First- a picture to help ease my mind while I type this, so that I don’t start anything on fire.
For some stupid reason I thought that I would be nice and make a hat for my Grandpa for Christmas. He had dropped hints about wanting me to sew one for him for quite a while, and after finally drawing his name for a family gift exchange (this past Christmas, 2010), I thought it was a good excuse to make him one. Let me start out by saying that I’ve never made a hat before, and I don’t know the first thing about millinery. I view millinery as I view tailoring- just because you can sew, doesn’t mean you can tailor (or make hats, apparently).
I should have taken it as a “this is going to be bad” sign when my Grandpa, who we affectionately call Pa, gave me a hat he used to love to wear. It was knit, and I was planning on making his hat out of some very expensive Pendelton wool that I had already purchased just for this project. Have I ever mentioned here that stretchable fabric is MUCH different from, oh, say, felted wool? His old hat would stretch to fit his noggin with the help of the knit and some brittle elastic inside. I had purchased fabric that didn’t want to stretch or conform to any shape without steam and much pleading.
I began this ordeal by doing what I would do for any patternmaking project, by taking measurements. More precisely, I took his head measurements about 4 drinks into a family Christmas, which means after lots of dancing, eating, more drinking, and a slight next-day hangover, I couldn’t remember what they were. Rather than ask again, I figured I was safe after he gave me his beloved hat on Christmas morning, saying he wanted one “just like it”.
Fast forward to getting back into the swing of things once we were home, where I realized I had to cut up his hat before I could make the pattern. I called to make sure it was okay, and proceded to chop it up and make a sample hat out of some random wool felt.
I could already see the limitations and issues that were going to happen as I moved forward, so I made another sample hat and tweaked the pattern. And then did it again. The last thing I wanted to do was cut up that pricey wool and not have it turn out! I finally decided to dive in, so I got out my Ginghers and started clipping, notching and sewing.
About halfway thru the hat, before I added the lining, I decided the brim needed a bit of pressing to lay flat. When my iron (on the wool setting, mind you), accidentally touched the gray of the wool, the color came right off and stuck to my iron. I think I stopped breathing, because now not only could I not steam this wool to give it shape, I couldn’t bring heat anywhere near it like I had planned to in order to work out any bumps and shaping issues. And the iron had permanently removed the gray coloring (which was apparently just sprayed on) from the brim edge.
I’m not quite sure if pissed is a good descriptive word to use. Maybe something more along the lines of murderous rage or sick to my stomach at the same time would be more appropriate. I knew better, I knew that I should have tested a swatch first, but I didn’t. I had to put it away for a while, because I knew working on it would make it worse, and so I spent the next week going for walks instead of looking at that damn hat.
I think it helped my blood pressure that the weather was gorgeous, my little dog was turning 4, and that all of the flowers in Portland were starting to bloom. I decided to take the hat out and finish it, because if anything, it’s a hat that he can use to tell me if my sizing is way off.
So it’s done.
So, is it exactly like the one he gave me? No. Is it hard for me to like it because the color is already coming off? Yes. Will I ever make another hat again so I can get it right? Of course. Will he love it? I’m positive.