Can you feel the season creeping up on us? It’s heading toward Halloween, and it’s that time when small folks start clamoring for Halloween costumes. Thankfully, this year my daughter wants to be a baby – a simple costume involving items that we already have around the house. Halloween costumes can get expensive!
So can birthdays. A couple of years ago, armed with great ambition and a new sewing machine, I decided to create fancy fairy princess or wizard hats for my daughter’s birthday party. Now, I am not a seamstress – I’m more of a DIY experimenter. What I had on my side was time (we decided early to do a fairy party) and a whole lot of small pieces of fabric.
Materials List for Patchwork Fairy or Wizard Hats
To create these hats, you’ll need a lot of scraps of fabric. My swatches of fabric came from a writing project I’d embarked on. I was describing fabric samples and ended up with hundreds of tiny pieces. They were lovely, and I didn’t want to throw them away – hence the recycled craft project.
If you don’t have a lot of small pieces of fabric, where can you get them?
- Use remnants of craft projects gone by
- Ask friends or on Freecycle for bits of fabric
- Look for fabric, old clothes, and sheets at thrift stores
- Ask at home stores that are getting rid of books of fabric samples
What else do you need to make the patchwork wizard and fairy hats?
- Sewing scissors
- Thread in a color that blends or contrasts with most of your fabric swatches
- Sewing machine
Sort Your Fabric Samples
To create the hats, cut the fabric into swatches that are about 3 inches by 3 inches wide. The size doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s relatively small and uniform. Now comes the fun part! Get together with your children and sort the samples. This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about color, patterns, and what colors fit together or contrast with each other.
To determine how many swatches to use, measure the circumference of your child’s head. Divide this in half and add a few inches to make sure that the hat won’t fit too snugly and to account for the fact that your fabric will overlap somewhat. How many swatches do you need to make up half (and a bit) of your child’s head circumference? Again, this is an excellent homeschooling activity as it involves practical mathematics and an understanding of circumference.
Now that you have figured out how many swatches to use for each side of the hat, line up swatches that complement each other. You might alternate patterns or choose colors that blend or contrast. Let’s say you’re using four swatches per side. You’ll need to make two lines that contain four swatches each.
Sew Lines of Fabric Swatches Together
Use your sewing machine to sew the swatches together. You can also do this by hand if you’re only making one or two hats. How do you sew them together? The way I hid slightly fraying or irregular edges was to place the first swatch with the “inside of the hat” side down on a table, then place the second swatch with the “inside of the hat” side facing upwards. Sew them together on one side, then spread them apart, and you’ll have two swatches sewn together with the “inside of the hat” bits on the same side. If you are using four swatches for each side of the hat, sew together two more swatches and then sew the two pairs together until you have a lineup of four. Do the same for the other side of the hat. You will now have two lineups of four swatches each. Put these aside.
The next layer should be three swatches wide, unless you want a wide-bottomed hat. If you’d like a hat with a wide bottom, you can use four swatches for this layer as well. Following the same technique, sew together the first two swatches, then sew the last one onto the first two. Do this for each side of the hat. Put these aside.
Now you’re nearly at the top. Attach two swatches to each other, and then do the same for the other side of the hat. Set these aside.
For the top of the hat you will need a single fabric swatch. Set two of these aside – one for each side of the hat.
Build a Triangle Out of Your Lines of Fabric
Now it’s time to build your fabric triangle!
Place one line of four swatches at the bottom. Place the lineup of three swatches on top of it. Place the two swatches on top of that, and put the last single swatch at the top. Do this with the fabric for both sides. Mix and match the sides to get the best combinations.
Now, take the four swatch bottom piece of one of your triangles. Center the three-swatch piece on top of it. As before, put the four-swatch piece “inside part” down and put the three-swatch piece “inside part” up. Sew them together.
Sew the two pieces onto the three pieces, then sew the one swatch at the top. you’ve created a rough triangle of fabric.
Do this again for the other side.
If you’d like to have a finished bottom of the hat, draw a pencil or chalk line on the inside of the hat about 1/4 inch from the bottom. Fold the fabric up onto the inside portion of the hat and tuck it under itself so that it makes a finished inner edge. Pin it there and sew along this edge so that the bottom of the hat is nice and neat.
Now, place the fabric triangles on top of each other, the bottom one with the inside facing onto the table, and the top triangle with the inside facing up, just like you did with the fabric swatches. Using a marker or thick pencil and a ruler, draw a straight line down the sides of each from the top to the bottom of the triangle. Sew along the line. Use your scissors to cut off any excess fabric from the sides, then turn your hat right side out!
The good thing about using small pieces of leftover fabric is that it’s easy to experiment, and you don’t need to worry about getting your project wrong. Try out a few hats and see how the sizing works for your children. Who knows – perhaps you’ll get a little crazy like I did and end up making an entire fleet of them as birthday party gifts!