There are many traditional styles of fur hats that can be easily made by hand, one of the most unique being the "mountain man" style which includes the animal's hindquarters and tail draping across the wearer's shoulders. The exact origin of this style is not well known, although some say that the long drape of fur helped protect the back of wearer's neck and shoulders from the cold wind. It's no doubt one of the warmest hats you will ever wear!
The photo above shows the silver fox pelt that will be used for this demonstration.
The only materials you will need for this project are:
- Large, tanned animal pelt (any species - fox, coyote, or raccoon usually works best for this style
- Thread and needle, or sewing machine suitable for stitching through leather
- Pen and Tape measure
- Knife or other sharp blade for cutting out the pattern.
Step 1: Getting Started
Before starting your hat, sew up any major holes/rips/visible damages. When sewing by hand, I use a tight whip-stitch, which is very strong and can't be seen at all from the fur side.
Then take your measurements before cutting any parts of the hide. For the Mountain Man style using a fox pelt, I measure 12" up from the base of the tail and mark the line with a pen. (For larger skins like coyote, you may choose to make the drape even longer in back) But sure to leave enough room to mark the rest of your pattern, as you'll see in the next step.
Step 2: Mark Your Pattern
If you are new to fur crafting, it is always a good idea to cut your initial pattern out of paper or cardboard, tape it together and try it on your head to make sure it fits. Adjust it accordingly and then trace out your paper pattern onto the leather.
Draw out your pattern onto the top half of the leather, after measuring and marking your 12" section of the rear hide.
The strip drawn in the center of the hide will be the band that goes across the front of your head. The circle will be the top of the hat. The short 1/2" lines mark the very center of the pelt, to ensure everything matches up properly when sewn together.
Step 3: Cut Out Your Pattern
Be sure to cut all pelts with a knife, rather than scissors, to avoid chopping the hairs. The knife will only cut the leather, without damaging the fur itself.
Cut out each of the pattern sections you have traced, and get ready to start sewing!
Step 4: Sewing the Head Band
Start by sewing the band that encircles your head. Work with the pattern inside-out, connecting the front strip of hide onto the back "drape" section, using close, tight stitches.
Step 5: Attach the Top of the Hat
If you are including the animal's face on the front of your hat, stitch it onto the top "circle" ahead of time to avoid the challenge of trying to sew it on after everything else is finished.
After the face is sewn on, carefully align the top onto the band and begin stitching. Again, keep your project inside-out during this part of the process and use tightly-wound, even stitches for the entire piece to hold the skin together securely.
You are almost finished!
Step 6: Finish and Wear It!
After you finish stitching, revert your hat so the fur side faces outwards again, and secure the front of the face to the band with a few stitches along both sides of the snout, and work the ears so they stand up straight.
With the same pattern, you can also make a lining for the inside of your hat, with felt or other soft fabric for extra warmth and comfort.
And now your finished! Wear it with pride!