Friday, July 6, 2018

How to make the Hmong Purple Hat

Traditional Hmong Purple Hat Turban Tutorial
By Hmong Creations PangNya

Hmong Baby Girl dressed in traditional Hmong Green attire 1 week old. 2016
      This turban style was worn by Hmong from the area of Xieng Khouang, Laos.  There is an art to wrapping the purple head turban and to this day I still don't know how to do it.  I need to film my mom putting it on my sister one of these days.  You defiantly need an expert to do it or you'll end up with just a birds nest on your head.  I remember when we were younger my mom would spend a good 30 minutes carefully wrapping the long purple hemp fabric around our heads.  She was going for perfection and would redo it if it was to loose.  It had to be wrapped not too tight and not too loose.  I remember my mom would just tuck the end of the fabric in the back and it would be nice and secure and stay in for hours.  I also worried it would fall apart but it never did. It is an art that needs to be passed on from generation to generation as it is unique to the Hmong.  The turban is finished off with what is called the siv ceeb (she-king) a black and white smaller fabric that is wrapped carefully around the outer edge of the turban.  Looking on the web there is a lot of great information  about Hmong clothing from the website.  Please recommend any other sites with great information in the comments below  

" There is an art to wrapping the purple head turban..."

Mom and Daughter Left to right (Xai and Pangnya) in Traditional Hmong attire
     I believe it was in the 2000s that I was introduced to the purple hat turban that was already sewn in place.  I was in fifth grade I believe when my mom finally gave in and purchased each of us one.  I am carious who was the first to come up with the convenient idea.  Maybe it was a cluster of individuals all at once. If you know who, I would love to add a photo of her to my blog.  The styles has slightly change in that it is more flat at the top than round.  My mom says each hat maker has their unique style and you have to find the right one that will match your face.  If you look in the year 2000 photo my mom searched for round turban hats that made our faces longer. In 2015 we are wearing the ones I purchased from the Mee Mee Vue Shop.  As you can see it is flatter at the top so our a faces look even more chubby. 

 "each hat maker has their unique style"

Mother and daughter in Hmong traditional outfits. 2016. Left to right (Pangnya and Helen).
      The rest of this blog I will show you how I make the purple hat. I basically deconstructed a pre-made hat to learn its secrets.  With some of my own twists I was able to make this adorable turban for my baby before she was born.  I have to say if you want cute photos of your newborn you need to prepare the clothes before your baby is born.  There was no way I would have had the strength and energy to gather or make all the clothes after having my baby girl.  Just putting it on her was very time consuming and took a lot of energy out of me as you have to be very gentle and make sure your baby is in the right mood for a photo shoot.   I give my mom props for chasing us down and dressing all of us 4 children up every year!

Watch the video HERE or keep scrolling to seen pictures of the process.


First fold the foam in half and cut down at and angle in the middle. 

Next trim along that same edge to thin it out.  This edge will be the one facing down towards the face.
Lay the foam down onto your black fabric and cut in the center. 
Fold the fabric up and then hold it together while you sew it into place. 
Remember that the sewn part will be facing outwards and covered by the purple fabric. 
Next you want to sew on the front and back buns. 
Here I am sewing on the back bun.
Then cover the 2 crescent shaped foam with black fabric.

Now sew them on along the other edge.  Notice how I left the middle part open and just attached it to the side of the from bun but made them meet in the center of the bun. 
Then you lay 3 pieces of hemp on each side and sew them into place.  Don't worry about the top and bottom because the long piece will be cover that. 
Next wrap the long piece of hemp around the hat and tuck the ends in the back. 

Finish it off with a black and white piece of cloth. 

There you go! You did it!

Do you think the art of wrapping the traditional purple hat is an important part of our culture that should be passed down from one generation to another? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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