Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Predestined for Millinery? I think not...

The church I'm a member of belongs in the Calvinist tradition.  If John Calvin were still alive today, he would be 500 years old.  Our church is having a "birthday party" for him this week.  His birthday was actually in July, but when it's been 500 years, what's a month here or there?  The Preacher tells me that it is the year that is the significant part.  As part of this celebration, one of the church members is playing the role of John Calvin and he asked me to make a hat as part of his costume.

You can think what you want about John Calvin, but you've got to admit that the man had a pretty cool hat.  Even as cool as it is, it isn't a popular style today (surprising, isn't it?!) so I was on my own for making/adapting a pattern.  I started with Vogue 8528, View C (top left).

I added a brim and the (very strange) earflap piece and (after two muslins) ended up with this:

2009-10-28 Calvin hat 007

2009-10-28 Calvin hat 006

2009-10-28 Calvin hat 004

The hat is velvet and I was nervous about sewing with it and getting a good press.  The sewing turned out to be not so difficult, other than it "walking away" when sewing two velvet pieces RST.  I added the piping to get around the pressing issue.  I thought it would help define the edges/seams if I couldn't get it pressed well.

2009-10-28 Calvin hat 009

The piping is made from the same fabric as the lining - a very cheap polyester "Halloween" satin.  It was just a step up from sewing with a big black garbage bag.  Very lousy choice on my part, but since it's just a costume, it'll be okay.  The quality of my work reflects that thought - "it's just a costume."  There are a couple of tucks that I didn't bother to rip out, some less-than-careful basting on the velvet left stitch marks, the brim waves and ripples when it should be flat, etc.  Still, I think it will do the job.

I'll try to get a shot of it "in action" later this week.


  1. That hat is really spot on - nice work. :)

  2. I think John would be proud to wear that hat. I'm CRC--but we aren't having a cool play. Bummer!

  3. Well done! I never realized it was such an interesting/weird hat!! Sounds like a fun party!!

  4. Looks great and I feel bad I can't come to the party.

  5. Great hat! As a Presbyterian minister and hat enthusiast, I am covetous! However, I would mention that on Calvin himself the "ear flaps" were actually a tight fitting skull cap of sorts that he wore under the hat. Some pictures show him wearing just this skull cap (probably to keep warm while inside). However, what you have done is the easiest way to go, as you don't have to have two pieces of headware, but just one. Very nice.

  6. So, do you want to make another one? I would be interested in your price. It looks really nice!

  7. Wow. I am looking for a pattern just like this to make my Dad a costume for a speech he is doing (as Calvin) in a few weeks. I looked up that Vogue pattern, and although the link from your page was not found, I searched the pattern number, and all it came up with was a ladies hat.(?) Was that actually the pattern you used? Any tips or suggestions as far as where to begin?
    Mallory Whiddon

  8. If you would sell one of these, please let me know.