Making a Rain Hat, Part 1

I saw a really nice hat at a western clothing store. It’s not your typical cowboy hat, which I’m not looking for. Western culture isn’t defined by apparel and music alone. There’s a bit of knowledge too; my guess is that the thing most western people have in common is horses. There was a time when horses were mostly a means to an end, that is, working with cattle.

Even if one doesn’t work with cattle, there is a lot to know about horses, I mean A LOT. I don’t ride or partake myself, but I’m in very close company with those that do. I’m interested in getting a mule, but that’s a ways down the road, so to speak. So, in the interest of not being a poser, an apparel cowboy, I’ll abstain from the cowboy hat. Besides, my research shows that basically nobody wore these cowboy hats in the 1800’s. They were usually flatter on top, sometimes pushed up in a dome. That or a derby.

So I could go with the historic look, and consider myself more like the townsfolk. Who lived out in the woods. Near a sawmill. Now comes the cost part. The hat I wanted was more than $200. I’m sure I couldn’t make, distribute, and sell that same hat for less, but that price? Not right now. Then there are the Australian hats. The top is very angled, the rim is narrow, and if one shrinks after a rain, it wraps around your head like something meant for a small child.

I thought about making a hat, but figured it would be too difficult. On Saturday, I was wondering what I could do with my two youngest sons, when I remembered the hat project. Even if the results were near disaster, it would be interesting to work with the tools and processes. I got a pencil, scissors, large paper, and poster board.

It’s a given that I’d have to make more than one try at getting the size and shape right. What was interesting was how few tries it took. In the first picture, I’ve made two curved strip pieces, which resulted in two vertical pieces. the lest curved strip made the straighter piece on the rear left. It looks to have slant in this picture, but when I put it on, it looked straight on the sides. So I made a paper strip with more curve, and a little wider, then got the more angled and taller vertical piece on the right rear.

Making the top was fairly easy, I drew the necessary line on a piece of poster board, along with tabs to bend, and cut it out. As a note, I use the folded paper to get things symmetric, then trace it on poster board, and cut it out. The poster board is only taped together, I plan to take it apart and use it a a pattern for cloth or leather. The only other adjustment I had to make was the width of the brim, it was too wide, might still be.

Here’s the assembled pattern, man am I pleased with the result. Exactly the size and shape I want. Of course, making it out of oil cloth will be a challenge, but if that goes as well as this, it should be great.