It’s been like summer here in southern Germany this last week. We were collecting Easter eggs in freezing conditions with a few flakes of snow a couple of weeks ago and yesterday we were basking in 28 degrees sunshine. Spring’s often like that here. Suddenly you’re packing away your woolies and trying to remember where you left your sunglasses months ago and rushing to buy sun cream.
The Japanese take sun protection very seriously. At least they did when I lived there. My husband’s Japanese and whenever we see his family I’m reminded about sun care. Products designed to block sun exposure are everywhere in Japan, from UV cutting face creams and cosmetics to umbrellas and hats. And this care and attention to maintaining pale skin seems to pay off. Many elderly women in Japan have the most beautiful wrinkle-free and flawless complexions. It’s inspiring.
When I first went there in my early twenties, I was admired for my pale skin. I felt colour-less and washed-out looking but for the Japanese it was the goal. You only have to look at the traditional make-up of the Geisha to understand the white-skinned beauty ideal of the Japanese. Now in my mid-forties, every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and shudder, I wish I’d adopted more of the Japanese sun-protecting ways over the years LOL.
I did learn the necessity of finding a good sun-hat though. Many people don’t wear sun hats here in summer and there aren’t a wide selection available to buy, so on my last visit to Japan I picked up this Japanese hat-making book so I could make my own.
‘Adult’s and Children’s Hats’ ISBN978-4-529-04977-1.
It’s helpful for novice hat-makers like me because it offers patterns that gradually build in difficulty from basic level to advanced allowing you to progress as you gain skills and confidence, to making more complex styles.
It also has patterns for children and adults in a range of sizes so I’ve been able to make hats for myself and both of my daughters from when they were toddlers till school age for the last couple of summers.
I first made this simple make for my older daughter. It’s one of the entry-level patterns and comes together really easily.
It’s been well-worn and has now been passed on to the younger daughter.
Last summer I let my daughters choose the pattern they’d like because I wanted them to like and wear their hats. They both went for this style below with a small brim all the way around – not the most sun-protecting model in the book but I decided that if my daughters were happy to wear them, then they’d be better than no hats.
This design is a level two hat and slightly more complex to make than the first because of the split brim and multi-pieced segmented crown. It’s still do-able, just with more pattern pieces.
I used Liberty tana lawn cotton on the back underside of the brim to give the hats a fun contrast when the brims are flipped up. I got the Liberty fabric from Shaukat’s online shop in their crafter’s section. I bought a pack of smaller fabric pieces in a variety of prints and they’re perfect for using on smaller projects such as these hats.
I made one of the book’s second level intermediate sun-hats for myself.
I used linen for the outer layer and an organic cotton batiste for the lining and a hat band I bought in Japan. The hat band makes all the difference in keeping the hat’s shape but the grosgrain ribbon I used for the children’s hats also works well.
It was still relatively easy to do but the side pleat added an extra challenge.
I thoroughly recommend hat making. It’s satisfying because it’s relatively quick to do and sun hats are everyday items that get lots of wear in the summer – at least they do in our family.
Some people are put off by hats but I believe there’s a hat shape for everyone and this book covers many different styles to suit different face shapes and activities.
Hat Making: What You’ll Need
You don’t need special tools or materials to make these hats but you’ll need a lightweight woven lining fabric such as cotton batiste and either a grosgrain ribbon or ideally a hat band for the inside. I’d recommend using sturdy light to medium weight woven fabrics for the outer hat layer such as lightweight denims or linen. You’ll also need lightweight interfacing for the brims.
What’s your favourite summer accessory to make? Let me know in the comments below.
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Happy sewing as always,
2 thoughts on “What the Japanese Can Teach Us About Sun Hat Making.”
I haven’t really thought about making hats, because the patterns are so bad, but those are very nice. I’ll have to go through my Japanese pattern books again to see what I have.
Thank you, I was surprised too, these were quite enjoyable to make! Hope you find one you like.
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