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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Designing and Making a French Beret with Cap Part 3

We are finally at the point where we start to work with the fabric in making our beret. Let's recap quickly. In Part 1 of this series we conceptualized the idea. Then we designed the pattern in Part 2. This pattern can also be bought online here. Today we will cut out the fabric and start constructing the beret. My little niece insisted on modeling the beret, even though it is way too big for her. I love how adorable she looks in it. So did her mother and promptly asked me to make some hats for her kiddies. Show me an aunt who would turn down such a request! I have already started working on this and will write a blog about the process soon. So watch this space for some child-sized hats real soon.

Laying out the Pattern
I have been planning the design of the beret around three specific fabrics. Yet it is not the fabric that I start with. I have filled up this paper pad a while ago and it is just lying in the cupboard along with all the others like it. When thinking what I could use as stiffening inside the cap, it occurred to me that this hard plastic cover page would be ideal.

I used a permanent marker to trace the pattern on the plastic, before I cut it out using my dedicated paper scissors. I could also have used a craft knife. Let me talk about dedicated scissors quickly. Paper will cause your scissors to go blunt much more quickly than fabric will. However you will be able to cut paper with scissors that are blunt, where the same pair of scissors will no longer cut fabric. That is why I have scissors dedicated to certain materials only. Quick tip: A hassle free way to sharpen scissors is to cut aluminium foil with it. This is why I never tear foil. It is a wasted opportunity to sharpen the scissors a little. If your scissors are very blunt, cut a piece of foil into tiny pieces and your scissors will be sharp as ever. Getting back to the project at hand, the hard plastic would also have an adverse effect on my sharp fabric scissors and this is why I used the paper scissors to cut it with.

Time to move on to the fabric. I cut the head band, beret ring and two of the lid sections from denim. I am not overly concerned with weave of the fabric when it comes to hats, since you will be working on the bias at some point anyway, as you are working with round patterns. Simply make sure that your head band is not on the bias and lay the rest out sensibly, trying to save as much fabric for a next project as possible. The only time I pay attention to the direction of the fabric is when I work with specific directional motives, such as lines/stripes.

I cut two more sections of the lid from my second fabric, as well as the cap. I could have folded the fabric and cut both pieces for the cap in one simple step, but opting to save fabric, I chose to rather lay it out a second time and cut again.

My third fabric a good quality poly-cotton, with a higher percentage cotton than polyester. I am going to use this as both the third fabric, as well as the lining. I cut the beret lid, the beret ring and the two left-ever sections of the beret lid from this third fabric.

I need to stiffen some pattern pieces and cut these from vilene. I have two preferences when it comes to vilene. I prefer it to be iron-on (which in my opinion is better than sliced bread!) and I prefer to work with a good quality cotton/fabric vilene. The head band will always need stiffening, even when it is cut from very thick and stiff denim, as I am doing in this project. I also need to stiffen the cap, regardless of the fact that I will be inserting the plastic. In retrospect, I realize that I should have cut the vilene for the cap from the pattern for the plastic insert. This would have reduced the unnecessary thickness in the seam line later when I attached the cap to the head band. A silly mistake I learned from that you do not need to repeat.

Having used iron-on vilene, it is time to do just that; iron it on.

Now fold the head band in half and mark the fold line with a piece of chalk. I have misplaced my fabric marker and simply used board chalk, which will dust out quite easily.

Having marked the fold line, cut the head band in two as illustrated.

Constructing the Beret
It is time for us to start construction on the beret. We are going to start on the Cap.

The Cap
Lay the two pieces of the cap face to face and sew 1,5 cm from the outer edge. Take care not to cut into the sewing line.

Cut out the excess fabric to make room when turning the cap outside in.

Trim the excess fabric even more. There is absolutely no need for extra thickness here and the better you trim this, the neater the edge of the cap will look.

Turn the cap inside out when you are ready.

Iron the cap flat before you continue any further. You will not have another opportunity to do so later.

Insert the plastic stiffening. Take your time to work it into the seam line, letting the seam rest below the plastic, instead of forming an ugly ridge on top. (This ridge should be barely perceivable if the seam was trimmed neatly).

This is what the cap should look like by the time you're done.

In the next blog, I will show you how to attach the head band and we'll construct the top lid of the beret.

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