Berets are a fabulous and useful hat, and the illustration looked very promising.
I'm pleased with the results and I might even actually wear this hat. I haven't often used stitching as a design element on hats, especially not anything as simple as straight lines, but I really like the effect (even though it is very subtle on my fabric). I haven't completely decided if I like the buttons yet.
Like most of these patterns, the instructions are brief and require you to make quite a few educated guesses along the way, but I've included mine here to help you.
Note: These are not full instructions, read through the original pattern and instructions for the rest of the information.
- Half a yard of fabric. Recommended in black velvet, but it also says at the end that it could be made in "tweed or face cloth to match the coat or frock." I've used a cotton/wool blend leftover from making, appropriately, a 1930s style top. I'm a big fan of wool for berets, and it's less formal than velvet.
- Half a yard of stiffened millinery net. I don't actually know what they are after here. You can get blocking net, and I think it is similar to the kind used in the 50s and 60s, but the 30s? I'm not sure if it is the same thing. It gets cut out in the same pattern piece for the top and sewn flat, so it is basically interfacing to provide more body. So I just used interfacing, a medium weight iron-on, because that is what I had already and it suited my fabric quite well. I actually used it on both pieces, because my fabric is very drapey otherwise, but I think the original is only using the net on the top piece.
- The trim they show, that I've also used, is an "embroidered" pattern and two metal buttons. They also suggest feathers or a ribbon bow as alternatives.
- They recommend buying a ready-made lining. Not as easy to find as they used to be, but I did find some online at Torb & Reiner and also Hatters Millinery Supplies. There are also instructions online for making simple hat linings. You can use the original pattern to make a lining (which is what I would usually do for a flat pattern hat) but because the top is stitched down it won't work as well in this design.
- The size worked out perfectly for my head, which is about 57cm, when I assumed a 1cm seam allowance was included on the pattern.
- A bit of guesswork is required to draft it, but the key measurements are given. This is how I drew up the pattern for the side band:
- Draw a rectangle 23.5 inches long and 10 inches wide.
- Find the centre of both long sides, and join them.
- Measure 4.5 inches along this line from the top and mark this point.
- We know the bottom edges are 3 inches long but not the angle they are at, so I guessed. I measured 1.5 inches (I think. Maybe it was 1.25) up from the bottom corners then drew my 3 inch lines from there.
- Sketch in the curves as smoothly as possible.
- I didn't take a photo of all that, but here's a quick diagram for you:
- Attach the interfacing/net/whatever to the fabric. So I just had to iron my interfacing on. The original instructions have you tacking the net to the fabric for the top piece, and the decorative stitches are a part of this, so you don't really have to do extra tacking, just line them up and go on to the next step.
- Sew the decorative stitching on. The original says with "silk", I used regular sewing thread. I imagine embroidery thread would be more appropriate. Mine doesn't show very well because of the dappled fabric but on the plus side it had straight lines I could follow!
- One tip for the stitching - draw on the seam line and don't stitch beyond this. I stitched closer to the edge in some parts and then later when I trimmed my seam allowance, some of my stitches came loose. You could also choose to stitch that seam with a narrower seam allowance.
- I then pressed the piece with steam because my stitching had made the fabric wrinkle a bit.
- Assemble the hat. Again, I used a 1 cm seam allowance as it wasn't stated but that amount would give me the correct fit. I trimmed the seam allowance where the top and side joined to about 5 mm so it would sit nicely.
- The instructions say to "Turn in the lower edge until the beret is shallow enough." *sigh* I turned it up about 1.5 cm, and then hand stitched it into place.
- The seam on the side band in this hat sits on the right of the head. (At least, I think that is what they are saying.) Try the hat on, pull the top forward and down until you like it, then pin into place and slip stitch down. This seemed a bit vague but when you have the hat on it does make sense. Looking at the original illustration helps.
- Add your buttons and a lining. I haven't lined mine yet. I'm going to decide how I feel about the buttons first.
- There isn't much to the wearing of this hat, as it should fit your head, and the rest is all just deciding how much of an angle you want. How jaunty are you feeling today?
I might even like this enough to try it in another fabric, but on the other hand, many more patterns are calling me.
What do you guys think of this one?
If you've missed any of the other pattern reviews in my Trove Pattern Project, you can find them here: