Easy Straw Hats

Happy Summer Solstice! Now that the sun is out in full force, quite naturally, your girls will need straw hats!!!!

The other day while strolling through my local crafts store when I spotted packages of raffia which brought back memories of a project we did at a school I worked for in Paris. The seniors had to make their own accessories for their mini fashion collections. One girl made a series of hats made from raffia which I later bought. The process for making straw hats is pretty simple. You braid the raffia, shape it over a form and sew the braids together.

For this project you will need a small bit of raffia. A little goes a very long way so buy the smallest package available. You will need the hat forms we created in a previous post. You can find that tutorial by clicking HERE. And then needle and thread.

1. We start by preparing the raffia. You want to pull apart the strands.
2. The width of braid you want to create will dictate how wide or fine each strand will be. Let the raffia soak in water for a few minutes.
3. Take three strands and braid together. Knot the braid on both sides.
4. Iron the braid flat. You should create a few braids. The bigger the hat, the more braids. For my sun hat, I made about 3-4 braids.
5. Fold one edge under the braid, then place on the top of the hat form.
6. Pin on the crown.
7. Now begin to wrap the braid around the form, placing pins to hold in place. When you run out of one braid, add another in by criss-crossing the edges and keep wrapping around the form. (See the instructions for the next hat for more detail.)
8. You might want to stretch out the braids a little for a looser weave.
9. With needle and thread, sew the strands together using the smallest stitches possible. The stitches will be visible so you will want to choose a thread perfectly matched to the color of the raffia. (Raffia is sold in different colors, by the way!)
 Here is how my hat looks on the doll from the side back.
You can add a little scarf to the crown and hold in place with a hat pin (or a pearl tipped straight pin).

Even though this is a rustic summer straw hat, you can transform this into something more high fashion.
Here is a simple cloche. I've left it natural, but you can spray or paint it with another color or a metallic.
 The steps are the same. The only thing which has changed is that I create a smaller braid (1/8" or 3mm) and I've used a hat form without a rim. Instead of making the hat form, you can use a small ball or object which comes close to the size of your doll's head. It should be made of something that you can stick pins in.
1. Again, prepare the raffia. Start by tucking one edge under the rest of the braid.
2. Pin to the crown of the form.
3. Wrap around the form, pinning in place.
4. One braid has run out. I added a second one. Note how I've criss-crossed the edges. This forces the edges to the interior of the hat. Wrap the braid around to hide the end of the previous braid.
5. To keep the edges from unraveling, dip each edge in glue and let dry.
 6. Continue wrapping the braid around the form until the very end. In this case, I have wound my braids close together for a "tighter weave."
7. Sew the braids together.
8. When you get to the end, clip the edge.
9. Then tuck the end into the interior of the hat and sew or glue in place.
 I like the simple shape of this hat. You can always add feathers, flowers or small bits of jewelry to it.
Or, you can take a bit of the raffia and add to the hat. Here, I've simply tied a few strands together into a bow and sewn it onto the side of the hat.

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