Cloth Covered Hats -
including leather, fur, velvet, silk and all types of fabrics
Cloth Covered hats.
Fabric hats have been worn through many centuries. Millinery records show, right back to Ancient Egyptian time when colourful fabrics were used under enameled circlets, often featuring carved serpents, which at the time was the sacred goddess of Egypt.
These were often squares of fabric, fringed with gold. Around about the same time there were recordings of the Persian noblemen wearing draped turbans or tiaras, which were draped over the head and around the neck, once again having very little construction but consisted of lengths of fabric.
As we look at the Ancient Greek times the woman are featured wearing sheer draped head wear, usually accompanying an embossed bandeau or gold ribbon entwined through the hair.
Ancient Romans first appear to have began the more structured cloth covered hats with the pointed shaped bonnets, better known in medieval or gothic Europe as the 'steeple hennin'. These were quite tall and featured a sheer veiling which fell at varying lengths down the back, some even touching the ground.
History shows many styles of hats that featured fabric in some way, silk and velvet being the most popular in that time. Skull caps with silk lengths twisted around the head were popular for men of high status eg. Emperors in the mid 1400's.
Even 15th century Papal miters, a more structured head dress covered with fabric, shows similar styles to those worn today, they also featured similar elaborate jeweled braids which we currently see at the Vatican.
Turbans of all sizes were worn throughout the 14th, through to 16th century, some featuring jewels and feathers and were folded and wound around tall and odd shaped crowns to achieve many different turban shapes.
The Medieval Chaperon turban often featuring a rolled "roundlet" which was almost like a brim, but was cylindrical. Tall baggy caps featuring jewels were also worn at that time.
While we see all these cloth covered hats, millinery history hasn't shown us from what the foundation of these hats were made, as they would have had to have some stiffening substance to create the fantastic shapes seen from those times.
One only has to wonder about the Escoffion of the 15th century, with their tall crowns, with elaborate shapes with what was called a sheer wimple, a sheer veil mostly falling from the top of the hat.
16th Century Renaissance Europe history often show structured and soft cloth covered hats for men. Felt was still popular, but velvet was the fabric for men of the time. The women in that era appear to favor the sheer fabrics, although they, too, wore padded shapes which were in fabrics like silk and velvet.
During the big hair era, which was in the 1700's, fabric bonnets, wide sheer brims, and high crowns created a new silhouette for women. It was a time for wide skirts and big sleeves so the oversized hairdo and hat seemed to create a good balance.
While felt and straw hats have weathered the years up to now, Hats, which consist of blocked canvas foundations and covered in fabric are not as popular as in days gone by. The reason for this, maybe because we have such a wide range of millinery materials that work well, it is not necessary to use fabric.
A cloth covered hat is a far more time consuming task to manufacture than the likes of straw, felt or the more modern materials such as sinamay.
Having said that, I view the whole picture, garment and hat of the same fabric, in classic styles, a very pleasing and elegant one. But of course, that is just my opinion and no doubt others may not agree.
The construction of the fabric covered hat is very rewarding, I find that fabric takes on a different life than it does when used in garments, the main difference being a garment needs to drape over the body to allow for movement, whereas, when used in a structured hat it is stretched tautly over the foundation.
Go to my
Millinery techniques and BASIC REQUIREMENTS for fabric covered hats
page to find out what materials are needed to create a fabric covered hat.
There are many variations of cloth covered hats, which all need several different techniques. To list the different types of hats which are covered with any sort of material I would start with:-
1. any hat which has fabric, leather, fur (faux or genuine) straw cloth, or any covering over a blocked foundation canvas. This could be blocked with the cold or hot method, or formed from a flat pattern and reinforced with wire. Go to my
Cloth covered hats using FLAT PATTERNED FOUNDATIONS
page to see how to construct a covered hat without using any hat blocks, and to my
page for the construction of blocked cloth covered hats using hot or cold hat blocks.
2. Any hat that is of the softer versions, such as, covered beret, baker boy hats, baseball caps, bucket hats and soft fabric sun hats.
Each of these have different procedures in the making of them and some of these techniques will interchange, but may also need to be processed in a different sequence. You will soon find a SOFT FABRIC HATS page where I will include instructions for this type of hat.
I am concentrating on the more modern style hats when writing any "How to do" instructions, but if you have a need to reproduce a particular hat from the past, please contact me below, and I will endeavor to guide you with your request. There will be some, no doubt, that I will have no idea how they were made, but I will do my best.