Saturday, 13 June 2015

Make a Gandalf Hat

This was originally on our main website and was moved here in 2015

The following instructions are for a hat closely modelled on that worn by Gandalf in the 
recent film version of 
Lord of the Rings. My interpretation is made from a sturdy non 
woven textile, a synthetic felt, with a good surface texture. I'm using collar interfacing as my 
pattern material, but paper would work just as well, and I'm using milliners buckrum to stiffen 
the brim.

Start by making the brim pattern. Draw a 'doughnut' with the inner circle a few inches bigger 
than your head size and the outer circle about 5-6 inches bigger in radius. Cut out a wedge 
from the pattern so that you get a gentle flare to the brim.

Transfer this pattern to the buckrum. Check that the brim sits in your head loosely.
This is the time to make any adjustments to the width of the brim or to the angle at which it flares in
a cone shape. (There are lots of screen images of Gandalf on the net or in the books and so on that
came out with the  film for reference). Fiddle with the shape until you are happy.
a friend reminded me that if you are going for a costume with a wig, wear that also 
when you fit the hat! She also suggests plastic canvas as an alternative to Buckrum if you find
it easier to get

Cut a pattern for the crown of the hat. Try a cone about 21-23 inches long and slightly wider at the bottom than 
the headsize of the finished hat. Aim to have the cone slope backwards slightly. In the picture above the scissors 
are shown on the folded edge of the pattern fabric. Adjust the pattern if needed (in this case I decided I needed 
a slightly larger cone) and cut out one layer of your fabric. If you are doing a full lining, cut a lining layer too.

Use your buckrum layer to cut the hat fabric. You need two pieces and remember to leave a small seam 
allowance all the way round. Sew the brim pieces together, without the buckrum. Remember to keep right 
sides of fabric together if it will be noticable in the finished hat. Press all the seams really well with a steam iron.

Turn the brim round the right way and insert the buckrum. Tuck it well down into the seams and secure any overlap 
with a few stitches. Run the iron gently over the entire brim to smooth and shape it. Sew up the point of the hat, press 
any seams flat. Its important to keep pressing as you go with hats to make sure everything is smooth and even.

The easiest way to fit the brim and crown together is to put the crown on your head (it may come down to your nose at 
this stage!) then slip the brim over the top. Wriggle everthing around until the crown sits smoothly inside the brim. Pin 
everything together carefully, ready for sewing, watching out for wrinkles and checking that the buckrum stays firmly 
down towards the seam in the brim.

Sew the hat together. Take your time over this part and make sure that the seam is smooth and even. You can now 
trim off any extra fabric left over from fitting the crown and try on the hat. It will be a bit floppy at this stage. Now is the 
time to put anything right if you are not happy! Run the steam iron over everything very gently to settle in the seams 
and keep things smooth. You may wish to stitch in a couple of small tucks into the point of the hat to get a good 
shape, and maybe add a little light wadding to help the point sit just right. Don't overdo this bit!

The outside of your hat will be looking great, but the inside will show all the seams. Either add a full lining or a half 
lining (this is a half lining, basically a tube sewn into the hatband area and gathered at the top about half way up the 
crown which allows for my padding of the point). Cotton or linen is the most comfortable fabric for a lining.

Your hat is now complete! All you need is the rest of the Gandalf outfit and you're ready for anything.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! This was pretty easy to follow and worked great for a hat I had to make for a play for my son.