• Karole from Kimberling

Sewing for 18" Dolls - How Hard Can It Be?


Lesson Learned: Making things Simple, Isn't Simple

I was certain after finishing my first "Simple Lines" dress and jacket pattern, that things would go a lot faster the next time -- especially if I chose something like a basic hat - a hat with only a few pattern pieces; one that would sew up quickly, and could be made with fabric remnants and scraps.

Two weeks and five prototypes later, a two piece hat pattern emerged -- a pattern with a soft teardrop shaped crown and a hat band of graduated width. Pictured below is the first hat I made with the pattern; the point of the teardrop crown is in back, the highest width of the band is also in back -- giving the hat a downward slope towards the face. The crown and band are made of thin white felt. The crown lining is a vibrant turquoise satin. Since the hat is made of felt, no interfacing was necessary.

I was very pleased with the result. Because the felt was not bulky, it was easy to work with.

But, felt doesn't come in many colors, and a basic hat should be able to coordinate with many fabrics and color schemes, so I made the next hat with a soft wool flannel.

My choice of fabric was easy. I was in the process of making a turn of the century outfit -- one I thought a teacher might wear in the early 1900s. (The outfit was inspired by a "Back to School Wardrobe Challenge" --outfit to be completed by August 24th -- issued to members of Facebook group " No Drama Doll Sewing and Creation.") I figured that in the early 1900s teachers couldn't afford extensive wardrobes, so a few sturdy, coordinated pieces of clothing would be appropriate. Having found a gorgeous soft flannel wool remnant at a yard sale a week before the challenge, I cut out a Victorian skirt from the wool, but didn't have much left for anything else. "A match made in heaven," I thought, and cut out a hat from scraps of the wool flannel.

To make the hat more of a "working girl's" hat, it needed to be less dainty than the first hat, so, I put the more rounded end of the teardrop in front, and the higher end of the hat band in front.

The wool did need more structure for the hat, so I added iron-on Pellon interfacing (made for shirt collars and cuffs) for the hat crown and band. I also chose the same wool for the crown lining.

Hit & Miss

I was feeling pretty confident after making these two hats, and thought the first hat might make a beautiful headpiece for a wedding dress if it were made of satin.

The turquoise satin was the only satin in my inventory, so the turquoise satin it would be. It was of medium weight, but not firm enough for the band to hold its shape over time, so I put interfacing in both the hat crown and band. .

Results? Two partially completed satin hats that ended up in the wastebasket!

My take-away from working with the satin is that it the satin is not stiff enough for the band to stand up without interfacing, but it becomes inflexible after the interfacing is added, causing the satin to crease and bunch when the crown is sewn to the band.

When faced with two failures in a row, there were only two choices -- try another fabric, or give up. (You're right -- there was really only one choice!)

Cotton velveteen was my fabric choice for the next hat, because I had cut out a black velveteen weskit for the 1920s teacher's outfit, and had some left over. On each of the first two hats, the fabric used for the crown and band were the same, so I decided to look through my fabric scraps for a fabric that would work well with the black velveteen, and found -- a bright orange-red and pink flowered velveteen remnant with a black background. Interfacing was added to the crown and band, and one of the ribbon flowers (instructions for bow are provided in the pattern) was sewn on the back band.

The hat pattern needed to be tested with at least one other fabric, cotton being the most common fabric available. I knew exactly the cotton print to test, because I am in the middle of designing a fancy dress pattern for intermediate sewers, and wanted a hat to go with it. The pattern is only partly done, but on my cutting table was the cotton fabric and some lace trim with which I was going to test it.

This version of the hat is made with the point of the teardrop facing forward and the lower part of the graduated band in front. The 100% cotton print is used for the crown and band, with an overlay of lavender lace sewn to the band before assembling the hat.

(This hat will now motivate me to get the rest of the outfit designed and sewn.)

Final Hat Pattern -- With Embellishments

The original pattern was a for a simple 2 piece hat with 4 possible variations: two positions for the teardrop crown (point in front or back), paired with the high section of the band in front, or the low section of the band in front.

When using rich fabric or colorful prints, it may not be necessary to embellish the hat further. But, if embellishments are added, they should be simple enough for the beginner seamstress to make. Here are the first two hats; one with a simple hand-sewn lace veil added, the other with a Yo-Yo and felt flower. Directions for making these, as well as a simple ribbon flower and two ribbon bows are included with the final pattern.

I can't really say that designing and testing this pattern -- which is a lot simpler than my jacket and dress pattern -- went any faster.

What I can say is that I am getting more comfortable and patient with testing, experimenting with alternatives, and adjusting the pattern along the way.

Now, If I could just get a magician to get my notes and sketches transferred to legible pdf files!!!!!

P.S. As you have probably guessed, I didn't finish my Back to School Wardrobe entry on time. I didn't get it done by the deadline, but today is still August 31st!


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