How to Sew a Cloche Hat

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Cloche hats are both stylish and chic.
Cloche hats are both stylish and chic. (Image: http://www.hatsinthebelfry.com/category/womens-clochet-hats.html)

Cloche (klōsh) hats, also known as flapper hats, were a popular accessory worn by women from 1908 to 1933. Caroline Reboux, a well-known Parisian milliner and French fashion designer in the late 1900s, was the creator of the cloche hat. The term cloche is French, meaning bell. Though trendy and chic, cloche hats were not practical. Worn tightly fitted against the skull and pulled down over the eyes, women had to hold their heads at peculiar angles to see where they were going. Cloche hats are made from felt, leather, yarn and even straw, and are often adorned with ribbons, feathers, beads and jewels. These stylish hats have even helped shape hairstyles. More than 300 of Reboux's creations are preserved at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Cloche hat pattern
  • Fabric
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Iron
  • Adornments: buttons, ribbon or beads
  • Pins
  • Needle

Measure head size. Hats that fit the head are called head-size hats and exact measurements are required. Start with tape measure at the center of the forehead on hair line. Run tape line around head, under the bulge at the back of your head, and back to front to again meet the tape measure. This measurement is your correct head size.Average head-size measurements range from 21 to 23 inches in half sizes.

Pick a pattern. Find a cloche hat style that suits your taste. Cloche hat patterns are simple by design and usually have approximately four pieces. If your pattern does not mention using fusible interfacing, adding it is a recommended time saver. Your pattern should list two lengths of fabric: one longer length of approximately 1 yard of bottom-weight or upholstery fashion fabric, which will be used for the cloche hat, and one shorter length of approximately 1/2 yard of lining fabric.

Select your fabric. Purchase the stated amount of fabric listed on your pattern based on head size. When selecting fabric, choose one that is flexible and conforming such as felt, wool, leather or a Lycra blend. Choose a contrasting color or pattern for your cloche hat lining. Select ribbon, flowers, jewels or other embellishments while choosing your fabric. Ribbon length should match the length of your cloche hat fabric, which is approximately 1 yard.

Assemble the cloche hat. Follow the pattern instructions to lay out, cut and sew the pieces of your cloche hat pattern. Try on your hat before machine-stitching the two side seams of the crown portion, to ensure a snug fit. This should be done before ironing the fusible interfacing to the hat lining, but prior to installing the lining into your hat.

Add adornments. Adding ribbons, flowers, feathers, jewels or other embellishments to your cloche hat can be accomplished using a variety of methods. Check out MSAT Mini Dolls (listed below in Resources) for techniques on curling feathers, using tulle, forming bows and creating silk roses. Adornments can be pinned in place first, or sewn directly into place manually using a needle and thread.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many raw-edged fabric brims, and many cut edges of felt and of straw brims, are finished with ribbon bindings. Use 1/2-inch ribbon for bindings, giving the hat a thin, tailored finish.
  • Cloche hats are extremely versatile. They bend and fold for easy packing, and bounce right back into shape when you're ready to wear, without creasing or rumpling.
  • Cloche hats were designed to flatter narrow faces and complement short hairstyles, and should be worn with simplistic outfits.
  • Be sure your hands are clean throughout the process of sewing and assembling your hat.

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