Covering Frame With Velvet - Make Your Own Hats

Covering Frame With Velvet - Make Your Own Hats


Material required one and one-half yards milliner's velvet or any velvet eighteen to twenty-four inches wide. If velvet used is thirty-six inches wide, one yard will be sufficient.

To cover brim—

Place corner of velvet at front of brim on top side (smooth side). Edgewire and headsize wire should always be on top of brim. Turn velvet over edge of brim and pin. Stick pins through at right angles to brim to avoid marring the velvet. Pin closely all around edge of brim, pulling material with the thread to remove any fullness. Do not pull tight enough to bend the brim. Trim velvet off one-fourth inch to turn under brim. Baste close to headsize wire on top with stab stitch. Cut velvet out inside of headsize wire, leaving a half inch to slash and turn up with the buckram.

To sew velvet edge to brim—

This should be done with a close overcasting stitch on the under side, being careful not to prick through to the right side of the velvet. It is sometimes advisable in preparing the frame to stitch the buckram in from the edge about one-fourth inch with the sewing machine, using a long stitch. This stitching may then be used to put the needle through when sewing the velvet down. If the velvet seems thick and heavy-looking on under side after sewing, it may be pressed down with a hot iron. If done quickly and lightly, it will not show on the right side.


To face under side of brim—

Pin velvet on under side, using same method in pinning as that on top of brim. This must be pinned very carefully. Cut off velvet all around edge, leaving a little less than one-fourth inch to turn under. Facings are usually finished at the edge with a wire. Cut a piece of frame wire the exact circumference of the brim, plus one inch for lap. Bend to shape of brim and pin under edge of velvet, beginning at the center back. Roll velvet over wire and bring out to edge. Pin in place all the way around before beginning to sew. Place pins in at right angles to brim. A piece of velvet held in the left hand will prevent finger marks from showing on the velvet. Begin to sew at left of wire joining, while holding underside of brim towards you. Bring needle through from back close under wire. With the head of the needle press velvet along under wire to make a crease or sort of bed for the thread of the next stitch. Take nearly a half-inch stitch by placing needle close under the wire and coming through between the wire and the upper facing. Come back under the wire with a very small back stitch, being careful to adjust the wire as you sew, and to catch a little of the upper covering with each back stitch. When wire joining is reached, treat the lapped ends as one wire. Fasten ends securely by taking several small back stitches. Lace wire, being smaller than frame wire, is sometimes used to finish the edge of facing. It does not look as heavy, but is somewhat more difficult for a beginner to handle.

To cover crown top—

To cover the top, cut a piece of velvet with the bias at the front, same shape as top of crown plus one inch all around. Gather one-fourth inch from edge, place over top, equalize the gathers, pin in place, and sew with stab stitch over line of gathering. Make the edge lie as flat as possible and do not draw velvet too tight across the top.

To cover side crown—

Cut a piece of velvet on a true bias two and one-half inches wider than height of crown. Pin this strip wrong side out around side crown to find length and to locate seam. Draw it snugly and pin seam on straight of material with warp thread. (Warp thread is parallel with selvage.) Remove velvet and stitch seam. Open it and press by drawing it over the edge of a hot iron.

To sew crown on brim—

The simplest way to proceed is to sew the crown on the brim before adjusting the side crown covering. Pin back, front, and each side of crown to brim, placing seams at back. Sew through upturned flaps of brim and crown one-fourth inch from bottom wire. Stretch the velvet strip for side crown on the crown, placing seam at back, unless trimming has been planned which will cover the seam better if it is placed at some other point. Turn top and bottom edges under to fit the side crown, and press bottom fold down close to brim. If this band has been fitted tight enough, it will not be found necessary to sew it.

Edge of brim facing, when finished without wire—

A brim covered with velvet or any fabric may also be finished underneath without a wire, the edges being slipstitched together. In this case, the underfacing would be turned under one-fourth inch and pinned in place all the way around before beginning to sew. Bring the needle through from underside of facing to the very edge of fold. Place point of needle directly opposite this stitch and take a small stitch in upper facing, then take a small stitch in underfacing. Each stitch always begins just opposite the ending of preceding stitch, so that the thread between the two facings crosses the seam at right angles to edge of brim. This method makes the work look smooth, and also it will not pull out of place; however, this style of finishing an edge is not popular and requires much practice.

To cover narrow brim sailor without an edge seam—

This method can be used satisfactorily only when the brim is narrow, and the fabric pliable. For convenience we will give measurements as for a two and one-half inch brim, flat sailor, outside edge measuring forty inches. Cut a bias piece of velvet forty inches long and seven inches wide. Fold this velvet through center lengthwise and stick pins every three inches through edge of fold at right angles to edge and close to edge. This is to mark the line that must be placed on the edge of the brim. If the velvet is not placed evenly, there will be found a greater amount of fullness on one side than on the other.

Place velvet over the brim and pin on edge at points marked by pins. Stretch as tight as possible. On a brim of this width all of the fullness should be worked out. If this is found to be very difficult, lay the brim aside, with the velvet pinned on, for an hour or for overnight, and the velvet will be found to give a little more. Remove as much of the length as possible. Locate seam, remove from frame, sew seam, and replace as before. Sew on top close to head size wire, working out all the fullness possible; pull under part up into head size. Sew one-fourth inch above head size wire onto the flaps, being careful not to pull the thread too tight or the head size wire will be reduced in size.


A pleasing variety is sometimes obtained by using a colored under-facing on a black hat. The entire facing may be of a contrasting color or extend only from headsize wire to within an inch of the edge of the brim. In this case there could be a strip of material the same as upper facing an inch and a half wide finished at the edge of the brim with a wire. Then the colored facing would be finished over the edge of this with another wire.

Brims covered with two kinds of fabric—

A flat brim or mushroom shape is often covered by using two fabrics, which may be of the same color or of contrasting colors. Small pieces of old material may often be conserved in this manner and the hat at the same time have much charm. For instance, the edge of the hat could have a bias band of satin, two or more inches wide, stretched around the edge of the brim, with the rest of the brim covered with velvet overlapping the satin and finished with a wire both on top and bottom, or only on one side. Underside of brim may be finished the same way, or the facing may be brought out even with the edge and finished with a wire.

Shaped brim foundation—

The simplest shaped brim is the mushroom style.

To make pattern for brim—

Make a paper pattern the same as for the straight brim sailor. Measure the same for the headsize wire, join ends of wire, shape to fit the head, and pin on paper pattern of any desired width. To make the brim droop, slash the pattern from the edge to the headsize wire in four different places equally distant. Lap these slashes one-fourth inch at the edge, and pin. The pattern may also be slashed in eight or more different places if desired, the slashes being adjusted by lapping more or less according to the amount of droop which may be becoming.

After the pattern is adjusted satisfactorily, mark with a pencil all around just inside the headsize wire. Remove the wire and cut the paper on this line. Cut pattern in two at back and lay out flat on smooth side of buckram, leaving pins in slashes. Cut close to outside edge and allow one-fourth inch for the lap at ends. Mark on buckram with pencil close to headsize line and cut one-half inch inside this mark. Lap ends one-fourth inch and backstitch closely at each edge of flap. Sew a strip of crinoline flat over seam to smooth it up. Sew headsize wire on place marked, which will be one-half inch from inside edge. Keep all joinings at back. Slash buckram from inside edge to headsize wire every half inch. Wire edge of brim and cover wire with crinoline—same method as used on sailor brim.

To cover a mushroom-shaped brim—

If not very drooping, it may be covered without making a seam in the material. To do this, begin by placing the corner of the fabric on top at the front of the brim. Pin the front, back, and each side, always pulling with the thread of the material, and pin closely at edge, with pins at right angles to the brim. If covered with georgette, satin or silk, which is pliable, the fullness may all be worked out without a seam. Baste close to headsize wire and finish edge by following same method as used in finishing sailor brim. Also follow same method with facing. If the material used is not pliable, or if the brim is too drooping to admit of stretching the material smoothly, a seam must be made at the back. The method would be the same as used in covering the rolled brim.

Sheer materials—

In covering with anything as sheer as georgette, it is advisable to line with some other material first. The color could be made deeper by using a lining of the same color, or made paler by lining with white. The lining should be fitted and sewed on with the outside material.

Pattern for hat with rolled or close-fitting brim—

The pattern for any hat is first cut from a flat piece of paper. The headsize is marked as for flat sailor and the headsize wire pinned on. The pattern is then slashed in to headsize wire from the outside edge, the slashes lapped over and pinned. If the hat is to be rolled more closely on one side than on the other, the greater number of slashes must be placed there. In this way the pattern can be adjusted to any desired shape. It is an advantage sometimes to cut the paper pattern through in the back, leaving pins in the slashes, and lay out flat on another piece of paper for a new pattern.

This eliminates some of the slashes and makes further experiments easier. Pattern-making is very important, and it is of extreme value to make as many patterns as possible before cutting the foundation fabric. Changing a pattern the slightest sometimes makes a great deal of difference in its becomingness. Of course a brim may be changed by adding a slash or two in the buckram, or by inserting a V shape to give more flare, but the fewer seams the better for the hat frame. A rolled or close-fitting brim is more difficult to cover than a sailor or mushroom shape.

To cover a close-fitting or rolled brim—

Place corner of material on top of brim at front and pin on the edge. Always use the same method of pinning on the edge as given in the first lesson. Draw the material down to the headsize wire and pin. Work the material out smoothly toward the left and pin at the edge; also at the headsize wire. Then proceed in the same way toward the right, always pinning closely. Be sure to keep the material tight and smooth both at edge and at the headsize wire. Allow the fullness to go where it will. The seam should be located at the center back. Cut away all superfluous material, allowing three-eighths of an inch seam at the center back. Turn the raw edges under away from each other at the seam and slipstitch together neatly.

To slipstitch seam—

Bring needle through edge of fold on one side and enter the needle through edge of fold on other side exactly opposite. Slip needle along in this fold one-eighth of an inch, then bring the needle through to the edge of the fold and take a stitch one-eighth of an inch long in the fold of the other side, always being careful to begin the stitch exactly opposite the end of the one preceding. Try to cut the material out from inside the headsize wire in one piece so that it may be used for something else. Examine the material carefully to make sure that it fits perfectly. Baste with a stab stitch close to the headsize wire on the outside; remove all pins as soon as possible. After basting this, you will sometimes find that the material needs a little more adjusting at the edge. Turn the velvet over the edge one-fourth inch and sew down with an overcasting stitch.

To glue velvet to the brim—

When there is a decided roll to a brim, it is sometimes most difficult to keep the velvet smooth and to make it lie close to the brim, so we resort to milliner's glue. Do not use glue on satin, or on any fabric thinner than velvet, or on any frame other than buckram. Care should always be taken to have the smooth side of the buckram on top when the velvet is to be glued on.

After fitting the velvet carefully and sewing the seam in the back, remove the pins from the outer edge and gather the velvet up inside the headsize where it is to be held while the glue is being spread on the buckram. The glue must be spread very evenly. It will make a neater job to glue the seam of the velvet open before going further. Be very careful to keep the glue away from the right side of the velvet. Next, rub the glue on the frame with a stiff brush until it is smooth, then spread the velvet back into place, pressing and smoothing it with the hands from the headsize wire out. Watch it carefully for any places which have not sufficient glue, as the material may be raised before it is dry and more glue added. Do not sew the edge until the glue has dried. Usually it is only the material on the upper side of the brim which needs gluing down. The facing may be put on as desired. Some times the top of a crown has indentations, and then the velvet may be glued to stay in place.

The under or outer facing may be fitted to a rolled or close-fitting brim more easily than the upper. Beginning at the front with the corner of the material, pin at the edge and at the headsize wire. Keep the material smooth; work from right to left, and then from left to right. Work the material around to where the seam is to be made. Cut away all superfluous material, allowing three-eighths of an inch for a seam. Slipstitch together as on the top and finish the edge over wire. Whenever possible a seam should be made on the straight of the material.

A shirred crown of fabric—

There are two methods of making a shirred crown of fabric in which taffeta, satin, georgette, or velvet may be used. Velvet is especially beautiful made up in this way. The first method is the preferred. Cut a circular piece of material, having a diameter the length of the crown from front to back, measuring over the top from the headsize wire, plus four inches.

On the wrong side of the material mark circles (concentric) one-half inch apart, after first having marked a circle in the center about three inches in diameter. Gather on the line of each circle with a fine running stitch and bring the thread through to the right side as each circle is completed.

Locate the exact center of the crown top and cut a small hole at this point. Pull thread of the smallest circle up tight. This will form a bag which should be pulled down through the hole made at the center of the crown top and sewed securely in place. The material should be pinned down at four equal points at the edge of the crown, the threads of the other circles pulled up until the material fits the crown snugly. Adjust the fullness evenly and sew in place. This is an excellent way to use up old material which would otherwise show marks or any other defects.

The second method does not make as pleasing an effect, but may be used when the material happens to be in such shape that a circle cannot be cut from it. A bias strip about eight inches wide and long enough to reach around the crown, plus three or four inches, should be joined on the lengthwise thread of the material. The first shirring or gathering should be one-half inch from the edge, the additional threads should be run in evenly every half inch.

The first thread near the edge should then be drawn up as tightly as possible and this edge pushed through the hole in the top of the crown. This method will require a somewhat larger opening than the first. The material is then drawn down on the outside and pinned to the bottom of the crown; the threads are then pulled tight and firm and are fastened off. Next adjust the gathers evenly and sew in place.

Excerpt From Make Your Own Hats By Gene Allen Martin