- New Demos

Getting Started
- Basic Sewing Tech
- Fun With Bias

Body Measurement
- What & Where to Measure

Pattern Development
- Basic Pattern Drafting
- Basic Pattern Development
- The Toile & Mock-Up
- Basic Rectangular Patterns

Sewing Tech
- Gores, Gussets, and Inserts
- Facings
- Cartridge Pleating
- Basic Handsewing Techniques
- Hand Bound Eyelet Holes
- Machine Seams

Trims & Embellishment
- 5 Cross Cultural Embroidery Stitches
- Appliqué Techniques
- Passemaine (hand made trims)
- Trims requiring very little equipment
- Complicated Trims
- Cardweaving
- Buttons
- Making Felt

Western European
- Underwear
- Shirts
- Farthingales
- Corsets
- Stockings
- Collars and Cuffs
- Partlets
- Gloves
- Hats
- Shoes

Eastern European:

- Shirts
- Pants
- Coats
- Shoes
- Boots
- Hats
- Jewelry

Ancillary Arts
- Fans
- Pouch Hinges, Part 1
- Pouch Hinges, Part 2

Demonstrations>Accessories:Eastern European>Basic Eastern European and Central Asian Hats

An Essential Accessory -

Hats have been an essential accessory for thousands of years. Worn in the winter to keep the head warm and used in the summer as portable shade, the hat is one piece of costuming that is somewhat overlooked. Not too many people bother with head gear. One of the reasons may be that, in our mundane society, the wearing of hats has fallen out of favor. In period, however, many cultures not only favored hats as a sign of wealth but some required the wearing of hats - basically to cover the head in 'humility' before which ever deity was worshipped. Women especially were often culturally required to wear some sort of head covering.

In Central Asia, the climate is fairly varied. It can get both blisteringly hot in the summer and frigid cold in the winter. A hat is an almost mandatory article of clothing. In The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan, by Johannes Kalter, there are several photographs of people taken in the mid 1800's. One photograph in particular shows the type of hat that we are going to make today. There are also color photos of Turkmen caps, dating from the 19th century. Given that these photos are out of period, one should also turn to illuminations that are in period to get a sense of whether or not caps such as these were worn then. Several illuminations from Persia detail caps of a similar style.

This type of hat can also be seen in Eastern Europe and up into the Russian areas. Many, many period illuminations show this hat, mostly on men. Embellishment in the eastern european areas usually involved metal bits, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, and a whole host of other things. As with Central Asia, the climate varied seasonally in a considerable manner.

Lastly, as another argument in favor of making hats, it is a great way to use up scraps. The hat that I make in this demo was made entirely from scraps. The appliquéd motifs are the leftover 'between' cuttings from appliqués done several years ago... I tend to keep almost anything that looks useable! If you're like me and searching for a means to get rid of those killer textile scraps, read on! Let's make a hat!

The Pattern -

Many people shy away from this particular hat because it seems complicated to draft up a pattern for it. In reality, this is one of the easiest patterns you will ever do! Start by measuring around your (or the recipient's) head. Round up to the nearest inch. If this is an even number - bonus! For me, my measurement around my head was 23.75 inches. I rounded up to 24 inches. Divide this number by 6 (six pieces to make this hat). As an example, my measurement around, being 24 inches, was then divided by 6 which equaled 4. This is the width, in inches, of each piece of the base of the hat. On a piece of pattern paper, draw a 4 inch horizontal line. Find the middle of that line and mark it. Now take your measuring tape and measure from the top of your head - center top or crown - to where you measured your head around. For me this came out to 6 inches. Draw a 6 inch vertical line, starting from the middle of your horizontal line. When you are done, you should have what looks like an inverted 'T'.

Now here's the hard part... ready? Draw a curve from the top of the vertical line to one end of the horizontal line. Add your seam allowance to these three lines. Now fold the piece of paper in half using the vertical line as your half marker. Cut both sides out using the side that you drew. This serves to 'true' up the pattern so that both sides are identical to one another. Add your date information and who the pattern is for, and you are ready to use the pattern!

One final word on the curve... don't get too excited about curving it. The most common mistake that people make is to make the curve too rounded. If this is done, the hat will not lay flat to the head and curve around the head. Stick with the example above and, by all means, make a mock up out of muslin if you are at all nervous! If you start experimenting with the number of pieces (anything from four to eight is common), the rule of thumb is this: the more pieces, the more shallow the curve. This means that, if you only have four pieces, your curve will need to be much more pronounced. Now that I've probably confused you, let's move on!

Construction Tech -

Now is the time to decide what materials you are going to use to make your hat. I like wool, sometimes lined with silk, linen, cotton or even more wool. Wool is nice and stiff and holds the shape of the hat nicely. But I've made several hats out of these other textiles and, if I really wanted them stiff, I added an interlayer of canvas. This technique is quite prevalent in extant caps. It also forms a nice foundation for any embroidery you may want to do. For this particular hat, I had scraps of a thick wool coating and a thinner wool. There are problems associated with using materials that are thick. There will be parts of the hat that you will need to do by hand simply because those layers will not fit under the foot of the machine. There aren't many - mostly around the point at the end when you will be sewing eight layers together.

You should also decide whether or not you are going to use modern or period techniques to line the hat. I wholeheartedly advise period techniques as they are easier and... well... period. The following sequence is lined in period fashion. Had I used a thinner material, I would've also used strips to bind the edges but as it was wool, all I had to do was tack the raw edges down.

However you decide, you will need to cut out six pieces of your shell material and six pieces of your lining material. If you are using the period technique to line the hat, put the pieces (shell and lining) together as in the picture to the left. If you've decided to line the modern method, which means constructing the shell and the lining separately and attaching them at the end, please be sure to make your lining pieces slightly smaller (no more than 1/8th of an inch). This will allow for the lining to be inserted up into the shell without a great deal of fuss and leftover edges at the bottom.

The Trick -

In order to get a nicely finished top - one that doesn't pucker or have bits sticking out, there is a trick to the construction sequence of events. First, sew together two pieces, starting at the point. Always start at the point when putting the pieces together. The photo to the right shows me sewing the shell and lining at the same time, lining to the outside. This basically means that I will have major raw edges on the inside of the hat but that's ok. I'll deal with them!

Once you've sewn these first two pieces together, grade them and then steam iron them open. Now here's the first part of the trick. Take another set of pieces and sew it to these first two... starting the seam at the seam of the first two. The center photo below shows how to line up the points. Do not sew the third piece's point down. Start your seam at the seam of the first two. This will leave a bit of the point of the third piece free. This is ok and somewhat important. Now grade your second seam and press open. Clip any unnecessary bulk out of the seam on top to allow it to lay flatter if necessary. Take a look at the outside and you should see a fairly nice finish on the points. Put this set of three pieces aside and do the exact same thing to the second set of three pieces. At the end of this you should have two sets of three pieces or the two halves of your hat. All that is left to do now is one long seam. Line your points up and pin them or hand baste them. At this point, if the fabric is thick, you will want to hand sew the section of the points.

Grading the seam. Matching points on the third piece.
The two halves ready to be sewn together.

You've probably noticed, in the third photo above, that it looks like I have already treated the seams of the two halves. When the fabric is especially thick, I usually do treat the interior seams before sewing the entire thing together. That way I don't have to fight with the thing on all the seams. Additionally, treating the seams before the last seam allows the last seam to finish off everything nicely.

The interior, seams finished and center seam sewn and finished. The exterior, with the nicely finished points.

Now the Fun Part!

After this point, you are now ready to embellish your hat to your heart's content. Since it's a fairly small accessory, you can get wild with it! It's also highly portable. For this hat, I decided, as I said above, to use up some scraps I had laying around. These scraps already had WonderUnder on them so it was pretty easy to iron them into place and stitch them down.

Embroidery is far more common on these hats, especially in Central Asia but appliqué is also used. You can either finish off the edge with a band or you can add fur; both were done.

Just for fun, I added some bone bits (those little circles) and a tassel. The appliqués are embroidered with anthropomorphic patterns which are meant to scare off 'evil spirits'

Above all, experiment! Happy costuming!

Another example of embroidery possibilities. Yet another embroidery example.
Come closer... Closer... don't be afraid.


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