More straw! (A lesson in DIY millinery)

hatAlthough it wasn’t intentional, this month’s two DIYs have both turned out to involve straw (or some kind of dried grassy stuff… not exactly sure what the DIY earrings I posted last week are made from). I hadn’t really planned today’s post until I attended the Hat Couture evening at the Park Hyatt last week (check Cecylia’s post for more, as I was a bit naughty and didn’t really get photos). As I won’t be going to any of the events during the Melbourne Spring Carnival this year, it was my only chance to dig out my DIY racewear – no doubt I confused several of the neighbours as I headed off in the early evening dressed for all the world as if I was on the way to the racetrack!

hat5While I was nibbling (OK, gorging is more accurate – the catering at the Park Hyatt is excellent!) on canapes, several ladies complimented my headwear and one even went so far as to suggest I should be a milliner. I had a bit of a giggle… if she took a good look at this headpiece I’m sure she’d eat her words (or her hat?)! As I told her at the time, it is very rough as I made it myself and didn’t know what I was doing. But her comments made me think it might be a good idea to share how I made it anyway, and so here we are.


I bought a fairly loosely coiled straw sunhat at an op shop and stared at it for quite a while trying to work out how to alter it, although the staring part is of course optional. I’d already made the dress (from a vintage kimono) so whatever headpiece I made needed to match it. A lot of hats are woven, but this particular one was made of a long braid that had been coiled around and around and stitched in to place, so eventually I just unpicked most of the hat, leaving a small section of the crown (ie the bit that sits on the very middle of the top of your head) and a long bit of unsecured “braid”. When you’re altering any existing garment/accessory, keep in mind the way it’s been constructed and work with it!

Now that I had my basic shape, I just put it on my head and played around with the braid a bit to create loops.


I’m not actually sure how I kept the loops in place while I was experimenting with them… probably safety pins? (I made this hat in 2009 or so, which is why it’s not exactly fresh in my mind!). Once I was happy with how the loops were sitting, I stitched them to keep them secure, and stitched a hair comb to the underside. See what I mean about the rough work!!?


I used scraps left over from the dress to make narrow tubes which I then attached in a cluster to the headpiece – and that was it!

hat6If you have a shabby old straw hat lying around, why not see if you can transform it into something track-worthy? You can attach anything (or nothing) as a decoration – flowers, fruit, tassels, beads… If you don’t like the loops, you can just trim the hat down to form a plain disc, although I can never leave things plain, so I’d be sorely tempted to add a row of pom poms around the edge! A cute summer accessory even if you’re not going to the races, right?