The Hat Challenge

I happened to see that #sewover50 on Instagram have a mini challenge to sew a hat.

I thought I might sew one, maybe using the free hat pattern on this website.

Then I remembered I had a prototype for a zero waste hat lying around behind my sewing machine – maybe now is the time to get it out and have another look.

Hats are hard to do zero waste. They typically have lots of convex curves with no opposite shapes to nest them with. All the classic hat shapes have rounded pattern pieces:

I’ve done one zero waste hat, which is cut together with the Clair skirt pattern. It’s a tie-on visor, of the sort I seem to remember women wearing to play tennis when I was a child.

The tie-on visor got around the issue of sizing, too.

So I got out the prototype hat, which was cut out of Shapewell (a firm woven sew-in interfacing) and pinned together – that’s as far as I’d gotten.

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but it was enough.
I start many of my patterns this way – I cut them out in fabric and just pin them together to try on.

I unpinned the Shapewell and cut out a new hat from cotton drill. Then I backed the cotton drill with the original Shapewell.

Here’s how the pattern works. The peaks have square corners and fit around the crown.

The sides are cut rectangular and are darted to make them curved.

There were a few “aaaargh!” moments sewing:

I knew my sewing machine didn’t really get on with topstitching thread, but I had no idea they hated each other this much!
I unpicked this and wound the topstitching thread back onto the spool for another day, and used regular thread from then on.
Then this happened. More unpicking!

Not bad. I’m wishing now I hadn’t used khaki fabric – that combined with the square peak looks like it’s part of a military service uniform.

I tried it on my teen, who said it was comfortable but was unsure about the square peak. It should be rounded, Mum. She also thought the peak should be wider, which is theoretically possible if I either switch to a round (rather than oval) crown, or cut the peaks on the long side of the crown.

Mr H, passing by the hat left on the table, also hmmm-ed over the square peak.

The interior is, alas, a little messy, as I couldn’t cut a lining and keep the zero waste theme. However, the sides could be lined, which would improve looks.

The Verdict: needs work but worthwhile trying.



  1. Jen on August 22, 2023 at 5:53 am

    Thinking about zero-waste hat ideas reminded me of Twig & Tale’s “Sunny Hat” pattern ( It’s not zero-waste, but the panel shape does have a concave bit that’s closer to matching the convex bit than in most of the classic hat shape pieces you’ve shown, so a zero-waste version with half the panels cut upside-down might work. Then again maybe it’d turn out to be necessary for the crown curve and the brim curve to be different to get a good result.

    • lizhaywood on August 22, 2023 at 1:23 pm

      A good thought – I and another zw patternmaker have both tried this as a tessellated pattern, but discovered (with hilarity!) that the brim has to curve out more than the crown curves in.
      Many thanks for your comment.

      • Jen on August 22, 2023 at 4:08 pm

        Ah, darn!

      • lizhaywood on August 26, 2023 at 5:43 pm

        Stay with me Jen, I have a new improved version nearly ready to show 🙂

  2. Lesley on August 26, 2023 at 2:20 pm

    It’s fascinating how bad a square peak looks on our round heads. Sorry I know it’s not a useful comment!

    • lizhaywood on August 26, 2023 at 5:42 pm

      That’s okay – a family member asked if I’d joined The People’s Army! Haha!

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