I’d like to make something a little different than the traditional jester asses ears I’ve worn in the past. (Asses ears are the name of the jester’s hat with the points and bells on the end.) Since Elizabethan jesters and fools often made fun of their betters and sometimes wore parodies of the style of the nobility to mock them, I decided to make a HUGE British bonnet as an homage to my jester mentor who wore a GIANT flat cap.
But most importantly, I want a hat with a brim to keep the sun out of my eyes.
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This style of brimmed hat with a poufy top goes by many names: British toque or bonnet, Spanish toque or bonnet, Italian toque or bonnet, or by the modern nick name The Jiffy Pop Hat because it looks like a Jiffy Pop pan after it has popped (learn more about Jiffy Pop here if you are unfamiliar with this treat that’s fun to eat.)
Elizabethan men and women wore this style of hat. The poofy hat in the sepia photo is made with buckram. The hats in the color photos are made with plastic canvas. As you can see you can't tell from looking what the hat form is made from. the only difference is the plastic canvas is weatherproof and also stands up any and all abuse an actor may put it through.
How to Make a Hat with Plastic Canvas Instead of Buckram
I am making my hat rain resistant by replacing the traditional buckram hat base with making a hat base with plastic canvas (it looks like this.) The Elizabethan poufy hat pattern I used is out of print. If you want to make one I suggest you use this this Italian bonnet pattern and cut the brim narrower.
CF stands for the Center Front of the hat brim.
For the most part, replacing buckram in millenary with plastic canvas doesn’t take any extra skills or techniques.
You will still need to wire the edges of the hat brim so you can shape it when you are wearing your hat. There is some debate on whether you need to use millenary wire (it looks like this) on the top of a plastic canvas crown. I do because I want to the hat to hold its shape or at least be easy to put back into shape if it accidentally gets tossed around when performing or traveling to a performance.
This is what the crown of the hat looks like with millenary wire sewn to the top and bottom of the crown and covered with seam binding.
Plastic canvas is supposed to soft enough to sew with a sewing machine and a heavy duty sewing machine needle. I didn't have that kind of experience. I found myself giving that part of the project a lot of tender words of encouragement not to break my sewing machine needles.
Lisa’s “tender words” were really screaming, crying, and cursing the plastic canvas for breaking her sewing machine needles. Don’t be Lisa. Save yourself a lot of trouble and hand sew those parts of the hat with a curved sewing needle like this one. Don't worry if you are out of practice hand sewing, it won’t show when the hat is finished.
After I finished the plastic canvas hat base, I followed the pattern to cover the hat and make the lining.
I was today year's old when I realized I could use my magnetic pattern weights to keep fabric from moving on the enamel table in my workroom.
The perfect jester hat for fooling around!
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