Here is one of the best ways to add large areas of silk flowers or ribbon decorations to a hat without using glue on the hat or having to sew on individual flowers. Why would you want to add decorations to a hat in this way? There are several but the most important reason would be to save the base hat from being damaged either because it is vintage or because you might want to redress it in the future and anything you do now will have to be undone.

You can see how this would be important in the theater but it can also be for a personal costume. If you do not use gobs of glue and many stitches to decorate a hat then it can be restyled any numbers of times and can even be dyed for a very different look. Best of all it could still be re-blocked.

Your first step would be to pick the decorative elements you want to add to the hat. Use corsage pins to temporally hold everything in place so that you can get a good idea of the area of the hat you want to cover with the silk flowers. In this case I want to cover each side of the under brim with the silk violets in the right of the picture. I have cut two kidney shaped pieces of crinoline to the approximate shape I will need. Crinoline is a loosely woven sized fabric something like buckram but more open and easier to sew thru. I used medium weave crinoline. It comes in black and white and you can find it at millinery, bridal supply or ribbon stores.

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On the left are the two silk violet bundles taken apart. On the right are the other elements; the feathers are wired into a bundle, the three different ribbon loops are wired together and the red ribbon cockades are tacked together as they will be on the hat.
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The next step is to lightly spray paint the crinoline with floral spray. I chose a moss green color that matches the leaves. You can get floral spray at most large craft stores. Even if you are not using leaves it is a good color choice for any flower based decoration.
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Cover the under brim with a sheet of plastic to protect it from any glue that might leak thru the crinoline. Binder clips make good clips for this application because they open up to the thickness of most brims. Determine where the crinoline pieces need to go and pin them in place with corsage pins.
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Start by adding the flat leave as a base. I like a permanent but always flexible glue like BeaconÕs Fabri-tac¨.

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Clip the flowers off their stems and flatten them a little. Glue them between the leaves for the first layer.
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Add more layers of flowers filling blank spots and working towards the head opening.
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Repeat on the other side. Do not add flowers too far inside the brim. As shown leave some of the crinoline without flowers. When you have covered both crinoline pieces leave them to dry.

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Take the plastic covering off the hat as shown.
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Pull the crinoline pieces off the plastic. They should keep their shape. Trim any extra crinoline along the edges that might show.
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With thread that matches the top of the hat tack the crinoline pads in place. You should only need to tack stitch it with 8 to 10 stitches per pad at the most. If you are stitching where there will be decorations on the other side of the hat you need not worry about your stitches showing.

Pin or tack stitch the decorations on the top side of the hat. I use swing tacks for feather decorations. As a rule I use pins to add ribbon loops when the pins will hold the ribbons securely and will not show in the final hat. I do have an inclination to change things around on a whim. I think that is why I like to use pins and decorate hats keeping in mind that someday IÕm going to want to take this off and redecorate this hat.

 

Shown from all sides this is the finished hat. This hat is a style that would have been worn anytime from the mid to late 1870Õs to the mid 1880Õs. The color selections are quite bold the colors would have been available with aniline dyes but the use of 4 bold colors on the same hat would be out of the mainstream of average taste. The general fashion advice of the day was if you are choosing very bold colors stick to one or two only.