How would/do you make a summer sun hat?

ClareBroommaker's picture

Can _you_ make a hat for protection against the sun? One that would last at least a week, or even better, a summer of outdoor use? One that would stand up to sweat and wind? That uses very common materials? That does not make you feel even hotter when you wear it?

I have made baseball caps that proved to be not only fancy but durable. However, I have not made any summer sun hats with broad brims. If I were, I would start with sturdy, washable cotton fabric in a light shade, tan or white. I would have an absorbent sweat band and probably use three layers in the brim to keep it on the stiff side. I have had sun hats that had a heavy monofilament line at the edge to help the brim keep it's shape and it seemed to work pretty well until I wore it out. The crown would need to be upstanding with some grommet holes in the sides for ventilation. I would also add a chin strap of some kind to keep it on in the wind.

I have noticed that Hispanic yard crews around here wear cheap straw hats at need and replace them as necessary. They also wear loose long sleeves shirts (in all colors) and trousers and I believe, from my own experience, that it is for the shade such clothing provides when you have to work where nature didn't provide any.

I was given a Tilly hat some few years ago and has been the best summer hat I have had so far. It is just starting to get a small hole in the side of the crown, but the brim is intact. These are made in Canada and not cheap, but very durable.

I'd look for hat patterns, especially one with a brim. Brims can be easily widened.
The secret is using really stiff interfacing to force the brim to keep its shape along with the crown.
Heavy-duty monofilament fishing line is a wonderful stiffener and it comes in sizes.

I repaired a straw hat's wide brim that had gone completely floppy with 60 lb test monofilament fishing line. I got rained on too many times wearing the hat and now, it's wearable again.

To repair a straw hat brim with monofilament, use the largest weight that will go through the eye of a heavy tapestry needle that you can work between the straw weave of the hat brim. This needs some experimentation.

Once you've got the right weight for a needle you can use, start weaving monofilament into the straw, row by row, working out from the hat's crown and out to the brim. The monofilament is invisible. It won't show. If the brim still isn't stiff enough, do it again.

David Trammel's picture

The idea of my own straw hat was such a cool idea I did some YouTube diving and came right up with a method of turning a few $2 circular straw dinner mats into a custom hat. Here's the video and the look of the mat, and finished hat. The method of sewing the braid (you need a sewing machine too) should allow you to make a custom shape within a general design.

You should be able to design a headband with a stiffener and a removable and washable liner. Then either sew it in or maybe install snaps.

Youtube video:

I wonder if you could make these and sell them at farmer's markets too?

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ClareBroommaker's picture

Would _you_ make a hat that way, David?

I would make mine of light color fabric and would stiffen the large brim with extra layers sewn together in close concentric rings. I think that is how those Tilley hats are done. Would make some vent holes, but not with grommets. My vent holes would just be like round, open button holes. Button holes on the inside edge of the brim could give me attachment points for ties. I know I need ties because it doesn't take much wind to blow away a hat with a large brim.

In reality I use commercially made straw hats. I used to go through one per year, but the last couple years I work outdoors in the evenings and don't seem to need a hat.

My friend from Afghanistan wears a large but filmy hijab. She was intrigued by my sunhats, so I gave her one. She wore it on top of her hijab. Culture mash....Well, sometimes I have worn a straw hat on top of a bandana.

Hmmm, I'm remembering just now that in Girl Scouts we made reversible cloth hats that were sort of tulip shaped with a flare that served as a small brim. They were a little like a sailor cap.

Very clever, but I think it would take too long to make to make it affordable in a craft market. If you were just making it for yourself, rock and roll. I have seen hats just like this already made at a price that I am pretty sure you couldn't match even if the mats were cheap to start with. It is your time that is expensive.

David Trammel's picture

While I was watching the video I thought it was a very adaptable construction technique. You can change the slope and shape of the hat by the way you sew it. You could easily make either of these hats.

BTW, I want those two's herb garden lol.

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Of course you are right about the construction adaptability. Perhaps straw hats were more sturdy in the past because they take so long to make, but I think I want the orange coat/smock, which ever and I wouldn't say no to the garden either.

I am deeply impressed.

David Trammel's picture

Would I make one, or wear one?

The material is super cheap, already braided and flat. I could see making bowls or baskets this way, or perhaps other crafts. Maybe even green pointed wizard hats. Personally I'm a die hard baseball cap guy, though I'm about to have my "little red convertible car" moment now that I'm retired. Won't be buying a sports car but I do have my eyes on some loud Hawaiian (not ProudBoyz type) shirts. Depends on whether I get a certain part time job I'm angling for will depend how outrageous I get. I have been suggested to discover the right GW branding for myself, in case I decide to start doing videos for the site here.

We'll see, maybe I'll go with a red Tibettan monk outfit instead.

I spend a lot of time thinking about branding because of our own business, Peschel Press.
You want a consistent look for all your appearances to make it easier for people to remember you.
Think of your outfit as a stage costume or a uniform that puts you into the proper frame of mind.

Do NOT wear your regular, everyday clothes and especially do not dress like you're cleaning out your garage. If you don't take yourself seriously, no one else will.

For Peschel Press appearances, I wear robin's egg blue shirts (our color) embroidered (by me) with our logo and name. Bill wears a white button-up shirt that's a design of rows and rows of letters and a big leather hat. People remember us.

For Odessa Moon appearances, I wear a rich cobalt blue top. I've got winter and summer but they're both a vivid, distinctive blue.

When Bill does podcast interviews for the Mechanicsburg Mystery bookstore, he always wears a cobalt blue long sleeved shirt.

The point is, you're defining your image to help people remember you in the immense avalanche of chaff we wade around in.

For you, as a green wizard, I'd stick with the Hawaiian shirts but choose ones that have green in them (not red! Don't confuse the public!) or are all green. Go with florals, not surfboards, again to tie into the natural world.

If you learn to sew (you'll need a sewing machine), you can make your own Hawaiian shirts using a basic, short-sleeved, button-front shirt with facings and collar. The first one will be the hardest one to make so use an old sheet while practicing. After finishing the first one, buy fashion fabric and get exactly what you want.

Every fabric store is LOADED with gorgeous, suitable cottons and cotton-poly blends.

Or, if you know someone who sews, ask them how much it would cost to make a few custom shirts. You'll provide fabric and buttons. Use the same pattern over and over. You don't need to buy a new pattern for each shirt.

When considering the cost of custom, remember that these are your uniform, to be worn for all public appearances and video presentations and nothing else. You are not wearing these shirts as part of your every day life.

Thrifty1's picture

I think I'd look carefully at the construction of the various far eastern hats woven from leaves. We grow a lot of day-lilies, which are pretty and edible, and their leaves were used in past times for weaving. I've woven rushes before and can weave a simple table mat; I suspect a hat isn't a lot more complicated, just a bit more 3D. There's a river with close by us with rushes on the banks; I've never yet gathered them for weaving materials but I do know which ones I'm looking for, and when - but they're "ready" in June and it's August now, so day-lilies it would have to be!

As it happens, as part of a challenge from a friend to make as many items as possible from reclaimed shirts (which are made from a whole lot of very good fabric) I'm planning to make a hat from shirt collars or maybe cuffs, once I've worked out the best way to join them. Busy for the next few days, but I'll have a go & let you know how I get on.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I, too, have a lot of daylilies, but their leaves seem fragile to me. They get so thin when they dry. Does one weave them when fresh and green?

Rushes seem good.

Once I tried to make a mat to shade garlic that had to be dried after harvesting too early. I used the long leaves from my neighbor's "ornamental" grass --like a pampas grass. But they had were dead for months and too brittle. I gave up on that and just set the garlic under the grape arbor.

Clearly one needs to use plant fibers when they are strong yet flexible.

Oh, willow! I just thought of willow because of your mention of rushes on the river side. In my mother's day, large mats were woven of willow and placed on the banks and levies of the Mississippi River to stabilize them in high water. There is definitely a lot of flex in willow. Perhaps willow is "hattable".

Thrifty1's picture

Did it! Made from the collars & cuffs of discarded shirts, picked up at the local recycling warehouse for 50p each. Not sure how the photo upload thing works; it doesn't appear in the preview, but I've added one where it says "add photo!"

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Lovely work. All collars and cuffs?
Then the pieces are finished on both sides AND they've already been interfaced with something stiff.

This is really clever.

Thrifty1's picture

Thank you! Yes, all collars & cuffs, trimmed to make straight edges, then zig-zagged together to form a stiff "fabric" to cut the pattern pieces out from.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Bravo! Waste not, want not! I think I see the plaid that my grade school uniforms were made with-- the blue-green-white small plaid on left and right. Oh, but maybe my school uniform had a red line in it, too. And the largest plaid there looks familiar. I think maybe my husband had a shirt of it.

Thrifty1's picture

I wish mine would wear interesting shirts! But he's a formal-shirts-for-work, sweatshirt or t-shirt at home kind of guy. But he does wear decent jeans that I can cut up & weave into rugs when they're past wearing!