Sew Comfortable December 1: Black hat

sew comfortableWelcome to the official blog kickoff and inaugural sewing series! I’ve never been one to do something simply when it can be overdone so with that in mind, carrie + fitz is launching a month of sewing projects on the blog. Each day in December will feature a new tutorial that fits the theme of Sew Comfortable.

What qualifies as comfortable? Well, it could be a new bathrobe for lounging about the house (call it a dressing gown if you want to fancy things up!) or some microwavable hand warmers to keep fingers toasty when braving the winter chill outside. It might even be a reproduction of an 1830s flannel nightgown to wear while visions of sugarplums & tiny reindeer find their way into your dreams on Christmas eve!

Day One: Black hatted, Red headed

I love hats. Summer hats, fedoras, fascinators, winter caps, cloches – I love them all. (Well, almost all… I’d be okay without beanies happening.) However, I also have a lot of hair. Lots of long, thick, curly hair. Said hair often make me feel as though I have the largest head in the world when I try hats on. The solution? Make my own!

dec 01 - finalProject Materials
  • Coating weight wool. I used some black remnants  that had been left over from a cloak project, but if you’re purchasing fabric, you’ll need 1/2 yard of 60″ fabric. Fleece would also be a great choice.
  • Matching thread
  • Optional fabric for lining. I went with a green washed silk for lining the inside of the hat. This is completely optional, but if you’d like to do the same, you’ll need a piece of fabric about 15″ x 15.” I highly recommend something slippery like silk or a good rayon bemberg lining.
Steps to Sewing
  1. First things first… measure! I wrapped a tape measure around my head (and hair!) right about the middle of my forehead and just above my ears. I like my winter hats to sit low so I don’t have to worry about them blowing off during a winter gale. My measurement = 23.5″
  2. Cut the band. I decided a 2″ band would a good starting point for my hat wishes. So, from the fabric, I cut a piece of black wool measuring 24.5″ (my head measurement plus 1″ for seam allowances) by 5″ (my band height doubled plus 1″ seam allowances.) My band is cut from fabric  24.5″ x 5″
  3. Do some math. The crown (top) of the hat is a circle and the brim (underneath) is a hollow circle. A few quick calculations will help ensure they are the right size for your band. Finished band = 23.5” Circumference = 23.5” Circumference = Diameter x 3.14 (pi) 23.5 = Diameter x 3.14 23.5 / 3.14 = Diameter 7.48 = Diameter Finished brim opening = 7.48”My 23.5″ band resulted in a brim opening of 7.48″ and I rounded up to 7.5″ to make measuring easier. The next trick is to remember that is a seam line, not a cutting line! I subtracted 1″ for seam allowances and created a 6.5″ diameter circle in a text document. I printed and cut my 6.5″ diameter circle from paper.
  4. Transfer pattern & markings to fabric. Fold your circle in half and then in half again to mark the center and four equal points around the edge. Pin paper circle to your fabric, leaving an equal amount of fabric showing around all sides. Trace around the circle with whatever marking tool shows best on your fabric. I used blue tailors chalk on the black wool below.dec 01 - 01Next, measure out 6.5″ from the center of the paper circle, aligning the edge of the ruler with one of the four creased edges. My measurement was dictated by the size of my fabric remnant and it also happened to be the length of my ruler edge. A convenient coincidence! Add additional markings around the circle until you have enough markings to form a circle shape. Cut the brim out from the hat fabric and then cut out the center opening, leaving just a ring shaped brim.dec 01 - 02If you’re wondering how that measurement affects the size of the hat, here’s the run down: dec 01 - math2So you could make the brim deeper/shallower and the overall hat larger/smaller, if you so desired!  My end result was a 13″ diameter circle with a 7.5″ diameter center cut away.
  5. Cut the crown (and optional lining.) The math is behind us! Use your hat brim and cut a second 13″ circle from your hat hat fabric. If you plan to include the lining, cut a third 13″ circle from your chosen lining fabric.
  6. dec 01 - 03Form the hat band. With right sides together, sew the 5″ ends of the hat band together using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Press seam open.  Now, fold the band in half with wrong sides and seam allowance to the inside, matching up raw edges. Press the folded edge well – I used plenty of steam on my thick wool!
  7. Combine the crown and brim. With right sides together, pin the crown and brim together around the outside edge. (Skip to step 8 if adding a lining.) Sew around the outer edge using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Notch edges by cutting little triangle shaped wedges out of the seam allowance. Turn hat right sides out. Continue to step 9.
  8. Add a crown lining – optional step. Place the lining with right side facing the wrong side of the brim – making a sandwich with the two 13″ pieces and the brim in the center. Pin in place and sew around outside edge but leave a 3″ gap in your stitching to allow space to turn lining to the inside. Notch edges by cutting little triangle shaped wedges out of the seam allowance.dec 01 - 04Turn hat right sides out, keeping the lining to the inside. If you left a small opening (like I did, oops!) it might be a tight fit, but I promise you can do it! It may end up looking like this dec 01 - 05for a few moments but keep working at it… and eventually it looks like this! dec 01 - 06The weird little jog to the right is the section that was unsewn. Reach inside the hat and find that opening. Pin the two hat layers together, keeping the lining free. Sew the opening closed by machine or by hand. It’s a bit tricky to get the hat under the machine presser foot – but it is quicker than hand sewing! dec 01 - 07You will need to sew the lining opening by hand – but it’s only 3″ and any kind of whip stitch or even a running stitch will do. My favorite hand sewing thread is the cotton quilting thread made by Gutermann – it rarely tangles, glides through most fabrics, and is a good fit for a size 10 hand-sewing needle. There’s no stress on this lining edge so the sewing is really just to keep it looking neat and tidy. dec 01 - 08 As a matter of fact – that’s all the lining does overall, keep things pretty!
  9. Press the crown & brim. I made a mistake so now you don’t have to! I pressed the outer edge of the brim & crown to create a beautiful sharp crease. Only problem… it wasn’t so beautiful when it was on my head. So my advice now? Press the outer edge lightly – enough to flatten the bulk a little bit but not so much that you end up having to wear a hard edged black pancake on your head!  (How’s that for a visual?) If you do get a bit over zealous with the iron, it’s pretty easy to apply some steam and undo the damage. I ended up re-pressing the edge over my hand to soften it (although a tailor’s ham or a rolled up towel would have been smarter and safer.)
  10. Sew the band to the hat. Almost done! Unfold the hat band and place the right side of one long edge to right side of the brim inner circle edge. dec 01 - 09To make matching the edges easier, you can fold the band in half and then in quarters and mark the folded points with pins and do the same with the inner circle of the brim. You should end up with four pins on each piece. Match a pin from the brim to a pin from the band and then match the remaining pins. Continue to pin the band in place all the way around the hat. Sew the band to the brim using a 1/2″ seam allowance. dec 01 - 10It should look like this when you’re done sewing, have removed the pins, and are looking at the outside of the hat.
  11. Finish the edges of the band. On the remaining raw edge of the band, press under 1/2″ towards the inside of the hat. Try to not to flatten the original fold line – you’ll still need those in place to easily fold the band to the inside. Once the entire edge has been turned under, fold the band to the inside and match the seam allowances, keeping them all inside the band. Pin in place from the outside of the hat. dec 01 - 11There are two options to finish the inside of the band. You can ‘stitch in the ditch’  in the seam between the band and the crown. With the pins on the outside, you can machine sew along that seam and the band will be caught by the stitching on the inside. The alternative is to handsew the turned under the edge to the inside of the hat. I opted for handsewing and used the same thread and a whipstitch to finish the hat. And voila – it’s ready to wear!

dec 01 - final 2

As mentioned in the sewing steps, the lining really is completely optional, but it only took a bit of extra time and when I was done, the inside was as nice looking as the outside of my new hat. And the silk slides over my hair and keep and winter frizz to a minimum. I’m not sure all wool (or fleece) inside would have the same effect!

And since you asked (at least that’s what I heard in my head, ) this is a very comfy hat to wear. In fact, I’ve been wearing it in the house as much as outside and it’s been keeping me toasty warm. (Fitz isn’t a fan of the hat and has been singing Raspberry Beret in an attempt  to get me to stop wearing it but I’m staying strong so far!) And there you have it…. Sew Comfortable Day One is complete!

Coming tomorrow… Toasty Good Handwarmers!


4 thoughts on “Sew Comfortable December 1: Black hat

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