Howdy, I have been doing some leather working for the past year and have enjoyed every minute of it. I have made several things out of leather but never a hat, so I decided to make a cowboy hat and share it with you all. I took some measurements of some hats that were around the house and also some measurements of my head to come up with a pattern that I wanted, This cowboy hat can easily be changed into a top hat, a bush craft hat, or any other type of hat, with just a few adjustments. So whether you want a cowboy hat, a bush craft hat, or a top hat these simple steps will work for you. This guy did a great job making a bush craft hat and he has a great instructable with many helpful tips. This greatly inspired me to make a cowboy hat
Step 1: Tools and Supplies Needed
- A large piece of paper
- A yardstick and a ruler
- An edger or some 220 grit sandpaper
- A pen
- A sharp knife to cut leather
- A skiver
- Waxed braided thread
- A stich marking tool or a rake hole punch
- An awl
- Leather die
- Leather sealer
- 2-3 ounce leather ( 4sq.feet would be plenty)
- Leather contact cement
Step 2: Designing and Cutting Out the Pieces
Making the pattern is not hard. The hat consists mainly of three pieces; the brim, side piece, and top. For the brim you are going to want to take a measurement of your head and then add a 1/2 - 3/4", and that would be the size of the hole where your head goes in. When you are drawing out the pattern make sure that the hole is longer from the front to the back then it is from side to side, because that is the shape of our head. If you were to make it a round hole it would make the hat very uncomfortable. I made my brim 3-1/2" bigger than the hole all the way around. For the side piece make it as long as your hole is around and than add a 1/2 inch, because you will have to overlap it a little to stitch it. If you are making a cowboy hat or bush craft hat you should slope it up to the top on each side making it 2 inches smaller on the top that way it will slope a little toward the top to give it a better look. I made my side piece 4 1/2 inches tall you can make it taller or shorter it just depends how far down on your head you want the hat to sit. Now for the top piece; you can use the piece that you cut out for the hole to save leather. You will notice that I cut it on a slope into a rounded point in the front to give it a cowboy hat look. This will also work for a bush craft hat, but for a top hat you are just going to want to leave it round. Now that you have made your patterns transfer them to your leather and cut them out. Again these patterns can be changed very easily to whatever you want. It is just up to you to decide what kind of hat you would like!
Step 3: Prepping Your Edges
Now you are going to want to take your skiver and skive the edges of the side and top down a little, only on the suede side . This will help when it comes to stitching especially if you are using thicker leather than 2-3 ounce. If you do not have a skiver you can use a piece of sand paper. I would also recommend using an edge beveller and round the edge of the brim.
Step 4: Stiching the Side and Top Together
Next take your side piece and stich it together. Stich these pieces together inside out with the suede on the outside. To stich the top on you have to mark your holes out and count them to make sure that you have the same amount of holes on the side piece as you do on the top piece that way you do not have any wrinkles or weird buckles in it. It also works the best if you start at the front and work to the back on each side. Also be sure to sew it with the suede side up.
Step 5: Stitching the Top of the Hat to the Brim
First your going to need to turn the right side out. To do this you have to let it soak it in water until it gets nice and workable. If you try to turn it right side out without soaking it, it will make creases in the leather that will not come out even after you burnish it (rubbing it with a round wooden tool). Now you are ready to stitch the top to the brim. Do this the same as you stitched the top piece to the sides. Just remember to count your holes. One thing I found is that you don't want to pull the stitching too tight, this will cause the brim to wrinkle and not look as nice. Once you have the top stitched to the brim you are ready to start forming it to the shape that you want. To do this take a spray gun and mist down the part that you wish to form and form it, and keep forming it until it dries. To form it you can use your fingers or any rounded object. It is also good to put it on your head while it is still damp to form it to fit your head.
Step 6: The Sweat Band
Now take a piece of deer hide and cut it 1 1/2 inches wide by however long your hole is round. To fasten this to the hat I just used leather contact cement, but you could stich it to the side piece before it is stitched to the brim.
Step 7: Staining and Putting a Finish on the Hat
- By now you should have every thing done and be ready to stain it. I used medium brown Eco-Flo stain from tandy leather. Staining is pretty self explanatory just be sure to get it all spread as evenly as possible. **IMPOTANT** do not stain the inside of the hat or it will wear off onto your head if you wear it much at all and that would not be cool to have a big brown stain on you forehead.:) Before the stain has completely dried I would recommend using an edge slicker and slick the edge of the brim of your hat to give it a smoother feel. And than for the finish I used Eco-Flo super shene leather finish. It is not hard to apply this, just make sue that you cover it all and it also would not hurt if you put two coats on just for extra protection. If you put the finish on when the stain is still a little damp it will make for a floppier hat, but if you put it on when it is dry the hat will be stiffer.
Step 8: The Hat Band
The hat band is made from the same leather that the hat was made from. All you have to do is measure around the top of your hat and cut a piece of leather a little longer than that for the stitching and however wide you want it. I made mine an inch wide and stained it a saddle tan color using the same finish as I did with the rest of the hat. it is up to you if you want to put anything on the front. I did to add character but it is completely up to you what you do with it. I sewed it together in the back and then used contact cement to attach it to the hat.
Step 9: Finished
I hope these instructions will help you if you ever decide to build a hat. It is not that hard to make a hat, anybody can do it if they want to. You just have to decide that you can do it and stick to it until the task is done and don't give up. I did it and I haven't even been working with leather for a year. Good luck to you if you do decide to make a hat and let me know if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer them.