The nice thing about crafting your own items is you can make it how you want it. Got longer legs? Doesn't matter! Prefer side-thumbs instead of palm-thumbs on your mitts? No problem! Thick arches? Do more stitches for the heel!
Sometimes though, it's easy to say "Why bother?" when it comes to tweaking a pattern. But why not? Often, it doesn't take much (if any) more time, material, or expense. And the results can be stunning.
I've recently made three sunhats from a free pattern. It came in one size, yet each of my hats were slightly different sizes. Most of them (there's really two "hats" per hat, as they're reversible) had some assembly issues. I wasn't sure how to fix these problems. Hats are circles, and circle math is complicated.
Yesterday I was going through my bookmarked patterns again, trying to decide which hat pattern to do this time for an order. She wanted a flat top hat, rather than the "beach ball" style I had been doing. I found Martha Stewarts' pattern for a reversible bucket hat, though I thought the brim was a bit narrow and angled down quite a bit, so I kept looking. I kept thinking about a hat drafting tutorial I had saved.
It looked so complicated! So much math and drawing! I was considering just doing the Martha Stewart one, but thinking maybe I could use the brim of the one I had already done. Then I started reading the comments, since there weren't too many. One caught my eye: "Thank you for acknowledging that heads aren't circular shaped, and the tapered side panels makes the hat look more professionally made."
Wait! What! Heads aren't circular, didn't I know that? I mean, I knit hats that are "circular" though earflaps are always off center. Mmmm. Cowboy hats, and fedoras, and Tilley hats aren't circular! Why was I sewing circular sun hats? And why would Martha endorse this fallacy? I mean, it says right on her site--take time every day to learn something new! Martha! News flash! Heads aren't perfectly round! Knitted fabric can shape to the head, but woven fabric doesn't! Maybe this is why my sun hats flew off too easily! Slipped around! Even though they should technically fit!
(It's the same thing with sizing knit sweaters. Designers just take the chest circumference and divide by two. Look at your self in the mirror. See something sticking out on your chest that isn't there on your back? Is your front width the same as your back width? Unlikely! If it's a small difference, the knit fabric can stretch, but more than a few inches and you end up with a sweater that sags in the back and is too tight across the chest! But it's the "right" size! Really?).
I'm all for the little details that make my items unique and "better" than others. I don't like the word "better". I'd prefer, "enlightened". Why make a hat a circle when it should really be an oval?
Okay, got the crown figured out, next came the side pieces. Melly Sews shapes them, so the top is slightly smaller than the bottom. I wouldn't know how much smaller to do this. In fact, the template for the crown piece confused me--if I was doing this on my own, I would have just drawn a circle with the head circumference plus seam allowance, then squished it to an oval. But this would result in a very boxy look. Think of a pill box hat. Very straight sides. It was a bit of work to do the side pieces, but actually, not a whole lot. It turns out though that my piece is too big for a fat quarter (unless done on the bias), so I split it in two, and even remembered to add seam allowances!
The brim....how do you draw that?! Can't use a compass, since heads aren't circular! I just made many, many marks at the length I wanted. Though I'm a little confused since the crown template is a bit smaller than the bottom of the side band....I'm just going to follow the instructions. I cut a little pie slice out, then realized that I will lose another 1/2" on each side for the seam allowance. Keep this in mind. I also can not figure out how, if you cut the wedge all the way through the width, it will fit with the side piece. You've made the seam line smaller by what ever you take out with the wedge. Don't you need to keep this seam line the same as before? Uh oh. Just keep working...
I`ve got all my pieces cut out, and we`ll see how it goes! I have realized that although it took a while to draft this, sewing it will be quicker because there won`t be all the crown pieces (six wedges) to sew togther and topstitch. So once the template is done, making multiple hats will be so quick! Put a little more into prep, and reap the benefits in the assembly and the finished results!