Friday, April 10, 2009

How to Resize a Hat that Doesn't Fit

Got Hat Horrors? Here's how to turn your headgear into something heavenly. If you struggle to find a hat that fits your head, this article may have the solution you need.

Hat too small?

My sister Sarah, on the outset of another exploration of the Australian continent, asked if there was anything I would like her to bring back for me. "An Akubra, please!" I said, meaning the iconic Australian stockman's hat. She'd acquired such a hat on a previous trip, my father had one, and well, certain members of my family are hat fanatics. = )

Sarah measured my crown -- 56cm -- and off she went. Unfortunately, the hat shop she went to didn't have a full range of Akubra sizes in stock. Feeling she couldn't come home without spending my $60, she decided to get the next smallest size they had available (54cm), hoping that it would stretch or my brains would shrink.

I wasn't keen to endure a headache whilst waiting for a sturdy leather band to age, so was thankful for the outdoorsy knowledge of my shepherding brother. "Soak the thing in water," he said, "and then wear it while it dries. It will adjust to the shape of your head." Uh huh. Another charmingly comfortable concept. I stowed the hat in a cupboard, thinking that was $60 wasted.

Soon afterward, I was gifted a 50 year old metal milliner's form which I initially thought wouldn't help me at all because I wanted to be able to stick pins in it as I fiddled with fabric. However, the equipment has a lever allowing the form to be made larger or smaller, and a measuring stick showing exactly what size it's resting at.

I soaked the Akubra, set it on the form at 54cm, then wound the handle until the pointer reached 56cm. The leather didn't complain, and by the following day it was dry and ready to wear, perfect for my head. I like to wear it on wet or windy days.

Hat too big?

Ladies with very small heads should look for child-sized hats. I've been keeping an eye on the Warehouse's Back to School collection, which featured a summer range in January/February, and now has a winter range of cute cosies coming in. The sizes tend to be ranged by age, i.e. 8-14 means the hat should fit children aged 8-14. I'm the smallest in a family of big heads, and it was a wee bit too small for me, so it would fit a small women's head quite comfortably.

Granted, you won't always find what you want in the children's section, so here are three options for fixing the hat that's too big.

1. Make a pleat or two. While the above example may seem too obviously 'fixed', with the current trend for pleats and tucks all over the place, many designer garments look like a mistake that's been fixed. If you have to make a pleat somewhere, don't tell anyone and the odds are they'll never know it wasn't meant to be there.

2. Make a lining and stitch it to the inside band. You can also do this to make a hat warmer. In this example, I've used polar fleece, which is cosy, bulky, and doesn't need edge stitching (it doesn't unravel).

The cap crown has 6 segments, so I made the same in polarfleece.

The black lining can be inserted into any of my Gatsby caps, meaning I can have cool cotton for summer and then bulk it up for winter, making my hat wardrobe very adaptable.

Sew your lining to the inner band to make the band smaller. If you're just adding warmth and your hat has a hanging hat band inside the crown, tuck the edges behind the band to keep the lining from slipping about as you take the hat on and off.

3. Add an internal band.

Watch an experienced milliner demonstrate the process of making a silk Ascot-style hat**. Of particular interest is the silk tube she adds to the base of the crown after the lining (2.51min through video), through which a fine cord or elastic is threaded, allowing the hat to fit multiple sizes.

I have a cotton sun hat that has such a band. Bias binding has been attached to the seam just inside the crown, and a cord threaded through. As in the HatHeads illustration above, this fills up some of the extra space inside the crown, and allows you to make the band firmer if needed. Apart from giving you the perfect fit, it's also an alternative to a chin strap for those in breezy climates.

To cap off this Chanson de Chapeau, I hope your hat days will now be much happier!

**Note: We are very sorry about the missing images in this post. They were tragically and irreversibly gobbled by Google+.

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