Well, the guys are at the Klondike Derby this weekend, so I’ll relate more details about how I made their spiffy fleece hats. For those of you looking for a knitting post from me — stay tuned. I’ll be back to writing about knitting next week. Today, however, I’m going to write about how I made 40 fleece hats for the Scouts.
Every winter, our Scouts go on a winter camping adventure called the Klondike Derby. The troops in our district usually sport matching fleece hats. Some are hand-sewn, while others are purchased and embellished. Our troop has had them hand-sewn. I’m the Hat Maven for our troop. This means I usually make about 40 hats. That’s enough for about 10 adults and 30 Scouts — more than what we need for Klondike, which allows extra for Webelos who may join our troop at Klondike or cross over to us in March. Always better to have too many than too few, I think.
Making a few fleece hats is no big deal, but making them on the scale that I typically do is a production involving research into hat designs that will scale up to large quantities gracefully, prototyping, and finally, scale-up and production. It usually takes me from right after Christmas until early February to complete this job. I could do it a lot faster if I weren’t also working full-time, but I have to work within those time constraints.
Anyway, this year’s hats were modeled after the horizontal stripe design I found on Martha Stewart’s website. I wanted to use some Boy Scout logo fleece I had, but I didn’t have enough of it to do complete stripes on each hat. So, I cut out logos and sewed on coordinating fleece on either side to make stripes long enough for the hats. The result was pretty neat:
Here’s how I made them:
The logo portions were about 9″ X 5″. I needed stripes that would measure about 23 inches after sewing and trimming, so I cut flanking strips that were about 8″ X 5″ for each side (yes, that’s 25 inches, but I didn’t mind trimming the excess). The brim strips were 3″ X 24″, and the top pieces were 6″ X 24″. I determined all of those measurements in the prototype phase of this project.
To make this many hats, I tend to do things in an assembly line fashion. I cut out all the hats for the 10 adults, which were the reverse color scheme from what I used for the Scouts. Then, I cut out the hat pieces for the Scouts. I use a rotary cutter and mat on a cutting table, which works well.
When all the pieces were cut out, I arranged them in batches of 10. Why 10? It’s more manageable than trying to do things in a strict assembly line, and keeps me from having issues with repetitive motions, as there’s enough variety in my activities when I do them in batches.
With some experimentation, I’d figured out that the best settings for my serger were:
both needles: 5
lower looper: 4
upper looper: removed
stitch length: 2.5
cutting width: 3
Those settings produce a seam allowance of about 1/4-inch. Then, it was time to pin and serge. (Right sides together, of course).
I pinned and serged the stripe pieces together first.
Then, I went and added the brim and top strips.
In between, I’d trim as necessary. What I ended up with was a rectangle that was about 13″ X 23″.
Once the rectangles were formed, I serged the ends together to form a tube, and then serged the top closed.
With the serging complete, I turned the hats inside-out and turned up the brim on the inside by about an inch. I topstitched the brim hem about 1/4″ from the turned-up edge. For that task, I used my sewing machine.
Stacks of sewn hats:
Detail showing serged seams:
The last task was to hand-sew the corners together (tedious, but not difficult) and then make and sew on pompoms, per the directions on Martha Stewart’s website. I outsourced making the pompoms to my sons, and then sewed them on.
Serging hats saves time (sergers are fast, and trim while serging), and produces a nice, neat finish. I bought 5 yards of blue fleece and 7 yards of butterscotch fleece, and had maybe a yard left of each. Because the time commitment is important for me to note (work and other matters can rear their ugly head during Klondike season), I’ll say that this endeavor took me about 30 hours of hands-on work spread out over four weekends, with about a workweek’s worth of evenings devoted to the hand-finishing. Not bad, if I plan ahead.
The troop with hats: