whole section of its website is devoted to hats, including American Civil War-era styles.