Sunday, April 5, 2015

Belle du Jour Easter Bonnet

When it comes to wide brimmed picture hats, you won't find trends on catwalks, red carpets or Vogue magazine. Instead, you'll need to view, "Gone With the Wind" DVD, locate the nearest Baptist church or lookup the next"Concours d'Elegance" in your area for ideas.

I grew up within a very conservative Catholic congregation. And though my mother and I dressed up, there was no "style show" at our church on Easter morning. So, mom and I staked out the nearest Baptist church so we could enjoy a mighty fine parade of fancy head gear. Once, we even dared venture to New York City to participate in the Easter parade, but to our disappointment, it was a far cry from what we had seen in the 1948 film, "Easter Parade" with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Much later, however, I had the pleasure of being invited to my first Prix de Diane, a "Concours d'Elegance" marrying haute couture, high style millinery and luxury vintage automobiles!

For this Easter, I had planned to do a tutorial on straw hats. Unfortunately I didn't plan my project in time to send off for the proper doll sized materials, so I decided to make my own straw out of raffia. The result was a hat more appropriate for the beach than church, which I will share with you at a later date. So instead, I decided to make something light and very girly.

The Hat Form
For this project (as well as the straw hat we'll make in the future), you'll need a basic hat form. Don't worry, we'll make our own. Actually, I made two. One is made from paper clay (so I could stick pins in it for the straw hats) and the other from oven back clay (to mold hats on). The hat form represents the shape of the hat you're going to make. Will your crown be high or low? Will it be round or square? You decide.

1. To keep things simple, I used a twist tie and wrapped it around the doll's head at the point where the hat will sit on the head. Twist it shut to that it really fits and forms a ring. Now remove it.
2. I formed a small ball of clay, then I put the clay inside of the ring. The clay should fit the ring. Not enough? Add more. Too much? Shave it down. Keep the twist tie on this part of the form until the very end so.
3. Decide how high you want the crown to rise off the top of the head.
4. Add enough clay to match the height of the crown.
5. Now make another ball and flatten out like a pancake. Make it as wide as you think you'll want your brim. (Although, if you decide you want the brim wider later on, you can always tape a round of cardboard to the existing form.)
6. Place the crown on the brim and smooth out the seam where the two match. You can add more clay if necessary. Bake the form (low heat for about 30 min).

La Capeline
Now it's time to make our hat. I wanted something sheer but let me tell you this. A light toned lace works best because we have to make a glue solution and that will turn shiny when dry. The glue will show up on light or dark tulle. With fabric, the clue leaves a not so nice looking residue on one side. All of this said, you can still use tulle or a sheer, but you will need to embellish them to hide the residue!

Let's get started.
1. To stiffen the lace you need a solution of 1 part craft glue to 1 part water. Stir until well mixed.
2. Cover your hat form with plastic.Cut out one, two (or more) circles. (They don't have to be perfect because you can trimmed this down later.) Dip in the glue solution and lay it over the hat form.
3. Stretch a (non-colored) rubber band around the crown of the form ad let everything dry.
When dry, very carefully remove the plastic from the underside. Carefully remove the rubber bank.
Trim if you need to. Embellish if you so desire. For this hat, I pinned a tuft of the soft scraps to one side. If the hat doesn't fit perfectly, use a hat pin (worked through the hair NOT the doll's head) to hold it in place.
Note: You can make a hat pin with a small bead glued to a straight pin!

Embellish, embellish, embellish!!!!
Unfortunately, the glue residue shows on the underside of the black tulle hat. In order to selvage the original hat, I added a big, fluffy black lace ruffle!
I cut off about 29-inches (73cm) of black lace and used a running stitch to get this very full ruffle, which is then hand stitched around the crown. Because the underside of the brim is still going to show when the doll wears it, I painted a few dabs of black acrylic paint (which dries matte) to hide the residue. I don't know if this works for other colors, but it does work for black!

What started out as an ivory tulle hat, turned into another one embellished with lace. This hat was made with two layers of tulle.
I cut away medallions of lace from a strip then hand sewed them on the underside of the brim..again in an effort to camouflage the residue.

Finally, I had the notion to experiment with paper. The steps are the same, but be warned, paper is VERY fragile. The good news is, if holes appear, you can repair them by adding tiny strips of paper! Instead of using rubber bands to hold it to the crown, use twist ties or wire and be very careful when removing them! It will still be shiny on the underside, but it doesn't detract from the look of the hat and that's what counts.

Looking for more ideas? Click here to see last year's hats.

And on that note, me and the gang would like to wish everyone a very HAPPY EASTER!!!

All text and images property of Fashion Doll Stylist. 2015.

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  1. Happy Easter!

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial. It's good to understand how hats are created. And these are some impressive bonnets ;-)

    1. Thank you, D7ana. I've seen hats made, but what really hit home was when I saw the collection of hat forms at a local fabric store. Once you understand the concept, the rest is relatively easy!

  2. Happy Easter (I'm a bit late), those are super cute bonnets! Unfortunately I'm absolutely inept with clay and such things, but I'm going to adapt the whole concept, the girls here sure need hats!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Billa, if you can find something else that works as a hat form, all the better. Once you have the form, making the hats is super easy. This type and shape of hat works well for all sorts of events...such as weddings! (Hmmm, if memory serves me well.....wasn't there someone in your doll household looking for a wedding???? LOL!!)

    2. Billa, you could use a doll head wrapped in plastic cling wrap for a hat form. I've seen people do that before. In fact, I might do this because I'm not very good with clay either. <3

    3. Sarah, yes, you could do this as well. Just remember that you'll still need to make something on which to build the brim. Maybe a donut shaped piece of cardboard that fits around the plastic-wrapped doll head? P.S. We'll be using these forms again later for the straw hats!

  3. Gorgeous! Also fascinating. This is a tutorial I need to keep in mind for a future year.

    1. SP....This works for any size of doll! And, I can just imagine a millinery shop filled with hats and hat boxes!!!

  4. Oh my goodness, these hats are fabulous! I can't wait to see the woven ones, too.

    The Kentucky Derby is another great place for hats. My husband would be mortified if he knew I told you this, but a few years ago we went to a Derby Party, and we all wore hats. Somewhere... there is a picture of him wearing a red velvet hat with a flower. He was so pretty! ;)

    Also, there is a great book called Hats In Miniature. I have a copy but have never made anything with it. I think somewhere, someone has scanned all the photos so anyone can view them for free. Maybe on Picasa Web?

  5. Thank you, Sarah. Once you make the form, the rest is easy. There are pictures of doll hats on where you can buy doll-sized millinery supplies. She once sold a hat form for about 20 U$D, but I see it's no longer there. For this post, however, I wanted the simple wide brimmed "capelin like those you see at weddings, church and opulent events like the Prix de Diane or Kentucky Derby. Later on I'll post the straw hats including the one I made with braided raffia. Later this fall, I'm also thinking of doing felt hats too. Once you get started, it's hard to stop!

  6. PS: This made me think of you immediately:

    1. Sarah, you are so adorable. Thank you for thinking about me. I'll look into this. Big hugs.

  7. FABULOUS hats! The girls look so beautiful!
    PS, sorry if I'm mistaken, but didn't you search for this doll:
    It's a mannequin Antoinette (I kind of remembered you mentioning it, but am not sure this is her). Anyway, she's for sale :-). XO Linda

    1. Thank you, Linda. And thanks for thinking about me. I'm still looking for the ONYX mannequin Antoinette. If you see one of those around, let me know!!!! Big hugs, April.

  8. Hello from Spain: Fabulous hats. Awesome creations. Great tutorial. Happy Easter. Keep in touch

  9. Thank you, Marta. I had fun making these hats. Glad you like them. See you soon!


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