The winter has been brutal here in Sydney this year. But just when I was bracing for another month of coldness, spring is suddenly upon us, catching me totally off-guard. In our backyard, a newly planted lemon tree is about to blossom. Strawberry flowers are already blossoming. And the sun is getting noticeably brighter. Soon it’ll be another skin cancer season…. It’s time to make sun hats.
Last summer I made a few sun hats for my shop, but I was not completely happy with the pattern I made. The brim was too slope-y and bucket-like, and as cute as it was, it interfered with the child’s visual field. So, I went back to the drawing board today.
Let me warn you first: I have no idea how a professional pattern maker would make hat patterns. So please don’t copy me or quote me if you are researching how to make a hat pattern properly. I just wanted to share how I did this.
As you see, I already have a pattern for the crown part. For the brim, I first drew a rectangle for the brim, with the length representing the circumference of the hat. If you use this pattern for a hat as is, the brim would come straight down over your eyes like a ski mask, and you will be totally blindfolded.
Next I arbitrarily divided the brim rectangle up into small sections. I then cut out the big rectangle, and made slits along these little lines almost till the end, leaving just a tiny bit uncut so the whole thing still held together as one piece. Then you can fan it out like this:
If you make a complete circle like this, and trace over the pattern, I’d imagine your brim will sit about 90 degrees from your face – like a shower hat (or how do you call those things you attach to your child’s head so you can wash her hair without the water getting into her eyes?).
I wanted a brim with a gentle downward slope, so I was aiming for something like a 45-degree angle.
This took a long time, ensuring that all the little pieces were spaced out evenly…. When I finally had them positioned where I wanted, I roughly traced around the whole shape, then smoothed out the rough edges into a nice curved shape.
Then I tweaked the pattern a little more to make sure the lines were smooth and the circumference matched with that of the crown. Then I added seam allowance.
The work-in-progress pattern above is for half a brim.
When the pattern is done, it’s Judgment Time – time to make a sample. Here, too, is where I am a total amateur. Instead of using muslin, I can’t help using a nice fabric for my sample sewing. Because I am eternally hopeful that, in the event it all works out perfectly the first time, I will have a lovely hat I can use straight away. Although I should know by now that things almost never work out perfectly the first time. That is why my children often wear crooked or ill-fitting samples. Because I’m too cheap to throw them away. See, I never seem to learn.
But today I got lucky! Yes the first sample had problems — the brim was too long and didn’t match up with the crown, and the angle was a little off. But after I ripped the brim off, I was able to salvage the fabric by re-cutting it using a revised pattern.
A finished toddler sun hat in Miss M’s size. It’s lined with solid pink cotton. After yesterday’s apron-rejection fiasco, I didn’t want to argue with a three-year-old’s favoured colour choice. See, I need her to wear a hat – any hat – in this country of harsh sun and skin cancer.
I do enjoy making hats. Something about all these flat pieces ending up nice and round and 3-D – gives me a lot of satisfaction. Off to make some more for my neglected online shop and for the upcoming Mathilda’s Market.