1912 Titanic Sewing Project: Hat Embellishments – Carnations, Leaf/Rosebud, and Wired Ribbon


My model, Marilyn, was very happy to pose for this photo with the 1912 Titanic hat.

This hat is now available for sale on E-bay:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/120950249442?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Today I’m going to teach you how to make the embellishments on the hat.

Choose a soft fabric for the carnations.  Cut out a six-inch circle of the fabric (it doesn’t have to be perfect).

Cut a piece of muslin the same size as the outer fabric.

Stack the fabric and sew a meandering running stitch,  spacing the stitching about a pinkie finger width apart.  This type stitching is called stippling.

Draw the threads gently as you sew, gathering it to form the petals of the carnation.

Turn under the edge under as you stitch and continue to pull the fabric inward.

The final product doesn’t have to be perfectly round.  You can pull in the edges later as you stuff the flower.

Stich the edge of the flower over the seam of the hat.  Bring the sides in to make a puffed center.  Push a little stuffing into the pocket and continue stitching around the flower until it is completely secure.

For the leaf, cut a six-inch square fabric.

Fold the fabric diagonally.

Fold the two edges together toward the center.  Sew a running stitch in a curve along the raw edges of the leaf shape.

Draw the fabric up to make a leaf,

then stitch the leaf to the hat in a location that looks attractive.  Trim any loose threads, if necessary.  This leaf design can also be used as a rosebud if a colored fabric is used.

Continue to add flowers and leaves until the entire hat seam is concealed.

To make a wired ribbon: determine the size of the ribbon and cut out the fabric. Form wire to the desired shape.

Fold the fabric over the wire and baste the edge in place.  With a zipper foot, machine stitch close to the wire, taking care not to stich into the wire.

Trim the fabric near the stitching.  Using a foot with a channel in the bottom (like a buttonhole foot or a pintuck foot), zigzag over the wire, being very careful not to sew into the wire.  If you want to use a traditional method, blanket stitch or buttonhole stitch over the wire to secure the fabric.

Twist the ribbon into a desireable shape and stitch it to the hat.

The Final Product:

This item will be available for purchase at www.sewandso.etsy.com (as soon as I post it!)


1912 Titanic Sewing Project – Large Hat Construction

One way for a very large hat to fit on the head properly is for a diaphragm to be placed inside.  This is accomplished by making a tube using the pattern from the stand of the hat, and sewing a casing in one edge, through which a shoestring or other drawstring will be threaded.  This drawstring can be drawn up so that the hat will sit on the crown of the head.


Use the same pattern that you use for the hat form to create the lining of your hat.  Cut the lining out, and assemble the lining, first by sewing the seam on the stand and then sewing the stand to the crown.


You may either place the lining in the hat at this point, or you may attach the inner diaphragm to the edge as I did in the photographs.  How you assemble the hat is really dependent on the type of edge trimming you want.

Tack the top seam of the lining to the top seam of the hat form so that your stitches do not show.  Stitch the lining to the edge of the hat form in a manner that will be visually pleasing when you wear the hat.

Cut out a piece of fabric for the outside of the hat larger than the crown of the hat.  Pin the piece of fabric in place and stitch it along the edge with whipstitches to hold it in place.


Cut a piece of hat fabric approximately twice the width of the hat stand, and about 3 inches longer than the hat stand.  Place the edge of the fabric along the edge of the crown piece you just whipstitched in place.  Stitch a straight line of running stitches or backstitches near the edge of the fabric to hold it in place.  Flip the fabric down, fold under the bottom edge, and hem it in place along the edge of the hat frame.

At the midpoint of this piece of fabric, stitch basting stitches vertically and gather the fabric, ruching it.  Carefully arrange the fabric and gently pull it toward the opposite side of the hat.  Arrange gathers along the hat stand and pin them in place, then whipstitch the raw edge to the hat frame.  Arrange fabric on the opposite side of the hat, and pin the ruching in place.  Turn under the raw edge of this fabric and hem the edge, attempting to hide your stitching.  Tack the ruching in place with small pick stitches.

Thread a drawstring through the casing of the diaphragm.  Adjust the gathers so that the hat will sit on top of the head in the proper position.  Tie a bow and tuck the drawstring up inside the hat.

You may now add decorations to your hat in any way you like, but especially on the seam line so that you hide it.

1912 Titanic Sewing Project: How to Create a Hat Form


Step one: purchase enough buckram to make the hat.  I didn’t have any buckram, so I used four layers of crinoline, because I had that in stock.  I stitched the four layers of crinoline together so that I had one solid piece of stiff fabric.



Step two: cut out the pattern pieces according to the instructions.




Step three: turn the pattern pieces over.  If you have translucent fabric and you can see the markings through the fabric, transfer all markings from the pattern onto the fabric.


Step four: slit the darts and overlap the dart legs.  Pin in place.


Step five: you can either stitch the darts by themselves or combine the next step.

Step six: add bendable wire in the dart area and zigzag in place.  Notice in the photograph that the ends of the wire are bent.  This prevents the wire from poking through the hat.  You may wish to cover the wire with a fabric casing so that the wire will never poke through the hat.  This is a good precaution if the hat is to be worn extensively.


Step seven: sew the stand seam by overlapping the layers and zigzagging in place.


Step eight: pin the crown of the hat in place and stitch the seam line.


Step nine: stitch wire into the seam allowance.  Note for smooth topped hat, the hat form can be inverted (turned inside out) so that the seam is on the inside.  This will deform the wire and the hat form will have to be reshaped.



Step ten: this step is difficult, and may have to be completed by hand.  Stitch bias tape to the edge of the bottom hem.  Insert a wire next to the buckram, and pin the bias tape tightly around the wire, holding it in place, so that it abuts with the edge of the buckram.  Stitch the bias tape in place.


The hat form is now complete.

1912 Millinery Techniques


Picture Captions:

Hat A: a black satin hat trimmed with ostrich tips of velvet and silk cord.

Hat B: a half of a biscuit shade the trim has shaped binding of black velvet.

Hat C: a toque of velvet, soutache braid, and lace trimmed with a light feather and bunch of pansies.

Hat D: silk toque in black and white for a middle-aged woman.

Hat E: bonnet for an elderly woman would look well in silk or velvet.

Hat F: a pretty toque of net and straw.  The roses are cream with yellow centers.

Hat G: black and white satin and pink roses.  The white satin is veiled with black net, giving a gray appearance.

Hat H: a black silk toque trimmed with lace and silk bow and ornament.

Hat I: a stylish floral toque finished with the large velvet bow.


Each of these hats is larger than the head of the wearer.  If you notice, the hair fills up much of the space inside the hat.  This is to be expected with the style of the day.  I have seen a line drawing from the period (1913), and it seems that a buckram hat (or hat frame) in a matching color that actually fit the head of the wearer could be worn inside a much larger hat, and may have been sewn in at the inside of the brim.  Typical instructions from 1912 show diagrams with an adjustable crown or brim with a drawstring Inside the hat so that the wearer may position the hat correctly on her head.  Otherwise, the hat would fall over her eyes.  It would have been wise to use a hat pin or other means to secure the hat to the head. One would still hold onto one’s hat when the wind was blowing.

Most of the large hats are frames which are adorned with fabric, scarves, peacock feathers and flowers.  I will include some instructions for some typical adornments in a separate article.  Some of the typical ornaments were peacock feathers, laces, ribbon roses, and ruched fabric.

The hat frames were made of very stiff wired fabric, such as buckram or starched canvas.    The hat frame was covered with any fabric that was typical for the day and handstitched to the frame.  Any unsightly stitching was covered with the adornments of embellishments.  Some of the ribbons and bows were wired along the edges.  Please use the pictures for correct placement of your embellishments.

The pattern for the hats will be created by the VPLL Titanic group for your use.

For further reference, see:

hat instructions:


Pink Skirt, Pink Cowl, and Lawn Dress instructions


If you can’t see this picture, click this link:  http://www.vintagevictorian.com/images/1912_pink_b.jpg

Pink OverSkirt

This skirt can be worn alone for a modern style, or worn over a long, lightweight blouse style dress.

Ideal Fabric: soft satin

1. Fold each of the front pleats and stitch two layers together on stitching line.  Press a crease at the fold line.

2. Sew darts at sides.

3. Sew the center back seam and insert an invisible zipper. Alternately, the skirt can be lapped and buttoned, which is more historically accurate.

3. Cut a piece of grossgrain ribbon two inches longer than the desired waist measurement.  Ease skirt evenly to fit the ribbon, aligning the zipper one inch from each cut edge.  Stitch ribbon flat on the right side of the skirt, and fold to inside, tacking in place at darts.  Turn one inch under at center back and fold to inside, stitching in place.  Add a hook and eye to secure the zipper to keep the skirt from opening.  Or add a button tab to the inside.

4. Hem bottom edge.

Alternate Style:  Bottom edge can be bound with bias tape.

Pink Cowl

This cowl is designed to be pinned to under dress (otherwise it will slip off the shoulders).  The back and front are identical.

Ideal Fabric: soft satin

1. Fold fashion fabric on the true bias (45 degrees).  Fold in half again, aligning the folded edge, so that the fabric has two perpendicular folded edges.

2. Place the cowl pattern on the fabric, aligning the folded edges.  Cut out and mark the fabric.

3. Repeat steps one and two for the second piece.

4. Fold each piece in half, right sides together, aligning the hem edges, and sew the hem seam.  Turn the pieces right side out and press.

5. Pleat the shoulder seam as shown on the pattern and stitch the pleats flat.

6. Sew the two pieces together at the shoulders and finish.

Lawn Dress

This dress is designed to be pinned to undergarments (otherwise it will slip off the shoulders).  The back is slightly lower than the front.

Ideal Fabrics (for dress and neck binding):  lightweight cotton, such as lawn, batiste or handkerchief cotton, or lightweight silk.

Edge Binding Fabric:  one to two inch wide soft satin bias binding (not blanket binding, which is too stiff).

1. Stitch and finish back panel to sleeve seams and front panels to sleeve seams.

2. French seam underarm/side seams, matching underarm seams.

3. Front Edge Binding:  Pin one inch satin bias binding  to the front edge, and around to back hem, continuing to opposite front edge.  Steam binding so that it curves naturally and conforms to the dress fabric, repinning as necessary to adjust fullness.  Stitch binding in place.

4. Neck Edge Binding:  Sew center back seam and press open.  Finish one edge of the neck binding (hem it 1/4 inch).  Match marks on binding to marks on dress, overlapping the dress at center front (right side on top) and pin in place.  Ease dress evenly to match binding and stich binding in place.  Trim cut edge evenly.  Wrap binding around cut edge and finish.

5. Roll sleeve hem and finish.  Pin fringe in place to underside of sleeve and stitch in place.


This dress could be made out of heavier fabric, buttoned down the front, and worn with an added belt or covered with a jumper or tunic.  Front can also be left open and dress used as a lounging gown.

For a more stable neckline (softer fabrics may stretch over time), use 1/2 inch to 1 inch wide grosgrain ribbon or other non-stretchy trim.

A wider binding may be used at the neckline as a casing.  Leave an opening near the front and thread decorative cord through the casing for an adjustable neck edge.

The center front can be placed on the fold of the fabric for a single front panel, and the binding trim can be mitered at the center front hem.