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!
- Part 1 – Choosing leather, Making the pattern, preparing the pieces
- Part 2 – Preparing to stitch, constructing the hat
- Part 3 – Finishing the hat, dying, lacing, waxing
Preparing to Stitch
Before you begin stitching, it’s smart to use something like Tandy’s Super Skiver to thin down the tips of the crown point.
Lastly, use a small leather punch to clear out each stitching hole
Stitching the Crown
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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.
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.
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
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?