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Monday, April 16, 2012

Sewing a Slouchy Rib-Knit Cap - Veiled or Not.

Hattie in her veiled Parisian-chic slouchy rib-knit cap. Photo and toile by Toile La La.
Side view of woven fabric half-scale mock-up for slouch cap. Photo and toile by Toile La La.
Overhead view of horizontal and vertical seaming for "slouch cap" toile. Toile La La.
Tiptoeing into the realm of designer millinery analysis, I practiced the "slouch" shape with scrap fabric. And since woven fabric is more forgiving of picked/ripped stitches (which are a part of trial-sewing), I used woven before recreating the pattern in knit.

Much oohed and aahed, the Stephen Jones for Jil Sander veiled cap was instantly tugged onto the heads of fashion cognoscenti - and coolspotted by fashion photographer and commentator Bill Cunningham in his "On The Street" Sun Spot column/video for The New York Times. Living in "the sticks", my only sightings of it have been via internet imagery. 

It's difficult to have full understanding of an item without holding it in your hands, observing it from all angles, and peering inside ...but, let's suppose you want to attempt to look as nonchalantly chic in a similar item made by your own self. Even with full access to the original designer cap, I would not want to duplicate it in its entirety. That would be outright copying. But you can use this tutorial, albeit vague, to engineer a charming accessory and give it your own creative spin. Truly, the design - approached in the manner here - is a simple one and can be constructed for utilitarian wear for bakers/chefs, or merely head-cover. 

Yet, if you have the insouciance (or chutzpah) to follow through... tuck in some net. Who can resist the allure of a veil?
The allure of Fleur - in a veil. Photo Toile La La.
(Fleur appeared in earlier toile posts, modeling smaller-than-half-scale toiles.)

Practice first, with a bit of scrap woven fabric. A piece 6 and 1/2-inches high by 6-inches wide is sufficient for practice. Essentially, the slouch hat is a sealed-end tube with an upturned cuff. You could merely sew straight across the end of the tube to produce a hat that would keep your head covered and warm, but if you're looking for a slouch hat that looks more like the veiled ones riding around and atop the fashion crowd... you have to exert a little more effort. 

Cutting to the chase, there would be nothing wrong with just measuring around your head - above your ears / around the biggest part of your noggin, adding an extra inch (leeway for adjustment and seam allowance), then snipping out a rectangle of fabric - woven, tee-shirt jersey, what have you - (but maybe adding a half-inch more if you use woven as it will not have the ease and "give" of a knit-fabric).

So far, I've only constructed the practice toiles in half-scale, but to produce a hat to fit my own head I would cut out a piece of knit fabric 22 and 1/4-inches long by 12-inches high. (Seam allowances are going to be very generous, because they can always be trimmed afterwards - but if they're not wide enough and you need to make an adjustment, you will certainly regret their absence.) Again, if using woven - I would at least add a half-inch extra to the fabric length... in case the hat needed to be loosened around my head.

Next, I would fold the fabric in half width-wise and look at it to make sure it's still 12-inches high to confirm that I hadn't folded it the wrong way. 

If you just want a simple slouch-hat with an upturned cuff, then observe the half-scale tutorial below. After Step 2, sew a straight seam across the top of your rectangle. Then, in the Step 4 View, you would not see raw edges at the top, but a closed edge.

If you prefer the stylized slouch, observe the photos and you'll see the side seaming (which will be worn at center back) is curved, rather than vertically-straight and that there is another seam running partway across the back crown. There are many other ways you could close the top of a hat, but this is a nice-looking neat finish.

Practice With a Mini Slouch-Hat Toile:
1) Cut a piece of fabric 6 and 1/2-inches wide by 6-inches high. Place the fabric right-side-up, so that it forms a horizontal rectangle. Turn up 1 and 1/2-inches along the length. Note: the "turn-up" will reveal the wrong-side of the fabric - which won't matter in your practice toile, but may affect your choice of fabric for the final product. This will form your "cuff", or headband, and it will be turned up again later - concealing the horizontal seam. Stitch a 1/8-inch seam along the length of the unfinished (not the folded edge) of the turn-up.

2) Fold the fabric in half vertically, with right sides together - so now you're viewing a rectangle that measures 5-inches high by 3-inches wide. (Remember, you're seeing the wrong-side of the fabric now, and you'll see the backside of the cuff you just created.)
Stitch a 1/4-inch seam allowance vertically at the raw-edge side (not the folded side), stopping just above the horizontal cuff-stitching. 

3) Now, snip across the seam allowance to the point your stitching ended - being careful to avoid clipping either the vertical or horizontal stitching lines. Using this train of thought, imagine your hat in your mind's-eye: The side seam will be worn at the back and the raw edges won't show because they will be concealed inside the hat. The raw horizontal edge will be concealed on the inside when you turn up the cuff, but you don't want the center-back seam allowance to show - so it has to be seamed separately, after you've turned the hat right-side-out. 

4) Turn the practice toile right-side-out - as pictured below, then stitch the vertical seam allowance 1/4-inch from the raw edge.
Notice, the sample is narrower. This is because the seam allowance is tucked inside. Here's another view - created with folded paper.

The top of the sample isn't visible here, but review the golden-text paragraph above that begins "If you just want a simple slouch-hat".

Final look of practice mini-toile:

This will give you an idea how to create the basic hat. Notice the top of the sketched toile is unfinished, unstitched. That allows you to decide if you want to invest more effort in the wearable hat.

If you completed the toile and decided to sew straight across the top (before Step 3), but you want your hat to be a bit more shapely - then observe this sketch and view the following photos: A head is generally more dome-like than rectangular. The rectangular shape will fit your head... .

First and foremost: Employing a cat to serve as Chief Paperweight and Good-Luck Mascot is worth the cost.
Curving the center-back seam of slouch hat toile. Photo by Toile La La.
 Please verify the hind-feet of the good-luck employee are approximately 4-inches.
Slouch hat toile standing up. Employees lying down on the job. Photo by Photo by Toile La La.
Turn the seam to the back and pinch the top of the hat flat. It will look like a pope's mitre. Photo by Toile La La.
Pin the pinched point and stitch across the tip. Photo by Toile La La.
Snip the point of slouch-hat toile.Photo by Toile La La.
Be sure the good-luck employee's tail is safely out of reach before you make any scissor snippings.
Slouch hat toile right-side-out, before I'd solved the cuff conundrum.Photo by Toile La La.
See yesterday's post for more slouch-hat information and photos.

Knit-sewing tips: Keep in mind the stretch of these fabrics - especially rib-knit. So, if you choose a tee-shirt type fabric, practice with it first. Use a ball-point needle in your sewing machine. A longer, not-too-narrow zigzag stitch works well with knits (if you don't own a serger). Sometimes it's helpful to adjust the needle-thread tension as well.