The same basic hat shape worn by King Henry VIII was also worn by men of all classes in the fifteen hundreds. The only real differences were the materials used and added decorations. If you want one of your own, the good news is that although they haven’t been available in the shops for half a millennium, they are very easy to make yourself.
This is a perfect project for a beginner who doesn’t have any particular skills with needle and thread.
All you need is a square metre or square yard of black felt and one quarter as much of fuseable interfacing, plus black cotton thread , scissors, a needle and tailors chalk. A tape Measure is also a good idea so that you can work out what size your head is.
If you are a reenactor, make sure you use authentic wool felt but if your hat is just for dressing up fun then slightly cheaper synthetic felt will do.
Step by step guide to making a Tudor hat.
The first step is to mark out with chalk a circle of about 20 to 23 cm diameter on one quarter of the felt. Now repeat the process three times more so that you have for equal circles. These will be the main parts of your hat.
One circle will be left as it is and will form the top of the hat. In the middle of the other three three of the circles we will shortly be cutting a smaller circle which is the same size as your head. You are going to end up with three cloth doughnuts and one big circle like in the sketch below.
Obviously you want your circles to be circular, unlike my sketch, but you get the idea. You can optionally add one more doughnut of interfacing. Interfacing is a thin gauze type of material that is coated with glue that gets activated by the heat of an iron. It gets fused to fabric, making the fabric stronger and stiffer.
Making the top of the hat
so now take the big circle (the top) and pin it to one of the doughnuts. I used eight pins around the edge. Once they are securely pinned together you will need to sew them together around the edge.
A simple running stitch will probably do, but backstitch is stronger. Make sure you do small stitches and keep them close together.
Now turn the whole thing inside out and press the seam with an iron to get a nice neat edge. Now set this top section aside while we make the hat brim.
Making the brim
This is just as easy as the last bit. Pin the remaining pair of doughnuts around the outer edge just as you did the top section. You can optionally add an additional doughnut of interfacing material. This will make the brim thicker and stiffer than the top of the hat. To do this just add the interfacing as another layer on the top or bottom. Do not add it inbetween the two felt doughnuts as we will be turning this inside out too. Once the two (or three) layers are securely pinned, stitch the outer rim. when you have finished Sewing around the outside, turn the piece inside out so the interfacing is hidden in the middle, and press with a steam iron.
the final task is to join the brim to the top of the hat. This is achieved by sewing the inner brim to the doughnut you joined to the top earlier. By now you should be feeling pretty good about yourself. Remember to keep your stitches small and neat and pretty soon you hat will be finished.
for an extra touch of class, you could sew a band around the inner rim to hide the seam. If you are more a King than a commoner, add ostrich feathers and jewels to make it just like the hat that Tudor monarchs wore.