Thursday, 9 June 2016

some words on the making of hats.

As the person who has made countless hats for many many people I want I should weigh in on the subject of how screen accurate the officer's hats I make are.
Firstly I am not a trained seamstress of tailor. I learned how to make these via trial and error. I did so because in Europe at that time there wasn't many options to buy hats and buying from the US just is not cost effective or time efficient. So I learned how to make hats because I needed a hat. So did my husband, then someone asked if I could make theirs and that is how it began. 

On the IOC boards it was mentioned that part of the problem stems from the fact we all use the same pattern that's posted online, well I can't speak for anyone else I know that I try my best to get it right and am always adjusting my patterns accordingly so while I may have begun with a generic one which by the way was modelled off a pattern from Kathy van Beuningen, to whom we all owe a huge debt of thanks for sharing her impressive knowledge of sewing officer things, and then altered and shared again as a properly drafted pattern with various sizes and instructions on how to put it together ( something for which I am deeply grateful) in the end the patterns we start with are not always the patterns we end with. It's not as if we can pop down to the local sewing shop and buy a License hat pattern is it?

So while people may not like the most used pattern that is out there it's what we have to start with. Without it I am sure a lot less hats would have been made. This being said it is not easy to make these hats. It is even less easy to make the hats well and then make sure they actually fit. Every person's head is different and that makes getting the hats perfect for every person who asks
for one also difficult so most makers tend to go with a set group of sizes ( s, m,L) and leave it at that.

Personally I don't mind trying out custom requests ( make the brim shorter, make the flaps tighter, make that hat in fake fur ( yes done that) but it is incredibly irksome when people start using pictures of my work to point out what they feel are flaws especially when it is not done in a polite way ( ie pictures with circles to what a person doesn't like with the descriptive and helpful words "good" "not good") I'm not sure about anyone else here who makes stuff 
for people but that sort of critique just makes me feel as though I just got transported back into school and some teacher has handed me homework to redo. It makes me not want to make you things. And as I do this in my free time at a cost loss I get to choose for whom I make things.

I read fairly often that people who make hats should pay more attention to detail, look at the movies for reference etc.. Do the small bias 
binding along the flap tops, oh but the hats are too expensive can you make them cheaper. Again not speaking for anyone else it takes me around 4 -5 hours to make a hat from start to finish. that's 5 hours of my day gone on making a hat for which I ask  less than my actual per hour working wage from my real job, and that does not cover my materials which include good quality gabardine, expensive iron in interfacing, and lining materials, plus the thread and the wear and tear on the sewing machine and the iron and ALL the needles I go through because the hats get quite tough to sew through with all the layers. This is a lot to consider and we are making these things by hand, it's not factory die cut fabric and then stitched together by people working in a factory somewhere earning next to nothing. If you ask for me hat and you want it to look a certain way I will do my best for you IF YOU ASK ME nicely.

If I make a hat and it doesn't fit right I will re do it because for me you paid for a hat that should fit you.
As far as I know no one has complained about the hats I have made at least they have not done so to me though I do ask for them to let me know if there is an issue, and I have only had to redo 2 or 3 of them because they did not fit in the entire 6 years I have been doing this. This tells me that most people are happy with their hat.

So please let me give you some advice. Instead of complaining about the hats not being screen perfect which no matter how you slice it is what this thread is about, It's really quite simple. 

If you order a hat please remember it is a handmade thing and it will never be 100% perfect, but when I spend several hours pouring over the movies and the pictures taken from the movies it is perfectly obvious to me neither are the hats in the films perfect, in fact some of them are downright awful, they are too small, or too big, or just badly constructed. Some of the hats have a lot of the little stitch lines on the brim and some have a lot less, some flaps touch the hat crown and some go over, some brims are tiny and there is at least a cm between the flap edge and the brim edge and some overlap the flap edge. The only thing that is certain is that no two are alike and that is because they too are all hand made.

If you want to order a hat from a seller and you have special instructions be kind about asking for them. By all means send pictures of what you are asking for but I would also ask you to be mindful you are not correcting a student's work you are asking for someone to make you something above and beyond their normal work methods. How you ask for something makes the world of difference and the person making the hats ( or whatever you are asking for) has the right to refuse you. 

1: Set up the guide rules first ( ie: if it doesn't fit can I get it replaced,) 

2: Ask questions if you have them before it gets made, afterwards is too late. ( are they willing to do something different than they usually do, if they are then ASK if they would mind you showing what you mean with pictures especially if you are using pictures of their own work)

3: Be mindful that someone, even if they do get paid for it, is using their spare time to make you something, they don't have to do this.

4: ​If you are really unhappy with how hats are being made then I would respectfully suggest you do what most of us have done and you learn how to sew them yourself.
It is very rewarding to make things for yourself and it also teaches you that making something look right and talking about something looking right are very different things. 

As far as I know everyone tries their very best to get it right, it's not an easy or often an affordable hobby so try to be kind when being critical. 


  1. I know this post is almost a year old, but BRAVA! I have some experience sewing and while I am at best an intermediate tailor (perhaps I am giving myself too much credit), I can at very least sew a straight line and make things line up. While I did not see the post to which you are referring, I can tell you that people who want custom work done do have a tendency to be overly critical. Especially when they fail to give you specific instructions on exactly what they want done. Very nice rant, and quite justified. I am quite enjoying the thread and would love to see the end results of the imperial officer uniform. Perhaps if you also had some way to make your final pattern available electronically, I would be most interested in making one of my own. Also very interested in your Tusken Raider build.

  2. Thank you. Well I'm still working on the officer build and it's still a slow process. The Tusken is a bit easier and since I've been asked to do another one I will probably post a step by step when I get to that but it won't be until after June.