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Hat of the Day Sketch – Irene of New York turban, ca. 1948

January 28, 2010

This is a gorgeous pink velvet turban with roses at the back and a satin bow.  Lovely.

Irene of NY pink velvet turban, ca. 1948

For Erika, below are pics of the simple DIY version I created to imitate the Irene of New York turban above.

You can find my FREE TUTORIAL here about how to make your own easy imitation Irene of New York turban!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2010 6:33 pm

    Wow! I’ve always admired the British pension for wearing hats, something that is pretty much never done on the west coast of the US. You’re site has inspired me to get out there and find some everyday hats and WEAR them.

    I wear a lot of bright colored scarves to cover my hair when I’m at the horse barn. It’s a practical and stylish alternative to having hay all stuck in your half fallen out pony tail. I am particularly drawn to this sketch because it’s like a fancy ‘away from the barn’ version of what I’m already pretty comfortable wearing. Can you give some details about how one might go about creating this look? I’d love to have a go at creating (and wearing!) a version of this.

    • February 2, 2010 2:36 pm

      If you can learn to block hats, you can make your own. The west coast has several milliners and you can probably find millinery classes in your neighborhood. The easiest way, however, would be to find a top hat and trim it out yourself (add embellishments) with whatever you fancy. Try vintage sellers online, antique stores, or even millinery supply stores like for pre-blocked hats that you could simply trim out. If you do make one, I’d love to see it!

      • February 2, 2010 7:13 pm

        I actually live in Denmark now. But there are milliners here too and I know where to find them. 🙂 I just never grew up wearing hats or knowing anyone else who did (except Blossom).

        Anyway, it was actually the turban I was interested in making myself. Blocking etc is simply beyond my interest level. I’d rather pay someone tallented to do the dirty work. But this hat looks like something I could actually put together myself if I knew what shape to cut the facric, how to knot it, attach the flowers, etc.

        Thanks for any assistance you can offer.

      • February 3, 2010 3:23 pm

        Erika, I confused myself about which hat you liked! Sorry about that.

        Yes, I’ve wanted to make a hat like the Irene of NY one for myself – I’ve worn scarves for years and love the look and comfort of wearing scarves. I’m pretty sure the original hat was a buckram frame covered with velvet, but I’ll play with some shapes I have in my head about how to make it a scarf you can tie and will get back to you….

      • February 4, 2010 8:46 pm

        Awesome! Thanks 🙂

      • February 9, 2010 3:07 pm

        I’ve been playing with a few ideas for this turban/scarf and have a few questions for you:
        1) How simple do you want the design?
        2) How much sewing experience do you have?
        3) What fabric were you thinking of using, and does it stretch or not?

      • February 9, 2010 8:16 pm

        Wow, this is like a personal consultation. How cool!

        1) I guess it doesn’t really matter how complicated the design is. How complicated do you want the directions? I’ve made quite a lot of crafts but I’m more the type who sees a finish project and wants to reproduce it (maybe with a few minor alterations) than actually designs stuff from scratch.

        2) I have a sewing machine and I’m not afraid to use it but it’s been a while since I have. Way back in the day my Grandma taught me how to sew and I got a blue ribbon at the state fair for a black and white polka dot skirt with an elestac waist band.

        3) I think your original description of pink velvet sounds beautiful. It would probably be equally lovely in other colors; mint green, soft blue, lavendar, but in my head it’s always velvet. I think it would give it a classy and elegant touch that would elevate it from a simple hair wrap to a real hat.

        Thanks again for the personal attention! I’m so excited to see what comes out of this 🙂

      • February 10, 2010 3:42 pm

        I’m posting pics of my favorite solution to your question. It’s easy, quick, and comfortable. It’s still not a hat – more of a fancy scarf/headcovering, but it has the same feel of the original from Irene of New York. I made it from black stretch velvet since that’s what I had in stock, but you could make it from whatever fabric you choose. You would just need to add a little to the seam allowance for a non-stretchy fabric. Let me know if the pics in the gallery above are what you’d like to make and I can post a little online how-to.

  2. February 10, 2010 7:43 pm

    Cool! I’m going to get my butt to the fabric store and give it a try next week! I’ll email photos of the result.

  3. March 15, 2010 7:03 pm

    A grand Dame of the stage and screen was actress/comedian Beatrice “Bea” Lillie who was one of our family friends. When I was little, and over the years, she gave me a few of her famous “beanie caps” that she was known for wearing. The top of the shallow hat box that held one of them is printed, “Irene,” and I beieve it could be anywhere from the 30s thru late 1940s, and beneath the name is the store address as well, “16 East 52nd Street, New York, NY.” with a phone number “Plaza 3-3032.” Is there still an “Irene” store in New York? I’m sure Bea would have wanted me to ask!

    Your sincerely,

    Cindy Hite
    West Palm Beach, FL

    • March 16, 2010 4:27 pm


      Thanks for sharing that bit of personal history about you and Bea Lillie! I Googled her and found lots of great photos and articles. She looked like a vibrant, fun person. Looks like you’ve followed in her footsteps, too. Was she an influence on what you wanted to be when you grew up?

      I searched online for Irene of New York and found an address (150 W. 30th St., 6th Fl., New York, NY 10001) but nothing more – no phone number or website. You might try writing to that address and see if you get a response.

      • October 20, 2010 2:16 am

        I only just now checked into this site again and found your reply to my Bea Lillie hat memories! I still have the Irene hat box top – guess I’ll have to make something out of it ’cause I just can’t bear to through it out! Thank you for your reply and I will see what may be at the address you suggested, thank you! I have a couple absolutly great family photos of all of us with Bea one Christmas at my Aunt’s house in Darien. She is, of course, wearing one of her famous beaies. Is there a way to post photos on this site? In reference to your question about my career path – my mom was a casting director and my dad was Bob Hite of CBS New York so I guess I was doomed! My brother, Bob Hite, Jr., too! Bea was definately a great heroine of the stage and of ours, too, and great fun to be around.


  1. free tutorial – how to make your own quick and easy Irene of New York imitation scarf! « Thoroughly Modern Milliner

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