Sunday, 20 January 2019

The copyhat

Strange how you (or at least, I) can own an item of clothing for ages, and yet never really look at it. I have a blue, wool-mix, cloth hat which has been in my wardrobe for years: at least five, and possibly closer to ten. It's seen a lot of wear in that time.

The original blue hat

Not only is is getting a little worn now, but it doesn't really go with my new winter coat, which is dark red. So when I found a remnant of thick black fabric during my workroom tidy-up, I decided to take a pattern from the original hat and make a new one. And that was how I came to look at the construction in detail.

Front view

The hat has a round top, a loosely pleated crown, and a brim with what I'd always assumed was a corded section near the bottom, to stiffen it. However when I looked properly, it's slightly different.

Side view showing the brim seam (and lack of)

The brim is made of two sections, and is wider at the front than the back. However the edge of the brim does not have a side seam, just a single join at the back. It is a folded bias strip, attached between the two layers of the crown, and the 'cording' is actually the seam allowances.

Back view

The crown is evenly pleated at the back, and top-stitched either side of the centre back seam. The seam joining the top to the crown is also top-stitched on either side. The folds around the crown are loosely stitched in place at the front and sides, but not to the lining, so there must be another layer of fabric inside.

(This may be a good time to mention that I'm now the owner of my very own antique hatblock, bought at an auction last year. It is my size, a good basic crown shape, and even came with its own stand.)

The hatblock

But back to the hat. I have no idea where the fabric came from, but a burn test showed it to be synthetic, possibly acrylic. So I can wear the finished hat in the rain!

The top and inner and outer crown pattern pieces were easy to create from measurements. I used a piece of cotton drill for the crown base, pleated the hat fabric onto it, and sewed all round the outer edge.

The folded pleats at the back of the crown

Then I randomly pinched fabric into pleats at three evenly-spaced points around the crown, and sewed them down.

The completed crown piece

The short ends of the crown were sewn together, and the top attached.

For the brim pattern, I folded the hat in half from front to back and laid it on paper, then drew round the bottom edge. Then I trimmed the paper brim until the top edge matched that of the fabric version.

Brim pattern, with the bias strip at the bottom shaded

From this I made patterns for the front and back brim sections.

The brim sections, with the back on top

I sewed the fronts to the backs, then laid the two brims right sides together, with the bias strip folded between them. Next I sewed round the bottom edge, and trimmed the seam allowance. The brims were then turned right side out, and pinned together round the top. I used the zipper foot on my machine to sew round the brim, as close to the cut edge of the seam allowances as possible.

Encasing the seam allowances, almost finished

The completed brim was attached to the crown, and then the crown was lined. I always struggle with the right thickness of hat-lining fabric: too thick, and it makes the hat stiff; too thin, and the lining falls down. The fabric I chose this time was really too thin and flimsy, so I attached the lining to the seam at the top of the crown with a couple of bar tacks. These hold the lining in place, but not so tightly that it might tear if the hat is pulled on firmly.

Back view of the new hat

The completed hat is a bit more stiff than the one it replaces, but then the original may have been more stiff before it spent years being stuffed into bags etc. I'm very pleased with the end result. The hat can be pushed back on the head and the brim turned back all round, to give a halo effect.

Halo hat

It can also be worn with the brim up at one side, or just partially turned up.

Up at one side

Brim up all round

The scarf is just another basic knit-two-purl-two in James C Brett Marble Chunky. The colours go really well with the coat. I really ought to try a more ambitious scarf pattern; but this one has the advantage that I don't have to concentrate, so can knit and chat at the same time.

The other great thing about the hat is that it's all from the stash. Unfortunately it didn't use a lot of fabric, but it's a start.

Not much, but better than nothing

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