Leather Top Hat

I was able to create this hat using some large scraps of light grey suede and some bits of thin white leather purchased from a Mennonite leather shop. After doing a bulk of research on leather hats, I doodled out a couple of pattern ideas before looking for premade patterns online. Once I had consulted other available patterns, I altered my own accordingly. (Keeping in mind that what I was looking to create had to work within the confines of the scraps I had available.)

This project wasn’t too difficult to fit (since I tend to have myself on hand). The brim was cut to a smaller size than I needed so that I could try it on and trim it ever so slightly until reaching a perfect fit. Since the upper part of the hat would end up on the outside of the flaps shown on the brim, it could stand to be a little loose. Because I was piecing the top from different bits of leather and wanted folds in the suede to strengthen the small grommets I would add, the pieces were held in place with wide masking tape on the inside. This was also easy to adjust until I had the intended fit.

Here you can see the resulting sizing (still with masking tape holding it together on the inside). This is a very different look compared to the final version after stitching was done. The second/lower layer of brim can somewhat be seen here before it was trimmed. This additional layer was done with thin, somewhat rigid, black goat skin. Without this, the brim of the hat would be floppy, and the exposed underside of the suede would have resulted in a more unfinished look than I was going for. These two layers were glued together and pressed overnight (a flat surface underneath paired with a large book and several heavy objects on top).

The flat top to this hat was made from stitched together scraps of the leftover white leather and grey suede. Initially I was rather torn about this (no pun intended), but there was not a large enough piece of either type to make the full top out of. Ultimately, I caved based on the notion that not many people would actually see the top, and I layered and machine stitched the scraps together with a zigzag stitch (much like an 80s leather jacket), and it came out looking much better than I’d anticipated. The pieced top was sewn to the cylindrical part of the hat by machine as well, this time using a straight stitch. Both of these were done using thick craft thread and a leather needle.

(FURTHER EXPLANATION WHEN SEWING NATURAL HIDE: Leather needles pierce the skin with a small incision. Without this specialty needle, leather tends to stretch with the pressure of each needle puncture. Additionally, a leather needle should not be used with fabric because the incisions tear traditional fibers and could cause unwanted fraying and tearing with any stress placed on the seams.)

Here is a decent view of the top of the hat as well as before and after shots of trimming the goat skin brim layer. The front of the hat was grommeted and laced. I added in a single metal gear to lend a little personality to the piece.