A few weeks ago I was on some heavy medication for a busted tailbone (just ask me how much fun THAT is) and I was off work because I couldn’t sit on it. We don’t get a whole lot of nice warm weather here in Calgary and the the entire weekend ended up being up around 30C (about 85F… hey, stop laughing, that’s as nice as it every gets here!) so I went outside… for about 8 hours. In my medicated haze I decided that the baseball cap that I was wearing would cover my face. I used SPF 70 2 or 3 times that day on my arms and they only burned slightly. The hat covered my forehead in a semi-circle down to my eyes so it’s bright white, and I very badly burned the rest of my face. When I came back to work, people asked me if it was a chemical burn. It ended up peeling about 3 times, 4 in some places. One day my husband came home and I was crying and when he asked me why I told him that my face just hurt so much.
So to avoid EVAR burning like that again (and because I had the pattern already and it was just so cute!) I tried my hand at Amy Butler’s “Blue Sky Hats”. We had a corporate sports day coming up, and even though I couldn’t run around with a broken tail, I was a scorekeeper so I’d be sitting outside in the sun all day long.
First, when I sat down to look at the fabric suggestions I was very surprised. The pattern says that you can use quilt weight OR home dec weight cotton. The brim is the same print top and bottom, but you can line the hat in something else. The hat is then reinforced with heavy interfacing or canvas. If you use in both cases the cap part of the hat uses 1 layer of interfacing, but with quilt weight cotton the brim uses 3(!!!) layers of interfacing!
I used some of Patty Young’s Flora & Fauna, the black one with the polka dots and the bright pink flowers, and I had enough to line it in the same thing. There are essentially 2 pattern pieces – the brim piece and the cap piece. The brim piece is the entire brim, the cap piece is 1/6th of the cap. In the end I ended up cutting from the quilt weight 12 cap pieces and 2 brim pieces, and from the canvas 6 cap pieces and 3 brim pieces. It just seemed like a whole lot of fabric for a single hat!.
The instructions for the most part were very concise but clear, except that the quilt-weight version seemed to be an after-thought to the pattern instructions. There is a step that indicates that if you’re using home dec fabric, baste the single interfacing layer to the exterior brim, but if you’re using quilt weight attach interfacing to the exterior and interior layers… and this is the last time it’s mentioned. stay-stitching is used on the brim, and then you cut notches in the curved seam, but it’s not clear what’s going on with this basted line. I found myself having to read the instructions out-loud to myself somewhere in the middle to figure out which pieces were supposed to go where in what order.
In the end, it’s a really sturdy, REALLY well built hat. There is a whole lot of fabric involved, but it doesn’t seem bulky or overdone. I’m trying to figure out the SPF factor of 5 layers of fabric, but my face was very safe all day long. The brim ended up stiff enough that it stands up on its own, but soft enough that you can, for instance, lay down on the ground on your front to score-keep for a game of ultimate frisbee with a broken tail and not have the brim jab into your back. It could easy be folded up to take with you to the beach, but isn’t too floppy to be able to see out from under.