I had made a fantastic video tutorial on creating a bushcraft hat, but after being online for the last 6 years YouTube decided to remove it without telling me. So now, unfortunately I don’t have another copy of the vid but I did have some images I used in making the vid. This presented a fantastic opportunity to do something I’ve wanted for a long time and create a more comprehensive and detailed instructable.
My foray into hat making came about because initially, when I started into leather, there were no resources online that offered plans on how to make these hats, and any I found at my local leather shop where overly expensive and didn’t fit the style I wanted. So I grabbed my favorite Tilly hat, took some measurements and designed this hat based partly on it, and partly on what I wanted in a bush hat. It’s my hope that this design, like all of the instructables I create, gets passed around as much as possible. It was pretty frustrating, when I first started out, to find there were so few resources for beginners, in any medium, and that plans and templates were so unattainable. This design, like many of my plans, can be modified simply by adjusting a few measurements to become anything from a fedora, to a top hat, to a cowboy hat. It was made to be fluid, so that there is no set number of holes to be punched, or stitches to be sewn, thereby keeping the fundamental design in tact, but allowing room for creative alteration.
Step 1: Tools And Equipment
- Sharp leather knife, x-acto knife, etc
- Wheel cutter
- Rake hole punch
- Sewing Awl
- Leather edger or 220Grit Sandpaper
- Rubber Gloves
- Wool for leather dye
- Spray bottle with water
- 2-3oz leather 26×15″ minimum
- Patch of tanned deer hide 8×8″ minimum
- Fiebings leather dye
- Large sheet of paper
- Leather polish (see my other instructable on how to make your own)
- Leather Glue
Step 2: Creating Your Template And Cutting Out Your Leather
This pattern can be used to make a hat that’s anywhere from 7 1/8US (medium) to 7 5/8US (XL) depending on how you set it up, which I’ll go into later.
Making your template is pretty easy. There are only four parts to your hat; the brim, two side bands and the crown. The crown can be made from the cut out center of the brim, thereby saving you leather. As you can see by the template, the tapered section of the crown is actually slightly rounded. This sets the overall look of the hat by tapering it at the front. If you wanted to make a pilgrim style hat, or top hat, you’d simply leave the crown round. Likewise, on a cowboy hat, you would taper it even more across the front and the back. You’ll notice the brim is slightly longer than it is wide. That’s because the human head is longer than it is wide so making it perfectly round would make for a pretty uncomfortable hat. In the bushcraft hat style, the hat tapers up to the crown. Again, you can change this feature as you see fit for a straighter, taller hat, or for one that has a more pronounced angle. It’s really up to you.
Once you’ve created your template, transfer it to your leather and cut out your pieces. You don’t need to be to tidy since we’re going to work a bit more on the edges next.
Step 3: Prepping Your Edges
Now’s the time to fix those little slips with the x-acto knife. If you have a leather edging tool, then this process is pretty easy, however if you don’t you can simply use a bit of 220 grit sandpaper. Using such a low grit sandpaper will take longer to smooth the edges, but it’ll go a long way in keeping down inevitable burrs that can happen on the suede side of the leather. If your suede side does burr, you can clean them up with your knife.
Skiving the Edge;
If you ended up using higher weight leather, like I did with my first hat, you’re going to need to skive the edges where the leather joins together, tho you can leave the brim as is since it won’t take any of the forming. It’s not a bad idea to thin your 2-3oz leather as well, as it’ll help a lot in the forming process. Just be sure to skive the suede side of the leather only.