Introduction: Sew a Warm Shearling Hat

As a custom boot maker, I could not bring myself to wear a hat made of polyester during the holiday season.  After Christmas this last year, I needed a different hat to keep my ears warm that did not have the holiday styling.  I reworked my "Santa" pattern to create a new one.  I am a great fan of all things antique, including the styles that pop in and out of fashion. Here are instructions for my second version shearling hat.

Step 1: Materials

There are not many parts to this hat. 
-Shearling -about half of a small fleece
-Soft leather - about one square foot
-Scrap wool blanket - about one square foot

Very few tools are necessary.
-a sheet of newsprint for patterns
-measuring, marking, and cutting tools
-your favorite way to sew
              (mine happens to be a treadle powered Singer sewing machine made in 1896)

Step 2: Create the Pattern

To begin this project, we need one simple measurement to make our patterns.
Wrap a single layer of shearling around the head to be fit and measure just above the ears.
On this hat the measurement is 23 inches.
Draw a rectangle 23 inches long by 8 inches wide to which 1/4 inch is added for a seam allowance on all sides.
The second part of the pattern is only a little more difficult.
Draw an oval with a circumference of 23 inches. ( I measured the opening of a felt hat for length and width of the oval.)
To raise the top up about one inch I added a second oval one inch (+ 1/4 inch seam allowance) outside the original line.
This of course is an oval that is greater than 23 inches so I placed four darts around the circumference to bring it back.  They are about 2 inches deep toward the center of the hat to give it a more slanted top.
Cut this piece out of the paper.

Step 3: Mark and Cut Out the Pieces

Piece 1 - The headband
Place the shearling hide side up and mark the rectangular pattern on it. 
Cut the skin with a sharp knife along a straight edge.
The fleece will part when pulled.
Piece 2 - The top
Place the scrap of soft leather inside up to mark the oval and its darts.
I use talcum powder in a bag to wipe around the edge of the pattern.  I shows up well on dark leather and is easy to remove when cleaning up. 
Cut the oval out with a knife or shears.
Do not cut the darts at this time.
Piece 3 - The lining
Pin the top pattern to the wool piece and cut out. Again not cutting the darts.

Step 4: Begin Sewing

Head band
Fold the shearling in half (fleece in) and sew across the short side at 1/4 inch in.
Trim the seam back to 1/8 inch with shears.
Top
Fold the darts together one at a time (outside in) and sew along the lines marked.
Once all four are done, trim the seams back to 1/8 inch.
Lining
Most important - Sew your makers label in the center.

Step 5: Piece and Sew It All Together

This is the most difficult step for me.  I have devised a cheat over the years to hold leather seams together without the traditional gluing.  I use a heavy duty stapler with 1/2 inch staples.  The one I have is made for 30 sheets of paper.
Turn the shearling tube fleece out and place the top inside up in the end of it.  Make sure to center the shearling seam at the back of the hat.
Lay the lining in place and fold the edge under to prevent fraying and match edges of all pieces.  Fasten firmly with staples in the outter 1/8 inch. 
This is where all pieces can be adjusted to remove wrinkles and make the sewing smooth.

Sew around the hat at the 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Remove the staples as you come to them to prevent breaking a needle or forgetting them.

Step 6: Final Cleanup

Roll the shearling tube down with the top up and gently tug at the seam you just made.  If all went correctly and was held together firmly, there will be no holes showing in the seam.  Fix any you find at this time.
Fold in 1/2 inch of the shearling and sew 1/4 inch seam  to finish the edge.
Roll the tube up in half with shearling inside and out.

Step 7: Wear It

Hat is finished.
I hope you enjoy this style hat that has rarely been seen in recent years.
It is extremely warm and will make your head sweat if  you are doing anything that might be considered exercise, such as splitting wood.

Comments

author
JenC52 (author)2016-12-05

What kind of shearling is best for making things such as hats and gloves? I have seen the standard rug kind with very long fur and then there is the bark tanned shearling that seems to be for saddles. I'm looking at making a hat like yours, some mittens and some winter boot liners. Thanks for the excellent instructions :)

author
bootmaker (author)JenC522016-12-06

The best shearling for hats is 3/8" to 1/2" garment shearling. Also available is a 5/8" slipper shearling with thicker skin. I get mine from the hide house in California. Good luck.

author
VINTAGESEWER made it! (author)2015-12-13

This is a very nice hat. It was easy to make and the instructions were very good. I did not have any leather on hand, so I used denim from an old pair of jeans. It only took me 45 minutes to an hour to make. I am giving it as a Christmas gift to my uncle. I am also going to make one for my grandfather. But two of my brothers, and my sister want one too. So I will be making this hat a lot.

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author
bootmaker (author)VINTAGESEWER 2015-12-14

I am happy that my instructions helped you. It sounds as though there will be a warm, Merry Christmas in your neck of the woods.
Cheers!

author
VINTAGESEWER (author)bootmaker2015-12-14

We will have a warm Merry Christmas. But unfortunately we are right in the middle of the city. The people I am making the hats for do live out in the country, but not us.:-)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

author
Barlow.H.T (author)2015-06-02

neat instructions neat looking hat too

author
cokecola (author)2010-03-08

A hat like that would be great for as cold as gets in north central Nebraska.

author
scoochmaroo (author)2010-03-06

The talcum powder in step 3 is a great tip!

author
bootmaker (author)scoochmaroo2010-03-07

Thanks, I wish I could claim it.  This method of marking is an old bootmaker tip for laying out the tops.

author
cokecola (author)2010-03-07

Cool hat Kyle.

author
fultron89 (author)2010-03-07

The mustache says "I killed and skinned whatever the hell my hat is made out of with my bare hands."

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Bio: I am a full time custom boot maker, part time postman and father of four. My leather shop makes or repairs nearly anything created in ... More »
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