Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nightmare Before Christmas: Shock's hat

Examining the stills from Nightmare Before Christmas that I posted earlier, you can see the Shock has an absolutely ridiculous huge hat.  I was worried that using normal millinery methods would be insufficient to produce this hat and began to search the internet for an easy way to make this shape.  In doing so I came across Fosshape.  Fosshape is a buckram alternative that feels like felt and is sew-able, heat shape-able and dye-able.  I figured this was a perfect alternative to creating Shock's hat. 

I bought 2 yards of Fosshape and a very large Styrofoam cone for the basis of the hat.  Fosshape shrinks when heated, so I cut a 2 cone shapes larger than the cone out of the Fosshape and sewed them together.  I then turned the cone right-side out to hide the stitching and heat shrunk it to the cone. 
Styrofoam cone
Fosshape sewn cone
 Fosshape can be wet or dry formed using either a steamer or a heat gun.  I did not have a steamer so I used my heat gun.  Here I found a major problem, Fosshape can burn if heated too directly and the burns result in holes in the Fosshape......the heat gun caused this problem repeatedly and I ended up with a large number of holes in my hat.

After the cone was formed, I cut a large round piece for the hat brim and attempted to heat shrink to stiffen the hat brim.  Heat shrinking a flat large disk was really hard and I ended up with many holes and a brim that was not stiff enough!  I attempted to fix this by wiring the brim edge and hiding the wire with a length of Fosshape.  After this, I dyed both the crown and the brim.  The Fosshape took dye fairly well, but the damaged areas died less strongly and the dye bath weakened the already floppy brim. 

Fosshsape repair
Here are some photos of the damaged areas.  You can see in the first one, I patched a large hole by heating down a small triangle of Fossshape. 









Small pin prick holes due to heat



















I did end up with a completed hat in time to wear it for the first wearing of Lock, Shock and Barrel, however I think I will redo this hat in the near future.  I am thinking about simply adding more wire to the base of this one and then fabric covering the whole thing, but have not decided yet.
Completed hat
Overall, I like Fosshape but it is a steep learning curve.  I do think I will get a steamer for the next time I work with this material as I have heard that it is far easier to control the heat with a steamer.  I am excited to try the Fosshape over some of my wood hat blocks.  I really think it would provide a great way to make hats in fun custom colors I cannot get in felt. 

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