Friday, December 31, 2021

Sewing a 1920s Downton Abbey Cloche - HSM 2021


The Historical Sew Monthly is a collection of challenges organized by The Dreamstress on her blog.  Each year since 2013 she has offered inspiration and motivation for costumers at every level from true beginner to expert.  I joined the challenge facebook group in 2014 when it was still called the Historical Sew Fortnightly as the challenges were due every two weeks which was in itself a challenge!  But I learned so much and stretched myself and completed 27 challenges that first year.

The challenges have been modified to one each month and can be completed in any order that suits your schedule.  While I have been sewing in 2021 I have been neglect in uploading my photos and blog post links to the facebook albums.  So I have been doing that this past week and realized that my make for the October Challenge - Orange was out of the time limit for the HSM which is 1938.  I just couldn't let that happen and scoured my list for future projects that could fit in the time I had left in 2021 and were Orange.  This is the ultimate challenge!

One of the makes planned for 2021 was a Spectator Coat and a cloche hat.  As I led a very whim-directed sewing journey in 2021, the coat and hat have been moved to 2022.  I have previously made Lady Edith's Bow Cloche from a pdf pattern assortment offered by eVINTAGE on Etsy.  I'll share a link:

The patterns are based on original patterns circa 1920s by Ruth Wyeth Spears.

I've made several hats from this group of patterns and they are an easy make with lots of possibilities for both historical and modern wear.

I'm inspired by a vivid orange floral and pearl collar I found in a bin at a shop in the Fabric District in Los Angeles after Costume College.

I've found a poly satin ribbon in a matching vivid orange color.

Then one lucky day these three 19" by 50" screen printed panels popped up in a costumer's destash group on facebook.  I immediately could envision these panels on the sleeves, collar, and lower hem of a spectator coat and there was just a touch of orange that would be wonderful with a coordinating dress with the orange and pearl collar.  The panels were the right price and I snapped them up.  I already have sage green suede shoes and I think orange gloves would be smashing! So that's my dream!

Although I'm months away from sewing the dress and spectator coat I decide the cloche is the perfect project for the October Historical Sew Monthly Challenge and will just take an evening to sew.

I throw caution to the wind and cut my hat pattern pieces where they will be most appropriate on the hat.  A crown tip from the cream and brown swirl, the side band from the brown and orange stripe, and the brim pieces from some other cream and brown swirl.  The back bows will be made from the orange ribbon.

The lining is an unbleached cotton and supported with a midweight fusible interfacing.  The interfacing is also applied to the back section of the brim.

The side band is sewn into a circle, the seam pressed, and pinned to the crown tip aligning center front and center back.  A box pleat is created at center back to even the side band placement.  The seam around the crown tip is clipped for fit.

The process is repeated for the fashion fabric taking care to position the crown design as desired for front and back positions.

The side band is long enough to create a box pleat over the center back hiding the seam inside a pleat.  The pleats will also hold the ribbon bow.

The brim is sewn and the seam allowances clipped and trimmed and pressed.

The brim is placed and pinned and then basted to the side band.  Since the lining will fit inside the hat with wrong sides together, they are pinned right sides together and sewn leaving an opening for the hat to be turned right side out.  Then the small opening is sewn closed by hand.

To add a bit more color and interest to the brim of the hat I've covered button blanks with the matching ribbon.  I decide the buttons are highlighted in this area of the brim without brown swirls and will be a nice offset when the pearl collar is placed on the dress.

Ribbon is looped and sewn into the pleats giving the impression of a single bow weaving in and out of the hat.

Ok, I'll admit it!  Now that this hat is finished I'm absolutely excited to create the dress and spectator coat!  But I'll be good and finish the project already on the sewing table.  But here are some finished hat photos for you:

Would you ever imagine what color this would be if you saw an historic 1920s black and white photo?!

Historical Sew Monthly - October 2021

Orange - It's the final color to be covered by a color challenge!  Make something orange.

What the item is:  Cloche Hat

How it fits the challenge:  Portions of the fabric and the buttons and bows are orange.

Material:  Twill

Pattern:  Lady Edith's Bow Cloche by eVINTAGE on Etsy

Year:  1920s

Notions:  Interfacing, button blanks, ribbon

How historically accurate is it?  Created from an original pattern circa 1920s by Ruth Wyeth Spears

Hours to complete:  3 hours

First worn:  For a project for 2022

Total cost:  $4

Historical Sew Monthly - 2021

January - Joy



  1. This hat looks like a praliné, extremely pretty and delicious.
    I intend to try making my first hat soon, so thanks a lot for this inspiration! :)

    1. Thank you!! Best with your new millinery journey!!