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Cute, but VERY frustrating.
on October 13, 2012
I am an experienced intermediate-level sewist. I was excited to find this book of whimsical hats (perfect for kids' birthday gifts!) But, I found constructing the base hat to be surprisingly difficult due to lack clarity in the (very lengthy, but not often illustrated) directions. I also found two significant problems with the drafted pattern for the base hat.
The basic hat pattern is designed as 4 pointed sections that meet at the crown. The pattern instructs you to cut two pattern pieces of this pointed shape ON THE FOLD. Doing so means that you will have two smooth side seams and two half seams which jut out oddly like poorly constructed darts.
The brim is a large rectangle that you sew into a tube before attaching to the top of the hat. I followed the pattern exactly, and ended up having to remove, recut, and reattach the brim. This is because (even though the fleece I used in the brim of this hat was the stretchiest in my collection) the patterned piece was at least two inches shorter than what was needed to fit around the hat.
I might suggest making the base hat from a conventional pattern and using this book for its worthwhile embellishment ideas and techniques. But, if you do choose to use the base hat pattern from this book I definitely suggest the following:
(1) Consider making the next size up. The youth size (S) is just slightly small on my 3 1/2 year old.
(2) Read the header of each page twice to be sure you know the percentage by which that particular pattern piece should be enlarged. NOTE: The pointed pattern piece for the top of the hat should NOT be magnified at all. Only the brim should be enlarged 200%. I had to figure this out by trial and error, as the layout of the book made it hard to tell if the 200% instruction applied to one page or both.
(3) Do NOT cut the pointed pattern piece (for the top of the hat) on the fold. Instead, cut four separate pieces from this pattern. This will use the same amount of fabric, but will give you much smoother seams on the finished product.
(4) Cut your brim a few inches longer than recommended. Better to trim the piece if needed than waste fabric by recutting the whole piece.
(5) When attaching the brim follow the directions to assemble the hat with both pieces wrong side out and the top tucked inside the brim. Turn the hat so the top is right side out, then fold the brim up to to (and just beneath) the stitching line. Next, fold the brim up again OVER the bottom edge of the hat. You're not quite folding on the stitching line, but just about 1/4 inch below it (just enough to encase the seam which hangs down and to ensure that the brim shows on the lower edge, rather than the stitching line.) Pin in place and proceed following the directions in the book.
(6) Do use a serger, if you have one, to construct the base hat. Most of your thread trails will be encased in the brim, so you won't even have to secure them. Using a serger gives you a seam with some stretch and the base hat comes very together quickly... especially if you don't have to do everything twice, as I did. ;)
I will say that although I found the pattern for the base hat to be problematic, I didn't have any problems making the embellishments. The finished product is very cute.
One last caveat, the embellishments do involve a good bit of hand sewing. If you (like me) prefer working on a machine, be aware!