Saturday, 28 April 2012

Tiny top hats 2: the hats strike back

As I promised, here's a more in-depth look at how I'm constructing my teacup tophats and the little things I'm learning on the way!

I'll preface this by saying that I'm basing these off the tutorial I found here, at . There was no template provided, and very few photographs of the intermediate steps, so I had to sort of blunder my way along, figuring it out visually as I went.

Let's begin!
I roughed out my own template (as you can see on my last post) for my prototype hat, but found that my ability to draw uniform circles was lacking, so I mapped out the template in Adobe Illustrator and had everything I needed!
Seen here chilling out max and relaxing all cool with my prototype hat.
Step one was to cut out all the shapes in cardboard, graciously provided by a macaroni box!
it was the perfect size and obviously chosen by fate.
Once I had the shapes cut out of cardboard, I realized two things.
  1. the fabric I had chosen was just sheer enough to see through to the cardboard under the right light and
  2. I probably didn't need to cut the centre of the brim out, seeing as I was just going to cover that with fabric later.
Lesson learned though, I added that to my 'remember' list for next time.

Step two, for this hat, was to cover the cardboard bits with some blue felt to serve two purposes. Firstly, to keep the cardboard from showing through, and it also gives it a more soft, plush feel, which was rather nice.
it's like clothes for the cardboard.
I cut the rough shape of the piece before gluing it to the cardboard, then trimmed around the edges of the felt after it was dry, to make sure it was the exact shape I wanted.

After that, I started attaching the fabric!
no one but you will know I'm wearing a macaroni box on my head. sssh. Secrets.

you stick it felt-side-down on the fabric you chose, and glue on the inside of the cardboard, and then pull the fabric in over the edges until it's even and stuck firmly.
The instructions on the website recommended using spray adhesive, but I don't have any on hand, so I ended up using hot glue for everything. And throwing down hot glue all over the front of the panel would have looked like a terrible insult to fashion.
All wrapped up.

As you're gluing the fabric down, make sure the edges are at least mostly uniform and there are no wrinkles in the fabric.

for the brim of the hat, I wanted it to have a slight curve to it, so I soaked the cardboard in water before attaching the felt and fabric to it, and tied it to this tube so it would dry and keep the shape. I forgot to take a photo of that, so here's another image of it already wrapped in fabric, in the same position!

you're not going anywhere...
After you've applied the fabric to all the pieces, comes the fun part.
And by fun I mean long, tedious and tricky part. I needed to attach the crown of the hat to the barrel, and having learned from my first experiment, I knew I had to attach the barrel to the crown BEFORE closing the barrel up.

This is exactly what it looks like. You apply some glue to the inside of the barrel and stick the crown to it and hold it.
And wait.
And wait some more until it dries.
And then you'll probably want to add some more glue to reinforce it and make sure it all stays stuck.
Prepare yourself for an ocean of glue.
Also, it's worth pointing out at this stage that it's important to remember where your hot glue gun is at all times.
You wouldn't want to, say, set your hand down haphazardly and stick your finger right into the searing-hot metal tip.
That would be silly.
First aid kits are important no matter what you're doing.

I'll take another moment here to lay down some more advice, so you can learn from my fail. 
Check and double check your templates and pieces o make sure they fit. Mine didn't close completely in the back, possibly because I fudged the shape of the barrel, an possibly because I added the extra girth of felt to the mix.
Thankfully, with a bit of creative gluing and some adjustment of the barrel's shape, I managed to mostly close the gap, and went ahead and added the lace ribbon around the base of the hat.

After that, I cut a circle of fabric for the naked bottom of my brim.
Indecent nudity.
I took the website's advice and made the piece larger than the brim, and then I trimmed it back once the glue was dry. This makes it much more uniform afterwards, even though when you're wearing it, people probably won't be seeing the underside of this hat.


Unfortunately I'm not quite able to finish it, as I've forgotten some of my feathers and decorations at a friend's house, but this should give you an idea of the finished product.
The feathers and pendant will completely cover the gap in the back, and then become the front of the hat!

Giant hand not included in the final product.

So there you have it! Phase two of my hat making journey.
I still plan to make several more and investigate an etsy shop to facilitate sales.

As always, I appreciate any comments and feedback you might have!
Thanks for reading!


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