Tutorial: How to Sew a (Mini) Pilot Captain’s Hat

I had quite the hat adventure last week, and it was definitely a learning experience for me.  Hopefully, the rest of you can learn through my mistakes!

I needed a pilot captain’s hat for my upcoming Rainbow Dash costume project – which I think I am going to call Sky Captain Rainbow Dash.  So I began to look through Google Images, and plotted the pattern pieces I would need to design.  I also decided I would need to make a muslin version first to make sure I got the hat right.  Turns out, I made 3 muslins.

Hat Version 1.0 – The Pilot Chef

After carefully crafting my pattern 4 pattern pieces, and cutting my various interfacing and muslin, I wound up with this:


This hat seems useful only if you are multi-tasking: flying a plane at the same time as you are cooking a 4-course dinner.  The hat band is to tall, the top of it too floppy.  Fail.

Hat Version 2.0 – Pilot Mario

Back to the drawing board.  I changed my pattern drafting tactic, deciding maybe I needed straight pieces for everything but the hat top, in order to make the angles work.  This round resulted in the following:


Useful if you are one of the Mario Brothers chasing after Princess Peach via airplane.  No bueno.

Hat Version 3.0 – Sky Captain Rainbow Dash

I went back to my original pattern pieces, with some modifications.  A thinner band connected to the visor, a longer visor, and different interfacing on the angled piece of the hat.  I was rewarded with this:


It is the pattern I decided to use for Sky Captain Rainbow Dash.

For those of you following at home, here are the different sets of pattern pieces I used for each hat:


I love that the arrangement of the pattern pieces for Hat 3 looks like a silly cartoon face raising an eyebrow.

And the final products:


Are you ready to make your own?

Cutting Your Hat Pattern:

Here are the pattern pieces you will need:


1)  Round hat top – I used a bowl of the size I was interested in as the template for this piece.  Cut 1 piece of fabric and 1 piece of lightweight fusible interfacing.

2)  Round angled piece – I used the same bowl for the outside of this, and then a smaller bowl to make the cut out in the inside of the circle.  The cut out piece should NOT be placed in the center, since the front of the hat has a bit more height to it than the back and sides.  Cut 1 piece of fabric, 1 piece of lightweight interfacing, and 1 piece of heavyweight interfacing.  Then cut off the front of the heavy interfacing piece, as this is the only part you will actually use for the hat – if you look closely in the picture above you can see the piece of heavy interfacing is right under the 2, a piece of the circle.

3)  Long skinny rectangle – This is for the piece of the hat that connects to the brim.  It’s length should match that of piece 2’s inner circle’s circumference.  You probably want it slightly longer than the circumference for seam allowances.  Cut 1 piece of fabric and 1 piece of heavyweight fusable interfacing.

4)  Visor piece – I began with the inner circle piece again, and traced around a portion of it.  Then made two straight lines out for the sides, and a rounded bit for the outside.  Cut 2 pieces each of fabric and lightweight fusible interfacing.

Note: I made this hat intentionally small.  For my pony costume, I am going to need to wear pony ears on my head as well, so I had to balance space for both adornments.  You should be able to modify the pattern to be larger by simply using larger bowls as the starting point 🙂

There are probably a lot of different ways you can piece this hat together.  However, this is the way I went.  I did not leave large seam allowances on this project, pretty much just went with about 1/4″ or less on my seams.

Sewing Steps:

0)  Fuse all interfacing to appropriate pieces.  On Piece 2, first fuse the lightweight interfacing, then fuse the heavyweight interfacing only to the front side of the hat (the wide side of the circle).

1)  Right sides together, stitch the ends of Piece 3 together.

2)  The two visor pieces should be laid right sides together, and stitched along the outside from the beginning of one side, across the brim, to the beginning of the other side.  Turn it right side out.

3)  Stitch the visor to the circular piece at the front.  You may need some pinning / fabric pulling tricks to make the rounded angles match.

4)  Right sides together, stitch the circular piece from Step 3 (with the visor and bottom of hat) to Piece 2 along the smaller circle edge.  Again, there is definitely some pinning / fabric pulling challenges while you stitch here.  In fact, I stitched one half of this circle one way in my machine, then reinforced stitches and flipped to the other side.

5)  Place Pieces 1 & 2 right sides together, and stitch around the outside edge.

6)  Turn the hat right side out, and press appropriately.


This makes it sound pretty easy, but this and my other experience with hats has been that the machine and fabric quarreling that occurs when making hats makes you want to pull your hair out.  For instance, during this hat making experience, here are some shots of what my machine and fabric looked like.


I particularly enjoy the middle picture.  Keep in mind, that even though it looks like that … I still wound up with functional hats.

There are couple reasons I have not made the actual hat for the costume yet.  1)  I don’t want to cut the satin for the hat until I am finished cutting the satin for the jacket, to make sure I have enough.  2)  After three muslins, I am a little bit tired of hats for the moment.  Regardless, I promise to share the completed hat here when I do!


5 comments for “Tutorial: How to Sew a (Mini) Pilot Captain’s Hat

  1. February 17, 2014 at 8:27 am

    You did an excellent job of persevering through Project Hat. I’m sure I would have rage quit after a failure or two. Anyway, your final hat is adorable – looks like it’ll be perfect for your costume!

    • Tyraenna
      February 17, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Thanks 🙂 I’m excited to make the real one, probably this week. I’ve been debating a tiny cutie mark applique for the hat instead of a pin lately.

  2. Kelley
    February 17, 2014 at 9:56 am

    That’s impressive!!

    • Tyraenna
      February 17, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Haha, just impressive that I didn’t throw my sewing machine out the 3rd story window …

  3. Dawn Everett
    July 2, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Your instructions guided me through making an adorable boat captains hat for a little Shih Tzu which I babysit for and whose name is Skipper (aka El Capitan). I would love to send you a photo of him wearing it. If you would like me to do so please reply to this email.
    Thank you,
    Dawn Everett


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