How to Make a Kitty Hat (for Humans!)

comments (6) October 5th, 2012     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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Some simple sewing and embellishing can turn a recycled sweater into this supercute hat!
My kitty can look around with his shank-button eyes!
This one was made with a recycled T-shirt and machine topstitching for the whole face.
Some simple sewing and embellishing can turn a recycled sweater into this supercute hat!

Some simple sewing and embellishing can turn a recycled sweater into this supercute hat!

Photo: Pete Bejarano
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If you are a cat lover and a lover of wacky hats (like me!), you can use this design for yourself, but you can definitely downsize it to a kid's hat if that's more appealing to you. Make it with button eyes, appliqué nose, and embroidered mouth like I did, or mix up the techniques and make your hat your own.

You'll need:

  • A sweater to cut up (it can be felted, but it doesn't have to be)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Buttons, with needle and thread
  • Scrap fabric for appliqué
  • Embroidery floss or yarn and needle
  • Any other embellishment materials you want to use

I used a sweater with only a small percentage of wool and mostly synthetic fibers, which means it does not felt. If you are using an all-animal-fiber sweater (like wool), you can felt it first to thicken it up and keep it from unraveling. Because this hat is made with the sweater bottom edge as the hat bottom edge, and the cut sides are sewn closed, you don't need to worry about nonfelted sweaters unraveling.

  I'd already used this sweater once before for a hat-I think this tweedy brown makes for great animal hats!

First, you need to cut out your rectangular hat shape. Decide how wide your hat should be-I wanted my hat to be extra wide so it would flop down on the sides, so I cut it about 12 inches wide for my 22-inch head. You'll get kitty ears from the rectangle-shaped hat whether or not it's extra wide. Remember seam allowance, and if you want a more fitted hat, then cut it a little less than your head size divided in half. And for the height, I cut it about 7 inches high, but if you're not making yours extra wide, then you should make it higher by an inch or two. One side seam of the sweater will be a side seam on the hat, so with the sweater lying flat, just cut through both layers straight up for the other side and straight across the top. You can always cut in more, so if you're not sure how big to cut it, try bigger than you think is good, hold it around your head, and trim more where needed.

  My somewhat short hat will flop down on the sides because of the extra width.

Now turn it so the right sides are facing, and sew up the side and top using a zigzag stitch. Try not to stretch it at all while sewing-the more it's stretched, the more it'll ruffle!

  The ruffled edges look bad here, but when the hat's on your head, it's not noticeable.

You can leave it at that, or you can sew back over all the seams for extra security and neatness. Turn the hat right side out, open it up, and sew right on top of the seams with a zigzag stitch, so it zigzags from one side of the seam to the other side.

  Go slowly and carefully over the seams, since they are bulky to sew over.

It's a bit tricky going over the pointy ear parts, but if you go slowly and stretch out the fabric at the ears, you can sew from the side to the top and back down the other side without stopping.

  If your sweater fabric is felted, you won't have so much of a problem with the ruffling due to stretching.

When your seams are done, poke your finger, a pen, or scissors tip into the ear points to make them nice and pointy. Now your hat base is done, so you can get started on the fun embellishing part! First, pick out your materials-I like to place all different buttons on the hat to see what looks best before committing. I also love to layer buttons for eyes to give the eyes a dimensional look-in this case, I really lucked out by coming across these black and white buttons that look like eyes! I decided to layer them on top of some plain buttons for the eye outlines. If you have a more limited supply without eye-looking buttons, you can still get cool effects with more basic layered buttons, or you could always choose to use googly eyes!

  I cut a triangle of felted wool from another recycled sweater to use for the nose.

Add your kitty face embellishments in any order you want...I started by first stitching on the nose appliqué. I just used embroidery thread to stitch it on around the edges. Then I used the same orange floss to stitch the mouth. For embroidering short lines, I like to do it like this:

  I start with a running stitch from one end of the line to the other...

 

  ...then I come back the other way and fill in the holes.

I find that method the easiest for stand-alone lines like the mouth, instead of doing a backstitch, because this way my floss is back where I started, to stitch the other side and/or to tie it to the other end.

  I stitched the mouth on a bit crooked to give my kitty some personality!

By the way, you can definitely use yarn instead of embroidery floss for your hat embellishments. I often use yarn to stitch on sweater fabric. So next I stitched on my bottom layer of buttons.

  This already looks like a cute cat face, but adding an extra button layer will really bring it to life!

Then I just stitched my shank buttons on top, through the first buttons' holes. You can use regular (non-shank) buttons for the top layer too, which will lie flat, whereas putting shank buttons on top of flat buttons make them pop out and wiggle around.

  My kitty can look around with his shank-button eyes!

You can also add whiskers with more embroidery, machine topstitching, or whatever other techniques you like! Don't limit yourself to using the same embellishment methods that I used-check out these other versions I've made!

  This one was made with a recycled T-shirt and machine topstitching for the whole face.

Or you can make a ferocious kitty by adding some felt teeth across the bottom!

  For this version, I made appliqué eyes with topstitching, a button nose, and whiskers stitched with yarn.
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posted in: embroidery, wearable, buttons, sweater, recycled, hat, pet, cat, kitty, face

Comments (6)

EchoLin writes: creative idea, i never thought the old clothes can be used in this way. Very useful , thanks for sharing.
Posted: 1:28 am on March 12th
cRaFTista writes: They are too cute to pass up! =0.0=

Will make some for my niece. Thanks for sharing :)
Posted: 6:54 pm on April 24th
sassysewer writes: Too cute! An organization here collects caps and mittens for neighborhood children in the winter. What a fun way to use all those sweaters I got sick of this winter and bagged up for donation. I'll make kitty hats instead for the kids! Ooohhh, a new fun project. Thanks so much!
Posted: 10:25 am on April 18th
miss_kodama_loli writes: ...there is a name for this kind of hat in Japan- it's called "Neko Mimi" (kitty ears)
Posted: 1:52 am on March 27th
Eternal_Clouds writes: OMG my friend would totally love this thanks so much for posting it now i know what to make her for her birthday!!!!!<3 :)
Posted: 9:48 pm on March 7th
ImaMes writes: Very cute! I'll have to make some for my grandkids next fall.
Posted: 1:04 pm on March 1st
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