Making a Victorian hat from the 1890s is not difficult. Middle class women of the era commonly made their own clothes and hats, and there are many examples seen in books and on the Internet. This popular style of hat is not as intricate as it might look. With a few supplies and some patience, a crafty person with a few skills can make a sharp, kitschy accessory to top her look.
Hats on men and women were much more in vogue in the 19th century than they are today. In a reprinted article from 1890 in the Ladies’ Home Journal, the author gives instructions for making a beautiful but simple hat. This was still the Victorian Age, and dresses and hats were more modest than in the Edwardian period, from about 1895 to 1914. A metal frame is used and velvet ribbons, flowers, butterflies and other adornments are twisted and sewn around the frame. The instructions note that the effect should be casual. The velvet should be twisted carelessly. If it is twisted too tightly, the wrong effect is produced. To stay correct with the era, the pieces should be sewn on, but you can also use a glue gun. A hat may be made in a matter of minutes with supplies from a craft store and a glue gun. The frame for the hat fits snugly to the head and is small. This could be made from milliners’ wire, which can be bought online (see Resources). You can also buy basic hat frames and embellish them as you wish.
Spring hats were made of straw, and in a reprinted article from a Victorian Era magazine of 1889, instructions include everything--even weaving the straw hat itself. Whether you weave your own straw hat or buy one, the embellishments include velvet, silk ribbons, flowers and feathers. The hats were usually small at this time, but in the later 1890s they become much more ornate and embellished, with wider brims and much larger feathers, flowers and ribbons. The effect in the Victorian hats is more subdued and prim. Using pictures as a guide, you can add your own style to your hat. The Ladies’ Home Journal article notes that heliotrope, bright scarlet, green and amber are the best colors. Flowers include violets, pansies, lilacs, roses and forget-me-nots. The article suggests that forget-me-nots go well with moss-green velvet. Butterflies are also a popular embellishment for this hat. The velvet ribbon, artificial flowers and butterflies can be found at craft stores. The spring hat uses similar embellishments, but favors silk and brighter colors on a straw hat base.