Many years ago I used to specialize in making obscure costume crafts in my University’s Theatre department. As such, I became a milliner by making many of the hats, crowns, and headpieces. This week I made a casual wizard’s hat from scratch to relive the fun moments I had of hat-making many years ago!
- Foam head
- Aluminum foil
- Pins, a pencil, tape, thread, sewing machine
Making the form
Start everything off by measuring around your head where a hat usually sits. This should be the largest point of your head and may range anywhere from 18″ to 25″. Use this head size to create the shape you want your hat out of aluminum foil on the foam head. When you have the desired shape, tape and pin the form to the foam head.
Patterning the hat
Pin strips of scrap fabric onto the form paying attention to where the fabric wrinkles. Smooth out the wrinkles as much as possible and pin it into place. Using a pencil or marker, sketch out the general shape of the piece at the edge of where the wrinkles still exist.
Start pinning a new strip of fabric to create your next pattern piece. Making the piece as flat as possible, smooth out the wrinkles until you’re satisfied with the smoothness of the fabric. Draw a line where the pattern piece overlaps the first piece. Repeat this step until you have all of the pattern pieces you want.
Transfer the pattern onto some paper. I find the easiest way to do this is with a pounce wheel, a device that looks like it’s used for torture but is quite useful in the craft room. It pokes holes into the paper which you can then trace around. While tracing the holes, you can smooth out the lines from the previous pieces for a more streamlined and even pattern. I suggest using a french curve, or a bowl and ruler. Cut out your corrected pattern and transfer it onto a new fabric, then cut the fabric out adding seam allowance as you go.
Put it all together
Stitch the pieces together along the original lines from your pattern. Try the base of the hat on to make sure it fits and you have the bottom of the hat where you’d like it to land on your head. You can finish it off the edges of the hat how it is, or add a fun brim. If you’d like to go for the brim, you can use a bowl to round out a piece of fabric to fit your head or sculpt a pattern out of paper and cut it out. Attach and put it on your head. You are a hat master.