HSF #1 – Make Do and Mend – The Striped Berry Hat

Better late than never.

I originally intended to redo a dress for my sister. Something that turned into a more monstrous project than I was originally anticipating. Also it’s hard to do fittings with no access to my sister, which is slowing the process down.

So instead I decided to go ahead and cross another project I’ve been meaning to do off of my list. A hat, because no real lady would ever be caught outside without the proper head covering.

I am at heart a very thrifty girl who also enjoys being crafty. It was a hard choice between the many lovely types of hats. But really, I’m not sure how well a bonnet will look on my oval shaped face. Plus I just really like the look of the leghorn hats.

leghorn2 leghorn

I’ve read a couple blog posts about people who have taken straw hats from a big box craft store and remade them into history appropriate hats. After a bit of searching for how to’s I found a marvelously helpful post by the Semptress on how to reblock a straw hat.

So I took a basic straw hat. Really nothing fancy. One that looked just like this one. This is where the made do part comes in because I’m just making do with craft store supplies, which may be stretching the definition of the challenge.

straw hat

I didn’t have any specialized supplies (which may prove to be my undoing). I used my head as the shaping block and put up my hair in a style that is similar to the one I usually wear to reenactments.

I got a giant bowl of warm water and started dipping the brim into the water. It didn’t get wet immediately, so I went around a couple of times. The crown needed to stretch a little bigger to fit my head better, so I stuck the top of the hat in. Basically I dunked the whole thing in, getting the brim wetter than the rest, because that was the part that I wanted to shape most. Then shook off the excess water and plopped the whole thing down directly on my head. After that I ran and got a towl to mop up my drips. I don’t always think ahead. 🙂

The leghorn style was fairly easy for me to shape. I gently pressed the crown the hat down onto my head, stretching it to fit comfortably. Then I shaped the brim so that it hung down over my forehead in front and down over my next in back. Afterwards I sat and watched three episodes of Doctor Who with my mom. By the time we were done the hat was dry enough I felt I could safely leave it hanging on an upside down vase, my hat rest of choice.

I bought a remnant of this lovely striped fabric, the maroon color almost perfectly matches my new dress. I cut two three-inch strips, put the right sides together, sewed the long edges, and turned it right side out again.


Then came the difficult process of figuring out what to do with my ridiculously long piece of fabric ribbon.


In the end I decided to take my inspiration from this photo.

leghorn 3

The fabric ribbon got put into a V in the front and meets at the back, where it trails down in two streamers.

And…TA DA!!! My first finished hat!


From the back!


Now it’s on my head!!!


The Challenge: Make Do and Mend

Fabric: 6 inches of striped cotton

Pattern: None, just me fooling around.

Year: early 1860’s

Notions: black thread, dark red berries, and a straw hat

How historically accurate is it? I’d say about a 6. From what I’ve been able to determine they don’t make straw hats the same anymore, modern hats have a much wider and coarser band of straw braid. The berries are modern, which I’m sure is made through some fancy, nonhistorically accurate process. Otherwise the design is accurate to the time period.

Hours to complete: About 15 minutes to shape, 3 hours for my reformed hat to dry, and 1 hour to trim.

First worn: Not yet, I plan on wearing it to Olustee next month.

Total cost: This one comes in at under $10. The hat cost about $3, two bunches of berries on Christmas sale were $1, and the fabric was a remnant I bought for $3 and change.

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5 thoughts on “HSF #1 – Make Do and Mend – The Striped Berry Hat

  1. Tracey February 14, 2014 at 1:30 am Reply

    It looks great and I’m glad I’m not the only one who measures time in tv shows. “That dress took forever. It was two season of Downton and three Sherlocks!”

  2. Cassie S. February 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm Reply

    Love it!
    Would definitely wear!

    Fellow HSF Sewer

  3. The Dreamstress March 14, 2014 at 8:47 am Reply

    Oh, it’s very pretty and I think it suits your face beautifully! Well done!

  4. […] A Modern Needle Through Time’s 1860s hat – We simply can’t get leghorn straw hats today, so she ‘made do’ with a modern craft hat, and it is beautiful! […]

  5. […] the Made Do and Mend Post I originally intended to post my progress on a dress that I’m redoing for my sister. As I […]

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