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How to make Fabric Hats

Updated on by Sarina

hat diy tips

Hats no longer have the same position they had long ago in women’s fashion chronicles – there was a time when western women would not think of going out without a hat and they thought nothing of wearing hats as big as tea trays on their heads, for the sake of fashion. Today if you wear dressy hats you are compared to Queen Elizabeth and other members of the British Royal Family and not in a good way. Otherwise you are slogging at gardening, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Though they no longer feature in our everyday choices, there is a certain charm to hats; a reawakened interest in pretty hats is not far. Hats could easily make a comeback to its full glory; maybe not the plumed monstrously big hats that thought nothing of body proportions but small versions that will enhance the rest of the clothes and accessories that you are wearing.

Making hats with wired frames – this involves a certain mastery of the hat making craft with techniques to manipulate wires and other material to make the foundation frame on which hats are made. A little complicated. But making fabric hats with the help of your sewing machine – not so difficult. Some hats that you can easily sew with fabrics are cloche hats, bucket hats, knit and flannel/felt hats. Here are some common tips to make fabric hats. 

Select the design & appropriate fabric

There are mainly 2 types of hats (Not talking about the hat styles – Learn more about the different types of hats here) in terms of making them – the free size hats and head-size hats.

Some hats like the pillbox hats, and fascinators can be made in a single size – they usually have a single size and they are worn on top of the head. But for other hats, you will need to take the measurement on the head to know the accurate head size or make it adjustable to be able to fit different sized heads (like an elastic band on the back). 

Making hats become very easy if you have a block and/or a frame. The hat frame is a foundation of the hat on which you can add your fabric, braids etc to cover it. Paper or fabric covered wires are used to make wire frames for hats. The wire frames can be bought at Millinery shops. You can also make or buy buckram frames. 

A hat block is a replica of your head on which you can make the foundation or the frame of your hat.

Hats serve many purposes – if you want a dressy hat you do not need to make a head covering hat – just fascinator hat that consists of a small flat surface with some decorations would do. You can make it with thin fine textured fabrics like silk abaca and linen buntal. But if sun protection is your aim, you need a full head covering hat made of a fabric that will block the UV rays effectively. You may want to make your hat with a cotton duck or cotton canvas fabric

Related post : The Best materials to make hats.

Measure your head with a tape measure. You will have to measure around the head as well as from the front to the back.

 Start making your hat according to these dimensions. 

A basic hat block that fits an average head can be made this way. Mark 2 side patterns and one circle in the dimensions given in the picture below.

hat pattern

Cut them out.

making fabric hats

Sew the side patterns together, right sides to the inside.

how to make hats

You have a tube.

Keep the circle on top rightside down and sew them together.

make fabric hats

mking fabric hats

Turn it rightside out.

hat making methods

This forms the head part of your hat; Now you have to make a brim to fit your hat and you are done.

You can make a dome shaped hat which will fit  almost all heads (with an elastic back) this way –

Cut out dome shaped fabric pieces in these dimensions (refer picture). Increase the height of the pieces according to the coverage you need.

making hats

Cut 6 of these pieces.

make hat with fabric

Finish the edges with a zig zag stitch or a serger.

Now you have to start sewing the pieces to each other. Sew three of the pieces to each other. After sewing each seam you can press the seam allowance to one side and top stitch parallel to the seam to reinforce the seams.

make fabric hats

You now have two pieces with 3 of the dome shaped pieces stitched together.

how to make hats

This has to be joined together – but for the last seam, leave 3 inches unstitched – this is for a slit on the back to make your hat adjustable. 

making fabric hats

Turn the seam allowance of the unstitched portion to the inside and stitch the side edges.

making fabric hats

If you have cut 6 inch long dome shaped pieces you will need to add a border for your hat. If you do not want that add the elastic piece and just finish the bottom edge for an easy head hugging hat.

If you want the bottom edge finished with a fabric piece, cut out a long fabric strip in this dimension.

Add this to the bottom edge. Then add the elastic.

make hats


Braided hats with a frame

If you have a hat frame you can easily make a braided hat. You can use straw braids to make a straw braid hat. 

Take the braid and baste it to the frame with hand stitches. Steam to shape it to the frame. You can use steam from an iron box or a tea kettle for this. Start by winding the end of your braid – wind two times in a round and then keep this in place on the frame. Wind the rest of the braid slowly, very closely. You can use pins to keep the braids in place. When you have reached the end of the winding of the braid over the frame, cut the braid end off on a slant. You can steam the hat again to manipulate it at any point in time. 

Sew the braids to each other carefully – use the same color thread as your braid and make small stitches joining them to each other inconspicously. You also have to be careful to not sew the frame to your braids.The frame is to be removed and used for making other hats. 

You can add sizing to make it strong and give it the stiffness to maintain the shape. Spray sizing is used. Carefully remove the hat from the frame after the sizing is fully dry.

How are felt hats made

Felt fabric can be manipulated into hat shapes – For this you have to make it soft and malleable with heat and water. You can either wet it and then steam it or Dip the felt in hot water and dry it to a damp condition by keeping it on a towel. Keep this damp felt over your hat block and manipulate it to fit the block – you may have to stretch it and then smooth it to fit the block. You can add sizing now. Let the hat dry on the block. 

You can embellish your hat with a simple head band made of pretty ribbons or fabric strips or fabric flowers, cockades, rosettes, pearls, ribbon bows, fabric bows, felt flowers, felt roses, popom trims, lace trims, tassels etc

Related posts : Free fleece hat patterns; Different types of hats; How to take care of hats . 

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