Fashioning a hat from felt is relatively simple project and some hats can be sewn by hand. Ribbons or embellishments will make them fancy for very little effort. Here's how I make hats for my Garden Party Girl handmade dolls.
Start by measuring your finished doll's head at the point where the hat will sit. To do this lay your doll down on a piece of paper and trace around her head with pencil. Determine where you want the hat to sit - high on her head or low over her eyes. Mark your drawn head where you want the hat brim to fall. Draw a straight line across the shape at this point. Measure your line and that's the width of your hat. When you draw a pattern for a fitted hat this measurement will be the bottom edge of your hat.
Some hats can be built from a series of folds in a single piece of felt. If you have a scrap of felt, try folding it in accordion pleats or just loose scrunching, so that one edge is tightly pleated and the other edge is flat. Push a safety pin through the folds and try the shape on your doll for sizing. If you like the pleated shape, hand sew securely where you've pinned the folds, taking care to use tiny stitches in a thread color that matches your felt. Knot inside the hat. Cover any visible exterior stitches with a bow or some other embellishment.
Other hats like the blue one pictured here require two pieces of felt sewn together. I made this hat from the triangular sections of felt that were cut away from her coat pattern. They were sewn by machine along the top two edges of the triangle. The bottom edge is asymmetrical which allows me to fold it up when I style it on the doll. The blue hat has a black and white checked bow and the pink hat has a double pink bow. See pattern above for directions on tying the bows.
Here are top views of some of my handmade doll hats. On some of the dolls I used straight pins to hold the hat in place (example: gold pins on gold hat). If you are giving these to children to play with you could use double-stick tape inside the hat instead of pins.
I get asked how I choose colors for my dolls and I don't have a specific formula. I am influenced by the seasons, travel, magazines, online decor blogs and Pinterest. Sometimes its just personal preferences that influence the mix. If I'm not sure what color I want to use I will lay the doll down on several shades of warm or cool colored felt and see what looks right. Other times I might have some ribbon that I'm enamored with and want to use. I'll lay the ribbon and doll on several colors of felt and try to make an exciting combination.
Over time I've collected a variety of felts from thrift stores and craft stores. My favorite is 100% wool felt because it has a wonderful soft drape, but it can be expensive. Craft store felts work pretty well for hats because the stiffness is an advantage when building a tall hat. Hats don't require much felt so look for scraps at your thrift store. 1/8 yard or less often yields both a coat and hat for my dolls. Smaller pieces can be used for embellishing.
I hope this tutorial gives you ideas for decorating your dolls. I find hat making addictive which is why I am always on the lookout for new colors of felt.
This is a fun project to do with doll loving friends or older children who can handle a little sewing. Have everyone bring their favorite doll and scraps of felt to share. Make it a party!