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A sailor's tarred hat

A sailor’s tarred hat, made of leather with a gold and black striped ribbon streamer.

The last thing to make my little midshipman uniform complete was some sort of hat. I had planned on making a bicorn hat but, whilst I was waiting for the millinery supplies to arrive, I decided to make a sailor’s tarred hat for “undress” or casual/work attire. Many sailors wore these hats for dressing up smartly, but a midshipman would wear an officers bicorn for dress occasions.

Sailors of His Majesty’s Navy wore a variety of headwear to protect them from the cold, the sun, and the rain. The sailor’s tarred hat was generally made of leather and was coated with black tar to make it waterproof.

It was trimmed with black and gold ribbon, the ends trimmed with gold fringe, and the ribbon was often embroidered with the name of the ship that the sailor belonged to.

Pattern

After looking at few pictures and extant items online, I referred to the patterns in one of my books called From the Neck Up, by Denise Dreher. This book has a pattern for a sailor’s boater hat, which gave me a basic pattern to work from. The pattern was adjusted a little to fit a child.

My hat was made from the following materials: cardboard (the sort used for dress slopers and hat mock-ups), PVA glue, tissue paper, florist wire, gesso, acrylic paint, spray lacquer and ribbon.

Construction Steps

Step One: Cut out the cardboard, adding “seam allowances” or extra bits for joining the pieces. The tip is a circle shape, but it is actually slightly oval to match the actual shape of the head. “Seam allowances” are added around the outside of this piece. The side band is a long rectangle, and “seam allowances” are added to the short ends of this piece (about an inch). The brim is a circle shape with a circle cut out of it, but is once again slightly oval to match the shape of the head and tip. This means it is important to distinguish the front/back of your pieces so that they go together correctly. “Seam allowances” for the brim are added to the inside of the circle.

The pieces cut out. Extra is added around the tip circle, at the end of the crown rectangle, and on the inside of the brim circle.

The pieces cut out. Extra is added around the tip circle, at the end of the side-band rectangle, and on the inside of the brim circle.

Step Two: Glue the pieces together with PVA glue. I started with gluing the tip (circle) to the side band (rectangle). The “seam” edges should be snipped, folded in and then glued to the inside of the hat. You can glue the side-band piece together at the “seam” at this stage as well.

The tip of the hat is glued to the crown.

The tip of the hat is glued to the side band.

In order to increase the stability of the cardboard hat, I glued some tissue paper over the top of the “seam” edges. This meant that the “seams” would be held from both sides.

Step Three: I glued the brim onto the side band next, with the “seam” edges snipped and glued to the inside of the hat. I added tissue paper on the inside of the hat again to strengthen the seam.

At this stage I noticed that cardboard doesn’t always behave very well with PVA glue, as it absorbs the moisture and can go a bit wrinkly. At this stage I decided to bend some paper-covered florist wire into the shape of the brim’s outer edge and glue it on. I covered the florist wire with more tissue paper. This helped the edge of the hat brim be a bit more sturdy.

Step Four: I painted the hat all over with gesso.

The hat is painted with gesso.

The hat is painted with gesso. You can also see the tissue paper around the brim’s outer edge where I have attached the florist wire.

Step Five: I painted the hat all over with black acrylic paint (two coats). Once this was dry, I sprayed two coats of clear gloss polyurethane over the hat.

I imagine that you may be able to purchase a black gloss paint in a spray can, which might neatly combine this step! The polyurethane does give the hat a little bit of protection from moisture during use. The last thing I wanted was a sweaty forehead with a black line smeared across it!

Step Six: Then I attached some ribbon around the hat. I could only find gold and white striped ribbon, so I hand sewed some thin black ribbon onto the white parts to more closely resemble the traditional ribbon of this era. I sewed a little bit of gold fringe to the end of the ribbon to complete the “streamers”. Remember to fray-stop or melt the ends of your ribbon!

The ribbon was attached with some double-sided craft tape. I did add a little bit of black elastic to the underside, as the hat wasn’t deep enough to sit properly on my son’s head, so it was a bit more practical to have something to hold it on.

The finished hat!

The finished hat! It does have a few anomalies in the way it sits, but I figure a seaman’s hat would surely have looked a bit beaten out-of-shape after a while.

My son really wanted me to embroider the name of a ship onto the front of the ribbon, however we were running a little short of time. I am also pleased to announce that the hat survived its first whole weekend of wear, which I was initially concerned about! It’s not completely accurate, but it worked well for what we needed it for.

The outfit worn at the recent Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, Australia.

The outfit worn at the recent Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, Australia.

I would love to add to this midshipman’s costume by making a bicorn hat, for dress occasions. – coming soon!

Related Posts

The Making of a Midshipman – the first post in a series.

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Royal Navy Uniforms: Sailor’s Shore Going Rig – by The Dear Surprise

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher

Making an 18th Century Tarred Sailors Hat, by Jas. Townsend & Son – Youtube video tutorial

My new quilt, “Jane Austen’s Bonnet” by Brenda Ryan, is coming along nicely!

This quilt is a wall-hanging, and features 20 diamond patches that are embroidered with various stitcheries on a Regency theme. The embroideries are nicely framed within the patchwork structure of the quilt and the result is very pretty.

For my eleventh embroidery, I have done another bonnet, this time a purple and straw-coloured bonnet.

A Purple and beige embroidery

A Purple and Beige embroidery of a bonnet

This embroidery used: backstitch, running stitch, blanket stitch, french knots, colonial knots, fly stitch, lazy daisy stitch and beetle stitch. The bow was done with ribbon embroidery, as was some of the flowers on the bonnet.

For my twelfth embroidery, I did a fashionable Regency lady, shown outside some curved Bath windows. I changed this embroidery from the original design a little. It did have flowers on either side of her, a little randomly placed, so instead I extended the “wall” embroidery on the left and put some climbing roses along the wall instead.

A Regency lady outside Bath windows

A Regency lady outside Bath windows

For this embroidery I have used: backstitch, running stitch, stem stitch, colonial knots, and lazy daisy stitch and bullion stitch for the roses. The bow on the side of the bonnet is done with ribbon embroidery and there is beading down the centre front of the gown.

I have also stitched a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line on all of the embroideries, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

Stay tuned for Part Seven of this series. – coming soon!

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

I am so excited about the progress of one of my current projects, the quilt “Jane Austen’s Bonnet”, by Brenda Ryan.

For embroidery number nine, I did a very pretty bonnet in dark green.

A dark green bonnet embroidery

A dark green bonnet embroidery

For this embroidery I used: backstitch, running stitch, stem stitch, colonial knots, and french knots. I pleated a thin strip of crochet lace and appliquéd it on with backstitch to create the “frilly brim”. The bows and strings of the bonnet, were done with ribbon embroidery, and the flowers on the bonnet were done with a combination of ribbon embroidery and thread embroidery.

For embroidery number ten, I decided to do another of the Regency ladies, holding a pretty basket of flowers.

An embroidery of a Regency lady with a basket of flowers.

An embroidery of a Regency lady with a basket of flowers.

For this embroidery I used: backstitch, running stitch, stem stitch, french knots, colonial knots, lazy daisy stitch, blanket stitch, fly stitch and bullion stitch. The dress tie and the bow on the basket were done with ribbon embroidery, and the flowers in the basket and on the bonnet were a combination of ribbon embroidery, thread embroidery and beading. The top of the glove has beaded detail as well.

I think that this embroidery is one of my favourites!

I have been stitching a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

Stay tuned for Part Six of this series.

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

The bum-bailiff

“The Bum-Bailiff Outwitted, or the convenience of Fashion” (1786)

In preparation to make a 1770 robe a l’anglaise, I decided that I need to have a bum enhancer of some kind. I have made myself a padded bum before, to wear with my caraco jacket and petticoat, but I really wanted to try a hip roll that curved all the way around my hips.

Padded clothes certainly can have their advantages! The caricature entitled “The Bum-Bailiff Outwitted”, depicts a lady so desperate to escape an unwanted pursuer that she is able to wiggle out of her self-supporting garments and take flight. The accompanying text puts the situation into verse admirably:

Suky like Syrinx changes shape,
Her vain pursuer to escape;
Ye Snapps; of Pans hard fate beware
Who thought his arms embrac’ed the fair
But found an empty Bum-case there.

So an empty Bum-case is what I need!

Monsieur Le Que Ladies Cork-Cutter from Paris (1777), from Demode.

Monsieur Le Que Ladies Cork-Cutter from Paris (1777), from Demode.

I found Demode’s post on “Bums, Rumps and Culs” very helpful, especially as she had tried out a number of different types of “bums” to catalogue their effects to the fashionable shape. After researching a little more, I decided that a hip roll or bum roll would be the best for my gown.

Patterning and Construction

Since I was not going to use a commercial pattern, I had to figure out exactly how to make it.

Firstly, I measured around the back of my hips, from my left front “hip point” to my right front “hip point”. (For want of a better term, by “hip point” I mean the part of your pelvis that sticks out at your side front, just across from your navel. It is often where your fingers sit when you put your hands on your hips.)

Once I had this measurement, this became the inner measurement of my bum roll. I laid the tape measure out on a piece of calico, trying to mimic the natural shape of the hips (that is, not a circle but a sort of oval). If you measure the space between your “hip points”, then you will know how much of a gap to have in the front of your “oval tape-measurey pattern”.

After I was happy with how my inner measurement sat on the calico, I used a pencil to draw the sewing line. Then I began to sketch the outer edge of the bum roll. I used the diagram of the “cork-cutter from Paris” to help in getting the shape fairly right, with a larger portion over the hips and a skinnier portion around the back. Then I cut it out, adding a fairly generous seam allowance, in case of mistakes.

These are my cut out bum roll pieces.

These are my cut out bum roll pieces; two layers of calico.

Then I simply sewed both layers together, leaving a hole for adding some cushion stuffing. Once it was stuffed, I hand sewed the hole closed and sewed some lengths of cotton tape to the front “hip point corners” so that it could be tied on.

The front view

The front view

You can see the cotton tapes tied at the centre front. I actually think – now! – that it probably reaches too far around to the front, just beyond my hip point instead of on it.

The back view

The back view

A bum roll like this is supposed to sit on your “high hip” line, not your waistline. In some of the pictures, mine looks like it is sitting a smidgen high, but that can always be adjusted when a gown goes on top.

The side view

The side view

Since I whipped it together in an hour, I was pretty happy with how it turn out. Hopefully, once its under a dress, it will give the necessary “oomph” to my bottom!

Stay tuned for my robe a l’anglaise. – coming soon!

Related Posts

A Caraco Jacket

Making 18th Century Stays

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: The bum-bailiff outwitted (1786), by Isaac Cruikshank, at The British Museum

Late 18th Century Skirt Supports: Bums, Rumps and Culs, by Demode

The Macdonald Children

Ranald Macdonald, Robert Macdonald and Donald Macdonald, “The Macdonald Children”, by Henry Raeburn (1756-1823).

As the Regency Picnic, held in Melbourne in March, drew closer, the last item of clothing to make for my skeleton suit ensemble was a jacket.

Skeleton suits became increasingly popular during the 1780’s and 1790’s, and they continued to be used until the 1840’s. The jacket was generally long-sleeved (though there are examples of ones with short sleeves) and was buttoned to the matching long pants. The jacket collar varied from a short, stand-up collar, to one with fold-down lapels, and sometimes even no collar. The suit set occasionally included a matching waistcoat that could likewise be buttoned to the pants.

Skeleton suit From

Skeleton suit of brown satin, worn by Danish King Frederik 7th as a boy, c. 1800. From the Danish National Museum. (Patterned and available online)

In the previous posts in this series I have made a little boy’s shirt, and a little boy’s pants to go with the jacket detailed here.

Pattern

I used a pattern online, which was taken from an existing skeleton suit in the Danish National Museum. It does need to be scaled up and then – because it is about an 8-year-old size – I had to adjust it significantly so it fitted a small child. Seam allowances need to be added as well.

I took a raft of measurements and used these to roughly alter the pattern. It is a great idea to do a mock up in cheap fabric, just to make sure you have a workable pattern, before doing the real thing.

Measurements to take:

  • Chest circumference
  • Waist circumference
  • Neck circumference
  • Nape of neck to bottom of jacket
  • Length of shoulder (from side of neck to end of shoulder)
  • Arm length and bicep circumference

The jacket was made from burgundy cotton broadcloth, with wooden buttons.

Construction Steps

As this pattern comes with minimal instructions, I have decided to detail my steps here.

Step One: After scaling up the pattern and adding seam allowances, I cut out the pieces. In the picture below, the collar piece, facings and cuffs are not shown.

The pattern pieces; from left to right - the front, the back, the undersleeve, the oversleeve.

The pattern pieces; from left to right – the front, the back, the undersleeve, the uppersleeve. Sleeves in this era were generally made from two pieces, like suit sleeves are cut these days.

Step Two: The centre back seam was sewn first, and then the side seams were sewn. The shoulder seams were sewn next. A fitting at this stage helped with the necessary adjustments!

Step Three: The sleeves were sewn together by putting one undersleeve on one upper sleeve right sides together. This means that each sleeve has two seams. Then the sleeves were set into the armhole.

The centre back and side seams have been sewn, and the sleeves are pinned ready to sew.

The centre back and side seams have been sewn, and the sleeves are pinned ready to sew.

The picture below has the sleeves sewn in.

The jacket has

The jacket has the sleeves sewn in.

Step Four: I decided to do a very small, upstanding collar, as was done in the original. The collar piece is folded lengthwise (right sides together) and the two ends are sewn. One of the long edges should be folded up so it can be used later to cover the raw edges.

The collar is folded over (right sides together) and the two ends are sewn. Once edge is folded up so it can be used later to cover the raw edges.

The collar piece, one end sewn and one being pinned to sew, with one of the long sides pinned up.

The collar can then be sewn to the neckline of the jacket. (For tips on how to sew a collar, see Making, Attaching and Finishing a Collar)

Step Five: Facings then need to be sewn (right sides together) to the front of each side of the jacket. Make sure the collar is left in the same position as it was when you sewed it in the previous step, with the seam allowances pointing upwards.

The facing is sewn, right sides together, to the front of the jacket.

The facing is pinned, right sides together, to the front of the jacket. The collar has been left sitting down against the garment, with the seam allowances up.

The facing can then be turned to the inside of the jacket. At this point the raw edges of the collar can be tucked up inside the collar and hand sewn down.

The facing is folded to the inside. There is a small join on the upper corner of the lapel, as I had to piece the material.

The facing is folded to the inside. There is a small join on the upper corner of the lapel, as I had to piece the material. You can see the small, stand-up collar at the top left.

Step Six: The cuffs are cut and sewn together. I just patterned these off the bottom part of the sleeve, adding a little extra for a seam allowance.

The cuffs cut and pinned, ready to sew.

The cuffs cut and pinned, ready to sew.

Then they can be sewn to the arm of the jacket. Make sure the cuffs are sewn with the right side to the sleeves wrong side, as this will mean they are turned to the outside and will hide the raw edge.

The cuff is sewn to the sleeve.

The cuff is pinned (right side cuff to wrong side sleeve), to the sleeve, ready to sew.

The cuff is turned to the outside of the sleeve, and the upper raw edge of the cuff is tucked under. This raw edge will be hand sewn down. A slit is then made through all layers.

A slit is made through all layers.

A slit is made through all layers. The upper edge of the cuff is turned under and pinned, ready to handsew down.

The placket for the buttonholes is sewn. It is sewn in a very similar way to the collar, structurally speaking. This will provide an overlapping flap so that the cuff can be buttoned closed.

The button placket

The button placket sewn, shown wrong side out.

The placket can then be attached to the cuff.

The raw edges are folded in and hand sewn down. The placket is on the right, and the raw edges will be tucked under and hand sewn down.

The placket is sewn on (the “flap” shown on the right). The raw edges of the placket can be hidden inside the placket and hand sewn down. The raw edges on the opposite side to the placket were just folded to the inside and hand sewn down.

The buttons and buttonholes can then be added; I used three on each cuff.

Step Seven: The buttonholes can be sewn and buttons attached on the front; I did a double-breasted front.

The buttons and buttonholes sewn.

The buttons and buttonholes sewn. The jacket has also been levelled and hemmed.

Finally, the bottom of the jacket can be levelled and hemmed.

And to end, here is a picture of the finished outfit at the picnic!

The finished outfit, as worn to the Regency Picnic.

The finished outfit, as worn to the Regency Picnic.

To make this ensemble more versatile for wear during the summer months in Melbourne, I am considering making a waistcoat that could be worn without the jacket. It was quite hot at our picnic, and my children quickly stripped off jackets, waistcoats and cravats, which left them looking much like Mr Darcy before his famed swim in the lake!

Related Posts

Making a Skeleton Suit – a boy’s pants

The Making of a Midshipman: Cutaway Tailcoat

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Regency Tailcoat

Sources and Relevant Links

The 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic – an Event on the Facebook page

Image Source: “The Macdonald Children” by Henry Raeburn

Gallery of Works by Henry Raeburn

Image Source: A skeleton suit – from the Danish National Museum

Skeleton suit pattern – from Regency Society of America forum boards (This particular page has two patterns, one for a girl’s dress and one for a boy’s skeleton suit. Just scroll down for the skeleton suit pattern.)

Making, Attaching and Finishing a Collar – by Sew Mama Sew

Costume for a Regency Child – by The Oregon Regency Society

A painting by

“A Running Boy” (1802), a painting by Jens Juel (located in State Art Museum, Denmark).

The best thing about having a number of children is that it gives you a lot of scope for sewing new costumes for them! At least, that is ONE of the best things.

My 7 year-old boy was the last one of my children to need a costume for the Melbourne Regency Picnic. Since I have posted my previous constructions steps for shirts, breeches, waistcoats and jackets, I decided not to detail it all again here as there were substantial similarities in their construction. Instead I have posted a finished picture of each garment instead.

One of the images I used in my inspiration was a painting by Jens Juel, called “A Running Boy” (1802). He is wearing long trousers with a tie above the ankle, and his jacket is double-breasted and appears to have quite short coat tails. He is wearing a striped waistcoat with wide lapels, which also appears to be double-breasted. His shirt has a fold down collar with a fine ruffle at the centre front opening, and the cuffs do not have ruffles. He is not wearing a cravat, and is holding a hat in his hand.

Shirt

This shirt was made in a similar manner to the MY Mr Knightley shirt, but the ruffle was hand sewn, with a rolled hem and a whipped stitch gathering (as I did with the Skeleton Suit shirt). It is made of white cotton broadcloth.

The shirt, with a ruffle

The shirt, with a hand hemmed and gathered ruffle.

Fall-Front Trousers

Judging from how many paintings I have found, long Regency trousers were becoming quite popular during the first decade of the 1800’s, with both men and boys sporting them for casual wear.

I made these is a similar way to the Skeleton Suit pants I recently finished. These pants were longer and done up with a tie around the leg, just above the ankle, as is evident in the painting above. They were made from brown homespun quilting cotton and have faux metal buttons.

The front, with a fall-front and ties above the ankle. His hand is in the pocket.

The front, with a fall-front and ties above the ankle. His hand is in the pocket.

The back view

The back view, without the common V-shaped gusset in the centre back. Boys clothes did not appear to always have this.

Waistcoat

This waistcoat was constructed in a similar way to the Midshipman waistcoat I have made, with a stand-up collar. This particular waistcoat had wide turn-back lapels as well, with two welt pockets and double-breasted at the front. It is made from a curtain remnant I found at a second-hand shop, and has self-covered buttons. The lining is cream cotton broadcloth.

The front view, double-breasted with two welt pockets.

The front view, double-breasted with two welt pockets.

The back view, with a tie to bring in the fullness.

The back view, with a tie to bring in the fullness.

Tailcoat

This jacket is an earlier style of Regency tailcoat, with the curved cutaway at the front and the wide fold-down collar. It was made in a similar way to the Midshipman tailcoat I had made before, however this one is unlined and does not have any pockets. Pockets might be a later addition, as I find they are always useful!

It is made from a green wool-blend cloth, with large self-covered buttons. The fabric hardly frays at all, so the seams have all been left un-neatened.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

We are now all set for the Regency Picnic, and I look forward to sharing some photos with you!

The costume in action!

The costume in action!

Related Posts

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt

Making a Skeleton Suit – a boy’s shirt

Making a Skeleton Suit – a boy’s pants

The Making of a Midshipman: Waistcoat

The Making of a Midshipman: Cutaway Tailcoat

Sources and Relevant Links

The Melbourne Regency Picnic is being held on Sunday 6th March in Elsternwick, Melbourne (Victoria, Australia).

Image Source: through Flickr. The original is held at the State Art Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Costume for a Regency Child – by The Oregon Regency Society

One of the stitcheries from the "Jane Austen's Bonnet" quilt.

One of the stitcheries from the “Jane Austen’s Bonnet” quilt.

For the next instalment of my new project, the quilt “Jane Austen’s Bonnet”, by Brenda Ryan, I have been trying to include a greater proportion of ribbon embroidery in my pieces. However, I think I still have a bit to learn, as my work is looking much more puckered than normal!

This quilt is a wall-hanging, and features 20 diamond patches that are embroidered with various stitcheries on a Regency theme. The embroideries are nicely framed within the patchwork structure of the quilt and the result is very pretty.

The colours of my quilt are green and purple, so I am trying to arrange complimentary colours in my embroideries as well.

For the seventh and eighth embroideries I have done a bonnet and a reticule.

A purple bonnet embroidery

A bonnet embroidery, in dark purple.

For this bonnet embroidery I used: backstitch, stem stitch, seeding stitch, colonial knots, and fly stitch. There is also quite a bit of ribbon embroidery on the bonnet flowers and the bonnet trimming.

A green reticule embroidery

A reticule embroidery, done in several shades of green.

For this reticule embroidery I used: back stitch, running stitch, blanket stitch, daisy stitch, beetle stitch, stem stitch and chain stitch. There is also quite a bit of ribbon embroidery on the centre flowers and the handle of the reticule. A button and two pearl beads have also been added.

For each embroidery I have stitched an additional line of a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

Stay tuned for Part Five of this series.

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

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