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Mini tricorn hats

My latest personal millinery project is a mini tricorn hat. I've made my first one and I learned a lot! I made this one to match a colonial ballgown I had (which I fortunately had some extra material from) and I also made a mask, because we were going to a Venetian-style Carnevale. I definitely reviewed some stills from the recent "Marie Antoinette" movie for inspiration and trim ideas.

I made the hat form from stiff craft felt. It's more accurate to use millinery buckram, and that would probably curve to the head better, but craft felt is a cheaper and more readily available material. The crown is four inches in diameter and about two inches tall. The brim is eight inches in diameter (the formula is the diameter of the crown plus 2x the height of the crown). One interesting point about stiff craft felt - if you score it along the folding line (not cut it, but indent it with something stylus-like; I used the tip of a pair of needlenose pliers) it will fold beautifully and doesn't really need to be wired. I still had to tack it to the brim to make it stay folded up, but it does not need wire to hold the brim shape.

For general construction guidelines, here's a link for mini top hats on craftster. The procedure is much the same, although I can give you more specific advice on covered hats, if you'd like to see them.


Here's the basic procedure that worked for me:
1. Sew crown top to crown edge. Don't sew crown edge strip closed yet.
2. Turn crown inside out, so stitching is inside.
3. Trim crown edge so strip ends just touch and sew closed.
4. Sew two crown coverings - one outside and one lining.
5. Place lining inside and tack (sew) top in place around edge of top. Then place outer covering over top of crown form and tack in place.
6. Tuck lining up inside the hat out of the way (I pinned it up in there). Stretch and fold outer covering over bottom edge of crown. I used a little bit of glue to keep it taught and in place, but be careful to glue near the raw edge of the covering, not where you will be sewing the crown to the brim later. It's hard to sew through glue!
7. Cut your brim form from felt and score along the fold lines, about 1/4 inch out from where the crown will be, at about a 60-degree angle. Cut out the center of the felt and test fit the crown. Make sure it's snug - it's easier to trim a little later, but you can't put felt back if you cut out too much.
8. Cut and sew your brim covering (top and bottom), leaving at least a half-inch seam allowance. Do NOT cut out the center hole for the crown yet (or your fabric may stretch oddly). Sew about 2/3 of the way around by machine, then clip the curves, turn and press with an iron, pressing in the seam allowance on the open edge.
9. Insert felt brim into brim covering; hand sew open edge. Cut crown opening in fabric one inch LESS in diameter than your crown, then clip the edge to about 1/4 inch of inside felt edge.
10. Insert crown through brim at one spot - you will probably have to hold the two pieces at right angles and gradually ease them together. Sew through crown and its affixed outer covering, but NOT the crown lining, and through the TOP brim covering and brim felt but NOT the bottom brim covering. If your fit is a little tight, once you get at least half of the crown sewn to the brim, you can trim the brim felt a little. Don't do this early as the fit can be deceiving until you get things together somewhat.
11. Tuck the bottom brim covering into the crown, pull down the crown lining and fold the edge under so it's even with the bottom of the hat, and hand stitch in place.
12. Add all of your brim edge and crown decoration before you fold up the hat and stitch the brim in place.

A friend of mine took a different approach of using fabric stiffener to create a rounded crown, and then she wired the brim to create one of those more "open" tricorn style. This also worked quite well. There's a woman who creates some incredible miniature doll hats, and you can follow some of her basic guidelines to make larger hats:


This hat does take some time to make, although the first one always takes the longest and I will probably be able to make subsequent hats much faster, particularly now that I have the dimensions figured out. (I think the crown would also look good with a three-inch diameter.) But I know why people charge so much for these now! You can make one for yourself for almost nothing, but the labor time is pretty long.

The hats need to be almost completely hand sewn. It's possible to machine sew the top of the crown covering to the side of the crown covering, for both the outside and the lining. It's also possible to machine sew about two-thirds of the brim covering's outer edges.

This hat is finished with all hand-sewn adornments. The crown top edge and bottom edge are covered in a quarter-inch-wide vintage white braid. The edge of the brim is covered in lace. The medallion is made of a fan of shimmery ice-blue material (the same as the dress trim), a "clover" of tri-folded white satin ribbon and a piece of costume jewelry, backed with a small dark blue feather. There is also a puff of blue marabou feathers, a white ostrich feather and a lavender ostrich feathers.

The hat is held on with a hair comb and two loops of elastic as points of bobby pin attachments.

Here are some pictures.

Here's a pic of the entire costume (Photo by Rebecca Lawrence):


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 6th, 2008 03:42 pm (UTC)
Oooo! This is one of my projects for myself coming up! I'd *REALLY* like to talk with you about the rounded crown; I can't figure that part out!

Mar. 7th, 2008 03:14 am (UTC)
rounded crowns
I haven't done this myself, but my friend who did this used a round cake pan as a form. If you have a glass mannequin head, that would also work. Or if you are looking to make a mini hat, anything nonporous the right size will work. She put down a layer of muslin, stretched it taught and held it in place with a rubber band, then coated it with four coats of fabric stiffener (she used the spray kind). She then layered her material on top of the muslin and the form and repeated the process. The brim was a separate piece. Her hat came out great! I haven't tried it myself but I'd like to at some point.
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
Making the crown
I ran across this post looking for ideas for my halloween costume. I didn't have time to use fabric stiffiner to make the crown so I bought a paper mache ball and cut it in half using the half circle as a mold, then stretched the felt over it like any other hat form. It worked so perfectly but I did struggle a little with sewing on the bri because the paper mache is a little stiff. I also have a very straight bob cut and couldn't use a comb to hold it in place so I glued it to a thin head band. I will get a picture of it to post.
Dec. 6th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )