Space hats being made by lady milliner for trip to the moon
By Nancy Eaton
United States astronauts who go to the moon will wear headgear designed and produced by a ladies’ milliner.
Anne Sary, for 33 years the proprietor of a hat shop in Hartford, Connecticut, where her originals sell for $15 and up, has won a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contract for the protective headgear to be worn by the Project Apollo astronauts under their bubble helmets.
Mrs Sary cannot say much about the headgear, or what it looks like, because “the Apollo program is all in the future.” But, she explains, it meets three basic NASA requirements: it’s comfortable, durable, and not too warm.
About six millinery designers were asked to submit ideas, and Mrs Sary won.
“I’m just as proud as I can be that it was awarded to me,” she says. “It was lots of hard work while I was designing it.”
That alone took six weeks, she says. And that was just a beginning.
“I thought all I’d have to do was design a helmet — a cap type thing that fastens under the chin,” she says. But after she sent in her prototype, back came “a sheaf of papers listing changes they needed.”
“NASA is terribly exacting,” she explains. For instance, NASA told her some of her stitches were off by a thousandth of an inch. She had measured with an ordinary tape measure.
“Good heavens, do you measure these things, with a micrometer?” Mrs Sary asked.
“As a matter of fact, we do,” NASA told her.
Mrs Sary works on the headgear herself in a locked room in her home. She says she makes them with a regular professional sewing machine, a “special machine,” and a lot of hand work.
At first, she used her son, Wilfrid, 16, as a model, but his head has not developed enough yet. So she asked NASA for a model, and received a “Yul Brynner” — a wooden block model of a man’s head.
She works on the NASA contract only at night and on weekends, because during the day she has her millinery business to attend to. She says she stays up all night sometimes to get a model, finished.
“I have to have a model ready when they have a space suit ready.” she says.
Mrs. Sary, a native of Luton, Bedfordshire, England, a millinery center, worked’ in high fashion shops in Paris and Boston before coming to Hartford to establish her own shop.
She says she likes designing spacemen’s hats. “It’s a challenge to do something different. I’m quite elated that my creations may end up on the moon, and very, very proud.”
Astronaut photos courtesy of NASA. Top image: Moon Bound – Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong in Lunar Module Simulator (1969). Image above: Astronaut Anders Adjusts Helmet During Suit Up For Apollo 8 Mission (1968). While these show examples of the type of headgear Sary was creating, they are not necessarily her designs.