Doll Hat Boxes

I threatened you with a tutorial on how to make these cute $2 craft boxes into hat boxes for your dolls, and here it is!

Naked boxes

To make these specific hat boxes (also called band boxes) you will need 1 larger sized piece of fancy wrapping paper – 18×24 is plenty. The reason for this is the outside measurement is greater than 12” which is the standard large size you will find at your local big box store. Original Victorian hat boxes came in many different shapes and sizes, but the ones we are most familiar with today are the round variety. I found reference to an enterprising young woman who created beautiful boxes covered with wallpaper so I tried to find papers that looked a bit like doll-sized wallpaper. Unfortunately I lost track of the website where I read this and can’t give you more detail.

If you are looking for a source of large format paper, you might be interested in the site Mulberry Paper and More. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but they have an amazing selection of papers that would be perfect for this use case. This tutorial is being shown with Japanese Chiyogami Yuzen paper. I’m visual so there will be a lot of pictures to illustrate this project.

Supplies

You will need:

Tape measure

Pencil

Scissors or exacto knife

15” ruler

Sewing ruler for small, precision measurements

Craft glue

Paper towels

Craft paper

Measure your box carefully. Allow for overlaps and edges! These boxes from Dollar Tree are 3 5/8” diameter on the lower box portion and 3 7/8” diameter on the lid. The circumference is equally important. Use your tape measure to find the circumference (outside and inside) plus a 1/2” overlap. I wound up cutting the following pieces:

(1) 12 1/2” X 3 5/8” rectangle (box outside sidewall)

(1) 11 3/4” X 2 1/2” rectangle (box inside sidewall)

(1) 13” X 1 1/4” rectangle (lid outside sidewall)

(1) 12 1/2” X 5/8” rectangle (lid inside sidewall)

(2) 3 5/8” diameter circles (box inside bottom and underside)

(1) 4 1/2” diameter circle (lid outside)

(1) 3 3/4” diameter circle (lid inside)

Each piece was labeled so I would know where they went.

Once you have everything cut the assembly goes quite quickly.

1. Glue in the box inside bottom circle (for fun you could make this piece from a newspaper print which was done in the past)

Inside bottom

2. Glue in the box inside sidewall. Be careful to overlap and press out any excess glue. I forgot to take a picture of this step, sorry!

3. Glue the outside box sidewall. This piece should extend past the box edges on both top and bottom. These extended sections will be folded down.

Lower edge extension

4. Run a bead of glue where you will fold down the extended section on the bottom of the box. Then press down the paper into the glue, making overlapping wedges so the paper confirms neatly to the round shape of the box.

When it is folded down, press the paper flat firmly so the glue squishes into all the places it needs to be, and then use a paper towel to wipe off any that oozes out from under the paper.

Upper edge extension

On the upper edge, run your glue onto the paper extension. This piece is going to be folded to the inside of the box. You may want to prefold it before putting the glue. Once you have run the glue, fold the paper inside the box and press, making sure it conforms to the shape and working the glue into place with your fingers. Wipe away any that oozes out.

5. Turn the box upside down and glue on the circle to the underside. All the folded edges should be covered by this circle. Set the box piece aside to dry.

Bottom of the box

The lid will follow a similar method, except in a slightly different order.

6. Glue in the inner circle to the lid.

7. Glue in the inner lid sidewall.

Lid inside

8. Glue the outside lid circle. It may be helpful to trace the lid onto the plain side of this circle so you place the lid right in the center.

Lid centered in the circle

Next, place the glue onto the box side and fold down the paper around the circle of the lid, again working the glue evenly and wiping off any excess.

9. Glue the outside lid sidewall. To do this, put glue on only half of the paper – the other half will be folded inside the lid.

Lid sidewall

Place the paper edge just a smidge under the top edge of the lid.

Lid side placement

As you did with the box sidewall, carefully fold the paper edge to the inside. Press firmly and wipe away any glue that oozes out.

Set the pieces aside to dry thoroughly. The lid will be tight at first but as you use the box it will ease. Use the box for hats or any other storage.

Your finished fancy box!
Filled with doll treasures

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Follow Along: petticoat

The third installment of Caroline’s undergarments is this ruffled petticoat.

You will see it mirrors the three tucks seen on the drawers and also the insertion lace. The lower edge of the petticoat is made of a doubled piece that sandwiches the lower edge of the insertion, making everything nice and clean on the inside.

The ruffle is made by gathering on a narrow cord. Depending on the size of your doll, you could use pearle cotton or even some embroidery floss if you don’t have a narrow enough cord. The gathered ruffle is then stitched onto the lower edge.

The waist is gathered with 1/8” twill tape inside a casing. It calls for worked buttonholes but for some reason I am better at eyelets so that’s what I did. The benefit of a gathered waist here is that the petticoat can change shape for different eras. Right now I have much of the petticoat to Caroline’s back since I’m making her a bustle dress, but I could easily reshape this to the nice round shape of the 1860s.

Up next will be a fun one – a boned hoop skirt and then her corset. See you again soon!

Follow Along: Loverly loverly

My Gram used to say “ah loverly loverly” sometimes when she saw something pretty or made her happy. Today I am saying loverly loverly about the latest finished item for Caroline.

A full set of drawers!

What with various demands on my weekends I finally got some “me” time Saturday and finished these drawers. I just love how they turned out! the front is pleated to the waistband for a tidy appearance.

Lots of tiny tucks

As you can see here, I used Swiss cotton insertion and edging. I felt like they would give me a better result and I’m very pleased with how they look.

And here is the back where the fabric is gathered to the waistband. Also a worked buttonhole and antique mother of pearl button.

The next piece of the project will be the petticoat. See you again soon!

An Accidental Treasure

I was watching an eBay auction recently of a doll listed as a 19th century antique. I screenshotted all the posted images because she was lovely and I found inspiration in the clothes perhaps for Ruby.

The doll was only $9. How is that even possible? Poorly listed? Not photographed or described well?

I threw a bid in there and promptly forgot about it. Until I won it. Whoops! At least she wasn’t hundreds of dollars.

As yet unnamed

When she arrived I discovered she is the largest doll in my collection at 25”. She is lovely and I’ll have the ability to study her clothing at my leisure and close up. It looks to be silk and machine sewn. There’s a bustle and drape, putting it into the 1880s fashion wise. Her foot is broken but I really don’t care.

My accidental $9.00 treasure could use a name. Have a suggestion?

Follow Along: Pretty, pretty

A teaser

Sometimes, mistakes are needed to make you slow down, pay closer attention and really focus on details. When I made the lovely but too-small drawers recently I spent a lot of time thinking about how I’d do them differently. I realized I’d made some errors on the tucks. I didn’t like the way the insertion turned out. (My doll Mernie however, loves her new drawers lol.)

So after many side projects and time to consider things, I’ve started a second pair of drawers for Caroline. I tried on her the 1875 drawers I made for Emma a couple years ago and then adjusted the waistline per that pattern. No, the drawers aren’t exact to the book I’m working out of, but it’s not like there are Doll Drawers Police ™️ who will be checking them haha.

I decided to go with Swiss cotton insertion and edging. It’s more sturdy for this tiny project and I think it still gives a lovely result. Sadly this is only one half of the drawers and I’ve been terribly busy so not gotten a chance to make the other half. Soon, I promise! Check out Farmhouse Fabrics, the source of this lace, fabric and much more that I use for doll clothing.

A Utility Satchel

Here’s another gift I made this year for Dottie – and she is an adventurer. She has visited many place and enjoys her travels. And every adventurer needs a good utility satchel.

Lots of goodies in her bag

The satchel was inspired by the contents. I found these a while ago and they are just so cute. There is a compass, a map, a passport and binoculars.

The satchel is lined and also has a functional button. Victorian doll accessories often were true miniatures of full sized items. A satchel is a very handy item for ladies who travel & adventure, read and sew, or like to shop and collect interesting objects during their day.

Ready for adventure!

It is lined with a pretty cotton and has a grosgrain ribbon strap. I’m sure Dottie and her person will have a lot of fun exploring the world with these new useful tools.

To make your own handy satchel, you will need:

Exterior fabric – firm twill up to light upholstery in weight

Lining fabric – a pretty cotton

Grosgrain ribbon – 4-6” of 5/8” wide

A shanked button – 1/4”

Needle & matching thread

Cut both fabrics in a rectangle 3” wide and 6 1/2” long. Fold each piece right sides together to form a square 2 1/2” by 2 1/2”. There should be a 1 1/4” flap. Edit: I wrote this rather quickly, so I apologize it is confusing. Starting with the outer fabric, fold one end right sides together, leaving a 1 1/4” flap. Stitch 1/4” side seams. This should leave you with a 2 1/2” by 2 1/2” square pouch. Repeat with the lining fabric.

Stitch the side seams on both pieces. Turn the exterior piece right side out.

Arrange the lining and exterior right sides together, aligning the open edges of the bag. Beginning at the edge of the flap, stitch down the flap side, across the bag, then back up the other side. Leave the end open for turning.

Turn the lining and then tuck it into the bag. Tuck in the raw edges at the open end of the flap and slip stitch it closed.

Add a buttonhole and button. Stitch the ribbon strap onto the back of the bag. Fill with whatever your dolly needs for her adventures or collects along her way!

Merry Merry

Some time ago, I was told a story by a friend of an antique doll in her family. She does not have the doll and it seemed she was a bit wistful about it. I determined at that time to make her a doll so she would have her own.

Because she is intended as a Christmas gift, I have dressed her for the holidays. Her sleeves are bishop shaped and have draw string gathers at the wrist. Merry is made from a vintage Shackman kit and stands about 11” tall.

Her accessory is the sweet embroidery that I showed you recently. While I have been calling her Merry my friend of course can change her name as she sees fit.

A tiny bit of handwork

Today I will share a miniature bit of handwork I created. First, disclaimer, I am not the best at embroidery. However I liked the idea of giving my dolls an “activity” to work. Ok even more so I was inspired by the multitude of Victorian accessories for dolls and handwork was just one. This particular project is a gift but I will surely make one for my own dolls.

So to make this project, I found the miniature embroidery hoops on Amazon, but you can find them on Etsy as well. I bought a pack of assorted sizes & shapes with the idea I could make other interesting things.

Next challenge is the size of the work. It’s TINY! Yes I used the magnifying glass to make this work haha. First I sketched out the design on paper to work out how it would look. Many Victorian greeting cards include the word Pax (meaning peace) and because it’s a short word it became a shoe-in here. Christmas bells and holly are also very common images in Victorian greetings. I used a single strand of floss to work the design.

The work space is about 1 inch square. I tried to give the bell some dimension by taking the stitches from the edge to generally the center of the bell, then overlapping them. There’s probably a name for this method in needlework but I don’t know what it is. The stitches for the letters and the holly are about 2-3 threads long. The golden threads were unusual to work with as they don’t lay the same as a non-metallic thread would.

Because the hoop has a solid wooden back I padded the work with a piece of white cotton fabric to keep the wood color from showing through. I used tacky glue to hold down the backing, then again on the edge of the hoop.

Once the glue was in place I added the outer hoop, placed the screw and tightened gently. I don’t want it too tight. I read reviews that tightening too much will break the frame.

I hope you enjoy this little project and that it inspires you to create a little activity for your dolly friends, too.

A Fancy Apron

I had this lone 2” section of a Swiss embroidered edge left from another project and didn’t want to waste it. After considering many ideas, I decided to make it into a pocket on a fancy apron.

The very lonely Christmas tree

First, I trimmed the top edge so the shape was close to pocket sized. Next, I finished the sides with a rolled & whipped edge. I folded the top down 1/8” and then again at 1/2”. To pretty it up I added these gold beads as ornaments.

Golden baubles

To make the apron I used fine white cotton lawn cut 8” X 5” and also a grosgrain ribbon waistband 24” long. I decided to finish the three edges of the apron with red thread to make it more festive. Finally I then placed the pocket making sure the leave the top open. I did a very small whip stitch around the edges of the pocket.

Festive pocket

Attach the apron to the waistband, stitch and finish. For a really crisp look, starch the apron. I’m pleased with this little project. It took about two hours to complete and I expect one of my dolls to host a fancy dress party for the Yule season. Ok not really, but that’s a funny idea.

All done!

Follow along: I’m obsessed

This is just one little piece of Caroline’s dressing gown. This is the cuff of her sleeve. It is only 3” wide. I spent at least an hour quilting in that pattern. It’s gorgeous, but yeah, I’m nuts. :-) I sure hope I can duplicate this on the other cuff!

Free handed stitching

Here it is on the sleeve. We are in the home stretch and I will reveal the full dressing gown soon!

Pretty, pretty