Fun “Bar” Suit, Part V: Hat and Olive Hatpin

Next up was the hat. The original hat (or a least one of the original hats shown in photos– there appear to be a few) was an almost lampshade-shaped straw hat:

Tough to find, particularly in winter, and hats can be expensive in vintage shops. Luckily, I found something very similar in the costume section on Ebay! It’s called a “coolie” hat (which I find kind of racist, for what it’s worth) and the photo was pretty close in terms of shape.


Of course, when it arrived it was a lot flimsier than the original hat looked to be, plus being more conical with a less defined crown. I decided to add some wire around the brim to stiffen it up– I unpicked the stitches holding the straw edge binding, then cut off about 3/4″ all around the edge (it was just a bit too big for my taste) before stitching some thick brass wire around the underside and reattaching the binding with hot glue.


I still had the problem of the overly-conical shape, so I decided to try some hot-water shaping (a technique I used to great effect in my cowboy-hat-turned-Regency-bonnet project) to flatten out the crown and define the edges a bit.

I poured boiling water into the hat and swished it around for a few seconds before turning the now-wet hat over the top of my largest kitchen canister and plopping a 6″ cake pan over it to hold it down. (it worked much better than rubber bands or string, which kept rolling up out of place)


I let it sit for about a day to dry, helping the edges along by judicious application of a hair dryer, and then took off the top cake pan and blew more hot air over the crown, pressing it against the mold to keep it in shape. After another few hours it was completely dry and set in its new shape.

I coated the inside of the crown with Mod Podge to smooth off some of the prickly edges from the cheap straw (otherwise they might catch on my hair), and stitched a comb into the front to secure the hat on my head.

Then, to amp up the bar theme I made a big hatpin with two big olives on the end, like a toothpick in a martini. The olives are actually made of painted styrofoam Easter eggs– I painted them and skewered both olives into a length of coat hanger, then coated them with a layer of Mod Podge semi-gloss to give them a little shine.


Since the hat originally came with a string to keep it tied on, I’d hoped to be able to stick the hatpin through the string holes. However, the holes ended up in the wrong place for that idea, so I had to actually pierce the hat with the pin on each side. To keep it from ripping through the straw of the hat, I reinforced the holes with hot glue. I also had to bend the hatpin in the middle (kind of like those joke headbands that make it look like an arrow is going through your head) so it would pierce through my hair without making the hat sit too high on my head.


I added two plastic combs just inside the crown– one in front, one in back– to keep the hat firmly attached to my hair. To make an appropriate base hairstyle, I gathered the very center front of my hair (a section about 4″ wide and 2″ back from the hairline) into a tiny ponytail right at the front of my head, then braided that ponytail into a french braid that got pulled into a low bun at the end. That way, the front comb had a good, firm grip on a non-moving section of hair, and the back comb could sink into the tight braid for additional grip. The hat stayed in place all night!




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