Introduction: Upcycled Trapper Hat

About: I'm a professional writer and an amateur sewist, builder, hot gluer, dremel user, crocheter, painter, paper crafter, and baker.

I had a hard time coming up with a title for this Instructable. There sure are a lot of different names for these types of hats. It's not technically a trapper hat, as it is not lined with fur. It's also not an "ushanka" hat, as the ear flaps of my hat cannot be tied up (although, I could make them do that in the future if I wanted). So is it an aviator hat? A bomber hat? I'm not sure. I suppose it doesn't really matter.

For the sake of searchability, I decided to call it my "upcycled trapper hat." But in reality, I like to call it my Holden Caulfield hat. The whole reason I wanted one in the first place was so I could feel effortlessly cool like the main character from The Catcher in the Rye.

Here's a section from the novel:

"I put on this hat that I’d bought in New York that morning. It was this red hunting hat, with one of those very, very long peaks. I saw it in the window of this sports store when we got out of the subway, just after I noticed I’d lost all the goddam foils. It only cost me a buck. The way I wore it, I swung the old peak way around to the back—very corny, I’ll admit, but I liked it that way."

Coincidentally, the wool skirt I cut up to make this hat only cost me a dollar from my local thrift shop.

Step 1: Supplies

Here's what I needed to make this hat:

  • A thrifted wool skirt
  • 1/4 yard of lining fabric (black flannel material)
  • Fat quarter of canvas-type material (not pictured)
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Step 2: Pattern Pieces

I made one prototype before making this hat, and even then, I didn't really measure out anything except for the circumference of my head.

But I knew I needed a circle for the top of my head, and then I needed a hat band that was the same circumference as my circle.

I have a big head (23"), and I wanted the hat to be somewhat loose-fitting and I needed to account for seam-allowance, so the circumference of my circles (top of the hat) needed to be 25". To cut my circle, I needed to find the radius (C=2πr). So since 25" = 2πr, I did the math and found out that my R needed to equal a smidge under 4". I just went with 4".

So from there, I knew my hat band rectangle needed to be 25" plus 1" to account for seam allowance.

So my red plaid rectangle, since I cut it from the bottom hem (and therefore wouldn't need to be folded under later on -- you'll see what I mean in the next step) ended up measuring 26" x 4" and my black (lining) rectangle was 26" x 5".

As for the ear flaps, they were originally rectangles that measured 5" x 6" before I rounded the bottom edges.

The brim, I kind of just freehand cut slightly wider than the circles and rounded in a brim shape.

Step 3: Sew the Hat Band

Fold the hat band rectangles in half and pin them (photo one). Sew them (one at a time) allowing 1" for seam allowance (photo two). Photo three is what the hat band looks like before pinning it to the top circle in photo four.

Sew the hat band to the top circle (photo five). After you're done sewing, it will look like a pillbox hat.

Then do the same thing for the two lining pieces, therefore creating the hat's lining.

Step 4: Place Lining Inside

Place the lining in the hat, wrong sides together, folding the black lining piece under. Since I used the bottom hem of the skirt for the (red plaid) hat, I did not need to fold that fabric under.

Pin the two together, but do not sew. Just place this pillbox-looking hat to the side while you work on the ear flaps and the brim.

Step 5: Make the Ear Flaps

As you can see from photos 1 and 2 here, the skirt I upcycled had a tiny pocket. I thought it was too cute to waste, so I incorporated it into one of the earflaps.

I cut my four 5" x 6" rectangles (two red plaid and two black lining pieces) into rounded U-shapes, placed them right sides together (3rd photo), and pinned them together (4th photo).

Step 6: Make the Ear Flaps, Cont.

Sew around the perimeter (leaving the top open) and clip the rounded edges. Turn it inside out (photo 2) and topstitch it.

Then do the same for the other ear flap!

Step 7: Place Them Inside

Place the ear flaps in between the lining and the hat fabric, repinning where necessary.

Don't sew just yet! We still have to make the brim.

Step 8: Make the Brim

I decided to use both red plaid brim pieces since both sides of the brim are visible while wearing the hat.

Place right sides together and pin (photo 1). Sew around the perimeter, leaving the U-shaped top open, and clip the rounded edges (photo 2). Turn right side out.

Step 9: Make the Brim, Cont.

To make the brim sturdier, I cut a piece of canvas-type fabric I had in my fabric stash to size and placed it inside of the brim. Then I top-stitched the hat several times, in a repeating U pattern.

Step 10: Place the Brim

Place the brim in between the lining and the plaid fabric, replacing the pins as needed. It should sit at the front in between the ear flaps. Sew everything together using your sewing machine (photo 3), making sure you're also catching the lining underneath.

Step 11: Finished!

And that's it! You can also attach snaps or ties to the ear flaps to make them flip up, but I decided against it, as I thought the Instructable was already getting too complicated.

But I am happy to say it fits perfectly (thanks, math!) and it's also very warm. I wore it in the snow last night (see last photo) and my ears didn't get cold once. :)

I love how it turned out!

Sew Warm Speed Challenge

Second Prize in the
Sew Warm Speed Challenge