DIY: Fedoras

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Fedora hats can look very chic.
Fedora hats can look very chic. (Image: fedora image by Jeffrey Sinnock from Fotolia.com)

Store-bought fedoras can be expensive and the range of styles may be limited. You can make your own fedora at home, however, using inexpensive supplies such as felt and white glue. The beauty of felting your own hat is that you can develop the surface using colored fibers and other embellishments, creating a unique item that will take a place of pride in your wardrobe. A sewing machine is useful for this project, but not essential.

Things You'll Need

  • Hat block (or Styrofoam and/or cardboard to make your own)
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Felt (large enough to cover your desired hat twice over)
  • Bowl
  • Hot water
  • Felt scraps and colored fibers (optional)
  • Fabric paints (optional)
  • White glue
  • Thick paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Needles and strong thread
  • Ribbon
  • Pins
  • Webbing (you can use the webbing from inside an old tie)

Making the Crown

Make your hat block if you don't have one. Carve a piece of Styrofoam into the shape you want, ensuring that the base will be as big around as your head. You can also make a hat mold from strong cardboard.

Make a pattern based on your hat block by shaping paper around it and tracing the outline in pencil. Your pattern will probably need about three pieces: one long piece and an oval to make the crown, then a larger oval to make the brim. Add an extra third of an inch inside the brim to create a seam allowance. Make two copies of this pattern. Sew the crown up separately so you have two versions of the same crown. Don't add the brim yet.

Stretch the felt hat over the hat block. You may need to wet the felt with warm water to do this. Be careful to stretch the felt evenly, and don't tear holes in it.

Apply a very thick layer of white glue all over the outside of the felt hat on the hat block. The felt should be completely saturated with glue. Ensure that there are no bare areas where the glue has soaked away.

Stretch the second layer of felt over the first. Pull it down very tightly so that there are no wrinkles or air bubbles. Fix this second layer firmly into place with sewing pins.

Wet the felt scraps or colored fibers if you are decorating the outside of your hat. Work the felt scraps or fibers against the felt of the hat so that the fibers mesh. Additional color can be added with fabric paints. Allow the finished crown to dry overnight.

Making and Attaching the Brim

Stretch one of the felt brim pieces over the hat block. Cover the brim with a thick layer of glue, taking care not to glue the seam allowance. Place the second piece on top, pressing them together so there are no wrinkles, air bubbles or gaps. Pin it into shape, and leave it to dry overnight.

Ensure that the hat and brim are thoroughly dry. Pin the seam allowance of the brim around the outside of the crown. Measure the webbing around your head. Sew the webbing into a circle that fits snugly but not too tightly. Pin this to the inside of the crown. Try on the hat. Adjust the pins until you're happy with the fit.

Sew the brim securely to the outside of the crown. Sew the ribbon around the completed fedora so that it covers the seam. Your fedora is now ready to wear.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can find hat blocks for sale online. If you wish, you can make the felt you use by hand, allowing you to make the whole hat without any seams.
  • Your new fedora is not waterproof. Try to avoid wearing it in the rain, as too much moisture will destroy the shape.

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