Workshop Wednesday: Sew a 1920's cloche hat with Jill Brumer

Today's Workshop Wednesday project is brought to you by the talented sewing maven and Houston Makerspace instructor Jill Brumer:

I have to say, I'm pretty stoked 1920s fashion seems to be everywhere (thanks probably to last year's "Great Gatsby"). So, being a crafty and stylish lady, I wanted to see if I could sew my own sweet cloche hat. 

A cloche (pronounced klosh, with an Oh sound) is that trendy little hat that women used to wear in the time of the Great Depression and into the era of the flapper.

It is a close-fitted hat, and works well with short haircuts, which were also all the rage in the 20's. After all, being bound up in a corset for so many decades had to have its rebound-- women started wearing loose-fitting, more androgynous clothing after the nineteen-teens. That being said, there's nothing boyish about this adorable hat, which we are going to make today!

Supplies for your cloche hat:

Felt (by the yard this time, not those little sheets)




Measuring tape


Sewing Machine


Ok, let's get started!

The first thing we need to do is measure from the crown of your head to the middle of your forehead. Mine is 8". From this number we will subtract 2", leaving me with 6".

Next we need to measure the circumference of your head. Think about where a hat kind of sits around your forehead and along the base of your skull when you are wearing it; this is where we need to measure. Mine is 21". This number we need to divide by 6, and then just go ahead and round that weird number up to the next highest whole number (so, for me, 4").

So we need a triangle with slightly rounded sides that is 6" tall and 4" wide at it's base. Mine looks like this:

This will form the rounded part of our hat, the part that sits on the top of your head. Now it is time to create the brim.

Take that number for your circumference (for me, 21"). Add 1" to that and then divide by 2. That leaves me with 11". That is what I want the inside of my brim to measure. Keep in mind, it needs to be rounded (kind of like drawing a fat banana), but the bottom curve needs to measure 11" (on that curve). From there, you can decide how big (or not big) you want our brim to be. Here's mine, mimic the shape for yours:

Go ahead and cut out your pattern pieces and lay them on your fabric. Your fabric should be folded, so we can place the small end of the brim on the fold. The triangle we will need 6 of, so it's helpful to be able to cut two at a time, with you fabric folded like it is. Pin down your pattern and cut one brim (On the Fold!) and six triangles.

Ok, now all the hard stuff is done-- time to get sewing. Start by sewing two of your triangles together on the 6" side. Use a 1/4" seam allowance.

Once those two are together, sew one more onto it, so you have three triangles sewn together. It should start to look rounded, like half of a hat! Repeat for the other three triangles.

Once you have your triangles sewn three to three, it's time to connect them to make the top of your hat. Sew your pieces together so the top of the hat is done.

Ok, now it's time to make our brim. Go ahead and fold the brim back in half and then sew the straight edges to each other.

You should now have a felt circle. We are going to attach this to the bottom of your six triangles, with the seam you just sewed in the back (you can decide where the back is on your hat, it's totally up to you!).

Hopefully these two pieces fit together; if it is a little off, you can either add or subtract from the seam allowance you sewed on the brim to make it a snug fit around the bottom of the triangles.

Once the brim is pinned to the pretty side of the triangles, sew around the edge, and then Voila! You have just rocked out a new, 1920s-inspired cloche hat! I like to put a ribbon around the edge where the brim meets the cap, and of course, we can add a flower to the side, if that's your thing. Now you can really party with Gatsby at a moment's notice!

About Jill:

Jill Brumer has been educating and crafting for years, so it was bound to happen that these two passions would eventually meet up! When not sewing or teaching others to sew, Jill can be found enjoying all the things that this great city of Houston has to offer.

Jill will be leading a stitched fabric stationary workshop during the Houston Makerspace Grand Opening on April 12th

Follow Jill on Twitter for updates and check out her handmade fabric stationary line in her Etsy shop.

Copyright Houston Makerspace, LLC 2013.  Background images by Marisa Brodie and Alex Barber.