Friday 7 May 2010

Sun Hat

After our very short stint of sunshine recently, I realised that I don't really have any Summer weight hats. All my hats are woolly or heavy fabric. The trouble is that I feel naked without something on my head, even when it is warm. I also have quite delicate eyes that don't respond well to bright light and as I wear glasses instead of contacts sometimes, I can't wear sunglasses in every instance. I have one sun hat and I can't find it. I also believe it is a bit battered and grubby. I don't think I had to use it last year at all, as the Summer was non-existent.

I decided that instead of buying a sun hat, I would make one. I couldn't decide whether to sew or knit one and searched around for a hat pattern. There were a few sewing patterns that interested me:

indietutes: Bush Hat
CraftZine: Reversible Sun Hat
Amy Butler (paid patterns)

I even considered downloading some free sewing pattern software called Wild Things, Wild Ginger. To be honest I did download it, I just haven't used it yet. I really thought I was going to choose one of these options and whip up a quick bonnet, when I saw some lovely cotton yarn at Mary Clare. The yarn was Adriafil Memphis and it is a 100% cotton. The colours are lovely and the yarn has a subtle sheen, but still remains soft and easy to handle. I decided that I had to knit my new sun hat.

I chose a free pattern by Anna Bell, called Witterings. For knitters, the Ravelry page is here. This pattern turned out to be very well written and the whole knitting process was very painless. In a few days I had a lovely hat.

This pattern was straight forward and well written and taught me a couple of new techniques. One of which was knitting into the back loops in order to form the crease from which the brim would grow. I also really liked the knitted hem, which was sewn shut, using the instructions given for a tubular sewn cast off. This technique was somehow laborious and yet satisfying. I blocked the hat using my new polystyrene head. The OH was disturbed by the voodoo pins sticking into the head and made me hide it behind the curtains so it didn't make him feel watched if he woke up in the night. I suppose I should have put it in another room, but I do all my blocking in the bedroom.

Once the blocking was complete I sewed a length of petersham into the hat as a hatband. This ensures the hat retains it's shape and doesn't stretch, which is likely with cotton. I then threaded some piping cord into the sewn hem, using a safety pin and cut it to length, before sewing the ends together and then sewing the two edges of the hem together.

I was going to use fabric stiffener to firm up the brim, but I don't think it needs it. The cord holds the shape reasonably well. If I stiffen the brim, I won't be able to scrunch up the hat and shove it into a pocket, so I shall wait a while before making a decision about it. But at the moment, I think it looks quite good.

I love the stripes, it gives the hat a gaunty nautical feel. I highly recommend the pattern to others who need to hide from the sun and don't know how to sew. I hope it will keep my nose sunburn free, providing we actually get some sun to try it with this Summer. I've probably cursed us by making a sun hat. Sorry.


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