This was the original shape. I'd been wanting a yellow pillbox hat, and I saw this picture on Petersham's Millinery Supply in Deptford, south London, and rushed over to get one of these felt cone things. (I think it was £10.)
I didn't have proper wooden hat blocks - I looked them up online and they're super expensive, usually £100 or more. But I found a flour sieve at the market, tore out the netting and bent it a bit. Then I got a soup bowl from the kitchen and hoped for the best.
It was really tricky! I later learned that I should have soaked the felt first, in a mixture of one part water to one part PVA glue (standard school glue) so the water would soften it and the glue would make it stiffen when it dried. But I didn't know about that, I steamed it over the kettle and yanked and pulled it over the sieve frame until it was this shape. I kept steaming and turned up the outer bit to make a cuff around the outside. But then, because the shape had started as a cone, the outer cuff was very baggy and I wanted it snug against the crown of the hat. Arghh. I posted photos online and wondered what to do.
And I love Twitter, people came to my aid! Most helpfully, Simone Goward, who asked it I'd stiffened the material...
Eek! I learned that it's okay to paint on the glue solution after I've shaped it. Before that, I cut a slit in the back to tighten up the cuff. It doesn't look great in the back, but I couldn't figure out any other way to do it. I think I should have made the outer cuff as a separate strip and sewed it on, but hey ho. And wow, after I painted on the glue solution and let it dry, that thing was hard as wood. I should have used pins instead of rubber bands and strips of plastic bags, but I was working from the studio and I'd left my sewing kit at home. I had to steam the cuff again a little more to try to get out the gluey puckers. (There are still a few puckers.)
Simone recommended I add that extra bit of different coloured felt to pad out the unslightly gaps. (And I had a bit of leftover brown from a pug-related project that went amok.) The netting's from Petersham's, the cording inside the brown felt is from Peter & Joan haberdasher's down the road from Petersham's, and I even had a little leftover strip of yellow that I was able to use for the bow. Thanks, Simone and the gang at Petersham's! That wasn't the easiest thing I've ever made, but I'd like to try another felt shape some time.