The successful manipulation of the wire into shapes which are copies or into shapes which are suggested by the imagination is a task which requires a considerable amount of experience and ingenuity.
At the commencement of her millinery career, the apprentice is taught to wire bandeaux, "ears," or ribbons, and this enables her to acquire more or less complete control of the wire. It is only when she is sufficiently proficient in this that she is allowed to attempt the more difficult task of shape-making. Amateurs, however, prefer to reach finality at once, and walk where angels fear to tread.
With the object of keeping their milliners well in touch with the prevailing fashions, the majority of West-end houses provide them at the commencement, and during the course of the season, with a selection of Parisian models. These shapes are accurately measured, and then copied.
To copy a shape it is well to be most accurate in each measurement. A quarter of an inch more or less on a support, or edge of wire, may throw the whole model out of gear.
For our pattern shape we propose to illustrate one of the ever-fashionable small mushrooms, which is not too complicated for an amateur's first attempt.
The correct measurements to be taken for spartra, buckram, wire, and stiff net shapes, are as follows.
Right side wire............
Left side wire............
Right side front wire...........
Left side front wire.........
Right side back wire...........
Left side back wire...........
These measurements are clearly shown in Fig. 1.
Unroll one ring of wire, nip off 26 1/2 inches, form into a circle (allowing 1 1/2 inches for lapping over, to make secure). This will give a circle of 25 inches when finished.
The wire is slightly twisted and nipped together closely at each end of the overlap, as illustrated in Fig. 2B.
Fig. 2A shows the preliminary stage.
Divide the circle of wire into four equal parts, marking front, back, and side by means of notches (Fig. 3).
Nip off eight lengths of wire, each about 8 inches long. Bend up each length at right angles about 1 1/2 inches from the end
Take one of the eight lengths, and fasten on to the front notch of the head-wire, twisting over and nipping firmly, leaving the turned-up 1 1/2 inches inside the circle, as in Fig. 5B. Figure 5A shows the preliminary stage.
Repeat the process with the seven remaining pieces, placing them at equal distances round the head-wire (Fig. 6).
The 1 1/2 inch lengths left turned up are now used to form a coronet, which is made to strengthen the head-wire (Fig. 7A).
Make another circle as before directed, measuring when finished 25 inches (Fig. 7B).
Fasten the circle of wire on to the end of the eight turned-up 1 1/2 inches, forming a coronet, as illustrated completed in Fig. 8.
The long lengths, or " legs," which is the technical term, are bent up at right angles to the head-wire.
The "legs" are now bent up to their respective measurements (Fig. 9).
The pattern hat being a mushroom shape, it will be necessary to slightly droop the wires at this stage (Fig. 10).
This mushroom (shown here finished) can at any time be altered into another shape-like that illustrated (Fig. 11). For instance, turn it off the face, by simply rolling up the three front wires, or it can be turned up at the back, with a view to showing the chignon by repeating the same process at the back, but care must be taken not to roll the shape up too abruptly.
The front wire should be rolled up about 3 inches, the two side fronts 2 inches, and occasionally a slight roll of the side wires, measuring not more than 1 inch, will be an improvement.
This also applies to the back.
In the next article the edge wire, supporting wire, and as to how the crown is joined on to the brim, will be dealt with.