The Auld Garb Monger Sewing Projects
These instructions detail the construction of a cavalier's hat, as the
author made one for his own costume.
Before You Start
Completely and carefully read these instructions over. Even for a small
project, you do not want to discover, at the end, that you forgot to do
something. In developing my costumes, I have had this happen often enough
to realize that I can mess up even a familiar pattern this way,
much more so a new one.
In addition, because you are custom-fitting this, and other, costume
pieces, you must know before you start cutting where you will enlarge
or size down the pattern.
Gather the tools you will need to do this project.
A sewing machine (or access to one.)
A cutting board (You can find these made of plastic or cardboard. It protects
Sharp scissors (If you have to buy news ones, do so. They will much
more easily cut and spare you from much frustration.) --AND/OR--
A Rotary Cutter (This is like a pizza cutter, and makes cutting curves
like cutting warm butter.)
Fabric pencils (These soft pencils make highly visible, temporary marks
on fabric. Colored artists' pencils are too hard to make clear marks. Chalk
is the other alternative.)
A yardstick (Preferably metal.)
A 60" or longer measuring tape
Beaded pins and a large magnet (Buy many of these, and have something handy
to store them.)
An assortment of sewing needles and threaders (a threader is a dime-size
tool with a loop of fine wire that makes threading a needle much easier.)
Plain pattern paper or a roll of plain brown wrapping paper (To make a
Now gather the materials you will use for your hat.
Fabric (two and a half to three yards per hat of anything like these: Felt,
Burlap, Corduroy, Velvet, Tapestry, Leather, Suede, etc.)*
Heavy Buckram interfacing (To stiffen the brim. Get 2 1/2 to 3 yards, also.)*
a spool of 19 guage stainless steel wire to reinforce the edge of the brim.
Thread matching the color of the fabric (Believe me, the lower the price
of the thread, the more it will break when you sew. so get some quality
One to two yards of 1" wide satin ribbon for an outer, decorative hat band
and optional yard of 1" to 1 1/2" wide grossgrain ribbon for an inner hat
An ostrich plume (In a color that complements the hat.)
* This is a general estimate, based on this pattern. It may be less
for smaller heads. Follow the instructions under, "Getting the Proper
Fit," in the section, "Setting Up the Pattern," to figure the right yardage.
**There are brands of interfacing that can be ironed on like a patch.
These will work well for this project.
A Few Terms You Need to Know
Seam: This is where you join two pieces of fabric, like the seat
of your pants that slits at awkward times. There are two threads in every
seam, the main thread, and the bobbin thread.
Seam allowance: How far in from the raw edge of the fabric you make
the seam (For this pattern, it is about a 1/2".)
Bobbin thread: This is the thread that comes up from below on the
Selvage: These are the factory-finished edges of the fabric. They
follow the grain of the fabric. When you see the instruction, "cut along
the grainline," or an illustration like this --
-- then that means line up parallel to the selvage.
Layout: The arrangement of pattern pieces on the fabric for the
most efficient use of material.
On the fold: A pattern piece that is to be cut from a folded piece
of cloth (e.g., cut a semicircle on the fold, and you will get a
whole circle of cloth.)
Nap: Velvety fabric (like velvet, corduroy, etc.) lays in one direction,
like fur. When you rub it one way, the pile looks dark. Rub it the other
way, and it looks light. You see something like this when you vacuum carpet,
too (assuming you do the vacuuming, and not someone else.) In a
garment, the nap has to run the same direction all around, or one
part will look lighter than the rest, and that is poor handiwork. As a
rule of thumb, the nap follows the grainline, but make sure
each time you cut that it all runs the same way. To ensure this happens,
many commercial patterns have special layouts for fabrics with a
nap. For this pattern, the layout is the same for any fabric.
Baste: This is where you loosely stitch two pieces together by hand,
to hold them together for sewing. It is not permanent, but will be covered
over or removed afterwards. You can do the same thing with beaded pins,
but on circular or small seams the fabric tends to unevenly bunch
Interfacing: This is some form of a stiffener that a tailor inserts
between the outer shell of a garment and the inner lining, to keep the
piece from flopping around. It can be plain or fusible, meaning
it will iron on like a patch. Shirt cuffs and collars, and jacket lapels
all have various forms of interfacing. Here, it is for the hat brim.
Right sides together: Whenever you sew a garment, you sew it inside
out, or "right sides together." On all fabrics, the right side is
the outside. So, on velvet, "right sides together" is a velvety
side against a velvety side (In subsequent illustrations, this will be
the side colored blue.)
Wrong sides together: Using the above example, "wrong sides together"
is sewing with the right sides out. The opposite of "right sides
together" (In subsequent illustrations, this will be the side colored
Bagging out: A form of tailoring that assembles two identically
cut pieces of fabric, one of the shell and one of the lining, with the
right sides together. This makes the stitches "hidden." When the
sewing is near completion, you turn the whole thing right sides out, and
the final seam is sewn shut.
Top Stitch: To make a seam where the stitches are visible. In bagging
out, you close the final seam by top stitching.
Stitch length: A setting on your sewing machine that determines
the length of each stitch in a seam. The longer the length, the
looser the seam.
Stitch Width: When zig-zagging the edge of a seam, this machine
setting determines how wide the pattern will be (A good rule of thumb is
to set the stitch width the same as the stitch length.)
Crown: The top of the hat
Brim: the wide, flat part of the hat.
Setting Up the Pattern
Laying out the Pattern and Sewing
Fitting and Final Assembly
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