August 19, 2016

Making a Brimmed Hat: Covering The Brim

Back to our ongoing hat project, did you miss the usual post on Wednesday? I took a bit of a break over the weekend so I had some catching up to do this week! Now that we have the separate pieces of the hat (the crown and brim) constructed, it's time to cover each with fabric before we can attach them together!

I have explained how to cover the crown portion of a hat a few times here on the blog, so check out those posts here and here. Today I'll be showing you how I usually go about covering the brims of my hats, which involves using a bias strip around the brim edge for a nice smooth finish :)

Of course the first step in covering the hat brim is to cut out the two pieces, the top and the underside. I simply trace the hat brim onto the back of my chosen fabric. A note on fabrics though- something too thin is hard to make look perfectly smooth and something too thick is really hard to wrangle. I have used thin silks before but they will show more "flaws" or texture through them so your hat base underneath has to be pretty perfect under the silk to make everything look pretty in the end. For this hat I am using a ribbed faux moire finished polyester fabric (left over from a corset project from ages ago) that has a nice grosgrain ribbon-ish weight. I cut out the two circles for the top and underside of my brim, plus a 2" wide strip of bias for finishing the edge of the brim. I don't just cut bias for the fashion fabric though, I also cut 1" wide strips of bias from a lightweight fusible interfacing!

I like using fusible interfacing strips like these to further smooth and finish the wired edges of my buckram pieces. Below you can see how I pull it around the outside edge of the brim and iron/steam it into place.

I also add interfacing to the edge of the crown stretching it smooth as I iron it or steam it in place. This step really helps to smooth raw buckram edges into something both sturdy and pretty. I use a wadded up piece of muslin in my hand to support the "corner" of the crown while I steam and iron, which also helps protect my hand--no burns please!

Pieces ready for pretty fabrics!

I cut a smaller than crown sized opening out of the brim pieces and then center them in place. Here for this post I am doing one side at a time so I can show you two methods of sewing these pieces to the buckram brim, but there is nothing stopping you from pinning both top and underside on at once (sandwiching the buckram layer). The first way to sew this step is by machine, and I'd recommend a more open presser foot like a zipper foot but you can see in the photo below I just used my regular presser foot while doing this. Take your time guiding the brim edge around under the needle and make sure to stay about 1/4" away from the edge and thick wire (as that wire will definitely break your needle if not more were you to hit it!).

The other way to sew this area in place is by hand of course, and to do this I use a basic back-stitch.

Once your brim is essentially covered, trim any excess fabric sticking out beyond the wired edge and iron your 2" bias strip into double fold bias tape. Pin this bias strip around the brim edge stretching it a bit to get a nice rounded finish.

Slip stitch this bias into place on both sides individually. You could sew this with the machine, either by sewing the top side with the bias cut edge and wired edge together and then folding the bias over and under after and hand stitching the underside (a very pretty finish!) or by sewing through both layers with it pinned the same as above.

Once you have this bias trim sewn around the edge your brim is covered! I snip the inside to the inside crown wire on both the top and underside to prepare for attaching the crown to the brim.

This isn't the only way to cover a hat brim of course, but it is my favorite way currently as it creates such a pretty and smooth finish. I also like the design possibilities inherent in this technique, a solid colored hat with the edge bias in pretty stripes or a contrasting color perhaps for example. I have made hats by cutting the underside brim piece larger (1/2" around the outer edge larger) and folding the excess over the edge and sewing it down first, then sewing the top brim piece along the edge with a slip stitch for a seam that runs along the edge. I just find this bias trimmed method easier and when I'll be adding trimmings to the hat anyway I don't mind what the plain hat underneath looks like much anyway!

I hope you all are enjoying watching this hat come together, next it will be time to stitch the covered crow and brim together and put in the lining!


  1. These posts are so wonderfully informative and fascinating. Your millinery skills just knock my socks clean off, sweet gal.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica


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