Sew Easy Hat From Old Sweater




With an old wool sweater and fleece hoodie you can make a warm pill box hat in less than a day. This sweater has several moth holes but is 100% lambswool so it's very soft.  Even though it is soft, line the hat with a complementary  or contrasting colored fleece to prevent any itchy ears.  The stripes are about 2 inches before the sweater is felted.

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Step 1: Materials Needed to Make Warm Hat

You will need to make this warm hat you will need: 
                   -  100% wool sweater ready to be discarded 
                                (This sweater has 2 moth holes and the stripes are about 2 inches
                   -  a fleece or velour jacket or hoodie ready to be discarded
                   -  paper to make pattern and a pencil
                   -  an 8 inch plate
                   -  a ruler
                   -  scissors
                   -  pins to attach pattern to sweater
                   -  washing machine and detergent
                   -  pair of flip flops or rubber balls
                   -  sewing machine able to sew through thick material

Step 2: Put Sweater, Detergent and Pair of Flip Flops Into Washing Machine

Set the machine on regular wash cycle with a Hot Wash and Cold Rinse; or a Cold Wash and Hot Rinse.  The detergent and flip flops are necessary to felt the wool and the wool needs agitation and extremes in temperatures to shrink. 

How many times have you done this to a good sweater?  Now you have a way to reuse it.

Step 3: Repeat Wash Cycles If Necessary

If necessary, repeat the washing cycle more than once to get the sweater to feel thick felt .  This sweater took two washings to make the stripes only 1 1/4 inches and to felt the wools fibers. ( The yarn will not be able to unravel when cut and the stitches are not clearly defined.)

Step 4: Make Paper Pattern

Making the paper pattern:
For an average woman's size hat, for a head circumference of about 22 inches,
To make the top of the hat:
Place an 8 inch plate on the paper and outline it with a pencil.  Cut out the circle.

To make the brim:
Make a rectangle 13" X   6" with the ruler.   Cut out the rectangle.

Step 5: Rectangle: 13 X 7 1/2 Pattern Piece for Finished Hat With Rolled Brim

* If a longer brim that can be rolled up is desired, make the rectangle 13" X 7 1/2" and keep the 8" circle piece for the top.

Step 6: Cut Sweater Seams and Lay Out Pattern Pieces

Once the sweater is dry, cut along the seams to obtain pieces of material. (It's easier if you turn the sweater inside out and cut up the center of the seam.)

Lay the sweater pieces flat and decide which pieces will be large enough for the each piece of the paper pattern.  One of the sleeves, the front and the back of this sweater will be used.  The round top piece is placed on the upper part of the sleeve; and the 13 1/4" X 6" rectangle is placed on both the front and the back sections up across the line from underarm to underarm.

Step 7: Lay Pattern on Fleece and Cut Out Pieces

Repeat this with fleece material, so you will end up with
2  circles; 1 sweater and 1 fleece
4 rectangles; 2 sweater and 2 fleece

Step 8: Place Right Sides of the Two Rectangles Together

Sew the short sides on both the sweater's  and the fleece's  rectangles making circular pieces for the sides of the hat.

Step 9: Pin the Circle, Right Side Down, to the Edges of the Circular Sides

If the circle piece is a little too small, try to stretch the circle piece's edges a little to fit the sides.
If the circle piece is much too small, take in the side seams by the appropriate amount.
If the circle piece is a little too large, take out the side seams and resew with smaller seams.

Repeat with the fleece lining pieces.

Step 10: Place the Pinned Hat With the Sides of the Hat Facing You.

It is easier to ease the sides to the circle (top) piece if you place the top down and have the side facing you.  You can pull a little on the bottom piece to stretch the material.

Repeat with the fleece lining pieces.

Step 11: Turn the Fleece Lining Hat Right Side Out

Leave the sweater hat inside out.

Step 12: Fit the Fleece Lining Hat Into the Sweater Hat

Pin the sides together at the bottom of the hat. 

Step 13: Sew the Edge Leaving a 4 Inch Strip Unsewn

Reach into the 4 inch opening and pull the lining through the sweater side.

Step 14: Fit the Lining Back Into the Hat

Fold in the seam salvages in the 4 inch opening.  Pin the edges together and slip stitch the seam making a completed finished bottom edge.

Step 15: Put on Head Before Going Out on a Cold Day

It's done.  Warm, non itchy, virtually free and saved 2 pieces of unwanted clothing from the landfill.

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    10 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    In my city the thrift stores have half off sales once a month. I am always on the look out for good wool or cashmere sweaters to make things like this.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great hat, pix and instructions.  I'm going to make one.  Thanks.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i don't sew anything more than missing buttons, but i find these instructions easy to understand and the project really cool!


    9 years ago on Step 15

    I love these instructions. Being a sewer myself, it seemed to be very clear and precise. It makes a lovely hat and a great way to recycle clothing.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    What a great idea. I never knew you could make felt from a wool sweater! If you had no sewing machine and felt ambitious, it's simple enough that you could even do it all by hand.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Candace--I know nothing about crafts like this and so am totally lost, but I think you were very thorough.  It's a cool idea and the hats look neat!  Karen


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I barely sew, but this project looks clear and easy enough for even me.
    I like how in Step 9 you anticipate how we may need to troubleshoot.
    As a mom, I'd love it if you added to Step 4 some rules of thumb for how to measure for a child's hat.  It'd be so cute on kids, and what a great way to use a sweater/fleece they've grown out of! 
    A clarity suggestion: Since you have partially overlapping directions for two different materials, it'd be helpful to add to Step 1 something like, "See Step 5 for materials you'd need for a fleece hat."  And then add to Step 5, "Follow steps 6-15 for either a wool or fleece hat."
    BTW, I love how you chose a striped sweater for your wool hat example--what a brilliant way to illustrate how the wool shrinks and felts!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Candace, it sounds like a great project but not being a big sewer I did get confused especially at step 7 and 8.  The hat itself looks beautiful though. mjm


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Candace: I think your felting instructions are really good. I was a bit confused about the rectangles, but have realized that it takes two of each type of fiber to make the band around the head. I should try this - I'm not too crafty (in a good way) but I think that even I could manage this. - Sarah