I always wanted a fur hat for the cold weather football games at LAMBEAU FIELD. If you do not know where Lambeau field is, google it... it gets dang cold up here in January Playoffs! However a good fox hat can run $300 - $400 depending on the kind of fox (red fox to arctic white) etc. So I decided to make my own...
Here is a great video I used as a reference... It is in a number of parts and it shows a ton of detail on how to... I have all the steps here. NOTE: I adjusted my hat per his advice by an additional inch and it is just right.
My hat is for a standard 7-3/8 Hat size. Adjust accordingly as I note below as we go along.
Step 1: Tools & Method
Cut out the following pieces for a pattern out of tag board. THIS IS FOR A 7-3/8 HAT SIZE. YOU CAN USE ALL THE PIECES EXCEPT THE TOP COVER FOR SMALLER HEADS (to a point). THAT IS ... you might want to tape these patterns all together and fit it to your head to ensure you have peripheral vision if you keep the ear flaps as wide as mine. We made a ladies hat at the same time (Circumference was 25" - mine was 26") using the same width ear flaps and it worked great.
1 - Front Panel - 8-1/2" x 4-1/2"
1 - Rear Panel - IF I made this hat again, I would adjust the depth an additional 1" deeper to cover my neck better. Hence... 8" x 5-1/2" (not 4 - 1/2")
1 - Ear Template (Make 2 Identical) 8-1/2" long radiused to a 4 - 3/4" wide.
1 - Top Cover - mine is 26" circumference as allowed for the extra 1 ". (Circumference = Your head Circumference + 1 " for Fur thickness allowance). To make this circle use a compass and set the pin to the scribe pencil tip equal in inches to draw a Radius (R) that is R = (Circumference +1")/6.28. This is from C = 2*pi* R.
You should have 5 patterns, as you need two ears to layout on the pelt for best fit.
1- Needle nose pliers. This is needed to push, then pull the needle through the leather. Saves your fingers.
1 - spool Waxed Leather twine - Get the heavy twine used for leather and the wax really helps grip the leather. Regular nylong will not work as it is far too slippery and cannot tighten up.
1 - Exacto knife - SHARP! Use it to ONLY cut through the skin pelt, NOT the fur. Do not use a sissors or you will cut the fur and your seams will show.
1 - Sharpie to trace the patterns. Fine point.
2 - Leather heavy gage needles
1 - tube Barge Leather glue. Very similar to contact cement but buy the Barge as it is formulated to be water proof and for leather. Very sticky and dries fast.
2 - leather straps for ear flap ties.
CLIPS - lots of clips to keep the seams together while sewingthe top cover. You can use quilting clips or paper black clippies work great. the smaller the better so you do not loosen up too much of the seam while sewing.
1 - rule to tuck the fur down between pelts.
1 - custom made clamping stand, and ruled to pace stitch length. - See photo.
1 - hat stand. Helps out a lot.
You will sew like lacing up a shoe. Cut off about a yard of waxed thread and thread a needle on each end. Have about 3" leader pass through on the needles. With fur to fur, you will pass a needle "A" through about a 1/4" seam allowance until half the of the yard of thread is through the material. Tie a square knot with the two leads for an anchored start. Now, pass another needle "B" through approximately 3/16" down the length of the leather to be sewn. Grab the needle with a pliers and pull it through. Pass Needle "A" BACK THROUGH THE SAME HOLE just made by needle "B". See the stitching photo. Repeat until you run out of thread, then square knot it again, and repeat until the seam is done.
Step 2: Select Pelts & Prep for Cutting Pieces
The pelts I used were purchased from eBay for $50 each. It took 5 pelts to make 2 hats (with very little remaining) that are lined INSIDE and OUTSIDE with fur. Essentially we made FOUR (4) hats. The hat is essentially made twice and then one is turned inside out and sewn to meet the outer hat. You can choose to sew in a cotton or similar material liner but I wanted a very warm hat and I wanted to be assured I would not feel the seams through a thin material. I imagine there are some alternatives that would work here - keeping in mine the material must stand up to a heavy needle and thread seaming.
There are various grades of pelts. I suggest talking to the supplier and telling them you want to make a hat and not have excessive skinning holes or badly cut pelts. For the little extra money, I went with the best grade.
This method does not attempt to fashion the fox face on the hat as this requires detailed sewing to close the eyes, forms to keep the head in shape and ears standing, and creates stiffness I did not want on the front of the hat.
Let's Get started...
Turn the pelts inside out and draw a line straight down the middle of the pelt from head to tail. Use the Xacto knife and just barely cut through the skin along the line. Do not cut crazy like and damage the long hairs as these will cover your seams. Once cut to length open the pelt and note you have leg holes that need closing up.
Sew the legs holes shut and glue them to seal out water and hold the threads in place.
CRITICAL STEP: Now layout your pattern keeping watch for the way the fur lays down so the grain is correct when all sewn together, You want the Front and rear panels and ear flaps with fur pointing down and the top cover fur pointing backwards. Lay them on the pelts and trace them with the sharpie. Double check this is correct as mistakes will cost you money. As you cut the pelt open, carefully cut out the pattern pieces - JUST through the skin.
Step 3: Sew the Cylinder Around Your Head
Start with the Front Panel and align it fur to fur with one of the EAR panels. The picture here is wrong and I had to pull out the stitching. Clamp them together and stitch away as I described previously. Keep tucking the fur down in between the skins as you bring the clamps together. This makes for a very neat job and an invisible seem from the fur side !!!
Then sew on the second ear flap to the opposite side of the front panel.
Then sew the rear panel edges to each of the ear flaps.
Step 4: Sew on the Top Cover
Mark the centerline of the top cover to match the fur grain. Then clip it all along the perimeter of the head tube you just sewn. Align the front panel centerline with the top cover centerline if the fur. Clip and tuck, tuck and clip all along the seam so the fur is neatly between the skins and a good seam results.
Sew along the seam, double knot, sew some more... until all done.
Step 5: Sew on Draw Straps
Get some leather straps from a local hoppy store and have them at least... approximately 2.5x the length of the flap. You can always cut them shorter after the hat is completed, but once sewn in, if too short you have a major issue to rework.
Take a punch and punch in some holes in the very end that will meet at the top cover seam, in the middle, and at the bottom of the ear flap.
Note how they are sewn on the INSIDE of the ear flap to eliminate being seen from the exterior and you would have to dig into the fur from the inside to see the thread in the center of the flap. I also glued this strap in as I wanted it secure. I don't think this is necessary however after wearing the hat now.
Step 6: Sew on Tail(s)
If you want a tail of tails on the hat, now is the time to sew them on. I glued mine and sewn them on as I was afraid they would rip out from people yanking on them or just from tossing and turning the tails. Sew them as you did the flap straps. Note the hat shown is the INTERIOR HAT. Now make another hat for the EXTERIOR that his hat will slide into!
Step 7: Make ANOTHER Hat (For the Inside) or Use Cotton or Similar Lining Material
Here is the exterior hat completed per the previous instructions less the tails.
Now turn THIS HAT INSIDE OUT 9as is the other hat). And mate the two together. Start sewing at the front panel corner and all along the perimeter EXCEPT...
Step 8: Sew 2 Hats Together (Inside Out to Inside Out) & Flip Open
EXCEPT WHERE? Do not sew the last 4" in the dead center of the back panel so you can turn the hat right side out through this gap. When turned out, then you can choose to leave that last 4" unsewn or glue the skins together (as I did) for secure fastening.
Walla! You are now done!