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Operation: Save the Petticoat! (Or, A Simple Petticoat Alteration)

Operation Save the Petticoat (Or a Simple Petticoat Alteration), the artyologist

Less than a week before Easter, I realized that the dress I was planning to wear on Easter Sunday required a petticoat, and that I did not have a petticoat which I could wear under it.

I have one longer length 29″ starched crinoline which I got at a thrift store a few years ago, and it works perfectly for the few 1950’s tea length gowns I have. Because of the longer length, this crinoline doesn’t work for my “regular” length skirts and dresses though, which are usually somewhere around 24″-25″ long, so a few years ago, I also invested in a Doris Petticoat. I decided to buy a Doris Petticoat because I had seen several other bloggers wearing them, and they are so, so pretty since they are made of over 36 metres of fluffy and soft nylon lingerie netting and ruffles. There could be nothing more perfect in my mind than a peach coloured ruffled petticoat, so I decided to buy the 21″ length one, and then waited expectantly for it to arrive. Imagine my disappointment when it arrived and I discovered, when I tried it on, that it was simply too full for the majority of my dresses! I did have one circle skirted dress it fit under, so I wore it with the petticoat a few times. I realized though, that while I do love the extremely full and dramatic silhouette of the 1950’s, for some reason, I felt very self conscious when wearing an extremely pouffy skirt for daywear. When I see pictures of other vintage ladies, I never think that their skirts are too full- but as soon as I am wearing one, I feel a bit unsettled. Give me a ridiculous hat and I will walk tall and proud- but an extremely wide petticoat makes me nervous! (Oh, and so sorry that my massive skirt with a mind of it’s own just bumped into your priceless vase. . . )

So, with great reluctance, I stuffed the petticoat back into it’s bag and hid it in the back of my closet so I wouldn’t feel bad every time I looked at it. It came out of hiding a few times for costumes etc. but not as a regular part of my wardrobe.

Well, back in October I was reading Lily’s blog, Mode-De-Lis, and she shared a post about different styles of petticoats and what kind of shape they give and how she liked them. She had altered her Hell Bunny petticoat with a cotton yoke, so that it would be more comfortable, and suddenly I realized that I should alter my petticoat! Fast forward to the week before Easter, and I realized that it was time to enact Operation: Save the Petticoat.

I was a bit nervous cutting apart my petticoat: after all what if I ruined it?! But then I realized that it wasn’t doing any good unloved and unworn in the back of my closet, so I decided to go ahead with the petticoat alteration. Here is how I altered it and ended up turning it into two separate petticoats of different lengths, which can also be worn together, if needed someday in the future.

The first step in the petticoat alteration, was in creating a yoke. I decided to create a yoke because, like Lily, I found the elastic waist to be rather bulky, as well as shifty. I was always afraid that it was going to slide down and poke out the bottom of my skirt. Creating a yoke, solved this problem by making the top fit smoothly and securely, while also reducing bulk. (Because who wants bulk right at their waist?)

Operation Save the Petticoat- materials, the artyologist

I made the top out of a few scraps of cotton in our scrap bin (exactly enough to make this yoke- so keep those scraps- you never know when you might need them!) In order to create the shape, I took a basic skirt pattern, traced it and then figured out where I wanted the yoke to end, which was 8 inches down. I then cut out the fabric at this length.

I decided to French seam the side seam, as I wanted this to be perfectly finished inside and out. For the other side (the opening) I pressed the seam allowance in, to cover all the raw edges, and then sewed up from the bottom about an inch. At this stage, I tried it on to see if I could pull it up over my hips, and over my head (before I got it all sewn together and discovered that it was too short or something).

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, how to yoke

Once I had made sure that the yoke fit well, I turned under the seams and topstitched to finish neatly. To finish the top edge, I had thought about creating a facing, but then decided to cover the raw edge with bias tape instead. Bias tape was my mom’s idea and was a lot quicker than creating a facing, and it made a nice edge without too much bulk. Once that was done, it was time to add the petticoat ruffles.

I took apart the elastic waistband/casing of the petticoat, which left me with a tube of tricot with ruffles sewn on either end. I then measured up from the hem to the length that was required. Since the yoke was 8″ and the finished length I wanted was 24″, I measured up 16″ and added 1/2 inch for a seam allowance. I pinned all the way around, (since I currently don’t have a fabric marker) and then cut neatly all the way around.

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, petticoat ruffles

Once the piece was cut, I was left with a very short and wide petticoat 🙂 Now it was time to sew the petticoat to the yoke. As the petticoat was wider than the yoke, I just eased it in as I sewed without worrying too much about it if I got some pleats in the fabric. Once I had sewed the petticoat on, I serged the edge of the seam to give it a nice finished edge.

With that, the petticoat was done, except for buttons. I decided to do small buttons and button loops, so I marked where my buttons needed to be, and then created thread loops using this method below. With that, the first petticoat alteration was done!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, button loop instructions

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, button-details

After I had made this first petticoat, I decided I might as well take the remaining half and create a shorter one. I don’t like my petticoats sticking out below the skirt, so I thought that creating a 21″ petticoat would be perfect for those few dresses I have which fall at exactly knee length. For this one, I decided to simply sew some wide lingerie elastic around the top and call it done. But, of course that would have been too easy, right? When I tried this shorter petticoat with my dresses, I realized that the fullness had too much of a rockabilly flair and I am simply not a rockabilly girl. The petticoat was too full for it’s length, and so I realized that (horror of horrors!) I needed to reduce the fullness. So, now began Operation: Dismantle the Petticoat.

When Doris Petticoats tells you that their petticoats are made up of more than 36 metres of fabric, they are not kidding. The first step in this petticoat alteration was in taking the bottom tier off of the petticoat, which resulted in more than 17 metres of ruffles!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, ruffles and second petticoat

I decided to reduce the fullness of the petticoat by about a 1/3 as I figured that would be enough, and I wasn’t sure whether reducing it by 1/2 would be too much. I cut the bottom tier at 12 metres and then came to the odious task of regathering the nylon back onto the top tier (while also distributing the fullness evenly all the way around; so I wouldn’t end up with an unevenly shaped petticoat that was fuller on one side!) This probably took the better part of 2 hours to do. Once it was all regathered, I pinned it within an inch of it’s life- and then went to bed! 🙂

In the morning, when I was ready to tackle the job again, I took the petticoat and ran it through the serger. This took care of the edge seams, as well as sewing both pieces together all in one step. I did end up with some areas that missed the stitching, since it was a massive amount of fabric to work with- so I ran it through twice.

Once the tiers were all gathered back together, I was almost done. All that was left was to sew the skirt back onto the elastic waistband. I sewed it near the top, to get the proper length, and was initially planning to sew two rows- one at the top and one at the bottom of the elastic for stability. However, when I tried it on, the elastic accidentally flipped inside out and I realized that if I left it with one row of stitching I could flip it in or out depending on which length of skirt I was wearing. It is now essentially a convertible petticoat! Yay!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, altered tops

So, after all that, I ended up wearing the convertible petticoat for Easter Sunday, as it turned out to be the perfect length to wear with my Easter dress which is a bit on the shorter side.

I was at first nervous to cut it apart and attempt a petticoat alteration, but I am so glad I did! After two years of owning it, I now have a petticoat that I can actually wear. I have worn it a couple of times now with my knee length skirts, and it adds such a nice fullness, shape and swish to my skirts. It was amazing how simply reducing the amount of ruffles in half made such a difference. I think now, that my petticoats are going to get a lot more wear from now on!

Have you ever altered something you purchased that didn’t work out for you the way you had hoped? Would you ever make or alter a petticoat?

You can see what a difference the petticoat gives to the shape of this dress. The perfect amount of “pouf”!

Simple Petticoat Alteration, the artyologist, before and after with petticoat

Bringing Back “Coupon Busters” One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time

bringing back coupon busters, one pair of shoeclips at a time, the artyologist

In one of the later season’s of Foyle’s War, (a British crime drama set in the 1940’s, which I highly recommend, by the way, if you enjoy murder mysteries and period wartime dramas) there was an episode where the character of Sam is seen discussing shoes with a coworker. Her coworker had recently purchased a pair of “coupon busters”, which were an ingenious pair of shoes that came with detachable heel covers and shoe clips. The heels and clips could transform the single pair of shoes into three different pairs, simply by removing the sensibly shaped heel cover, which made the shoe appropriate for office wear, to reveal the more sensuously curved heel which was perfect for evening. Adding a shoe clip to the toe created yet another fashionable look.

I don’t know if coupon busters were a real invention in wartime Britain, as a way for women to stretch their rationing coupons, allowing them to purchase one pair of shoes, instead of three separate pairs, or not. I couldn’t find any information about them at all. I think that coupon busters are rather a clever idea though, and it really is too bad that they are not being made today. Even though we don’t have to worry about rationing coupons today, I would love to be able to transform one pair of shoes into three, wouldn’t you?

Although a manufactured shoe like this is not readily available, there is, however, an easy way to transform the look of your shoes, and that is by wearing shoe clips. Shoe clips are one of those accessories that have wavered in and out of fashion throughout the years. Shoe buckles were very popular in the 18th century, not just for function, but fashion as well. In the 1950’s shoe clips rose in popularity with the invention of proper shoe clip hardware. My mom had shoe clips in the 1980’s, and I remember a few years ago they were a trend again. However, they are not a common thing to see for the most part. I really don’t know why, as they are so fun and versatile, and can transform your shoes into a completely new look. I personally think they make your shoes look like “princess shoes”- don’t princesses always seem to have big bows and what-have-you on the toes of their shoes?

I have been wanting to find shoe clips for years, at least five years now, as I got these coral flower decorations with the express intent of attaching them to shoe clips. However, apparently shoe clip hardware is an impossible thing to want, and I could never find any for sale. I put the flowers aside and forgot about them, until recently, when I found them again in my craft stash, and got the idea to look online to see if shoe clip hardware was available. Sure enough, on Amazon I found a pack of ten pairs of clips! Score! I immediately pulled out the flowers, and set to work creating several different pairs of shoe clips. I mean, I do have ten sets of clips now, so I can make a lot of pairs of shoe clips. At this rate, I’ll never have to wear the same pair of shoes again! 😉

I thought that since shoe clips are such a versatile accessory to change up the look of your shoe, I would demonstrate with two pairs of shoes. Shoe clips work best on open, classic style shoes that don’t already have too many details, straps or embellishments, and they work equally well on heeled or flat shoes. Here you can see how shoe clips transform the look of the shoes and lend themselves well to any occasion.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, Navy shoes, no clips

First up are these navy peep toe pumps. I wear these shoes a lot as navy is such a versatile colour, and this pair is so comfortable. They are a plain and serviceable shoe, so you’ll see how much they change just by adding some clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps- princess pompoms, the artyologist

Round pom-pom flowers turn these into statement shoes. These are Cinderella shoes for sure- don’t they look like something the Disney princess would wear?

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps, sparkly brown clips, the artyologist

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, Navy pumps, green clip ons, the artyologist

Did you know you can also use clip-on earrings as shoe clips? You have to be careful with which ones you use- I have some pairs which have too weak of a clasp, or come up too high above the edge of the shoe, but some pairs clip on rather nicely to add some sparkle. Both of these, the brown and the green are clip-on earrings I seldom wear, but I think they work rather nicely to dress up the shoes. Clip-on earrings are also much easier to find than proper shoe clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, navy silver clips, the artyologist

These are true shoe clips which I found at an antique sale. They add just the right amount of sweetness, sparkle and vintage flair. Vintage stores and sales can be a good place to look to find real shoe clips.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black no clips

Now here are my black pumps: they have a band across the toe which has sparkly gems on it, but you’ll see that they still work rather well with shoe clips, because of the open shape of the shoe.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, coral clips

Here are the coral coloured flowers. I absolutely love the shape of these as they are very “princessey” too. Unfortunately I have very few clothes that go well with the colour, so that is definitely something I’ll have to change!

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black bows

I think that bows work really well for a vintage look. Bows were a very popular shoe decoration in the 1940’s, and they have a very classic look about them. Bows that are the same colour as the shoe, work very well for daywear as they look like part of the shoe.

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, yellow flowers

The last set of shoe clips are these ribbon flowers I made. They add a nice splash of colour, yet are small enough to be discreet.

And case you would like to make some shoe clips for yourself, here is how:

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, making your own shoeclips

I used a pre-made flower for these, but some of the others I made from scratch. Attach your decoration to a felt disk, either by sewing or gluing it on. Once it is attached, you can then sew your shoe clip onto the felt. Attach it near the top of the disk, so the decoration will sit lower on the shoe. Clip them onto your shoes and enjoy! I got my shoe clip hardware off of Amazon- if you search “shoe clip blank” it should bring some up for you. I am sure there are other places that sell shoe clip blanks as well, I just purchased them from Amazon because I live in a rural area which apparently doesn’t see much demand for shoe clips and the stores didn’t carry them! 🙂

One note of caution I do have, is that depending on the material of your shoe, metal clips may leave indentations or marks. If you have soft leather, or suede like I do, you may want to put some kind of “padding’ in between the clip and the shoe to keep it from getting ruined.

So, have you ever worn shoe clips? What do you think of them? And, would you want a pair of “coupon busters”?

Bringing Back Coupon Busters One Pair of Shoe Clips at a Time, the artyologist, black, shoeclips assorted

Chronically Vintage Guest Post Today

Chronically Vintage Guest Post Today, the artyologist

Hello everyone, as I mentioned on Friday, I am guest posting today for Jessica of Chronically Vintage, while she is on holidays (in my own delightful province of Alberta!) I have been following Jessica’s wonderful blog for a few years now, so I was very excited when she asked to do write a guest post for her. Today, I am sharing a before and after, of how I made this ugly little felt hat I picked up back in April, into a Philip Treacy inspired flower topped hat. So, hop on over to Chronically Vintage to see more pictures, a tutorial for how I made this chiffon flower, and inspiration for embellishing your own thrift finds! (And take a look through her blog while you are at if, if you don’t follow her already!) 🙂

Refashioning a 1980’s Dress into a 1940’s Pinafore

Refashioning a 1980's dress into a 1940's pinafore the artyologist

Do you ever have an idea of a project, and then when you do it, for one reason or another it doesn’t turn out anything like the original plan?

I got this dress a few years ago (yes. . . years) from the thrift store, with the thought that I would refashion it into something a little less “1980’s bag lady”. However, time went on, and I could never quite figure out what to do with it, as there never seemed to be enough material to do anything with. I loved the gingham print, though, and the fabric was rayon, which I would much rather prefer to the poly/cotton blends that all gingham seem to come in. So, I didn’t give up on it, and finally, a few weeks ago, when the canola was in full bloom and I needed something to wear in the field, this gingham came to mind: it was the push to finally do something with it!

gingham refashioned pinafore before and after the artyologist

My first plan was a simple dress, like this sketch below. Simply remove the sleeves, dart the bodice in, hem it to knee length using the excess fabric from the hem to create a tie belt, and add some eyelet lace. It would be easy and simple and wouldn’t take too long.

Gingham pinafore inspiration and sketch the artyologist

(Something like this, minus the ruffles. I love the ruffles, but didn’t have enough fabric)

Yes. Well. Nothing in life is easy, and most definitely not refashioning garments. So, here I outline how I ended up, not with a sleeveless dress, but a pinafore instead. (And in the process, reveal all the wonky bits that didn’t turn out quite as nicely as I would’ve liked them to!) 🙂

The first step, was removing the sleeves and fitting the bodice. This was easily done, however there was a malfunction when I fit and cut the armscye. (Which, by the way, is the curve of the armhole, and is pronounced arms-eye. In case you didn’t know that already. I didn’t know that for the longest time and was going around tongue twisting “arm-sky”, or “arm-sis”, which are not correct in the least. So, now I have saved you embarrassment, or maybe I have just embarrassed myself, I’m not sure which.) I cut the new armscye shape, and the cloth shifted when I cut it, and it ended up too low on one side. . . and so basically the bodice was ruined. Ooops.

So, now that the armhole on one side was too low, I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about it for a while, and then decided that gingham would be perfect for a pinafore, as a pinafore doesn’t have armholes anyways. So, on to plan B!

I was looking through some of my sewing books, and through some vintage blogs. I came across the picture above of a yellow gingham pinafore style dress which I liked, from one of my sewing books, and I also remembered this dress from that Solanah of Vixen Vintage wore a few years back that I had on my list of ‘dresses to make”, and I thought that I could make this dress work.

gingham refashion how to cut bodice the artyologist

I ended up picking apart the bodice on the sides, and detaching it from the skirt, so I had two flat pieces to work from, rather than a partially constructed bodice (as that had already been proven to lead to disaster). Once I had the two pieces flat, I cut the neckline straight down at an angle, basically just cutting out the rounded corners, measuring each side to make sure they were even. (The straps were 2″ wide.)

Then, I cut out the new sides, leaving 4 inches up from the waist, which would form a fake “waistband’ on the side. I cut it at 4″, which allowed for 1/2 seam allowances on top and bottom for a finished 3” side panel. Remember to leave seam allowances for all of your seams. With this project I used 1/2 inch as I didn’t have much fabric to work with. For reference, the finished bib width is 13 1/2″ at the outer top edge of the straps, and is 9″ wide at the bottom (where to the two yellow lines form a right angle in the diagram above).

I left the side pieces as a waistband, even though most pinafores don’t have a side panel. A few years ago I sewed a pinafore and it ended up looking so much like an apron that I actually ended up turning it into an apron. For the longest time I couldn’t quite place my finger on why it looked like an apron instead of a dress, and I have come to the conclusion that it is because the sides were completely removed. By leaving a couple of inches, it gave some structure for the skirt, and it looked more like a dress. Because even though a pinafore is an apron, I don’t really want people to think that I am actually wearing an apron.

After I had finished cutting the bodice pieces, I traced the shape and cut out two pieces of lining fabric, lining the entire bodice so that all the seams would be encased.

(This refashioned dress I made a few years ago, used the same technique as I did for this one, only instead of cutting the sides and neckline square, I curved them, so you can see how you could use this technique for a different style of dress)

button detail and bodice lining gingham pinafore the artyologist

Once the bodice was finished, it was time to attach the skirt. At this point, I discovered that the fabric had, over time, stretched out of shape, and the front button placket no longer hung straight. I also discovered that when the fabric had initially been cut, it was cut off grain.  This was noticeable as the gingham pattern revealed the fact, but there wasn’t much I could do to square it up, without sacrificing too much material. So, I left it: I wasn’t concerned that it would shrink, as it was a pre-owned and washed garment. I made the decision to remove the button placket on the skirt and just leave the four decorative buttons on the bodice. Once the skirt was gathered and sewn to the bodice, I inserted a side invisible zipper. I would have liked to have used a white zipper, but I did not have one and the local store doesn’t sell invisible zips. So, I used a navy zipper, which worked out ok- it’s on the side anyways, so is not super visible. I was really in a “it’s now or never” state of mind at that point (two days in). If I had to place the dress to the side, I don’t think I would have finished it, with the amount of frustrations I had already had with it. That, and the canola was in full bloom, and I needed the dress now, not next week when it would be too late!

gingham and lace hem the artyologist

Now the dress was almost done, and needed only to be hemmed and lace attached at the bottom. This was the part where I was tempted to cry tears of frustration. Remember how I said that the cloth had stretched and warped over time? Well, it was completely out of whack, and I couldn’t straighten it along the pattern. I tried measuring down, I tried measuring from the edge, and every time I pinned it, it was crooked and hung down in the back or the side. And nothing makes a garment look worse than a crooked hem. (Unless I suppose it is a train, and is done on purpose, which in that case is great!) Finally, after pulling out all my hair (oh and did I mention that I was doing this at 12:00 at night?) I decided to measure up from the floor, like those hem markers do. I placed the dress on my mannequin and measured up with a yardstick, pinning and pressing it into place to see if it worked- and it did! So, as you can see the hem does not follow the pattern of the gingham, but it is straight from the floor! And as long as I stand on level ground it will be so 😉 I decided that I would rather have a straight hem, than worry about the pattern of the fabric, and as it is at the hem, no one is going to notice it anyways. Well, I guess now you will. Oops.

lace and hem pinafore the artyologist

The last step was attaching the lace to the hem, adding the pocket, and then changing the buttons to white, as the other ones looked a bit dingy with age. I made the pocket out of one of the sleeves, and edged with the same eyelet. There were originally supposed to be two pockets, but the measurement was off, and it would have run over the zipper. So, I decided the dress was good with just one pocket, and called it done! I placed the pocket at an angle, as the fabric squares wouldn’t line up, and also so you could see it on such a busy background.

back view and pocket, the artyologist

Whew. Somehow this project rapidly went from a quick and easy alteration, to three days of tears and frustration! But, it worked, and I am satisfied with it, as it turned out looking a lot like the 1940’s style pinafores. And, for all of the headache it caused, I love that my “new” dress is also keeping one more garment out of the textile waste cycle.

(Oh, and we got the pictures in the canola field too, which is why I started this whole escapade in the first place!)

Do you ever start projects and have to change to plan B, C or D partway through?

Do you like refashioning garments, or would you rather start from scratch?

walking away in gingham pinafore the artyologist

The Unconventional Way to Make a Hat

how to make a hat the artyologist

Millinery is the ancient and detailed profession of designing, making and trimming hats. Despite the fact that hats have largely fallen out of fashion, millinery is still alive and well. It is an art form that requires a high level of skill, and the knowledge and use of materials and techniques such as steaming felt, straw and buckram. There are tutorials and classes out there that teach the proper methods to forming hats.

how to make a hat the artyologist

This is not that kind of tutorial.

This is the quick and easy, but perhaps not “proper” way to make a hat. Someday I would like to be able to improve my proficiency in hatmaking, but in the meantime, using the resources available to me, and the limited knowledge I do have, I was still able to come up with a way to achieve the effect I was looking for. So if you’d like to know how I made the coral hat I wore in this post, keep reading!

little hat before the artyologist

(Little hat, you are so cute, but such a failure)

I made this little flowered hat a few years ago. However, it was a first attempt and it wasn’t very good.  When I took a good look at it, I decided that (like the coral hat) it was just too small and never worked with my hair styles. Me Made May was a perfect time to try and fix it so I could wear it! My first thought was to add flowers to the sides, like I did to the coral hat, however that didn’t work out as there was the netting to deal with, and I couldn’t just widen it like I did with the coral one. However I liked the idea of an explosion of flowers atop my head, so the only way was to take it apart and start over.

how to make a hat starch and fabric the artyologist

(The brand is Api’s Crafters Pick Fabric Stiffener)

The base of this hat was made with an old curtain. The weave of this lace reminded me of the hats from the 50’s. For the coral hat I used an old piece of goat hair interfacing I had. You could use any piece of stiff material, as it will be starched into shape. First, cut the fabric into the size needed (and make sure not to cut it too small like I did!) if you have a hat similar to this already, you could just measure it and cut the fabric to the same size.

Now, saturate the fabric with fabric starch. I used this brand that I picked up at Michael’s craft store. It kind of looks like white glue, but it dries stiff and clear. The easiest method I found was to put the lace into a small bowl and just pour some of the starch over it and work it in with my hands. It’s messy, but don’t worry: it washes off easily! You could also use a brush if you wanted.

Once the fabric is completely saturated, you are ready to form it. You can use a hat form if you happen to have one lying around, but as I mentioned this is the unconventional way to make a hat, and I do not have a hat form. But, never fear, lot’s of things can be used instead! I have heard that bowls make great forms, and I would like to try that for the next hat I make, however for this hat, as I wanted a “cap” style, I used a foam head.

using a foam head as a hat form the artyologist

(Dear foam head: you are creepy, but you work!)

Wrap your form in a layer of plastic wrap, if it is porous, so the starch won’t wreck it. Then place the lace over the form and wrap it in another layer of plastic wrap to secure it in shape. Let it dry overnight, and then carefully remove the outer layer of plastic. The cloth will probably still be wet as the plastic doesn’t let in enough air to dry completely, but it will most likely be dry enough to hold shape. Once you have removed the plastic outer layer, let the fabric dry completely, until it is hard and in shape. You are now ready to make a hat!

wire gridwork how to make a hat the artyologist

(The wire grid on the inside of the coral hat; the wire won’t show so I didn’t cover it)

Measure the circumference of the edge of the fabric and cut a length of wire, adding an inch to overlap and secure together. For this lace hat, I only wired the edge, but for the coral hat, where the wires would be covered, I made a framework of wires. A great place to get wire is in the hardware section rather than in the craft section, as the supplies are usually cheaper there. I use a roll of wire I got from the dollar store (I don’t remember what gauge it is). Note that this is not memory wire, as it doesn’t spring back into shape, but can be bent out of and into shape. I used two pieces for added strength, and taped them together by wrapping them with washi paper tape. You could also use masking tape or florists tape- I’ve used them before- I just used washi as that is what I had handy.

building the wire edge how to make a hat the artyologist

(Taping the wire together first, and then wrapping with ribbon)

Now you are left with a nice solid ring, or gridwork, but an ugly one, so it is time to cover it if you are making a mesh hat where the wire might show. If the hat is solid fabric, you don’t need to cover the wire, as it won’t show. Covering the wire can be done in two ways: either sew a narrow channel and slide the wire into it, or wrap it with a ribbon. To wrap with ribbon, secure the end with some hot glue and then wrap, adding a dot of glue every once in a while to keep it nice and tight.

Now bend the wire into the shape that you need it to be. I simply placed it on my head and pressed it into shape.

Now it is time to secure the wire to the base! Using a needle and thread, sew the base onto the wire around the circumference. Make sure to keep it even the entire way around. Then trim off any excess material. If some of the starch has dried across the lace (see picture below) then just poke through it with a pin to remove it.

how to make a hat the artyologist

Now you are left with the perfect base to embellish!

Play around with options before you commit, by pinning flowers, bows, ribbons (anything is game!) onto the hat before sewing them. I pinned the flowers I took off the old hat onto the new base. I also decided to try a veil to see how that would look. I pinned it all together as a mock up and tried it on!

decorating the hat the artyologist

Unfortunately, it looked like the entire 1980’s had exploded into a hat. This was not quite the look I was going for. 🙁 So, perhaps this tutorial should actually be entitled, “How to Start Fixing One Hat and End Up With A Completely Different One”!

I decided that I did like the pink peony though, so I started thinking about how I could incorporate that into my design. Then I had an idea: edge the hat in ribbon leaves!

Here’s how to make ribbon leaves. They are very easy and quick to make. (I made them all in the time it took me to watch a movie. Actually, I trimmed the entire hat in that time, so you can see it is actually very quick to whip up a hat). Cut a length of ribbon long enough to fold both sides in at a 45 degree angle. Press into shape. Sew a running stitch along the bottom of the triangle and then gather. Trim off any excess, but make sure not to cut the gathering stitch.

ribbon leaves

I also decided to make a new centre for the peony so that it would coordinate with the ribbon leaves. Once you have figured out your design, sew the pieces onto the base. You can also use hot glue (but make sure to test first to make sure that the glue won’t soak through and show to the proper side, or you’ll end up with a spotty look). As you are sewing, make sure to catch only the under layers, or make very tiny stitches, so they won’t show to the front.

make a hat sewing on the leaves the artyologist

When I made the coral hat, I covered the goat hair lining with a piece of satin, but stitching it around the edge of the base (in case any showed through) and then I just sewed a thousand peach coloured silk flowers to the top of it. This took a while, but I used long stitches, making sure to only catch tiny bits of the flower, (like the ribbon leaves above) so you wouldn’t see the stitches.

coral hat how to make a hat the artyologist

(I also added a little pouf of veiling, just for some fluffiness)

I decided to add a veil to the lace hat, so I gathered a piece of Russian netting to create a short veil. I got the netting at Fabricland, but if you don’t have access to this kind of netting, and you want to add a veil, you can use any kind of netting or tulle.  I made the veil narrow, as I didn’t want it to come over my face, but rather just over my forehead. If you need to cut the netting to size, make sure to cut through the middle of the squares. This way you will have a nice edge and the netting won’t fray. (If you are using regular tulle, also try to cut along the edges of the pieces where the threads join, otherwise you end up with thread “legs” sticking out, rather than a neat edge) If you gather the veil in a semi circle shape, it will pull into a rounded shape and the edges will meet up with the sides of the hat. To gather, put your needle through the little squares in the Russian netting and gently gather into shape. Trim off any excess netting, but make sure not to cut your gathering stitch. Then, stitch the veil onto the hat, but make sure not to stitch through the good side of your hat.

russian netting how to make a hat the artyologist

(cut through the squares, and gather by stitching into the squares)

how to gather russian netting how to make a hat the artyologist

(I used only 1/2 the width, but you could use the entire width for a veil that would cover your face)

Now you have a hat, but how will you secure it to your head? I used a length of elastic, as I have found this works best with my short hair, but you could also use a comb, attach the hat to a headband or add loops and secure with hatpins or bobby pins. I use a black elastic, as it blends better with my hair than white would.

make a hat attaching the elastic the artyologist

(the messy inside of the hat- but it works!)

Now you have another hat to add to your collection!

Oh and a couple of notes:

-The fabric stiffener is water soluble, so do not wear your hat in the rain!

-I have not been able to come up with a good way to line the hat, as of yet, so for now the coral hat is not nice and neat on the inside. I’m OK with that, as when I am wearing it, nobody can see the messy inside, but if I figure out a way to line it, I will someday. Do you know of a good way to line it?

So there you go, the unconventional way to make a hat! Would you try making a hat, or have you ever made a hat before? How did it go? What kind of hats do you like the most?

Also, stay tuned for a post later this week, where the hat will make it’s debut! (Or rather, I guess since I have already shown you the hat, it will not be a debut, but . . . )

how to make a hat the finished hat the artyologist