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The Femme Fedora Block

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Project by RGtools posted 06-21-2014 05:01 PM 966 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a collaborative project between my wife, who makes and sells high end hats, and myself. Our aim was to create something that fit in the the 1930s & 1940s theme of hats but was not a reproduction of any hat we could find. This block underwent a LOT of modification along the way, but I think we achieved something quite serviceable and my next set of blocks should come out more quickly and a lot better looking as a result.

For some reason that I simply won’t understand, milliners and people associated with them seem to be the most closed mouthed, secretive craftspeople I have ever come across. So most of what I learned here was through trial and error (and believe me I made a lot…fortunately wool felt is a very forgiving medium).

Work-holding is definitely one of the biggest challenges for this type of thing. Nothing is flat or symmetrical or uniform about this design, but the curves look good from all directions and are meant to flow well with the line of a persons head from any angle. As a result, most of the work on this was done by hand (though, by band saw and orbital sander got a workout too). A few features of the block are:

A. We can swap crown blocks to change the overall design of the hat.
B. The block is shaped to be able to use only a single piece of felt for construction. This saves both time and money.
C. The design seems to accept variation of decoration well as you can see by two hats shown here.

FYI all of my wife's stuff can be seen here.

P.S. The purple truck is hers…and I am a wee bit jealous.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan





13 comments so far

View stefang's profile

stefang

13024 posts in 1988 days


#1 posted 06-21-2014 05:50 PM

Very nice designs and true to the period (I know because I lived through it). Your wife is a very talented designer. It’s wonderful that you’re woodworking skills can help her with her work. You make a great team.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View deon's profile

deon

2181 posts in 1679 days


#2 posted 06-21-2014 05:54 PM

Great work! I have always wanted to try my hand at working with felt

-- Dreaming patterns

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

2645 posts in 2366 days


#3 posted 06-21-2014 08:19 PM

Ryan,

What a great team you make . . . and what a lovely model for the hats! Thanks for sharing.

L/W

P.S. Have your checked out Mark DeCou's work on millinery forms and tools?

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

2645 posts in 2366 days


#4 posted 06-21-2014 08:20 PM

Ryan,

What a great team you make . . . and what a lovely model for the hats! Thanks for sharing.

L/W

P.S. Have your checked out Mark DeCou's work on millinery forms and tools?

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

1459 posts in 1801 days


#5 posted 06-22-2014 12:50 AM

Well, your wife makes some great looking hats! I bet she’d make a killing selling them at the Kentucky Derby!

It’s great you’re able to collaborate like that—many of the married couples I know bicker too much to do something like this!

-- Dean

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2337 posts in 1536 days


#6 posted 06-22-2014 03:46 AM

very unique! It’s nice to see interesting stuff like this on LJ’s!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View ShaneA's profile (online now)

ShaneA

5300 posts in 1252 days


#7 posted 06-22-2014 03:48 AM

Well done Ryan. Good to see creative and functional woodworking projects.

View Roger's profile

Roger

14566 posts in 1457 days


#8 posted 06-22-2014 11:23 AM

I like the retro look. The red & black with polka-dots is way cool.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View 489tad's profile

489tad

2324 posts in 1665 days


#9 posted 06-22-2014 12:55 PM

I agree you two make a great team. The hats are great and that means the fixtures have to be too !

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

1699 posts in 858 days


#10 posted 06-22-2014 09:00 PM

The secrecy possibly lies with the fact they do not really know or understand.

Fur felt as a product in headress is used extensively within the armed forces world wide , and any member who takes pride in their headress ( that being all of them by the way) will have intimate knowledge of how to “bash” the respective “hat”

Even Oddjob had his brim so flat and stiff he could cut off a persons head with it, .....well thats what the movies show.

The australian slouch hat as seen on just about everybodies head in the rural areas of OZ is fur felt, so come Ceremony time it can be turned into a parade drill hat almosy instantly.

And I would suggest this is the case all over the world as well!

So if you want to know more just ask a service person next time you have the oportunity and get the truth from an expert, and not a salesrep selling a fridge to an eskimo.

Great work the both of you!

-- Regards Robert

View Eli Adamit's profile

Eli Adamit

449 posts in 1943 days


#11 posted 06-23-2014 09:08 AM

Ryan, and who took the photo? I need some words about him. He is a professional, in the fourth photo he took in account the side mirror, the reflection in the lateral window and original direction.

-- Eli Adamit, Israel

View AnthonyReed's profile

AnthonyReed

4656 posts in 1094 days


#12 posted 06-23-2014 06:29 PM

Wonderful stuff Ryan. Thanks for sharing.

-- ~Tony

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1308 days


#13 posted 06-24-2014 01:21 PM

Stefang: that meant a lot to my wife, she really tries to get things right.
Deon: you should. A great way to start is to raid thrift stores for true felt hats that are past their prime and reform them.
lightweightladylefty: I have seen his stuff and it is impressive.
Dean: we still bicker…but we get things done in the process ;)
Manitario: Thanks, I have been meaning to post it for a while… I will be making more of these in the future by the way.
Shane: I like building tools more than I like making anything else…so this is a good fit for me.
Rodger: I like that one too. I think it will make a steam-punker very happy.
Dan: It really did take both of us to get that done…and I love that.
RobCastle: I sent coffee out my nose because of you…thanks.
Eli: Actually I took the photo’s, so thanks that means a lot to me. I have practiced and studied a lot. I tend to take a ton of pictures and then sort out the gems later, but when you take a picture like that you know you have something right then and there.
Tony: it’s good to be posting again.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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