We are living aboard at a marina in San Francisco as we finish our refitting tasks on Eurybia so we can head south. The weather here can be quite cold and windy, as it can be offshore even in warmer latitudes. So a warm hat that you can wear under your foulies, or out and about in colder towns is a useful thing to have. If it also displays your boat colors – well, that’s fun. And if it takes only an hour to make a custom homemade hat – score!
Fleece is a great material to use aboard – dries quickly, wicks moisture, can be thrown in a washer when ashore, and is WARM especially when it’s wet or windy. It’s also fairly inexpensive and comes in every color under the sun and lots of patterns as well. Some fleece is quite thick and “plush”, others are thinner – I suggest going to a fabric store to find the thickest plushest fleece you can so your hat will be warm and cut the wind.
Sewing fleece is super easy as well – if you hide your seams there is no problem with unraveling so no need to finish the seams. You could do a cute rustic hat with exposed seams, but we have gone with a finished look for the two homemade hat styles detailed below.
For either homemade hat you need to do a little measuring and math to get a good fit. These are the numbers you will need for either hat:
hc = Measure the circumference of the head*
hr = c / 6.28
An example might be useful. My head circumference is 22.5″. Calculate 22.5/6.28 = 3.58. Therefore my hr value is 3.6″ (rounded) and hc value is 22.5″.
*Measuring Head Circumference
You can use a tape measure or a length of string to determine the circumference. Place the string or tape around your head just above your ear, across the mid-forehead, completely circling your head and parallel to the ground at the widest point of your head. Hold the tape firmly, but not too tightly.
There are several ways to cut a circle in fabric. If you have the SailRite Patterning Ruler, this makes it easy.
Or you can use a piece of doubled string and a pin as in the image below.
Hat 1: the Kepi
Jon prefers a simple hat that just covers his head, like a brim-less kepi, the military style hat that French cops wear.
Cut out Kepi Material
For the kepi you will need to cut three pieces, the top, the side band, and the accent color side band (which will be mostly inside the hat, with just the little edge sticking out).
The top, in your main color, will be a circle with a radius of your hr value plus 1/2″ for the seam. The main hat band will be in the main color and will be 4.5″ by your head circumference + .5″ and the inner hat band can be in your accent color at 5″ wide by your head circumference + .5″ . See the diagram below.
Sewing the Kepi
With right sides together sew the accent band to the main color band along the long edge. Fold this new wide piece in half so that the “wrong side” is the accent color and the “right side” is the main color with a little strip of accent color.
Sew the loose long edges together to make a doubled band.
With the main color sides together, sew the short side with a 1/4″ seam to make your head band.
Pin the right side of the circle (top) piece to the right side (main color) of the head band. See the picture below showing the hat inside out with the seams shown. The main color is dark blue and the sea-green is the accent color.
Sew the top to the head band with a 1/2″ seam. Trim the seam when you’re done. You’re finished!
Hat 2: the Beret
The traditional black wool beret, like the kepi, has been made famous in France. Men in Spain and Portugal also traditionally wear the beret. The Scottish bonnet or tam-o-shanter is very similar as well. I prefer wearing a beret to the kepi as it is softer looking and can be pulled down to fully cover my ears.
Cut out the Beret
Cut out the two circles for the top and bottom of the hat, then cut the center out of one of them so that you end up with a doughnut and a circle. Both circles are 12″ in diameter (6″ radius). The doughnut hole is sized to the hr figure calculated above
Then cut the band (main color) and the narrow strip of accent.
Make the top of the Beret
Pin the circle and the doughnut with right sides together and sew a 1/2″ seam around the outer edge.
Turn the hat right side out.
Make the Head Band for the Beret
Fold the accent color band in half the long way, making a long, narrow strip of color. Do the same with the main color strip.
Pin the two strips together at their long, loose edges.
Now create the circular head band by sewing the short edges together, right sides together – which means the accent strip will be inside when you sew the seam. Sew a 1/4″ seam.
Sew the top and band together
Pin together the right sides of the “doughnut hole” in the top portion and the head band. The accent strip should be hidden between the top portion and the head band main color.
Sew the pieces together as shown above and trim the seam if necessary. You’re done!