Sewing Hats: The Journey Sucketh Every Time

Aside from finishing the skirt for Fluttershy last weekend, I also managed to finish the top hat accessory I’ll be wearing.  Trust me, I’m not certain that is a victory.

I started with McCall’s 6975 (View F), and some cut pieces of swirly yellow brocade, which I will also be using later on for my waist cincher.

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I’ll also be using this pattern soon for some fingerless gloves for this costume! 🙂  Just waiting on some stabilizer to arrive from Amazon so that I don’t tear the sheer glove fabric when I make the button holes.

Anyway, I discovered that sewing top hats with your sewing machine does NOT get easier the second time around.  In fact, based on this recent experience, I think the first time may have gone better, but maybe I’m just remembering it fondly because THIS hat experience was so frustrating?  I definitely remember top hats being more frustrating than the pilot captain’s hat I made for Rainbow Dash, though it was still not a walk in the park.

Some parts of the stitching were easy – such as sewing the brim pieces together.  Very relaxing to just leave your hand on the inner loop and guide the piece through it’s circular stitch path.

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Other parts, such as attaching the top of the hat to the cylindrical part, and then attaching the brim to the cylindrical part, were not easy.  I mean, you can barely see, much less sew (see below). And the hat was constantly hitting and getting stuck on the automatic needle threader pieces of my Brother, which I never use anyway – I had half a mind to break them off at the peak of my frustration.

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I used fusible craft weight interfacing for this hat – this first hat used heavy weight, I think – and it was a huge pain to sew and turn right side out, etc.  In fact, after I ironed it onto the fabric, the interfacing caused the hat pieces to bow and bend just from sitting there.  I wound up ironing them a second and third time to straighten out the pieces before I sewed them.

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Above you can see some of the obvious difficulty I had with the top of the hat attachment – it’s not exactly a pretty circle.  All said and done, I still wound up with something that resembles a hat at the finish line.  Never mind that weird crook in the brim (hidden in the picture below), we’ll just put it at the back of my head and press on with life.

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Does anyone have the SEKRITS to sewing hats without this much pain and agony?  Here are the few things I have learned:

1.  Fuck pinning.  OK, so this is my usual mantra unless I am doing Something Really Important.  But it is doubly important here, for several reasons.  First, pinning through thick interfacing is a bitch.  Second, you will stab yourself and yell obscenities.  And finally, you will remove the pins after you have done numbers 1 & 2, which were apparently a waste of time anyway.

2.  Squish the fabric any way you can.  It will come back later, your machine will make fewer horrible sounds, and the fabric will get caught on random shit less frequently.

3.  Sew in small amounts at a time.  Preferably at a slower speed so you don’t send your needle running headlong off the edge of your hat.  It is so hard to move and arrange / squish the hat pieces for some parts of this that it will be easier to start a line of stitching, stitch a little bit, and then stop and reinforce.  Then remove the hat from the machine, reposition it, and start a the line of stitching over again.

4.  No matter how tempting, do not throw your sewing machine down the stairs.  I seriously contemplated this, as well as opening the window and tossing it out onto the roof of the third story just to hear the satisfying crash on the driveway … but that could have damaged a car.  If you are really close to hurting your machine, it’s time to take a break and come back later.

I’m not sure how useful the advice above really is … but it has got to mean something that I had so many problems, and still wound up with a hat that looked passable right?

Once the sewing of the hat was complete, the real fun of decorating the hat begins!

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I used my trusty hot glue gun, some flowers in pink and blue, a glittery pink ribbon, a flower blue trim, a butterfly piece, and a hummingbird clip.  I also glued a clip to the underside of the hat brim to help it stay on my head with the wig I’ll be wearing.  The bird is maybe a bit of a stretch, but it’s the right color, and Fluttershy is all about animals so, it’s gonna stay, I think.

I even tried the hat on with my wig (which is in some need of styling, so don’t judge me yet).

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Kind of convenient I was wearing a yellow t-shirt for that photo hah.  I might go with one ponytail on the wig, but hard to say.  Also, black eyebrows make the look, don’t you think?  Thankfully I have my eyebrow pencil and eye shadow trick to color those more appropriately.

While I had this getup on my head, I took the parasol out and rested it on my shoulder, where I discovered two things:

1.  The parasol is a fairly different shade of yellow than my skirt, and I don’t know how I feel about that.  Actually, I’m pretty certain it bothers me.

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2.  Holding the parasol over my shoulder with the hat on is a logistical problem I did not foresee.  I will probably knock my hat and/or wig off my head like this.

So I’ve decided to use the parasol as a closed prop for carrying and posing.  I think I’ll tie a ribbon around it and maybe attach a butterfly to the bow.  Also, with the parasol closed, hopefully the glaring differences in yellow will be minimized.

Anyway – hat complete, despite the frustrations.  I love the swirly fabric, and I like how the decorations turned out, though a little part of me wishes you could see the bird better.  Maybe I will try to fix that.  Cheers!

 

9 comments for “Sewing Hats: The Journey Sucketh Every Time

  1. January 27, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I love the hat! I definitely don’t think the bird is too much.

     
    • January 27, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Good, cause I moved him in front of the flowers last night LOL.

       
  2. Amanda
    January 27, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    You can always spray paint the parasol if you have too 🙂

     
  3. January 27, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I’ve got a tip for sewing the hat….but you’re not going to like- hand sewing :-/

     
    • January 27, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Haha true that, my friend! Just doesn’t seem like hand sewing would be sturdy enough? Maybe someday i will give in and try it!

       
  4. Marcia
    June 3, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I’m making hat G. Directions for interfacing are in more than one place and it’s difficult to figure out. Brim pieces are different sizes and are not labelled upper and lower. And you’re supposed to have wire for the last step. I know the kind of wire is stated somewhere, but I can’t find it again.

     
    • June 3, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      I couldn’t find all the pieces of the instructions, but did find the ones for Hat G … I didn’t see any name for the wire in there, but I would imagine you want something both thin and sturdy. Solid stranded wire is more sturdy than stranded (I have used it as a base for wings), and you’ll probably want a relatively high gauge, like 16-18? Just a guess. You can get this at Home Depot or Lowe’s and can test out how bendable it is to help you choose a gauge. I would think most jewelry making wire is too loose to work well here. As for the G brim pieces, I think you use 24 for upper brim and 25 for under brim (see step 7). Very annoying that the brim pieces are different sizes, as that means you’ll have to stretch the smaller one. Good luck with your hat!

       
      • Marcia
        June 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

        Your experience helped me realize that the pattern was not laid out well-it wasn’t just me. I have hat wire from previous attempts, I was just venting steam. I think the larger brim goes on top so that the seam is under the brim rather than at the edge. I’ve sent my comments to McCalls.

         
        • June 3, 2015 at 5:07 pm

          Ahhh. I fully support venting!! I’ve had some issues with other patterns before as well – a particularly frustrating experience turning a lined halter top onside out comes to mind – and it turns out the pattern had mistakes. They aren’t perfect for sure! I’m curious – what kind of wire do you use for the hat?

           

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