Monday, July 14, 2014

Homemade Tricorne Hats

(Seb always tries to look serious when he's being a soldier)
I knew the boys would love playing Revolutionary War soldier (since they did so constantly during our Civil War Unit) and I thought it would be fun for them to have tricorne hats to wear! You can buy them, of course, but I looked for tutorials on how to make them and, after looking through several that looked way too involved and/or required too many materials, found this: The tutorial calls it a pirate hat, but of course it's perfect for Revolutionary War characters too!

The most difficult part of this process for us was finding bowls (to use as hat forms) that fit the boys' heads. It seemed like everything we had was too big or too wide or too shallow--and we wanted to make all three hats at once, so we couldn't use the same bowl for all of them. Finally we just made do with a couple bowls that were almost-right, and a Tupperware container that was sort of flat on top but roughly the right size. And they all worked fine! I'm sure the hats could be better fitting, but they stay on the boys' heads fine, and they are very sturdy.
You can see the Tupperware container (covered with black felt) in the foreground by Junie, in the blue dress--the top is flat and the rubber band is partly hidden because it's tucked under the container's rim.
It was also tricky getting the felt to stay stretched tightly over the forms as it dried. It really wanted to loosen and pull up off of the bowls, and even with rubber bands holding it down, the rubber bands wanted to slip upwards as well! In fact, the Tupperware container worked best for this part, since we could put the rubber band under the "lip" of the container to keep it from squinching up and off the form.

The basic procedure is that you wet a piece of felt, stretch it over the form and secure it with rubber bands, and let it dry that way. Then you cover it with white glue (or fabric stiffener--we had some on hand and used a bit on one of the hats, but found that plain glue works just as well) and press on a second layer of wet felt. Secure that in the same way and let it dry again.
On the bowl-forms, we stuck thumb tacks into the felt above the rubber band, to keep it from creeping upwards. It sort of worked.
Next you cut out two brim-sized circles (set your hat-form in the middle of a piece of felt and eyeball it) and cut out the middle, the size of the hat-head, in a donut shape. Read the tutorial for more about that, because we did it slightly differently (I thought it would be easier for the boys to sew the bias tape on BEFORE the brim was attached to the hat). For the way we did it, read on.

We only cut out one circle for the brim, and then we pinned contrasting-colored bias tape around the circumference. In the tutorial she used ribbon, but the bias tape lays flatter so I think it works a little better.
Sew the bias tape on. Then measure the size of your hat-form (what's that part called? the hat-head?) and cut out a circle in the middle of your brim piece---so it's now a donut shape. Slide the donut over the stiff hat form (now it looks like a real hat with a brim) and then stitch the pieces together by hand.

Finally, fold up three sides of the brim to make the hat three-cornered. We just tacked each corner up with one hand-stitch so it would stay in place. You can also wet it the felt again and crease it and let it dry, to help it hold the shape.
These tricorne hats were really simple and inexpensive, and I think they turned out SO cute! The boys love wearing them, and they look like such good little Revolutionary War soldiers! They wore their hats every day, all unit long.


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