While the British wore specific uniforms during the Revolutionary War, the Americans were not as well suited. Oftentimes, patriots wore their own clothing. By the end of the war, many Americans were wearing patchwork clothing. Typically, the colonists donned tricorn hats. These hats had caps that sat on the head and wide cocked brims. The hats became cocked when the men carried them beneath their arms, but soon hats were made that way to show off the wearer’s wig. Making a tricorn hat is a fun addition to a lesson on the Revolutionary War.
American Revolutionary hats can be crafted out of a variety of materials. You can use cardboard or construction paper if you are making the hats for a large group of children or for very young kids. For a more authentic look, you can use stiff black felt or brown heavy packing paper. These materials create the genuine appearance of 18th century clothing, but are often more difficult to work with.
The easiest way to make a tricorn hat is to use three separate pieces of your material of choice. Cut them identically with a straight bottom, approximately a foot in width. The sides should also be straight, but only about 3 to 4 inches in height. The top should be a wavy cut with three hills and two valleys. The center hill should be slightly taller than the other two. The basic shape is a flattened bell.
Hold two pieces together and staple or stitch at the short side. Open them up and attach the last piece to the open ends to create a tricorn hat. You may have to adjust the location of the staples or stitches to ensure that the hat fits the child’s head.
While more complicated to make, this method creates a hat that better represents those worn during the American Revolution. Begin by cutting out an oval that is larger than the top of the child’s head by about 1 inch. Cut 1-inch cuts around the outside of this oval and fold up the tabs.
Make a band of whichever material you are using that is approximately 3 inches in thickness. When formed in a circle, it should be slightly larger than the child’s head. Connect the band using glue or stitching. Place the oval on top of the band, ensuring that the tabs fit inside it. Flip the whole piece over and glue the tabs to the inside of the band. Let dry if glue was used. This will be the part that sits on the child’s head, or the cap.
To make the brim, cut out a large oval approximately 12 by 11 inches in size from your material. Find the exact center. Place the cap in the center and trace around the oval. Now sketch an oval that is about 1 to 2 inches smaller inside the oval you drew from the cap. Cut this center out to make a donut shape. Cut strips inside the donut just to the cap line and fold the tabs up, similar to how you did with the small oval in the cap. Stitch or glue the tabs inside the cap. Let the glue dry.
At the front of the oval, fold up the material and tape or stitch it to the top. Curl each side to meet at the back to create the tricorn hat and affix.
You can add a simple decoration or something more elaborate to create a cocker hat that fits your needs. You can stick a feather in the hat. You can line the top with glitter or lace. You can affix a symbol, such as a star, on the front flap of the hat. Since both the patriots and the British wore tricorn hats, you can decorate hats to represent either side. British uniforms were decorated in white or yellow trim and often had a black ribbon or other ornament above the left eye.
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