Wednesday, June 8, 2011


A sun hat for Emily.

Been meaning to make her one since early spring, when we dug into our summer gear store (and made that picnic mat) and discovered that she'd outgrown her old hats. Seeing all the bucket hats people have been making reminded me that I should hurry up and make hers before it's winter again. 

This was a quick project, which means it is more practical than fun, but it was nice in that it was done in less than 24 hours (rare, around here). I grabbed Emily and measured her head yesterday, drafted the pattern and cut out the fabric and interfacing last night, and sewed it up today. 

Emily asked me to make it reversible. She's used to me making things reversible, I guess.

This is one side

and this is the other.

Oddly, Emily actually prefers the striped side (I thought she would've liked like the flowers more).

My favorite part was sewing the spiral on the brim.

The skinny hat band was completely ornamental - it was just an excuse to add another fabric.

As far as I know, this is the only hat I need to sew this year, unless I decide I need one. The other two girls have no interest in hats whatsoever. 

In case you're going to ask:
  • the floral twill is a P Kaufman thing I found in the upholstery section of Mill End Textiles,
  • the dots and stripes are coordinating home dec fabrics from JoAnn,
  • the solids are duckcloth,
  • I only interfaced the brim and that was with heavy sew-in interfacing,
  • I am not doing a tutorial or pattern because there are tutorials and patterns all over the internet and from sewing books if you need one. I drew my pattern using geometry - lots of arcs in this pattern. Fun.
Updated to add:
Back again in response to reader's queries about hat assembly. I don't own any of the hat patterns that some of you are using or have read about, so I don't know what assembly method/ sequence was recommended. This is how I did mine: essentially, I made two separate completed hats and then joined them together at the brim edge, specifically:

  1. For each hat, I sewed the sides of the side band together to form a tube. 
  2. Then I sewed the crown tip (circle thing at the top) to it.
  3. Then I sewed the two pieces of the brim together to form a flat donut-ish thing.
  4. Then I sewed the brim to the side band to make a complete hat. So now I had two separate hats.
  5. Next, I turned one hat inside out and set it inside the other, so that their right sides were together. I sewed all around the edge of the brim. Yes, ALL around, leaving NO opening. 
  6. Then (this part is important) I ironed the brim edge seam open, and unpicked about 3" of this seam, reinforcing the ends by back-stitching. 
  7. Then I turned the entire hat right side out through that opening. The brim edge was curved, so the ironing in the previous step will give you a neat and exact curved opening that will perfectly line up in both layers (since it was actually sewn together before being unpicked open).
  8. Top-stitch all along the edge of the brim, closing the opening in the process. Now you have two separate hats in a reversible configuration, attached only at the edge of their brims. 
  9. Sew a spiral through both layers of the brim, about 1/4" -1/2"apart, starting from the edge of the brim and going all around towards the seam joining the brim to the side band. When the spiral is complete, the hat will be fully attached over its entire brim and will "separate" (if you want to pull the layers apart for fun, I mean) only in the side band/crown region. 

So that's how I assembled my hat. It made sense to me, it was straightforward and untricky and even beginner sewers could do it. And I didn't have to hand-stitch or baste any part of it. Just act nice to your seam rippers because their role is quite important (and deliberate) in this method. I left out all the decorative top-stitching bits in the assembly process above, because it was all purely decorative. In other words, none of the top-stitching, except for that on the brim itself (see steps 8 and 9), served any attachment purposes. 

I hope this helps with assembling your own hats, regardless of which pattern you're using. 


  1. Wow, this hat ist beautiful!
    And you posted so lovley pictures.
    I love this hat an I wish my daughter would need some. But at the moment she preffers baseball caps (she ist six years old).

  2. Very cute! I see that you added a fabric you do those yourself or do you have them made?

  3. Lovely, too bad you won't give a pattern :( yours is just gorgeous!!!!!

  4. I have the book "Little Things to Sew", which has a pattern for one in it. I so want to make one for Courtney, but she usually has her hair in 2 ponytails, which would make fitting it kinda hard. Maybe a hole in each side to stick the tails through? At least that'd help keep it on in our winds! ;)

    Thanks for the interfacing tip. I was wondering if it would be needed with home dec fabric.

    I still might make one and just French braid her hair when she gets here. ;)

  5. And I meant to say the hat is adorable... almost as cute as its model! :)

  6. @Megan (Curious Panda)
    Yes, Megan, I made those labels. Here's the post:

  7. @Grandma G
    Yes, that must be the pattern/book that is making its round on craft blogs. Cute hat. I think Rae (madebyrae) made it recently and blogged a tip on how to do the headband bit without hand-sewing. I didn't do any hand-sewing with mine, even with the hatbands and the reversibilityness. So I suspect I probably did mine the Wrong Way, or the non-USA way or whatever. Good thing I told everyone to find their own tutorial, eh? Otherwise who knows what wrongness they'll learn from me.

    And yes, it helps to have some sew-in interfacing for the brim - it gives it body (so it doesn't become all wavy like one of those fisherman hats) and it feels slightly quilty when you do the spirals. If you're using home dec fabric or twill, you probably won't need interfacing anywhere else. This is assuming it's a reversible pattern, right? So that you have two layers of twill/home dec?

    Wanted to add a couple of eyelet holes on each side of the hat, too, for head ventilation. But didn't have eyelets. Oh well, but thought I'd add it in here in case you'd want to add that detail in yours.

    P.S. This heat!!!!! I can't think. Thank goodness it's cooler today.

  8. great hat! I made a hat for Ben last year with whales and his grandma LOST it when she took the kids to the beach. I'm still a little bitter. I guess I should make another one because, as you said, winter's coming.

  9. What a darling hat! I would also have guessed that she would prefer the flowers. Kids like to surprise us like that, don't they!

    I bought hats this summer. Don't even remember when I last touched my sewing machine. But your hat is ever so much cuter than my store-bought ones!

  10. Beautiful hat. Your drafting skills never cease to amaze me. As you said, there is no need for a tutorial, but wondering if you would share some tips on assembling the hat. I have read various comments about the assembly being a little on the tricky; some recommending hand sewing, puckering, top stitching, no topstitching. Any tips would be great! Thanks.

  11. @Neeta
    Neeta, I'd be happy to. I'll just add a bit onto the end of this post.

  12. @Neeta
    Missed this bit in my earlier reply: what is puckering? Thats a new term to me. It sounds very exciting!

  13. Thanks! I am currently in the process of making a second sunhat for my boy. The first one was experimental, and I made some adjustments in my pattern this time. I was going to leave a seam open in the hat band to flip it around, but I'll have to try your way.

  14. Now I want to make a hat! We'll see if it gets done or not...

  15. p.s. I finished my hat and it turned out great, thanks for your insight.

  16. Thanks for the tips! My first hat turned out pretty well. :)

  17. I once saw Martha Pullen do some fancy work where she needed to remove stitching in the process. She used dissolving thread in the top thread and after stitching she used spray starch and a hot iron to set the seam and in the process of wet starch and hot iron the thread dissolved --- eliminating the need to pick out the threads. Might be something you could use in this or another application.


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