How I turned a hat into a purse for Maryellen’s new 50’s dress…YES…it’s finished!

You might remember these sweet little straw hats that my sister sent me a while back.


I was so excited when she told me about them and SO disappointed when I discovered they were just slightly too small to use for the American Girl dolls. They just sort of sat on top of their heads but didn’t go down.



Well, I needed an accessory for Eden’s new 50’s dress and she told me she was “too big for Teddy bears” so we had to come up with something else. My daughter thought she needed a purse, so I googled 50’s purses for young girls and a few straw purses with straw “embroidered” flowers came up. I remembered I had those straw hats and they weren’t doing me much good the way they were, so I got busy taking one apart…


The rows of straw are just stitched on with monofilament thread and it’s pretty easy to undo… Here’s a red one I did before…


I took the rows down to about where I have these black dots in this picture… ( I realized after I did the purse, that I should have been taking pictures as I was making it, but I think you can get the gist of what I’m doing…)


Then I sort of tucked in the sides like this…




When I saw about how wide I wanted the purse, I turned the hat wrong side out and stitched it from the bottom edge to the top edge and knotted it very well…


Then I stitched the felt flowers on and added a handle…


This is what it looked like when I was done…


Eden said it was perfect! (What does she know…she’s a doll!)


Okay, now do you want to see a few pictures of her holding it?





Here’s her “flat front” slip too…


As you can see I decided to go with the white shoes and was going to change them and show a few different colors, but completely forgot about doing that until it was already listed.

I also just put a small bow in her hair… I didn’t have any hats and just thought this was a pretty dress that might be worn to a birthday party or a semi special occasion. I hope all the Maryellen’s out there approve of this new 1950’s style dress.

To see the listing on Ebay, you can click the picture at the top right side bar or click HERE.

Thanks for all your Easter comments. I got mine made but it was late when I did.

See you tomorrow,
Blessings, Jeanne

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  1. Linda Doyle says:

    What a stroke of genius on that purse, Jeanne! Yes, straw purses were “the thing” in the 50’s!! You did a fantastic job, and the colors of the flowers match up perfectly with the dress! You didn’t need colored shoes after all! Hmmm, do you think you could start making doll purses in your Etsy store? I’m always needing a purse for my dolls.

    The dress turned out SO cute, and the slip makes it stand out so nicely too! I think the bow is just the perfect touch for her hair, no hat is really needed with this. Great job on the whole outfit!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Linda,
      Rebecca thought it was pretty ingenious to make the purse too. I found a straw purse when I googled them that was pretty close to one I used to have. It made me wonder what ever happened to it.
      Yes, just plain ole’ white shoes did the trick with this dress.
      Purse making? Oh dear, I can’t keep up with what I do need to make for my Etsy shop… gloves, pantalettes, and now purses? I’ll have to see…
      Thanks so much Linda,
      Eden models it very well, don’t you think?
      Blessings, Jeanne

  2. Carolyn says:

    What a good idea! I knew you would find a way to use the hats–the colors are too pretty to not make something with them. The purse is really cute and very appropriate for the style of Eden’s dress. I can just imagine she has a little hanky and a pair of white gloves in there. Oh, and maybe a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. God job on thinking outside the box!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Carolyn,
      I never thought of turning the hats into purses, but hey, if it works, it works!
      I think she might have to have something put in her purse.. maybe I’ll do a little hankie for her. :o) And Juicy Fruit gum…how funny that you thought of that.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  3. good ”re-make” idea! I just love this dress. I guess I’m a real ’50’s’ type girl at heart!

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Mary,
      I’m glad I have a use for these hats now… the purse was just the thing I needed to complete this dress set. It was pretty fun to try and figure out how to make the purse… I’m a 50’s girl too… born in 1956!
      Thank you Mary,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  4. Well, I have learned a lot of things from you Jeanne, but the best tip you have given me is to keep on making adjustments until it’s right. I have a drawer full of “this isn’t going to work” outfits that I gave up on when I should have just kept going.

    One thing, how is she holding the purse in her hand? I see a clear elastic on her hand, but how does it attach to the purse?

    • Jeanne W says:

      Hi Anna,
      Sometimes you just need to step away from something that’s frustrating you and work on it later. I’ve found that most things can be repaired or adjusted or fixed somehow that makes them workable.
      I have tiny clear rubber bands and they are looped around the handle with one end pulled through the loop and then just stretched over her hand. I hope that helps…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  5. Karen D says:

    Love your creativity! You’ve got a lot of beautiful colored hats to make lots of purses. Your little felt flowers are so cute. Do you buy them already cut out or do you have a machine that cuts them? They are just darling! The dress turned out beautiful! Good luck with your auction.

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Karen,
      I do have quite a few hats to make purses out of. I’ll have to experiment and see if I can come up with other styles too. The flowers are store bought. You can find them on Etsy by typing in die-cut felt flowers.
      Thank you for your sweet compliments on the dress…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  6. Didn’t see the clear elastic until I looked very closely. Great idea. I usually use a piece of rolled tape or zots dots to hold things in the hand.
    The dress is so fifties and the white shoes and socks win!

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Joy,
      I use the Zots dots lots of times too, but had just gotten these tiny little rubber bands and wanted to give them a try.
      Thank you so much for your kind words about the dress set.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  7. Marilyn Grotzky says:

    I agree with Joy — the white shoes and socks win. With the pink purse, they are your best choice, it seems to me. The dress is perfect — the very best of the 50s look. And Anna is right — we’ve learned from you that when a project seems not quite right, we should figure out how to make it better.
    The new “flat in front” slip has just the right amount of fullness.
    The first Farmers’ Market of the season is today and the weather is perfect for it. Lucky me!

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thank you Marilyn,
      I think it does look pretty 50’s to me too. I’d have worn it back in the 50’s. I just adore this fabric and might have to order a piece of Liberty of London to really see if it’s that nice to sew. This was truly a joy to sew… :o)
      Our Farmer’s Market had their first day too. Rebecca had a project due and it involved asparagus…that’s the project we were working on. She was at the market today and I took some pictures… if they turn out, I might share them…
      Thanks for your kind comments, Marilyn,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  8. The purse is so sweet. I think it looks perfect. 🙂

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thank you Christine,
      It certainly is nice to have some use for the hats now… kind of unconventional, but it works.
      Blessings, Jeanne

  9. Eden’s dress turned out to be adorable. The purse is a great accessory and a very clever use of the hat that didn’t fit. Now you’ll have an idea for the rest of them. My mom remembers having straw purses as a teen. Eden really makes a perfect fifties model.

    • Jeanne W says:

      Thank you Laura,
      I will have to try a few different designs or styles and see what works best. I agree, Eden does make a pretty 50’s model… thank you so much,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  10. The white shoes won I see. I still wonder if wetting and then stretching the hat if it would give a little and fit the AG doll head? Great purse idea,

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Jan,
      If the “straw” was a fabric or a natural fiber, wetting it might work, but it’s more of a plastic type material and wetting it would do no good at all…
      Thanks so much for your thoughts…
      Blessings, Jeanne

  11. Susette says:

    When sister gives you hats, make purses. Brilliant! The colors are great and your technique is genius. What a beautiful dress! The first lesson I learned from you was to not give up on an outfit. Sometimes it does take time and thinking things through and more rethinking and a few trips to the fabric store and eBay. Hope you had a lovely day.

    • Jeanne W says:

      HI Susette,
      I’m so thrilled that 2 of the comments had “not giving up” mentioned in them. I hope everyone will give something they’ve thought was a lost cause, a second chance.
      I’ve been closing out my business books today… not any fun at all, but we have an appointment with the tax guy so I had to get them finished… not what I’d LIKE to be doing… but there’ll be time for that soon!
      Thanks so much Susette,
      Blessings, Jeanne

  12. Eden was so right in telling you the purse was perfect! And so is the dress, the shoes, the bow, the slip…what a beautiful ensemble you have created once again, Jeanne. It is such a pleasure reading your blog. I greatly look forward to it each day.

  13. Jeanne W says:

    Thank you so much Becky,
    What an encouragement you are to me. I’m glad you enjoy reading my random thoughts each day. Thank you for your sweet compliments on Eden’s dress. In person, the color is just gorgeous on Eden… I think she knows she looks good in this color… :o)
    Blessings to you Becky,
    ~ Jeanne

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