Grownup sunhats!

Last summer, I went a little nuts with sewing. I've shared my daughters' reversible toddler sunhats, but the one I made for me wasn't quite the success theirs were. I wanted to love the result, but, well . . . I didn't quite.

I started off fantastic: a yard of gorgeous, emerald green 100% linen and a free sunhat pattern from BurdaStyle.

Only once I opened the file, it was less a pattern and more just instructions. I am not a sewing wiz. Frankly, I wasn't smart enough was too WAYWARD to follow the instructions well. The results? Also wayward!

So let me just tell you how to custom size your sunhat, wayward style!

First off, measure your head!! Measure around your head where you want your hat to fit. Please don't think that just because the pattern says you should make the hat 24" circumference and your head is 22", you should follow the pattern and your head needs "ease." It doesn't! Do not follow the pattern! Follow your head circumference! (Oh, and write it down.)

Top stitching on the crown
Second, measure your head!! And not just in the measure twice, cut once way. (And oh yes, I cut more than once.) Measure your head from forehead to the base of your skull, where you want your hat to hit. Also measure from ear to ear, where you want the hat to hit. Be sure to measure those lengths by wrapping the tape over where you want the center point of the hat to be. Take the average (i.e. add those numbers and divide by two). Write that down, too.

Now, you have your head measurements. The crown of the hat is made in six sections. So, if your head is 22" in circumference and your ear-to-ear/front-to-back average is 12", we'll need to divide that up into the sections. The ear-to-ear/front-to-back average is divided in two to give 6" as the crown height.

The circumference has to be divided by six, giving us the ugly number of 3.67" for the width of each piece.

Don't go cutting yet!

First, add the seam allowance to the measurements, 5/8" on each side. This brings our width to 4.92" (okay, rounding up will make the hat 1/2" larger around), and the crown height to 7.25".

NOW you can cut your paper pattern of a 4.92" x 7.25" rectangle. Lovely. Now, fold your paper pattern in half (making the rectangle even narrower) and sketch a curving, convex line, starting about 1/3rd of the way up the long edge and ending at the top midpoint. I might have used an iron as a tracing guide. Cut along the line and open to reveal your very nice, symmetrical pattern piece!

Cut 6 of these (or 12 if you want to line your hat; I did).

Now, cut out your brim. You'll need two of these. Again, don't make the mistakes I did!

Brims tend to hold up better if they're not quite a full, flat circle. Leaving out a segment of the circle gives the hat dimension and the brim shape. But remember that the inner circumference of the brim must match the circumference of the sewn crown!

I forgot that and drew a circle with an inner circumference to match the crown, then hacked off a bit of the end to make the not-quite-circle. My brim was too short to go all the way around my hat! Fortunately, I had some extra fabric and was able to fix it, but I was not happy!

So, let's say you want to omit 4" off the full circle (the more you cut off, the further down the hat brim will droop. Personally I wouldn't do more than 4"-6"). You'll still need to end up matching your 22" crown, so here's what you gotta do: add the amount you want to cut off the circle to your head circumference, bringing us to 26". Now, do some math (sorry!) to find the radius of that circle: 27"/(2*3.1415) = 4.30".

Using a protractor (or two pencils and a piece of string 4.3" long!), draw a semicircle with a radius of 4.30" on the edge of a piece of pattern paper (or newspaper, if you're me).

Top stitching and satin stitch along brim edge
Decide how wide you want your brim. Wider isn't always better--it can also be heavier, even too heavy to support its own weight! The Burda pattern also made the brim asymmetrical, 1/2" narrower in the back than in the front (6" in front, 5.5" in back). However, I feel like the interfacing used just isn't strong enough to support the brim and it ended up too floppy. To reinforce a wide hat brim, you might consider Timtex or buckram.

Draw a second circle to finish the brim (or 2 more circles, if you're changing the brim width) by adding your brim width to the original circumference to get the outer circle radius: 6" + 4.30" = 10.3".

NOW, on the INSIDE semicircle of the brim, measure in 2" (half of the length we're trimming from the brim) from the edge. (If your brim will be asymmetrical, make sure to do this on the narrower/back side.) Sketch a line from this point out to the outer circle. (You need this to be large enough that you can fit the hat together, but the larger the angle this line would form with the edge of the paper, the more the brim will angle/droop down.)
Add your 5/8" seam allowance all around and label the angled end "back". Place the non-angled end against the fold and cut two whole brims.

Now you have all the pieces ready for your custom sunhat. The BurdaStyle directions from here are very helpful. Hopefully it will fit you better (and come together with less trouble) than mine!

Outdoor sewing room photo by NormaNack


Brave Brooke said...

You look so southern with your sunhat!

Kim said...

Oh thank you! I've been trying to find one, but I've only seen black in stores (what a terrible idea for a hot day!) This will be way more awesome!

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