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Millinery by Jane Loewen, 1925, Chapter 2: MOLDED FRAMESMillinery by Jane Loewen, 1925, Chapter 2: MOLDEDFRAMES




Process of manufacture

Cost of manufacture

Advantages of using a pressed frame

Adjustment of pressed frame

To adjust the headsize

To make a mushroom from a sailor

To make a poke from a mushroom

To use a pattern on a pressed frame


Frames of various materials stretchedon wire




Elastic net

Rice net or cape net


Process of making a stretched frame

Soaking frame fabric in water

Pinning frame fabric to wire frame

Drying frame fabric on the frame

Removing frame fabric from the mold

How to give variety to shapes stretched on the same frame

How to wire a frame


When frames may be molded in this way


Frame molding in the hand

Dry molding over a frame





The original model for a pressed frame is a wire frame made by the designer (seeChapter I, section I). A model which is to be used for a manufacturer's mold must be avery firm frame closely braced, with any roll or bend perfectly outlined. For an irregularshape an extra, straight brace is usually added between each of the eight ordinarily used,making sixteen straight brace wires. The round braces should be about 1/2 inchapart. The wire model now goes to the molding room, where the block makers make a plastercast or mold from it.

From the plaster cast a wooden mold is whittled or carved. This wooden block is kept instock, as it may be used for shaping straw shapes as they are sewn by makers before sizingand blocking. From the wooden block an hydraulic steel die is made. This consists of twoforms, upper and lower, which fit together like an acorn in its cup. In making the pressedframe buckram or net is soaked in water or a sizing solution and stretched over the heatedlower steel die. The top half of the die is clamped down over it and left until the framematerial is thoroughly dry. At least two men are required to operate this die, or pressmachine. After the frame is pressed, the rough edges extending beyond the die must betrimmed, the headsize cut out, and the edge wired and bound by machine.


Pressed crowns are made in much the same way as brims. After all the expensive processof mold-making, two men are required to operate the machine on which the frames arepressed. On the average, the first frame made on an hydraulic die costs from $300 to $600.It may readily be seen that an enormous number of frames must be sold before the originalcost is covered. In other words, the thousands of frames that must be sold from one dietend to make the shape a common one. Producers of exclusive millinery prefer to makehand-molded frames or to change the shape of the French frame in order to differentiateit.


There are a number of advantages in using a pressed frame. Much expensive labor issaved. It takes almost as much time to prepare a hand-blocked frame as it takes to makethe hat. The cost factor to the hat manufacturer is much less for a machine frame. Themachine frame will stand more unskilled handling than a hand-molded frame. The pressedframe has a smoother and more finished appearance than a handmade frame. To theuninitiated home milliner the hand-modeled frame often seems unfinished and imperfect.They see the rough-appearing surface rather than its beauty of line. Pressed frames may bepurchased from the millinery departments of the large department stores, from thebetter of the $ .50 and $1 stores, and from many of the mail-order houses.


The average pressed shape should be purchased with the idea of changing it to suit theindividual before using it.

1. To adjust the headsize. The headsize may be made larger by slashingthe brim from headsize to edge and inserting a piece of buckram or elastic net. Rip theedge binding and the wire where it is lapped. Pin in the necessary piece ofmaterial. Try on the frame. Adjust the size. Bend the set-in piece at the headsize as theframe headsize is bent. Sew the seams firmly by machine or with a tight backstitch.Replace the edge wire with binding. To make the headsize smaller rip the binding and edgewire joining. slash from edge to headsize and lap until the headsize fits. If the frame isa great deal too large, two slashes - one at the front and one at the back - arenecessary. Too much lapping will throw. the frame out ofshape.


Figure 8. To Make a Poke Brim from a Mushroom FrameIllustration a is a plain mushroom brim from which a poke may be cut. In b note the lapped seam C and the dotted line AB for cutting the front.

2. To make a mushroom from a sailor. To make a mushroom from astraight sailor brim cut the brim at the back and front from edge wire to headsize,ripping the edge binding and edge wire. Make a seam which laps very little at theheadsize, but a great deal more at the edge. Taking from the edge and not from theheadsize is what gives the mushroom effect. Trim some width of brim from the front andmore from the back. The conventional mushroom needs to be proportionately narrower infront than a sailor, because when a frame droops it hides the face. A narrow back (seeFigure 8) is always better because, first, a wide drooping effect makes thick-lookingshoulders, and, second, because it interferes with comfort by knocking against coatcollars, car windows, and seat backs.

3. To make a poke from a mushroom. This process is much the same asabove, because the frame is already mushroom. Rip the binding and edge wire. Cut the backfrom edge to headsize. Slant the seam so that the edge laps from one to two inches and theheadsize laps only l/4 inch.

4. To use a pattern on a pressed frame. Many of the mushroom-hatpatterns may be cut from an ordinary pressed-sailor or mushroom frame. Cut off theheadsize slashes of the pattern on the line marked "headsize." Pin thepattern onto the mushroom brim. Mark the correct edge and cut. This does away with thenecessity of wiring a headsize and with the bother of looking for correct frame material.The original edge binding may be replaced. Silk brace wire is more satisfactory for theedge wire. Poke patterns may be cut from mushroom frames in the same way. The importantthing is to get the same slant and the same proportion as the hat pattern so that the samepattern may be used to cut the hat materials.



There are a number of frame materials that may satisfactorily be used for stretchingframes. The ones most used are willow, buckram, jockey, elastic net, rice net, andcrinoline.

Willow: See Chapter I, section I.

Buckram: See Chapter I, section I.

Jockey: See Chapter I, section I. Elastic net:See Chapter I, section I. Rice net is a frame material which is as much anet as wire window screening. A thread net held together by sizing (or starch) wouldproperly define it. Cape net is the same thing with finer mesh. Rice net is used forstretching soft crowns and for small brims of very soft ribbon or braid sport hats. Itmakes a softer frame than elastic net. It is sometimes used with a thickness of crinoline.Crinoline is used to stretch soft tam crowns, baby hats, old ladies' bonnets, and withrice net for larger hats. When crinoline and rice net are used together the two materialsare stretched one over the other, pinned separately, but dried and removed together. Thesizing sticks them together so that they hold nicely.


1. Soaking frame fabric in water. The first step in stretching ahand-molded frame is to soak the frame material to be used. Each of the fabrics mentionedunder section II of this chapter has a great deal of sizing. This needs only to be wet tobecome pliable. Then it may be stretched over any desired frame and it will dry in thatshape.

2. Pinning frame fabric to the wire frame. Start pinning at the fronton the edge wire. Use a bias corner of the willow. Pin to first one side of the brim, thento the other. Smooth the wet fabric over the wire frame, adding first a pin at the edgewire, then one at the headsize. Cut out a small headsize circle. Slash the materialat the headsize to the lower headsize wire at intervals of 1/2 inch. Do not slash belowthe lower headsize wire. Smooth all fullness out by pulling it out at the edge andheadsize and pushing it backward to the seam. Trim the headsize slashes, leaving onlyenough to pin over the top headsize wire. Do not bend the material over the edge wire.Allow it to extend beyond the wire. Place pins at intervals of one inch.

1920sLowenhatsFigure9.gifFIGURE 9. Pinning the Frame Fabric to the Wire Frame. Be careful not to pull the frame too tightly between the straight brace wires, or the edge wire will lose its contour. There will be an angle on each straight brace at the edge wire. 3. Drying frame fabric on the frame. Hang the stretched frame up to dry above a hot radiator or in a window, if you want it to dry quickly. A good idea for class work is to stretch the frames in one lesson that are to be used for the next day. Then they may stand overnight. A frame must be thoroughly dried before it is removed from the wire mold

1920sLowenhatsFigure10.gifFIGURE 10. Original Frame. A Rolled Brim Made from the Dimensions Given in Chapter I, Section IV

4. Removing fabric frame from the mold. When the frame isthoroughly dry, mark edge wire, headsize wire, and seam with a pencil. Pull out the pinsfrom edge and headsize. Place them in a separate box to be used for frames only. Thestarch on them will mark silk or velvet. Loosen the frame carefully at both edge andheadsize.

1920sLowenhatsFigure11.gifFIGURE 11. The Same Frame Made into a Tricorn. Remove a little at a time so as not to stretch it out of shape. Trim the back seam andlap it as it was marked if the headsize is the correct size. The headsize may be adjustedas for a pressed brim (see Chapter II, section I). Cut headsize and wire edge at thepencil mark.

1920sLowenhatsFigure12.gifFIGURE 12. The Frame Made into a Square-Edge Tricorn. 5. How to give variety to shapes stretched on the same frame. If awire mold has a good headsize roll as.well as a becoming brim line, it may be changed in avariety of ways.

1920sLowenhatsFigure13.gifFIGURE 13. Finishing the Headsize with Ribbon Wire. The brim may be merely cut smaller. It may be slashed at the side, or it may be cut togive an entirely different effect (see illustration, Figures 11 and 12).

6. To wire a frame. For the headsize, cut a half-inch bias band of dryframe material. Join this in a circle the same size as the brim headsize. Wire the lowerheadsize with brace wire, using a blanket stitch. Lap the ends of the wire two inches.Shape the circle of frame material and wire into an oval. Slip this over the brim headsizewith the unwired edge up. Sew the oval to the slashes, using two rows of backstitching,one just above the wire and one at the top edge. Straighten the wire for the edge byrunning the thumb and forefinger over it lengthwise, using the cushion part of the finger,not the tips. When the curve is thus worked out of the wire, buttonhole it to the top edgeof the frame (edge-wire Figure 18), taking very tight stitches about three fourths of aninch long and only one sixteenth of an inch in from the edge. Lap the ends of the wire twoand one-half inches and sew down firmly. Bind the edge with a three-fourths-inch biasstrip of muslin or flannel. Sew with long, tight, running stitches and stretch.



If a frame turns up straight from the face instead of flaring out in a wide brim, thereis less sewing in fitting the material. Often a bias may be stretched to fit it. A chinchin sailor, a rolled sailor, and many turbans may be stretched from a bias of elastic net,soft willow, or double crinoline. If a frame can be stretched without wetting thematerial, the process is not only much shorter, because of the soaking and drying processeliminated, but it is much more tidy. The soaking method necessitates the use of manythicknesses of newspaper or rubber work-aprons to protect dresses from wet framematerials.


1. Frame molding in the hand. There are wonderful possibilities formaking rolled brims in the hand without a mold. Make a half-inch willow headsize band asfor a stretched frame, or use a band of ribbon wire. Sew one edge of bias elastic net (thewidth determined by the height or width of the hat brim) inside the headsize. Curve thebias upward as you sew and crowd the material close to make it roll. Elastic net ispreferable, but soft willow answers the purpose. If width at the sides is desired, or apoint or decided angle anywhere, cut the bias and lap it two or three inches at theheadsize, allowing it to flare to a small seam at the edge.

1920sLowenhatsFigure14.gifFIGURE 14. Dry Molding Bias-Frame Material over a Wire Frame.

2. Dry molding over a frame (see Figure 14). Bias net orwillow may be stretched over wire molds without soaking, whenever the curve of the frameis such that there is no fullness left, or whenever the angle up from the face is verydecided. Often this means more than one seam. The extra seams are usually on the brimangle. The stretching, removing, and wiring process is the same as for a wet frame (seesection II, of this chapter).


How are original frame shapes made?

Name the processes involved in making the first buckram frame of a new design.

What is the greatest cost element?

How may a pressed-frame headsize be made larger?

How may a pressed-frame headsize be made smaller?

What advantages has a pressed ready-made frame for the home milliner?

Name the frame materials used for hand-stretched frames.

Give the detailed steps used in making a hand-stretched frame.

What is a dry-molded frame?

. Make a dry-molded frame, doll-size. Copy the shape from a given drawing.

. What are the important points in making a wire frame for stretching purposes?

. Make two doll-size wire frames for models.


Millinery, by Jane Loewen 1925. Scanning and OCR by Karen Wood,layout by Karen Wood and Tara Maginnis.

Product Links

From the Neck Up : An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking From the Neck Up : An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking

Crowns : Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats Crowns : Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats

Hats Hats

Hats : Status, Style and Glamour Hats : Status, Style and Glamour

Classic Millinery Techniques : A Complete Guide to Making & Designing Today's Hats Classic Millinery Techniques : A Complete Guide to Making & Designing Today's Hats

The Century of Hats : Headturning Style of the Twentieth Century The Century of Hats : Headturning Style of the Twentieth Century

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