In the end, we both opted to take Jay Howlett's workshop in felt hat basics. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to make hats for our in-progress riding habits, and with appropriate, accurate felt hats for ladies being nearly impossible to come by, we simply couldn't pass up this chance to learn how to make our own.
To save some time on the workshop day itself, we had each forwarded our individual head measurements to Mr Howlett so that he could prepare custom-sized hat blanks for us before we arrived. Though our basic hat shape was already done, he began the workshop by demonstrating the techniques he used to block our blanks, sharing some tricks of the trade and explaining some thrifty methods we could use to achieve the same process for ourselves. We talked about period felt hats - materials, descriptions, terms for the parts of the hat itself - and then proceeded to learn how to line our hats to help protect the felt from hair oils, powders, and sweat (hey, they're for riding, after all!).
Once we'd all finished stitching in our linen linings, we examined a large collection of period images and discussed the differences in styles in hats that were seen across the last half of the eighteenth century. Once we'd each selected our personal favorite style, Mr Howlett set to work helping us to capture it on our own hat, showing us how to trim and finish the brim, and how to steam and shape it to match our respective sources. Finally, we talked briefly about trim options and various techniques for attaching that trim. Let's just say it involves lots and lots and lots of feathers! :-)
Adjusting the size of the brim to match the style of a period image.
My hat beginning to take shape!
Ashley's hat beginning to look like it's inspiration image.
We both left so excited to have our hats so close to being finished, and newly-motivated to get back to work on our riding habits. We're very much looking forward to seeing how our looks pull together from head to toe. So now...back to those waistcoats and jackets!