This may be my favorite piece of gear I have made so far. Do you want to know why? It packs the warmth of a fleece beanie, at the weight of a down beanie, and costs a total of… $0. That’s right, in it’s current form, this hat cost me nothing more than some scraps and thread. I used the scrap fabric and insulation from a single Sin25 quilt that I made to create this hat, making a sleep system that now includes head warmth for a price hovering around $60 and 15oz. By the way, the finished weight of the hat is a wonderful .8oz.
One thing to note about the hat is that it isn’t flat along the bottom edge. I like hats to cover my whole ear when I sleep, so I have that portion about 3/4″ longer than the front and back to accommodate this and not mess up the fit. If this isn’t that big of a deal to you, having the bottom edge be flat would make the sewing a bit easier to do.
Two pieces of breathable nylon measuring about 11″x25.5″ and a piece of 2.5oz Apex measuring the same dimensions.
1. I used the largest size of a fleece hat pattern I found online to create the starting pattern and pared it down a bit to fit better for this design. My head is 23″ around and the hat fits me fine. If you measure your head and have the same dimensions, you can try using my pattern. I slimmed the top of the pieces to make it fit a bit better. The finished length is approximately 24″ around. I made my pattern making easier by adding 1″ to each of the outside edges rather than spreading it around the whole hat. The height of the fabric without the seam allowances is 8 3/4″. My pattern includes a .5″ seam allowance on all edges but the bottom. The bottom has a 3/4″ allowance, but I gave myself 1″ when I cut the fabric to make life easier I’ll be sure to upload a photo of my pattern sketched up tomorrow when I have a bit of time.
2. Take one piece of fabric as the liner. Fold the edges in and sew from the point of the hat outward to where the tough of the curves on each side.
3. Now fold the hat so that it is inside-out and sew, starting from the bottom edge, up to the other side of the hat. The side with the full length seam is what I consider the back.
4. You should now have a piece that looks like a hat. Good start. Now, pin the second piece of nylon and the insulation together.
5. Follow steps 1-3 with the nylon/insulation piece. When sewing these pieces, make sure that the nylon pieces are facing each other. This when, when you flip it, the raw edges are hidden on the inside of the hat. Because the seams were short and the insulation was the thinner 2.5oz, I did not use the newspaper trick from the Sin50 guide. However, if you are having trouble with the insulation pulling, you can use it.
6. Insert the liner hat into the now formed shell/insulation hat. Pin through all three pieces around the bottom edge. Sew around the bottom edge, leaving a 1″ seam allowance.
7. Cut the insulation around the bottom edge short. I cut it to about 1/4″. Roll the bottom edge of the fabric and sew it down, hiding the raw edge of the fabric and insulation. And you’re done.
A couple of notes about the design:
First, this was dirt cheap, but only because I had the scraps. If you haven’t made a synthetic quilt and have some Apex sitting around, you will have to buy the full yard of fabric, making it closer to a $15-$25 project including shipping. At that point, it may honestly be cheaper to make yourself a sweet down beanie, which is not in the scope of this design.
Secondly, it is important to remember so many ultralight hikers like to talk about the “stretch” of nylon, but this is nothing compared to the stretch of fleece or wool. This hat does not stretch. I originally tried making it with an elastic band, but decided that for the half oz it added, it didn’t add enough quality. As I test hat out (which may take a while, it is REALLY hot here in Georgia now) I will update this with whether or not I keep it elastic free.