How to Cover Hat Frames with Pliable Braid
Sewing straw, or other kinds of braid, on frames is not at all difficult, and the results are very satisfactory if a few simple instructions are borne in mind. Braids can be purchased very reasonably, and a hand-sewn hat is much superior looking to a machine-made and stiffened hat, except in Milan, Tuscan, and Neapolitan braids, which no amateur can handle.
Covering Frames with Pliable Braid: Hats are begun at the edge of the brim in two ways; if it is a soft, pliable braid it is best to bind the edge wire with it, running the two edges of the braid together, thus inclosing the wire; turn the end in and finish neatly. Sew the braid on the upper side first. Lay the edge of the braid level with the bound edge of brim and sew the second row of braid to the edge of the bind where it is sewn (not the outer edge); this leaves about a quarter of an inch of the braid free around the edge, which makes a prettier and more becoming hat edge. Sew from right to left, a stitch half an inch long on the under side, and a tiny stitch on the surface of the braid. If the braid is one inch or less in width, you need not cut it at each row round, but lap over when you reach the beginning. Slant the braid downward, and continue round and round till the brim is filled in. In sewing the successive rows, do not lap them more than is absolutely necessary to sew one row to the other; it only makes the hat heavy and clumsy, and uses an unnecessary quantity of braid.
If the braid is pliable and will stretch a little, it is well to do this as you sew, as it will leave less to draw into shape at the inner edge of the braid. You will find that the inner edges of the rows are full, more or less; more as you get nearer the crown; it will be necessary to run a strong thread along and draw them to shape, then sew the next row on; and be sure to sew to the frame, catching the stitches around the wires whenever you meet them, or you will not come out right.
If the brim is the same width all round you will have an even number of rows from edge to head, but if the brim is wider one side than the other, go around as many rows as will cover the narrowest part, then set on part rows from side to side, cutting the braid, and letting the cut ends come up against the crown. When the space is filled up the first row around the crown goes over these cut ends and neatens all (Fig. 28).
To sew the crown, continue round and round the same as the brim, taking especial care to cling closely to the frame till the middle top is reached. This seems always the greatest difficulty to the beginner, but is just a matter of neatness and deft fingering; usually one can finish the center by twisting under the cut end and sewing down; sometimes it is best to make a tiny rosette of the braid, gathering or plaiting it up tightly in the middle and sewing this on middle of crown. There is no rule for this; common sense and the nature of the braid will direct the best way in each case.
There is, however, another way to cover crowns, when they are of the "Bell" shape, that is, wider on top than at the head size. Supposing the braid to be of the same soft make as has been described for the brim, it is well to bind the edge of the crown in the same way and sew the flat top from edge to center as before described. This done, the first row around the side is sewn on with the scallop up, and must be "slip stitched" to the bind row of the crown top. Hold the edge of the braid level with top of crown with the left hand, pass the needle through braid and bind, on a forward and upward slant; make a tiny stitch in the bind, return the needle downward with a slant, and back again with a tiny stitch in the braid. The rows may now be continued round and round to the head line, sewing in the same way.
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