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'how to make'
Create the Mood

pleated fabric trim with feather motif
for 1900's straw boater


A striped cotton outfit, rescued from a costume hire shop sale, was in very poor condition. Because the cream-coloured fabric was worn thin in places and stained lightly in large patches, I dyed everything pale blue. Then I revamped it to make a skirt and waistcoat, and used left-over fabric to trim an old straw boater.

I like to make semi-permanent trimmings. Contemporary cartoons display women and their feather headdresses going into a ball looking very smart, and coming out later looking battered with broken feathers and torn trimmings. I do not have the milliner waiting to remake my headwear as needed!

This is what I did.

original 1890's straw hat with a similar anguular fancy straw weave.

Please do not copy or link to these 'how to make' pages. If you would like to use them, please contact me and let me know your plans. Thanks, much appreciated. If you would like more information, or have any comments or suggestions, do get in touch.

pleated trim
This is just one style of pleating trim based upon box pleats that were used in late Victorian times for accesssories and dresses.

I cut out strips of fabric out of scraps and joined them together in a long strip that was wide enough to match the crown height.

Both edges were covered with bias binding, machined on and then hand-finished. As this is to be a lower-class outfit I wanted small stitches to show.

Although sewing machines were well known at this time they were expensive and even a seamstress using a machine at work might have to hand-sew her own outfits at home.

I lightly starched the fabric strip to give it a little body. I use a travel iron on narrow lace and trims as it gives better control over fiddly small areas.

The strip was then sprayed with waterproofer, as the outfit would be used in a damp area of Wales, and hung up to dry.

I pleated the strip using a piece of card, marked at the centre, sewing down each pair of pleats in turn. This made a loose strip which needed to besewn together firmly then attached to a wide band as I like my trims to be removable.

[If you would like full details of how to make this pleated trim please email me.]

The back, with first set of holding stitches.

These will be covered up by ribbon so it does not matter what it looks like at the back.



[add pic - second row of holding stitches]


[add pic - the ribbon backing]

feather and flower decoration - base

Shape cut out in tissue paper, and checked against height of crown

Tissue template is folded to check to ensure it is symmetrical else the finished item will look lop-sided

Tissue template drawn round in pencil on millinary buckram that has glue on both sides.


Millinary wire cut with wire cutters, shaped to template, then sewn onto millinary buckram using double-stitch.


Some people sew the wire using a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine.

Front and back wired.

I ironed orange silk on one side and blue silk on the other, as a background to the feather colours.

To cover the raw edges I sewed blue and orange bias binding together and cut away the excess.

I ironed the bias flat

then pinned and sewed the bias around the edge of the wired millinary buckram base, starting/finishing in a place that will not be seen. Slightly stretch the bias as you sew to get a smooth fit.

The hem stitches go through all the layers and the needle pulled out the other side. Alternatively the bias binding can be added using a sewing machine.

feather and flower decoration

I covered part of the orange side with glue using a paint brush, leaving the glue a few minutes to go tacky: when I pressed the orange flamingo feathers down into the glue they stayed in place.

I then painted more glue over the base of all the feathers to ensure that all were fixed in position. I used an old, slightly battered, group of brown and orange fabric flowers to cover up the glue.

Using the same technique I applied the blue feathers on the blue side.

The safety pin fixes the trim to the hat, but is also useful to hang up the trim to dry.
[The safety-pin idea was not a total success in use and the feather decoration has to be pinned as well.]

When the glue was dry, the next day, I sprayed on waterproofer and left it another day to dry.

I was able to bend the whole shape into the curve that is seen on these hats and everything stayed together.


I always have photographs of my back and sides taken late in the day on the first use of an outfit. This gives me a guide for fitting adjustments.

I did not have enough fabric to make enough pleated trim, so I borrowed some flowers I had made from another outfit for the back.

The tartan mantle, (which I can see needs adjusting at the back), was worn as it was a rather cold and rainy day in Wales.

Create the Mood 's costume craft workshops and practical demonstrations with have-a-go for adults and older children can be organised in the UK. You provide the people and the topic and Create the Mood organises everything else. Contact us to discuss your ideas.


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last updated 10 February, 2012