Gabrielle Chanel once started her career designing hats. Women were wearing ankle-length dresses and tight corsets and large, lavish hats. She drastically changed both the women's clothing and the hats. Women could look beautiful and elegant, according to her, without all those big dresses and hats. Her motto: women should be able to move, look classy, elegant with 'simple' designs.
Chanel's revolutionary approaches were taboo breaking and were received with open arms. Goodbye corsets, clumsy clothes and overly heavy lavish hats, Hello beautiful tweed suits and elegant little hats.
Making hats, a craftsmanship!
Now, making hats is of course an real profession. Especially if the hats are made of felt, straw or cardboard. As a semi-professional or hobby seamstress, you will not be able to create them easily. You also need specific tools. But it is not impossible to make hats and caps; choosing the right sewing pattern and fabrics will be key to do the job.
We have listed some tips & tricks for you. And sewing pattern reviews.
Make hats and caps? Yes, we can!
Why would you want to make a hat or a cap?
We have been asked that question once, but our answer is: why not? Hats and caps are like bags, caps, gloves and scarves. You can never really have enough of it. Moreover, it always looks extra neat and clean to wear a hat. It 'upgrades' an outfit completely.
But we have even more reasons:
1. Fabric leftovers? We are going to use them to make hats and caps. Zero waste is a great ideal for seamstresses who consider sustainability of paramount importance. Sometimes you can already manage to make a nice cap with very small pieces of fabric. And you don't need much fabric for a very nice chic hat. Half a yard of fabric leftovers? Enough to create a beautiful chic hat!
2. Making hats and caps is a lot of fun and a great creative process. It is not just sewing, but requires more techniques and insight with regard to shapes, shaping and sewing by hand. Of course it depends on what kind of fabric you are using to create the hats or caps. A cap with lining is very easy, a chic hat will demand more effort and sewing skills.
3. Decorate, embroidery, feathers and/or flowers. A hat may be decorated. A hat has extra appeal and even a cap is more fun with a decoration. Okay, okay, Coco Chanel wouldn't get excited about this, but we do like to pay extra attention to it. A hat with a flower, modest or over-done makes it much more personal and unique.
4. Finally: a hat or cap is a nice part of your outfit as you get older. In summer it will protect you from the sun, in winter from cold or rain. Don't think of 'an old lady with a hat' ... but it is a fact that hats and caps are a favorite item of women over 40. The hair is thinning, the scalp gets more sensitive.
Save your beautiful hair, your sensitive scalp and put on a hat or cap!
The first job
If you've never made a hat or cap before, start with simple sewing patterns and easy to use fabrics. We have tested and tried a few. Choose a model that appeals to you, but don't start too difficult. Build it up slowly, just like you do with clothes.
Kwik Sew K4107
Kwik Sew K4107 is an easy sewing pattern with four models of caps. Model A is great for hot summers. Fold the cap scarf and take it with you in your handbag. If the sun is burning, you always have the cap nearby. We have made this Model a few times from beautiful silk fabrics. Ideal and very easy. Moreover, a little 'Grace Kelly' style if you tie the scarf forward under your chin.
Model C and D are easy to make and great to wear. They are in fact slightly deeper than a baseball cap and do not look cool or vulgar, but chic and classy. Of course this depends on which fabric you make the caps. We recommend strong gabardine fabric, chic 'chains' fabric or even tweed and Bouclé.
The Vogue pattern seems to look more difficult to sew. The sewing pattern requires heavier fabrics such as wool blends, denim, canvas and suede or leather look. Still, the sewing patterns are easy to make and as a novice seamstress you will get there.
We made model F ourselves, see photos below. The model is asymmetrical and it is advisable to make a label or thread on the back, in the inside, so you will know the back-end and the hat will mold itself to your head. The other models are also feasible and look more difficult but are easy to sew. This is mainly due to the fabric used and the glamorous photo's.
A few days later we decided to sew the model A. as well, with lovely gobelin fabric. The hat is big and bright. The model is easy to make although it might look more difficult than it actually is.
Model F and model A are great hats and not so complicated to create, eventhough you have little sewing skills.
Vogue V8941 is a bit the same as V7460. The hats or caps are looking difficult but they are not thát difficult to create. It is possible, really!
They are made of tweed, wool blend and suede. Model B is totally super chic. The wool top overlayed with a lace fabric. In addition, the hats are adorned with bands, bows and buckles. It all looks perfect, but for a seamstress with average sewing experience; you can do the job!
Vogue V7464 is a sewing pattern for hats from the 30's and 40's.
There is no advice for the necessary sewing experience on all Vogue sewing patterns for hats. But you need a lot of sewing skills to create these hats.
The hats are made from silk, taffeta, felt, lace and tulle. You also need a lot of extras such as special filling, hat pins, stryofoam, tapes, edges and glue. A great challenge ! And absolutely wonderful, beautiful hats!
McCalls 2022 The Vault collection
Finally we would like to mention: McCalls The Vault Collection 2022. This number does not say anything about the coming year but is a number to indicate the historical and cosplay costume.
The sewing pattern is often not part of the regular accessories, but as mentioned under: historical costumes, vintage or Cosplay costumes.
The same applies to this sewing pattern as the Vogue 7464: it is a real challenge to create these hats! You also need several extras and the hats are made of: silk, taffeta, carpet fabric and brocade.
We have not yet tried them yet, but we will do so soon. Looking at the sewing descriptions, the McCalls 2022 seems to be a little bit easier to make.
Fabrics, notions and extra's:
To make hats and caps you often need extra fabrics you have never bought before. But not everything is difficult to find. You can go a long way with tulle, mesh fabric, horsehair lining and felt. You can buy these fabrics at any (online) fabric store. As well as hat pins (look at needles and pins) and buckles / closures. These are often the standard haberdashery that every store has in its assortment.
Foam and mesh: take a look at stores with upholstery fabrics.
Feathers, flowers, appliqué and fur can be found at party-stores or hobby- and craft stores. Also take a look at thrift stores. Sometimes you can find the most beautiful things here that at first seem old-fashioned, dusty and maybe even dirty. But take your appliqués, flowers, feathers off an old dress or hat, wash it carefully and you have got yourself something special.
More tips for this: How to find great items at a thrift store
Specialized sewing patterns
There are also sewing patterns brands specialized in making hats. You can find these under the accessories section of the sewing pattern store.
The Pattern Studio and specifically for Victorian clothing and accessories: Truly Victorian.
Making hats and caps is not only a lot of fun (and a challenge!) but you will also enjoy wearing them.
At first sight it seems difficult and almost impossible to create hats yourself. But if you start with simple caps and hats, you will soon notice it is actually easy peasy.
Do you have beautiful fabric leftovers and already a whole collection of toiletry bags, mobile cases and glasses cases? Let's start to sew a cap or hat and we bet you will like it a lot!