Wednesday, May 18, 2016

White Rabbit - Wire Frame Mini Tophat

The second project from my millinery class--my White Rabbit top hat!

So the project outline was really open-ended: you had to make a wire frame hat, cover it with sheer fabric and decorate it to represent a theme/character. We were given the option of doing a mini top hat or boater that she had patterns for, or we could design our own hat shape. I picked the mini top hat because I didn't have time to pattern a new shape.

After going fabric shopping to get ideas, I found this really cool sheer blue-grey fabric. It had almost a paper-like quality to it. I thought it might make an interesting take on the White Rabbit. Since I have learned from theatre--stage lights wash out fabrics and make them look whiter, perhaps I could design a white rabbit while hardly using any white?
Here's a picture of the finished hat frame on top of the fabric. It shifts from blue to grey depending on lighting and instagram filters. Haha

I won't go into too much detail on how the frame was constructed. All the pieces of wire were carefully cut to length and bent into shape. I used quilting thread to tightly wrap the joints and then strengthened the bond with a mixture of white glue and water.

The brim and crown were not attached until after I covered it. It makes covering the pieces way easier.
I covered the crown and brim using 2 layers of my fabric. It was fairly sheer with just a single layer and I was worried it would rip. I like that with the double layer you get a ghost of the leaf pattern coming through.

For the crown I cut 2 circles overlayed, I draped these over the top holding them in place with pins. Then I pleated the fabric along the bottom edge to conform it to the shape of the crown. I basted this in place, attaching it to the frame. I cut off some of the excess fabric, but the rest would be tucked into the inside.

The brim was done in a similar way. I cut 2 long rectangles that measured the same as the outer circumference of the brim. These were each sewn into a long loop and folded in half over the edge. Then I pleated and basted them to the frame.
Next I created my ear shape. As you can see here, both ears are made out of one piece of wire. It would sit between the crown and brim and make them much stronger overall. I covered them with a white silk leftover from the painting and dye class I took last summer.

All of my cool accent pieces--laser cut clock, clock hands--were picked up from Michael's art store. It has a great selection of weird crafting bits. I got the clock hands in the DIY clock section, for example.

The gold fabric I used to make a hat band was leftover from my Steampunk Corset (I really did buy way too much fabric for that).
I sewed the ears to the brim base, then sewed my brim to the crown. Then I carefully tacked the side of the ears to the top of the top hat--I sewed the wire frame to the wire frame, not just the fabrics.

Next was the hat band and decoration. I sewed the hat band on, the sewed the decorations on. Before attaching the clock hands I sponged on some gold acrylic paint and sprayed them with a gloss finish sealer. This was to help them match the costume better.

Lastly, I sewed a felt circle to the bottom to cover the hole and seal it shut. Then I sewed a headband to it (which I also painted gold). I think later I will swap out the headband for alligator clips, but for now (and for handing it it) it was fine.

I'm really happy with how the hat turned out and I am in the process of completing a full design for the costume. I'm thinking I would really like to complete the outfit in the future...

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