Hat Design Project

So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything! Between holidays, house hunting, moving out, moving in, and then having no internet I haven’t really had the time to get as much sewing or blogging done as I’d have liked. In classic Phoebe Roberts fashion I have several unfinished personal projects on the go at the moment including an elizabethan hat, a shirt for my dad, and the 19th Century Corset. So here’s a post about a project from 1st year where we had to design and make a hat to tide you over.

We were given different categories, ways of approaching design, that we had to explore. For example natural forms, reversal of meaning, style fusion etc. The hat I chose to make was a fusion of an Ancient Egyptian headdress and a Bauhaus painting.


King in red wicker work crown of Lower Egypt 3000BC from ‘The Mode in Hats and Headdresses’ by R. Turner Wilcox


Composition from masters’ portfolio of the Staatliches Bauhaus 1923 by László Moholy-Nagy


my fusion hat design

After making a mock up of the Egyptian hat from the pattern in From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking by Denise Dreher, an amazing book now out of print and therefore expensive to get hold of, I wish I could own a copy. I then made the pattern for my hat using the flat pattern cutting ‘slash and spread’ method. I made a mock up out of card to test the the size and shape on my head, adding extra to the width so that once covered in fabric it would still fit. At this point I did not make the pattern for the tip.

buckram pattern

buckram pattern

top fabric pattern

top fabric pattern

I then cut my hat pieces in brown buckram, and then two layers of heavy weight fusible interfacing. For my top fabric I wanted something soft to stitch into, wool was too expensive so I ended up buying a fabric used for lining curtains. While the rest of my hat was cut in two pieces (due to buckram width constraints), I cut the top fabric in one, placing the seam where I knew it would be covered by decoration.

When I had my hat wired and covered, I could decide on the final placing of my coloured rectangles. Originally they were all going to be fabric, but in the end the majority ended up being stitch. I was heavily influenced by these images I found on Pinterest.patternprintsjournal12wells 5153873426_0c384113d6_zIMG_2492

I sampled on some scraps of buckram and fabric before working on my hat.


Once the decoration was finished it was time for the tip. I made the pattern simply by placing paper on the top of my hat and drawing the shape. I lined the pieces separately with white cotton, and then slip stitched the two together. Ta da!
IMGA0057IMGA0041IMGA0050IMGA0066And here’s some close ups.IMG_0657 IMG_0664 IMG_0665IMG_0661


Possible Improvements: I would make the darts at the back bigger so that it sits more closely to the head at the back.

If you’d like to see more of my hat designs for this project, as well as some of my inspiration, have a look on my Pinterest boards phoebe roberts designs and makes, and hats and masks.

19th Century Corset: Pattern

Having chosen what style of corset I want to make from my research, it’s time to make the pattern. I started by making a corset block to my measurements.IMG_0550Then I altered the block to make a pattern similar to the 1890s corsets. P.S. I know I’m cheating in terms of how you put the gussets in, but I wanted to see if this method would work.


I then made a toile out of calico. I stitched the front together where there will be a busk, and put in about half the bones. Don’t mind the wrinkles, it’s just because one layer of calico isn’t very stiff and there aren’t enough bones. And please excuse the dodgy photography, my arms are only so long.IMG_0586

I then made these alterations to the pattern:

  • I took out 2cm from each side seam at the bust and smoothed out that line
  • I lengthened by 3cm at the hem all around
  • I rearranged the bust gussets to bring them further forward, I also made them a bit smaller
  • I moved one of the bones from the middle of the gussets to the outside
  • I angled the bones toward the centre front at the waist
  • I added another bone to the centre back collection
  • I moved the hip gusset over and made it a bit smaller
  • I added another bone above the hip gusset for a bit more support at the back

Here is my new pattern.IMG_0587Now it’s time to order all my materials and start making!

Uni Sewing Projects and Etsy

So I’ve already done a post about my design projects from my 1st year, now it’s time for some of my sewing projects. Among others we made a timed sample of a ‘man’s period shirt’.1

It is now available from my Etsy shop BelphoebeDesigns, under the name Period Shirt/Smock. Men’s style of shirt remained fairly static through the 16th-19th Centuries. Here are some example of shirts very similar to mine.


1540 and 1750-1800 from the V&A, and early 19th century from the Met

It can also be worn by women for the Tudor/Elizabethan era. Here are two heavily decorated ones. I wouldn’t mind making one with ruffles at the cuffs and collar, and with blackwork too.


Helen Snakenborg, Marchioness of Northampton 1569 and ‘Elizabeth’ Costumes Designed by Alexandra Byrne

I have also made a corset or stays from this period. I attended a class at Morley College while I was doing my Textile Foundation there (taught incidentally by a graduate of the Wimbledon Costume Interpretation degree). It is based on the 16th and 17th century corsets in Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women’s Dress 1500-1800 by Jean Hunnisett. It is also available from Etsy under the name Custom made Tudor/Elizabethan Corset to your measurements and specifications.IMG_0592IMG_0594 IMG_0597Here is one I made in another colour, without tabs, and with a smaller dip at the front.IMG_0243

It is similar in shape to the ‘Dorothea bodies’ from 1598.pfaltzcors

But back to 1st year at Wimbledon. We made a bumroll or roll farthingale. They were worn through the 16th to 19th centuries. It is available under the name Bumroll/Roll Farthingale.2We then made a petticoat to fit over the bumroll. Available under the name Custom 16th to 18th Century Petticoat.IMG_0608 IMG_0609 IMG_0611

It could be worn over any padding, here it is without any. IMG_0600 IMG_0606So there you have it, all my historical sewing projects. We also did some other sewing projects including a hat which I will post about in the near future.

19th Century Corset: Research

In order to make a period correct tailored waistcoat I am going to have to make the pattern using measurements taken whilst wearing a corset. This means making a 19th century corset. I have limited my research to the 1880s and 1890s, as this is the period my waistcoat is from.


1882 and 1883 from ‘Victorian Fashions A Pictoral Archive’ by Carol Belanger Grafton


1884 from ‘Victorian Fashions A Pictoral Archive’ by Carol Belanger Grafton


1886 from ‘Victorian Fashions A Pictoral Archive’ by Carol Belanger Grafton


1891 from ‘Victorian Fashions A Pictoral Archive’ by Carol Belanger Grafton


late 1880s and mid 1890s from ‘Corsets and Crinolines’ by Norah Waugh


1890 from ‘Corsets Historical Patterns and Techniques’ by Jill Salen


1890-1900 from ‘Corsets Historical Patterns and Techniques’ by Jill Salen


1890-1900 from ‘Corsets Historical Patterns and Techniques’ by Jill Salen


1890-1900 from ‘Corsets Historical Patterns and Techniques’ by Jill Salen

I have always admired the last two corsets, so here is my chance to make one. Mine will be white with blue stitching. Let the pattern cutting commence! Check out my Pinterest board on historical underwear for wider research.

Tailored Waistcoat: Research

At Wimbledon College of Arts, the Costume Design course is run in parallel with Costume Interpretation. In the last term of 1st year they made a men’s tailored waistcoat. I watched my flatmate make hers with jealous eyes.


So now I’ve decided that I’m going to make one too! I’m going to make mine fit me. The waistcoat I have chosen to make is from 1850-1900 (the stripy one on the left).


1850-1900 from ‘Men’s Garments 1830-1900’ by R. I. Davis

I researched women wearing waistcoats in this period, finding fashion plates and photographs. I love when women wear masculine dress, so finding the book Women in Pants was fun though not very helpful in this instance.

1888 and 1889 from 'Victorian Fashions A Pictorial Archive' by Carlo Belanger Grafton

1888 and 1889 from ‘Victorian Fashions A Pictorial Archive’ by Carlo Belanger Grafton

1893 and 1896 from 'Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper's Bazar' by Stella Blum

1893 and 1896 from ‘Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar’ by Stella Blum

1890s, 1898 and 1899 from 'Paris Fashions of the 1890s' by Stella Blum

1890s, 1898 and 1899 from ‘Paris Fashions of the 1890s’ by Stella Blum


1896 from ‘Women in Pants’ by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Grieg

I’ve decided to emulate this outfit from 1893. Loving the shirt and tie, and the matching jacket.


1893 from ‘Dressed to Impress’ by Christina Walkley