Make a Range of Doll-house Scale Hats With Conical Crowns

  • 01 of 08

    The Puritan or Pilgrim's Hat

    The Capotain is a conical felt hat with a brim. As worn by the Puritans it has a simple hat band and buckle. The same hat is worn by the American Pilgrims, and similar hats are shown worn by Leprechauns.
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    A range of felt hats for dolls house scales are easily made with these instructions for making a capotain, or conical crowned hat. A large number of popular hats for historical or fantasy costumes are made with conical crowns. The capotain was a popular hat worn from the mid-1500s to the 1600s and is seen as the Puritan and Pilgrim hat with a plain brim. It was also adapted for use as a military Shako or Fez with a small peaked brim (Shako) or no brim (the Fez or Tarboosh). The Puritan hat style also crossed over into the illustration of leprechauns and is commonly associated with them as well.

    The tutorial that follows shows you how to shape a circle of wool felt (it must be wool felt as it needs to shrink) into a range of hats with conical crowns, with and without brims. Once you have learned the technique you can use it for everything from felted victorian riding caps, men's "beaver" felt hats and hats for the"'mad hatter."

    Materials Needed

    • Small amount of wool felt. For the 1:12 scale Puritan's hat shown, use a circle of felt 2 1/8 inches in diameter. If you do not have wool felt, other woven or knitted wool fabric may shrink and felt. Try scraps leftover from other projects.
    • Suitable size cork (not plastic). The cork is tapered in shape and used for shaping the crown of the hat. For a 1:12 scale doll, use a #4 cork that is 13/16 inches (20.6 mm) long, 5/8 inches (15.9 mm) diameter at the top or wide end, and 15/32 in. (11.9 mm) at the base of the taper. General hardware stores often sell corks. If you cannot find a suitable cork, you can make a hat form by sanding a piece of wood dowelling to similar dimensions. The cork must be made of real cork or rubber and not plastic as it must withstand the hottest temperature of your iron.
    • Iron
    • Oven mitt or glove. This is to protect your hand when ironing and shrinking the felt.
    • Dressmakers pins
    • Thread
    • PVA (White) glue
    • Small buckle. This example uses a metal buckle from Rio Rondo Enterprises, but you can make a suitable buckle from aluminum, tin foil, or painted card.

    Make a Printable Puritan's Hat. This pdf for a capotain hat has printable parts to make paper or card hats in 1:6, 1:12, 1:24, or 1:48 scales. If you prefer you can use the templates to make hats from fabric.

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  • 02 of 08

    Forming a Tapered Felt Hat Crown in Dolls House Scales

    A circle of dampened felt is held evenly over a cork hat form for a dollhouse scale hat
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    To form a tapered or conical crown for a range of dollhouse hats, you will shrink a piece of dampened felt with an iron, over a tapered hat form. The easiest form to use is a small cork in the appropriate size for your doll. The length of the form isn't important as long as the form is long enough for the height of the crown you need. For the 1:12 scale, you need a 1-inch length of the cork. A wine cork might work for playscale dolls in a 1:6 scale.

    Cut out a Circle of Felt

    To begin, cut out a circle of felt large enough to make the hat you want. If you are uncertain, cut the felt circle larger than you expect to need, you can always trim it back. For the 1:12 scale Puritan or Pilgrim's hat with a brim, use a circle of felt roughly 2 1/8 inches in diameter. If you were making a fez or Shako, you could use a smaller circle. You will need a piece that will cover two times the height of your hat, plus two times the width of the brim, plus the distance across the top of the hat.

    Wet the Felt

    To get your felt to shrink to shape you will need to wet it thoroughly and iron it with a hot iron.

    Attach the Felt to the Hat Form

    Center the felt circle over your hat form (cork) using the narrow end of the cork as the top of the hat if you are making a "traditional" Puritan, Pilgrim's, or Leprechaun's hat. Some Shakos and some Leprechaun's hats are wider at the top than where they join the brim or peak. If you want to make this shape of the crown, center your felt over the thickest end of your cork or hat form. With the circle of felt centered over the end of the cork, stretch the felt down the sides of the cork, and anchor it with a dressmakers pin.

    It should be anchored to the hat form (cork) at the point where you want the brim and the crown to meet. You can set it at the very base of your 1-inch cork to give you roughly an 8-inch scale crown when the hat was finished. Stretch the felt over the opposite side from the position of your first pin, and anchor the felt on that side. Now anchor the felt midway between the two pins on each side. The object here is to spread the circle evenly around the cork so that as you shrink the felt, the hat will have even fullness around the base of the crown.

    Start to Shrink the Felt

    Using a hot iron (and wearing an oven mitt to protect your free hand) begin to press the felt to the cork down the sides of the cork toward the pins. Do not move your iron back and forth, just press it firmly into the cork. As the felt begins to shrink, you will notice it beginning to form peaks and valleys of extra felt at the base of the cork. When these peaks and valleys are evenly found around the cork, stop pressing and proceed to the next step.

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  • 03 of 08

    Fit the Shrinking Felt Crown to the Cork Hat Form

    As the circle of felt for a dolls house scale puritan's hat shrinks to fit the cork hat form more pins and thread are used to hold the brim line.
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    When your first round of pressing your damp felt to your cork hat form is finished, you should have the beginnings of a crown shape with lots of pleats and folds of extra felt at the base of the crown where your felt is pinned to the form. To eliminate these pleats, set a pin between each of the four pins you have already placed on the form, then set another pin between each of eight pins, carefully pinning the "bumps" of felt to the cork at the same point as the original pins. You do not want any bits of felt to overlap; you want the use the pins to keep the felt evenly spread around the cork at the point where the brim will be on your hat.

    With the pins in place, dampen your felt crown again. Hold the crown on the edge of your ironing board with the pins out of the way over the edge, and carefully press the dampened felt using the point of your iron. Move the iron when you don't see any more steam, and keep rolling the hat form as you press so that you press evenly all around the form.

    By the time you have gone around the form completely two or three times, you should notice that your felt has shrunk against the cork and is now almost smooth near the pins, without the earlier folds and valleys. Keep pressing (dampening the felt crown if necessary) until you have shrunk the felt so that almost all the "gathers" of extra felt are gone near the pins.

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  • 04 of 08

    Press the Hat Crown Until the Felt Has Shrunk to the Form

    A dolls house scale fez or shako is shaped using pins to hold a felt circle over a cork form
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    To make the process of shrinking the felt easier to see, look at the photo of a Fez being formed without a brim. The bumps at the edges of the felt circle are all held tightly to the cork hat form, and the felt has shrunk nicely so that it is almost completely evenly shrunk around the cork form. You may need to dampen and press your felt carefully against your form several times before it shrinks this neatly.

    Keep your iron against the felt until you can't see any more steam. Hold the hat form in place on the edge of your ironing board with a wooden kitchen tool, or carefully hold it in place while you iron with your hand covered with a heavy-duty oven mitt for safety!.

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  • 05 of 08

    Remove the Pins and Replace Them With Thread to Mark the Brim Line

    A tapered crown is held to the cork doll's hat form with thread for the final pressing and shrinking
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    To eliminate the bumps of felt along the point where the brim joins the crown of your hat, remove all the pins except for the original four (two pairs opposite each other) and use these pins to anchor a loop of thread drawn tightly around the base of the crown. As the hat form is tapered, if you don't leave pins in place the thread will slip to the narrow end of the cork form. Removing the pins makes it easier to get the iron down to the base of the hat crown to shrink it to fit. In the photo shown, you can see the thread (and no pins) on the base of the fez or hat without a brim. All the final bumps have been shrunk out of the tapered felt crown shape by damp pressing.

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  • 06 of 08

    Press out the Shape of the Brim on the Puritan's Hat

    Thread hold the crown shape while the brim is flattened a dolls house scale felt Puritan's hat
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    In the photo here you can see how the thread and last few pins anchor the crown and brim of the miniature Puritan's hat to the cork hat form. At this point, the crown of the hat should be finished and you will now need to work on evening out the fullness of the felt where the brim joins the crown.

    Dampen the brim area of the hat below your thread and anchoring pins. Set the hat on the edge of your ironing board so that you can iron the brim flat, without the cork form getting in the way. Use the point of your hot iron to press from the outer edge of the brim toward the crown of the hat, flattening out any bumps and folds carefully. Work evenly around the hat, dampening the brim and beginning again when you have gone completely around.

    Keep pressing and shrinking the felt on the brim until the bumps where the brim joins the crown are all smoothed out and the brim is flat. Don't worry if it is an odd shape; it will be trimmed during the finishing. Set the hat, still on the form, aside to dry and cool.

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  • 07 of 08

    Set the Finished Crown

    Pva glue is spread inside the tapered crown of a dolls house scale felt hat to hold the crown shape.
    The Spruce / Lesley Shepherd

    When you are sure your dolls-house felt hat is completely dry, carefully remove the pins that held the felt crown against the hat form and take the hat gently off the form. You can leave the thread in place until the glue has dried.

    Brush a thin layer of PVA glue inside the crown of the puritan's hat. Do not use too much glue or it will seep through the felt. You need a layer that will be visible inside the hat once it is dry, but not visible on the outside of the hat. You can always add more glue in a second coat if you don't put enough on to hold the hat shape the first time. It is very hard to remove too much glue, so if you are worried, do two thin coats.

    Set the hat aside to dry. The coating of glue inside the crown will hold the felt stable and prevent the hat from changing shape.

    When the glue has thoroughly dried, remove the thread and proceed to finish your hat.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Finish Your Puritan, Pilgrim, Leprechaun Hat, Shako, or Fez

    Leprechaun wearing a Capotain or Puritan's hat in an illustration by Jean-Noël Lafargue
    Jean-Noël Lafargue France courtesy Art Libre

    For a Fez or Tarboosh

    This style of hat is found in many places throughout the Middle East, Greece, and Turkey. The fez is often a deep red color, but it can be made in other colors as well. To finish a fez, trim the base of the crown so that it is even at the base. Make a small tassel from embroidery thread and attach it to the center of the crown of the hat.

    For a Shako

    Make a small peaked brim from plastic, leather, or coated or painted card, and glue it to the front bottom edge of the hat crown. Add feathers, chains, and metallic trims suitable to the regiment (or band) you are representing.

    For a Puritan, Pilgrim's, or Leprechaun's Hat

    These hats usually have a plain black hatband and a silver buckle. Thread a thin piece of black ribbon or thin leather strip through your chosen buckle, and glue the ends of the strip over one another at the back of the hat. Trim the brim to your chosen width, pressing it flat, or turning it up gently on the sides. Although leprechauns these days seem to wear green hats, they have also been "seen" in black and brown versions.

    Other Hat Styles

    The capotain with shorter crowns is often seen as a woman's riding hat, and with a larger looser brim, it was seen on farm laborers in Europe and hillbillies in America. This is a very useful style of hat to learn to make, as you can adapt it for many purposes.