Thursday, August 13, 2015

1940's Style Sculptural Wool Felt Hat for Gene Marshall

An easy DIY project.

Gene Marshall

Madra Lord

These sculptural winged toppers are fashioned from two simple geometric shapes: a circle and a triangle. They are made from wool felt, one of the most commonly used material in the millinery industry. Wool felt can be blocked, steamed, and stretched in any direction; and it retains it's shape beautifully. 

Here's what you will need:

Wool felt  [See the end of this tutorial for resources]
Sewing needle and matching thread
Dressmaker chalk or other marking tool
Emery board
Ruler or tape measure
A glass or other round object for tracing a circle
Assorted trims
Glue (optional)

For the base of the hat, trace a 2 1/2" diameter circle on wool felt and cut out. Cut out a 1/2" wedge as shown. The decorative wings are formed from a 3" triangle. To give the wings a sculptural look, cut along the cutting lines as shown above. To mark the curve, you can either eye-ball it or measure in approximately 5/8 - 3/4" on the diagonal side of the triangle. Draw the curve cutting line with a marking tool. Trim off the excess felt. Make a cut to the point of the triangle leaving 1/4". Soften all cut edges of the felt by lightly sanding them with the finer side of an emery board. Note: If desired, you can adjust the size of your hat depending on the hairstyle or the size of the doll.

Overlap the circle 1/4" and off set the edge 1/8 - 1/4" as indicated by the arrow above. Hand stitch in place. This creates a little bump in the center of the circle which helps shape the base of the hat.  For the wings, twist the triangle shape 3 times and tack in the middle with a needle and thread to secure.

Place the wings over the overlapped portion of the circle and tack in place. Now you can decorate your hat as desired. For Gene's hat, I cut a second pair of wings from charcoal felt for contrast. The 1/2" wedge cut out from the circle was layered on top and beading was added. Madra's hat is decorated with feathers, berries, and beading. The hats are attached to the hairdo with hatpins. You can make your own decorative hatpins using corsage pins or extra-long dressmaker pins and add various beads.

Here is an easy, whimsical cocktail hat variation for Miss Marshall:

Gene Marshall

Cut out a 2 1/2" diameter circle in wool felt. Cut out a 1/2" wedge. Fold up one side of the circle keeping the outer edge even as shown in fig.1. Make a tiny snip with scissors as indicated by the arrow. 

Pull the opposite side of the circle through the slit. This will provide shaping for your hat. Fig. 2 shows the top of the hat and fig.3 the underside. The secret is not to cut the slit too long. You will want the felt to fold as shown above. Decorate your hat as desired.

Miss Gene Marshall

Resources and Credits:

Wool felt is available from Edinburgh  They offer an excellent weight felt for doll hats and it comes in a wide assortment of yummy colors. The felt can be purchased by the yard or by the piece. The piece size is 9 x 11 inches. Wool felt may also be available at some fabric and craft stores such as JoAnn Fabrics or Hobby Lobby. Be sure you purchase wool felt, not the synthetic craft felt.

Symphony in G Gene Marshall and Black Widow Madra Lord are from Ashton Drake.
Cocoa Crisp Gene Marshall is from Integrity.
White Orchid Gene Marshall is from JamieShow.


  1. How beautiful, Melissa! You are a wealth of cleverness and glamour! I'm making these for my dollies! Thanks so much for sharing.....Megin

    1. You are so sweet! Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Enjoy! Melissa

  2. I just had so much fun making one of these! Thank you for sharing all your knowledge and creativity Melissa.

    1. My pleasure Diane! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Melissa

  3. I am going to try this. Thank you for sharing, Melissa.

    1. Have fun Belladonna! There are so many possibilities. Thank you for your comment. Melissa