For my dad’s birthday I made him a hat. Not just any old hat, it’s a welding hat. At first glance, you might wonder what exactly is wrong with these welding hats? They look weird, like a real ball-cap’s geeky younger brother. They’re often made from strange fabrics, like someone just reached into the scrap bin and started sewing. They don’t have a stiff brim, kind of like when you were little and your mom made you a pair of jeans, but they never looked or felt like real jeans (not my mom, she’s a denim expert – love you mom!).
I come from a family of welders… each boy in my family was taught to weld at an early age, and my grandfather even owned a welding company, complete with a welding truck, called “Triple ‘B’ Welding”. I wish I could find the picture of my brother’s tattoo, it’s a copy of the patch.
My uncle's tattoo...
So when I saw Haley’s post about welding hats, I went more than a little crazy. Growing up my grandfather wore one full time, and everyone else has a bunch of them. So what’s up with a welding hat?
- The tall body and tight fit to prevent sparks from hitting your head.
- A slightly floppy brim so you can roll it up and shove it in your back pocket
- A very deep brim for maximum coverage, but where it attaches to the body of the hat is not very stiff, so you can bend the brim up and have it stay put
- It fits almost the same way all the way around, so you can turn it backwards and keep sparks from going down the back of your shirt, or sideways to protect your ear
- 100% cotton, synthetics would melt and good luck getting it off then!
- Crazy patterns – I have absolutely no idea why, but it seems like the crazier the better!
So here’s my attempt at a welding hat, using a scaled down version of Haley’s pattern, and consulting the instructions HERE.
me. i look like a derfwad trying to take a picture of myself with my own phone in a mirror.
Quatchi is a much better model, here you see "the flip up".
I used Tool Shed in Brown from Suburbia by Caleb Gray for Robert Kaufman, and Measuring Tape in Yellow from Tailor Made by Cosmo Cricket for Andover.
So there you have it. I think they’re adorable hats and because they’re 100% cotton and flexible, they’re awesome:
- under helmets (biking, rollerblading… I actually burnt the top of my head once through the slots in my helmet… the brim is very flexible and will fit under your helmet easily, and I like it backwards to keep the sun off of my neck)
- swimming (yes I constantly burn my head doing that, and these hats are a nice snug fit)
- kayaking (it’s very nice to dip it in the water and put it back on your head cold and wet, and the brim is nice and deep for glare off of the water)
- just looking awesome – ’cause welders are awesome 😀
Some tips to get it right:
- Get a pattern! Welding hats have a very specific look, and when I showed my mom the picture, she said we’d nailed it. Haley made her pattern from taking apart a welding hat. Each hat piece is slightly asymmetrical, and as that other link says, that’s key in getting the shape just right (your head isn’t round, is it? ok, most people’s head’s aren’t round, they’re oblong). Cut half facing one way and half facing the other and keep track of them when you’re sewing them together.
- Cut all six pieces at a time. If you want to get really fancy, I suppose you could try to cut 12, but that would likely be disastrous, 6 is sufficient. You just want to make sure that they’re all exactly the same size.
- Do read all the directions. As that other link says, you want to make sure you sew the 3 pieces that look the same together, press, sew the other 3 pieces together, press, sew the two halves together, and then press it the best you can.
- That’s all I can think of. Besides requiring a bit of patience and precision, it was pretty straight forward once you know what you’re doing. In a nutshell: put together the outside, set that aside, put together the inside, set that aside, put together the brim. Put all the pieces together inside-out, turn, top-stitch. That’s it!
When I showed it to my mom, she was quite pleased, she said that I’d totally nailed it, but it was missing the brim stitching.
My dad loves his hat. The first thing he said is “you’re gonna be in trouble”. When I asked why, he said “because your uncles are gonna want one too!” Apparently the people that they’d been getting their hats from are long gone, so my uncle had given my mom one to dismantle and make a pattern from and she’d never gotten around to it. After I gave the hat away I missed it, so I made one for me! I used Robert Kaufman’s Rosettes in Leaf from Night and Day 3, and Love in White from Feeling Groovy by Doodlebug designs for Riley Blake – the greens matched perfectly!
Thanks again, Quatchi! This one is going on vacation with me!