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Picture of Tooled Leather Hat
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Learn How to make an awesome leather hat with tooling on both sides of the brim!

What you'll need:

  • Measuring Tape
  • Paper or cardstock
  • packing tape
  • Wing Dividers
  • 1/2 a side of 2-3oz Veg tan leather
  • Exacto Knife or similar cutting implement
  • Cutting Surface
  • 4mm Diamond Chisels
  • Nylon/wood mallet
  • Plastic Cutting board or similar surface for punching holes
  • Masking Tape
  • Swivel Knife
  • Beveler Leather Stamps
  • Pear Shader Leather stamps
  • Backgrounder Leather Stamps
  • Other Leather stampes(Flower center, seeder, Veiner, mules foot, basketweave, etc)
  • Leather Dye
  • Neetsfoot Oil
  • Contact Cement(Barge, Weldwood, Renia aquilis 315, etc)
  • Saddlers Needles
  • Ritza Tiger Thread .8mm or similar
  • Snoseal or similar Beeswax based finishing coat
  • regular Needle & Thread
  • Old Tshirt rags
  • Canvas or denim cloth
  • Edge beveler
  • Sand paper- 200, 400, 600 grit
  • Optional- Granite slab
  • Optional- Hair dryer or Heat Gun
  • Optional- Sewing Machine

Step 1: Creating a Template

Picture of Creating a Template
Hat Template2.png
Hat Template1.png

This is probably the hardest step in making the hat. The first thing we need to do is measure the head of the person we want the hat to fit. Use your sewing measuring tape to measure the circumference of the head as well as the width and length. Using the width and length we can use a Ellipse Circumference calculator to get the circumference, tweak the numbers as necessary to get the desired circumference. This one is 8.5" long by 7" wide giving us 24.4" around, keep in mind that leather stretches so a little under is better than over.

Once we have those measurements we can create the template, this can be done by hand but using a program like Adobe Illustrator or similar makes things much more precise and saves on paper! Keep in mind that you will want excess material on the outside of your stitch line, 1/4" at a minimum. You'll probably also need to tape several pieces of paper together since these will be large templates.

For the brim you take your center(head) Ellipse and add the desired brim length to each side and create a bigger ellipse. Easy! Try different lengths to achieve your desired look.

For the crown top you have a few options. What shape do you want oval or egg? How small do you want the top to be, smaller means the crown sides will slope in more. Generally you want it smaller than the center ellipse but prototype and decide what you like!

For the Crown side things get far more complicated! You'll need to decide how tall you want the crown to be, the one pictured is 5.5". Using two pieces of thread or string make them match the circumference of the center ellipse and crown top. Lay the two pieces of thread out on paper in a gentle curve using wing dividers set at 5.5" to keep them exactly that far apart. The tighter the curve the more sloped the crown sides will be. The straighter it is the less sloped it will be. If you cut this in half both sides should be the same. Getting this right is by far the most difficult part of the hat. There is a mathematical way to determine the exact curve needed but that's so complicated it needs it's own instructable!

Once you have the template drawn, use your diamond chisel and measure how many stitching holes go around your center ellipse and your crown top ellipse/egg and make sure that you have the same number of holes on the top and bottom of your crown side.

If you're using Adobe illustrator you can use the document info and turn on objects, this will give you the path length of the selected object. Make the crown top length and center ellipse length match. Then using stroke you can add the excess material to the outside of your stitch line.

MarionAi17 days ago
Hello! This hat is awesome and I can't wait to sit down to get working on it, but finding vegetable tanned leather is a bit hard where I am right now, so I have to order it by measure. Could you tell me how much I roughly need in square meters/ square feet? Thank you!
Distaste (author)  MarionAi17 days ago
It's going to depend on the size of your head and how big you want the brim. For example if your head is 23" around where you want the hat to sit you would want roughly 8.3"x6.24". Since this is the hole we will use on the brim we need to remember there will be at least 3 layers of 2-3oz leather between this and our heads so you need to add that to the sides and that marks the stitch line. Roughly 1.2mm(3oz)x3 is .14", making it 8.58"x6.48" From that measurement I usually do a 5.5" brim so we add 11" to each of those and get 19.58"x17.48", add another 1/4" to have room to trim/sand and we have 19.83"x17.74". That's 2.44' x2 for both sides of the brim and you're at about 4.88' of leather, then we need the crown outside. We know it needs to be at least 24" long(stitch line circumference) with 1/4" excess on other side for stitching. How high you want the crown is the only major factor, I do 5". But since it's curved we will need it wider, I'd say 2" at least to the width should get you there. So I'd do 25"x8", 1.38'. The crown top won't be any bigger than the stitch line size so just use that as a guideline, ~.4'. All together you need at least 6.66', but we add 20% just to be on the safe side and it's 8'.

TLDR: 8'

Your best bet is to get 1/2 a side or a double shoulder. I usually get 2 hats out of a full side with excess for wallets/etc. Let the place know what size pieces you need out of it and they will usually make sure it's wide/long enough.
ZexetorM4 months ago
I have been a leather worker for a number of years, and I am very impressed with your work. Nice finished, polished and professional piece. Your 'ible is very clear and well-written, and I hope it inspires others to try our craft. I voted. Well done.
seamster5 months ago
This is a very informative, well done leatherworking guide. Nice work!!

Best of luck in the leather contest! : )
Distaste (author)  seamster5 months ago
Thanks! I could really use some more leather and tools /crossesfingers
Nick705875 months ago
Very nice! You are much better at tooling than I am. I keep telling myself that I'm going to make a customer Outbacker hat and I think you've tipped me over the edge to do it. Good job!
Distaste (author)  Nick705875 months ago
Get to it! I kept putting it off thinking the tooling would be too hard and look awful. That was probably the easiest part, just time consuming! Getting the pattern right and stitching it all together was the hard part. Get those measurments right and post when you finish your hat!