My boater hat
Millinery,  My projects

A boater hat and hatpins

Now that I had made one hat, I wanted to make an early 20th-century “school teacher” hat inspired by Anne of the Green Gables. Having made my own buckram, I went and bought some millinery wire to see how it was like to work with. With a little experience behind me, the task of making a hat wasn’t so challenging anymore. To keep the hat securely on my head, I also made hatpins out of old knitting needles.

Making the hat

I started again by estimating the size of the hat. This time the hat inner circumference precisely my size. However, I slanted the crown so I needed to do some maths to figure out the shape of the piece that forms the side crown. I got lovely encouragement and tips from Maiju that owns Sylvia Quaint millinery shop. She suggested adding a layer of felt to add a bit height and structure to the buckram hat. I had some viscose-cotton felt/wadding leftovers from a potholder project that suited the purpose just fine.

Some pieces of the hat.

Sewing with millinery wire wasn’t much different than using the jewellery wire. Millinery wire is covered with fabric but in this kind of hat it doesn’t really have any benefit as the wire is hidden anyway. I have discovered that using a zipper foot with grooves or an appliqué foot with a similar kind of groove underneath greatly helps when you zigzag the wire in place. As the wire stays in the groove, there is less change of you breaking your needle and you can go faster.

I sewed the wire, the buckram and the wadding together and then went forward covering the pieces with the same linen I used to make buckram. Here is an in-the-progress picture of the top of the crown:

Covering the top of the hat.

The brim of this hat is gentle slant but I didn’t want to make a seam to the cover. I figured out that I could stretch the covering linen to sit smoothly anyway and it worked pretty well. I did notice that the side-crown piece buckled a bit when I attached the pieces together. It may be that my buckram didn’t have enough strength and that I should have added some extra support. Luckily the buckling doesn’t show on the outside!

A hat in progress...
Finishing the inside.

This time I did the inside a bit different than in my last hat. I did not turn the inner edge but just slashed it. I then finished the inside with a sweatband out of cotton tape.

The inside view of the completed hat.

The outer edge of the brim required some thought. I would have preferred cutting my own bias tape but had unfortunately no linen left in the right colour. Then I found gold satin bias tape that I though would add the right amount of colour and I went with it.

The finished hat.

I finished the hat by sewing on red tape. I think that this kind of hat doesn’t need much embellishments so I left the hat simple.


My hat stays perched on my head but to really be able to wear it I needed proper hatpins. I had some tiny ones but those were good for nothing. So, I decided to make my own.

Knitting needles.

I started with my grandmother’s old knitting needles that were too thin for me to use (and were missing some needles to make complete sets). I took one and cut it in two with strong pliers. Then, filed the ends to remove the sharp bits. The only thing needed to finish my new hatpins was to glue some beads onto the blunt ends:

Decorating the ends of my hatpins.

Here are the finished hatpins. They aren’t super sharp but as my hats have a seam between the brim and the crown, it is easy to slide the hatpins through the little gaps between my stitches. And because they are blunt, I won’t scratch my scalp!

The finished hatpins.

The finished length of these hatpins is 10 cm (4″). They do work but I think I’d prefer slightly longer hatpins for some purposes. My fine hair doesn’t have any grip so making hats to stay on is a challenge!

The finished hat

I am much happier with this second hat I have made. It works with most of my turn of the 20th-century outfits like the skirt and waistcoat combo below (sorry about the wrinkles of my skirt):

The Anne of the Green Gables look with a proper boater hat.
A back view.

First, I put my hair up in some sort of a bun and then I put a hatpin on each side to secure the hat.

Another back view of the hat.
Front view of the hat.

I think this is very much an Anne of the Green Gables look! I could so easily see myself standing in front of a class in a small country school. At least I can still teach my kids for a week until the schools open here in Finland. Not that they need much help as the teachers do teach remotely! I mainly help with technical problems and give advice on crafts and grammar. Today I taught K to patch his favourite sweatpants that he was tasked with. I think he did great by strengthening the worn-out spot with interfacing and then covering the hole with an appliqué patch out of cool print fabric. I also gave some little help with S’s macrame keyring that she was working with.

I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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