Introduction: Quick and Easy Frog Hat


I need to start this instructable by apologizing for the photo quality.  My camera seems to be on the fritz.  I did the best I could, but several photos are fuzzy.  I think you'll get the idea, though.

I made this for my god-son for Christmas.  He's two years old and lives in the snowy mountains so a warm toasty and playful hat makes the perfect gift.  This hat could be sized up for adults, too, though so don't be limited by color or size.  The possibilities for animal motifs are many.  I chose to make a frog because I had some extra herringbone fabric in two-tone greens.

This project should take about an hour and will require:

  • 1/2 yard faux shearling fabric for fuzzy lining
  • 1/2 yard decorative fabric for outside
  • sewing machine
  • sewing scissors
  • pen
  • needle
  • black and white thread
  • black yarn or ribbon
  • iron (you might not really need these.  I didn't use them, but if you have a more 'ironable' fabric, it might help to iron when you turn the hat inside out or to iron the back seam open for stitching)
  • ironing board
  • *white fabric
  • *black fabric
  • *fabric glue (I used Aleene's washable)
  • **serger

*These last three could be substituted with plastic googly-eyes or buttons.  I chose fabric to reduce the chance the googly-eyes will fall off and he will swallow them, and because my god-son's family is getting away from plastics.

**I hardly ever sew without my serger anymore, but this isn't necessary.  The boucle herringbone fabric I used tends to fray, so it needed to be serged.  Another option is to zig-zag stitch on your regular sewing machine.

So... if you have everything together, on to step one!

Step 1: Measure, Draft, and Cut.

1.  Measure your head.  Obviously, if this is a gift, you'll have to measure your giftee's head.  Or guess.  You can also google standard hat sizes if you really do need an educated guess for the hat size.

Keep in mind that the shearling lining takes up a bit of room in the hat, so you may have to size your pattern up by about 1/2 an inch in order to accommodate your fabric selection.

2.  Draft the pattern.  Use your measurements to sketch a pattern.  I do this right on my fabric.  You could do this on a cheap muslin fabric if you need to check sizing first.  Newspaper also works well as a pattern paper.  

If you cut the shearling and outer fabric the same size, the shearling will show on the outside just a bit.  This is how I wanted mine, but you may choose to cut your outer fabric slightly larger than the shearling lining to make sure the lining isn't seen on the outside. 

Also, this pattern is uber-simple.  It's two pieces plus the eyes.  If you're having difficulty visualizing the pattern itself, think of it as a cylinder with the bottom part missing.

3.  Cut out your pattern.   Using your very sharp sewing scissors, cut your pattern out.  Remember to leave a seam allowance; this is usually 5/8" all around. 

Step 2: Finishing Edges and Gathering

4.  Finish the edges.  If you have a serger, run a stitch along all the outer edges of your pattern pieces.  If you don't have a serger, just use a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine to finish and reinforce the edges. 

5.  Baste the circle.  Using the longest stitch possible on your sewing machine, stitch about 1/4" in from the edge.  Don't back stitch.  In fact, leave yourself a centemeter or so between the begninning and the end.  Do this for both the lining and the outer circle.

6.  Stitch the back seam of the ear flap pieces.

7.  Gather the circle just enough to ease it into the ear flap piece.    To do this, pull gently on one end of your basted thread.  This will cause the circle to gather.  Using your fingers, gently spread this gather all the way around the circle to make it even.  Be very careful not to rush this or pull it to quickly or force it in any way--you'll break the basting thread. 

Step 3: Sewing the Parts

8.  Pin the circle to the earflap piece.  With right sides together, go around the circle and pin it into place to the earflap section, taking care to ease gathers along the way.  Do this for both the lining and the outer fabric.

9.  Stitch circles to ear flap pieces.  Removing your sewing machine carriage box-thingy will help with this step.  Take your time to get the circle on the ear flap piece easily. 

Now, you should have to mini-hats. 

Step 4: Putting the Base Together

11.  Now, with right sides together, pin the shearling to the outer fabric.  Do this all along the edges.  Leave a small gap near the back that you will leave open to turn the whole thing inside out.

12.  Stitch both sides together.  Once both sides are together and you've left your turning gap, you can clip all your little strings so that the inside is nice and clean.

13.  Turn it inside-out.   Stick your hand in that hole you left and start pulling.  Depending on how big your gap is, this may or may not be an easy job.

14.  Stitch the hold closed.  Using a good old-fashioned needle and thread, stitch closed the gap you left open for turning.  This is especially easy to hide in the shearling fabric.

That's the basic hat form.  Now, for the eyes!

Step 5: Adding the Eyes

15.  Cut 6 triangle wedges and serge the edges.    These I didn't meaure, but guessed.  Keep in mind, you'll need a seam allowance, albeit a small one.  These will become little three-sided pyramids as eyes.

16.  Cut 2 white circles and two smaller black pupil circles, glue pupils.  This is where googly-eyes can substitute.  I didnt' have any on hand, so I went with fabric.  Because the pupils are so small, it seemed best to glue them--it's too small for good machine applique though hand applique would work if you're so inclined.  Glue or applique or embroider the pupils on the white fabric. 

17.  Applique the eyes onto the green.  Using a zig-zag stitch with almost no length, machine applique the eyes onto the green.  This makes a kind of satin stitch.  You may need to employ an awl or pointer to help you hold down the layers as you get close to the needle.  Appliqueing circles, especially such small ones, can be tough.

18.  Sew your pyramids together. Place two triangles together with right sides together.  Stitch along one side.  Make a curved motion if you want less of a 'pyramid' and more of a 'round pyramid'.  Open your pieces up.  Place the third triangle over your open pieces and match the sides.  Sew this triangle down on both sides. 

Turn them inside out.  Don't bother clipping seams to turn them--we wan tthe bulk inside.    They should stand on their own as little three-dimensional objects. 

19.  Stuff 'em.   I used a very small piece of shearling scrap and recommend the same.  It doesn't take much to stuff these so don't go out and get some kind of fiber-fill unless you know you'll use it for something else.  And, don't stuff them up so much that you can't fold the bottom serged part under as a seam allowance. 

Step 6: Sew the Eyes On

20.  Using a needle and strong thread, sew the eyes on.  This might take practice.  It's a little unweildy and hard to place them perfectly.  You can start by sewing the seam allowance down so that it doesn't show, or you can do this as you go, like I did.  Don't be upset if the eyes aren't perfect the first time.  I moved mine during sewing and had to redo the right eye.  I may be a professional, but you can't always get it right, so don't be shy about redoing it if you aren't satisfied with the results.

Double your thread through the eye of the needle and coil a big knot in one end.  Starting on the inside of your hat or the inside of your eye, start attaching the two pieces, turning the seam allowance of the eye and shaping the eye as you go.   If you stitched your triangle wedges on curves, you can get a pretty decent round shape as you stitch.

Repeat on other eye.  Knot it off inside the hat, then draw the needle between the lining and outer layer about an inch, then snip off.  This will trap the little thread length left over after knotting it off in between the layers so no one can see it.

Step 7: Couch the Smiley Mouth On

21.  Couch the mouth on.   Couching is a method to attach decorative cord to fabric.  Cut a length of yarn--red or black depending on your mouth color preference--and tie or glue the ends off so they don't fray.

Find your center and pin it in place on the center front of your hat.  Get a needle ready with matching thread (in my case, black), double up the thread and knot the end. 

With your smile laying on the top layer of fabric, stitch the smile down to the outer layer of the hat.  To do this, just pull your needle through the outer hat layer, go around the yarn and back through the outer layer.  It's a superficial sort of stitch--loose and easy. 

Step 8: Wear or Gift Your Awesome Hat!

22.  You're done!  That's all there is to it.  Gift this to your neice of nephew, or make a big one for Crazy Uncle Tony!  If you like, you can further embellish the sides with braids of yarn hanging down at the apex of the ear flaps, like knitted yarn ear flap hats. 

If you do this in different colors, you can make ears instead of eyes--bears, dogs, cats, etc.  Or you can do ears and horns coming off the sides--giraffe anyone?

Have fun and Happy Holidays!

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