Well, I'll tell you, as well as I'm able to, and show with my own fool-proof Photoshop illustrations spiced up with various clip-art images stolen from around the web. Even mad PS skillz like mine need a little extra help sometimes.
OK, here we go:
Hello! In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a basic low-crowned straw hat out of three place mats!
It won't be the kind of hat that a milliner would be proud of, but it's a cheap and fun way to experiment with different styles and trims and colours with little effort.
Note: I have used this method only once (and should have taken pictures...) and was very pleased with the result, but as always: use at own risk! And don't sue. This is a hat that is supposed to be pimped with trims and goodies, so that any unavoidable flaws won't be noticed.
Let's go: Buy three place mats of a size you think suitable in a store of your choice. I got four for ca 10 EURO, they looked like this (I used the purple - the result can be seen here). Make sure they're made from some kind of natural straw; synthetics may very well work but I haven't tried it so we don't want to risk anything.
Step 1: Glue two of the place mats together (skip this if your type of place mat is very stiff. I did this because the brim would be too floppy otherwise).
Don't use a glue that is too runny - it may bleed through to whatever surface you put the place mats on and leave marks on the hat - but it's better be strong. Remember to open a window if your glue is very strong, or you may experience a conga line of psychedelic animals or worse. Cover the place mats with heavy books and leave them for now.
Step 2: Soak your third place mat with water!
Step 3: Find an object in your home that is shaped just as you want the crown of your hat to look. I found an ugly, purple flower pot that had made no one happy until now. It was cylindrical and turned upside down it proved to be the perfect hat shape.
Put your soaked place mat on top of the object and gently but determinedly shape the place mat around it - remember, you're the boss around here! Try to get it as smooth and even as possible. Use a little violence if necessary but be careful not too make the soaked material rip or tear.
Step 4: (And here comes my pièce de résistance!) Tie a piece of fabric or a ribbon, or whatever you have, around the newly shaped brim (a helper may come in handy here).
Let it dry overnight or longer (I let mine dry for 24 hours but that may not be needed).
Step 5: Your hat crown should now be dry and ready to be removed from the shape. Trim away all surplus until you have only the crown plus an extra centimeter or so.
If you leave too much, you can always trim it down later but not the other way around! Put the crown back onto the shape used.
Step 6: Let's get back to the brim which should also have dried by now.
Check the diameter of the crown and mark on the brim where it will sit, but subtract 1,5 centimeters from the radius and cut out a circle, that consequently is somewhat smaller than the diameter of the brim.
Step 7: From the center of the brim (which is actually a hole), cut small cuts outwards, all way around the cut-out.
As always, it's better to cut too little than too much.
Step 8: Go back to the crown that sits on the shape and firmly press the brim down onto it.
If it won't fit, cut a little more as in step 7.
Step 9: Now the crown is surrounded by little tabs that will secure the brim to it.
Help them by gluing and perhaps sew a few stitches around the crown as you see fit.
When the glue has dried, check that it looks OK on the wrong side. You may have to trim down the bottom of the crown if it peeks out too much.
Your hat is now ready to launch. You can experiment by shaping the brim into any style you like, pretty much like you shaped the crown - soaking and some kind of outer force.
And now you're on your own, because I won't tell you how to doll up your brand new hat - I'm sure you will manage that perfectly. The possibilities are endless:
You can have a very pretty, simple hat...
Or something fancier and froufier...
Hope this was of any help to you. This will probably be the only tutorial you get from me since I'm usually the one who gets tutored rather than the other way around.
But I DEMAND to see what you make! You know where to find me...
All the best,