A thoroughly modern cloche

A few months ago I came across a book titled “Millinery: 1920s Hat Making Techniques” by Jane Loewen, an instructor in millinery at the University of Chicago.

No doubt, I had been searching for something like “how to make a cloche.”

Intrigued that there was a millinery text that had been used at the University of Chicago, I ordered it.

It soon arrived and took its rightful place on my nightstand among a stack of books that could best be described as “things I meant to read yesterday.” Each book has something in it that I consider an urgent matter, but life being what it is, urgent matters that cannot be contained in books often take precedence over those that can.

So for the most part, my copy of this book lives a quiet existence, waiting for the things that seem more pressing to recede in their importance, but every now and then I am able to pick it up and read a page or two, and I am occasionally able to indulge in the luxury of an entire chapter.

One thing that is immediately apparent — even with the most cursory of perusals — is that a basic knowledge of geometry is important for a milliner, but the thing that was of the most interest to me was a construction technique that employed a long strip of horsehair.

Know that I would be using a strip of foundation double crochet instead of horsehair, I decided to forego trying to make a wire frame, and instead, bought myself this styrofoam assistant at a nearby Sally Beauty Supply that was along my route to other places:

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My able crochet assistant

The head looked very small to me, so I measured it to be sure that it was a reasonable size for a grown woman, and it turned out to be 21″, so I continued to crochet the foundation double crochet until it was what I hoped was long enough to execute my idea:

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A long length of foundation double crochet

I started by pinning the end to a place on my styrofoam assistant that looked like a spot just in back of the center, making sure that the less curved side (in this case the bottom of the chain) faced inward:

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I secure one end of the length of the foundation double crochet with a straight pin

and I continued laying the strip of crochet and pinning it in place as I went. It turned out that while I had crocheted a rather long strip, it still wasn’t quite long enough:

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I run through the length of foundation double crochet

But nonetheless less, I was pleased with my progress, and while there is still work to be done (and undone and then redone), the effect created by using this construction technique is one that I like:

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A view from the top

There is still a lot I need to figure out, how, for example, to join the long seam of the project, but this is definitely a technique I am looking forward to exploring further.

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