May 1, 2010

The birth of a gentleman’s hat

I had a bunch of handsome gentlemen in need of a spring hat for the last Passejada amb barret, and decided to start from scratch and design and sew a stylish hat for them.

Do you remember that a while ago I sculpted a hat with plasticine and extracted a flat pattern from it? If you don’t remember or want to see it again, follow this link.

Well, for my gentleman’s hat I decided to follow the same process. I used a round block as a base in order to save on plasticine (aka Play Doh), and as you can see it starts quite messy and seems hopeless, but little by little it takes shape. I like to smooth it out really well when it’s almost finished. Once the shape is ready I cover it with cling film and ideally I use masking (painters) tape to cover the whole shape, carefully following all the curves. When I made this pattern I was out of masking tape (and it was Sunday, so no hope of finding any) so I used packing tape which is messy and does not adapt as well to the shape, but in the end it did the trick.

Then I drew lines with a felt pen where the cuts (seams) were going to be. I think this is the trickiest part of the whole process, trying to visualise where the seams should be, but it’s a process that can be repeated as many times as necessary, covering the form again if we need to, and marking different seam lines. Once happy with the tape pattern it’s time to transfer it to pattern paper and true it up with a french curve.

I believe I got really lucky because I love the resulting pattern (the crown is made from one piece of fabric), but I should point out that the finished hat is not exactly as the plasticine version… if you check it out carefully you wil see that I marked the seam to be on the top edge of the sideband, but on the finished hat the top edge is a fold and the seam sinks down. When I had the prototype sewn I saw that it had to sink down, there was no other way.

If you check all the pictures I’ve taken of the sewing process you will see that I cut the iron-on interfacing without seam allowance, then iron it to the external fabric, and then cut the fabric with the allowance. That minimizes the bulk, and serves as a guide when sewing… I’m not really sure if it’s a good idea of just a crazy one but it worked for me…

In any case, the pattern still needs some perfecting. The last version is the one being worn by Paco Peralta (my couturier friend, the one on the far left picture), and you can see how the brim curves better than on the other ones (Peter and Joaquín).


What I found (and still find) more difficult is to get the right brim and crown pattern measurements, which have little to do with the final hat size (meaning that if you want a 60 cm hat, the crown will not be 60 cm, nor will the brim). There are many factors at work here, the main one being the accumulated thicknesses of fabric which vary depending on the fabric, and also important is the order in which all the parts are sewn together, because they have to fit like a puzzle.

Regarding the thicknesses, you have to think that the brim will have two thicknesses (upper and lower brim) and the crown will also be two thicknesses (because it will fold inwardly). Finally think of the lining (which also folds in,  so two more layers) and the sweatband (grosgrain sewn on the inside for finish).

If the brim is too large or to small, and you try to adjust it on the go at the moment of joining crown and brim, you will not only sweat profusely but you will also be changing the profile (curl) and width of the brim, which is not something you want.

Above is a picture of the assembled hat. By the way, on the latest version I decided to sew the lining by hand, folding it under so no unsightly fabric edges are visible , which made the inside of the hat look much neater.

And here is the finished hat (the beautiful fabric is from GRATACOS):

5/5/2010 Oops, I made a big typo and fixed it today!!


  1. The hats are great, you did an explendid job! Paco looks very handsome in his new hat, just like the other two gentlemen. Thanks for sharing your technique!

    Comment by Tany — May 1, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  2. Love these! Thanks so much for the tutorial.

    Comment by Janel — May 2, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  3. Thanks much; I love the shape and the tutorial.


    Comment by Lee — May 3, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  4. Well Cristina, this proves what an artist you are! Beautiful job sculpting this hat and what a fantastic outcome.. Thank You for sharing your technique and most of all your lovely blog..


    Comment by Montez — May 3, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

  5. wonderful hats! Thank you for sharing. Very inspiring.

    Comment by LK — May 3, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

  6. Genius!

    Comment by Cath — May 4, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

  7. Que interesante Cristina. Todo el proceso es digno de admiración y el resultado fantástico, por supuesto. Gracias por estos sombreros tan bonitos. Saludos…!!!

    Comment by Paco Peralta — May 6, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

  8. Felicidades Cristina, un trabajo buenísimo tanto en patronaje, como en modelado y la terminación es fantástica. Gracias por compartirlo en tu blog.
    Tus tres caballeros se ven muy elegantes.

    Comment by carmen — May 9, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  9. I’ve visited this post several times, and I really enjoy it. Every time you post how-to’s, I learn so much.



    Comment by Lee — May 9, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

  10. Thank you all for your encouraging comments.

    I look forward to seeing other peoples attempt at this kind of pattern creation!


    Comment by cristinadeprada — May 9, 2010 @ 10:29 pm

  11. Eres una artista; felicidades.

    Comment by Blanca consombrero — June 4, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

  12. I’ve made paper patterns before but never considered covering a shape with tape – brilliant! Stupid I didn’t think of it for myself, I made a dress form once by covering myself with tape (over cheesecloth) and that worked. Thank you very much for sharing.

    Comment by Zena Herbert — September 4, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  13. Thank you Zena… it’s one of those things that one day dawn on you, you try it and it works! It’s a pleasure to share it 🙂
    Have you seen the other pattern I made with this system? All related posts are here:

    Comment by cristinadeprada — September 4, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  14. Muchas gracias por compartir conocimientos!!!me ha encantado este post!!!!

    Comment by Irene — November 20, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  15. Gracias Irene!!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 20, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

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