(When searching for a nice period Toque photo to show everyone, I happened to find this Titanic Hat via Wikipedia! “Mrs. J.J. “Molly” Brown presenting trophy cup award to Capt. Arthur Henry Rostron, for his service in the rescue of the Titanic. That’s the Unsinkable Molly Brown.)
When I think of hats of the Titanic era, I think of the giant brimmed picture hats, but of course, that was not the only hat worn. The 1912 Project has given us a March Challenge Pattern of a Spring Hat for Mature Women, which I’ve decided to dub The Mad March Hat.
In Alison Gernsheim’s book, “Victorian and Edwardian Fashion: A Photographic Survey” (Dover Books), we find an image of an older woman in a small brimless had with copious feathers and veiling. The hat appears draped, almost like a turban; the pleating is soft unlike the stiff pleats on our hat drawing. The captain reads “Miss Baden-Powell, Chief of the Girl Guides, c. 1913.” (fig. 223). The notes on this section read “Small hats and Toques began to rival the cartwheels which everyone was beginning to tire of… The small hats of 1912-1914 were mostly rather undistinguished round or oval shapes, trimmed with upstanding aigrettes or osprey feathers….” (page 93). “Toque” is Arabic for round and a toque hat has either a very narrow or no brim at all.

Portrait of Beatrice Hastings before a door.

Lillie Langtry in a Toque

The painting, at left is by Amedeo Modigliani, 1915, and shows Beatrice in a toque. (Unfortunately this template doesn’t like long captions).
The Mad March Hat strikes me as an en vogue style adapted to the holdover hairstyles of the older generation. If you’ll notice the measurements, this hat is intended to have a lower circumference of 31 1/2″. This is not a brim, per se. The drawing shows two attached structural (frame) pieces; the outer that holds the fashion shape and the inner that sits on the head. The 20 1/2″ is about where the internal second horizontal line is. That means the outermost edge stands away from the face and would look odd worn without some hair around the face (reminiscence of a Gibson Girl?).
I want to make something younger, something I can wear. So before I start creating the frame, I’m going to make a mock-up version so I can adjust the size to my liking. If the hat had only one layer (a headsize opening, brim measurement, height measurement and tip size) I’d make a cardstock version. The two structures makes things a little trickier, however, and I’ll need to make a wire version to get the proper tilt to the hat.
Next time… info on the mock-up.
An invaluable book for hat making is “From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking” by Denise Dreher, Madhatter Press, 1981.
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