Remodeling a Hat

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, July 18, 1912:  Made over an old hat. Wonder after it’s finished whether it will be presentable or not. I worked at it nearly all afternoon.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was so excited in April when she got a new hat:

. . . After a trying time I got a hat that I thought would do. It is trimmed in light brown ribbon and red roses. . .

April 27, 1912

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1912)

I assume that wasn’t the hat she was refurbishing—but maybe a hat could become an “old hat” in only three months.

A hundred years ago 5 & 10 cent stores sold ribbon, artificial flowers, feathers from ostriches and other less exotic birds, and other types of millinery supplies so that people could easily change the look of their hats.

Does anyone refurbish old hats anymore? . . . or old clothes (or anything else) for that matter?

I just move things to the back of my walk-in closet or give them away when they go out of style.

23 thoughts on “Remodeling a Hat

  1. Great question … does anyone…? When my 4 children were very young, we had little money. I went through my mother’s attic and took apart my old clothes to make clothes for my kids. I was pretty good at it, and they always looked well-dressed.

  2. I have this thing for pretty buttons. I will take buttons from clothes found at garage sales, etc., save them to my stash to exchange buttons on new clothes. That’s about as far as I will go. My mom remade dresses for my sisters and me from old clothes.

  3. I just have a hard time visualizing “my” Helena in a hat like this. Isn’t it just crazy how we imbue certain attributes and feelings to characters, real and imagined, that have never known — “my Helena” — o my goodness.

    1. You’re right, we do assign attributes to the people in the diary–and they probably aren’t totally accurate. But it’s be best we can do. 🙂

      In my imagination, I tend to think that her hats may not have been as large or fancy as the ones shown in Ladies Home Journal.

  4. I have a number of hats in all different styles and love to wear them. Nothing as grand as that one though. I loved the 50’s when every one wore hats & gloves. So civilized.

      1. Hey, did you have a cool pair of platform shoes to groove to the Bee Gees and ABBA? I was looking at family photos from the 70’s just the other day and laughed because even my dads hair was pretty long, ha.

  5. I’m afraid I just keep wearing my out of date clothes unless they no longer fit me. I haven’t worn a hat since I was about 12 at Easter time. I can sew but don’t much do it. In fact I have a stack of curtains that shrunk and I have to rehem them and I just haven’t felt up to it. Must be summer doldrums.

  6. I was curious, so I went onto Pinterest and did a few searches. I didn’t really see anything about revamping old hats, but there were quite a few ideas for putting life into old clothes. Some of them involved taking a piece of clothing and changing into a different piece of clothing, like a skirt to a top, a pair of gauchos into shorts, or a blouse into a tank top. Others would repurpose adult clothing into children’s wear. Still more though involved taking the clothes and making them into something completely different. There were several ideas for quilts, tote bags, rag rugs, etc., all made from clothing no longer worn.

    I did find one article about hats from 1950. Perhaps it suggests some ways Helena would have brought new life into her old hat.,5345969

    I’m thinking that maybe there is less about restyling hats now because hats are not something most women wear on a daily basis nowadays. Even when it comes to church or special occasions, you probably find as many women without hats as you do those with them.

    1. Yes, there are far fewer hats worn today. I did turn a pair of my husband’s old Dockers into a romper and hat for our son:

      1. Those are recycled buttons, too! My husband had an old suit coat from high school that was badly worn and no longer fit.

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