Yesterday I made a hat. I made a reticulated headdress from Cynthia Virtue’s instructions – which, if you ever find yourself in sudden need of one of these things is an excellent source – fantastic, clear instructions and good pictures. I do mean sudden, too – this baby made up quickly! If I had been at all serious about the process and not just been making a quickie costume for a minor character it would have taken slightly longer, but probably only an hour or so. This is one of those items that because it starts with a wire frame and has several layers of structure, begins by looking like someone has let a fourth-grader into a wire cabinet, and then suddenly transforms into something that looks beautiful (Where beautiful is a relative term depending on what you’re going for and the materials used). I love those moments!
Because I was working quickly, I skipped the “make a pattern for the wire” step and just dove in with the 14 gauge. I also skipped the lining step, just folded the muslin back up the inside after it was stitched on and called it a day. For regular use this would obviously not be sufficient.
Do not, no matter what your motivation for making this thing, skip the padding step! (No, that isn’t advice from my own experience – as the daughter of a woman-who-quilts, I never skip the padding step. It just comes at a point where you might be tempted, and if you succumbed to temptation you would be sorry after.) I went with Cynthia’s quick-and-dirty uncut batting alternative, instead of careful piecing, and the batting I used was really only a thick felt, but it still made a world of difference. It adds structure as well as thickness/smoothness. The padding stage was the point where this thing stopped looking like an odd bundle of wire and fabric and really convinced me that it was a headdress.

The crazy veil on top is not Cynthia’s brainchild, don’t blame that on her! I needed a veil since the purpose of this costume is a Red Hat joke, and since the character is comic and the director is in love with the extreme, this is what I added. You want to know the loopy part? The wire on top is NOT a coathanger, no coathangers were destroyed in the making of this piece. I could not have affixed an actual coathanger to the top with as much stability as this, so I wound up bending 14 gauge wire so that it looked like a coathanger, because I am just that lame. The wire actually loops across the top all the way to the front and is tacked in just behind the roll; it is very stable. The same contraption would work for pretty much any shape of veil support – I played with several before I settled on this one. The join is in the centre of the visible coathanger shape, and a number of the styles I was playing with actually used the wire in two separate prongs like antennae. In the end this structure best utilized the scrap of red veiling I had on hand, but with more sheer, any one of the crazy shapes I played with would have worked.