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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Making the Perfect Hat

Lorenna Buck Designs Sun Hat crafted by eSheep Designs
I made a hat!
After not having sewn anything for what seemed like ages, I made myself a hat this past week. And it only took an afternoon and a bit.

I was over at the Craftsy blog a few days ago and came across this post for making a folding sun hat. It's a free pattern designed by Lorenna Buck.

Here's the back story... hubby and I go to Mexico (and similar Latin America destinations) on a fairly regular basis. On a few occasions, when the weather has gotten unreasonably hot, I've bought a hat. Because of how they're made and what they're made of, none of these hats travel well. Once I get them safely back home, they never go anywhere else again. At present, I have three hats sitting somewhere in the house, basically not having been worn since they were originally purchased.

Lorenna Buck Designs Sun Hat crafted by eSheep Designs
And I'll actually wear it!
The last one was bought in 2009. I made a decision at some point to get myself a visor, like golfers wear. The truth is, I'm not really a hat person (yes, I'll admit some of it is vanity; they tend to mess up my hair, particularly since I have bangs), but the more important consideration was that I needed something that I could easily travel with, that I wouldn't have to carry or wear through the airport.

So over the past five years, I've packed a white visor with me on my trips. While it does the job of keeping the sun off my face, the steel band that holds it in place starts to hurt my head after I've worn it for a few hours.

In the back of my mind, I've always yearned for that perfect hat. You know the one, it has to look good, travel well, and — of course — competently do the job of a hat. When I came across the Craftsy blog post, I knew I'd found it. Not in a million years would I have guessed that the perfect hat would be one that I would make myself!

After I downloaded the pattern, I went to sleep that night thinking about what fabric I would use to make it. By morning, I had decided to use some of my last yard or so of this pink floral bed sheet, combined with a bright white pillowcase.

Both the original pattern and the Craftsy blog post show the hat made up in one fabric, but I liked the idea of alternating the pieces that form the top of the hat. I also wanted the underside of the brim to be white (as is the entire lining), not a match with the main fabric.

Lorenna Buck Designs Sun Hat crafted by eSheep Designs
Front view showing underside of brim in white... 

So what do I like about this hat? Seriously, everything. It fits and wears well and doesn't squish my hair. It's the right size; i.e., the brim is not too big and floppy. It's stylish: good enough to go from gardening to the beach to an afternoon wedding. (From my ever supportive husband, "At least it's not ugly.") It's washable and packable. As the designer suggests, spray it with something like Scotchguard and it can even be used as a rain hat. And it's easy to make! (Well, there were the usual "first time" challenges, but nothing major.)

Lorenna Buck Designs Sun Hat crafted by eSheep Designs
A hat I can fold up and pack in my suitcase!
And what don't I like about this hat? Honestly, nothing. From having made this first one, I know what to change up when I make another, but really, there is nothing that I don't like about this hat. Not often that I can say that about anything, so kudos to Lorenna Buck for a marvy design.

By the way, if you select well coordinated fabrics and topstitch the lining top portion also, you'll end up with a double-duty reversible hat!

About what I would change up for the next one... I will have to be very vigilant about the seam allowance when I sew up the top part of the hat. (And by all means, if you take on this project, follow the sewing suggestions in the Craftsy blog post, which is more of a guided tutorial than the original pattern.) While my alternating fabric pieces were perfectly lined up, slight variances in the seam allowance among six pieces resulted in the circumference of the top (for both the exterior and lining) being smaller than what it should have been; i.e., when it came time to attach the brim, it was too large and had to be adjusted down.

The hat was also turned by leaving a gap between the brim and top lining, which you basically have to hand-stitch to close. I wonder if I could leave a gap along the brim for turning, which I can then close by top-stitching...?

Oh, one more thing I will add to my next hat (which will likely be for my mother): an elastic. Hats tend to fly away in the wind and it's a pain to chase them. ;-)

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With Mom's birthday being this past week, I put some after-burners on my sewing efforts and made her this hat as a gift. Blue flowered fabric is from the same bed sheet that I previously used to make a couple of bags (ChrisW Designs' Bella and Genevieve).

Lorenna Buck Designs Sun Hat crafted by eSheep Designs
Hat for Mom...

To resolve the problem I previously had with seam allowances, I went with just a shade under 1/2" when I sewed together the six top pieces and did a 5/8" seam allowance on the brim. I'm not saying this is guaranteed to work for you, but those are the measurements that gave me much better results when it came time to attach the top to the brim.

This time, I also followed Craftsy's tutorial suggestions and did most of the topstitching as I went along. (Although, around the brim, I stopped after five rows since I was getting tired of sewing the curves and also did not want to run out of thread.)

Adding the elastic...
When I attached the top of the hat lining to the brim lining, I secured the ends of a small length of elastic to each side. (It's meant to be somewhat loose, just a fail safe to keep the hat around the neck of the wearer if the wind happens to try to whisk it away.)

Finally, I did leave an opening along the edge of the brim to turn the hat. Did not need to do any hand sewing as I just started my topstiching closer to the outside edge to close up the gap.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! And thanks also for the opportunity to tell people about it on your weekend link party... ;-)


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