Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to make your Child a Hat for the Renaissance Festival

This year my family went to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. I wanted to dress my children in costume, but since I was short on time, it had to be pretty simple. I decided to start with a hat for my son. This is my rendition of a period "flat cap," such as that worn by Henry VIII.  This tutorial isn't really how to make a professional/traditional/period one, but it looks good :-)

1. Measure your child's head and using that dimension, figure out the radius needed for a circle that size.  Yes, this is math, and I apologize about that :-) Here's the formula using 17" for the head circumference (sub in your child's measurement where you see 17):

17 ÷ 3.14 = the diameter, so the diameter of this hat is approx. 5.5".
The radius of a circle = diameter ÷ 2, so 5.5" ÷ 2 means the radius = 2.25"

2. Draw a circle on the material you are using for your brim, such as cardboard, stiff interfacing, a cereal box, plastic...whatever you want. I used a manila folder! Use a compass to draw your circle, setting it to the radius of your circle + approx 1" for ease so the hat fits comfortably. Add more if you want it looser and less if you want it tight (in this case 2.25" + 1" = 3.25"). This is the center hole for your hat (I didn't add that extra inch the first time I made one and it was too small). Extend your compass 2" or however wide you want your brim to be, and draw another circle. This is the outside edge of your brim. 

3. Use this piece you just cut out as a pattern for cutting out two donuts of the fabric you've chosen for your hat. I chose a blue suede. Cut loosely around your brim piece so that you leave about a half inch seam allowance on the outer edge and the inner edge.

4. Right sides together, sew around the outer edge of the two fabric donuts you just cut out and turn them right side out as pictured here.

5. Slide your brim piece into the fabric O you've just made. It's okay if it fits loosely, because you can pull the fabric tight to the inside when you finish it if you want a more fitted brim. I didn't mind it being loose personally.

6. Cut out another larger circle of fabric, this time with no hole in the middle! You can use your compass again and add about 5-6" more inches to the measurement for the outside of your brim, or be like me and just lay that brim piece on your fabric and cut around it not caring if it is perfect :-) The larger you make it, the floppier the hat will be, so if you want it to hang over the edges of the brim, you should cut it even larger. I'll be honest, I just guessed on this part and didn't measure it too accurately, but it worked out okay.

7. Gather up the outer edge of the large circle you just cut.

8. Pin the gather edge into the center hole of your hat and sew it in place. I hand-sewed this because it was just easier than trying to get my sewing machine into this tight space.

9. Attach feathers, plumes, or whatever decorations you might like to your hat!

10. (Optional) You can finish the inside edge of your hat with bias tape or some other edging. I didn't do this since you can't see the inside and this is for a 5 month old.

Here are the two I made:

Me and my son at the festival!  He is wearing a simple tunic I made and there will be a tutorial for that soon to follow!

I made my daughter's dress as well, but that one was assembled too hodge-podge for a good tutorial!


  1. Thanks so much. I've been looking all over the Internet but nothing was what I needed for my class to use as hats in their play of Romeo and Juliet. I'm thinking this will do nicely.

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