Over the summer a friend sparked joy when she agreed I should spend a month making hats just for fun. Every time I organize my patterns I wish I could visit them fully. Since January 15th is national hat day, January seemed like a fitting time and opportunity to get my hands on the patterns with hats.

On this adventure I learned a little, made some mistakes, and still managed to create interesting hats….

The first hat I made was a beret. I made it out of a scarf as part of my “ReFabrication Challenge.” This style of hat is great to get those skills up and rolling. Beret’s are basically a circle, a donut, and the band.

Don’t be the queen of disappointment. Instead, pay close attention to the fit of the hat as you progress. A stretchy material may need less of a band. Tip – if you need to shorten your band and don’t want to take it apart, sew a dart in it and put a rosette over the seam. No one will know.

Hat number two was made from the scraps of my new faux fur coat. I learned from this pattern that fur can’t be ironed, seams should be hammered down. All very similar to jean hems. This doesn’t really work on faux fur but I learned another golden nugget of knowledge.

My third choice was more complex. Materials used included scraps from the last dress, a cover button, and Pellon 70 stabilizer (to keep the hat erect).

I wish I had millenary tools for pressing. Tip – press along the way, because trying to press the seams open on a pressing ham with big curves is virtually impossible.

Lots of pieces means paying attention to details or having your seam ripper sharp and handy.

My white stitches show on the outside due to the thickness of the materials. I could’ve tightened the tension and shortened my stitch length to avoid this.

The covered button and a close up of the visible stitching.

Hat four and five! When you think something is going to be easy, remember and laugh!

I wanted to design a surreal pillbox hat with a big bug on it. A green bug like a beetle, grasshopper, or praying mantis. For materials a friend gave me a crushed velvet black scarf.

Finding the bug became the adventure. I ordered this praying mantis, Lydia, from a small hardware store near Akron, Ohio because I shop small. She’s visiting each post office in the tristate right now.

In a scramble I found a couple emergency oddities locally at Foy’s Halloween store in Fairborn. They were incredibly helpful over and beyond!

A pillbox hat is a 6″- 7″ circle and 2″x 22″ strip. Now, I can’t press it because it is velvet and because of the shape. The iron simply won’t go into all of the areas and the stabilizer was going to be too thick not to iron.

I made hat four with that Pellon anyways and paid the price of wonky and unclean bubbled edges.

Thickness of Pellon 70 vs Buckram

From working at Hancock Fabrics I knew Buckram is the stabilizer used for making hats. Located with the stabilizers at the store, it’s translucent and stiff with a rough straw like feel.

I made hat number five with the Buckram and a full two inches larger. This pillbox hat came out on the winning side.


Check out the size difference between the 5.5″ hat and 7.5″ hat.  Can you see the clean shape difference of the two?

Even though I vacuumed in between projects the white faux fur and the black velvet fibers made electrostatic love all over the place.

Then I made two more hats for when and if Lydia arrives!


I’ve been bit by the sewing bug and I hope it’s contagious. Next is swimwear month, but if I want a hat I got this!

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!




Tracy McElfresh
Latest posts by Tracy McElfresh (see all)