07 July 2011

Vasilii Can Has Hat

[This was posted on my DIY blog July 2011;  just copying it over]

Raise your hand if you're one of those people who can work on ONE project at a time, from start to finish, before you start another one?


That's what I thought.  So, if case the lack of posts this week didn't clue you in, I stopped working on the living room for a bit.  Got all wrapped up in sewing.  Thought I'd introduce you to my other hobby today, just for something different.  I'd mentioned it, but I don't think I'd posted anything here about it, aside from the cooler cover I made earlier this year.

Kress and I spend quite a ridiculous amount of time with the Society for Creative Anachronism, or SCA (a pre-1600 historical reenactment society).  I find it QUITE awesome, since I'm a lifelong costume geek!

Kress' persona in the "game" is Russian, 15th century - and this is a hat I made for him last night.

It's made from scraps from a damask table runner given to me by a friend, and trimmed with faux-fur cut from a throw blanket I got from Target on clearance in January for six dollars.  I'm not even kidding.  I bought a white one, too.

The pieces are easy to shape:  take the circumference of the head and divide by however many "sides" you want the hat to have.  This hat has four, and Kress' head is 24" around.

From the top of his ears to the top of his head is 5" - I added an extra inch for ease, hem, and so there'd be a small point on top.

So, I started out with four 6x6" squares, and cut the arched sides by hand.  I started wide, fitted the pieces to his head, and then brought the side seams in - the steeper the angle, the more fitted the hat.  If the arch is too wide, the hat will end up being square on top, like a box.

Here are two sides put together, which is half of the hat.

As I said, I drafted the pattern myself based on Kress' measurements; but in case you were wondering, I learned about the construction of this type of hat in the first place by reading  Sofya la Rus' excellent and well-researched website on historical Russian costume and recreation.

 I made the lining first, to fit to his head, then used one of the lining pieces to make a paper pattern that I can use again, and then to make the upholstery pieces.  Always, always, always make a paper pattern.

The fake-fur band is 2" tall, 28" long, and sewn between the outer and lining layers, then folded to the outside.

I also tacked the top of the band to the body of the hat on the outside, underneath the fur trim, to keep it from folding down while he's wearing it, so he doesn't have to worry about whether it's staying in place, or walk around court looking like a doofus. :)

I already have ideas for improving the design and the fit for the next time I do this...but that's a story for another hat.

Tada!  I'd never made a hat before, aside from simple hoods and veils and elastic shower-cap type things.  This was fun!  And really quick, too - only took about an hour and a half.



  1. I love the 15th century Russian hat & especially your comments on the materials used! Ha!
    I'm a beginner at sewing & my main love is making hats. So far I've made about a dozen (mostly beanies)
    but what I really want to do is make medieval style hats but already I have my sights on period clothing as well.
    One thing I am having difficulty with is finding patterns for such. I haven't looked through your entire blog so perhaps you cover this somewhere. :~)
    Well cheers! John in Vallejo.

    1. Thank you! You know, I've done a couple of soft caps and coifs for myself since this, but not much more in the way of hats. It's awfully fun doing them, though - hats are one thing I always mean to get into, but never end up having the spare time. Are you blogging yours? I'd love to read about them!

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  3. Hi.
    Thank you for responding.<> No I'm not blogging.<> I really am a true beginner,having just acquired a Singer 3 mos. ago & never having used a machine till then.<>
    I pretty much learn by 'trial & error' & YouTube videos. In addition to the beanies,I've made a turban & a DIY 'hoodie'.
    I've just received a pattern for a Tudor style Flat Cap from Lynn McMasters which looks daunting..but I will give it a go once I get all the materials.
    It's obvious you have a great passion for doing your sewing.
    Cheers John.

  4. Really nice design and I'm looking forward to the revisions you will make!


Hooray, comments! Be nice to each other, and to me. Or I shall boot your ass and then mail you a dead fish. :D