Sewing: hat prototype

I got a request for a hat. Not just any hat, but a hat with special embroidery on it, a particular symbolism on the cover and the front. So, first I had to design the emblem, and then get the sizing right, and then I had to make the six parts of the hat (the inside lining face and cover, the outside shell face and cover, the interfacing which had to be heat-glued to the outside shell…). And then came the attempt at embroidery. I say attempt, because sometimes these things don’t quite work out as planned the first time.

It’s sort of a lengthy process to design a new thing. Even if you’re not starting “from scratch” there’s all sorts of things that can go … not quite right. In this case, I think the stitch length was a little too long for embroidery. When you print out the embroidery design on a piece of paper, and then you use that design as the template by embroidering directly through the paper, you sometimes get a perfect design — because the stitching has perforated the paper enough, that it just comes loose right away. And sometimes, if the stitch length is too long or too short, it doesn’t go quite right, and you get pulled stitches in places.

It’s also the case that cutting the ellipse of the cover of this sort of hat, isn’t always quite right. Few digital tools are set up to draw an ellipse (or even a circle), based on the really important factors in pattern-layout: the circumference. You don’t want a hat designed based on the diameter of your head, after all — your head has a different diameter from front to back than it does through your ears. And do you really want me measuring that directly?

No. You don’t. Because that would involve sticking a sharp ruler through your skull.

No, you want me to measure the old fashioned way: wrapping a tape measure around your head, adding a 1/4″ to a 1/2″ of ease, and building the hat around that measurement.

It didn’t turn out perfectly, but it’s good enough for a first-draft (didn’t know that pattern makers need to make first drafts? We’ve all got a lot to learn about sewing). For one, I didn’t line up the points of the star on the facing and on the cover. So you’ll always wear this hat slightly lopsided. Whups. For another, I didn’t clip the seams, so it’s got some bagginess in it. For another, I stitched, and turned; I didn’t just fold and top-stitch. For another, I didn’t do a lot of elaborate side embroidery along the walls of the hat; just the emblem. For another, I think I’ll put the emblem inside a 4″x6″ rectangle next time, so as I pin the rectangle to the side-wall of the hat, I have guidelines to let me know the design is vertical. That will also make it easier to attach so the points of the two different stars line up.

And this is how we build up our skills as a sewist — not through getting each individual thing absolutely perfect, but by making a lot of stuff, and taking note of the errors, and how to correct them.

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