This is one of those things I never even thought was possible to make myself. Until I tried it. It totally worked! Follow along with the steps to make your own DIY baseball cap in any cool colour or fabric you like. You just need a sacrificial cap for the brim insert, since they seem to be pretty impossible to buy anywhere... Can somebody fix that? Until then, I suggest going to the second hand store and picking the oldest, ugliest cap you can find and giving it a new life!
You can watch the video or read the steps here, whatever you prefer.
What you'll need:
- An old baseball cap
- Paper for your pattern
- Fabric, preferably a bit thicker and not stretchy
- Matching thread
- Fusible interfacing (not stretchy)
- Sewing machine
- Zipper foot - Scissors
- Seam ripper
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Step 1: Take the Old Cap Apart
To understand how a baseball cap is made, I got an old one from the second hand store. It’s stained and a kid used it to draw on, so I don’t feel too bad about taking it apart. I’ll be reusing the plastic insert in the brim for the new cap.
While I was at the second hand store, I also got this men’s shirt, which I will use as the fabric for my cap. It’s pretty faded on the outside, but the inside still looks good. So I’ll use the inside of the shirt as the outside of my cap.
The first step is to take the old cap apart. You’ll want to do this carefully, since you’ll be using the pieces to make a pattern. So get out that seam ripper and start taking it apart.
Make sure you save the plastic insert in the brim, because you’ll be using that in your new cap.
Step 2: Make a Pattern
Now that you’ve got all the pieces, you can use them to make a pattern. To do that, simply trace the outline of the pieces onto some paper. While doing this, make sure to fold the seam allowance out of the way. That way, you can add a bigger seam allowance later, which will make the sewing a lot easier.
The cap has three different panels, a brim cover and a facing. After tracing each of these, add a 1,5 centimer (3/4 inch) seam allowance around each of them. Then, cut them out, and you have your finished pattern.
Step 3: Cut the Fabric & Add Interfacing
The next step is to cut the pieces out of the fabric. Since I'm using an old shirt for my fabric, I started by taking that shirt apart so that I have flat pieces of fabric to work with.
Since my fabric is pretty thin and a bit stretchy, I’m also going to add interfacing to it. You'll have to decide based on your fabric if you think this is necesary.
If you're adding interfacing, trace the pattern pieces onto the interfacing. For each of the three panels, you’ll need a left and a right version, so the two pieces need to be mirrored versions of each other. To achieve this, fold the interfacing over and cut through both layers at the same time.
Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric. The precise instructions are different for different brands of interfacing, so just follow the instructions that come with yours. Then cut around the interfacing to get the final pieces. Repeat these steps for the facing, but only cutting one, not two.
If you're not adding interfacing, simly trace the pieces onto the wrong side of the fabric and cut them out. Make sure to make left and right versions of the cap pieces.
Cut two identical brim pieces, without adding any interfacing. It’s fine if the fabric here remains a bit stretchy, since it will help it cover the brim nicely. I left the fabric a bit big on the inside to give some room for error later.
Finally, I decided to add a second layer of interfacing to the front panels. The front section is usually made a bit stiffer in baseball caps to help it keep its shape. If you also want to do this, you can just iron on the second layer of interfacing directly on top of the first layer.
Step 4: Assemble the Cap
Now on to assembly! The easiest way is to make the two halves of the cap first and then stitch those together. Start by stitching the front and middle panel together for each of the halves. Place them right sides together, pin them in place along the seam and sew a straight stitch 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) from the side. But make sure that you don’t sew all the way to the top! You’ll want to stop about 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) from the end. This will make the next assembly steps much easier and neater.
And now for the secret trick. You’ll want to press open each of the cap seams with an iron. It may seem like a lot of extra work or an unnecessary step, but you’ll see that it’s the key to making your cap look really clean and professional. I found that pressing around the curve works best on the tip of my ironing board.
Next, add two lines of topstitching, one on either side of the seam. Like the pressing, this helps keep that seam really neat and gives your cap that professional look. It’s best to do this with the right side of the fabric facing up, so you can make sure you keep the same distance from the seam. Just make sure you only stitch through a single layer of seam allowance underneath. But after the pressing, that shouldn’t be too hard.
Now you’re ready to add the back panels. Place the panel on top of the middle panel and pin it in place. Again, sew 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) from the side, and stop 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) from the top.
Now you can really see the difference that the pressing and topstitching makes!
Again, press open the seam allowances and top stitch on both sides of the seam. At this point, you should see your two seams meet up at around 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) away from the edge.
To make sure the fabric doesn’t ravel, you’ll need to treat the edges. Since the interfacing will help against the raveling, it’s enough to cut along the sides with pinking shears. If you didn’t use interfacing, you can stitch a zigzag stitch at the edge of all of the seam allowances instead.
The two halves are now finished, and you can put them together. Place them right sides together and pin them in place, making sure the centers line up. Sew all along the top seam in one go, again 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) from the edge. Then press the seam open.
Step 5: Check & Adjust the Size
Now is a good time to check the size of your cap. I actually didn’t check until I did a few extra steps, as you can see in the picture, and I had to undo those steps to make the cap fit me right.
Put your cap on and see if it’s too big or small anywhere. Mine turned out to be too big at the back. Pinch the fabric together so that it fits properly, take it off and make marks to show how much you need to take in. Take out the back seam, draw a new stitching line and adapt your pattern for future use. Then stitch the new seam. Again, press the seam open and add the top stitching. Then cut off the excess fabric and the main part of the cap is done!
Step 6: Finish the Back
Finish the back by adding bias tape around the raw edge. First, measure how long your bias tape needs to be. For me, it’s 20 centimeters. Then, cut a piece fabric on the bias of the fabric, which is a 45 degree angle. Mine is 4 centimeters wide and 23 centimeters long. I made it a bit longer than needed, just to be safe. Because the fabric is cut on the bias, it is a lot more stretchy than the original fabric, which is what you want.
Fold over the edges to the middle and iron them down. Then fold the whole thing in half once more and iron it down again. You have now made your own bias tape.
I added a 1,5 centimeter seam allowance to the back, which I don’t need, so I’m marking it and cutting it off.
Place the bias tape around the raw edge and pin it in place. Use lots of pins here, since you’re going around a curve. Use a straight stitch to sew it in place, close to the inner edge.
Step 7: Add the Closure
To close the back you could use the snap form the original cap, but I decided to use elastic encased in fabric instead. To do this, first measure how long the piece needs to be. For me, it’s 10 centimeters. I’m using elastic that’s 2 centimeter wide, so I’m cutting a piece of fabric that’s 4 centimeters wide and 10 centimeters long, plus seam allowance on all sides.
Cut a piece of elastic that is 6 centimeters, and se it in place on either end of the fabric strip. This will make the fabric bunch around the elastic. Next, fold over the fabric and sew right next to the elastic to make a tube. Stretch the elastic as you sew and make sure not to stitch through the elastic!
Cut off extra fabric next to the seam and then turn the tube inside out, so that the elastic ends up on the inside. I ended up using a chop stick to push it through. In the end, you should have a nice stretchy piece to use on the back of your hat.
Make a mark at 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) from the bottom of your cap and sew the elastic closure in place on both sides. You’ll be folding over the extra fabric later to give the cap a nice edge.
Step 8: Attach the Brim
To make a cover for the brim, trace its shape onto the wrong side of the fabric. Then pin the two layers together, but place the top layer a bit inwards from the bottom layer. This way, the bottom piece will be a bit smaller than the top piece, which will make the seam sit on the bottom side of the brim. This is another thing that will give your cap that professional look. I'm then sewing on top of the line that I drew earlier. If your fabric is not stretchy at all, you’ll want to sew a bit on the outside of this line, otherwise your cover may end up too small.
Place the brim insert inside to check the size. Cut some slits into the seam allowance to help it go around the curve of the brim and use pinking shears around the edge to help against fraying.
Turn the cover inside out and place the brim inside again. Push the seam allowance to the bottom side of the brim and pull the fabric nice and tight. You can now see how that seam ends up on the bottom side of the brim.
Pin the fabric in place and use a zipper foot to sew as close to the edge of the insert as you can. Cut off the excess fabric to 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) of the seam and cut slits into the fabric to help it around the curve.
Place the brim right sides together on the front of the hat and pin it in place. Sew it in place, again using a zipper foot and stitching as close to the edge of the insert as possible. This step is a bit tricky, and it’s very easy to sew through extra layers of fabric accidentally. So just take your time and possibly sew the seam in sections.
Step 9: Add the Facing
Finally, you need to add the facing to the inside of the cap. First, cut little slits into to inside curve. Fold over this edge 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch), pin it in place and sew it down. Next, cut little slits in the outside curve and cut along the edges with pinking shears.
Place the facing right sides together along the bottom edge of the cap. Make sure to leave some extra room near the back. Sew the facing in place at 1,5 centimeters (3/4 inch) from the edge. I found it worked best to sew the two sides in place first, and then sew around the brim with a zipper foot.
Fold the facing inside the hat and press it down with an iron. Finish the back edges by folding them inwards and stitching them in place. Finally, stitch along the whole edge of the cap, around 3 millimeters from the bottom, to keep the facing on the inside. Again, I stitched around the two sides first, and then used a zipper foot to stitch along the brim.
And then your baseball cap is done! It might not be the easiest project, but I think it's a very fun one and definitely worth the effort.