The Making Of – Leather Witch Hats Part 2

Done stitching
Part 2 shows how we turned those pieces into a real live hat!

Constructing the Hat

This is part two of our behind-the-scenes look at how our witch hats were made! Now that you have all your pieces cut and prepared, it’s time to start construction. This all comes together faster than you might expect, with a magic stitch bringing everything together towards the end.

This tutorial is a part of a series!

Preparing to Stitch

Skiving the Crown
To make stitching the point of the crown a little easier, thin the leather with a skiver
Prepare for stitching
Use an edge groover and an overstitch wheel to mark out your stitches. Punch out each hole.

Before you begin stitching, it’s smart to use something like Tandy’s Super Skiver to thin down the tips of the crown point.

Follow up by using a stitching groover and overstitch wheel to mark out your stitches

Lastly, use a small leather punch to clear out each stitching hole


Stitching the Crown

Begin Stitching
Begin stitching with crown pieces overlapped, starting at the bottom
wet crown tips
Continue stitching until you reach the point. Wet the leather here well
Trim crown tips
Trim off any excess leather, being careful to leave stitching holes in-tact
Fold crown tips
Sharply fold one of the tips in half lengthwise. Crease well.
Wrap crown tip
Wrap the other crown tip around the first. The wetter the leather, the easier!
Begin Stitching Tip
Begin stitching again by placing your needle through one layer of leather at a time
Wet stitching tips
Pulling the thread taught should close the tip nicely
Pull thread stitch
Continue stitching one layer at a time until you can easily fit your needle through both layers at once – stitch normally
Punch holes lacing
Before the crown is completely stitched, measure out and punch holes for lacing

I use Tandy’s sewing awl kit for most of my stitching, although if you check out our future leather working video we’ll go over two more methods of stitching.

Overlap the crown pieces and stitch from the bottom to tip of one side.

Once you get to the point, trim off any excess leather use a sponge to wet it well. Fold one crown piece sharply and wrap the other piece around it. Continue stitching by inserting your needle through only one layer of leather at a time. Work loosely at first, then pull your stitching tightly to form the point.

Mark out any lacing you might want to do now before it gets more difficult. I used the thonging chisel set here


Creating the hat band

Hat band leather
Select a long scrap of leather for a hat band
Cut hat band
Cut the leather approx 1.5″ wide and about and inch longer than your circumference
Mark stitches hat band
Prepare edges and mark out the exact number of stitches equal to the brim and crown. Trim excess leather
Dye Hat Band
Punch out holes and use a water-stain dye and a dauber to color the band
Finish Dye Band
Buff out leather dye well

The hat band is cut out a scrap piece of leather about 1.5″ wide and longer than you think it needs to be. The edges are prepared per usual through beveling, slicking, grooving, and overstitch spacing. I use the overstitch spacing wheel to mark out my stitches and count out exactly as many stitches as the total crown has on the bottom. The extra length is trimmed off.

 

The hat band is dyed before installation so it is easier to avoid getting dye on the lining.


Adding the lining

Sew lining
Sew the lining pieces right-sides-together with a 1/4″ seam allowance
Begin stitching to hat band
Begin stitching the hat band to the lining, leaving about 5/8″ of lining under the band.
Finish lining
Continue stitching all the way around the lining, making sure to adjust the fabric so that the band ends just meet together

The lining is sewn right-sides-together with about 1/4″ seam allowance. The hat brim is then stitched to the right side of the lining, easing the lining so that when the hat band completely stitched the ends meet seamlessly


The Magic Seam

Count Stitches Brim
Count the number of holes going around the crown piece. Mark the same number of holes on the inside of each brim

Counting stitching holes is easily the hardest part of this project. The inside of the brim should have exactly has many stitching holes as the crown has. Our method was as follows:

  • Count the number of stitches around crown base
  • Lightly use the same spacing wheel to gently mark stitching holes around the brim
  • Count the number of brim indentations
  • Determine how many stitches to add or take away to the brim count
  • Adjust a couple stitches evenly around the brim until you get the right number
  • Punch the new holes
  • Flip the first brim over, placing it over the second brim
  • Use a fine tip pen to mark the hole placement from one brim to the next
Assemble hat pieces
Place lining inside completed crown, fit brim pieces over crown to determine order and direction
Start Stitching
First, insert your needle through the hat band
Next stitch under brim
Next, insert your needle through the bottom brim, rough side up
Next stitch crown
Follow up by inserting the needle through the crown piece, smooth side up
Final stitch top brim
Finally insert your needle through the top brim, making sure all your holes are correctly lined up
Continue stitch
Finish your stitch and repeat the next hole over. Keep repeating all the way around the hat
Finish stitching
Keep stitching, making sure your holes line up, until the entire hat is assembled

After all your pieces are ready, assemble your hat so that the lining is inside the crown and the brim pieces are over the crown. Make sure you like which brim is facing up, and determine a front and back for your hat.

Begin stitching by marking the placement of your first stitch on each layer of leather. I started at the side seam and made sure I was using brim holes from the side of the brim opening.

I started by inserting my needle through one layer of leather at a time:

  • Hat band
  • Lower brim
  • Crown
  • Upper brim

Finish the stitch and repeat around the entire hat. Soon you’ll need to insert your needle through all layers at once. It can be a little fiddly so be patient and add water to help stretch the leather if any of your holes aren’t lining up easily.


Finishing the brim

Need to glue
As you can see the hat looks great, but we’re seeing double brims
Barge cement
Follow the directions on Barge cement to thoroughly glue the brim together

The brim needs to be glued together, ideally with Barge cement. Follow the instructions and evenly coat each layer, individually, all the way around the brim. A friend can help you lift the top layer of leather – which is exactly what I did, and exactly why we forgot to take any photos of it.

Glued Brim
The brim is finally a single piece! and ready for shaping

 

Even out the edges of the brim once the cement has dried with an X-ACTO knife. The above image is of my hat, the white one at the same stage.

Edge slicker brim
Use your edge beveler and edge slicker combo to finish the edge

First use an edge beveler to take the corners off the edges of the leather. Then flip the brim and repeat. Follow up with a large edge slicker, used slowly and carefully, burnish the edges.


Wet-molding the hat

Wet Mold Hat
Completely soak the entire hat in water. Stretch the hat onto your hands and begins folding it gently
Shape Brim
Do some preliminary brim shaping. Bend and fold more than you think you need to.
Ready for dye
Once you’re happy with the shape, that’s it! You’re ready for dye!

This is pretty self-explanatory, which is good because we didn’t seem to get many photos of the process. Use a sponge to fully saturate the hat with water. Pull it onto your head to stretch the band and continue to fold and crease the crown and brim until you get a nice shape. Don’t be afraid to really work the leather and form creases. As it dries continue to readjust the shape until it’s dry to the touch.

We now have a completely assembled witch hat! Pretty neat, huh?

Next up is Part 3 – Finishing the hat, dying, lacing, waxing