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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Designing and Making Children's Hats and Caps Part 2

In this ongoing series of blogs we are looking at the design and making of hats for kids. In Part 1 we gave birth to a concept. In this second blog of the series, we will devote some time to developing the pattern of a Flat Top Cap as shown in the photo. The pattern can be downloaded from

The first step is to take the measurement of the circumference of the head. I illustrate this on a doll. Take the measurement of the child for whom you are making the hat and keep working according to that measurement.

Start by gluing some A4 printer paper together so that you will have a large enough surface to work on. A3 (twice A2) is big enough, since children's heads aren't so bog as to require more space - at least not for the designs we will draw today.

Designing a Flat Top Cap
We are now going to create a circle the size of the head. The head is actually more oval shaped (or egg-shaped), so we can't use a compass for this. I use a very nifty tool that I can best describe as a bendable ruler, but you can achieve the same results with normal string. Cut the string the same length as the measurement of the head. Lay the string in an oval shape on the paper and draw the oval right next to the string.

This oval is going to be the lid of the cap. We therefore need to add a 1,5 cm seam allowance all around. Use your ruler to measure 1,5 cm all around.

Connect the markings to form a bigger oval outside the original oval.

Cut this piece of the pattern out using sharp scissors.

I wanted to put a very wide headband on the cap, because it would be reminiscent of the old train driver's hat. I concluded that 10 cm would be high enough on a small little head. I cut two lengths of 10 cm bands out of an A4 paper.

I glued the two lengths together to form one long headband. The actual headband would only be 7 cm wide, since I would loose 1,5 cm in seam allowance at the top as well as the bottom.

I then measured the length of the headband to be the head measurement plus 3 cm (2 x 1,5 cm seam allowance), and trimmed the extra length by cutting it off.

With the lid and the band in place, we only need to design the cap still. Trace the front section of the lid. This will give you the shape of the cap where it is attached to the hat. You now need to decide how wide and how long you want the cap to be and mark the required measurements. To do so, you will need to find the centre front of the oval. Mark the width of the cap from this point out. Decide how long you want the cap to be and mark half that length along one side of the centre marking and the other half along the other side of the centre mark.

Use a piece of string (or a curve, as I do) to draw the shape of the cap, connecting the dots/marks with curved lines.

Measure 1,5 cm seam allowance all around.

Connect the marks again.

Fold the pattern in half and decide which half you like best. Cut along those lines. You would need to have some super ability to design two perfect halves with the paper folded open. Cutting the pattern while folded would result in a balanced cap.

Just look at the difference it makes when I fold the paper before cutting it.

I now need to correct the line for the seam allowance, so I erase the old lines and measure 1,5 cm in from the edges.

Next I trace the cap on another paper. I still need to draw this exact pattern without the 1,5 cm seam allowance. This will be the pattern I use to cut the stiffening of the cap.

The newly traced cap becomes the pattern for the fabric, while I use the original pattern for the stiffening.

The original cap pattern already has a 1,5 cm seam allowance marking and I am going to cut on this line to get rid of the seam allowance.

I fold the paper in half again and cut along the seam allowance lines.

This is the pattern I will use to cut the stiffening from.

I still needed to transfer these patterns onto A4 papers again, so that I could scan them and convert them to pdf files to make them available to anyone who did not want to bother drawing their own patterns. I trace each pattern piece individually, trying to fit as many pieces as possible on a piece of paper, wishing to save paper as far as possible for both myself and my clients.

I need to make sure that the patterns will scan clearly , so I make use of a fine-liner instead of a pencil.  Each pattern also needs to be marked clearly saying what it is, how many pieces need to be cut and any other relevant information.

This is what the pattern looks like when laid out side by side. It will print over three pages, which is not too bad. One page still has space open and I will later add a pattern piece from one of the variants here, making even better use of the paper.

In the next blog we will use this basic pattern and create variants for it, making it a much more lucrative investment for buyers and milliners.

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Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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