Steampunk: You Need That Like a Hole in Your… Hat

Effie Cotter, reporting for the first time with my own byline-generatron!

photograph courtesy of Susan Holt

Friday afternoon saw your loyal correspondent at the Vented Hats workshop, with the purportedly awesome Susan Holt. Mistress Holt has graciously shared her Vented Hats workshop handout with the world, so I can focus on the steps and advice she provided to her enthralled audience. Mistress Holt also offers for sale kits containing the numerous templates and materials used in her vented hats, should you wish to pursue this craft and need a little assistance.

Aside from hardy automatons who must vent steam all day long, what purpose does a vented hat serve, you may ask? Well, my dears, I will leave such questions up to you and your locale, and simply state that, in a climate where a metal bikini and gun holster is comfortable attire, the temperature might just lend itself well to a little airflow about the cranium.

You’ll need the circular templates for cutting your vents, leather gaskets and metal mesh, and rivets. In addition, if you made your own gaskets and did not purchase Mistress Holt’s finely pre-drilled ones, you’ll need an awl, hammer, perhaps a prop to raise it up to hat level, some craft or leatherworking scissors, and any other decoration or trims you may wish to use in your hat. Begin by decorating the base of your hat, if you plan to paint it or otherwise trim it in ways that should appear behind or beneath the vents.

Using the templates, draw your holes on the hat. Cut the hole in the top of the hat first, starting at the center and working in a spiral direction to the outline to avoid harp turns. Place the gasket over the hole to ensure it overlaps neatly. Cut all the holes first, starting at the top and doing the front and back, then the sides. This is the same order in which you will place your rivets.

Using a rivet to hold it in place, put one gasket on the outside of the hat, the mesh on the inside, and the second gasket on the inside. Hammer in the first rivet, then proceed with the remaining rivets. You may find yourself needing to place your anvil on a prop or block to achieve the proper height for hammering a rivet into the top of your top hat. You may even find yourself needing to hammer a rivet through a vent hole. Such are the trials and tribulations that all fine hatters must pursue.

Hammer the rivets in opposite sides– front, back, side, side, then filling in the diagonals, as opposed to working around the entire gasket like a clock. We all adore clocks, of course, but working in a circular manner will lead to puckering, and nobody yearns for puckered gaskets, Dear Reader!

When you have completed your gasket and mesh vents, finish trimming the hat with whatever bits and embellishments you wished to add to your millinery creation!